Welcome back to my blog! <3
This post is brought to you by Lilacs & Lavender. (affiliate link … clicking is free but may result in me earning a few pennies)
I’m rather excited to get two posts out in as many weeks. Go me! LOL
Today I present to you chapter 5.
If you missed chapter 1, you can find it here.
Chapter 2 is here. Chapter 3 is here. Chapter 4 is here.
Did you know that Patreon patrons who pledge $2 per month or more get to read these posts an entire week early? Also, patrons at all levels get to read my current work-in-progress as I write it.
The day finally came that would see Mr. Darcy arrive at Rosings. Knowing that, for now, the residents of the manor and the parsonage must remain unaware of their courtship, Elizabeth did not expect to see Mr. Darcy for another day or two. Her surprise and delight was great indeed when, on the day after his arrival, he and his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, walked to the rectory to visit. They had accompanied Mr. Collins, who had gone up to Rosings to pay his respects.
Charlotte saw them coming, and said to Elizabeth, not knowing how true her words were, “We have you to thank for this, Eliza. Mr. Darcy would not have called upon me so promptly were you not here.” Elizabeth blushed, but said nothing.
When the men entered and greetings had been exchanged, everyone took a seat and Charlotte prepared to pour tea. Elizabeth had chosen a seat on the settee, and Mr. Darcy joined her there, enabling him to speak quietly to her with more ease. Waiting until the rest of the room was engaged in listening to a story the colonel was telling, Darcy leaned over towards Elizabeth and whispered, “Your father has given his permission for us to court. He said he would write to you?”
Elizabeth nodded. She had received the express. It was devoid of much of the teasing she expected, but she attributed that to Papa’s sure knowledge that she must keep certain information to herself, yet explain matters to the household in such a way that they understood the letter did not contain bad news. It simply stated that he had received an unexpected visitor the day before and that the results of that meeting were satisfactory to all. If Mr. Collins was overly curious, that was his problem to address, as the contents of her letters were none of his business.
“Yes, I received the news.” Elizabeth smiled at him and glanced around. Seeing that the rest of the group was still listening raptly to the colonel, she continued. “I have found many beautiful paths in the area. There is an open grove along this side of the park that seems to be infrequently visited. Perhaps you might join me one morning in viewing it?”
Darcy smiled back at her in delight. “I am sure that can be arranged. When do you take your walks?”
“In the very early morning. Will you be able to rise early enough, do you think?” Her eyes twinkled as she teased him.
“I shall beat you to the grove, my dear,” he whispered back.
The next morning at dawn found the pair greeting each other in the grove with wide smiles. They spent a pleasant hour or two asking questions of each other designed to uncover similarities and differences between them. They discovered they both enjoyed Shakespeare and Cowper, and Darcy liked Donne while Elizabeth preferred Wordsworth. Histories were a favorite subject shared by the pair; however, Elizabeth liked to indulge in the occasional novel where Darcy spurned them.
Subsequent mornings were spent similarly, engaging in lighthearted banter and searching inquiries, serious discussions and periods of levity. One of the more serious subjects they canvassed was that of Mr. Wickham. Elizabeth shared with Darcy her view of the events in Meryton and how they had affected her, revealing not only Wickham’s true character, but Darcy’s as well. He shared with her his initial reservations about a union with her and how he had overcome them. These two conversations caused some anger and hurt feelings on both sides, but communication, holding of hands, and a few tender hugs soothed them and they were able to move on to other topics. They each felt too much for the other to let the past come between them now that they had found each other.
Another topic they discussed was Mr. Darcy’s cousin, the colonel. Elizabeth had taken note on their first visit upon arriving at Rosings that the man seemed to be trying to keep the attention of Mr. and Mrs. Collins, so that she and Darcy would be able to talk.
“What does Colonel Fitzwilliam know of us, Mr. Darcy?”
“I have told him that we are courting. He is my closest friend, after Bingley, and shares guardianship of Georgiana with me. He told me after meeting you that he thoroughly approves, not that I need his approval, of course. Though, it will help us to win his parents’ approbation. He has distracted our aunt several times so that you and I could continue our morning walks unmolested, and has covered for me when I have been late returning.” Darcy laughed. “He told me if he had met you first, I would not have stood a chance, and that he would have won your hand. I believe he admires you.”
“Oh,” Elizabeth said, turning towards him. “I would not want to come between you!”
“I was teasing, my love. He does like you, but not in a romantic sense.”
With relief in her voice, she replied, “I am glad to hear it.”
Several times over the course of their visit at Rosings, the parsonage residents were asked to dine at the manor, or to come for tea. These times were difficult for the couple, as they wished to sit together and talk but could not for fear of discovery. Similarly, Darcy and the colonel walked to the parsonage several times, but the ever present threat that someone would detect their courtship took some of the pleasure out of the visits. Still, they took what satisfaction they could from the encounters knowing that one day soon they would not have to be secretive. Both longed for that day to come.
Eventually, the week they were to leave arrived. On Monday, during their walk, Darcy asked the all-important question. Elizabeth had been half-expecting it for days, and had her answer prepared. There was no question of her acceptance. She loved him. He was everything she had always wished for and none of what that lying Mr. Wickham had accused him of. He was respectful of her always, physically and intellectually. He was kind, and generous, and despite his stern demeanor, she easily discerned his sensitive soul. He had a touch of arrogance to be sure, but all he needed was a bit of liveliness to soften his rough edges, and Elizabeth was sure she could provide that in abundance.
Darcy was never more sure than he was now, that Miss Elizabeth was the woman with whom he would happily spend the rest of his life. She was a gentlewoman, with perfect comportment. That slight hint of impertinence in her manner was unlike most society ladies, but he was positive it would hold her in good stead as she carved her place among them. Her wit was second only to her beauty, in his eyes. He was aware that her mother considered Jane the beauty of the Bennet family, but he disagreed. Her sparkling eyes added something more to Elizabeth’s features than what her sister had. Add to them the enticing smile that was almost always on her lips and she became a living, breathing goddess. She took his breath away.
Finally, she was intelligent and well-read, and enjoyed debating. He would not suffer a boring wife. If that was what he had wanted, he could have chosen a woman to please the countess, or married his cousin Anne. No, Elizabeth made him want to be a better man; that is what he had been searching for all this time. Now that he had found it, he was not about to let it go.
He was certain that Elizabeth felt similarly. The looks she bestowed on him made his heart race and his brain stop. Many times over the course of their courtship, he had almost been overwhelmed with the desire to kiss her in front of everyone. However, he respected her too much to risk putting her in a compromising position. He knew that their time at Rosings was short, and he wanted to leave there an engaged man. He had been practicing his proposal for days. The time had come to ask.
They had been walking in the grove in companionable silence for about a half-hour when Darcy stopped, causing Elizabeth to stop also. Turning so he was facing her, he took both of her hands in his.
“Elizabeth, when you first consented to allow my courtship, you gave me a sprig of flowers. Lilacs. When I got home that night, I searched my library until I found a book that would tell me the meaning of flowers. When I learned that purple lilacs, the very color of the flower you gave me, symbolize the first emotions of love, I knew that you shared my feelings.” He squeezed her hands, looking deeply into her eyes and rejoicing internally when she squeezed back. “Over the past few weeks, we have spent many delightful hours in this grove, learning more about each other. I have learned, Miss Elizabeth Bennet, that you are everything my heart told me you would be. You are witty, intelligent, and so very beautiful. You are everything I have looked for in a wife, and more. You challenge and entice me, and I desire above all else to experience this every day the rest of my life. Will you marry me?”
There was no hesitation in his beloved’s response. If anything, she was barely able to hold herself back until he was done speaking. “Yes! Yes, I will marry you,” she said fervently, with tears of joy in her eyes and a bright smile on her face.
“Thank you, my love,” breathed Darcy. “I adore you.”
So saying, he took her into his arms and did what he had long desired to do … he kissed her.
To be continued …