My life has become one big refusal. I suppose it all started with Mr. Darcy's refusal to dance with me at that first assembly. That was followed quickly by my refusal of the said Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, and then my father's refusal to disallow Lydia from going to Brighton, and my refusal to refuse any other proposal by the above-mentioned Mr. Darcy. I thought perhaps the string of refusals had come to an end when I agreed (most happily) to marry William, but I was wrong. The last, and worst refusal in my opinion was yet to come.
That day, William and myself had been taking a walk through the woods near to Longbourn, my house when I could hold it in no more and I said, "Mr. Darcy, I would like to extend my sincerest appreciation and gratitude on behalf of my family for what you have done for us concerning my foolish sister, Lydia. I..."
"Miss Bennet," he interrupted me with that lovely deep gravely voice of his. "Miss Bennet, I did not think that your aunt would turn out to be so indiscreet concerning the matter." He said, frowning.
"Oh no! It's not my aunt's fault at all. Lydia let it out and my aunt only told me when I wrote to her to clarify the matter." I said hurriedly.
"I did not wish for your family to know about it." He said, his frown still in place.
"May I ask why?"
"I did not wish for you... or your family to feel indebted to me for doing what I feel is my duty. It is after all my fault that that scoundrel was not discovered before he was."
"Oh no, the fault lies with me as well. Perhaps if I had been more persistent in persuading my father not to allow her to go to Brighton..."
"Miss Bennet, the fault is mine completely." He said in a firm voice that brooked no protest, his dark eyes on my face. I felt myself burn up. I suppose he noticed, for he then looked away immediately.
"Mr. Darcy? I..." I looked at him, unsure of what to say.
"You... you what Miss Bennet?" he said eagerly, looking at me once more.
"I... oh, I can't think when you look at me like that, Mr. Darcy, please avert your gaze!" I said abruptly.
He blinked in surprise, then the frown came back on and he dropped his gaze. "I'm sorry that my presence is so abhorrent to you, Miss Bennet" he muttered.
"No!" I said quite loudly. "No. I mean, oh I don't know" I said softly, biting my lip.
"Miss Bennet? I... I must say it, for if I don't say it now, I don't know when I will be able to have the courage later! I love you!" he said, louder at first, then whispering the last three words.
"You do? Oh! You do!" I said, quite foolishly in my opinion, and then I threw myself unbecomingly into his arms. He, however, did not seem to find it unbecoming judging by how ardently he kissed me afterwards. When we had pulled apart, we then proceeded to tell each other sweet nothings to fill the other's heart with even more love than before.
"Oh my dearest Elizabeth! I will talk to your father today!" he declared, looking lovingly into my eyes. I just nodded and smiled at him.
The moment we returned to Longbourn, William immediately went to my father's study. I stood outside, and I blush to disclose, tried to listen at the keyhole. I failed in my endeavour however, as there was a key in the keyhole, effectively blocking out any sound from within. I waited in the hall for about 10 minutes before the door opened, and a worried looking William peered out. " Elizabeth, your father wishes to speak with you." He said urgently.
I walked into my father's study, more apprehensive than I had ever been. "Elizabeth Isabella Bennet!" My father said fiercely. "Is it true that you have agreed to marry this man?"
"His name is Mr. Darcy, father, and yes, I have." I said, my head high, for I had never heard my father talk to me like that before.
"I WILL NOT HAVE IT!!!" he bellowed from behind his desk. Do you know what this man has done? He has caused unnecessary misery to the most gentle of your sisters and also indirectly was the cause of Lydia's and our family's shame!"
"But father... he has righted all his mistakes and now he is a changed man. I love him father, I truly do!" I said, with tears in my eyes. My father looked at me coldly, his eyes dark and unforgiving. Frankly, his angry expression frightened me.
"No, Lizzy, I cannot and will not give my consent to let my most precious daughter wed this... this man." He spat out the word like an insult. He saw the shock and sorrow in my eyes and his face softened. "I know that you may not understand now, but I have made one mistake and I will not do it again! When you grow older, and this infatuation that you think is love has worn off, you will thank me."
"I understand you sir, and now will take my leave." William said in a tight voice, his face ashen and constricted with pain. He turned and walked out of the study.
"NO!" I shouted and tried to follow him out, but my father stood up and grabbed my arm.
"Don't be foolish child. I... perhaps..." he paused, a look of wonderment on his face. I looked at him hopefully, and so did William, both hoping that perhaps he had changed his mind. "To say that I am not touched by your apparent feeling for my daughter would be a lie, so I propose a test of sorts."
"A test?" we asked in unison. William's face was creased in puzzlement, and I suppose mine was too.
"Yes, a test... and some. One of my favourite folktales is the one concerning the twelve tests of Hercules. And so I propose that I set you a series of tests to prove your faithfulness and worthiness of my daughter's hand. If, and only if you succeed will I grant you my permission." My father looked at William challengingly.
"Very well then. If that is your wish, then I accept." William said, his voice steady.
He stuck out his hand to strike the deal, but my father just returned to his seat and closed his eyes. "Then come back tomorrow same time, same place and I will tell you what your first test is." I was amazed at the rudeness of my father, but William just bowed and walked out. I followed him to the garden.
"William, you don't have to do this. I don't know what came over him. Lets go to Gretna Green and he'll come to his senses. I know he will!"
"No, my love, for this is a challenge, and I am no coward. What's more, I would rather die than have you suffer the indignity of an elopement. I promise you, my darling that these tests would be completed, so help me God!"