Posted on Thursday, 10 August 2006
She stared in disbelief at seeing him again. It had been fourteen years. Fourteen long years. She had thought she never would see him again. He recognized her after a few moments. She had changed in the fourteen years she had been gone from his life, unobtainable.
Her figure was much changed because she was heavy with child, obviously late in her confinement. Her hair was lighter than it had been. Her skin was exceedingly tan too much to be fashionable. Her eyes still had the same sparkle though. They were in a room alone. The other occupants of the house busy with other things this morning.
"I hadn't expected to see you ever again. I thought you lived in America. I didn't know you had returned to England." His voice was nervous making it higher than normal.
"I have been living in America. I married as soon as I arrived there fourteen years ago." His heart sank at the thought of her being married. There was no denying that she was because of the child she was carrying but to hear her say it was heart wrenching.
"Where is your husband? He did accompany you, didn't he?" He was outraged at the thought of her traveling alone. Until, a depressed expression overcame her face at the mention of her husband.
"My husband passed away early this spring. That is why I came back to England at all. I didn't want to be alone during the birth of my child."
"I am sorry for your lose. I hope his passing wasn't very painful." His sincere concern touched her.
"He died peaceful in his sleep. He contracted pneumonia over the winter when he got stuck out in a storm." He felt real sorrow for her. He still couldn't imagine her traveling all the way alone.
"Did you travel all the way by yourself?" She started at his question. Didn't he know?
"I didn't travel alone. My children came with me." The thought of other children besides the one she carried hadn't even been considered.
"Oh, I didn't realize. How many do you have?" A happy, dreamy smile came over her face at the thought of her children.
"I have five others. The two oldest boys stayed home to care for the ranch. The youngest three are staying with me at my townhouse in London." He seemed amazed at the thought of all her children being boys.
"You have no girls?" She laughed at his incredulous question.
"No, I was not blessed with a little girl and I fear that I never will.. This one I am carrying will be another boy. I can tell because a girl would never kick as much as this little one does." He laughed at the thought of a rambunctious baby inside her stomach, driving his mother crazy. One thought kept popping back into his mind. As much as he dread answering he couldn't stop himself.
"I have a question for you. Why did you marry him?" His question caught her completely off guard.
"What choice did I have after my father died? I had no where to go without living off my relatives charity. I was not suited for life as a servant. This was the best option available. We got along well enough. Loved each after a short while. It wasn't the spark and fire of a passionate love, but it was love that comes softly with time." Her admission surprised him. She was such a passionate person that anything she did should have been passionate.
"You could have married me. That would have solved your problems before they began." Resentment flashed in her eyes at his words.
"I never could have accepted you proposal. We both would have been miserable." He knew she was correct.
"You could have waited for me later. I told you I would always take care of you."
"You were a married man. I have values and principles. And I didn't love you especially after you made me that despicable offer." She had a good point.
"You never were able to love me." He said it to enrage her.
"Do you understand how in love with you I could have been?" she accused him.
"You hated me then." He replied avoiding a straightforward answer,
"I hated who I thought you were. I didn't know you to hate you . You just excepted my refusal once you learned why I disliked you so much. . You claimed to love me, but I was correct. You didn't love me. Every objection you voiced in your proposal assured me you just had a slight selfish love. You couldn't deal with the fact that you had to work for something that you claimed to love. What had you ever done through out the whole of our acquaintance to make me love you?"
He remained silent. She was correct. He had never tried to earn her love. He assumed it was his just because of who he was. She turned to leave, walk out of his life again. He watched her go without saying anything to try and stop her. She walked away wondering how her life had become so complicated lately. She knew the answer to all of this laid buried in the past. In a life she had once led. The life of the girl she used to be. She felt as if she was being transported back in time to the last time she had seen him, but to relive that day she had to relive the months leading up to the hardest day she had ever experienced.
Posted on Thursday, 10 August 2006
She was suddenly roused by the sound of the door bell, and her spirits were a little fluttered by the idea of its being Colonel Fitzwilliam himself, who had once before called late in the evening, and might now come to enquire particularly after her. But this idea was soon banished, and her spirits were very differently affected, when, to her utter amazement, she saw Mr. Darcy walk into the room. In an hurried manner he immediately began an enquiry after her health, imputing his visit to a wish of hearing that she were better. She answered him with cold civility. He sat down for a few moments, and then getting up, walked about the room. Elizabeth was surprised, but said not a word. After a silence of several minutes, he came towards her in an agitated manner, and thus began,
"In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you."
Elizabeth's astonishment was beyond expression. She stared, colored, doubted, and was silent. This he considered sufficient encouragement, and the avowal of all that he felt and had long felt for her immediately followed. He spoke well, but there were feelings besides those of the heart to be detailed, and he was not more eloquent on the subject of tenderness than of pride. His sense of her inferiority-of its being a degradation-of the family obstacles which judgment had always opposed to inclination, were dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding, but was very unlikely to recommend his suit.
In spite of her deeply-rooted dislike, she could not be insensible to the compliment of such a man's affection, and though her intentions did not vary for an instant, she was at first sorry for the pain he was to receive; till, roused to resentment by his subsequent language, she lost all compassion in anger. She tried, however, to compose herself to answer him with patience, when he should have done. He concluded with representing to her the strength of that attachment which, in spite of all his endeavors, he had found impossible to conquer; and with expressing his hope that it would now be rewarded by her acceptance of his hand. As he said this, she could easily see that he had no doubt of a favorable answer. He spoke of apprehension and anxiety, but his countenance expressed real security. Such a circumstance could only exasperate farther, and when he ceased, the color rose into her cheeks, and she said,
"In such cases as this, it is, I believe, the established mode to express a sense of obligation for the sentiments avowed, however unequally they may be returned. It is natural that obligation should be felt, and if I could feel gratitude, I would now thank you. But I cannot-I have never desired your good opinion, and you have certainly bestowed it most unwillingly. I am sorry to have occasioned pain to any one. It has been most unconsciously done, however, and I hope will be of short duration. The feelings which, you tell me, have long prevented the acknowledgment of your regard, can have little difficulty in overcoming it after this explanation."
Mr. Darcy, who was leaning against the mantle-piece with his eyes fixed on her face, seemed to catch her words with no less resentment than surprise. His complexion became pale with anger, and the disturbance of his mind was visible in every feature. He was struggling for the appearance of composure, and would not open his lips, till he believed himself to have attained it. The pause was to Elizabeth's feelings dreadful. At length, in a voice of forced calmness, he said,
"And this is all the reply which I am to have the honor of expecting! I might, perhaps, wish to be informed why, with so little endeavor at civility, I am thus rejected. But it is of small importance."
"I might as well enquire," replied she, "why, with so evident a design of offending and insulting me, you chose to tell me that you liked me against your will, against your reason, and even against your character? Was not this some excuse for incivility, if I was uncivil? But I have other provocations. You know I have. Had not my own feelings decided against you, had they been indifferent, or had they even been favorable, do you think that any consideration would tempt me to accept the man, who has been the means of ruining, perhaps for ever, the happiness of a most beloved sister?"
As she pronounced these words, Mr. Darcy changed color; but the emotion was short, and he listened without attempting to interrupt her while she continued.
"I have every reason in the world to think ill of you. No motive can excuse the unjust and ungenerous part you acted there. You dare not, you cannot deny that you have been the principal, if not the only means of dividing them from each other, of exposing one to the censure of the world for caprice and instability, the other to its derision for disappointed hopes, and involving them both in misery of the acutest kind."
She paused, and saw with no slight indignation that he was listening with an air which proved him wholly unmoved by any feeling of remorse. He even looked at her with a smile of affected incredulity.
"Can you deny that you have done it?" she repeated.
With assumed tranquility he then replied, "I have no wish of denying that I did every thing in my power to separate my friend from your sister, or that I rejoice in my success. Towards him I have been kinder than towards myself."
Elizabeth disdained the appearance of noticing this civil reflection, but its meaning did not escape, nor was it likely to conciliate, her.
"You have said quite enough, madam. I have now only to be ashamed of what my own have been. Forgive me for having taken up so much of your time, and accept my best wishes for your health and happiness."
And with these words he hastily left the room, and Elizabeth heard him the next moment open the front door and quit the house.
The tumult of her mind was now painfully great. She knew not how to support herself, and from actual weakness sat down and cried for half an hour. Her astonishment, as she reflected on what had passed, was increased by every review of it. That she should receive an offer of marriage from Mr. Darcy! that he should have been in love with her for so many months! so much in love as to wish to marry her in spite of all the objections which had made him prevent his friend's marrying her sister, and which must appear at least with equal force in his own case, was almost incredible! It was gratifying to have inspired unconsciously so strong an affection. But his pride, his abominable pride, his shameless avowal of what he had done with respect to Jane.
She continued in very agitating reflections till the sound of Lady Catherine's carriage made her feel how unequal she was to encounter Charlotte's observation, and hurried her away to her room. She sat in her room on edge, waiting for the house to quiet again. After about two hours, the house was once again quiet. She silently crawled out of bed needed to move about. Stilled dressed, she crept silently down the stairs. She sat in the room Charlotte normally occupied during the day. She sat in silent meditation over any thing she could have possibly have done to make Mr. Darcy fall in love with her.
She sat thinking, maybe for minutes or maybe for hours. She never would be entirely certain as her entire relationship with Mr. Darcy replayed over and over in her mind. Her late night meditations causing her to be the only human awake and so she was the one to hear the express rider approach, and knock on the door. She hurried to answer it afraid something awful had happened. She would never know how much her intuition that something dreadful was to come about because of this late night express.
Charlotte, being a light sleeper, heard the express rider approach the parsonage and the subsequent cry from her friend. She didn't bother to try to wake her snoring husband as she rushed out of her bed chamber toward the front of the house. The sight that greeted her was one she would never forget. The front door was wide open, chilling the foyer. Elizabeth sat slumped against a wall, clutching a letter, unable to support herself. Charlotte wasted not a moment rushing to her side.
"Lizzy, what ever is the matter? Please Lizzy you must tell me." Her friend struggled to answer but was unable to manage a coherent thought, breaking out into sobs again. Charlotte silently shut the door to keep the both of them from catching their death. She gently, helped Lizzy stand and walked her into the front parlor. Seeing that the effort required to move had completely sapped Lizzy's energy, Charlotte took the letter from Lizzy's hand. Reading it through once she was unable to comprehend what was going on. The letter must be a complete falsehood. It couldn't really be true, for if it was her friend had just lost two family members in the space of minutes.