Chapter 1 ~ A Formidable Scheme
Author's Note: I want to thank Lu for all editing, comments, and suggestions with this story. She has been a wonderful help to me.
Elizabeth entered the Netherfield ball in a foul mood. The mere thought of spending another moment with the odious Mr. Collins was unbearable. She feared that she might suffer from nerves if he continued his attentions toward her. Why did he have to mark her as a potential Wife? While Elizabeth felt only dread when she thought of a proposal from such a man, Mary seemed to be enchanted with him, Elizabeth was sure that they would get along charmingly. She wondered if there was not a way to divert his attentions away from her and toward her sister. Suddenly a possible plan occurred to her, but there was a hitch. She would have to convince the pompous Mr. Darcy to cooperate with her scheme.
Elizabeth retreated to one of the smaller drawing rooms. She found a pen with which she scribbled down a small note to Darcy, then quickly returned to the party before her absence was noticed. She looked around the room and spotted him with ease, but took several minutes to inch her way toward him. It required all of her nerve to work up the audacity to bump into the man.
"Mr. Darcy, forgive me," she discreetly placed the small folded message in his hand.
"Do not concern yourself, Miss Bennet," he said puzzled at what she had just done. He watched as she retreated to the other side of the room.
At the first opportunity Darcy escaped to a more private room where he would not be noticed and read the note.
I hope that you were not alarmed by my rude behavior in delivering this message to you. I know that this may seem most inappropriate, but I am in desperate need of your assistance in a most urgent matter. Please meet with me in the library as soon as possible.
Darcy read and reread the words without any idea as to what the matter concerned. Whatever it was, Darcy knew that he would not hesitate in assisting the charming Miss Bennet. It did not take him long to reach the library .
Chapter 2 ~ Requests
"Mr. Darcy." There was an awkward pause as she searched for the courage to relate the details of plan and the reason behind it to him." Are you aware that my cousin Mr. Collins has entered the neighborhood and is staying with us at Longbourn?"
"Yes, I am. Word of such matters appears to travel quickly in and around Meryton."
"Have you also been informed that Longbourn has been entailed to him and that he hopes to procure a suitable wife among his cousins?"
"Oh yes, Miss Bingley has reminded me constantly of that," he said with a roll of his eyes.
"My cousin seems to have chosen me as the object of his attentions. Marriage to him would be impossible as I hold no particular regard for him . Such a man could never make me happy, and I am convinced that I could never make him so--my very feelings prevent it. Some may think that it would be a good match because of the entail, but my father taught me that poverty is preferable to a marriage void of love or respect." She struggled to maintain composure as she spoke the words. "My sister Mary, on the other hand, is very fond of him, and I think that they would make an excellent match. His attention only needs to be diverted away from myself and on to her. I called you here to request your assistance in this endeavor. Your aunt is his patroness, and he obeys her slightest command. If you can persuade him that Lady Catherine would prefer her as his wife, then he will listen. Will you help me Mr. Darcy?"
As she spoke the words, his admiration and respect for the young lady grew. Most of the women of his acquaintance wished only for wealth and consequence. Here was one of both charm and wit who refused to marry for anything less then love. He had observed this Mr. Collins while in town on several occasions and found him quite foolish. He wondered how anyone could consider him worthy of such a woman. He looked forward to accomplishing the task; it afforded him the perfect opportunity to enjoy her company.
"It would be my pleasure Miss Bennet. May I ask a small favor of you as well?"
"I suppose that would only be fair."
"I have taken some thought as to what you said of my pride and vanity at Netherfield and have come to the conclusion that you were correct in your assessment. My entire life has been filled with this selfish and uncaring behavior. It essential that I rectify this character flaw and strive to become a more amiable gentlemen. Overcoming my pride and vanity can only be done alone, but I need help in mending my conduct toward others. I am afraid that I do not have the talent which some possess of conversing easily with others. Will you teach me Miss Bennet?" he asked with more than a little embarrassment.
Never had Elizabeth felt such astonishment. Mr. Darcy whom she had thought to be the most obstinate and hateful of men was asking for her help in improving his manners. The honesty revealed in his expression showed earnest sincerity in the matter. Her opinion of him drastically improved in that single moment. She must have badly misjudged him.
"I will be happy to help you Mr. Darcy, but this is no small favor that you ask. Indeed, it will take a great deal of time and commitment on both of our parts," She said in a teasing manner.
"I am prepared to do whatever may be required."
"We must meet in private lest we give all of Meryton a false assumption as to the nature of our relationship."
Chapter 3 ~ A Suitable Choice
Elizabeth and Darcy spent several minutes in the library discussing the details of their plan, before discreetly existing the Library. Guests filled the main room in anticipation of the first dance. Mr. Collins approached Elizabeth to remind her of the agreement to dance the first with him, but was interrupted by the approach of Mr. Darcy.
"Excuse me, Miss Bennet. May I claim you for the first two dances, if you are not otherwise engaged?"
"Thank you, Mr. Darcy, but I have promised the first two dances to Mr. Collins."
"Mr. Darcy." Collins spoke the name with awe and reverence, "I am more than willing to sacrifice the first two dances with Miss Elizabeth to you, the nephew of my most humble patroness Lady Catherine Debourgh," Mr. Collins said stupidly.
"Thank You, Mr. Collins. Shall we take our places in line, Miss Bennet?"
As the dance began Elizabeth unexpectedly found herself feeling strangely drawn to Mr. Darcy. More than once she was forced to look away, as she found herself unintentionally gazing into the eyes of the man who less than an hour before she had despised. Attraction to such a man could only lead to hurt and disappointment. It would all be for nothing; a man of his wealth and social standing could never connect himself to one of the middle classes. She resolved to think of it no more, and to look upon him only as a friend.
After the dance Darcy approached Collins and asked to speak with him privately regarding an important matter.
"It has become known to me that your intention in coming to Longbourn is to select a wife among your cousins. "
"Yes, Mr. Darcy. It was particular recommendation of your Aunt, the esteemed Lady Catherine Debourgh."
"As the nephew of your patroness I feel it my duty to insure that your choice will be acceptable to her."
On hearing the last Mr. Collins came to the conclusion that Lady Catherine herself must have sent Mr. Darcy to assist him in making a suitable choice.
"It would be an honor to receive any advice that you might give me, sir. I intend to offer my proposal to Miss Elizabeth tomorrow."
"I fear that my aunt would find her impertinence most unacceptable. "
"I too have thought of that, but when tempered with respect and humility required of such a position, I am sure that Lady Catherine will approve. You seem to be pleased with her charms, Mr. Darcy."
"Yes, but I am not Lady Catherine, whom I fear will find her most offensive. Miss Bennet is past the age in which such manners can easily be changed. She seems to have no respect for those above her station; on more than one occasion she has even attempted to correct myself."
"No!" gasped Collins.
"Now, Miss Mary Bennet, on the other hand would make an excellent Parson's wife. Her knowledge of Fordyce's Sermons is extensive. Many of her hours are spent each day in biblical studies, and she never hesitates to give advice on the proper behavior of young ladies to her sisters or friends. Indeed, she would be an asset to you parsonage."
Darcy found the swaying of Mr. Collins opinion to be an all too simple a task. Never had he met with such a feeble-minded fellow. The thought of Elizabeth married to such a man was repulsive indeed. Thankfully, she had the sense to see that such a match could only lead to a life of unhappiness.
Chapter 4 ~ Lesson in Civility
As she briskly strolled down the path towards the agreed upon meeting place, Elizabeth felt her heart pounding in anticipation, which she told herself was due merely to the challenge of improving Mr. Darcy's demeanor. His social skills were in need of such great reform that it would take a tremendous deal of effort on both their parts. If she could complete the task, she would indeed consider herself an accomplished young woman.
"Good morning, Miss Bennet."
"I am prepared for your instruction. Shall we begin?" asked Darcy with his usual strict demeanor and flat tone.
"Something must be done about that stern expression of yours, Mr. Darcy. Your countenance would appear much more inviting if you would only smile more!"
With that Darcy smiled stiffly; it was a truly pathetic attempt. "How is this, Miss Bennet?"
"Very unnatural. Try to soften your facial muscles a little." She said trying to suppress a giggle.
He followed her suggestion.
"That is much better, but your posture is much to rigid; try to relax your shoulders."
"Proper posture is essential to the modern gentleman. I would not wish to appear slovenly."
"You can relax a bit without slouching; there is no need to be so stiff." He did so as she spoke.
Darcy was aware that he had met his superior in the lovely Miss Bennet and wondered how he could have ever thought the lady beneath him. Behind her fine eyes and charming disposition was a woman of great intelligence, one who could recite Shakespeare, speak French, sing, and play the piano forte, among her many accomplishments. He would be a fool not to pursue her hand in marriage; such a woman was worth more than all the wealth of Pemberley. In a single moment he realized that he loved her.
As the lesson progressed Elizabeth was surprised to discover that Darcy was an excellent student, following all of her instructions with ease. Only one session would be required to improve his civility, which she soon thought was for the best as she could no longer deny that she was beginning to feel more than just friendship for the man. As they engaged in conversation, it was revealed to each that they had many of the same interests. More than once he seemed to gaze upon her with a look of passion, but she told herself that it was only one her fanciful notions. She had heard numerous tales of young ladies falling in love with men of much higher rank only to be used and discarded by them in the worst sort of way. After much deliberation, she decided that it would be best to stay as far away from him as was possible, without appearing rude.
"I thought that it would take a great deal more time and effort, but it seems as if you have mastered the art of civility in a single day. It will be necessary for me to observe your newly learned skills in practice."
"Where is this to take place?"
"My mother is planning a large tea party to which all of Meryton is to be invited. I have secretly arranged the seating so that you will be place between my mother and Aunt Phillips. If you can remain of a cheerful disposition while in their company for the entire party, I will safely assume that you are now in possession of the sweetest temperament in all of England."
Mr. Darcy tried his best not to look distressed over the idea.
"I believe that we have stayed longer than anticipated. Do you have the time?
"It is 3 o'clock."
"Oh my, we have been here for over five hours. I must return home immediately; I am sure that they are already worried about me."
Fortunately for Elizabeth no one had taken notice of the time. The house was all in an uproar; Mr. Bingley had asked for Jane's hand in marriage, and to everyone's astonishment Mr. Collins had proposed to Mary. Both men were accepted. Mrs. Bennet was shrieking in delight about having two daughters married while both newly engaged girls smiled radiantly. Elizabeth had never felt such happiness. That night she had pleasant dreams of a man she had promised to never allow into her heart.
Chapter 5 ~ Hope
Nearly a week had passed since Elizabeth had made her resolve to clear her mind of the infatuation with Mr. Darcy. Every method imaginable had been attempted in an effort to rid her thoughts of him, but all had failed miserably. He was to attend the her mother's tea party the next day to be followed that night by a ball that was to be held in celebration of the engagement of her two sisters. With great anxiety she wondered if he would ask her to dance, for she feared that to be near him in such away would too much. This man who had once meant very little to her had now become her weakness.
She would turn to her beloved sister Jane, who's strength only she understood. Jane's gentle demeanor lead her friends and relations to assume that she was a fragile soul; only Lizzy knew that her sister's genuine goodness made her strong. She had always thought of Jane as an angel born to guide and protect those who were weak. Jane's judgment was always trusted for guidance and protection.
As always Jane entered Lizzy' s room to speak with her before settling down for the night.
"Lizzy, I have been worried for you. Why have you been so melancholy?"
"I have told no one of this, but I fear that I am falling in love with Mr. Darcy. I have tried to rid my thoughts of the man, but my every attempt has failed. It is well known that a man of his position would only associate with a lady from the middle class for the most disgraceful of reasons. We have heard more than one tale of ladies who have lost their virtue to such men only to be left by the wayside. Please help me to avoid him and put an end to this infatuation."
"I am afraid that I cannot help you in this matter Lizzie, as I feel that it could lead to great unhappiness. Why are you so quick to believe the worst? Charles and I have spoken of him in private, as we have noticed his increasing regard. He related to me many circumstances in which Mr. Darcy's actions have proven him to be of high moral character. We have seen the way he gazes upon you with a look that holds both esteem and admiration, not merely simple lust."
"Oh Jane, What am I to believe?"
All was proceeding well at the Longbourn tea party to the pleasure of all both Mrs. Bennet and Mr. Darcy. She was thrilled with the frequent compliments, which she was receiving on having two daughters recently engaged. Even Mr. Darcy who was seated next to her appeared to be enjoying himself, and to her amazement praised her fine matchmaking skills. She wondered if she had perhaps misjudged the young man. He had decided to make the best of his seating position next to Mrs. Bennet. His goal would be to endear her to him so that she might begin to see him as a good match for Elizabeth.
"Mrs. Bennet, I must praise your good sense in the pairing of your two daughters. Miss Bennet and Bingley seem to be made for each other. Her sweet disposition compliments his cheerful demeanor perfectly. Mary will make an excellent parson's wife; it is if she were prepared herself for years just for such a position." Mr. Darcy was barely able to keep his countenance while using the words 'good sense' to describe Mrs. Bennet.
"Oh, yes, have put a great deal of effort into preparing all of my daughters for suitable marriages."
"I must say that Miss Elizabeth will make some man a fine wife. Indeed, I find both her charm and wit to be most pleasing."
Mrs. Bennet suddenly felt her skip a beat as she realized that Mr. Darcy was hinting at an interest in her Lizzie.
As Elizabeth dressed for the ball her thoughts turned once more to Mr. Darcy, for after this night she would not see him for sometime. The previous morning she had received a letter from her gravely ill Great Aunt Seeton requesting the presence of her favorite niece to stay with her in London. Nothing pleased the old woman more than a young lady in possession of excellent wit, a trait that Elizabeth possessed in abundance. This would afford her the perfect opportunity to rid herself of the girlish infatuation with the gentleman. She had already spoken to her father who had somewhat reluctantly agreed to her acceptance of the invitation, although he feared that he would miss her very much. She would have to see Mr. Darcy once more for the wedding of Jane and Mary, but it would only be for a short duration. It would at first be quite painful for her to leave the young man who gave her so much joy, yet so much torment, but it would be done and for the best.
With the time approaching for the ball, Elizabeth felt an insuperable sense of dread. She had tried to feign illness in order to stay home and away from Mr. Darcy, but her mother would not allow it. The ball would be unavoidable. She wondered if it might be possible escape his notice during the entire coarse of the evening, but in her heart secretly knew that such a scheme would never work. Her heart would not allow it; she loved him too much.
Darcy felt struck as Elizabeth entered the ball; he had never seen her look lovelier. She wore a deep blue gown that set off the sparkle of her eyes and the slight blush of her cheeks. Once they were married, he would have to remember to purchase more dresses of that color for her. Smiling at his cunning of ensuring that the first dance would be a waltz, he made his way secure that it would be with her.
"Miss Bennet, would you do me the honor of accepting this first dance."
" I had not- yes, I would be honored sir." she said wondering why she had not been able to refuse him.
"The music is beginning; we should take our places" he suggested as he took her hand and led her across the room.
Elizabeth struggled for composure as she heard the music and realized that dance would be a waltz. Their eyes locked as he took hold of her delicate form for the dance, saying more than lips ever could and for a moment only he existed in her mind. She wondered why she had never noticed the flecks of gold in his eyes, which carried such gentle warmth or his sweet manly scent. Sadly, such thoughts all too soon gave way to reality as the dance ended and he began to speak to her in a deep soft whisper.
"Elizabeth, I have something that I must speak to you about in private. Will you meet me at sunrise tomorrow by the large chestnut tree on the outskirts of Netherfield? No one will find us there. I will bring breakfast."
"I don't know. I will try"
"I will wait for you there."
As she lay in bed waiting for slumber to take her, Elizabeth realized that to meet him in such a secluded place could only mean the ruin of her honor. Instead, she would find a way to ask her Papa to take her that very morning to her Aunt Seeton's. Only there, away from Mr. Darcy would she be safe.
It was with much care that Mr. Darcy spread the blanket upon the ground, he had selected the fabric of it himself for this special occasion. The basket was filled with the freshest bread and best fruit available; the wine was the finest in England. In a small box in his coat pocket was the ring that had been passed for three generations of Darcys. The gentleman was confident that this morning could be the happiest in his life thus far.
Chapter 7 ~ A Letter
As long as there was a chance however slight that Mr. Darcy returned her affections, Elizabeth's conscience would not allow her to leave Meryton without writing him a letter of explanation. Her thoughts regarding the young man were much too strong to remain hidden from him forever. It was better to risk his censure at her impropriety in writing to him a letter detailing the whole of her feelings toward him, than to live with the torture of never knowing.
As quickly as possible, she wrote the letter which contents exhibited more feeling than fluency. The emotions involved in it were too strong to be dwelled upon, and required a more than a great deal of daring. Any proper young lady would be scorned by society for detailing the whole of her passions to a man whom she was not even engaged. The fact that her confession was in the form of a letter would only further cause scandal to her good name, if it were ever to be revealed. Both a sense of apprehension and relief flooded her emotions as she finished the letter and handed it to Jane to give to Mr. Darcy.
Mr. Darcy was surprised to see Jane coming across the clearing to meet him by the under the tree.
"Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth will not be able to meet with you this morning . She has asked for me to apologize for her and for me to give you this letter."
"Thank you, Miss Bennet" he replied in a surprised and somewhat disappointed voice.
"You are welcome," she answered before walking back to Longbourn.
Darcy quickly opened the letter and began reading.
Dear Mr. Darcy,After reading the letter Darcy headed to Longbourn as quickly as possible praying that he would reach her in time.
Please, forgive me for not meeting with you this morning, but my feelings would not allow it. The remainder of this letter contains a confession which if to ever be discovered would cause my public disgrace; I must ask your absolute secrecy as to the contents of it.
Mr. Darcy, ever since the ball at Netherfield I have felt an ever increasing attraction to you, and now I fear that affection has turned into the deepest of love. I am well aware that a gentleman of your consequence could never consider a Lady so far beneath his own social standing as a potential wife. As much as I admire you, I fear that our friendship should not continue, as it would only give me a false hope of a relationship that I know can never exist. I will be leaving this very morning to visit my aunt in London who is very ill . Perhaps while away, I will be able to regain some control over my own heart and heal the wound that lies within it. I wish you the of best health and happiness.
As Elizabeth packed her things in preparation for the journey to London Mary burst into the room.
"Elizabeth, you must come quickly. My betrothed's patroness Lady Catherine Debourgh has arrived and is demanding to speak with you this very moment."
As Elizabeth entered the sitting room a haughty looking older woman glared at her with look disgust.
"You are Miss Elizabeth Bennet, I presume." She said in demanding tone.
"Yes, Madam, I am."
"Well, Miss Bennet, as I am sure that your sister has already mentioned to you that I am Lady Catherine De Bourgh."
"It is an honor to make your acquaintance"
"Young Lady, I must speak with you in private concerning a matter of utmost importance. There seems to be a pretty kind of little wilderness on one side of your lawn, which I believe will do quite well. You will escort me there."
Elizabeth obeyed the woman, and was extremely curious as to the subject of the conversation in which they were to engage themselves in. They proceeded in silence along the gravel walk that led to the copse.
As soon as they entered the copse, Lady Catherine began in the following manner:--
"You can be at no loss, Miss Bennet, to understand the reason for my journey hither. Your own heart. your own conscience, must tell you why I come."
"Indeed, you are mistaken madam. I have not been at all able to account for the honor of seeing you here."
"Miss Bennet, do not attempt to trifle with me, I see through your charade. A report of a most alarming nature reached me not long ago, detailing that you would soon be engaged to my nephew, Mr. Darcy. My reason in coming here is to extract a promise from you to never enter into such an engagement."
Elizabeth was startled to hear such news, and wondered if there could be any possible truth in it.
"Lady Catherine, I will be frank; I do not know whether your nephew holds any affection for me, but if he were to ask my hand in marriage I would accept his proposal without hesitation."
"Let me make myself rightly understood. This match which you have the presumption to aspire, can never take place. Mr. Darcy is engaged to my daughter. Now what have you to say?"
"Only this; that if he is so, you can have no reason to suppose that he will make an offer to me."
"The engagement between them is of a peculiar kind. It was the favorite wish of his mother, as well as hers. While in their cradles we planned the union: and now at this moment when the wishes of both sisters would be accomplished in their marriage, to be prevented by a young woman of inferior birth and of no importance in the world. Do not expect to be noticed by his family or friends, if you willfully act against the inclinations of all. You will be censured and despised by everyone connected to him. Your alliance will be a disgrace and you will never even be mentioned by any of us."
"These are heavy misfortunes," replied Elizabeth "But the wife of Mr. Darcy must have such extraordinary sources of happiness necessarily attached to her situation, that she could , upon the whole, have no cause to repine."
"Unfeeling , selfish girl ! Do not think that you can fool me. I know your game, as much as it repulses me I must play along for the sake of family pride. I am willing to offer you 1,000 pounds for the promise of your refusal should my nephew make you an offer of marriage."
"I would never lower myself to accepting such bribery. I wish for you to leave this very moment , Lady Catherine"
"No, you have insulted me by every possible method. I must beg to return to the house."
"Not until I have a word with the both of you," Came Mr. Darcy's voice for the other side of the trees.
"Mr. Darcy" exclaimed Elizabeth.
"Nephew" screeched Lady Catherine, the fear evident in her voice.
"Lady Catherine I heard your insults and bribes hurled at Miss Bennet . I demand for you to apologize this instant or I will forever separate myself from the De Bourgh family."
"I will do no nothing of the kind; I was merely protecting your honor. It is unthinkable to even consider that you would align yourself with this... "
"That is enough; you have insulted my fia- friend by every possible method. I must insist that you leave at once."
Lady Catherine at least had the wits to know that by the look in which her and the tone of her voice nephew gave that any further protest would do more harm than good to her case. It was with a heart full of anger and disgust that she retreated from Longbourn, leaving the two alone.
Chapter 9 ~ Promises
Mr. Darcy grasped Elizabeth's hand as they gazed into one another's eyes, both too filled with emotion to speak. He could not help overhearing the conversation between her and his aunt, for Lady Catherine had expressed herself so vocally that he could not escape hearing all of her protests. After overhearing her denial of Lady Catherine's bribe his esteem for her grew to new heights. There was one matter which pained him, he wondered how she could be so unsure of his intentions toward her, had he given her a reason to doubt his honor? Quickly, he reached for her hand, kissed it, and prepared to utter the words that he had so desperately longed to relate to the lady.
"Miss Bennet, you must allow me to express how ardently I admire and love you. From the first moments of our acquaintance I was touched by your charms and lively wit, and since then I have discovered that you are in possession of even more meaningful qualities good sense, honor, and virtue, and the most tender of hearts. If you will consent to be my wife, I promise that our marriage would be one of mutual love and respect, I would treat you as an equal. Will you marry me, Elizabeth?" he said in the most solemn of voices almost as if he were saying a prayer.
"Oh, yes, nothing would make me happier," she said with tears of joy streaming down her face.
"Oh, my dearest Elizabeth, you do not realize how happy you have made me." He said with a heart filled with joy.
"There is one small matter which must be corrected, Mr. Darcy. I am afraid that I do not know your Christian name, and I do think it quite imperative for a young lady to learn the name of her fiancée, as soon as may be." She said half serious, half jesting, and all embarrassment.
"Well, if you feel that you must know, it is Fitzwilliam, but I would dearly like for you to call me William instead." He said and laughed softly."
"William, I like your name very much," she said with a sigh.
"I would like to ask for your fathers permission without delay, if that is agreeable to you my darling."
"Yes, I think that you should."
Mr. Darcy was about to enter Mr. Bennet's study when he noticed Mr. Collins walking out of it with a smug grin upon his face. As he entered the room he couldn't help but notice that Mr. Bennet was wearing a foul expression, but thought to himself that, even Bingley would feel worn after being subjected to conversation with Mr. Collins.
"Mr. Bennet, I have come to speak with you concerning a most important matter."
" Mr. Collins has told me that you are to apply for Elizabeth's hand, but I cannot consent. I must apologize to you sir; the reasons for my refusal have nothing to do with your suitability as a husband for my dear Lizzy. In all honesty, I don't think that she could have found a better match but, there are family circumstances that forbid it."
The shock and agitation which Darcy felt on hearing Mr. Bennet's words were extreme. His very soul felt as if it were being ripped apart, and try as he might he could not keep his composure. He fully expected to be welcomed into the family, Mr. Bennet had even admitted that he and Elizabeth would make a good match. He wondered, what could have forced the man's refusal.
"Mr. Bennet, I am afraid that I do not understand. Why will you not allow a marriage between Elizabeth and myself? As my wife she would want for nothing, materially or otherwise; she would in every way be treated with love, respect, and fairness. I must know the reason for your refusal; it is only fair."
" Well, you see Mr. Darcy, as I am sure that you are well aware of, Lady Catherine discovered your fondness for my daughter. What you don't know is that she spoke with Mr. Collins on the subject informing him that if I were give you my consent to marry Lizzy, he must break his engagement with Mary. All of this he has related to me; I have already promised him my rejection of you. You must understand, I had no other choice; my entire estate is entailed to the man."
" If you would allow me to marry Lizzy, I would give you any amount of money to make up for the loss of your families estate."
" Longbourn may be a humble estate, but it has been in my family for many generations; no amount of money could ever replace its value. Besides, I have already promised my refusal; my honor dictates that abide by my word."
"Mr., Bennet I cannot-
"I am sorry Mr. Darcy; I think that it would be better for you to leave now."
Chapter 10 ~ Conclusion
Elizabeth who had been eagerly awaiting for Mr. Darcy to return from her father's study was deeply disturbed when he left the room, in what appeared to be a tormented state. She wondered if her father had refused his consent, but that would be impossible. Her father had truly come to like him during the past week, or so she had thought. What reason could he possibly have for denying his permission? Her mind raced, yet she could not think of any possible explanation for why he would refuse her dearest William.
"William, what is the matter?" She cried as he took hold of her both her hands.
"Elizabeth, your father has refused his consent," there was a slight tremble in his voice as he spoke.
"I don't understand. What reason could he possibly have for ref-"she could no longer contain the sobs which took hold of her.
"Shh, Please do not cry my darling. There is no reason for your tears; I promise you that we shall marry. It is only a matter of devising a plan; which we shall discuss on your sister's wedding day. I fear that we will not be allowed to be alone together until then, for your father has order me to leave Longbourn, and I am certain will forbid you from being in my presence." Darcy quickly lifted both her hands to his lips and kissed them before departing.
The weeks before the marriage of her two sisters passed swiftly for Elizabeth, and before she knew it she was at the chapel, as her own beloved sought her out after the wedding while everyone was too busy with the newly weds to notice their escape. He gently took her hand, and escorted her to a place where for the moment they would not be found. When he was confident that no one would see them, he place upon her lips the most passionate of kisses.
"These past weeks of knowing that you return my love, even though it is forbidden has been absolute agony." He whispered softly into her ear.
Without thinking she kissed him with even more ardor.
"Elizabeth, we do not have much time. I am afraid that there is no way of swaying your father, we must elope. As your sister is now Mrs. Collins, we will be doing no one any harm. I will meet you at midnight in the garden of Longbourn. Do not trouble yourself with packing too many things, as I will take you to the best dressmakers when we are wed and remember to dress warmly; I would not want for my new bride to catch a cold. Is this plan acceptable to you, dearest"?
"Yes, but we must get back to the others now, or we will be missed"
As Elizabeth left Longbourn for the last time as a Miss Bennet, she felt a bit of sadness for the life that she was leaving. However the feeling of loss was soon replace with great joy as she beheld her beloved awaiting her in the garden. After a warm embrace, Darcy gave her the ring that had been in his family for many generations, and they walked to the carriage, which was stationed down the road from Longbourn expecting them.
Darcy felt a rush of relief when the carriage containing Elizabeth and himself pulled forward, carrying them toward Gretna Greene and their new life together.
Several days after coming home to Pemberley Mrs. Darcy received a letter from her father.
Please, forgive me for denying my consent to Mr. Darcy ; I had secretly expected that he would elope with you after my refusal. He is a good and honest man ; if any man is deserving of you, it is him, Lizzy. I hope that you have found Pemberley to be a pleasant estate in which to reside; I have heard that it is quite handsome. Rest assured that not much has changed here at Longbourn; your mother still gushes and rattles away, and your sisters are all just as silly as ever.
Elizabeth read the short letter and wondered at the happiness which lay before her.