At Austen Authors, we are rewriting the events from Pride and Prejudice from the points of view of other characters. If you would like to read all the entries, visit austenauthors.net and click on “The Writer’s Block.”
He awoke early and left Rosings’s warmth behind to brave a chilly morning and to wait for Elizabeth’s company. Darcy had thought that he knew which path she had described to Edward, but after a half hour’s stay, he questioned the information. Reasoning that Elizabeth likely assisted Mrs. Collins with the lady’s household duties, he gave himself permission to wait another quarter hour before he would return to the manor house. To his relief, he finally spotted Miss Elizabeth as she approached the roughly hewed clearing where he awaited her. By design, wishing the appearance of an accidental meeting, Darcy stepped into the shadows.
Not expecting to encounter anyone along the pathway, Elizabeth started when Darcy appeared before her. “Mr. Darcy,” she gasped and clutched at her chest, “You surprised me, Sir.”
“Miss Elizabeth,” he feigned surprise, “as you did me.” He bowed properly, but he searched her countenance for Elizabeth’s real feelings at encountering him. “I did not realize you too preferred solitary walks. They are most pleasant, are they not?”
“You know me to be a person who is not afraid of a healthy walking distance,” she appeared a bit unnerved by the mischance of their meeting.
Darcy brushed away the reluctance she displayed. Instead, he said, “Are you nearing the end of your preamble?”
“Yes…yes, Sir,” she stammered. “I believe I will turn back.”
“Then allow me, Madam,” he said, doffing his hat, “to escort you to the Parsonage. I would be remiss in my duty if I permitted you to return alone.” He liked the way this scenario had fallen into place. Everything was as he had imagined.
Elizabeth flashed a questioning look in his direction, but she accepted his extended arm as her support. Darcy resisted reaching out and placing his free hand over hers; the warmth of her fingers tantalized his senses. They walked for a few minutes in what he considered to be companionable silence; yet, he did not want to waste the precious time he would spend with her so he forced himself to offer up observations about the beauty of Kent. “It has been many years since Kent has sported early blooms and greenery. The temperate weather has been kind to the parklands.”
“Yes, it is quite beautiful,” she said softly. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my walks.”
Elizabeth’s response he barely heard, being so consumed by the moment, but he caught enough of the words to realize she found Kent to be very pleasant.
“Would you consider returning for another visit?” he ventured.
“Such would be a pleasurable sojourn,” she turned to look unexpectedly up at him. He prayed that she would know his affections soon. Darcy glowed with the hopes that Elizabeth would think it more pleasurable if he were in Kent, as well.
“How do you find Rosings Park?” he questioned, engrossed in her closeness.
“It has a pleasant prospect when one first takes in its beauty,” Elizabeth began. “Its many wings confuse me, however. Lady Catherine has offered use of her library, but I must admit I found the billiard room instead. It is a bit amusing upon recollection.”
Darcy caught the glint of a smile, and he joined in her ease. “I am certain if you were to return as a Rosings’s guest, the likelihood of making such a mistake would be greatly reduced.”
The ambiguity of his words was not lost on Elizabeth, and that pleased Darcy. He wanted her to think of him in a different role. To realize that he was much more than she imagined. She glanced at him briefly and shook her head. The movement of her bonnet caught his attention, and Darcy partook of the flush of her cheeks and of her thick eyelashes.
The walk was coming to an end, and they drifted into silence once more. Approaching the gate, he loosen the latch with his free hand. In reality, he truly disliked parting from her company, and he walked with her to the door of the Parsonage. “Thank you, Mr. Darcy,” her eyes rose to meet his.
“It was my pleasure, Miss Elizabeth. Your presence made the walk more agreeable.” Before she could respond, he offered her a quick bow and strode away. Waiting until he was certain no one at the Parsonage could observe his reactions, Darcy finally gave himself permission to stop, lean against a tree, and replay the reflections of the last half hour.
It was another beginning. Darcy would like to think this was another step in his winning Elizabeth’s regard when, in reality, most of his beginnings were faltering attempts. Accustomed to being the prey, not the pursuer, he knew what to do to sustain an interest once it began, but Darcy had never met a woman such as Elizabeth Bennet and had never initiated a relationship. Yet, he felt more hopeful; Bingley, and especially his sisters, had thwarted Darcy’s attempts at Netherfield; here at Rosings, his cousin frustrated his designs. Darcy realized he needed privacy to secure Elizabeth’s affections; the solitary paths of Rosings would permit him the means and the mode to win the lady’s heart.
(This scene comes from Chapter 7 of my first Austen-inspired novel, Darcy’s Passions.)