Below, you will find an excerpt based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Over at Austen Authors, we are celebrating the 200th anniversary of the events in this classic novel. However, we are telling the story from the point of view of the other characters. If you wish to read the entire series, join us at austenauthors.net. Click on the “Writer’s Block” and the symbol above to enjoy the whole story.
On the third day that Darcy met Elizabeth along her favorite path, he encountered some resistance on her part, but he had prepared himself for her reluctance. “Miss Elizabeth,” he began upon meeting heraccidentally for the third time in as many days, “I have purposely sought you out.” His words registered a mild shock upon Elizabeth’s face. “After leaving you yesterday at the Parsonage, I recalled a particularly pleasant prospect I believe you would enjoy. I came today in hopes of having the pleasure of showing it to you.”
“Thank you, Mr. Darcy,” she countered, “that shall not be necessary.”
He said apologetically, “I understand if you are too tired. I should have thought better than to intrude upon your time.” He retrieved his gloves from where they lay upon a bench. “I had only thought of how much you have enjoyed the park while we have kept each other company. The walk I had thought to share was one of my late mother’s favorites. I had forgotten about it until Lady Catherine reminded me.” He prayed that such a small prevarication would not come back to haunt him. “I simply thought you might find it a pleasant choice for a solitary walk.
Elizabeth hesitated briefly before saying, “If it is not too far, I would take delight in seeing it, Sir. Thank you for considering my pleasure.” She rested her gloved hand on his proffered arm.
Walking along the narrow, winding path, Elizabeth often moved closer for support, as the footing was a bit bumpy with tree roots. Lost to her closeness, Darcy considered the pleasure he would know by lifting Elizabeth into his arms and carrying her along the path. To feel her clinging to his chest would be pure bliss, but he resisted any rash impropriety.
In less than ten minutes, they emerged from the thick-trunk, tree-lined path into a clearing painted by the sun. Darcy pushed aside some branches and permitted Elizabeth to step into a field of vibrantly colored wildflowers—primroses, bluebells, wild hyacinths, and anemones. He enjoyed the gasp she emitted upon seeing what the clearing had to offer.
“Mr. Darcy,” she exclaimed, “this is magnificent!”
He could not stop the smile erupting upon his lips. As Elizabeth stepped away from him and scampered toward the field, Darcy reluctantly released her. He watched as she stopped suddenly, spread her arms wide, and turned around and around, looking skyward with joy. He did not expect such unencumbered pleasure, but he could not turn his head. She was the most exquisite creature that he had ever seen.
She walked through the field at several angles, stopping to enjoy the various flowers; then she strode purposely toward him. “Mr. Darcy, you have honored me by sharing this clearing. I cannot understand why you chose to do so, but it will be a treasured memory of my trip to Rosings.”
“My mother loved nature, Miss Elizabeth. I believe she would have been pleased to know you approved of her favorite refuge,” he offered. Realizing he could not press her too quickly, he said evenly, “Are you prepared to return to the Parsonage?”
“Yes, Sir, I believe I am.” He extended his arm, and anticipating the pathway’s unevenness, she took a firmer grip than previously. Her rich, mellow hazel eyes sparkling as she turned around and around in the field had filled Darcy with happiness. He loved Elizabeth Bennet; the realization of admitting his feelings flashed through his being; no more would he say he loved her eyes or loved how she spoke her mind; no longer would he think of his feelings being only a strong attraction; Darcy loved Elizabeth. It was as simple as that: he loved Elizabeth. Finally openly acknowledging his devotion for her to himself, Darcy wanted to scream it to the world. Instead, he forced himself to swallow hard and say, “I am pleased my intrusion was not unpleasant, Miss Elizabeth.”
“I believe I told you earlier not all intrusions are unwelcome, Sir.”
“Our acquaintance has been long enough for us to know something of the other’s preferences.” She looked at him with questions hidden behind her eyes; Darcy realized that Elizabeth would now expect him to make known his intentions: He shared his mother’s favorite refuge with her, and he had told her of his wishing to share precious parts of his life with her. The lady could no longer doubt his purpose.
Broken only by occasional civilities regarding the weather and of books recently read, the companionable silence returned between them. As customary, he left her at the Parsonage’s door, but this time as he strode away he allowed himself the pleasure of turning for a final look at her; Elizabeth stood transfixed and looking toward where he brought up; he touched the brim of his hat to bid her farewell and strolled away. After he turned toward Rosings the second time, he did not see her grimace, nor did he observe her perplexed stare.
Tomorrow—he thought as he made his way along the path; tomorrow he would offer his hand to Elizabeth. He would depart from Rosings in two days; therefore, tomorrow would be the day. The prayer the Devil answers, he reminded himself. Let the Devil beware, Darcy thought. He would declare his love for Elizabeth; she would accept; and then Darcy would deal with those whose censure would surely come. Tonight he would prepare a proper proposal; he would tell Elizabeth how his regard for her had grown despite their differences. He imagined her happiness at his declaration. That evening Darcy slept well with the knowledge that on the morrow Elizabeth Bennet would be his.
(This scene comes from Chapter 8 of my first Austen-inspired novel, Darcy’s Passions.)