“Darcy, you are grinding your teeth,” Colonel Fitzwilliam muttered to his pew mate.
“You are mistaken, Fitzwilliam. I was attempting to swallow what the parson is serving.”
“You have a tendency to grind your teeth when you are displeased. I take it that Mr. Collins’s sermon is not resonating with you.”
“Or you or we would not be having this conversation.”
Before the colonel could respond, Lady Catherine gave both a cold stare, and the whispering ended. Darcy’s thoughts now returned to the true reason for his displeasure: Elizabeth Bennet.
I thought I had left all thoughts of Elizabeth behind in London. If I had known that she would be here exactly at this time, I would have postponed my visit until after Easter.
After returning to London following the Netherfield ball, Darcy had made a determined effort to put Elizabeth Bennet out of his mind. The behavior of Mrs. Bennet and her three youngest daughters at the ball had served to illuminate how impossible it was for him to form any serious designs on the lady. If Mrs. Bennet were not talking too loudly, it was Kitty and Lydia Bennet, literally, chasing after officers, begging for a partner. And Mary! Her performance had proved the middle Bennet daughter incapable of embarrassment.
These inappropriate displays were followed by Sir William Lucas’s proclamation that there were expectations in the neighborhood that the engagement of Miss Jane Bennet and Bingley would shortly be announced. From that moment, Darcy was determined to do everything in his power to remove his friend from Hertfordshire and the grasp of the Bennet family.
As Bingley relied heavily on Darcy’s opinion, convincing him that Miss Jane Bennet had no particular interest in him was easily done. With the support of Caroline and Louisa, it was the work of a moment. He, on the other hand, was finding it difficult to erase Elizabeth Bennet from his memory.
It is her smile that makes it so difficult. No. It is her laugh. Yes, her laugh. It floats in the air before disappearing into the ether. And then there is her handsome figure and her beautiful face framed by an avalanche of curls. Oh blast! She is in my head again!
“Darcy, seriously,” the colonel mumbled under his breath so as not to invite a rebuke from his aunt, “you are grinding your teeth so loudly that I am sure Miss Elizabeth, sitting over there,” he said, nodding with his chin in her direction, “can hear you. She must be wondering what on earth you are thinking.”
I am thinking of her—again. Darcy shook his head. I do not understand it. Yes, Elizabeth is lovely, but so are a dozen women of my acquaintance. It is true that she dances divinely and has the voice of an angel, but there are many others who are so accomplished. Why is it that I am preoccupied with her?
“Darcy, excuse me for interrupting your thoughts, but you are staring at Miss Elizabeth, and she is looking at you with a very odd expression.”
Darcy looked across the aisle, and when he did, Elizabeth looked right at him with a quizzical look and a tilt of her head that was very nearly adorable. It was at that moment that he understood that the reason he could not dismiss her from his mind was because he was in love with her. As he held her gaze, he imagined he looked like a doddering dolt—a lamb in search of its mother—because he was lost—lost in a love that could never be.
After the service, the congregants gathered outside the church, complimenting the Reverend Collins on the excellence of his sermon. Darcy could only nod as he had not heard one word of it. Instead, he made his way over to Elizabeth Bennet who was standing alone.
“Miss Elizabeth, how very good it is to see you again.”
Lizzy doubted the sincerity of Mr. Darcy’s statement. When the gentleman had paid a courtesy call at the Parsonage, he had barely said a word to her—or anyone else for that matter.
“Mr. Darcy, you seemed lost in thought during the service. I imagine you were thinking of the solemnity of the commemoration of Our Savior’s sacrifice. After all, it is Good Friday.”
“I wish it were so, Miss Elizabeth. The truth of the matter is that when in church, I have a tendency to let my mind wander.”
“And where does your mind take you?”
“To a forbidden land.”
Lizzy laughed at the notion that a “forbidden land” existed for a man of his station and position in life. “Be honest, Mr. Darcy, for a man such as yourself, is there any place where you cannot go or anything you cannot do if you have a mind to do it?”
“Even for a man such as I, there are prohibitions, societal restraints.”
“In that case, I imagine you must decide if this forbidden land that beckons you is more important than the possible censure of your peers for visiting it.”
Darcy had no ready response, and the sound of his aunt’s voice saved him from an awkward silence. “I am summoned, Miss Elizabeth. Perhaps, we may continue this conversation at another time.”
“As you wish, sir,” she said with a slight bow of her head.
“You make it sound as if my wish is your command. It is not. Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back.”
“Sir?” a confused Elizabeth asked.
Darcy was as confused as she. He had not anticipated a quote from Plato welling up inside him. Embarrassed, he repeated that he must go. “My aunt will be displeased if I tarry. I wish you a joyous Easter, Miss Bennet.”
Lizzy’s gaze followed Mr. Darcy as he joined Lady Catherine de Bourgh in her carriage and continued to do so until the conveyance disappeared from sight.
“What on earth did Mr. Darcy mean by a ‘heart that whispers back?’ He speaks in riddles.”
“And you are talking to yourself,” Charlotte said, teasing her friend.
Lizzy nodded, realizing that was often the case after a conversation with Mr. Darcy.
Your comments are always appreciated. Have a joyous Easter!