Darcy is at Pemberley getting ready to depart for London and then Rosings. Will he ever be able to put Elizabeth out of his mind and heart?
Spring, 1812, a few weeks before Darcy sets out for Rosings
Darcy looked out at the grounds from the window of his room at Pemberley. The countryside, which had been a palette of muted browns since autumn, was at last bursting forth with new life, evidenced by the greens that dotted the trees, shrubs, and lawn.
He drew in a deep breath. It was always in these first few weeks of spring that he appreciated Pemberley most. Winter had been particularly cold this year, especially those months he had spent in London. For some reason, it seemed colder than he had ever recollected. He shuddered just thinking about it.
He rubbed his jaw and looked back at his valet, who was readying his clothes for the day. “Do you think it will warm up today?”
“Oh, I do, sir. I stepped out earlier and it was quite pleasant.” The valet gave him a reassuring nod. “There is nothing like the first hint of spring to wipe away the icy frost that has built up over the past several months.”
Darcy nodded to himself and then replied, “Yes, that is so very true.” He turned back to the window and clenched his jaw as he considered how the bitter cold perfectly described how he had felt the past few months. He had entered London with a glacial demeanour, intent on separating Bingley from Miss Jane Bennet, but more than that, fighting within himself the attraction he had developed for Elizabeth.
Darcy pressed his lips tightly together. The more he fought the temptation to think about Elizabeth, to dwell on those things that he found so irresistible, the colder he felt inside. He had tried to convince himself that she was not at all suitable. He fisted his hands tightly as he considered her connections and station in life were decidedly beneath his own! The behaviour of most of her family members was undeniably most unbecoming. No! She would not do for him!
Despite having made several attempts to join in the festivities of the Season in town, he had found it increasingly dull and tiresome. Elizabeth invaded his thoughts and he could not help but wonder how much more pleasant it would had been if she were accompanying him. He found himself comparing other ladies to her, and to his chagrin, they always came up wanting.
Her sparkling eyes followed him wherever he went. He often heard her lively laugh in the silence of a wintry night. Her face, although unfashionably tan, was silky and smooth. The mere thought of her smile warmed him. Her dark hair had often glistened as it reflected the sun or candlelight, practically beckoning him to caress a curl, pull out the pins that held her hair up, and run his fingers through her long tresses.
He slowly shook his head as the image of her was so vivid and real, it was as if he had just seen her yesterday.
“Foolish heart!” he said to himself.
“Pardon me, sir?”
Darcy tensed. Had he really spoken aloud? He turned to his valet. “I merely said… I would like an early start.” He winced at the thought that it made absolutely no sense. None of it did!
“Today, sir? I was not aware of any pressing need.”
“No, I was referring to my departure for London. I would like an early start when I set out.”
His valet nodded, and it was followed by silence, giving Darcy hope that his valet was satisfied with his answer. He turned back to gaze out the window. As he looked at the grounds, it took every ounce of resolve to keep Eliz…, no Miss Elizabeth Bennet, from invading his thoughts
After a few moments, his valet said, “When you are ready, sir.”
His words stirred Darcy out of his reverie and he walked over to him. As the valet helped him out of his nightclothes, Darcy made a determination. Just as he shed his clothes for the new day – for the new season – so he would shed whatever remnant of attraction he harboured for Miss Bennet. Just as the cold days of winter were transforming into days of warmth and new life, so would he transform his heart and mind and set them on a new course.
No longer would he live in this cold shell that had shrouded him the past few months, but he would step into the warmth of spring with nary another thought of her! It appeared as though Bingley had done whatever needed to be done to put thoughts of Jane Bennet aside. Certainly he could put aside any and all feelings for Miss Bennet, as well!
He would depart for town in a few days. He would see Georgiana and then meet his cousin and spend time with him in London before the two set out for Rosings. He would focus on that. Yes! He was greatly looking forward to seeing Georgiana and Fitzwilliam again!
A small smile touched his lips. This was what he needed. Spring was here and he was already beginning to feel its warmth, new life, and a new determination grow within him. There would be nothing in Kent to remind him of Eliz… her!