Is Caroline Bingley green with envy as she notices Mr. Darcy’s attentions to Elizabeth Bennet? Does Emma Woodhouse wish unspeakable horrors on Harriet Smith because of Harriet’s crush on Mr. Knightley? After Willoughby, does Marianne covet Elinor’s more sensible behaviour? We could go on for ages, but it’s only for this month so don’t miss a post!
When I heard we were doing Jealousy in July posts, I knew I had to post a scene from “Mr. Darcy’s Rival.” In this pivotal scene, Colonel Fitzwilliam has just revealed to Elizabeth that Darcy had separated Bingley from Jane. But instead of divulging it to just Elizabeth (not knowing he was speaking of her sister), both Darcy and Rickland (Darcy’s rival) were there.
Before Darcy could make any justification, Elizabeth lowered her eyes and said softly, “I feel a headache coming on.” She turned to Mr. Rickland. “Would you please escort me back to the parsonage?”
“Certainly.” Rickland stood up and took her hand, bringing her to her feet. “Please excuse us.” He shot Darcy a look of disgust, and the two walked away.
Darcy could barely begin to comprehend what had just occurred. His cousin looked at him with a questioning glance. “What was that all about? I knew Miss Bennet disliked you, but her reaction was more severe than I ever would have expected.”
Darcy jerked his head around in disbelief. “What do you mean you knew she disliked me?”
Fitzwilliam blew out a puff of air. “It has been apparent from the moment I first made her acquaintance that she barely tolerates your company. Darcy, you cannot tell me you were not aware of her opinion of you.” He paused and looked in the direction the couple walked. “But this was certainly not what I expected. I thought she would laugh at it, as she has laughed at other things you have done.”
Darcy felt as if the ground beneath him was about to give away. His head swam with what his cousin had now revealed to Elizabeth and this unforeseen intelligence he imparted to him. He shook his head as he tried to make sense of it all. How could he have not seen what others had readily seen? How could he have believed Elizabeth returned his regard when, in truth, she loathed him? She had laughed at him! He wondered what had truly been her opinion of him and what must she think of him now!
Darcy did not trust himself to speak. His feelings waged war within. He felt anger at his cousin for mentioning something he had not expected him to share with anyone else, grief for allowing himself to love a woman who did not return that love, frustration with himself for being so blind, and jealousy at Rickland for being the one Elizabeth wished to have comfort her.
“Darcy? Would you care to please explain?”
Darcy turned to his cousin, who had been silently waiting for an answer. He knew not how to disguise the anguish that was likely written on his face.
“It was her sister. Her eldest sister, Jane, was the young lady from whom I separated Bingley.”
Colonel Fitzwilliam’s jaw dropped. “Heavens, Darcy! No wonder she was angry! I had no idea. Pray, forgive me.”
Darcy waved a hand through the air. “You had no way of knowing.” He peered at his cousin through lowered brows.
Fitzwilliam watched him for a moment as if pondering something. Finally, he said, “Darcy, before Rickland and I came upon you and Miss Bennet, he asked me something I initially thought odd.”
“What was that?”
“He asked whether you had feelings of affection towards Miss Bennet.”
Darcy took a deep breath, afraid to even look at his cousin. “And… and what did you tell him?”
“I laughed. I told him there is something between the two of you, but it is certainly not affection.”
Darcy turned away from his cousin, rubbing his jaw. He scuffed the ground with the heel of his boot.
“Darcy, am I correct in that assumption, or did I misspeak in that matter, as well?”
Darcy closed his eyes, and when he opened them, he saw his cousin had stepped around and now stood in front of him. He pinched the bridge of his nose, looking at the ground as he did, and nodded his head.
“Lord, Darcy. I had no idea!”
“I am grateful for that. I would not have wished you to divulge the matters pertaining to my heart to Rickland.”
“If you had told me, both of your feelings for Miss Elizabeth Bennet and the lady involved in your… your…”
“Go ahead and say it, Fitzwilliam. My interference.”
Fitzwilliam tossed his head. “If you had told me it was her sister, I would not have made such a blunder.”
“There is a lot I should have done differently. And the blunder, as you call it, can for the most part be attributed to me.”
“Do you want to start at the beginning?”
“I would rather not.”
“Darcy, I cannot imagine what you could have done to earn a lady’s contempt. In particular, Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s!”
When Darcy did not answer, Fitzwilliam continued. “I can certainly understand she is angered now, but what offenses could you have committed before this? Especially if you harboured feelings of affection for her.”
Darcy began walking. “I am in no mood to discuss this.”
“You are angry with me, and I take full responsibility for my share in this. But please help me understand!”
Darcy stopped abruptly and turned to look at his cousin. “The less you know, the better. I do not want you talking to Rickland about my feelings for Miss Bennet. He is under the misapprehension I do not have any feelings of affection for her, and I would prefer we leave it that way.” He fisted his hands and let out a long sigh.
“Ahh. Those sighs emanating from you; I now know why.”
Darcy chose to ignore his cousin’s remark. “Did Rickland indicate he likes Miss Bennet?”
“She is very likeable. We all like her, Darcy. Rickland, me, and even our aunt, believe it or not. But I doubt you are referring to that kind of liking.” He shook his head. “He did not give me any indication his feelings for her are strong in that way. He is much like me in that he has to consider marriage to a lady with at least a moderate fortune.”
“I would not wish for Miss Bennet to be misled and hurt by him. Why would he ask to speak with you about my interest in her if he were not interested?”
“I believed he was merely curious.” The colonel shook his head. “Perhaps I was wrong there, as well.”
Darcy was silent for a moment and then said, “I should like to leave on the morrow. I can make an excuse to our aunt, but I cannot remain here.”
Fitzwilliam rubbed his chin. “As much as I hate to leave the pleasant company we have enjoyed here, I would have to agree.” He folded his arms across his chest. “But I am still interested in hearing how this all came about.”
Darcy let out an exasperated huff. “We shall have a long carriage ride on the morrow. One day removed might make me more inclined to discuss this with you.” He began to walk away, and then stopped. “But I would not count on it.”