We’re in week 2 of our ‘Jane in January’ event and hope you are enjoying our special focus on “Pride and Prejudice.” The giveaways associated with this event will be distributed through rafflecopter, so be sure to sign into it to be entered.
We will announce winners by Sunday afternoon of each week through the whole month.
Darcy’s activities during the winter months of “Pride and Prejudice” are not mentioned by Jane Austen, and we can only conjecture what he may have done. In this scene, he and Georgiana have been invited to an intimate dinner party by Bingley, hosted by the Hursts.
Darcy walked slowly while people hurried past him as they sought shelter from the sudden winter storm that had descended upon the busy streets of London. Icy pellets hit his face, which he tried to bury within the folds of the dark green scarf Georgiana had knitted for him for Christmas. He pulled his hat down further and wrapped his coat more tightly about him. He shivered, and the cold took hold of him down to his toes.
He reached up and fingered the scarf, realizing his neck was the only thing that felt any warmth. A rueful smile touched his lips as he thought of his sister. He had attempted to join her in the joyful spirit she exhibited over the holidays, but it had been in vain. She knew something was not right with him. Despite assuring her that nothing was wrong, she could readily discern otherwise.
As he stuffed his gloved hands into his pockets, he shuddered. He knew not whether it was the frigid cold or the memory of last week’s Twelfth Night Ball. He would very much like to forget it! He drew in a deep breath and felt the cold sear his insides, and then quickly let it out in a huff. His expelled breath was transformed before him in a frosty wisp.
He stopped at the corner of the street and gave his head a shake, as he still had two streets before he reached his home. A pressing need to get outside and walk had earlier impelled him to do so before the weather worsened. He had been walking aimlessly for the past hour, his thoughts in turmoil.
Part of the reason for his restlessness – despite thoughts of Elizabeth invading at the slightest memory – was that he and Georgiana had been invited to a small dinner party given by Mr. and Mrs. Hurst. While he did not always enjoy the company of all, Bingley’s presence would do much to cheer him. At least he hoped as much.
He wondered how his friend was faring. If he were to judge Bingley’s condition by his own, he surmised his friend was likely not faring well at all. He was certain Bingley was still pining for Miss Jane Bennet, as much as he was for Elizabeth. He shook his head. Pining did not seem a strong enough word. His heart literally ached at the thought of never seeing her again.
Darcy took long, hurried steps up to his house. The wind picked up even more, but the icy rain had stopped. He hoped that would be the end of the frozen moisture. The last thing he needed was a treacherous drive the three miles to the Hursts.
Darcy stepped into his house and handed off his hat, coat, and gloves. He moved to the fireplace, blazing with warmth, and stood before it, rubbing his hands briskly. His walk, which he had hoped would clear his thoughts, served only to chill him to his bones.
“You are home!” Georgiana hurried to his side. “I was beginning to worry about you. I feared everything would turn to ice.”
Darcy turned and smiled at his sister. “I appreciate your concern. I took care as I walked.”
She pinched her brows and a look of apprehension crossed her face. “Do you think we still ought to go? It could get worse.”
Darcy smiled. His sister was so like him. If it were anyone but Bingley’s relatives, he would choose to remain at home. “The sleet has stopped. I think we ought to be fine.”
Georgiana offered her brother a brief smile. “I should get ready.”
Darcy nodded. “We should depart in about an hour.” He attempted to give her a reassuring smile, but he doubted he had been successful in easing his sister’s discomfiture.
Darcy and his sister were brought into the Hursts’ drawing room, and they found themselves in the midst of almost two dozen people. He tensed as he realized this was not what he had been expecting. He knew Georgiana felt the same, as he noticed her steps falter.
He wished to remain by her side, to assist her in conversing with others, but Miss Bingley seemed intent on taking that responsibility. Georgiana was soon whisked away, and he watched as Miss Bingley introduced her to others in the room, initiating the conversation. Throughout the evening, he often sought his sister out, raising his brows in question, and she would reply with a smile. It appeared, at least, that Miss Bingley was carrying on the conversations quite well, and Georgiana nodded or smiled as needed.
Darcy was rather surprised at the people who were invited. He did not claim to know all of the Hursts’ acquaintances, but it was all married couples, save for an elderly gentleman, Mr. Hogan, who had been widowed for several years. Darcy found him quite interesting. Apart from Bingley, this gentleman’s company was preferred.
As the two conversed, the gentleman began to talk about his wife. His sunken blue eyes seemed to light up when Darcy asked about her. “Oh, she was lovely. She could make me smile and laugh with just a look. She was intelligent and we could talk for hours.” He winked his eye. “And sometimes all night.”
Darcy smiled and suddenly could not get images of Elizabeth out of his thoughts. As Mr. Hogan spoke, he realized just how much he wanted to love his wife as much as this man had loved his. He continued to speak about his wife, and Darcy could not imagine anyone other than Elizabeth in that role.
When dinner was served, Darcy was even more dismayed that he and Georgiana were placed at opposite ends of the dining room table. She was seated between Bingley and a gentleman, who was a friend of the Hursts. He was seated between Miss Bingley and this same friend’s wife.
Again, he watched to see how Georgiana fared. As the meal was served and conversations commenced, the lady at his side began speaking to the person on the other side of her. Miss Bingley tapped him on the arm to secure his attention.
“You must be so proud of your sister, Mr. Darcy,” Miss Bingley said, as she nodded her head in the young girl’s direction. “She has become a delightful young lady and has been so affable this evening. Everyone seems to have a high regard for her. “ She seemed quite pleased with herself.
He looked at her and forced a smile. “I am glad to hear that.”
“And just look at her and Charles. I believe they are alike in so many ways and have so much in common.” She tilted her head. “I do believe they are enjoying each other’s company.”
Darcy could not necessarily agree with Miss Bingley’s estimation of his sister’s enjoyment, and Bingley enjoyed nearly everyone’s company. While Bingley was being polite in including Georgiana in his conversation, it appeared more to him that Bingley was speaking more particularly to the woman on the other side of him. Georgiana nodded occasionally, but Darcy readily discerned that the smile on her face, although sweet, was more a result of her discomfiture.
It was after dinner that concerned Darcy, for the ladies would go off by themselves and he would be unable to keep watch of his sister until the gentlemen would join the ladies. He told himself not to fret, but when it came to his sister, it was difficult not to do so.
As the ladies departed, he sent Georgiana an encouraging look. He was grateful – in a way – that Miss Bingley immediately went to her side. Her fondness for his sister would this one time be appreciated.
When the men joined the ladies later, Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley performed for the guests on the pianoforte. But when games were then announced, Darcy expressed his regrets that he and Georgiana had to take their leave. They thanked the Hursts for a pleasant evening.
Miss Bingley looked at her sister and told her she would see them out. Turning to Georgiana, she said, “We must do this again.” She walked by Georgiana’s side, taking her hand. “This has been simply delightful.”
Georgiana nodded meekly and spoke softly with her eyes cast down. “Yes, thank you.”
“Thank you, again, Miss Bingley,” Darcy said as the carriage approached. “And express our appreciation to your sister and Mr. Hurst.”
They stepped into the carriage and Darcy looked at Georgiana. He could barely see her in the dark, but he could discern that she was looking down.
“You did well tonight, Georgiana. I am quite proud of you.”
She let out a shaky breath and murmured a soft, “Thank you.”
He heard the catch in her voice. “Is everything all right? Did anything happen that has upset you?” He reached over and took her hand. “Please tell me.”
She turned her head away, and her words faltered. “I… it is just that I…”
“Pray, tell me what is troubling you.”
She turned back and grasped his hand tightly. “Is this something that you truly want for me? You have never said anything, and I did not know what to say.”
Darcy shook his head, trying to make sense of his sister’s words. “Georgiana, I am at a loss to know of what you are speaking. What is it I am supposed to want? All I have ever wanted is for you to be happy.”
“Miss Bingley told me about the hopes the two of you share that Mr. Bingley and I would one day marry.”
Darcy’s eyes widened, and his chest tightened. “Heavens, Georgiana! She is obviously under a great misapprehension.” Darcy shook his head and drew in a breath to calm his rising ire. Finally, in a mellow voice, he said, “Indeed, Bingley is a good friend, and I thought you would enjoy spending the evening with him and a few friends, but Georgiana, I would never enter into a scheme with Miss Bingley regarding you and her brother.”
Georgiana looked down. “Miss Bingley kept talking about how delighted you and she would be if he and I would join our families together in matrimony.”
Darcy fisted his hands. He could not believe that Miss Bingley would say such a thing. He did not trust himself to speak for a few moments. “She made you believe that I felt this way?”
Georgiana silently nodded and wiped a tear from her eye.
He squeezed her hand, regretting the discomfiture Miss Bingley put her through. “Trust me; I have never entertained such thoughts.” He let out a long sigh. “It grieves me to know how discomfited you were tonight. Unfortunately, due to my friendship with her brother, you shall likely be in company with Miss Bingley again in the future. I shall speak with her and insist she not speak of this again. If she does, please know that it is not my wish.”
“Thank you,” Georgiana replied softly.
Darcy turned away. His stomach was in knots, not just because of what Miss Bingley said to his sister, but because it also made him wonder if her sole motive for separating Bingley from Miss Jane Bennet was because she wanted him to marry Georgiana.
As he thought about it, she had been quite vocal about the necessity of separating the two, and when he mentioned that he had seen little affection on Miss Jane’s part, she agreed most wholeheartedly. He had taken her agreement as an affirmation of his assessment of his friend’s latest venture into love.
Now he wondered whether Miss Bingley had her own purposes in wanting them apart.
Darcy grumbled and shook his head. He had not been wrong in separating them, but it did not make what Miss Bingley had done then or said this evening right and proper. He felt completely justified in his actions, and it gave him a great deal of satisfaction knowing he had been able to look out for his friend. He rubbed his jaw as he turned to gaze out the window into the darkness. At least he thought it did.
Here are some of the prizes we are giving away in Jane in January:
Week Two Prizes:
From Jane Odiwe – 1 copy of “Project Darcy,” 1 copy of ”Searching for Captain Wentworth,” and 1 copy of “Mr Darcy’s Secret” (international}, 1 “The Treasures of Jane Austen” with facsimile letters and other features (UK only)
From Kara Louise – 1 paperback “Pirates and Prejudice” (US); 1 ebook “Pirates and Prejudice,” (international); 1 P&P Paperdolls (US)
From Abigail Reynolds – 2 reusable shopping bags with JA images (US)
From C. Allyn Pearson – Classic Hardcover “Persuasion” (US)
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