Darcy has just handed Elizabeth Bennet into the carriage after happening upon her at Pemberley. As the horses begin to move, carrying her away, he begins to reflect on finding Elizabeth at his beloved home…
Darcy’s gaze followed the carriage carrying Elizabeth Bennet as it wound its way around the lake. After the long journey, the afternoon in Miss Bennet’s company was a welcome he had not expected, yet relished all the same.
Elizabeth’s countenance revealed her shock at their initial meeting; she had not expected any of the family to be at home. Her expression when he joined the Gardiners and herself as they walked the grounds was no less surprised, but he could not ignore her presence as he did most visitors who toured the house. He had to prove to her that he had heeded her reproofs—that he had indeed changed.
Of course, their meeting was not without some awkwardness, and he did not miss the appearance of concern expressed in her fine eyes when he requested an introduction to the Gardiners. She was well aware of her relations’ intelligence and manners, which meant her worry had been for his reaction. His heart ached at the remembrance of it.
Fortunately, the Gardiners, who could easily be mistaken for people of fashion, were indeed amiable, and Darcy found no great difficulty in conversing with such charming people. He had been in earnest when he invited Mr. Gardiner to fish in the stream. In fact, Darcy would happily show the man each and every spot he might find the best sport and bait his hooks if it meant he could change Elizabeth’s feelings towards him.
Elizabeth’s feelings! He had made such a misjudgement in Meryton, yet her unease in his company today was evident. His disquiet was no less acute. Had she understood the explanations contained within his letter?
In retrospect, the missive had been penned with such bitterness of spirit, a part of him hoped she had burned it. Her opinion of him was low enough without her perceiving a resentment that was not present, yet Mrs. Reynolds indicated Elizabeth found him handsome. Perhaps not all hope was lost!
He could not help but notice that at the mention of Mr. Bingley and his sisters, Elizabeth had become quiet. He had not had the opportunity, as of yet, to enlighten Bingley as to Miss Jane Bennet’s feelings, but he had seldom been in company with the gentleman since Easter. Those few instances included Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst as well. He could not very well broach the subject in their presence. Could Elizabeth still harbour anger for his poor advice to his friend?
Yet, she had agreed to make the acquaintance of Georgiana! He had written to his sister of Miss Bennet, telling his younger sister of Elizabeth’s intelligence and wit, and he anticipated their actual meeting. His sister required a friend who would not fawn and simper in order to gain her favour like Miss Bingley; no, she required someone with a touch of impertinence to draw her out of her timidity. Elizabeth’s kindness and outgoing personality would suit well. Georgiana would arrive on the morrow and they would travel to Lambton straight away. His sister would love Elizabeth as much as he did!
The carriage would disappear from sight soon, into Pemberley woods on its way to Lambton, so he turned and began to stride toward the house. Pemberley was a beautiful place and he loved it with everything in him; however, he had often imagined Elizabeth walking the halls, inhabiting the mistress’ suite, and laughing with him as he walked the gardens. His home was not the same as it had been prior to making her acquaintance; it now required her to be complete.
The time he spent denying his attraction and feelings for Elizabeth! This time matters would be different—he would not repeat his mistake. Whilst she was nearby, he would expend every effort to ensure she was aware of his affections and wishes. Those precious feelings had not changed since Hunsford, except this time, he would do everything within his power to gain a favourable response to the offer of his hand.
He glanced back just in time to view the back of the carriage as it disappeared into the trees. Miss Bennet may be leaving today, but one day she would return, never to be separated from him again.