“Mr. Darcy, I am eager to hear your explanation for the fact that quite a few people believe we are engaged.”
It starts with a bit of well-meant advice. Colonel Fitzwilliam suggests to his cousin Darcy that, before he proposes to Elizabeth Bennet in Kent, perhaps he ought to discuss his plans with their families first.
What neither man could have predicted however was that Lord Matlock would write the news to his sister or Viscount Saye would overhear, and tell his friends, or that his friends might slip a little and let their friends know as well. The news spreads just as quickly through Hertfordshire once Mrs Bennet opens the express Mr Bennet receives from Mr Darcy, and in a matter of days, it seems like everyone knows that Mr Darcy has proposed marriage to Elizabeth Bennet.
Everyone, that is, except Elizabeth herself.
Her refusal is quick and definite—until matters of reputation, hers as well as Jane’s, are considered. Then Mr Darcy makes another offer: summer at Pemberley, so that Jane can be reunited with Mr Bingley and so that he can prove to Elizabeth he is not what she thinks of him. Falling in love with him is naturally impossible…but once she knows the man he truly is, will she be able to help herself?
Read an excerpt
When Elizabeth woke, darkness had fallen around her. A servant must have entered at some point, for a lamp was lit and burnt low on the fireplace mantel. A look at the clock showed it was nearly midnight. She had slept for almost five hours.
With a sigh, she realised she was quite awake and likely due a long night. Her sense of absolute shame was not finished, Even now, the remembrance of her folly assailed her. I have long prided myself on my discernment and quickness, yet I am now revealed for what I truly am: blind, partial, prejudiced, and absurd. Pleased with the preference of one and offended by the neglect of the other at the beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away, where either was concerned. Till this moment, I never knew myself.
And what had he done in return? He had proposed marriage to her. He had brought her to his home, shown kindness to her family, and courted her. Just as he turned from Wickham on the streets of Meryton, he could have walked away and never seen her again.If Mr Darcy were truly the haughty, proud man she had believed him to be, the man who claimed unappeasable resentment as his greatest failing, then he could never have forgiven her for all she had done and said to him—not her impertinence to him in Hertfordshire, not her refusal of him in London, and certainly not her slights upon him here. Yet he had done nothing to her that was not kind. His affection, his regard, had been steadfast and sure, though she little deserved it. Why had he done it? What could make a man behave in such a manner as this? To love, ardent love, it must be attributed.
Elizabeth rose from the bed, thinking how she could occupy herself through the long, lonely hours ahead. She deserved every bit of the recrimination that would plague her, but she could not face it. A book? What bit of fiction might distract her from the painful truth of what she had learnt?It was then that she noticed a small, folded piece of paper lying close to her door. She picked it up and opened it, reading, in a man’s firm, decisive handwriting, “Question or Command?”She wondered when he slid it under her door. Likely it was several hours ago, for surely he had long since retired. On a whim, she opened the door. As she suspected, the hall was deserted and dimly lit. She closed it again.
Her aunt had purchased a new book for her on one of their excursions. After lighting another lamp, she settled herself by the fireplace to read it. It was one she had wished for, but she found herself lost in thinking of nothing, her mind a chagrined muddle that could do nothing but visit again and again her many sins and insults against Mr Darcy.
A sound stopped the useless litany in her mind, the quiet brush of paper against the floor. She looked up just as another paper appeared under her door. She hurried to snatch it up, and opened it to find the same message: “Question or Command?”In a trice, she threw open the door to reveal no one. No one was in the hall.She closed the door rather more gently than she had opened it, pensive as she rested her finger against her chin. In the next moment, she took the note inside her apartment to the small escritoire. With all haste due to great anticipation, she opened the container of ink, barely managing not to upset it, and scribbled “Command” on the note underneath the question. A quick wave was all the drying it received before she slid it under the door and into the hall.
Elizabeth stayed close, listening intently, expecting footsteps or some indication of movement. There came none. After a full quarter of an hour (or perhaps only five minutes, but it seemed longer), she opened the door again. Her note was gone.
She closed the door and waited. Before long, another note was slid under the door. It read: “Back stair. Come now.”It was not wholly proper, what he suggested, this clandestine meeting in the middle of the night, but she did not care. Filled with a sense of adventure that happily replaced the shame and guilt she had felt before, she hurriedly put on slippers and went to meet him.
The light had been extinguished, and she nearly shrieked when he revealed himself. “You expected someone else?” he asked with a mockingly stern countenance.
“No,” she said, still smiling faintly, her hand pressed to her bosom. “I expected you.”
About the Author
Amy D’Orazio is a long-time devotee of Jane Austen and fiction related to her characters. She began writing her own little stories to amuse herself during hours spent at sports practices and the like and soon discovered a passion for it. By far, however, the thing she loves most is the connections she has made with readers and other writers of Austenesque fiction.
Amy currently lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and daughters, as well as three Jack Russell terriers who often make appearances (in a human form) in her book.Amy’s other releases include “A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity” and the “The Best Part of Love,” a Readers Choice Gold Medal Winner for 2017.
She has also contributed short stories to “Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen's Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues,” “Rational Creatures: Stirrings of Feminism in the Hearts of Jane Austen's Fine Ladies” and “Yuletide: A Jane Austen-inspired Collection of Stories.”
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