Section I, Next Section
Posted on Tuesday, 7 July 1998
Author's Note: It is the opinion of the author that this missive is in very sick, and she begs someone to perform the Sondheimlich Maneuver and rescue it from the inanity of its verse! Enjoy, and feel free to take up your cross and add, change, invent verses at your leisure... AR
girl by the name of Elizabeth
Went to tease her worst enemy, Fitz, a bit.
But to her surprise
He adored her fine eyes,
And he matched her impertinence wit for wit.
Now Fitzwilliam was rather haughty,
Which did not please Lizzy, who thought he
Was prideful and vain;
So she spoke with disdain,
And indeed, was really quite naughty.
This Fitz, who was also called Darcy
Found that no imperfections could mar the
Charms of his Lizzy,
Which made him quite dizzy
(For by then, he'd fallen pretty far, see.)
Though Fitzy was very besotted
He could easily see what was plotted:
For the house of the Bennets-
Any man who went in it
Was fated to exit betrothed!
Matrimonial concerns took precedence
In that house, more than in any other residence.
With an estate all entailed,
Mrs. Bennet bewailed,
Five daughters were a cruel trick of Providence!
Now Darcy's good friend, Charles Bingley,
Took one look at Jane Bennet and went tingley.
And (though cursed with a name
That puts all rhymes to shame)
His yearly 5k. went most appealingly
In his favour, to Jane Bennet, et. al,
With the exception of Darcy, whose pal,
He most acutely felt,
Was not so on the shelf,
That he must pine away for a gal
From the sticks--if you prefer, Meryton,
But the battle was with difficulty won,
For Bingley in love,
Was quite loathe to budge,
Til Darcy a tangled web spun…
And informed Charles that Jane was a nogo,
That her interest in him was so-so,
And though Bingley was sad
He was not such a cad
As to dream he was deceived-oh, no!
Darcy now felt quite certain his reason
Had escaped him, or worn out its season;
For while he was stalling
To keep Charles from falling
In love-his own heart had committed treason!
Though he vowed that none should accuse him
Of allowing mere love to induce him
To marry outside
Of his sphere, his pride
Was at a loss, for Lizzy had confused him.
He would never allow himself trapped
By the Bennets, as Bingley seemed apt
To do, though each day
Found him pining away,
And all his resistance soon sapped.
At last he was forced to leave Hertfordshire
All his thoughts focused on escaping her.
But, as often goes,
A rose is a rose
Whether ten minutes or ten hours away from her…
As for Lizzy, she thought not a minute
Of his leaving, with any chagrin in it;
Though perhaps she'd enjoyed
Being ruthlessly coy---
Such a man was no match for a Bennet!
Posted on Tuesday, 7 July 1998
In which the cast of characters are presented and dealt with in a very straightforward and forthright manner.
Now here are the names of the characters
Whose presence provides so many barriers
To the ease of our plot;
Still, better than not,
To have too many-the more the merrier.
First I present Lizzy's father
Who may be summed thus, if you bother:
"For what," he would chort,
"Do we live, but to sport
At our neighbors, and laugh at each other?"
His wife will please beg to differ
On this head, for it unfailingly miffs her
That her nerves on display
Give no rest night nor day
And, of course, no one knows how she suffers!
Of their two daughters closest to sane,
The prettiest is undoubtedly Jane.
Abound for this girl who lives
Solely to cause no one pain.
The dowdy Miss Mary, was blest, indeed,
With the charming persona of milkweed.
No love but of Fordyce---
It must, will suffice,
For she never shall get Mr. C!
Of Kitty, we sadly demur,
Knowing not what to tell about her;
For, for right or for wrong,
What to say of a sponge?
To understand, one must look to her sister.
Ah! The world is too full of Lydias!
(For which, I suppose, others pity us.)
Flirty and flighty,
She falls prey to the Mighty
Mendacity of Wickham the Insidious.
(If you're looking for rhymes about Whickham
I disappoint, for I cannot quite pick 'em---
And though I could mar thus
I'm sick of his carcass!---
So out of this poem I now kick him.)
In my search for nice characters I thirst,
Only to be parched by the Hursts.
And then, next in line,
I espy Caroline!
Egads, this verse must be the worst!
What can be said for Miss Bingley?
What praise high enough shall I sing thee?
For, if your last name was Binger,
I'd rhyme it with 'finger'
And similar thoughts, with utmost and willing glee…
In order of insipidity they fall in,
And of course, need I say, Mr. Collins
Would have held the first ranked,
Were he not outflanked:
Surpass Lady Catherine? Appalling!!
Next we come to the Colonel.
Most men have black books--he, a journal
To keep track of the women
Who'd like to see him swimmin'!---
And who'd greatly desire to learn all
That's beneath his charming manner;
But I digress; next we reach Georgianna,
About whom conjecture
Sits like a specter
And gives her an aura of grandeur…
They parade past, exultant in fame:
(Sir William's absent, he's at St. James)
Denny, the Gardiners,
Mrs. Reynolds and Charlotte…
After a while they all look the same…
I would continue with this line of prattle
With my characters filing past like cattle;
But I'm tired; I'm on chat
With my friends Meesh and Katt
And so for now I end this limerick battle….
stay tuned for Part Two of Pemberley: the Limerick!!!
Posted on Wednesday, 8 July 1998
In which Fitzy and Lizzy have a chat.
Part two of our story begins
With the parting of the last winter wind.
November long past,
Jane's hopes all are dashed
Of her own love's sweet, happy end.
For Bingley, so Caroline claims,
Is in London, and happily remains
There to woo Georgianna;
No surprise that they plan a
Grand match, for her hand he must gain.
Mr. Collins, as all of you know,
Has too dissipated with the snow.
His quest now fulfilled,
He has seen fit to yield
To HIS HONORABLE PATRONESS LADY CATHERINE DEBOURGH OF ROSINGS PARK-- and go.
To Charlotte he did make his plea;
Was accepted with efficacy;
For the venerable Charlotte,
Though no hussy or harlot,
Would still take the first man she sees...
The Bennets, secure in their solitude
Have nothing to do but to brood.
They're entirely alone;
Even Wickham has gone---
And for once K. and L. are subdued.
So Jane and Elizabeth reflect
On the months past; and in retrospect,
Lizzy's fascination grows,
From what cause, who knows,
For the man whom she could least respect...
Long did our Lizzy then think
Of the tall hunk who put her on the brink
Of a frenzy of ire
As well as---a fire
Of emotion from which she was inclined to shrink;
She dwelt on his many imperfections
(Though of character, not other directions!)
She compared Fitz to George,
Found the one a dead bore,
For the latter was high in her affections.
At last the Spring showed its features
In flowers, and all the earth's creatures
Went to welcome the March
With joy in their hearts,
'cept for Lizzy, who went forth to meet hers
At Rosings, though yet she knew nought
Of the battle about to be fought.
Had she known at the start she
Would soon meet with Darcy,
Perhaps she would not have been fraught
With surprise and dismay when he came,
In his hauteur and calm quite the same
As he was when he left---
Though strangely bereft
Of that cold something she could never name…
In the Colonel's good-natured ease,
She finds much calculated to please.
So unlike our Fitz,
Who just stares, stares and sits,
While her confusion rises by degrees.
"You mean to frighten me, sir?"
"You know I do not---I infer
That you, as before,
Are lacing your store
Of opinions with those which are not yours."
Elizabeth laughed heartily.
"I'd hoped to maintain some degree
Of credit--but en garde!
I can prove you a blackguard!"
"I am not afraid of you," smiled he.
"The night that I met you," said she,
"You danced only with Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley.
And though one lady wanted
For a partner, undaunted,
You said, 'not handsome enough to tempt me!'"
"I had not then the honour of knowing you."
"Oh, yes. How foolish of me! True,
You can never be met
In a ballroom." "Yet
I'm ill judged to recommend myself as you do."
"Why should a man of intelligence
Be unable to recommend himself to those of sense?
My fingers do not play
With the talent I see others evince;
Yet I always suspected the cause
Was not that my two little paws
Could not match their acts thus;
But I would not practice,
So my playing is riddled with flaws."
Darcy's steady gaze, far from anger,
Unsettled her; indeed, she was in danger
Of losing herself
In their dark, somber depths:
"We neither of us perform to strangers."
Lizzy, the conversation disrupted,
Grateful when Lady C. interrupted,
Did not wish to think
Of how near to the brink
Of flirtation that chat was conducted…
She resolved to keep a tight reign
Over her behaviour, lest it happen again.
She should never have tarried
So long, even to parry
With that insufferable, contemptuous man!
The parsonage provided relaxation
From Rosings and all the vexation
Of both aunt and nephew
(and the chimney-pieces, too);
How she longed for the end of this vacation!
Posted on Thursday, 9 July 1998
In which Darcy makes a very regrettable mistake.
A fortnight at Rosings soon passed,
And Elizabeth, to the very last
Bore with all the vexations
And concealed her frustrations,
Though towards one soul, considerably tasked.
It seemed that she rarely succeeded
To walk alone in the bush unimpeded,
For before going far she
Would invariably meet Darcy!--
How strange that her hints went unheeded.
Not only did he sabotage her walk,
But he actually intended to talk!
He tried with finesse
To relieve her duress,
But she constantly continued to balk.
And why he should speak to her so
Was beyond her power to know,
With weak starts and stammers
And an odd change of manner,
As if he wished both to stay and to go.
Well, she certainly had no such qualms!
She would much rather see him be gone!
And though sometimes alarming
That he bordered on....charming!--
Her disgust remained steadfast and strong.
At length, after several encounters,
Just when her dislike seemed to founder
She went for a stroll
With the Colonel, who told her
Such facts as to cause her to pound her
Teeth and grind her fists,
And utter a string of oaths at Fitz!
It appeared the unwooing
Of Jane was his doing!
She arrived back home nearly in fits.
So that her anger would fare all the better
She went back and reread every letter
That Jane had sent her;
Oh, never would she repent her
Dislike! Would he had never met her!
Venemously she bewailed
The unhappy truth, when assailed
By a knock at the door
She emerged once more
To see Darcy before her! She paled.
He left no chance to order him out,
But entered and, pacing about,
After her health. Her ire
Soared, and she began to doubt
Whether she could be passably civil
To this man, and his infuriating drivel.
He sat down; he stood up;
She did not interrupt,
And the tension rose, until---what the devil!
He approached her, his countenance ashen.
She coloured, and he spoke---with such passion!!
"In vain have I struggled---
Too long have I juggled
My pride and my love in this fashion!"
"You must allow me to tell you
How ardently I admire and love you.
Permit my address---
It won't be repressed.
I cherish nothing in the world above you,
Not even my family name,
Though I am well aware of the shame
Which will befall me
To ally with your family,
Though certainly you aren't to blame
For their insolence and their low breeding.
And indeed, your charm so much exceeding
Your family connections,
I must, though vexed, shun
My own misgivings. Needing
You, only you must relieve
My suffering, and so end the grief
I've endured for so long.
My feelings are strong,
And I humbly ask you to receive
My hand in marriage." He stopped.
All Elizabeth's innards had dropped
Far below her stomach--
Never had so much
Overwhelmed her senses. To opt
For convention was not to be thought.
Did he think that her love could be bought
By such tactless admissions
Of all his inhibitions?
Indeed! She would refuse him as she ought!
"I believe, in such cases as this,
It is customary not to dismiss
With words of regret
And gratitude--but yet
I cannot. Mr. Darcy, kiss this."
What a change this produced in his mien!
He coloured, spoke nothing, and then,
When he'd overmastered
His anger he asked her,
"Is this all the reply I'm to get?
I might wonder why, with so little endeavour
At civility you reject me forever.
But it's of small importance."
"Might I not take offense
At the way you proposed, sir? Never
Have I had more cause to be rude!
Even if I had not accrued
Already so much ill will
Towards you, I would still
Refuse you, for, besides being a prude,
You have ruined the happiness of Jane,
Who may never find love again!
You cannot deny it!
Do you seek to decry it?
You have caused them unpardonable pain!"
"No, of course not," he replied with a smirk.
"So what if I acted the jerk?
Charles should wed a duchy,
And I'll have no stench touch me---
After all, I am Colin Firth!"
Elizabeth decided to disperse
With the formalities of this verse.
Well I'm Jennifer Ehle,
And you've three hours left, buster---it gets worse!
It is not merely this affair which has founded
My dislike of you. It has abounded
In full, since dear Whickham
Told me just how you stick him--"
"Stuck." "Shut up!--for all he's worth. I'm astounded!"
"You seem to take an eager interest
In that man's fortunes!" "Yes!
Who that knows what they've been
Can help an interest in
His sad story?" "Oh, give it a rest!"
"A more unfeeling, contemptible man
I have never met, or will again.
You have ruined his good name,
Been the cause of his shame,
Yet you mock him! Accept your hand?"
"And this is your opinion of me?
My faults then are heavy indeed!"
But perhaps they coincide
With the fact that your pride
Was wounded by my honesty.
Had I showered you with praise, or flattered,
None of these things would have mattered."
"You are wrong; the declaration
Only removed my hesitation,
Had you behaved in a more gentlemanlike manner."
Now, instead of looking merely dispeptic,
His countenance became quite sceptic.
"No matter how you presented
Your offer, no incentive
Could ever tempt me to accept it."
"From the first moment of our acquaintance
Long before it became so high-maintenance,
The fullest belief
Of your arrogance and conceit
Had settled that you were a pain-in-the-nuts.
Indeed, hardly a month had tarried
Before I felt certain you were the very
Person least probable
To win my love--not at all!---
And the last man in the world I could marry."
He was mortified. "Madam, you have been
Quite explicit. I perfectly comprehend
Your feelings, and have now,
Following such a row,
To be ashamed of what my own have been."
He bade her goodbye, bowed, and fled;
And left her going out of her head.
She sat down and cried
And took a bromide
And relived every word he had said.
To think, after all this time--
A proposal! Such a sublime
Moment---to be adored
By Mr. Darcy! She was floored!
But oh! What a cruel, cruel crime
Of Fate! She could never be wed
To a man she determinedly detested!
No ten thousand pounds-
Nor the rich, spacious grounds
Of Pemberley would move her on that head.
Mr. Darcy was and would always be
The haughtiest villain in the country,
As his proud speech had proved!
She would never be moved!---
Or would she?…..dear reader, wait and see!!
Posted on Friday, 10 July 1998
In which we indulge in a bit of melodrama, as well as some slammin',jammin' blues...
When we last saw our hero, he'd left us all
Agog and aghast, and bereft of all
His senses and wits:
Refused! The great Fitz-
William Darcy! That girl was ineffable!
To think all this time he had waited,
Feeling certain his wish to be mated
Was what she desired--
When all that had transpired
Had induced in her, not love, but hatred!
In confidence he'd made his addresses
Only to receive, not caresses,
But castigation and scorn!
It was not to be borne!
He would, he must, redress this.
In more agitation than he'd heretofore
Experienced he retired, and shut the door.
Pen trembling in hand
He uncertainly began
The missive which would even the score.
As he wrote to his dearest Lizzy---
For dearest she was, and would always be---
All his anger was quelled
And the love that he felt
Tempered and softened his plea.
'My dear madam, be not alarmed.
I have no wish to hurt or to harm,
But my honour demands me
To place in your hands the
Truth. I know not in what form
Of deception W. may have imposed
Upon you, but herein I disclose
Our full history.
In it you shall see
He is not the victim you've supposed.
He wrote diligently into the night,
Brow gleaming in the crystal moonlight.
Wax candles flickering,
Pulse racing, nerves quivering,
He lamented his pitiable plight.
His eyes were glazed 'ope with fatigue.
Tears mingled with sweat on his cheeks.
His dark curls fell unkempt
In his face as he bent
Over the narrative which kept him from sleep.
Because of his cold arrogance
He had blown his greatest romance,
Lost the woman he loved:
Ah! Heavens above,
Was he never to have another chance?
Her opinion of his character was certain.
She had unequivocally pulled the curtain
On any hope of renewal.
Would he ever live through all
The pain? Poor Darcy was hurtin,'
As much as any Austen hero can be.
He was a miserable, lonely cad, and he
Was trapped in a curse---
He could speak only in verse!
Not even Shakespeare---but W.C. Handy!
(Lights fade. Colonel Fitzwilliam emerges from the broom closet with a Fender and begins steady blues beat.)
"Yeah, my baby done left me now
Done gone and left me blue…
You know my baby done left me---
Gone and left me blue…
Gotta get her back somehow---
But I ain't got no clue…
Yeah, I'm gonna get up in the mornin,'
Go down to the avenue.
I said I'm gonna get up this mornin' early,
Head on down to the avenue.
I'm gonna give her this letter,
And I'm gonna let her decide what to do.
Well, I'm mad about you, baby---
Don't know how I'm gonna carry on.
Yes, you know I'm just mad about ya, babe---
Don't think I'm gonna carry on…
Cause there ain't nothin' left for me to do no more,
Now that you've up and gone…
Yeah, I wish I weren't no gentleman---
Then I'd show you a thang or two…
Whoah, I wish I weren't no gentleman, babe---
Cause boy, I'd show you a thang or two (I sure would)…
'You know I'd take you in my arms, now---
Ooh, and love you the whole night through.
Well, I'm gonna go back home to Derbyshire;
Gonna hide out in Pemberley.
Yessir, I'm goin' home to Derbyshire;
Gonna mope around at Pemberley.
Well, I'll get over you, now, Lizzy---
Whoah, just you wait and see…
…Yeah, I'm gonna be so humble, baby-
You'll be sorry you ever said no to a guy like me…"
(guitar segue; lights fade up. Colonel F. returns to broom closet.)
Dawn came. With his lamentation ended,
Fitzy to the avenue wended.
Not long did he lurk
Before up his ears perked
At Elizabeth's approach. Splendid!
A turn, and before her he stood.
He lingered no longer than he should,
But produced the envelope
In which rested his hopes,
Bowed once, and disappeared through the wood.
She watched him depart in anxiety,
For, though glad to be rid of his society,
His graciousness stunned her;
He had certainly not shunned her,
And gone were all traces of piety…
With hands that trembled as greatly
As the writer's own had done lately,
She perused the letter.
Her anger got the better,
And with much gnashing of teeth, she straightaway
Returned it to its holder and began
To vow never to look at it again;
When something inside her
Compelled her to hide her
Contempt, and o'ermaster her disdain.
She read, she started, and faltered.
Each reading, her opinions quite altered;
His complete lack of shame
In his dealings with Jane
Enraged her; but he caught her
By forcing her to admit the veracity
Of his narration of Wickham's mendacity.
He would have rejoiced
Had she seen how she voiced
Her horror at her own faulty perspicacity.
She, who had always been so proud
Of her judgment---she had allowed
Wickham, the villain,
To influence her! She'd willingly
Let him fool her! What's more, she'd vowed
That she never should cease to dislike
Mr. Darcy, for no more reason than spite!
From the first she had sought
To be cruel, when, as he ought,
He had always been more than polite…
How could he have loved her so long?
How could she have been so very wrong?
How could Wickham have lied?
What of Fitzwilliam's pride?
It was enough to make her burst into song…
She began belting out "Stormy Weather,"
Followed by "We Do Not Belong Together,"
But after a time
She abandoned Sondheim,
And returned to the contemplation of her letter.
How much 24 hours could bring!
Would she ever recover from the sting
Of Darcy's proposal?
Indeed, Heaven knows all
The events waiting just in the wings.…
Tune in next time for Pemberley: the Limerick, when Darcy joins B.B. King and takes his act on the road…
Posted on Sunday, 12 July 1998
At last the time came to leave Hunsford.
Lizzy thought only of the untoward
Of her latest romance---
All Wickham's influence was done for.
And Fitzwilliam---er, Mr. D?
Her astonishment never would cease.
Though she knew his regret
Would not last long, yet
The compliment of his love proved to ease
All her tumult of self-reproach.
Though W. had been wrong to encroach
Upon her good-will,
Towards Darcy, she'd still
Behaved abominably, and every approach
On his part had been met with rebuff.
Determined to find him gruff,
Aloof, cold and haughty,
Just because he'd thought she
Was not quite handsome enough...
How his opinions had changed!
And how all hers, rearranged,
Were now the reverse
From Part One of this verse,
And all Wickham's merit exchanged
With Darcy's many deficiencies.
With all her own insufficiencies
Of pride and vanity---
The scourge of humanity,
She could no longer well declare him to be.
Her prejudice had proved pernicious
But she knew it would be expeditious
Not to reveal
What he would have concealed
Were it not for her pestiferous
Refusal. She knew not what to feel
As they drove away, but real
Relief. Said Mary L,
"How much I have to tell!"
'And how much I shall have to conceal!'
She arrived at long last at Longbourn
To find everybody all out of sorts;
The Meryton regiment
Was departing; that meant
That Lydia and Kitty did nothing but mourn.
"If one could but go to Brighton!"
Imagine Lydia's delight when
A note from Mrs. Forster
Entreated her to join her.
Alack! All attempts to enlighten
Mr. Bennet as to all the evils
The trip held were lost in the upheavals
Of bitterness and woe
At the thought of a 'no'--
So of course he relented and gave all
His consent. Ah, then what inanity
Bombarded them all---Lizzy
Withstood the torrent.
This was the death-warrant
Of all efforts to check Lydia's vanity!
The regiment's departure was timely--
For it meant W. would leave, finally!
In their last conversation
He asked after her vacation---
And was surprised to hear her benignly
Mention Colonel Fitzwilliam, with complaisance.
He answered in kind, dropping faint hints:
Did not Darcy sink
Beside him? "I think
Mr. Darcy improves on acquaintance."
Time passed. May became June;
But the season did not quell the gloom
That settled over Longbourn
With the regiment gone.
Lizzy's only solace was that soon
Her tour of the Lakes would begin
With her dear aunt and Uncle. Then
She might have a month's peace!
Or a fortnight, at least,
Without talk of Brighton or men...
Her vexation was quite severe
When she learned she would not get to peer
At the Lakes. As things were,
She'd be content with Derbyshire---
But oh! She'd almost rather stay here
Than run the risk of seeing him
After their last encounter!---then again,
She longed secretly
To glimpse Pemberley,
And all the fabled beauty therein.
Had she known with what ease her desire
Would be granted, she would have conspired
To stay home altogether
Regardless of whether
She dreamt of an informally attired
Gentleman. Oh, no, she had no wish
To see Fitzwilliam Darcy the fish!
The mere thought of him
Soaking wet from a swim...
Well, okay. He may be a dish
But she certainly was far too wise
To be done in by a Look...or the...size...
Ahem. "I won't be caught dead--
He'll think I've lost my head!
And so much then for my fine eyes!"
Still, she could not escape the flow
Of events. To Pemberley they were to go.
If the Gardiner's enthusiasm
Was met with faint spasms
Lizzy consoled herself: no one would know...
Posted on Tuesday, 14 July 1998
When the Gardiners and our own dear Lizzy
Arrived at Pemberley, she thought only, "Is he?
Is he here? Is it true
That he's gone? What to do
If I see him?" She was in quite a tizzy.
They were welcomed by the housekeeper most readily;
Darcy was absent, and steadily
Lizzy's excitement increased,
All her fears now released,
And she set about enjoying the medley
Of lush pastures, sparkling brooks, ancient woods;
A park stretching ten miles round the neighbourhood;
Gardens tended with care-
Nothing could compare
With the grounds on which Pemberley stood.
But still more impressive and splendid
Was the great house itself. As she wended
Her awe-stricken way through
Its grand halls, she paid due
Attention to one thought: had she not ended
All his hopes of gaining her affection,
Darcy's wealth, all the power of his connections
Would now be entirely
Hers. Did she desire the
Match now? She began to question…
He would never renew his address-
But as she reflected she could not suppress
A sigh of regret-
She'd done the right thing, and yet--
"Of all this I might have been mistress."
Her musings of Darcy were quelled
By Mrs. Reynolds, who began to tell
Of her master's great kindness-
How gentle, how fine. This
Was Mr. Darcy? Such praise dispelled
All her prior judgments. Her heart beat with rapidity
As his servant speculated: his timidity
Had led some to deign him
Proud; all the same, them
That knew him loved him. Was it the humidity
Which suddenly caused Lizzy, gazing
At Darcy's portrait, to flush? Such brazen
Thoughts as now crowded
Her, she'd never've allowed had
They not been so pleasurable. Amazing!
She felt as if she'd never known
The handsome gentleman who owned
This dignified manor,
Who, for all his grand manners,
Resided there still-alone…
'I wonder what it might be like to
Love you-to stay here beside you.
Are you as ideal a lover
As you are a son and brother?'
She could not escape the thought, nor did she try to.
The confusion of her mind grew and grew.
Was it possible-could they ever start anew?
Would she ever again
See him smile-touch his hand?
(And would she ever get to read his tattoo?)
Her thoughts rested on nothing but Darcy.
With a warmth which nothing could mar she
Stepped into the sunlight
And walked down towards the bright,
Shimmering lake. Before she went far she
Was arrested by a crackling sound
In the brush behind her; turning round--
Wonder of wonders!
She nearly sank under
The sight. There, coming forth like a drowned
Cat-no, an adorable kitten,
Was her own Mr. Darcy! She was smitten
With unspeakable surprise-
His wet shirt, those dark eyes!
"Mr. Darcy!" he jumped back as if bitten.
"Miss Bennet!" he gasped in sheer fright
While she impulsively feasted on the sight:
Those strong arms, that chest-
Not to mention the rest…
Dear God! The horror! The delight!…
He came towards her-no, don't ask me to talk!
I'm so weak even now I can't walk!
He spoke: she replied.
His voice shook, but he tried
To compose himself; she, not to gawk,
But she failed with increasing success,
From his damp curls to his wrinkled dress;
One squint from the sun
And she was undone.
Every fiber in her longed to caress
That smooth, strong brow of alabaster.
Each word made her pulse race faster.
How could he be so polite?
She deserved naught but spite!
How she'd treated him, after he had asked her…!
All her shame, and her mortification
Were equal only to her frustration.
She could never be his-
And to be discovered like this,
Trespassing all over his plantation!
What must he think? Curse the fate
That had chanced for them thus to meet!
All his charm, all his kindness
Only reinforced her blindness:
He was early--she, far too late…
Where his thoughts were, she couldn't say.
He repeated himself, but displayed
To the utmost a grace
That abashed and amazed;
And then, abruptly, he hurried away.
Then did our Lizzy's composure
Collapse like a hill before a bulldozer!
"We must leave here at once!"
"But, Lizzy, why all the fuss?"
Her relatives knew all was not kosher…
They all raced like mad to the barouche
When, just as they were set to vamoose,
A voice-his voice--called her,
And effectively stalled her: Indeed,
He could have wrapped her 'round his finger like a Koosh…
He humbly begged to be introduced then
To her friends. She knew not what induced him
To welcome so cordially
Those he abhorred; still, he
Remained ever charming. That elusive
Smile she had always thought mocking
Crept its way into his countenance, locking
Her eyes to his face;
And her attentive gaze
Betrayed a suspicion that could only be shocking
To her perceptive uncle and aunt,
Who, when invited by their host for a jaunt
Down to the trout creek
Were determined to seek
An opportunity for a rencontre…
They proceeded down the walk, ladies and gents;
But Mrs. Gardiner soon noted how tense
Was the girl by her side,
While her husband espied
That though Darcy spoke of fish he evinced
A wish to be near to their niece.
So, when they'd gone quite a piece,
Mrs. Gardiner was obliged
To take her husband's side;
Darcy joined Elizabeth, and promptly ceased
To remember the Gardiner's existence.
His arm closed about hers; resistance
Was the last thing on her mind--
His eyes were so kind…
Her smile ended the months of distance
Between them. No words could express
What she felt when he made his request
To introduce his sister
To her. Had he kissed her,
She would not have been more impressed!
They walked on, aware only of each other,
And they soon outstripped the others.
For whatever reason
The Gardiners took their ease in
Joining them, and so the awkward lovers
Were left to themselves and their emotions,
Each absorbed in an ocean
Of regret and confusion.
Was this visit an illusion?
And what had this mischance set in motion?
At last, all too soon, it was time to go.
He saw them to the carriage, and even though
The two had hardly spoken
The encounter had broken
Through all the bitterness formed so long ago.
As he handed her into the carriage
Their eyes met; she blushed to the fair edge
Of her cheeks. His hand clasped
Hers so gently she gasped
Imperceptibly. All thoughts of marriage
To this man suddenly seemed, not an affliction
But a very enviable position!
His regard, his esteem
Made her grateful in the extreme;
And all the stronger became her conviction
That he was truly a man of great worth.
Though not lively, or tempered with mirth
He was good and sincere,
And these traits could endear him
To her now, more than any other man on earth.
The Gardiners were eager to discuss
Their new acquaintance; amid the fuss
She looked back at his tall
Figure, towering over all
Around him--his hair still a bit mussed…
She smiled. Even from where he stood
That expression made itself understood.
Their gazes held for a moment
Of bliss; then the road bent,
And they parted, feeling very, very good….
Posted on Monday, 20 July 1998
All the drive back to Lambton the Gardiners
Noted Lizzy's silence, and pardoned her.
They'd seen Darcy's affection-
They'd made the connection,
And thrilled at the symptons they marked in her…
She attended to no conversation
But reflected on her new admiration
Of the man she had once
Found so loathsome. In months
He had risen-so much!-in her estimation!
She knew it was much too soon
To be in love, to be giddy or swoon
Over the prospect of seeing
Him again. Still, her feelings
Informed her how much more in tune
Were their hearts now, how open and penitent.
He, all humility, she repentant.
She yearned to know what
He felt for her. Oh, what's
Come over you, Elizabeth Bennett?!
As for Darcy, that night his spirits
Were, if not on cloud nine, somewhere near it.
He dared not assume
That she cared; still his gloom
Was banished. After nearly a year, it
Seemed he had reason to hope.
Had she forgiven him? How could he cope
With such blissful uncertainty?
Oh, how inadvertently
He had found her…perhaps they could elope!
In giddy succession such plots
Crowded their way into his thoughts.
In irrational abandon
He dreamed and planned on,
And he slept just as fitfully as he ought.
The following day, unexpectedly,
Miss Darcy called on Elizabeth directly
After arriving just then
At Pemberley. When
She received them Lizzy suspected the
Compliment of the visit was all hers.
Though he was more than civil to the Gardiners
Darcy's looks and his manner,
And those of Georgiana,
Were not those of disinterested callers.
Her aunt noted, in increasing surprise,
The affection in Mr. Darcy's eyes
When he looked at her niece.
Would wonders never cease!
Mrs. Gardiner began to surmise
That if Elizabeth had once thought him proud,
She certainly did not do so now.
Every word, every look
That passed between them, took
On great significance. How
Charming Mr. Darcy could be!
Every action calculated to please.
And his sister's delight
Proved Mrs. Gardiner right:
She, too, knew her brother's disease.
Charles Bingley also attended
Upon them, and it was splendid
To see how absorbed
He was in thoughts of his adored
Jane Bennet. Given time, all might be mended…
The invitation was made and accepted:
They would dine at Pemberley. Who was affected
More, him or her,
It was hard to conjecture;
But that night Lizzy's aunt detected
A warmth in her niece's demeanour,
And such a difference between her
And her very real attraction
For their host, which could not be keener.
Throughout the night all those concerned
With eagerness on all sides, observed
Mr. Darcy's adoration
And Lizzy's quiet admiration
For the man whose love she'd once spurned.
Miss Darcy thought with joy of her new sister;
Miss Bingley, with chagrin. Had she missed her
Most favorable opportunity
Because of an upstart from the community
Of Hertfordshire? Oh! Rarely had a visitor
Inspired such acute, and yet, such varying,
Feelings all round. Darcy, tarrying
At every look, every smile,
Was lost to earth. All the while,
On all sides, the idea of their marrying
Ran rampant through every mind.
He had eyes only for her, he was blind
To every little attention
Of Miss Bingley's. Her intentions
Grew murderous, and, determined to find
Some means of quelling his contentment,
She inquired after Elizabeth: "Pray, is the regiment
Removed from Meryton?
It must be so very un-
Pleasant for your family." Her resentment
And its objective, were in vain.
Georgiana immediately grew wan,
Fitzwilliam grew rigid,
And Elizabeth, with frigid
Civility, turned the subject, and began
To attend to Georgiana; when, feeling
Darcy's gaze, she looked up, and went reeling
From the gratitude, the tenderness
She read. Nothing could express
The love she saw, nor how appealing
He seemed to her then, more than ever.
She had always thought him handsome, but never
Had any man been so pleasing
As Mr. Darcy. Siezing
The moment, she smiled back, and the endeavour
Produced in him such delight,
So wondrous, so adorable, that in spite
Of herself she returned it,
Feeling certain she'd earned it,
And boldly drank in the sight.
Neither could, or would look away,
And heedless of all else they stayed
Locked in that intense
Gaze, and though Lizzy sensed
It was indiscreet of her to display
Such open, such marked interest,
She simply could not resist.
She wanted only to be lost
In his eyes, hear his voice,
Murmuring, "My dearest, loveliest Elizabeth…"
Mrs. Gardiner noted the Look.
Now that certainly could not be mistook!
Her memory was filled
With such moments. To yield
To such love was more joy than she could brook
For her niece. Indeed, her dear Lizzy
Was apparently much too busy
Being rapt in wonder
To tear the gaze asunder;
So the two stared away, in dizzy
Comprehension of the other's change of heart.
At last, when the time came to depart,
They stared their goodbyes,
And Elizabeth's fine eyes
Were so loving they tore Darcy apart.
She cared for him! He had no doubt
That something had brought about
A complete reversal
Of her opinion. She'd dispersed all
His fears with her smile. Without
A care in the world, nor a thought
For anything but Elizabeth, Darcy fought
With indecision, and at last
Decided that, whatever passed,
On the morrow he would seek her hand. Naught
But disaster could dissuade him.
With the memory of her Look to persuade him
He dressed with great care
And sped to Lambton, where
His love awaited to assuage him.
Elizabeth's quiet delight
In recollecting the previous night,
Caused her face to glow
With a radiance that showed
Her relatives' conjectures to be right.
The post arrived, and two letters
Came from Jane. Feeling better
Than she had in some time
Lizzy stayed behind
To attend to Jane's notes. She fed her
Desire for news of Longbourn,
Until suddenly the musings took a turn
For the worse. It appeared
That Lydia had disappeared
From Brighton-and not just on any sojourn:
She had eloped-with none other
Than Mr. Wickham! Darcy's words flooded her:
'She was then but fifteen.'
Oh, how could Lydia be so green?
She had ruined them all, and how to recover?
Jane wrote hoping all would be well,
But Lizzy could not: she could tell
That Wickham would disgrace
Lydia, before he would face
Marriage. He had little to compell;
She had no money, nor any connections,
And Elizabeth knew all the affection
Of the match must be Lydia's.
Oh, how insidious-
If they were to escape detection…!
She rose, trembling, determined to locate
Her uncle, and then to relate
Their sorry circumstance-
They must return, must distance
Themselves from Pemberley…curse her fate!
She flew, not out the door, but into the arms
Of Fitzwilliam Darcy, whose alarm
At seeing her thus
Discomposed, was such
That he immediately suspected some harm.
"I beg your parden-I cannot stay,
I have business which can't be delayed.
I must find Mr. Gardiner-"
Her worry darkened her
Countenance, and Darcy's fears were unallayed.
"Good God! What is the matter?" cried he,
With more feeling than politeness. "Let me
Go, or send the servant;
You are not well, I must insist."
She hesitated, but was forced to agree.
He supported her, led her gently to a chair,
And seated himself opposite her, where,
Gazing on her duress,
His own great distress,
Seemed to be more than he could bear.
"Is there nothing I can do for you?
A glass of wine, perhaps?-true,
You look very ill."
Lizzy tried to smile; still,
Her voice shook when she replied. "No, thank you.
"I am quite well." But she began to weep,
And it was all her love could do to keep
His composure. He touched
Her hand gently, with such
Compassion, she could not help but speak.
She told him the dreadful details.
At the mention of Wickham he paled.
"I am grieved, indeed;
Grieved-shocked. Can it be?"
His air was gloomy, and all at once assailed
By a cold fear, Elizabeth understood.
He could never marry her now-who would?
Seeing his clear disdain
Would have earlier caused no pain;
Yet now, realizing she'd lost his love for good,
She felt, with all the honesty of true emotion,
That she greatly desired its promotion.
Indeed, now, when it seemed
All love was in vain,
Elizabeth longed to return his devotion.
He could not, would not, meet her gaze,
But with tight lips looked steadfastly away.
At length. "I believe you've
Long wished me to leave you."
They exchanged civilities, but neither would say
What they felt. He was sober, she weary,
And could not escape a rather teary
Goodbye. If she ever
Saw him again, it would never
Be as it had been these few days in Derbyshire. He
Went with one serious, parting look,
And left Lizzy in even greater tumult.
Had it not been for Lydia
She might have been getting a
Proposal-oh, curse this infernal book!
Whose idea had it been to insert
Her sister, at such a time! What impertinence
Had inspired Jane Austen
To throw such a cross in
Her romance? She was too ill to be hurt,
And only her concern for her sister
Could outweigh her longing to know Mister
Darcy's true level
Of attachment. The devil
Take Wickham! The very thought of him pissed her
Off. Nothing could be done.
Her uncle would, of course, go to London,
And would dilligently seek them,
But no one could reach them.
By now, the two were long gone.
Her thoughts were unsteady: they danced
Across a thousand topics, and often chanced
To rest on one whom she might,
But for her sister's flight,
Been fortunately, happily affianced…
When last we left off, our protagonist
Was forced to leave Derbyshire in agonies:
Her desires had changed,
Her feelings rearranged,
Towards Fitzwilliam Darcy; and to add to this,
Now that she realized her heart,
Just when it seemed they might start
Anew, and begin
Their acquaintance again,
Our dear Lizzy and Fitzy must part!
If gratitude and esteem are foundations
Of affection, then the variation
Of Lizzy's sentiments
Will seem a just consequence
Of the regard so long in creation;
If however, such means
Pale beside the attachment that springs
From that which, on first sight,
Satisfies and ignites
A passionate ardour-nothing
Can be said to come to her defense-
Except perhaps, experience
With Wickham authorized her
To be less eager but wiser,
And seek the other mode of forming attachments.
Be that as it may, even yet,
She saw him go with regret;
And this early indication
Of the disgrace her relations
Would suffer through Lydia's elopement
Increased her original pain.
She longed to be at home with Jane,
To see and be there,
To relieve her of the cares
Which would be hers in a house so deranged.
Upon her uncle and aunt's return
They were deeply affected to learn
Of the scandal that had befallen
Them all. Pemberley was forgotten,
But Mrs. Gardiner could not help but burn
With curiosity. What was the cause
Of Darcy's visit, and how would the pause
In their friendship, affect
Her Elizabeth? Was she correct?
"Oh! That I knew how it was!"
But wishes were vain; all their thoughts
Were focused on Longbourn, where, fraught
With confusion and distress,
The Bennet's duress
Had rendered them all quite distraught.
Mrs. Bennet, with inimitable grace
Was ensconced in her room; where, faced
With the natural product
Of all her ill conduct
By her daughter, she saw only the disgrace
Which had come to her favourite child.
Her own sufferings were paramount, while
She was blind to the fact
Her own indolent acts
Were responsible. The tragedy was mild
Compared to her own distraction.
Her immediate and unfailing reaction
Was to take to her bed
And complain of her head,
Nerves, heart, and other infractions.
Mr. Gardiner failed to convince her
That they were not all ruined, and since her
Feelings would not yield
That Mr. Bennet would be killed,
They gave up, and left her to dispense her
Nonsense to anyone in attendance,
Namely Jane, who still held her dependence
Upon their wedding at last.
No such thoughts passed
Through Lizzy's bosom. She knew no such repentance
Would be forthcoming from Wickham, and til
She was proven otherwise, she would still
Refuse to pretend
That anything could mend
Their situation. It was a bitter pill
To swallow, knowing all Meryton
Would be triumphing at their misfortunes.
It was true that now
The entire town
Held the man to be a scoundrel, and con-
Dolences poured in from all sides,
But served only to swell Lizzy's pride.
Impossible was assistance:
"Let them triumph at a distance
Over us, and be satisfied."
The whole party now eagerly awaited
News of Mr. Bennet; the anticipated
Information failed to come,
And all Meryton's
Excitement mounted, unabated.
On Sunday, Mr. Gardiner left Longbourn,
On Tuesday he wrote them: in London
He had joined Mr. Bennet-
But in no place within it
Could they locate his daughter who was long gone.
They had inquired at post-houses here and there,
From Clapham to Epsom, and everywhere
In between, to no avail:
No new knowledge assailed:
It seemed they had vanished into air.
The new morning raised great expectations
Of news, and the varied sensations
That arose throughout the house
When the post was announced
Was quelled by Mr. Collins' letter to his relations.
'My Dear Sir, I feel myself called upon
To condole with you on your grievous affliction.
My sympathies will not falter:
The death of your daughter
Would be a blessing in comparison.
Her disgrace is the more to be savoured
As my dear Charlotte informs me her behaviour
Stems from a faulty
Degree of indulgence-though I thought she
Must be naturally bad. I am favoured
By Lady Catherine's concurrence, to whom
I have related the affair. For who,
As she so condescendingly
Says, will willingly
Connect themselves with the likes of you?
And this consideration leads me to reflect
On a certain event-in retrospect
It gives me great pleasure
To have escaped your immeasurable
Disgrace. Dear Sir, disconnect
Your child from your family for ever,
And leave her to her own endeavours.
Let her reap the evil fruits
Of her heinous pursuits.
I am, dear Dir, et cetera, et cetera.'
Mr. Gardiner's following letter
Brought nothing of particular pleasure.
Wickham's arrears, compounded,
Were a considerable amount, and
His debts of honour, still greater.
The family at Longbourn was remiss.
Cried Jane: "I had not an idea of this!"
They were forced, in shock,
To admit what a coxcomb
Their sister was in company with.
Their father arrived Saturday,
Rendered spiritless by his ill-success. When they
Informed his wife, instead
Of relief, she said,
"What, without poor Lydia is he come away?"
He will not leave London before
He has found them! For, I am sure
If he does, who will fight
Mr. Wickham and end our plight?
How will he make him marry her?"
Mrs. Gardiner, for some strange reason of her own,
Began to wish to be at home.
She went in perplexity,
And severely vexed that she
Had learned nothing of Lizzy's liason.
Mr. Darcy had never been spoken of
Between them, and she felt it a token of
Her niece's regard for him,
Though Mrs. Gardiner in
Lizzy, saw no outward emotion.
Our heroine was perfectly aware
That had she known nothing of Fitzwilliam, there
Would be much less to dread-
She might be indifferent. Instead,
Lydia's infamy was harder to bear.
Mr. Bennet arrived, and it seemed
He had mastered his composure. At tea
He joined his daughters, and merely
Brooked the subject austerely:
"Who should suffer among us, but me?"
"You must not be too severe," said his favourite.
"No," said he, "I was wrong. Let me savour it."
"No doubt that my mood
Will pass more quickly than it should;
In the meantime, you will all feel the weight of it:
No officer will be allowed to enter
This house, as a guest of a visitor.
And all balls, bless you,
Are off limits, unless you
Stand up with one of your sisters."
Two days passed after Mr. Bennet's return,
When, at long last, Lizzy learned
That Lydia had been ferreted
Out. Though not married yet,
They would soon be so. With a stern
Countenance, her father spoke of the debt
They must surely owe to Mr. Gardiner. To get
Such a scoundrel to agree
To marry, the fee must be
Ten thousand pounds and not a farthing less.
It was incredible! For this they must rejoice!
Lydia's marriage, induced, not by choice,
But by their dear uncle's money-
Oh, nothing could overcome the
Debt they owed him for this! To be forced
To give way to their uncle's benevolence!
And judging from available evidence
More had been laid
Than could ever be repaid.
Oh, how keenly they felt their deference!
Their mother alone, was beside
Herself with joy and pride.
She thought no more of their degradation
And carried on with an elation
Which no one around her could abide.
"My dear Lydia! This is delightful indeed!
She will be married! Married at sixteen!
I knew how it would be!
How I long to see
My dear Lydia! How merry we all shall be!"
Elizabeth knew her sister's situation
Could at best be bad; no expectation
Could include wealth or esteem-
Yet with this outcome, it seemed
They had all gained an incredible salvation…
Mr. Bennet had firmly intended
To father a son. Five vain attempts ended
This hope, and the entail
Still intact, he bewailed
The fact that now their security depended
On his daughters' marrying well.
Now he had still more to compel
For then the satisfaction
Of goading a worthless man to action
Might then have the place it ought to have held.
The 'good' news was soon publicly at hand,
And, with proportionate speed, spread through the land.
And since everyone swore
The bride would be miserable, more
Good will flowed in than they could stand.
Mrs. Bennet emerged from her room,
With no traces left of the gloom
She'd been in for a fortnight,
As, with utter delight,
She talked of carriages and servants and the groom.
Elizabeth was now heartily sorry
That in her distress she had made Darcy party
To the affair, for its duration
Had been so brief, the communication
Could have been kept from him. She hardly
Doubted his discretion; in fact,
She trusted him completely; but the act
Of her sister's, mortified
Her deepest level of pride,
For it was one more reason why she lacked
The power to bring on a renewal
Of his addresses. How could he endure all
The shame of such ties
To the man he despised?-
For a woman who'd so rudely refused all
His offers of love and security.
While it was true his affection had endured the
Effects of time's passage
She knew better than to imagine
It had purged itself of the basic impurities
Of pride, self respect, and honour.
These he had in abundance-No wonder,
Then, he should shirk
A connection to such a jerk!
The irony was not lost upon her.
She was humbled, grieved; she repented.
She craved his esteem when she could no longer win it,
Yearned to hear his name mentioned
When no such attention
Could keep her from remaining, 'Miss Bennet!'
At last she began to understand
That he was exactly the man
Whose disposition and abilities
Most suited her sensibilities;
Who could have given her, along with his hand,
All the benefits of superior intellect,
A companion she could really respect,
And whose own diffidence
Matched her lively good sense-
Such a match would have had great effect
On both sides; but alas! No such bliss
Awaited dear Fitzy and Liz.
No union could prove
To the admiring mutitude
What connubial felicity really is.
A marriage of a different sort
Would soon be formed, which could not purport
To hold happiness,
Or a chance of success,
Beyond that of a last resort.
Mr. Gardiner next wrote to detail
The power exercised to prevail
Upon Wickham, who resigned
The regiment, and ensigned
In the army, and all therein entailed.
Their sister's wedding day came;
They arrived at Longbourn, still the same:
Lydia loud and untamed,
Her husband unashamed;
Lizzy blushed in mortification. Even Jane
Was shocked. The ten days of their stay
Proved vexing in every way.
Lydia and her mother
Were beyond hope, and her brother-
In-law was insufferably gay.
"Lizzy," said Lydia one day, unchanged,
"I never told you how everything was arranged.
Are not you curious?"
"Not really," was the spurious
Reply. "La! You are so strange!
But I will tell you how it went off.
We were married at eleven, in that awful
St. Clemens. I was so
Afraid, you know
That something would happen to put it off,
And then I should have gone quite distracted.
And the whole time my Aunt Gardiner acted
So strange! She was fretting
The whole time I was dressing
Just as if she was reading a didactic.
But I did not hear one word in ten,
For I was thinking of dear Wickham. Then
We ate breakfast; bye the bye,
They were horrid mean the whole time.
Lord! I thought it would never end!
Then my uncle was called away,
And since he was to give me away,
I was scared half to death,
For if he had left
We could not have been married all day.
But fortunately he did not long dwell;
And I thought later, whatever befell,
We could have been married
Even if he had tarried-
For Mr. Darcy might have done just as well."
"Mr. Darcy!" repeated Elizabeth, amazed.
"Oh, yes!-but oh! I wasn't to say
A word! It was a secret!"
"Well then, we will leave it
At that," replied Jane. In a daze
Did Lizzy attempt to comprehend
That her own Mr. Darcy had been
Involved in her sister's
Nuptials. To resist her
Curiosity was impossible; to depend
On her imagination to explain his presence,
Or to know what brought him thence!
It was the sort of event
He was bound to resent;
It was impossible to remain in ignorance.
Straightaway Lizzy wrote to her aunt,
And demanded to know just what
Mr.Darcy had to do
With Lydia. 'For if you
Do not tell me, I shall certainly find out!'
Her aunt's reply to the letter was snappy,
And on opening it Elizabeth had the
Satisfaction of feeling
It would prove most revealing.
She sat down and prepared to be happy.
'My dear niece, I have received your note,
And intend the whole morning to devote
In informing you what
I am surprised you do not
Already know; for you wrote
That you had no idea how he
Could be involved in the business; you see,
Had my husband not felt
That you were concerned-well,
He should have acted quite differently.
But I will be more explicit. Our friend
Paid us a visit. We learned then
That he had discovered
The whereabouts of the lovers,
And had met with them both. When
We departed from in Derbyshire,
He had already resolved on searching for her,
For he left but one day later,
And came to town with a greater
Knowledge than ourselves of where they were.
His professed motive in going to such extremes
Was the conviction of its being his means
Whereby the villain
Was unknown. He willingly
Imputed the whole to his pride. But it seems
To me, that if indeed he had
Another motive, it could not be bad.
He was in town several days
Before he learned where they stayed;
Need I say that the situation was sad?
Lydia was determined to remain
With Wickham, who had never entertained
Any honourable intentions.
I need not mention
How easily, and through what, the point was gained.
His difficulties were such that he readily
Gave in to Mr. Darcy, who steadily
Refused Mr. Gardiner's
Assistance. Pardon me,
But I must say that out of the medley
Of faults of which he's been accused,
I think he has been sorely abused.
I really believe obstinacy
Is the only constant de-
Fect that he has, as he proved.
Nothing was to be done that he did not
Do himself. I'm sure you know what
Was done: the debts to be paid,
The wedding arranged,
And then Wickham's commission to be bought.
Again the reason for this I have stated.
Yet your uncle would never have capitulated
Had he not felt sure
Darcy's interest was more
Than the obligations which he related.
Will you be very angry with me, my dear,
For saying to you now, what I feared
To say before: how very much
I like him? He is such
A gentleman. His understanding endears
Him all the more. He wants only
A little more spirit, and I own the
Choice of his wife may
Teach him to be lively-
If he marry well. Pray, do not disown me,
Lizzy, or exclude me from Pemberley.
Till I've gone round the park I shall never be
Quite happy. He was clever,
I thought, and hardly ever
Mentioned your name. Yours, very sincerely…'
It was difficult to say if this letter
Provided more pain or more pleasure.
For while Lizzy's heart swelled
At the thought of his quelled
Pride, she could only conjecture
The true reason for his interference.
Surely it was not the perseverence
Of love. Her heart did whisper
That he had done it for her-
But she could not hope his adherence
To humility would allow him to connect
With Wickham through marriage. To subject
Himself to such low
Every kind of pride must object.
She was humbled; but still, she was proud
Of him, for having allowed
His compassion to rule
Over contempt. What a fool
Had she been, to have turned him down!
Part 10 A
At last came the glorious day,
When Wickham took Lydia away.
Her mother was crushed--
Why all the rush?
While her father had this to say:
"As fine a fellow as ever I saw--
He simpers and makes love to us all.
I defy Sir Lucas himself
To produce from the shelf
A more valuable son-in-law."
The duration of his wife's melancholy
Would have been lengthy were it not for the jolly
News they soon learned:
Bingley had returned!
And gone was the memory of his folly.
Though Jane's initial reaction
To the news gave no satisfaction
To those who had hopes
Of their being betrothed,
Lizzy sensed in her a distraction.
She was calm at all times; still it seemed
Her mind was not wholly at ease.
Liz dared not make mention
Of Bingley, and tension
In every conversation teemed.
Elizabeth was far from forgetting
How close Jane had been to a wedding,
And though all her anger
Had vanished, it pained her
To know that all the upsetting
Of their plans had been Fitzwilliam's doing.
She hoped that perhaps the renewing
Of Bingleys attention
Would brook no contention
>From Darcy, and that the wooing
Would be done with his hearty assent.
Though she knew he would never consent
To be wed to her now,
With Jane happy, somehow,
Lizzy might contrive to be content.
Alas! That Fitzwilliam cared
She no longer doubted, but dared
Never to think
He might be on the brink
Of a second try. Lizzy prepared
Never to see him again.
However easy she might be to win
That chapter was closed,
He had not proposed;
She must not dwell on what might have been.
She conjectured, of course, but in vain,
Until one August day, in the lane,
Two calm figures rode
Towards the Bennet's abode.
Mrs. Bennet immediately called Jane
To the window. Though she refused,
Elizabeth could not help but choose
To take a quick peek
At the gentlemen. Eeek!
There was Darcy! Suddenly infused
With astonishment and wonder most keen
Lizzy sat down and prepared to be seen.
He was here! He had come!
But for her? She was numb
With excitement. Oh, what could it mean?
The discomfort of both of the sisters
Was enough as it was, but when Mister
Her mother's severe
Dislike returned like a blister.
She resolved to be 'no more than civil.'
Lizzy shuddered. The thought of the drivel
That was bound to ensue
>From her parlour, made her rue
This day. How could she bear with all
The suspense? He entered; their eyes met;
He was serious as before--and yet,
She could not be pleased.
He was hardly at ease.
Poor Lizzy began to fret.
"Why, if he came only to be indifferent,
Did he come at all? And why silent?
Teasing, teasing man!
I shall think not again
Of either of them." Her resentment
Faded as she saw how steadily
Bingley's interest returned. Most readily
Did she credit the change
To the newly free reign
His friend had given him. A medley
Of hopes and fears increased
Within her bosom. No peace
Had Lizzy, when
She saw him again,
For Darcy's hauteur did not cease.
Oh, if only they might be alone!
If only she could have shown
Her family's gratitude;
Their disdainful attitude
Was shameful: Had they but known!
Elizabeth was now most undone.
She had ventured to tell no one
Of the role he had played
In Lydia's escapade.
And it grieved her to watch him be shunned.
Her ill success could not be waylaid;
For her awkward lover then paid
A short ten-day visit
To London. Thought she, "Is it
Possible? If he loved me, heed've stayed."
Bingley came, however, alone;
And though Lizzy was willing to own
That his interest, if dwindled
At all, had rekindled,
She dreaded lest he postpone
The match altogether; but still,
Bingley's spirits and general good will
Increased quite rapidly
Until he was happily
Ready to move in for the kill.
Jane's mother sensed this, of course,
And, determined to put cart before horse,
Did her best to out-think
Bingley. She did wink--
But he was immune to her tour de force.
Darcy's sidekick would take his time.
After all, what man in his prime
Would consciously allow
Someone so lowbrow
To interfere with his part in this rhyme?
Part 10 B
After Bingley's last visit to them, Jane
Ventured no word of her indifference again.
Elizabeth felt sure
That, a few days more,
And her mother's schemes would not end in vain.
Indeed, one more day proved to be
All the encouragement he would need.
Lizzy chanced most abruptly
That evening, to interrupt the
Happy pair, whose felicity
Was readily apparent. Jane clutched
Elizabeth, and exclaimed, "Tis too much!
Oh, why can't everyone be
As happy as me?"
And she went to spread the news. Lizzy, touched,
Smiled tearfully. "And this is the end
Of the contrivance of his sisters and friend!
Of all the months of suspense,
Which true love and good sense
Needed but a few days to amend!"
Her family's general delight
On this most benevolent night
Could hardly be sped--
Two daughters, wed!
There seemed to be no end in sight
To the Bennets' good fortune; and those
Who had previously been so disposed
To write off their fate
Could now hardly wait
To bestow blessings on both brides and beaus.
One morning, about a week later,
The grounds of Longbourn became a theater,
A carriage was seen
Driving up on the green.
The ladies' astonishment could not have been greater
When of all people, who should appear
But Lady Catherine de Bourgh! It was clear
She came on no trivial
Social call, and convivial
Conversation was not to appear.
Mrs. Bennet, in her awe, was almost meek.
Lady Katherine, evidently much piqued,
Gave her cross opinions
To her three confused minions.
The tension, so Lizzy thought, was at its peak;
When, of a sudden, Lady Catherine arose:
"Miss Bennet, if you would be so disposed,
There is a prettyish little knoll
In which I'd like to take a stroll-
If you would join me." Lizzy could not suppose
Why her Ladyship had made the request,
But of course she readily acquiesced.
They walked outside,
Resentment on each side,
And at once Lizzy was thus addressed:
"Miss Bennet, you can be at no loss
To understand why I'm here. The cross
Of your own heart must tell
What I've come to dispel."
Lizzy stared and replied with no little sauce,
"Indeed, Madam, you are mistaken.
I cannot imagine why you have taken
Such pains to visit
Us here." "Miss Bennet!"
Cried her ladyship, visibly shaken,
"However insincere you chuse to be,
You shall not find me so. Not three
Days ago, a report
Reached me-of a sort…
Well you shall hear, though you probably
Know it well enough. I was told,
Not only that your sister was so bold
As to be most advantageously
Wed-but that you would be
Soon afterwards engaged to my own
Nephew, Mr. Darcy! Though I know
It's a scandalous lie; even so
Did I instantly resolve
On setting off to involve
My sentiments-to make them fully known."
Elizabeth colored with astonished disdain.
"If you believed it to be impossible, then
Why not leave things as they are?
Why come so far?
What could your ladyship hope to gain?"
"At once on having such a report
Universally contradicted!" "Of course,
Your coming to see me
And all my family
Will confirm it, rather than abort,
If such a rumour does, indeed, exist."
"This is not to be bourne! I insist
On knowing all. Has Mr. Darcy--
My nephew, gone so far,
As to propose?" Lizzy clenched her fists.
Her anger began to reign free.
"Your ladyship has declared it to be
"And so it ought to be, while
He retains all his capacity
To reason. But you and your arts
May have caused him to forget the part
He owes to his family
And himself. Undoubtedly,
You have drawn him in-him and his heart!"
"If I have, I shall hardly confess."
"Miss Bennet, do you know-can you guess,
Who I am? I'm not used
To such verbal abuse.
I'm entitled to know his concerns." "Nonetheless,
You are not entitled to know mine;
Nor will such behaviour as thine
Ever induce me to be
Explicit." Lady C.
Paled. "This match, to which you design-
To which you have the-the presumption
To aspire, is a superfluous assumption!
Mr. Darcy is engaged to
my daughter! What do you say to
That?" "Then why should he have the gumption
To make an offer to me?" Catherine balked.
"The engagement is tacit. We talked
From their infancy of
The union-it was the beloved
Wish of both mothers. And now!-to be stalked
By a young woman of inferior connections?
Can you ignore all these objections?
Do you pay no heed
To his interests-his needs?
Are you lost to all circumspection?"
"Nay-I had heard long before of the plan.
But what is that to me? If the man
Has no other objection--
If I have his affection,
Then why may not I accept his hand?"
"Because of self-interest! If you debase
My nephew, you will not gain his place.
You'll be censured and despised
By all his allies-
Your alliance will be a disgrace!"
"These are misfortunes most grave.
But the wife of Mr. Darcy must have
Necessarily so much
Happiness, that such
Losses, she could easily waive."
"Obstinate girl! I'm ashamed!
If you respected your family name
You would not wish to leave
Your own circles." "Indeed--
We are equal, as far as you claim:
Mr. Darcy is a gentleman, and I
Am a gentleman's daughter." "Aye-
But your other connections!"
"If he has no objections
They can be nothing to you. "For the last time!--
Tell me once and for all- are you engaged?"
Lizzy, trembling, pale and enraged,
Would not for the sake
Of obliging, make
A reply-but she was forced to assuage
Her own anger, lest she forget
That she was by no means promised to him, yet!
But oh, how greatly
She'd desired to be lately!
She replied with a twinge of regret,
"I am not." And suddenly she knew
The unmistakable marvelous truth,
The truth she had fought
For so long! She thought,
I love him! I love him! I do!
With new purpose she faced Lady C.
"And, Miss Bennet, will you promise me
Never to enter in-
To such a bargain?"
"I'll make no promise of the kind," said she,
"And I never shall be persuaded to do so.
None of your arguments are new, so
I must beg you, therefore,
To importune me no more."
Catherine followed, wailing like Caruso.
"Not so hasty, miss, if you please!
I have by no means done. To all these
Objections I have
Still another to add.
I know all about the sleaze
Of your sister's infamous, convoluted
Marriage to that brazen, ill-reputed
Upstart! Such a man
To be related to my clan?
Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?"
"You can now have nothing further to say:
You have insulted me in every possible way.
I must beg to return…"
Lady Catherine's cheeks burned.
"You are determined to ruin him anyway?
Unfeeling, selfish girl!
You will make him the contempt of the world!
Do you not consider, he
Will be bitterly
Disgraced!" Lizzy paused to uncurl
Her fists, and extend her hand.
"You know my sentiments." Her self-command
Hardly served to absolve
Catherine's ire. "You are resolved,
Then, to have him?-that is, if you can?"
"I never said that." But her eyes
Sparkled keenly at the thought of the prize.
"I'm concerned only for
My happiness, and to be sure,
I will not trouble to heed your advice."
"So I am not to be appeased?
Very well! Do not imagine there will be ease
In gaining your point!
I am quite out of joint.
I take no leave-I am most seriously displeased."
In this way they arrived at the carriage;
The door slammed, the more to disparage
The young lady without,
Who silently turned about,
And re-entered the house. Talk of marriage
Between herself and Fitzwill,
Had enervated her; still,
Her energy was spent,
As though she just went
Through the Battle of Bunker Hill.
For many hours, her thoughts lay nowhere,
Save with him for whom she now cared
More dearly than anyone
Under the sun.
And whom she longed to see there.
Oh, if he should allow his relation
To persuade his pride-the foundation
Of all of their woes…
Oh, could she but know
Whether he had overcome the degradation
Of being once refused! Lady C.
May have had good reason to be
Concerned; but still,
She could argue her will--
And if Darcy should finally agree!
Lizzy then prepared to be spurned.
If a letter should postpone his return,
She knew what to make of it-
He had ceased the undertaking,
And she would simply be obliged to learn
To be indifferent, and cease all regret.
She did not deserve him, and yet-
She felt most acutely,
That, however resolutely
She attempted to try to forget,
All the more would she feel her own loss.
After all, it was she who had caused
All the tension and pain-
And she was quietly ashamed,
Of having loved, been loved-and then lost....