Beginning, Section II
Part 10 C
Elizabeth had hardly recovered
From being supposed Darcy's lover,
When the next day's events
Shocked her out of all sense.
It began when her father discovered
A letter addressed to him, penned
By their ever industrious friend
Mr. Collins, who wrote
Among else, in his note,
Of a very significant trend.
Mr. B quickly summoned his daughter,
Who gasped at the news, for she thought her
Had been carried away,
And had written to finish the slaughter.
Though eager to have him explain
Every detail, every inane
Bit of misapprehension
That caused them such tension,
The thought that he still would disdain
To confide in her now, after all,
But would have the unparalleled gall
To write to her father,
Amazed her! Why bother?
She reached for the Pepto-Bismol;
But too soon, for on elaboration
She learned, to her rising vexation,
That the source of the rumour
Was her cousin the tumor,
Who, with typical commiseration,
Had written not only to share
Felicitations for the love in the air,
But to make it quite known
That he was not alone
In warning Lizzy to beware.
"The chosen partner which her fate spun,
May be reasonably called a very great one.
You cannot but admire;
He has all one could desire-
Splendid property, noble kindred, and patrons."
(Here Lizzy was hard-pressed to refrain
From giving way to the urge to exclaim,
"No, certainly not,
You insufferable clot!
Of course those are all you would name!
Is it possible any passionate feeling
Ever struck you as at all appealing
Save that which referred
To Lady Catherine DeBourgh?
Thank you, sir, for so plainly revealing
Why I love Mr. Darcy, not you.
Whatever wealth you may accrue--
Though your fortunes be equal
There would still be no sequal,
If I decided between the two.
He is so far removed from your driveling,
From your petty, insignificant, sniveling
His quiet persistence
In loving me past all the quibbling;
Past all of the misunderstandings
Which made for so many rough landings
On the runway of love,
Has placed him above
Everyone I hold dear. Notwithstanding
His pride-and he's rising above it-
He's too good to be true, and I love it!
And what's even more--
I'd love him were he poor,
So take that to Rosings and shove it!"
But of course she practiced restraint:
Kept peace, smiled, and calmly refrained.
Her father, delighted,
Read on, and she bided
The time with no outward complaint.)
"Yet in spite of all these temptations,
Let me warn you both: his relations
Do not look on the match
As such a good catch."
Mr. B. laughed. "Can your penetration,
My dear Lizzy, solve this mystery?
But, look--it comes out…" the history
Was of course of his patron,
That honourable matron,
Her nephew, and of the blistery
Fall-out which would then occur
If Fitzwilliam should marry her.
Mr. B crowed. "You see?
It's Mr. Darcy!
To think that he would prefer
You above all of the rest! Is it not a capital jest?
Are you not diverted?"
She was, but could not but digest
The contents with increasing dismay.
Mr. Collins had much more to say.
RE the George Wickhams,
He urged them to kick' em
Out of their lives right away.
The rest of his letter foretold
An event which turned Lizzy's blood cold.
Gave great expectations
Of a young olive branch to behold.
For Lizzy, the humerous ploy
Could not but wear thin and cloy.
Her good-natured father
Noticed. "But daughter,
You look as if you didn't enjoy.
It's only an idle report.
For what do we live? To make sport
For our neighbours, and laugh
At them on our behalf."
And he grinned at his reluctant cohort.
Lizzy was forced to hide
What little was left of her pride.
Had she found herself more
At a loss, nor more mortified.
To think, two such scenes, and so near
To each other, as to make it appear
That something was stirring--
That Fate was concurring
To give their romance the 'all clear.'
Yet these events could also foretell
The tolling of the final death knell
For their beautiful story,
And where was the glory
In that? A few days more would tell…
The Moment Arrives...
Author's note: The "double-header" in the first stanza refers to the duo of Lady C's visit and Mr. C's letter, which happen immediately before. Also, now that this minor epic is winding down, I have to say a HUGE thank you to all of you who first expressed your delight the day last summer when I got bored in my Ear Training lecture and decided to write a couple of stanzas rhyming "Lizzy" with "tizzy" and "Lydias" with "pity us."
Elizabeth…now forced herself to speak, and immediately, though not very fluently, gave him to understand that her sentiments had undergone so material a change, since the period to which he alluded, as to make her receive with gratitude and pleasure his present assurances. The happiness which this reply produced, was such as he had probably never felt before; and he expressed himself on the occasion as sensibly and as warmly as a man violently in love can be supposed to do. Had Elizabeth been able to encounter his eye, she might have seen how well the expression of heartfelt delight, diffused over his face, became him; but, though she could not look, she could listen, and he told her of feelings, which, in proving of what importance she was to him, made his affection every moment more valuable.
Instead of receiving a letter,
Bingley was able to do even better,
And before many days
Had passed away
From this interesting double-header,
He arrived at Longbourn with his friend,
Who by all intents meant to amend
The constant charade
They had till now displayed,
And at last! Give this journey an end.
Lizzy knew, if she were to learn
Whether Darcy had decided to yearn
For her no more,
She had better be sure
To make him aware of the turn
In her affections. She knew
Leaving him to himself would not do.
What was the solution?
A desperate resolution
Was forming between the two.
Opportunity came. Charles suggested
They all walk to town; divested
Now of all worry,
Her mind was a-flurry;
One subject alone interested.
She and Darcy walked side by side,
Doing their utmost to hide
The mounting tension,
Diverting their attention.
The others followed, oblivious, behind.
At length Kitty left them on their own,
And though trembling inside to the bone,
Lizzy made her endeavour:
It was now or never!-
And went boldly on with him alone.
While her courage was still very high,
She spoke. "Mr. Darcy I,
Am a selfish being
And must vent my own feelings
Regardless of yours. By the bye,
I must thank you again and again
For your kindness to Lydia. I've been,
Ever since I have known,
Very anxious to own
My gratitude. If the rest of my kin
Knew to whom they owed such a debt,
I'd have more thanks to share even yet."
Mr. Darcy turned,
His eyes full of concern.
"I very," said he, "very much regret
That you have ever been informed of that,
Which, without knowledge of all the facts,
May have caused you distress."
"Sir, Lydia's thoughtlessness
Betrayed your benevolent acts.
She was the first to spill 'em-
The beans, that is-and to fill in
The blanks, my dear aunt
Told me all about your jaunt
To London. If the shoe fits, William…"
The gentleman paused and cast her
Such a look that her heart beat faster.
I know what that gaze meant!
She thought in amazement.
While she frantically tried to o'ermaster
Her senses, which seemed to have flown,
He spoke-and with such a tone!
It seemed to combine
Everything calm and kind.
"Let your thanks be for yourself alone.
That the wish to bring happiness to you
Spurred me on, I make no attempt to
Deny. But your family
Owes me nothing." Then, wanly:
"I believe I thought only of you."
Elizabeth could not utter a word.
Hardly daring to believe what she heard
She gazed steadfastly
At the ground, as at last the
Most extraordinary declaration occurred…
"You are too generous to trifle with me.
If your feelings should happen to be
What they were four months
Ago, tell me at once.
My affections are unswervingly
The same; but one word from you,
Will cause me to be forever through
With this subject." He waited,
His fear unabated.
Elizabeth knew what she must do.
She stammered awkwardly, "Sir, such
Changes, since then-I-so much
Has happened, I believe,
As to make me receive
Your addresses with more than a touch
Of pleasure." Self-consciously she related
The alteration in her sentiments. Elated,
He replied in his stead,
His countenance overspread
With joy. "It appears I am fated
To be made happier than I deserve.
But are you certain, quite certain, I shall serve
To make you content?"
Lizzy gave her assent,
And oh! What a change! His reserve
And calm, at Lizzy's confession
Gave way to such violent expression
Of heartfelt delight,
That Elizabeth might
Have seen what a handsome impression
He made; but though she could not look,
She could listen, and if she'd mistook
His affection before
He made perfectly sure
To assure her-he could write a book
On the depth of his unfailing regard.
"I had no idea it would be so hard
To leave you behind;
But you stayed on my mind
Long after the way was barred
To your heart. I knew no happiness
From the moment I made my address
Til we met once again
At Derbyshire, when
I first felt I had hope of success.
Oh, can I tell what bliss
I knew then?" He impulsively placed a kiss
On her gloved hand. She blushed,
While the color all rushed
From his cheeks. "Forgive me-this,
You will easily comprehend, is not
My forte." He smiled. "I forgot
What it was to feel
So much-such real
Happiness." Elizabeth grew quite hot
And struggled to contain her own mirth.
It was one thing to realize her worth-
To know that he treasured
Her beyond any measure
Of any woman else on the earth;
But to be suddenly so very near,
To wait, half-thrilled, half in fear
Of the slightest contact-
She was taken aback,
And could scarce do more than lend an ear.
They strode on without knowing whither
They went-Lizzy cared not a fliver
For anything other
Than the voice of her lover,
Who continued softly, "I came hither
Directly from London, where lately
I had received a visit from my greatly
She had formed, you can guess how irately
She set about carrying it through.
She spoke most decidedly of you,
And your obstinate refusal
To satisfy her. A perusal
Of the facts, and I knew what I must do…
It taught me to hope," he said,
"As before I had prohibited
Myself to do.
I knew enough of you
To be sure that, were you dead
Set against me, you would have owned it."
Lizzy coloured. "You ought to have known.
After so freely dissing
You, what qualms in pissing
Off all your relations could I have shown?"
Darcy's features clouded over; his nerves
Grew taut from discomfort. She observed
Him look away in regret
Before continuing, "And yet,
What did you say of me, that I did not deserve?
For, though your accusations were ill-founded,
My behaviour at the time so abounded
With such unpardonable pride
That, however ill-applied,
Your reproofs were certainly well-grounded."
Lizzy laughed. "Please, let's not fight,
For the greater blame annexed to that night.
We are neither of us saints-
Though not as black as you paint;
And I believe we have both seen the light."
Her companion studied her and smiled.
"I cannot be so easily reconciled.
The knowledge of my wrong
Has weighed on me long.
Your reproof, which I'm sure you thought mild,
I shall never forget." He repeated
Word for word the insults she had treated
Him with months before.
She blushed. "To be sure,
I had no idea of their being so well-heeded!"
"I am very sure you did not.
You were then convinced I had not
One proper feeling
I remember your revealing
That day, that I could not
Have addressed you in any possible way…"
Lizzy shook her head. "No-pray,
Do not repeat what I said!
In my mind, it's quite dead!
I beg you these reflections to stay."
She looked up, then, her eyes bright
With affectionate amusement. Their light
Made him involuntarily
Catch his breath, and warily
Glance around: not a soul was in sight…
Elizabeth, completely mesmerized
By the depths of his cool, dark eyes
Continued to stare
As Darcy wondered where
To quit. He hardly realized
How close they had somehow become,
Till at once aware that his thumb
Gently stroked her chin.
What heaven was he in?
Her lashes fluttered dangerously; the drum
Of her heartbeat near his increased.
His hand moved to her heart; she released
Her breath in a sigh;
They stood eye to eye,
Till all movement between them had ceased.
At length he leaned forward. Her lips
Parted softly. His fingertips
Reached up to caress
The curve of her dress
While his other hand encircled her hips.
Neither would stifle the urge
To kiss and be kissed; they merged,
Their two frames uniting,
The contact igniting
Their souls. Just as he was on the verge
Of seizing her lips in his own
The premise that they were alone
Was shattered; a fierce caw
From a passing jackdaw
Spoiled the moment's perfect, lovely tone.
They separated. With considerable chagrin,
The gentleman remarked, "Well, then-
Yes, well…did it better
Your opinion?" She explained what its effect had been.
"It was necessary to write what I wrote.
I hope you have destroyed that note.
I recall some expressions
That might harm your impression
Of me, should you read certain quotes…"
"Of course it shall be burnt, if you feel
That it might destroy your appeal.
But I hope my affection
Does not change directions
So easily as that would reveal."
"When I wrote that letter, I thought
I was calm, that I said what I ought:
But I have ever since
Been very convinced,
I was bitter, spiteful, and distraught."
"Perhaps at first that was true,
But not at the end; the adieu
Is charity itself.
But the letter you must shelf.
So much has changed between the two
Who wrote and received it back then,
That all unpleasant thoughts that attend
That previous circumstance
Should be forgot. Take my stance,
And think only of the past as it befriends."
He laughed. "I'll do nothing of the kind, miss.
Any guilt in your past is from blindness.
But that is not the case
For me-I must face
The results of all my supineness.
As a child I was taught what was right,
But my temper was rash, full of spite.
I became overbearing,
Selfish, and uncaring:
Haughty, proud, and uptight;
Such I was from my very first breath,
And such I might have continued til death,
Had I never known you.
What do I not owe you,
Dearest, loveliest Elizabeth!"
Darcy spoke the last in such a voice
Of true love, she could not but rejoice.
A soft smile spread through
Her countenance, and he knew
That she did not regret her choice.
Their eyes locked; he could not resist,
And gently possessed Lizzy's wrist.
He sensed no objection
From the object of his affection;
For her fine, full lips begged to be kissed.
He took her in his arms. She seemed to float
Into them. His breath caught in his throat.
"You should know," he said, hoarse,
"I don't believe in divorce."
Came the reply: "Sir, that chance is remote…"
Before she could add more she found
Herself almost swept off the ground,
Being kissed with such ardor
That almost nothing was harder
Than the effort it took to calm themselves down…
She shut her eyes and reveled in the sensation:
She had never known such sweet elation
As the feel of his mouth;
Meanwhile, further south,
There were signs of rising inflation…
At long last the lovers regained
What vague self-possession remained,
And continued their walk
With most leisurely talk;
Pausing once in a while to ascertain
Whether the previous moment of bliss
Might be rivaled somehow; and with this
Most pleasurable measure,
They passed the day together,
Till obliged to steal one last kiss...
They returned to Longbourn the combined
Epitome of passion refined:
Of true love, seasoned
By time and by reason--
Just as nature (and Austen) designed.