JA quotes and intro

"I should infinitely prefer a book." -- Chapter 39, Pride and Prejudice
"...I wish my collection were larger for your benefit and my own credit..." -- Chapter 8, Pride and Prejudice
"I shall be glad to have the library to myself as soon as may be." -- Chapter 20, Pride and Prejudice

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Instantly Understood


(2007)
Pride and Prejudice
"The Inn at Lambton"
Mr Darcy calls on Elizabeth at the inn before she finishes reading her letters from Jane.


The commotion outside the inn was over now. Elizabeth watched from the window as young boys scampered about, retrieving the last of the goods that had spilled from the jostled cart. It appeared no real harm had been done, and the men had ceased their arguing and had gone about their business.

Elizabeth sat down again to continue reading her letters when she heard footsteps. She stood ready to greet her aunt and uncle, wondering that they should have returned so soon.

"Miss Bennet."

She stared at her unexpected visitor a moment before speaking. "Mr. Darcy! It is very good to see you, Sir."

"I see I have interrupted your reading."

"Jane has written to me at last. Actually, that is not fair to say, since one of her letters had been sent elsewhere before I received it."

"A sister's letter is indeed a treasure to be savoured, and you have two. Shall I call another time?"

"No! No. Please do not leave. I can read these later."

Darcy grinned, and she felt her cheeks growing hot. "I shall not have you accuse me of being so unfeeling as to keep a lady from her correspondence. I believe I interrupted you in the middle of writing a letter once, at Hunsford. You were putting it away as I walked into the room."

A letter to Jane, Elizabeth recalled. "Yes, you did." She began to put her letters away regardless, but his look stopped her. "Are you certain you do not mind?"

He gestured, and she sat and unfolded her letter.

Her attention wandered when he began to pace the room, and again when he stopped. "You ought to be staying at Pemberley, not here." His voice was so quiet, she had barely heard him. She glanced up to see him resume his pacing. Soon he stopped again, then exhaled and looked at the ceiling. "You ought to be living at Pemberley."

"Mr. Darcy?"

He swung round to face her, looking conscious of having spoken amiss. Had he been so completely lost in thought, or had he assumed she could not read and listen at the same time? "Will you not sit down? Please?"

She was glad she had asked him to sit near her, and gladder still that he had acquiesced, when she read about Lydia's elopement with Wickham. In her horror, she thrust the paper from her as if it were on fire. She barely felt it slip from her fingers as Darcy took it; he must have thought she was offering it to him by way of explanation for what had to have been a shocking change of countenance. She could think of nothing to say as he read and his own countenance changed from anxious to grim. Her only comfort was the feel of his knees against hers as he leaned closer, keeping her pinned to her chair when she would have flown out of it in search of her uncle. She remembered the second letter then, and she devoured it, though it left her just as empty as the first. She deliberately handed it to Darcy, who read it and mumbled something under his breath that she truly did not hear.

"What is to become of Lydia? What is to become of us all?"

"Much time has passed, too much. Yet there is hope if we can get her away from Wickham."

She choked on her tears. What was he talking of? "Away from him? She has to marry, else she is ruined! We are all ruined! How can such a thing be concealed? Everyone will know."

"Do you want your sister shackled to the man for the rest of her life? I would not wish that fate on any woman."

He seemed passionate about it, and she had no wish to argue. She had not the strength to do so, for once. "Lydia must be found first, before anything can be decided."

"Yes."

Elizabeth shivered at all he conveyed along with that single word. The tone of his voice carried a firm resolve. His posture exuded vigour, capability, a sense of rising to the challenge ahead. The touch of his hand upon hers expressed a compassion she had not known she had needed before feeling its warmth. And the look in his eyes...

The look in his eyes communicated a promise that whether her sister were discovered two days or two months from now, even if Wickham were to become her brother-in-law, regardless of what society would have to say about it, Darcy would not abandon her. He would always be hers if that was what she wanted - all she needed to do was tell him.

She looked fully into his eyes, returned the caress of his hand, and answered his unspoken question. "Yes." When he smiled, she felt the relief of certainty in one respect: she knew the next time she came to Derbyshire, she would not be staying at the inn at Lambton.

~The End~

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