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

More Coffee, Mr. Darcy?

Pride and Prejudice
After dining with the Bennets at Longbourn, Mr. Darcy lingers over his coffee, little knowing that Elizabeth has formed a desperate resolution.

This scene begins after dinner at Longbourn, in the 54th chapter of Pride and Prejudice:

She was a little revived, however, by his bringing back his coffee cup himself; and she seized the opportunity of saying,
"Is your sister at Pemberley still?"
"Yes, she will remain there till Christmas."
"And quite alone? Have all her friends left her?"
"Mrs. Annesley is with her. The others have been gone on to Scarborough, these three weeks."
She could think of nothing more to say; but if he wished to converse with her, he might have better success.

He stood by her, however, for some minutes, in silence...

...staring into his cup, which he had emptied in the blink of an eye. At least, it seemed he had blinked and the liquid had simply disappeared, though he supposed he had really drunk it in the usual way. He wondered whether his insatiable thirst had anything to do with the lady whose hand held the carafe. He had just decided to refresh his drink when her soft, clear voice caught his attention. "Come, Darcy." It was strange to hear her leave off the Mister, but he liked it. "I hate to see you standing about in this stupid manner. You had much better talk."

He turned to look at her, but she did not raise her head. Funny, he had never cared a fig for ribbons or jewelled combs or other decorative nonsense until he had developed the persistent habit of gazing down upon Miss Elizabeth Bennet's head. Those sparkly things in her hair looked very pretty. What had she been going on about? Oh, yes - talking about talking, and now she was doing it again. "You cannot claim to be unacquainted with your partner this time, and I doubt conversing is as detestable to you as dancing."

Her words seemed eerily familiar. Where had he heard them before?

"Can I not tempt you to engage in some tolerable conversation?" She sounded shy all of a sudden.

"Yes," he wanted to say, but he had no idea beyond that. His tongue would not move. They had tried the usual polite topics without much success. Their silence lengthened, contrasting with the cacophony surrounding them. Were they the only persons in the room not speaking to one another? Elizabeth blushed and fidgeted, never quite meeting his eye. It occurred to him that she might abandon her attempts at civility if he did not exert some effort - the sooner the better, for soon Mrs. Bennet would call for the card tables, and then he and Elizabeth might be separated just as they had been at dinner, which would be insupportable.

"How quickly can you make over your duties to someone else?" He hoped none of the other ladies near the table had heard him. He had startled himself with the question, having entertained no notion of what he was going to say before he said it. He knew he must be staring stupidly at her.

He had startled her, too; it showed in her eyes. She acted on his suggestion right away, however. "Mary?" She interrupted the conversation in progress next to her and deftly manoeuvred the girl at her side to exchange places with her sister. "Will you pour the coffee? I shall be back before long."

"Certainly, Lizzy." Miss Mary and the other girl began talking again, but Elizabeth said nothing more.

"Where can we go?" he whispered. Being so close to her, he felt an urge that he suppressed at once. It would not do to embrace her in a room full of people. He jerked his head back.

She stared at him oddly. "Do you believe you left it in the dining room?" she asked, managing to appear irritated and solicitous at the same time. "Let us have a look." She stepped away from the table. "This way, Mr. Darcy."

He bit down on his lip to keep from smirking. There was a general hum and he was certain he had seen several mouths moving, but the only sound he heard with any clarity was the susurration of Elizabeth's skirts as they left the room together.

"You devious little thing," he scolded her with no small amount of admiration when they were alone in the hall.

She shivered. "I apologise. I do recall you once told me that you abhor disguise of every sort."

"In such cases as these, Miss Bennet, a good memory is unpardonable."

She quickened her pace. "By the way, I would prefer to be deemed resourceful."

"Artful, then."

"Hmph." Elizabeth led him through the dining room, making a show of seeking a misplaced item in case the servants had a mind to talk. They exited on the other side and walked farther down the hall. "Here." She opened a door next to her father's library. "This is our old schoolroom."

Darcy closed the door behind them. "So here is where you tortured your governess." He knew full well she had never had any governess, as his aunt had informed him last spring, over and over, ad nauseam.

"No, only our parents. But Papa had to put us somewhere to keep us out of his library, so we ended up here. At least Jane, Mary and I spent lots of time here. And Kitty, too, before Lydia became her constant companion." She walked over to the shelf and picked up a dusty volume. "No one at Longbourn needs this book anymore."

He took it from her hands. "My father purchased this very same primer for Georgiana."

"Perhaps we should keep it for Jane's children. That is, if your friend does not flee the country again without declaring himself."

"Or, perhaps your own children might have need of it, if you ever decide to stop foolishly spurning marriage proposals from perfectly respectable gentlemen." He had not been able to resist; that saucy, challenging look in her eyes always got his blood up.

"Why did you want to lure me away from the coffee service, Mr. Darcy?"

He had expected her to take offence at his last statement. Instead, she had smiled a most delicious smile… And that cheeky question! There was no way he was going to answer it. How could he, without offending her, kissing her, or both? "What is it you wish to discuss, Miss Bennet?"

"Whatever subject pleases you. See, I will answer your question, though you have disregarded mine. You were so silent in there. You spent ten minutes ignoring me and cradling your coffee cup, as if it required your hands to keep it warm."

"I was not ignoring you." He had been aware of her at every moment. "You actually want me to talk to you, about anything I like?"

"I actually want... Mr. Darcy, you are a clever man. I am sure you understand my meaning."

When he looked into her eyes this time, he believed he finally did understand. "Elizabeth?"

"Yes?" She smiled; a good sign, surely.

"Need I ask you again?" He moved until they were face to face and standing very close.

"Oh, yes."

He smiled, too. "Marry me?"

She briefly closed her eyes. "Mmm hmm."

"What was your answer?" He cupped his ear. "I am not certain I heard you properly."

Her eyes flew wide open. "Yes!"

Darcy expressed himself on the occasion as sensibly and as warmly as a man violently in love can be supposed to do. His romantic ramblings made so little sense that he was not surprised when Elizabeth stopped his mouth with her hand and laughingly chided him. He cut short her reprimand in a different manner, and they were thus engaged when Kitty found them several minutes later.

"Mama!" Kitty ran back down the hall. "You...will never...guess!" She coughed after every other word; perhaps the old schoolroom had been a bit too dusty for her.

"I had best speak to your father."

"Yes." Elizabeth clasped her hands behind his neck. Was she standing on tiptoe?

He bent down a little. "Is that all you can say to me anymore?"


"You brought me all this way, and now you cannot even talk?"

"Kiss me again, Fitzwilliam."

"Mmm hmm." Darcy conceded that he would much rather not talk as well. And he would much prefer to not do so whilst cradling a warm Elizabeth Bennet rather than that third cup of coffee he had been on the point of requesting in the drawing room.

~The End~


  1. I have just finished reading the majority of your short stories and drabbles. I absolutely love all of your Darcys and the stories you place him and Lizzy in. Thanks for writing them.

  2. Thanks for reading and commenting! I'm glad you enjoyed the stories.