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

Thanks for dropping by! Titles are below and to the right, under the following headings:
The Trouble of Practising | Longer fiction
The Result of Previous Study | Challenge entries and stories based on others' prompts (or simply others' prompting)
Impulse of the Moment | Short stories written on a whim
Drabbles | Snapshots, usually 100 words but occasionally more, and usually based on a prompt
The Alcove | Writings other than Jane Austen fanfictionNewest Post: All Six Senses (and All F
Note: Some stories include direct quotes from Austen's works, and there is the occasional nod to one or other of the adaptations.

Most Recent Posts:
A Great Coxcomb, Parts 1 - 5 (May-July 2017)
A Little Alteration: Mrs. Forster's Friend (October 2016)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Pride and Prejudice Drabbles

No Abatement of Ills (Weekend)

“I expected him to decamp as soon as possible, certainly by this morning.”

“Have you learnt nothing of the man’s tenacity, my dear? I am surprised your singular experience of yesterday has not taught you the extent of his determination.”

“His tenacity and my ‘vivacity;’ not a combination I would relish. But, Papa, he was not determined enough to seek your assistance, at least not directly.”

“No. On the contrary, he has avoided my library ever since. It seems his persistence does have its limits. And those limits have their benefits.”

“True. But why stay any longer now? He cannot be happy here after what has occurred.”

“Lizzy, I highly doubt my cousin’s character has ever been celebrated for its sagacity and foresight. Let the matter rest.”

“Oh, will Saturday never come?” Elizabeth sighed while Mr. Bennet smiled indulgently at her.

By the time their guest departed Longbourn at week’s end, Elizabeth’s expectation of relief unaccountably had been overthrown. She now had additional cause to bemoan her cousin’s strict adherence to plan. For had he left Hertfordshire immediately after his failed proposal, Charlotte surely would have been denied the opportunity—and thus spared the humiliating fate—of becoming Mrs. Collins.



Concealing Her Struggles (Weekend)

‘Do you certainly leave Kent on Saturday?’ Elizabeth recalled yesterday’s harmless query that had led to her current distress. Although sorry to see Colonel Fitzwilliam go, she had consoled herself with the knowledge that he was to take his less amiable cousin away with him. If only her tongue had not betrayed her thoughts just then! Why had she spoken so much of Mr. Darcy? Why had she ever mentioned Mr. Bingley’s name? She had brought nothing but misery upon herself by so doing. Her comments had prompted the colonel’s untimely and unwelcome revelation. Had I directed the conversation elsewhere, I would have been blissfully ignorant and well enough to attend tea at Rosings. I would not have been here all alone, giving Mr. Darcy the chance to…

She closed her eyes against the sight of the parsonage walls, against the vision of her own cousin seated at the head of his table. And to have it happen here, in the home of Mr. Collins! Why am I even surprised? What little appetite she had was waning quickly.

“Did you say something, Eliza?”

Lifting her glass to her lips, Elizabeth shook her head and smiled at Maria. She ignored Charlotte’s questioning glance and continued her ruminations as she drank. It would not do to have her mumblings overheard.

How eagerly had she anticipated tomorrow—Saturday, the day that would bring Mr. Darcy’s departure from Kent, and consequently the end of her acquaintance with him! Now, his proposal and his letter had turned her waiting bitter. Now, she was forced to fix her every hope of comfort on the Saturday se’night following, when she could leave Hunsford and all its unpleasant scenes behind her.



Expecting No Less (Weekend)

Tuesday truly had been a day of wonder. Wednesday and Thursday had proved uncommonly agreeable. Today seemed bursting with promise. As for tomorrow…

Elizabeth would not allow herself to hope. Experience cautioned against it. She resolved to take nothing for granted and expect nothing in particular from the culmination of this week of unforeseen pleasures.

Despite her intentions, her feelings would not be repressed. She delighted in the scenery, in the company of her cherished relations, in the renewal of her acquaintance with him. Her sole remaining dissatisfaction had been a lack of correspondence from her sister, but now her repining was over. Just as the delay in her journey had brought her to Pemberley at the perfect moment, a delay in the post had blessed her with two letters from home at once. She opened the first missive, humming as she anticipated the newsy accounts contained therein.

Her spirits began to falter with the words, “…something has occurred of a most unexpected and serious nature.” Hope had shattered completely by the conclusion of the second letter. She rushed to the door and came face to face with Mr. Darcy, his arresting image distorted by the onset of her tears.



Appearances So Favourable (Surprise)

Oh! He is coming! This is more than I had hoped. So early, too! I must make the most of it. If I hurry, I can just… Oh no, my hem! Ah, here’s a pin. There. Done. My hair will have to suffice. No time to do anything about it now.

So many stairs! Too many.


“I am going for a walk, Father!” And please don’t ask me where, for I’ve no time to answer.

There he is. Must slow down, behave naturally, smile, appear encouraging but not desperate.

He is really here.


“Why, Mr. Collins! What a lovely surprise!”



Such a Sight to Be Seen

“Miss Bennet, I do believe this is the second time I have seen you wearing a petticoat six inches deep in mud.”

“Unbeknownst to me, Mr. Darcy, the pigs had got into the garden to take their walk just as I had begun mine. Three ran by, too quickly and too near for me to avoid this sad fate. Though your smiling countenance suggests otherwise, I dare say the results of their carelessness have sunk me even lower in your eyes.”

“You could not be more wrong. As I recall observing to Miss Bingley on that first occasion many months ago at Netherfield, your eyes were brightened by the exercise. They are positively sparkling now, despite the indignity you have suffered at the hands—or, should I say, hooves—of Mrs. Collins’s wayward animals.”

“Mr. Darcy, are you teasing me?”

“Only a little.”

“You mean to be severe on me, but surely this time you cannot blame me for my unkempt appearance?”

“Miss Bennet, you take entirely too much pleasure in misunderstanding me. A little mud could never sully you in my estimation. And your eyes are very fine, as I have often wished to tell you.”

“Now I know you are teasing me!”

“Elizabeth, I am in earnest.”

“Oh? Oh.

“Elizabeth?”

“Oh…”

“You truly were unaware that I admire you?”

“I thought you never looked at me but to see a blemish.”

“That was only when I first knew you. Now I never look at you but to see mud. And, yes, this time I am teasing you, Miss Bennet.”



A Prior Acquaintance (The last time I saw him was seven years ago...)

The first thing I notice is his confident air. He walks as if he owns the world, and his fine figure (the second thing I notice) draws the attention of every lady he passes.

I cannot look away. I quickly realise that I know him, and I am delighted. I doubt he will recognise me. The last time I saw him was seven years ago. I was a scrawny girl then, hardly an object of interest to a handsome young man. Yet he was kind to me, for which I am grateful.

He is coming this way, and I wonder if he has seen me staring. I am shocked at my impertinence but cannot help it, for he is so very handsome. He smiles; I shiver in response. He steps forward with a look of surprise and pleasure.

“Can it be?” he asks, gazing intently into my eyes for a moment before bowing to me and my companion.

I whisper his name. He looks at me and I feel like a woman, not a little girl just this side of plain. He makes me feel beautiful.

How fortunate that Mrs. Younge chose Ramsgate and not Brighton for our summer holiday.



An Easy Distance

“Such a shame, for the house itself is near perfection! The grounds are lovely, too—the gardens, the avenue, the southern fields. Only…”

“Yes?”

“What is the use when one cannot enjoy it all?”

“Indeed.”

“How is such a person to be worked on? I know very well that nothing can be done!”

“There is one thing.”

“But it seems so… desperate.”

“We are desperate!”

“I suppose you are right.”

“I am. I shall not renew the lease; that will force us to act. We must find a new home, one much farther than three miles away from your mother.”



Untitled (Love Finally Found)

I am shocked at myself, though not enough to change my mind. Is this what love does to one? He thinks so. Now that he has finally found love, he says, he cares nothing for others’ opinions, and neither should I.

Still, I feel unprepared. Even my new gown will not be ready for two more days, and I had so hoped to wear it…

He complains that I never request anything of him. I shall ask him to wait! Two days can make no material difference to our plans. Surely George will not deny me this one small thing.



Extensive Reading (The Pages of a Book)

The last several words seemed annoyingly familiar, likely because he had read the same paragraph over and over. Would she never go? He refused to admit defeat and leave the room, though that certainly would put an end to his torment. He heard the fabric rustle in her hands. Such delicate fingers she had, delicate, talented fingers… No, he would not look up. If he encountered her eyes, he would be lost. He forced himself to read those words again and the ones after that, adhering most conscientiously to the pages of his book and willing the time to pass.



A Strong Appearance of Duplicity (A Deceptive Plan)

“She is gone,” Caroline said over her shoulder.

“Claiming we were going out was a stroke of genius!” Louisa tittered. “As well as feigning ignorance of her presence in town.”

“Hopefully she will not surprise us again, certainly not when I return her call after two weeks, not two days. Ugh, Gracechurch Street.” Caroline shuddered. “I wish we truly had invited Miss Darcy to dinner, though.”

“I shall ask her to come tomorrow. With only moments to plan, I dare say you did well.” She patted the seat next to her. “Rest from your labours. I shall ring for tea.”



Most Shocking Indeed (Shock)

Her husband having ridden out at sunrise, the young bride stopped to collect her friend so they might go down to breakfast together.

It was awfully quiet. “Surely she is not still asleep.” The household breakfasted early, but she had never heard any complaints before.

Her knock went unanswered, so she opened the door—and stood there in shock. Clothes were scattered everywhere, but there was no one in sight.

She spotted something on the bed, a note addressed to her. She tore it open.

You will laugh when you know where I am gone…

Harriet Forster was not laughing.



The Joy of Song

Bingley gazed at the singer with great pleasure. Indeed, after the events of the past week, he was ready to find pleasure in everything, but there were no difficulties here—he doubted he had ever heard a more joyful sound. Everyone around him listened appreciatively...well, almost everyone. Across the room Kitty and Miss Lucas whispered to each other, as did Mrs. Bennet and Mrs. Philips, and Mary noisily shuffled her sheet music, but those were minor distractions at best.

“Lovely song,” he murmured, hoping Lizzy might be willing to perform it during the wedding breakfast for himself and her eldest sister.



Lest They Had Been Overheard (Wanton Woman)

“Cunning, wanton woman! Little hope of her getting a husband now.”

“Is that why Darcy chose elsewhere? He saw through her?”

“No, though he suspected she was not as she seemed. He simply had no interest in her. Pity she has been found out, for who will want her?”

The men heard a cry just outside the study door. Hurst reached the hall in time to see Caroline run upstairs. Caroline never ran.

“Was it something we said?” Colonel Fitzwilliam wondered aloud. “I would not expect your sister to feel any sympathy for my cousin Anne, but you never know.”



A Trio of Lady Luck Drabbles

~1~


Luck Running Out

“When shall we go out? It is so dull here.”

“Soon enough. Stop waving from the window. Do you want someone to find us?”

“What if someone does? They will only say the regiment is hopeless without you and beg you to come back! Perhaps the colonel will even promote you as he promised. But that must wait until after we are married.”

Wickham groaned at her ridiculous grin, having lost count of the numerous lies he had told the chit. Despite his initial escape from Brighton’s pressures, he was beginning to think Lady Luck had abandoned him after all.

~2~


Lucky Turn

“The business is settled already, Sir?” his valet asked, surprised. “What excellent luck! My humble congratulations.”

“Luck, in my experience, is nothing more than good timing and sufficient resources to suit one’s purpose,” said Darcy as the man finished tying his cravat. Darcy considered what he would spend on this sham of a wedding and was exceedingly thankful for being blessed with very deep pockets. Even if I am wrong, he thought, looking once more in the mirror before leaving to call on the Gardiners, I am convinced that ‘Lady Luck’ is no more a lady than is Mrs. Younge.

~3~


Good Luck or Bad Luck?

“Why did Mr. Darcy say you had run from your debts? You almost never lose at cards; you told me so yourself!”

“Lydia, I—”

“I know you have hardly any money, but his being so rich is no reason to make such a point of it!”

“Lydia, you don’t know the—”

“He even dared to suggest that you did not want to marry me! He cannot know the man you are.”

“Lydia, will you just—”

As he was interrupted for the third time, George Wickham wondered whether being paid to wed this lady had been a lucky break…or not.



Her Secret (Secret)
Expanded from the following:
Jane heard them with horror. “A gamester!” she cried. “This is wholly unexpected. I had not an idea of it.”

Jane was horrified, but for herself, not Wickham. She had almost blurted out her secret—that she, too, had been a gamester during those sorrowful months in town. After a night at cards where she had allowed her latent anger to lead her to victory several times, she had formed a plan. A wig, a few smudges, and a habit of retiring early had resulted in winning more than a thousand pounds, now safely invested in a London bank.

She thought again of her uncle’s information. Had I gone to Brighton, she mused, I would have fared better than Wickham.



A Woman Without Fault (Cataloguing One’s or Another’s Faults)

…does not sing, does not play the pianoforte, does not improve her mind by extensive reading (unless she does so after she retires to her room, for I cannot recall the last time I saw her reading a book for pleasure), does not talk of serious subjects, does not exercise economy…

Mary continued to list each fault, for she had determined to avoid every single one. Since reaching the age of fifteen, she had felt a great desire to merit her father’s approbation, and the only way she could imagine succeeding was to become all that her mother was not.



Painting an Accurate Portrait

“Proud, haughty, disdainful of those beneath you…am I painting an accurate portrait?”

“Is that your best effort? After all the time we have spent together?”

“You spent much of that time staring at me, looking to find fault.”

“Another misapprehension.”

“Why else stare at a lady who is not tolerable enough to tempt you to dance?”

“Did we not dance together just now?”

“Yes, but…” Then she recalled his smile when she had accused him of hating everybody, his compliment on her figure, and a dozen things she had dismissed as anomalies, which, when reconsidered, painted another portrait entirely.



Incapable of Wilful Deceit? (Jane and Caroline)

“Jane, was that Mr. Farnsworth’s voice I just heard?”

“Might you mean Mr. Porter?”

“Oh, no! I mean, I would not trouble Mr. Porter for the world! I shall retire now—a sudden headache.”

“How unfortunate. Shall I have tea sent up?”

“Yes, please.”

Mr. Farnsworth, Bingley’s newest wealthy friend, emerged from behind the screen. “Bingley is right. You truly are an angel to spare me your sister’s attentions. I assume this Mr. Porter is not to her liking?”

“Not at all.” Jane’s twinge of guilt faded as she reminded herself that Caroline would have done no less for her.



Playing the Game/First Move. A trio of Netherfield drabbles.

~1~


Scissors

“If I cannot persuade you to dance a reel with me, perhaps you will join me in a game of chess later.”

Elizabeth spun round to face him again, mouth open and eyes wide with interest. She immediately winced, biting down on her lower lip. She had not thought to mask her pleasure at Mr. Darcy’s unexpected suggestion; surely he had seen it. Yes, his smile was almost cutting in its smugness.

She had to answer him. “Perhaps,” she said with a grin she could not suppress.

He further surprised her by leaning in and whispering, “Midnight, in the library.”

~2~


Paper

Lingering at Jane’s bedside, Elizabeth heard voices in the hall. Someone paused outside the door. Mr. Bingley, thinking of Jane?

Or Mr. Darcy, thinking of chess?

Should she go? Her sister slept peacefully and did not require her presence. She herself was not tired, and she truly wished to play. She tried to invent excuses but discarded each flimsy attempt like a crumpled sheet of a missive poorly begun.

Just before midnight, she heard footsteps. Again, someone paused briefly at the door.

Elizabeth stood. She pulled the covers snugly over Jane, smoothed her own gown, and headed for the library.

~3~


Rock

She examined the heavy, exquisitely carved pieces as she waited for Mr. Darcy to make his first move.

He sat very still. Though not a restless man, he had a general sense of motion about him. It seemed strange to see him so stone-like. She glanced at his chest to verify that his breath caused it to rise and fall. When she had satisfied herself on that score, her gaze wandered to his well-formed chin, his ear, his brow, his hair, his eyes…

He was staring at her, smiling. “Your move, Miss Bennet.”

She had not even noticed.



The True Philosopher (Easier Than I Thought)

“That was easier than I thought,” murmured Mr. Bennet once he had his library to himself again. Mrs. Bennet would urge Lizzy to relent, but it did not signify—he would never consent to her marrying Collins. He suppressed a pang of guilt, knowing he could have steered his cousin towards Mary, the only one remotely likely to accept the man. Yet he convinced himself he need not regret even that, for he planned to remain Master of Longbourn for decades to come: long ago he had vowed to outlive his healthy, much younger wife purely to spite her nerves.



Untitled (A Tad Too Much Sherry)

“Eliza, I believe you have had a tad too much sherry.”

“I feel wonderful, Charlotte!”

“I can see that. Watch how you swing your arms about—someone is coming.”

“Good evening Miss Lucas, Miss Bennet.”

“Ooph – Mr. Darcy!”

“Pardon me; are you quite well?”

“Why does everyone ask if I am well? I am just grand!”

“Then may I have the next dance, Miss Bennet?”

“Oh, no! I promised Mama never to dance with you! Now what am I to do?”

“You promised? Why?”

“Because you called me tol… tol… Tee hee! Tolerable but not handsome enough to tempt you.”



My Good Opinion

“My good opinion once lost is lost forever.”

That is a failing indeed! I cannot even laugh at it. Rather, I pity your poor sister.”

“My sister?”

“I pray she never disappoints you, if she would have no hope of your forgiveness! But perhaps she has no defect. From all I have heard, Miss Darcy seems the picture of perfection.”

“She certainly is,” cried Miss Bingley. “Do not you agree, Charles?” She began a litany of praise for her absent friend.

Darcy, however, grew pale and quiet. With trepidation in his voice, he whispered to Elizabeth, “Can you possibly know?”



More Fashion than Fortune (Unlikely Rake)

The rumoured ‘twelve ladies and seven gentlemen’ had been more than conjecture, though in the end Mrs. Hurst’s manoeuvring had kept the number of newcomers manageable. Thanks to her rumour, those ten hussies who perennially chased after her husband (Hurst, to be fair, never objected to being caught) doubtless were halfway to Scarborough by now, with at least five gentlemen—four angry husbands, one exasperated guardian—trailing behind them.

Louisa noted the abundance of ladies at the assembly and sighed. If only Hurst would not merely look but also act the gentleman, she would be spared so many unpleasant scenes.



A Question of Immediacy (By Express)

Leave the letters unread and remain ignorant, or open them and know the truth?

Elizabeth’s opinion changed daily, it seemed, as to which choice would have been best. Regardless of knowing she never would have considered ignoring any correspondence from Jane and that word of Lydia’s scandalous behaviour would have reached her eventually, she could not help but wonder what a few more days in Mr. Darcy’s society would have wrought.

Her reverie was interrupted by Hill’s inquiry. Soon she was running towards the copse, her conundrum forgotten, wild to know what news her uncle had sent express.



Giving by Taking Away (The Perfect Gift)

As Georgiana crossed the room, there was something odd in her manner of walking. Elizabeth noticed it again as she returned with Lady Anne’s picture. Then Georgiana’s bright smile put the puzzle out of Elizabeth’s head.

She recalled it in bed that night. Her “Aha!” woke her husband, who demanded an explanation. After some hours and much careful consideration, Fitzwilliam resumed his sleep.

“It was the perfect gift,” Georgiana told him as they stood in their father’s favourite room. Only then was Fitzwilliam certain he had done rightly by all in removing Wickham’s miniature from its place over the mantelpiece.



Here are some of the drabbles that led to Rosings Revised (coauthored with Ruth O. and Pamela D.):
More True Enjoyment (Lost in Thought)

“…and this particular shade of green brings out Anne’s eyes…”

Anne? How can I think of Anne when Elizabeth is before me? An insipid girl turned insipid woman, Anne hardly entered Darcy’s thoughts from one year to another. The music continued to flow. Lady Catherine’s words faded further into oblivion.

Observing Elizabeth at the pianoforte always pleased him, from her sweet smile and graceful manner to her nearly imperceptible shrug on those rare occasions when she struck an errant note.

Lost in thought, he was upon her, and she was addressing him, before he realised he had moved at all.

* * *

Giving Himself Trouble (Something Dreadful)

“I certainly have not the talent…” As he—needlessly, in his opinion—explained his reticence with strangers, he could not help smiling. He never would have described his distaste for dancing as something dreadful. Something dreadful was how Elizabeth’s eyes danced when she talked with Fitzwilliam. If they had not continued to hold that knowing twinkle each time she turned to him as well, he would be a jealous wretch. It is dreadful the way I have come to depend upon her approbation. It is as if I need it…as if I need her. How humbling.

And how exhilarating.


* * *

Symptom of Love? (Taking the Time to Practice)

Why does he stare at me so? One would almost think… Impossible! I wish Charlotte had never put that ridiculous idea in my head.

As Elizabeth observed her friend sitting with the others and looking quite bored, she decided it was best that she had remained with the gentlemen, even if the attention of one had proved rather…disconcerting.

If he would but take the time to practise, perhaps… She smirked; that could hardly signify. Even if Mr. Darcy deigned to add aught of civility to his ordinary style, it would in no wise mean he was improved in essentials.

* * *

Wait! (Rapidity)

Lady Catherine’s carriage was ready, and Elizabeth vacated the room with a rapidity that startled Darcy. What, is she running from me? He almost asked her if she were.

He almost followed her into the equipage, in fact, the reins of his ardent desire still slack in his untrained hands. His cousin’s laughing eyes stopped him before he made a fool of himself. In his defence, he was well and truly caught by Elizabeth Bennet, more than he ever had been by any woman. His will was no longer his own. But he could never admit as much to Fitzwilliam.

* * *

A Path Less Travelled

“You will not follow the lane, Miss Bennet?” he enquired as she stepped away.

“I have noticed that not many share my preference for these winding paths,” she gestured, and he almost caught her hand in his own. “I am glad of it. I enjoy the solitude.”

She hurried on, as if he were not going to accompany her. The way was narrow; perhaps she was thinking of his comfort. Yet he would relish the occasional touch as they walked so close together. Perhaps she would as well. He smiled and caught up with her before she disappeared from view.

* * *

An Allusion to What Might Arise (An Unexpected Turn)

“Not every room at Rosings is as ostentatiously fitted up as the main parlours. I believe you will like the upstairs sitting rooms. The library is also inviting and surprisingly comfortable; I can imagine you whiling away many an hour there.”

Darcy was pleased with Elizabeth’s blushes and hesitant glances. Though he would have been just as happy with her teasing smiles, he could not have expected anything other than this very proper response to his intimations. She had dealt well with this unexpected turn in the conversation. His own response, however, required considerable effort to keep under good regulation.

* * *

The Familiar Way: The Power of Choice

Yesterday’s walk had been almost more than Darcy could bear. He nearly had offered for Elizabeth then and there, in that wild, glorious grove, hidden from the world and its petty concerns. He could hardly wait to see her today at tea, and now she had not come.

Perhaps she waited for him? Had she felt it, too, that inexorable pull towards their joint destiny? Her options were few where man wielded the power of choice and woman only the power of refusal. He quietly left the drawing room, determined to exercise that power to the advantage of them both.

An Unexpected Path: A Prodigious Deal of Care

Yesterday’s walk in the grove had not been enough. Darcy refused to wait until tea to see Elizabeth again.

Luck was with him. Fitzwilliam, on his annual tour of the Park, was nowhere near the grove when Darcy found Elizabeth there. She looked up with a letter in her hand and sadness in her eyes. “My dearest,” he mumbled. Aloud, he asked, “My dear Miss Bennet, whatever is the matter?” He settled her on the nearest makeshift seat and gently pressed her hand, vowing to himself from that moment to take a prodigious deal of care of his future wife.



Breakfast at Netherfield (Gluttony)

Kitty gaped as her eldest sister once again piled her plate high and sat down to eat with the same vigour with which she had taken her first bite.

“Jane, is that your third serving?”

“Is it?” Jane barely turned away from the food to acknowledge her. “I only wanted a little more.”

“A little!”

“Hush, Kitty,” Mary warned.

“But she has eaten enough for us all!”

Mary kept her suspicions regarding Jane’s seeming gluttony to herself. If she had rightly understood Bingley’s comment last night, it appeared Kitty was not wholly mistaken—Jane was eating for at least two.



Wednesday, November 27 (A Diary Entry)

If only Lizzy had been a boy, we would not be at the mercy of odious Mr. Collins! Instead, I shall have to settle for her marrying the man.

If Mr. Collins speaks to me one more time, I shall scream! At least I shall not have to marry the man. If he proposes, I shall say no. Perhaps I shall scream it.


If Mr. Collins does not leave Longbourn and my library by noon on Saturday, I shall go myself!

If only Mr. Collins would look at me! I fear Lizzy does not value his attentions as she ought.



A Change for the Worse (Tea)

In the evenings when Caroline poured the tea, Mr. Darcy took his cup and thanked her politely. Then he stirred in the sugar and sipped his drink. Lately, he also stared at nothing and barely contributed to the conversation. Ever since the party at Lucas Lodge, it had been so.

Tonight when she poured the tea, he took his cup and thanked her politely. Then he stirred in the sugar and sipped his drink. This time, however, jealousy flared as she realised that instead of staring at nothing, Mr. Darcy had fixed his gaze upon her unwelcome guest, Eliza Bennet.



A Pair of Fine Eyes (Eyes)

Her eyes are so dark that I cannot determine their colour from this distance. The beauty of them is unmistakable, however. They smile at her friend, illuminating her face with meaning. There is always something to be discovered in their depths, even by a mere acquaintance such as I am. I can tell she is happy, pleased with the world; now, serious and sensible. Now, slightly shocked—unbelieving, yet amused. And now, this moment she is convinced she is right, and her friend is wrong… all beautifully spoken through her eyes.

Makes me wonder what her lips have to say…



Untitled (Sneeze/Cough)

“In vain I have struggled. It will not do.”

Elizabeth raised a hand to her mouth.

I have astonished her, he thought. She cannot believe her good fortune. Thus encouraged, he continued, “My feelings—”

His speech was interrupted by several loud sneezes.

“You are not well! What can I do to give you present relief?” He gave Elizabeth his handkerchief and knelt beside her, pouring his irrepressible feelings into solicitous attentions.

“Even when red,” he observed after the sneezing fit had ceased, “your eyes are very fine.” He smiled at her until she smiled back.

~*~

Months later while walking to Oakham Mount, Elizabeth sneezed during Darcy’s account of how he had fallen in love with her. He waved away her apologies. “Your sneezes once prevented a great deal of heartache, I believe.” He recalled the night he had almost proposed. Elizabeth had later admitted that his kindness to her then had kept her civil the next morning throughout their lengthy discussion of certain matters; it also had allowed her to accept him as a suitor, something she would have considered only with abhorrence before.

“Are my eyes still fine?” she asked, grinning as he pulled her close.

“The finest.”



At the Netherfield Ball: A Wretched Beginning (Courage)

When Elizabeth informed Charlotte of Wickham’s troubles, her friend was unsympathetic.

“He told you all this but had not the courage to face Mr. Darcy tonight.”

“Perhaps he was excluded from the officers’ invitation.”

“What is the likelihood of Mr. Bingley’s excluding anyone?”

Elizabeth, remembering Denny’s comment, conceded Wickham’s absence was self-imposed. She next recalled the man’s own words: ‘It is not for me to be driven away…’ Yet, apparently, he had been.

Later that evening, Mr. Darcy’s warning, Jane’s account from Mr. Bingley, and even Miss Bingley’s remarks cast further doubt on the claims of the charming Mr. Wickham.



A Less Aweful Object

“I dearly love a laugh.”

How odd.
Elizabeth recalled words she had spoken hours earlier in that very place. I believe I could dearly love this laugh.

When the Netherfield party had separated for the night, Elizabeth had left her needlework behind. Having returned to drawing-room to retrieve it, she stood enthralled by quiet, unexpected merriment.

The man in the chair looked up from his book and into her eyes. He slowly smiled at her before resuming his reading and hushed laughter.

What a beautiful sound, she reflected, turning to leave. I cannot believe it came from Mr. Darcy.



Steady to His Purpose (Playing a Game)

Darcy’s Saturday plans succeeded beautifully…until the Hursts left him alone with Elizabeth.

How shall I refrain from betraying my interest? Or from embracing and ravishing her, he wondered despairingly. He repelled the latter notion by considering its impracticalities: Bingley would toss him from Netherfield; Mrs. Bennet would become his mother-in-law; his actions would expose him to ridicule.

He continued playing his game—conjuring consequences, feigning reading, refusing even to look at Elizabeth. When he had worked himself into a fine lust despite his intentions, he dared glance her way only to discover she had vacated the room.



By No Means Discouraged (Trying to Lose but Still Winning)

“More coffee, Mr. Darcy?”

Caroline Bingley truly was a handsome woman. There was nothing lacking in her tone of voice or her address and expressions. Nevertheless, that tone wore Darcy’s nerves thin, and the sight of her pretty face made him wish to flee the room more often than not.

Although he steadfastly ignored her attentions, she continued to pay them. What was he to do? It was frustrating, maddening even. He desired to be the last man she could ever be prevailed on to marry, not the first!

“More cake, Mr. Darcy?” She batted her eyelashes.

He imperceptibly sighed.



Enjoying the Prospect (Too Many People)

Too many people. Darcy needed to think, and the room where Miss Bingley was entertaining his other guests with the latest London gossip would not suffice.

“Too many people,” he murmured, peering into another of Pemberley’s parlours. Georgiana, Mrs. Annesley, Mrs. Reynolds, and the cook were in animated discussion over menus or some such trivial matter.

Frustrated, he shut himself in his study, looked out of the window…and smiled. “Yes.” There was the very spot where, only yesterday, his destiny had taken a turn for the better. It was the perfect place to contemplate his second chance with Elizabeth.



Pleasantly Engaged (Oh, to be young again!)

When Mrs. Bennet’s boasting of Jane catching Mr. Bingley could no longer be heard over the music, observing the couple provided entertainment enough.

Jane danced gracefully, smiling often and showing just the right amount of interest in her partner without seeming eager. Mr. Bingley, however, appeared ready to fall at her feet should the movements in the dance allow him opportunity.

I cannot blame the man. Oh, to be young again! Laughter pressed against Mr. Bennet’s throat and puckered lips as he turned from the spectacle. I remember when a face very much like Jane’s brought me to my knees.



Deserving Her Mother’s Reproach (Delurking)

“Lizzy, what are you—”

“Shh!”

“You have mud on your dress.”

“Hush, Mary! She might hear.”

“Well, I shall not lurk about in the shrubbery with you! What unseemly behaviour for a young lady.”

“Then de-lurk, or… something. Just be quiet.”

As Mary backed away, she saw Lizzy leap from her hiding spot with a startling roar. Their mother, who had been picking berries nearby, shrieked and smeared the ripe, juicy treats all over her new white muslin.

No one else ever understood, but Mary knew how Elizabeth had become least dear to Mrs. Bennet of all her children.



Sweet and Sour (Something Sweet/There She Stood/The Devil Himself)

Darcy rode solemnly through the streets of Meryton, chastising himself for his impulsive offer to accompany Bingley to Longbourn. His friend carried the entire conversation between them without appearing to notice Darcy’s silence.

The aroma of something sweet wafting from the bakery brought to mind an image of Elizabeth at tea, her sweet lips closing over a powdery confection.

As if he had conjured them up, Darcy recognized the Bennets ahead. Moments later, Bingley was greeting them all.

Darcy bowed to Miss Bennet. Then his eyes sought Elizabeth before he could stop them. There she stood...

...with the devil himself!



An Evening at Cards (When Next We Meet)

Elizabeth barely paid heed to the fish she had won and lost after hearing Mr. Wickham’s story. She conversed with him on lighter topics but could not get his shocking revelations out of her head. I shall know exactly what to say, Mr. Darcy, when next we meet.
~*~*~

When next we meet, Miss Bennet, may he be nowhere in sight. Darcy felt relief as the whist party broke up. He had played unsuccessfully, his mind full of images of Wickham standing near Miss Bennet. You are too wise to fall for his charm, Elizabeth. At least I hope you are.



Impulse of Feeling

“What if someone sees?”

“No one will expect to find us here.”

“Of course not! You should not be here!”

“You worry too much, Mary.”

Mary hoped she worried for nothing, for his entreaties were becoming increasingly difficult to resist. This tête-à-tête would not end with a sloppy kiss to her cheek, as when her uncle’s impudent clerk had attempted liberties with her. The young man now pressing his suit—and pressing her close enough to feel his breath on her face—would not miss his mark.

“Please?” He seemed nervous, too.

“Very well.” She closed her eyes...

...and tasted paradise.



No Pleasure in the Remembrance (Always unguarded and often uncivil)

Why, Anne wondered, recalling Lady Catherine’s earlier conversation with her guests, must every visitor be subjected to Mother’s impertinence?

“What?! You have already met Mr Darcy?”

She is always unguarded…

“I am to be denied the privilege of introduction?”

…and often uncivil…

“I, who have known him from his infancy and am almost his nearest relation?”

…and takes offence at the slightest provocation.

“Say no more! I certainly need no report from you of my nephew’s state of health four months ago!”

Oh, that Mr. Collins had kept his mouth shut, for my mother clearly is incapable of doing so!



The Influence of Affection (Snow Falling All Around)

The December afternoon slid drearily into evening, as had each afternoon since his departure. Finding the room uncomfortably warm, Jane parted the curtains, pressing her face and hands to the glass like a curious child.

“What can be worth seeing at this hour?”

Mrs. Bennet’s question went unheeded as fading sunlight illuminated a familiar silhouette on horseback. Jane ran outside without hesitation—and without coat, gloves, or bonnet.

Charles Bingley dismounted and approached, hands clenched against the cold, the first flakes of snow falling all around him.

“Miss Bennet.” He seemed reassured by her smile. “Jane, I… I’ve come home.



Manners So Little Dignified (Conversations at Pemberley)

“Miss Bennet!”

“Mr. Darcy.”

“Elizabeth—Miss Bennet—are you well?”

“I…”

“And your family are well? Where are you staying? When did you arrive?”

“I… We arrived yesterday in—”

“You are well, are you not? You look very well, Elizabeth… Miss Bennet.”

“Do call me ‘Elizabeth’ if it is simpler for you.”

“No! No, I ought to behave in a more gentlemanlike manner, Elizabeth… Miss Bennet.”

“Oh.”

“You left Longbourn when? Where did you say you were staying?”

“I did not…”

“You arrived…?”

“Only yes—”

“Yesterday! Of course.”

“Of course.”

“I must… Eliz… Miss Bennet, please excuse me.”



When We Met at Pemberley (Conversations at Pemberley)

“Oh! do not repeat what I then said. I was repetitive enough.”

“You performed admirably.”

“I blathered on like a blockhead! Bingley’s greeting was by no means as deficient.”

“Bingley came purposely to call on me. Had he met Jane unexpectedly, however, he might have suffered a similar loss of composure.”

“Loss of composure? I was the village idiot of Lambton masquerading as Master of Pemberley. Admit it.”

“I admit no such thing. You were charming. I was impressed with your manners that day.”

“Impressed? ‘Elizabeth—uh, Miss Bennet—er, Elizabeth—uh, Miss Bennet.’”

“Just kiss me, Darcy.”

“With pleasure.”



Owing to Him (Money)

“Fitzwilliam, I hesitate to enquire, but my curiosity begs satisfaction.”

“You have my attention.”

“How much did you pay to bring about Lydia’s marriage?”

“Elizabeth…”

“I cannot help but wonder!”

“How can you ask me that?”

“I did hesitate, which is to my credit.”

“Elizabeth!”

“Fitzwilliam?”

“Above three. Less than four.”

“He finagled another three thousand pounds from you.”

“Essentially.”

“So much money!”

“I would have paid five times that sum to restore your family’s reputation. Happily, Wickham did not know that.”

“You are wonderful.”

“I did not do it for your gratitude.”

“Marvellous. Munificent.”

“Elizabeth…”

“Handsome, too.”

“Eliz—”

(Darcy’s speech seems to have been cut off. Hmm.)



No Little Alteration (Sexy Mary)

Mary could hardly believe her eyes as Jane emerged from her room holding a shard from a broken vase and frowning so severely that she looked almost plain, if that were possible.

Passing a mirror, she caught her own reflection. Yes, Jane had scowled exactly like that. For once, Mary allowed her ever-present frown to fade and watched her face become less…bland. She smiled, effecting a greater change and giving her a few ideas.

That evening, Longbourn’s dinner guests, Mr. Carlton and Mr. Tisdale, gave Mary second and even third glances well before the first course was over.



Untitled (Basking in the Light)

“You look divine!”

“My dear, you have outdone yourself.”

“No one can possibly outshine you tonight.”


No such praise accompanied Caroline Bingley’s foray into the unfamiliar crowd. No hangers-on from her seminary days or sisters of impoverished nobility would be met here. Several ladies cast envious glances at her gown but saved their smiles for her brother and his friend, futile as their efforts would prove. She could hardly blame them, however, considering the scarcity of gentlemen.

Nonetheless, Caroline basked in the light of the provincial assembly hall. She was on the arm of Fitzwilliam Darcy; that was reason enough.



Treasure Hunter (All Hallows' Eve?)

“Lizzy, is that you? What on earth…”

“I found it in the attics.” *swirls*

*coughs* “Along with copious amounts of dust! You looked like something one would expect to see on All Hallows’ Eve, floating down the stairs in that long gown in this dim light, with all that dirt on your face.”

“I had to find something to do. It is too wet for a walk. Is not this dress divine? Mama must have looked quite beautiful in it.”

“You will not appear very beautiful if you stumble on the hem and fall. Do be careful!”

“Oh, boo, Mary.”



Over Backgammon (Ignorance and Other Virtues)

“So you wish to marry.”

“I do, and by choosing a bride from Longbourn, Sir, I hope to lessen the injury to your daughters when that most unfortunate of events—”

“Curious. You admire my girls?”

“Oh! Certainly. They are very handsome, the eldest especially. Although, perhaps your third daughter is not blessed with equal—”

“There are other virtues besides beauty. Ignorance, for example.”

“Ignorance?”

“Kitty displays even more of it than Mary. Now, Lydia’s silliness is unmatched, except possibly by my wife and her sister.”

“Sir—”

“Lizzy can be headstrong.”

“Headstrong?”

“And Jane—”

*splutter*

“Enough, then. Your move, Mr. Collins.”



In the Evening (A Warm Blanket)

Darcy slowed his steps when he noticed someone had left Miss Bennet’s bedroom door ajar. Reaching to shut it, he glimpsed Miss Elizabeth’s hair above the back of the chair by her sister’s bedside. Leaning closer, he heard the even breathing of both ladies. He spotted the younger woman’s stockinged feet—one tucked under her leg, the other dangling just above the carpet—and rubbed his chin in contemplation.

* * *

Elizabeth awoke and stretched, surprised to find a blanket covering her. More grateful than curious, and more tired than either, she snuggled in the warm cloth and went back to sleep.



Mischance (Glen)

“How odd that we should meet here again.”

A knowing smile was Mr. Darcy’s only reply.

Upon emerging from the glen and seeing who approached her, Elizabeth had been tempted to turn back and run down into it again. Why had he ventured to this very place when she had purposely warned him away from it just the day before? Perhaps he had forgot, too enchanted by the surrounding beauty to mind his steps until it was too late. His smile told her he knew what he had done; Elizabeth, relieved, felt certain he would not forget a second time.



Humour at Hunsford (The Tablecloth)

When Collins dropped his napkin at breakfast, Charlotte barely noticed. When he grasped the tablecloth with the napkin and tucked in both, she simply stared. When he finished eating and stood, pulling the tablecloth with him, she gaped. When it took several seconds and dishes spilling everywhere for him to see his error, she could not help it—she laughed.

"Mrs. Collins! How can you... How... Huh... Heheheh hee hee hee!" Collins rocked back and forth on his heels as hilarity overtook them both. Even Lady Catherine’s call immediately thereafter could not quench the light of laughter in their eyes.


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