An Alternate Take, Plus a Short Story! by Elaine Owen

An Alternate Take, Plus a Short Story! by Elaine Owen

If you’re like me, you absolutely adore reading about Elizabeth Bennet’s famous visit to Pemberley with her aunt and uncle, the visit that utterly changes her perception of Darcy. You probably love reading about Darcy’s generosity to the Gardiners, and you sense how much Darcy wants to win Elizabeth’s good opinion. You also feel Elizabeth’s astonishment at the changes in Darcy, and you cheer for him to just go ahead and propose to her again!

But he doesn’t propose, does he? I would like to think that’s his intention, but by the time he makes his fateful call on Elizabeth at the Lambton inn, Elizabeth has received the letters from Jane that tell of Lydia’s disgrace and she can’t help telling Darcy about it. So Darcy doesn’t propose. But what if events had played out differently? More specifically, what if Jane’s letters had arrived just a little after Darcy arrived? What might have happened then?

This is my answer to that question. It is a short story, only about two thousand words. If you like this excerpt  there are links at the end to read the rest of it. I hope you enjoy it!

The next day was fair and Elizabeth’s aunt and uncle expressed a wish to walk through the town of Lambton, and perhaps call on childhood friends of Mrs. Gardiner. Elizabeth declined as she had several letters to write, but she said she might join them later if possible. Seeing that their niece was content to be on her own for the morning the Gardiners left her at the inn.

Elizabeth’s first letter was to be to Jane, for she had not heard anything from her sister in nearly a week. But she had barely sat down in front of the desk and dipped her pin in the inkwell when there was a rap on the door and Mr. Darcy was announced. 

Elizabeth’s heart gave a quick flutter as he entered the room. She was struck by the similarity of this event to a certain event in Kent in April. Then, as now, Darcy had come upon her when she was alone and not likely to be interrupted. Had he seen her aunt and uncle leaving and chosen that time to call on her? Possibly; but she thought it more likely that his arrival in their absence was a coincidence.

Darcy sat down and resolved the question at once by inquiring after her aunt and uncle. She told him they were out and added that they were “not likely to come back for some time, as they are calling on friends they have not seen in many years.” She waited to see if this information would make Darcy more likely to leave or to stay. 

That Darcy was surprised by the news was evident, but he did not take the opportunity to make his excuses and leave. He pulled his chair closer to hers and leaned towards her as if to speak. Then, after a moment of hesitation, he stood and paced the length of the room. Elizabeth’s surprise and astonishment only grew as he came to stand in front of her and addressed her earnestly.

“Miss Bennet, I will not pretend that I came here today to call on your aunt and uncle. Rather, I was hoping to see you. There is a question I would like to put to you, but I am afraid of placing us both in an uncomfortable position.”

She colored and shifted in her seat, with a sudden suspicion of what he might be about to ask. “I have no objection.”

“I have long been wondering about the fate of the letter I put into your hands after our meeting in Kent. Indeed, it has weighed on my mind more than I can say. May I ask if you read it?”

Elizabeth answered, very concisely, that she had.

“And did it,” he asked, with a heightened expression, “did it make you think differently of me at all? Did you give any credit to its contents, or did it have no effect at all on your opinions and feelings?”

It was Elizabeth’s turn to hesitate. She was not entirely certain what Darcy meant to ask. Did he want to know if she had revised her feelings and opinions of his character, or was he hinting at a question with far greater significance? She feared to say either too little or too much, to discourage him without meaning to do so, or to perhaps embarrass him by accepting an offer he had not intended to renew. He might, after all, be determined to be polite without being in love. 

“My thoughts and feelings,” she finally answered, “were in such a tumult when I first read the letter that I could scarcely take it all in. At first I was disinclined by my own prejudice to believe anything I read. But after some reflection I began to feel the justice in what you wrote.”

“So you believed me!” he exclaimed, with evident relief. “I am sorry, deeply sorry, for any pain my words may have brought you. There were certain words and turns of phrase, particularly with the opening, that I cannot think of now without shame.”

“I did not take them so. I felt only pain and regret at the part I played that day.”

“Pain!” he repeated. “Regret! Those were the last feelings I hoped to inspire in you. I was, in fact, hoping to bring about quite the opposite.” 

Elizabeth was much too embarrassed to say a word. Darcy stepped closer to her and said, in a low voice,  “Seeing you at Pemberley has inspired me as never before to be a gentleman worthy of earning your affection. If you are going to send me away again, I beg you, do so now, before I begin to hope.”

Her heart pulsed madly in her ears and she looked down, unable to meet his eyes. “My feelings have changed,” she managed to choke out, ”so much that I scarcely recognize them. Indeed, I scarcely recognize myself.”

“Is it possible,” he asked, after what seemed like a dreadful pause, “that one day you might allow me to bring you to Pemberley, not as a guest, but as my wife?” He waited anxiously for her response.

What do you think will happen next? Will Elizabeth accept him straightaway, or does she need more time to get to know him? And what will happen when those letters actually do show up? “Nothing of Importance” can be read here.  I hope you enjoy it! 

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March 10, 2022 8:28 PM

Loved it!

Jean Stillman
Jean Stillman
March 2, 2022 8:28 PM

I very much enjoyed the excerpt from your short story and am now off to finish it! Thank you for sharing!

Gianna Thomas
March 2, 2022 7:38 PM

Interesting excerpt, Elaine. Not exactly what we expected. And what’s more, you could expand it into a novella. Is that a possibility?

February 27, 2022 12:45 PM

I would love to continue reading, but the D&L site has still not accepted my registration, and is not allowing registrations today.

February 27, 2022 10:35 AM

I read this on D&L and loved it. I still think it’s a shame that the original didn’t have this scenario. I look forward to more if you do write it.

cindie snyder
cindie snyder
February 24, 2022 5:03 PM

I love it! How sweet!

Kirstin Odegaard
February 24, 2022 11:25 AM

That was very sweet!

Ann Myers
Ann Myers
February 24, 2022 9:26 AM

I loved it! Except it ended too soon! Tease!

Regina Jeffers
February 24, 2022 7:51 AM

I keep repeating this, but you do tease us so well.

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