This month’s post gives you a sample of Part Two of the Elizabeth Said, Darcy Said series. This novella takes another look at the infamous Meryton assembly, but through Darcy’s eyes. It joins the story after Elizabeth has given Darcy a piece of her mind and stomped off to the other side of the hall to put some space between them. Bingley, ever the peacemaker, is struggling to convince Darcy he needs to take the initiative and ask forgiveness, but Darcy is outraged over her desecrating the memory of his father.
Darcy’s pride gets in the way of rational thought, and the resulting misunderstanding is the first of many. Bingley does his best to calm troubled waters, but he can only do so much. If his friend refuses to admit it was his stubbornness and insensitive remarks that started the argument, there is little hope that the incident can be resolved:
The sound of his friend’s laughter taunted Darcy, adding to his embarrassment. He was without a doubt the object of scorn and mentally kicked himself for his shameful loss of control.
What was I thinking? Did I forget everything my father taught me? If he had seen this display, he would have removed me from the assembly and sent me home immediately, no matter my age. It would have been a long while before he even considered letting me attend again, and I can just imagine the conditions he might have attached. And rightly so, after the way I acted.
Bingley’s amusement did not help, and neither did his censure, mild or not. Worse yet, the man’s response to Miss Elizabeth’s rebuke was correct, even though in delivering it she had, probably without realizing, questioned his esteemed father. She might have been speaking to Bingley, but what she said was like a knife to his heart. He might look past a lot of insults, but he would never find it within himself to forgive her for that sin.
“The mighty Mr. Darcy,” Bingley said with a laugh, “bested by a woman he considers no better than a farmer’s daughter.”
He lowered his voice and leaned forward; his mirth gone for the moment. “She is not so simple as you think, Darcy. A more unsophisticated girl might have screamed insults at you or called some men to come and teach you a lesson. I know you don’t want my opinion, but I am going to give it to you anyway. Swallow your hurt feelings and go apologize. I don’t think she is the kind that will nurse a grudge until the end of time. Show her the humility that is such a vital part of you at Pemberley. She will listen. I heard what she said and how it cut you, but the fault is yours, not hers. If you had come tonight in a better mood, you could have avoided Miss Elizabeth’s insult. Think about that and adjust your attitude accordingly. When I return, I expect to see a smile on your face instead of the frown you are wearing now.”
“Where are you going?” Darcy asked, fearing his demeanor would be difficult to soften if left alone to face the onslaught of nosy interlopers, well-meaning or not. “Miss Bennet is on the floor dancing, so she cannot visit unless you are going to join the line and stand beside her. That might be awkward for her and the man she is with.”
Bingley did not see the humor in his little joke, Darcy knew because of the look he sent, which showed exasperation with his friend’s steadfast resistance to what he was being told.
“When the set finishes, I am going to ask Miss Bennet to come with me while I try to repair the damage we caused. Miss Elizabeth is a member of a prominent family in this area and her friends probably repeated your insult throughout the entire hall as soon as you gave it. If I cannot undo the harm, it might force me to give up on trying to live here and go looking for some other estate as good. The problem is that this one took so long to find and is so close to perfect for me I am not sure there is another like it in England.”
Darcy showed a wan smile that he could tell was not at all convincing, but his friend needed some encouragement. He did not want to be the reason for Bingley giving up on the property. The man liked the estate at first sight and began making plans almost as soon as he signed the lease. To lose it because Darcy turned the neighbors against him would strain even Bingley’s famous good mood and besides, this property was perfect for him with its industrious tenants and capable servants inside and out.
“You are worrying about nothing,” he said with a laugh that even he did not accept as authentic. “These look like good people, so they are not going to hold my thoughtless comments against you. They might refuse to have anything to do with me, but they will realize you are not responsible for my actions.”
Bingley stepped forward to clap him on the back, the mood they celebrated the man for showing signs of coming back. “The problem, Darcy, is that you willfully insulted a young woman who everyone thinks highly of, according to what I have found out from talking to people tonight. I knew that much about her before your outburst, and I can guess what the gossips are saying or thinking now.”
“I cannot tell you how sorry I am for this,” Darcy said, fighting to keep anger over the incident from showing in his voice. “If I have caused problems, I apologize and promise to make it up to you, but I will not ask forgiveness from Miss Elizabeth. Yes, she was right to take offense at what I said, but she did not have to denigrate the memory of my father.”
“She could not have known,” Bingley answered, turning for a quick look to where the subject of their conversation was standing, then facing Darcy again. “You can’t hold a poor choice of words against her, can you? Look past what she said and consider her justifiable reasons for saying it.”
Darcy shook his head, his anger unabated. “No. She should have stopped to think about what she was going to say first. A simple bit of foresight could have caused her to reconsider her words.”
“And you could have done the same. If you had, you could have avoided insulting every female within the county,” was Bingley’s instant retort, accompanied by a look that suggested he wanted to take Darcy by the shoulders and give him a good shake. “The blame is not hers alone. All she did was reply to your insult and calmly.”
“Who does she think she is, talking about me that way?” Darcy was fully aware he was losing the argument, but his stubborn nature kept him from conceding the point.
Bingley’s smile was a little too condescending for Darcy’s liking, and he dreaded the response his associate had ready. “Does it hurt that much to be scolded by a simple girl like Miss Elizabeth? Is your conceited regard for yourself so inflated that any unfavorable view is not to be accepted?”
“That is not what I said,” Darcy replied, bringing a laugh from Bingley.
Can Darcy swallow his pride, or is the memory of his father too sacred for him to overlook Elizabeth’s inadvertent insult? You can find out yourself today, as the Kindle version is now live. The pre-order price will stay at $1.49 until tomorrow, when it will revert to its full retail of $2.99.
I am in the midst of writing the next two books in the Elizabeth Said, Darcy Said series, and hope to have them ready in mid July. These will have Darcy facing his nemesis, Wickham, and seeking vengeance for his shameful treatment of Georgiana. Will he succeed? He might, but his journey will not be an easy one. In keeping with the pattern set by these first two, the title for number three in the series is: Miss Elizabeth Faces Wickham, and number four: Mr. Darcy Faces Wickham.
One final item of business. In looking over last month’s post I realized that I predicted the series would be complete by late July. I erred. The last book will be out in mid to late August, not July. I apologize for any inconvenience.