From Hunsford Parsonage in Rosings' Park, 10 o'clock in the morning

Dear Mr. Darcy,

I would not be offended (nor surprised) if you cast this letter aside immediately, for I have done you a great disservice; pardon me, however, when I ask that you read it thoroughly, so that perhaps your righteous ire towards me may fade. I write this letter with the deepest regret in my heart, for I have misjudged not only one, but two gentlemen, so completely that I feel I know them hardly at all, when I throw my misconceptions to the wind. The irony is not lost on me, sir, that I, who prides myself on realistic and accurate (or so I hoped) sketches of character, have so dramatically misunderstood two men, and it is with this regret and travesty that I sincerely apologize for my harsh words two days ago, I spoke with a naïve and mistaken mind, and I cannot convey to you in words how sorry I am. I don't think I could bear it if I hurt you, which, I regret to say, was my design in the beginning. Now I understand that I misunderstood you from the very beginning of our acquaintance, and I am more regretful for that than anything else.

I must confess that I have read and reread every sentence of your letter, wishing to discredit it entirely, if only for the sake of my own feelings. You see, I did not want to experience the discomfort I do now that I was wrong, and that I hurt you. Your letter made me reconsider every moment I have spent with you, as well as Mr. Wickham, as well as the moments I observed Jane and Mr. Bingley. If I may, I would like to share with you the moments in which my prejudice towards you began, and my pride was wounded.

When I first saw you at the Meryton assembly, I cannot deny that I thought you were extremely handsome, but you seemed like present company was beneath you. I know now that you were uncomfortable with the situation, but this observation, as well as your unwillingness to dance, and your disdainful regard to the company, in addition to a conversation I overheard you sharing with Mr. Bingley effectively wounded my pride, and caused me to see you as vain and arrogant. My esteem injured, I was all to ready to accept Mr. Wickham's story. Looking back, it is all too clear that he was not a trustworthy source; a true gentleman would not boast of being fearless while running to the hills, nor, put himself forward as Wickham had done. A gentleman would not have looked to ruin your reputation after you had left the country. I am appalled I was not struck by the impropriety of it all until I had read your letter. My heart goes out to Georgiana, and I am very remorseful that I befriended the kind of man that could hurt a girl of but five and ten years to such an extent.

I do not think I will ever be able to express to you how much I wish I could've seen Wickham for what he was, and then became friends with you without any inhibitions; for I enjoyed your company at Rosings and imagine we would have gotten along better had I not believed that your character was so compromised, and I can only bear to imagine the great friends we may have overcome, if you had overcome your shyness and I my prejudice. I think I would have quite liked becoming friends with you.

I would like to reassure you that what you have shared with me will remain in my confidence, and that I will do my best upon return to Hertfordshire, which is tomorrow, incidentally; to keep my sisters and other young ladies of my acquaintance away from the gentleman. I hate to call him that, Wickham barely deserves the name. I would not like to hurt Georgiana anymore than she already has been, so I will leave her completely out of my account against him, and be as discreet as I am able.

Now, I must address the other charge I laid against you, which you defended in your correspondence. My dear Mr. Darcy, I can only apologize, most profusely, I assure you, for my sharp words the night of your proposal. The things you said against my family; the impropriety you observed on display from my relatives and related to me; the level of distaste at which you held my mother's unsubtle manipulative matchmaking, I cannot deny that I agree with you. Although I love them dearly, at the Netherfield ball, I was appalled by the loud ramblings from my mother on Jane's "advantageous" marriage, incredibly embarrassed by Lydia's and Kitty's flirtations and silliness, and even disappointed with Mary and my father, my favorite relative, for their behavior. It was only a tenfold more embarrassing that you, the one person I hoped most would not take note of it, the one person I wished wouldn't observe my family's humiliating manners, would not only notice, not only bring it up to me again, but to also struggle with it for many months, as you fought your attractions towards me, as something you had to overcome, shames and pains me. I was not offended by your words, only shocked at the truth of them, and stunned that a gentleman like yourself could in fact, overcome them. Please pay no mind to my words, for they were said in the heat of a moment in which my emotions were high and my mental processes not working as quickly as my sharp tongue. I regret many of the things that I said, and hope that you may be able to pay these words no mind.

And finally, what you said on behalf of your interference of Jane and Mr. Bingley's relationship, as much as I would like to be angry at you for their separation, I cannot. My dear friend Charlotte, who knows Jane second best only to me, confided to me that she felt Jane's regard was not strong at all, and she acted as if she had not the slightest inclination of being truly in love. Perhaps, even, the only reason I observed Jane's affected air was because I knew for a fact that Jane was in love. I admit my sister is modest and shy, even more so when her heart may be at risk, and I cannot fault you for thinking that she was indifferent, especially with my mother's loud talk of Jane's duty to her family echoing in your ears. In addition, Bingley is perfectly capable of making his own decisions, and I cannot place all blame on you.

And now, knowing very well that I may well never see or hear from you again, I will close with this: I was very flattered by your proposal, Mr. Darcy, despite how I expressed myself. I care very deeply for your sister, Georgiana, although I have never met her; my heart goes out to her for the pain she has had to deal with, and I have enjoyed very much getting to know your cousin, Col. Fitzwilliam. I cannot help but wonder if we would ever become good friends, if we weren't inhibited by pride and prejudice. So I close with an offer: I would like to continue correspondence, and become closer acquaintance, if it is in your favor. I would very much like to get to know you better. If, however, you do not wish this, simply do not reply to this letter, and know that no matter what, I will always hold you in the highest regard.


Elizabeth Bennet