Author's note: This is a short story, focusing on Darcy's thoughts after Elizabeth's refusal. During Till You Or Jane Return, Darcy refers to a walk he had taken in London that had induced him to change himself and try again for Elizabeth's hand. Here is the event he spoke of. All italics bar the opening quotation, have been quoted from Pride and Prejudice. Enjoy.A Walk In The Rain.
A Till You Or Jane Return Vignette.
Elizabeth: "Is it not a oft occurrence that when you desire a walk the weather poses an impediment?"
Darcy: "Too true, but there are times however when a walk in the rain is beneficial to ones' mind, is there not?"
"You have taken such a walk yourself, sir?" Elizabeth asked in surprise.
"Not purposely but yes, when I was in town a... while ago," he amended, remembering that it had in fact been after his visit to Rosings. The walk had been beneficial though in every respect, it had caused him to gather the resolve to try again for her hand.
Till You Or Jane Return,
Hyde Park was almost deserted. The previously dry April weather had faded away into a misty May, which seemed to cling to the buildings and grass with ominous portent. This portent had been noticed by almost all of those personages who had chosen to walk that day and subsequently abandoned such a walk because of it. Most had cast a look to the one person who did not upon their departure, and thus spent their most of their return journey upon wondering what grave matter had drawn such a man out in such awful weather.
Fitzwilliam Darcy- for he was the man -noticed none of this. Indeed, it would be a rarity of late if he noticed anything at all this day. The events of five days previously had clouded his ability to see beyond his most intimate thoughts.
You could not have made me the offer of your hand in any possible way that would tempt me to accept it. How those words prayed on his mind! How that evening had prayed on his mind. Her words haunted him each moment of the day, rendering him incapable of focusing on anything else. This stroll to clear his mind was a failed attempt from the beginning. Yet he had to. He had to forget the matter entirely. Forget her. But how could he? This distance had not worked in February, why would it work now?
I have never desired your good opinion, and you have certainly bestowed it most unwillingly. What had he done for her to produce such a reply? From his perspective Darcy could see none. Yet, almost as soon as he had decided this, did he recall his now first infamous comment upon her at the moment of their acquaintance. She is tolerable I suppose, but not handsome enough to tempt me. Had she overheard him? More than likely. He could remember now her glancing at him and laughing afterwards. Oh, what a mess he had made of this!
From the very beginning, from the moment I may almost say, of my acquaintance with you, your manners impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your self disdain for the feelings of others, were such as to form that groundwork of disapprobation, on which succeeding events have built so immovable a dislike; and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry. Certainly, she had never liked him! Why had he ever thought for a moment that he stood a chance? Yet, she had looked so beautiful... Wait a moment, where had that come from? He was supposed to be forgetting that!
The first drop of rain fell. It touched the ground behind him, ending its short lived existence upon the pebbles that adorned the footpaths of Hyde Park. A second followed suit rapidly, its fate the same as the first. Inspired, drops increased in quantity, turning from a light shower to a heavy downpour.
Darcy noticed not, he was so wrapped in up in his thoughts. He was still occupied in mulling over Miss Bennet's last words to him that evening. Had he been arrogant? Self conceited? He ignored the last of her judgements for that he had long since recognised and hopefully dealt with in his letter to her. As for the others... He sighed in sudden clarity. His awkwardness in society, he fondness to use conversation only when required and his preference to avoid strangers could be seen as possessing both of those qualities. Amongst the members of the Ton, these manners could be excused, thanks to his position in society, but in a small town like Meryton, they could not, as he realised all too late.
And this, is your opinion of me! This is the estimation in which you hold me! I thank you for explaining it so fully. My faults according to this calculation are heavy indeed! But perhaps, these offences might have been overlooked, had not your pride been hurt by my honest confession of the scruples that had long prevented my forming any serious design. These bitter accusations might have been suppressed, had I wither greater policy concealed my struggles and flattered you into the belief of my being impelled by unqualified, unalloyed inclination; by reason, by reflection, by every thing. These words seemed now undeserved and harsh in the extreme. She was entirely right. He had been arrogant and conceited and unfeeling for others, including her. He had no right to have expected her acceptance when he had just insulted her and her family. What had on earth possessed him to make such declaration in the first place?
Disguise of every sort is my abhorrence. Darcy cringed at the remembrance of those words. True, it was his character, but to use it in that context... Good god, he had been disgraceful! And yet... And yet, he could not forget her, nor his feelings for her. He still loved her, still wished to marry her! Even now, as all hope was gone!
Was it though? Darcy asked himself at this point. He could not know fur sure either way. His letter, though written in a bitterness of spirit, had been received by her and hopefully read. His detail of Wickham's character hopefully believed. That left only two crimes at his door. The first had the potential to be solved relatively quickly. Bingley had yet to give up Netherfield. He would call upon him as soon as he could, confess to him of the grievous fault that he had done to him, and humbly beg forgiveness. He would persuade him to return to Hertfordshire and meet with Miss Bennet once again.
If this first was accomplished, his second crime, Darcy hoped would disappear more easily. He would take himself to hand, and present a manner agreeable to everyone and anyone, no matter their station in life, or relationship to him. He would return to Hertfordshire and begin his acquaintance with the neighbourhood anew. He would change their opinions. And lastly, most importantly, he would show to Elizabeth that he could and would change. This would be a lesson that he would make sure he learned from for the rest of his life.
Finally, the rain had increased enough for Darcy to notice now that he was almost drenched through. Looking up, he glanced around to check his bearings. A few minutes from home. Rapidly he decided upon his future plans; number one: visit Bingley and reveal his mistake in Miss Bennet's affections, and beg forgiveness of concealing her presence in town all this time. Number two; travel with him to Hertfordshire and prove to the neighbourhood that he can be agreeable. Number three; redeem himself in Miss Elizabeth Bennet's eyes.
This time, however, he feared his success. He knew now he could not ever hope to deserve her. But he had to try. He would never forgive himself if he did not. And if, god forbid, she still did not care from him, he would try to forget her.
All this would be of course, Darcy suddenly realised as he mounted the steps to the front door of his town house, after his short sojourn at Pemberley, with the Hursts, Bingley and Miss Caroline Bingley. He hoped his new vows had the strength to survive such a test.
Till You Or Jane Return...