Brigid Huey shares one of her favorite scenes from A Chance Encounter at Pemberley Woods. It is lovely.
Deciding to wait to approach her father until after Wickham and Lydia had departed, they walked together until they were within view of Longbourn. Here Mr. Darcy stopped, and taking her in his arms, he asked, “Tell me again, my love.”
“I shall marry you, Mr. Darcy.” Elizabeth laughed. He had asked her to repeat it at least twice as they walked. “Do you really doubt it so much?”
“How can I not, my dear? I do recall you saying that I was the last man in the word you could ever be prevailed on to marry.”
Elizabeth felt herself blush with mortification. “Oh! Do not dare repeat that statement again! It was not long after I had spoken thus that I wished it unsaid.”
“It was no more than I deserved,” Mr. Darcy replied, smiling down on her. “My behavior to you at the time merited the severest reproof.”
“We shall not quarrel for the greater part of blame. Hopefully, we have both improved in civility since that evening.”
“I know you have, my love,” Mr. Darcy said, growing closer still. Lizzy felt her breath catch. She was still new to the sensation his kisses gave her, and she trembled as he drew her close, pressing his lips to hers once more.
After a moment, he stepped back, keeping hold of her hand. “I think it best that I depart, though I am sorry to do so.”
“Will you come back tonight?” she asked.
“As promised, my dear Elizabeth. I shall come to afternoon tea with Bingley.”
“Do you know, my dear Mr. Darcy, that more has happened of import in this past month than has happened to me in the whole of my life?”
He laughed, and the sound filled her own heart with lightness. “It has been rather tumultuous of late, I agree.”
“I must go,” she said, unable to stop smiling at him. “My mother is no doubt beside herself that I have not returned.”
“I do not want to let you go,” he murmured.
“Nor I you,” she replied, happiness bubbling up inside her. “But we both know that I must, sir, so let me be off.”
He sighed rather dramatically, Elizabeth thought, but released her, allowing her to walk the short way home at last.
“I do not think I can bear a long engagement,” he called after her.
She turned and looked at him archly, trying to maintain a shocked expression at his boldness. Before long, however, she laughed openly and gave him a wave. She hurried home with a light step and a glad heart.
Elizabeth felt a lightness in her heart then that she had never known. All uncertainty was now in the past. She kissed her father then left the library, eager as she was to find Mr. Darcy and convey to him that they were indeed to be married. Married! She could scarcely credit it. She found him in the garden, standing alone near the gate and looking out into the surrounding countryside. How handsome he was, his figure strong and tall.
“Mr. Darcy!” she called, somewhat timidly. He turned at once, and her heart fluttered at the look of anxiety upon his features. She smiled, letting him know without words that all was well. His demeanor relaxed immediately, and he held out his hand to her.
“Did your father give you his consent?”
“He did, indeed. He wanted only to know that I had accepted your hand out of true affection and nothing else.”
Mr. Darcy squeezed her hand though he said nothing. She thought of his insecurity during their walk, of how often she had to reassure him. Her heart felt a pang of guilt at this knowledge. She had shaken him badly when she refused his hand in April.
“I told him I loved you—that you were the best man I had ever known,” she said boldly, giving him an arch look. “And he consented at once.”
He smiled at her then, openly and without reserve. Bringing her fingers to his lips, he kissed them, moving slowly as if to savor the sensation. “When shall we marry, Elizabeth?”
“You have waited long enough, I daresay,” she said, laughing despite her shyness.
“Bingley informed me that he and Jane will marry next month.”
“Yes, though one month is scarcely time to gather a trousseau and manage to plan a wedding breakfast. I understand that my mother is quite happy to do it, however, as it means Jane will be married all the sooner.”
Darcy looked down at his lovely Elizabeth. He could not look enough. Her eyes, her hair, her beautiful smile. They enchanted him more than she could understand. He laced his fingers through hers. “Might we join them?” he said.
Elizabeth, misunderstanding his meaning, looked around the garden. “Indeed, we should,” she said. “It is only proper, for both of us. Though I must confess I have no idea where they have rambled off to.”
“No, my love. I meant, shall we join them at the altar? Shall we marry alongside them next month?”
She turned quickly to look at him, her mouth opened in an adorable look of surprise.
“Oh,” she breathed.
To his utter delight, she smiled. “Yes, of course we shall! What a wonderful idea. Jane and I have done everything together since we were just girls. I can think of nothing better than to be married with her by my side.”
For his part, Darcy could not contain his satisfaction with the idea. To be married next month was the best he could hope for. It had been such a long, difficult road from last April. And yet, it had been worth it.
That was a good scene, sigh-worthy indeed. It was nice to see and feel the happiness as we read. Thank you Brigid, for painting a picture with words that helped us experience the joy and love between Darcy and Elizabeth.
Brigid Huey’s first published book, A Chance Encounter in Pemberley Woods, was released in 2019. Watch for the audiobook in 2020.