The Good Opinion of a Gentleman
"My good opinion once lost is lost forever." - Jane Austen
At the breakfast table, Jane and I announced we were feeling much better. We would leave in the afternoon. Darcy offered us his coach, but we declined as one from Longbourn would be coming for us. I had written a letter to my father the day prior stating our need for the carriage. I had implored him not to put the horses in the field so we could come home. We did not have many horses and had to take them from the field when we needed the carriage. This meant, whenever we used the coach, Mr. Bennet would lose valuable farming time. As a result, I grew fond of walking.
Bingley voiced his disappointment and was crestfallen, "So soon?"
"It would be improper for ones to outstay their welcome," Caroline said with spite behind her smile.
Jane looked down, feeling embarrassed as I sent Caroline a reproachful look. "We are sorry to have outstayed our welcome. Instead of departing this afternoon, we will leave this morning." Jane and I stood up from our seats and curtsied, "We shall retire to pack our belongings."
As we left the room, I heard Mr. Bingley scold Caroline, "That was badly done, Caroline. It was poorly done indeed and in bad taste."
Mr. Bingley walked out of the room and met us on the staircase, "I must apologize."
"You always apologize for her." I clenched my jaw, "Instead, have her apologize to us."
Mr. Bingley sighed. "Sometimes, I think she has a romance with her voice and wants to hear nothing but that. Other times, I think she has a grand scheme of using her words as a tool to manipulate and raise her status."
"If this is how you feel about her," I advised, "then you should tell her. Keeping this all to yourself is not good for you."
Bingley changed the subject, "Have you two already had enough nourishment for the morning?"
"Yes, we have," Jane smiled at him.
"Ah!" Mr. Bingley smiled, "That is important. First meal of the day and all."
You could cut the awkwardness in here with a knife.
"Thank you for your hospitality." I curtsied, "You have been most gracious."
Jane went into her room, and I walked into my guest room. I set about folding my belongings and started to hang my dresses in the trunk. I had only stayed here for one week and yet, it felt like a year. The door to my room opened and closed, and I smiled, "Jane, are you done already?"
I turned around, and my smile vanished, "Mr. Darcy? What are you doing in here?"
"Forgive my impropriety," he began, "But, I came-"
"Into a ladies' room unannounced?"
Mr. Darcy stepped closer towards me. I breathed deeply and found my hands had grown cold. I looked up at him, and he continued, "I shall finish what I came in here to say."
"Yes, but, please do so with the door open or do you want everyone to get the wrong idea about me. God knows Caroline would love that!"
Flushed with what seemed to be a mix of frustration and a hint of desire, Mr. Darcy moved away from me. He opened the door, "Your carriage is waiting for you, Miss Elizabeth."
"Mr. Darcy, I -"
He cut me off, "Goodbye Miss Bennet."
He walked out of the room and shut the door behind him. I stood in the room holding my personal belongings in my hands, mystified by what had happened. I could never face him again. Why did I have to be so self-righteous? Who walks into a lady's bedroom? I could have been changing! I flopped on the bed with a frustrated groan, "I shall be cross if I dream of him tonight."
Even though, I was stuck in the role of Elizabeth Bennet, I knew a proper gentleman ought not to walk into the bedroom of a lady without an adequate explanation. What will people say once they find out? My ex, Michael, would say, "Let them say what they want." My mother would say, "Why did you turn him away?" I would say, "Because he walked into my bloody bedroom!"
Jane and I said our farewells to Caroline, Mr. Bingley, and Mr. Darcy. Before we left, Jane went to Mr. Bingley, and I went to Mr. Darcy. Bingley looked down at Jane; a tender smile played at the corners of his lips.
"Do not be a stranger. Do call on us more often."
"I will be over every day if it is allowed," said Bingley.
Jane blushed, "If not, then we shall see each other at the Netherfield Ball next week."
"Yes," Bingley smiled.
I smiled to myself as I heard them talk and turned towards Darcy. He looked down at me as I curtsied, "Farewell Mr. Darcy."
"Farewell, Miss Elizabeth," he muttered.
He bowed and turned away, walking towards the mansion. I looked away, biting my lip. I do not know what I expected from him. I had no hold over him. Here I was, wishing he would redeem himself with a kiss on the hand or something equally romantic.
My mind reeled to a quote in Pride and Prejudice: "No," said Darcy, "I have made no such pretension. I have faults enough, but they are not, I hope, of understanding. My temper I dare not vouch for. It is, I believe, too little yielding- certainly too little for the convenience of the world. I cannot forget the follies and vices of others so soon as I ought, nor their offenses against myself. My feelings are not puffed about with every attempt to move them. My temper would perhaps be called resentful. My good opinion once lost, is lost forever."
"Oh dear," I whispered to myself, "have I messed up the book already?"