You can find previous posts HERE.
Note: I have included a few lines from last week’s post to help you remember where we left Darcy and Bingley last week.
“She is here in town.” Darcy placed his empty glass on a side table and allowed his eyes to remain on it rather than look at his friend.”Who is here in town?”
“Who is here in town?”
Darcy drew a deep breath and spared Bingley only a glance before returning his gaze to his glass. “Miss Bennet.”
“How do you know?” Bingley was on his feet and pacing. “Have you seen her?”
Darcy shook his head and sighed. “No, I have not seen her, but your sisters have.” He turned once again toward the window. Bingley’s reaction to the news was as expected and proved to Darcy how deeply attached his friend was to Miss Bennet.
“My sisters?” Bingley stood beside his friend, his brows drawn together in question.
Darcy turned toward him. “This afternoon, while you were out, I came by to drop off those papers.” He pointed to the packet sitting unopened on the somewhat cluttered desk. “Caroline informed me that Miss Bennet had called.”
“She was here? Miss Bennet was here?” Bingley’s eyes were wide with astonishment. “Why did Caroline not tell me?”
Darcy wished to walk away from his friend so that he could not see the pain in Bingley’s eyes, but he would not. “It seems your sister is actively trying to separate you and Miss Bennet. She seemed to think I would be impressed by her belittling of the inferior society of the country.” He paused and drew a deliberate breath. “At one time I would have agreed with her, but I no longer do.”
Bingley crossed his arms and studied his friend.
Darcy winced under the examination, but it was not more than he deserved. Unable to bear both his shame and the scrutiny of his friend any longer, he turned back to the window. “I have to make a confession, Bingley. You may wish to throw me out of your home when I am through, and I will fully understand if you do.” Darcy continued to stare out the window, but he could feel the eyes of his friend boring into him.
“I wished to separate you from Miss Bennet when we left Hertfordshire.” He closed his eyes as he heard his friend’s muttered oath. “I told you she seemed indifferent to you. While it is true that I did not notice any particular regard for you on her part, it is not the reason I wished to separate you from her. It is not even the connection to her family or the supposed inferior society of Meryton that led me to take the actions I did.” He swallowed and drew a deep fortifying breath before continuing. “I did not wish for you to become attached to Miss Bennet as it would place me in an awkward situation. I was being completely and utterly selfish.” He turned to look at his friend. “I am sorry,” he whispered.
“An awkward situation?” Bingley wore a look of displeasure Darcy had rarely seen. “You would separate me from the woman I loved because it would somehow make your life awkward?”
Darcy nodded slowly. “Yes.”
“Explain yourself,” Bingley demanded, “for I do not have the pleasure of understanding your meaning.”
Darcy shrugged one shoulder. “I thought if we left, if you and Miss Bennet were not allowed to become attached, I could avoid the danger, but I have discovered that the danger is not confined to Hertfordshire. It has followed me here to town. It haunts me day and night.” He turned back towards the window as he continued.
“I am expected to marry well, to make a match that will increase the wealth and position of my family. It is what my father and uncle have always taught me.”
“You are still making no sense.”
Darcy could hear the exasperation in his friend’s voice. It was rather how he had felt since leaving Hertfordshire — annoyed, disturbed, and vexed by the memory of Miss Elizabeth Bennet.
“How would my being fortunate enough to marry a lady such as Miss Bennet,” Bingley continued, “impose upon some imagined need of yours to marry a lady of wealth and standing?”
“Miss Bennet has sisters,” Darcy said to the darkness of the night before him.
“Yes, four,” Bingley retorted. “I still do not see ─”
“But only one,” Darcy interrupted, “with the musical laughter of a brook, eyes as expressive as any the masters have painted, and a mind that is…” he shook his head “so quick, so very quick and keen.”
Darcy blew out a breath. “I imagined one day I would find a woman that would meet all the qualifications my uncle and father had taught me were necessary and that we would eventually learn to esteem one another. But, I cannot fathom such a match after…” His voice trailed off.
A hand grasped his shoulder. “After meeting the one person you find you do not wish to live without.” It was not a question that Bingley asked but rather a statement of deep understanding.
Darcy gave his friend a sad smile and nodded mutely.
“Now you know why I am longing for the country,” Bingley said softly.
Darcy nodded again. “I will not stand in your way. You deserve happiness. You have been a good friend to me, and I would not want to part for any other reason.” Darcy turned to leave.
“What do you mean part?” Bingley asked. “I do not hate you for what you have done if that is what has you worried. I am not happy, but I am not angry. There is no reason for us to part.”
Darcy stood with his hand on the doorknob. “I do not think I can bear hearing of her, especially when she belongs to another. It is just too much.” His shoulders slumped. “You shall always remain my friend, Bingley. I will always be ready to serve you in any way, but please…please, do not ask me to be a witness to that.”