Keep this in mind, old boy, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a handsome young woman, however great her wit, however intoxicating her smell, however seductive her mouth, however fine her eyes, and however light and pleasing her figure is now, will eventually alter into her mother.
Hoping, rather than believing that this thought should help him get over his attraction towards Miss Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy retired to Netherfield’s poorly equipped library in order to read and distract his uneasy mind. However, a quick glance over the shelves showed him that he had read all the books present. And so, he left the collection for what it was and made himself comfortable in one of the armchairs after pouring a glass of brandy, of which he took a first eager sip.
Admittedly, the fact that the object of his musings had departed for Longbourn left a feeling of emptiness in his heart, but the mere announcement of her departure had been welcome intelligence indeed, and enough reason for him to rejoice. Miss Elizabeth Bennet had drawn his attention in too far-reaching a manner and his immediate object was to conquer his infatuation for this highly unsuitable, though handsome and intelligent, young woman. It was time to concentrate on more important matters.
Darcy had been both embarrassed and intrigued by the manner in which she had defied him. He was embarrassed by his pathetic ripostes to her provocations during their late night sparring, and intrigued because he never before had a discussion of that particular kind with a person of the opposite sex. She was an accomplished master of debate, to be sure: a trait he had not previously encountered in a woman. She was captivating, indeed.
Another astonishing novelty was the fact that her expressed opinions were hardly ever in accordance with his. Had she wilfully uttered opinions that were not her own in order to vex him? Or was she indeed of a completely different mind than he? The young ladies of his acquaintance always agreed with every word he said! He was not certain whether he liked the fact that Miss Elizabeth did not, and that she made no attempt to please him. Truth be told, he would have liked it if she had. This was rather confusing: why would he wish her to please him? Why would he want her to be impressed by him? Did he not despise the ostentatious exposure of approval the young ladies of the ton so often displayed towards his person? Miss Bennet was a country nobody; in fact, she was a country nobody who had bested him in a discussion: a fact that he was loathed to admit, least of all to himself.
Pouring another glass, Mr. Darcy frowned, whispering softly: “Upon my word, old sport, you cannot defend yourself here. Indeed, you made a complete fool of yourself.”
He remembered his words: ‘Where there is a real superiority of mind, pride will always be under good regulation…’ and felt utterly embarrassed by their presumptuous connotation. Mr. Darcy wondered why she had made him feel so ludicrous, so maladroit, so very inept. In his mind he was again confronted with the arch look on her face, the barely suppressed smile on her lips… I truly wonder why I let myself fall so easily into her very obvious trap! He mused rancorously. Her sarcasm had cut him to the heart: ‘I am perfectly convinced that Mr. Darcy has no defect. He owns it himself without disguise.’ Indeed, Darcy, what a great superiority of mind upon which you can boast. I congratulate you! He reproached himself with scorn.
Leaning backwards in his armchair and absentmindedly taking another substantial draught, Mr. Darcy closed his eyes as if in pain. Loosening his cravat and unbuttoning his waistcoat, he stood up from his chair and commenced pacing the room in an agitated manner. Then he flopped into his chair again, ignoring the drops of brandy carelessly spilled on his shirt. Banishing his previous reproachful thoughts, he fumed This country upstart, a daughter of a poor gentleman with no connections, with relations so decidedly beneath my own, has dared ridicule me, Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley, landlord and master of one of the most prestigious estates in England, a man of sense and education! Teasing woman! Her pert manner of address and expression is most indecorous. I must endeavour to forget her entirely.
Alas, it was not to be. The more Mr. Darcy attempted not to think of her, the more Miss Elizabeth Bennet intruded upon his thoughts. Whilst attempting to find fault in every aspect of her person, to his chagrin the opposite happened: he took pleasure in remembering her bell-like laughter, her clear voice as yet again a clever observation escaped her alluring rosy lips; her bright eyes, and her tastefully simple gowns that so beautifully hugged the curves of her seductive figure…
You know not, dear reader, you cannot conceive what it signified for Mr. Darcy to admit that he did not have his own composure under good regulation. Mr. Darcy, whose study of life was to avoid those weaknesses which often exposed a strong understanding to ridicule, had never been so bewitched by a woman before, Poor Mr. Darcy, the agonies he suffered in Netherfield’s pitiful library were well nigh unbearable, and the tumult of his mind was painfully great, resulting in conflicting emotions that made him tuck away one brandy too many. He finally managed to reach his chambers, albeit unsteadily, and falling on his bed fully dressed, he whispered: “Miss Bennet, you must allow me to tell you how ardently I…”
The sentence, esteemed reader, unfortunately remained unfinished. An undignified snore could lead to but one conclusion: Mr. Darcy had fallen asleep.