The Memory Series #2
Moments of Moments Present:
A Pride & Prejudice Reimagining
by Ney Mitch
Now returned back to her own time period, Elizabeth Bennet meets the original Mr. Darcy, and she is shocked to find him a taciturn and disagreeable man. However, since she promised his descendant that she would look after him, Elizabeth Bennet decides to give Mr. Darcy a second chance and not base all judgment off of the bad first impression that he gives. Especially since, now that she knows a little about the future, it has given her some insight about how things shall unfold.
When her sister is invited to Netherfield and falls ill, Elizabeth Bennet goes to assist her. While there, Elizabeth discovers that an accident befalls Mr. Darcy. Will she be able to save him, or will fate continue on the path that was predetermined and she can do nothing?
Here comes the next adventure in the Memories series.
Release Date: September 17, 2019
Genre: Time Slip Romance
In faith, what an insufferably rude man! As we drove in our carriage away from the Assembly Room for the evening, Jane was quite excited from her happy spirits, Lydia and Kitty were voluble as usual, Mary did not speak, but only looked out of the window, my mother was roused, full of excitement as she kept congratulating Jane on her triumph for the evening, and I was left to my own thoughts.
Looking out of the carriage window, I glimpsed the scenery as we passed it by, and it allowed my mind to wonder about the scene that we had just left when the assembly dance had come to an end...
When the Netherfield party had entered, rumors turned out to have been greatly exaggerated. Some people reported that twenty would come, some that it was ten, others that it would be seven, but in the end, there were only five of them altogether. There was Mr. Charles Bingley, with his two sisters; the first was Mrs. Louisa Hurst, who came with her husband, Mr. Hurst, who looked bored, tedious, out of sorts and overall dour.
The other sister was the largest shock and she scared me tremendously, for her name was Caroline Bingley. Yet even before I knew her name, the resemblance between her and her future self were quite remarkable, so I had no choice but to flinch when seeing her. Yet when I heard her name uttered, I could not have been more flabbergasted. Thank goodness that I was told who she was rather than her making my acquaintance and then awkwardness ensuing afterwards. No, I was only left to marvel at the coincidence, feel great pain over it, and having no other choice but to immediately develop a prejudice toward her.
Yet when Sir William had presented Mr. Bingley to our company, Mr. Darcy had no choice but to follow behind his friend. My eagerness to see him had clouded my judgment. I was happy and clearly had no choice but to be so.
“Mrs. Bennet,” Sir William said, “Mr. Bingley has expressly desired to become acquainted with you and your daughters.”
“Oh, we are glad to hear it,” our mother had replied, and then she introduced us all individually. While Mr. Bingley had been asking Jane if she would like to dance, I had taken the opportunity to test Mr. Darcy, to see if he was the same man that I had fallen in love with in 2016. But when he failed it, not understanding the reference I gave, I lost all hope of him being the same person. That Mr. Darcy, of the 21st century, was now lost to me. Yet this one was present, and therefore I would do the best I could to warm myself to him and at least find comfort in his presence.
Yet that goal, that very aim, came to an immediate and quick halt very soon.
After Mr. Bingley had requested my sister’s hand, she had said yes, and they were to dance the next set together. Yet I, standing there and with no offers for a partner, drew the empathy of my mother. Seeing Mr. Darcy standing there and making no offer, she looked at me and then at Mr. Darcy.
She smiled at him. “And you, sir, you are also very welcome to Hertfordshire, as is with your pleasant and amiable friend.”
“Thank you, ma’am,” Mr. Darcy replied, but his voice and tone held no warmth.
“I hope that you find yourself most amenable to the activity of dancing as well, as your friend here.”
“I rarely dance,” Mr. Darcy replied simply. “It is not my favorite activity.”
“Oh, many a man has said such a thing before he goes to the dance floor, and then quickly forgets once he is there and becomes all smiles! Let our humble assembly help you to forget that, for here,” and here she turned to me, “we have many lovely choices for partners.”
Yet this gentle hint for him to ask me clearly was too much for Mr. Darcy’s sensibilities, for he quickly bowed his head, excused himself and walked away to remain next to Caroline Bingley and Mrs. Hurst.
He had slighted me!
And once more, he flocked to Caroline Bingley.
Indeed, I didn’t know which aspect to be more offended by. Yet, as he did so, I refused to look upset or affected. Luckily, for my part, I did not need to; for Mr. Bingley noticed and noted his friend’s coldness, because he then went on to ask me if he could dance with me in the next set. I happily agreed, and then he excused himself to tend to his friend.
Once both men had left our company, my mother was ready to release all her rage at what had just transpired.
“Well, what an odious and hateful man!” she exclaimed. “Who is he to raise his nose up to anyone and be so disobliging!”
“Mama,” I magnified, “thank you so very much, but you must not speak so very loudly, or you shall be overheard.”
“Then let me be so,” she countered. “I would be perfectly willing to have all of Hertfordshire hear me, for that was outrageous. And his friend is so willing to be charming, making the perfect picture of a gentleman, except for that blot of ink that is his horrid friend.”
While I worried about her voice carrying and being overheard, I do not deny that I was secretly flattered by her willingness to come to my defense. Such a desire to protect me was keenly felt and I did feel a certain amount of warmth for it. While I knew very well that she would protect any of us sisters equally, I still felt special in that moment and I warmed to it.
Yet therein lay the matter of Mr. Darcy himself.
Such an introduction naturally did not live up to my expectations, and therefore while I sat down for a dance, due to a lack of a partner, my mind could not help but reflect on our disastrous first meeting.
At first, I had wished to give him a bit of a set down, and then that desire was quickly overcome and an intense desire to see my first Mr. Darcy again had rested in its proper place. Until I recalled that my first meeting with Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy in 2016 did not go very well initially, and I had actually developed a dislike for him originally.
Only a shared experience of us falling back through time had united us and helped us reach an understanding and connection. Yet initially, our acquaintance had begun in a strained fashion. Therefore, while Mr. Darcy had slighted me, there was always room for improvement, for changed opinions, and maybe, as I had learned very easily, time could improve our situation.
Yet the circumstance proved to have been quite different, and my disdain for this present Mr. Darcy had quickly been cemented by his continual behavior and disposition throughout the evening.
The two new men in our presence had painted their own individual portraits quite well, and each in extreme contrast to the other. Mr. Bingley was good-looking and gentlemanlike. He had a pleasant countenance, and easy, unaffected manners. Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien, and the report which was in general circulation since his stepping foot into Hertfordshire, of his having ten thousand a year.
The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley, and he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity.
Mr. Darcy would prove that money and fortune could not always buy popular or good opinion, for he presented in full what he had shown me when we first met. Very quickly, he was discovered to be proud, to be above his company, and above being pleased, and not all his large estate in Derbyshire could then save him from having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance, and being unworthy to be compared with his friend.
Mr. Bingley was likable and very quickly made himself liked by all in the assembly room, while Mr. Darcy made himself the most hated. Mr. Bingley had soon made himself acquainted with all the principal people in the room. He was lively and unreserved, danced every dance, was upset that the ball closed so early, and talked of giving one himself at Netherfield. Such amiable qualities must speak for themselves. What a contrast between him and his friend! Mr. Darcy danced only once with Mrs. Hurst and once with Miss Bingley, declined being introduced to any other lady, and spent the rest of the evening in walking about the room, speaking occasionally to one of his own party.
“He is the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world,” Kitty whispered to me as she was near me, taking some punch in between dances. “And everybody hopes that he would never come here again. Literally, Lizzy, he stood by me for three whole minutes a little time ago, and he didn’t speak to me once. He didn’t even ask me to dance! And it’s a new rule that I set down, that if a man does not offer to dance with me after three minutes of standing next to me at an assembly, then that must mean that he is the worst man in England!”
“I would say that is an extreme reaction, Kitty,” I remarked, “but in this matter, I know how you feel.”
Yet the largest offense of the evening of this ‘Mr. Darcy’ to me would not have come until the latter of the evening. I had been obliged, by the scarcity of gentlemen, to sit down for two dances. While I remained there, Mr. Darcy had found himself to be standing near me for quite some time.
Yet did he ask me to dance?
No, he did not.
Did he speak to me at all?
By no means.
Did he at least look upon me?
Not at all.
The other Mr. Darcy, the proper one, would have at least noted me.
Yet this willful ignorance was enhanced and eclipsed when Mr. Bingley, all smiles and cheeriness from coming back and dancing with Jane, accosted his taciturn friend.
“Come, Darcy,” he implored. “I must have you dance. I hate to see you standing about by yourself in this stupid manner. You had much better dance.”
“I certainly shall not,” Mr. Darcy replied. “You know how I detest it, unless I am particularly acquainted with my partner. At such an assembly as this it would be insupportable. Your sisters are engaged, and there is not another woman in the room whom it would not be a punishment to me to stand up with.”
That was the first full set of sentences that I had heard him speak, and each sentence was less charming than the next.
“I would not be so fastidious as you are,” cried Mr. Bingley, "for a kingdom! Upon my honor, I never met with so many pleasant girls in my life as I have this evening, and there are several of them you see uncommonly pretty.”
Here, Mr. Bingley’s eyes scanned over the crowd and he cast his amiable and admiring eye on my sister. Such a sight made me feel a slight bit of warmth, because, as you may recall, before my interesting adventure in the future, I had predicted that if there was one of us Bennet sisters who could possibly draw the affection of Mr. Bingley, it would be Jane, therefore I was content in that I was correct. And Jane, well, she had quite deserved Mr. Bingley’s admiration, if that was what he had felt for her.
When I looked back at the two men once more, they still had not observed me sitting so close to them, so they continued on, in the artless and honest discussion that men give when they do not expect to be overheard by any surrounding observers.
“You are dancing with the only handsome girl in the room,” said Mr. Darcy, looking at Jane as well. While I at first was happy that he noticed my sister’s superior beauty, I very quickly grew vexed that his statement implied that I was not worthy for anyone’s consideration, especially his own. He might as well had called me inadequate.
“Oh!” Mr. Bingley replied. “She is the most beautiful creature I ever beheld! But there is one of her sisters sitting down just behind you, who is very pretty, and I dare say very agreeable. Do let me ask Miss Bennet to have you presented to her, and then you can stand up with her.”
“Which do you mean?”
Mr. Darcy therefore turned around just in time for me to look away and pretend as if I had been quite oblivious to their discussion. Yet out of the corner of my eye, I still saw him look on me, squint meanly and then look away as quickly as he could.
“She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me.”
Such a cold thing to say! Such a terribly cold thing!
“I am in no humor at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me.”
Mr. Bingley, who seemed used to his friend’s disposition, had quite given up, and left his friend to wallow in his own wretchedness, standing there, like the statue that he was. Indeed, he was quite made of marble, in that he was like stone and seemed to draw no warmth or natural feeling of any kind.
Such harshness, some meanness, only to be made even more extreme against my memory of the first Mr. Darcy I had become acquainted with. When I had told him that compared to Jane, I was not so admired, and he denied this, stating the reverse and that while he believed my statements of her perfection, I would not and should not ever consider myself second best. He believed in me! And when I had asked him to dance, he had danced with me!
How quickly his ancestor, this Mr. Darcy, did not live up to the other’s shadow. How ironic that the shade of the descendant had quite eclipsed his great—great—great—great ancestor’s height. This Mr. Darcy was not even half the man who would spring from his line, and that made him such a...
“Bumface!” I accidentally said aloud, and while it was not too much in volume, it was just enough for Mr. Darcy to have heard me and therefore to turn his head. Then he noticed me once more, and in his eyes was a feeling of distaste. I think it then began to occur to him that just maybe I did overhear everything that he had said.
“I beg your pardon? What did you say?”
I bit my lip, wondering what ought to be done. I had been overheard and I had, for a brief moment, lost all sense of self control. Yet then again, I did not desire to be so self-contained. My dip into the future had quite altered me in some respects, as it would have, and I did not feel the need to conceal all and suffer long under the weight of miscommunication and comedies of errors. Therefore, I had the impulse, and as much as it would counteract my initial intention, I stood up and stared him square in the face.
I gave him a cool smile. “Bumface, sir. I said bumface.”
He gave me a quizzical look. “Pray tell me, what does that mean?”
“I am certain, sir, with your prestigious heritage, that you have been given some of the best of education.”
“I believe that I have.”
“Well, you therefore must have developed deductive reasoning. What does it mean, you ask? I trust, sir, that in time, you shall figure it out.”
With that, I curtsied to him and thus walked away.
As I did so, I saw Charlotte standing in a corner and she nodded to me, smiled, waved and clearly expected me to come over to her. I smiled, gestured that I had to go to my family, and she looked slightly disappointed before she turned to her sister, Maria, and conversed with her.
I so much wished to speak with her sometimes, but since I had returned from my adventure in time, I had visited her scarcely, and when she had come to Longbourn to see me, I was kind, but never warm.
I knew Charlotte, and she clearly would have noticed the difference, the very change in my disposition. I missed her a great deal, but time had given me too much foreknowledge, and now I saw the dangers of it. Every time that I had seen her, I now knew that she would be the woman to marry my cousin and assist in my family being driven from Longbourn. I suppose that I could not forgive her for a future that she hadn’t even lived yet.
I hoped that such distrust and unease would dissolve very quickly, yet I could not help but take it all to heart, and to head. Therefore, I walked to the table, got myself some punch, drank it, and then I left the assembly room to get some time alone in the hall, where I knew no one would follow me.
That was how the evening had transpired. With me being greatly offended by a man who did all in his power to make himself the most despised man to enter Hertfordshire.
I remained with no very cordial feelings toward him. Yet, though I did not tell Charlotte, I unfolded the story to Jane and Kitty, for despite Mr. Darcy being a substantial disappointment, my lively, playful disposition, which delighted in anything ridiculous, would not miss the opportunity to speak about it.
We drove along toward home still, and as I looked at my family, feeling the bumpiness of the road, I could not resist as I mumbled to myself.
“I miss buses and cars. So much more convenient.”