Although I have never read Pride and Prejudice, long ago I discovered the importance of knowing something about Jane Austen and her novels. I enjoy conversations with intelligent women, and I know that there is no better way to a lady’s mind than through Jane Austen. That lovely lady that a man wishes to know may have little, if any, interest in her admirer. But he need only mention Jane Austen or one of the characters in one of her novels, especially Mr. Darcy, and immediately she is interested.
Consider this hypothetical scene:
A very attractive, young, professional lady is sitting alone at a curbside table in front of a coffee shop. She is sipping a latté and reading a paperback book.
A young man, also professional looking, exits the coffee shop, cup in hand. He sees the young lady and is immediately interested in meeting her. He walks over to her table.
“Excuse me. Do you mind if I share your table?”
The young lady of interest glances up.
“No. I don’t mind.” She goes back to reading as if he wasn’t there.
The young man sits down. He looks this way and that, and then bends his head to see what she is reading. She looks over the top of her glasses at him. The look in her eyes tells him that she is irritated, but also interested, or maybe only puzzled.
“I’m very sorry. I did not mean to be rude. I enjoy reading and … ” he pauses long enough to notice that she was smiling. He smiles and continues. “My name is Darcy, Fitzwilliam Darcy.”
The young lady laughs.
“And I am Elizabeth Bennet, I presume?”
He smiles, a smile of cautious triumph, then continues. “I was curious about what you were reading. It was rude of me. Please accept my apology.”
Without saying anything, she slowly places the book on the table, cover down.
Smiling, she looks at him and says, “Guess!”
Recognizing that he has hit the ball and made it to first base, he decides to try for second.
“Pride and Prejudice?” he asks with a grin.
Still with her hand on the book, its cover still hidden from view, she asks: “Do you use this line often?”
“Line?” he asks.
“Ahh, well.” He appears to be searching for the right answer, something that will keep the door open.”
She comes to his rescue, perhaps not wanting to scare him off.
“Poor dear,” she says in a sympathetic, yet sweet tone, “you are trying to decide if you should continue with the Jane Austen approach, believing that every female is wandering around in a romantic make believe world created by Jane Austen, just waiting for the handsome and charming Mr. Darcy to rescue her, or if you should try a different approach.”
He is unable to speak. He is confused. He struggles to assess his situation. Has he tripped on his way to second base, or has he passed second and on his way to third?
Smiling she continues, “Shall I help you?”
“Please do,” he answers in a somewhat pleading tone. “I fear that I have forgotten my lines and am in danger of being ushered off the stage.”
“On the contrary, Mr. Darcy, I have not been so amused since, well, I don’t know when.”
Feeling confident that he has just made it to third base, he decides to try for home. “Shall we continue our discussion over dinner?”
“Dinner?” she asked as if shocked by his boldness, but obviously not. “Why sir, we have not been properly introduced.”
She rises, picks up the book without letting him see the cover, and begins to walk off.
He is left sitting, wondering what is happening. Then she stops, turns and says with a smile, “I have coffee here every afternoon at this time, Mr. Darcy.”
His eyes continue to follow her until she disappears. He takes a sip of coffee, smiles to himself and says, “Until tomorrow, Elizabeth.”
Until next time, be good, do good, and always live under the mercy.
- Fun with the Janeites (paulrwaibel.com)