By Trix Wilkins
Photo design courtesy of Canva
This is the conversation I imagine would have transpired between Fitzwilliam Darcy and Theodore Laurence had they met in London after Jo March’s rejection. This is all of speculation, fan fiction, and homage – thank you Jane Austen, for creating such a strong character in Darcy, and Louisa May Alcott, for all the simmering potential in Laurie.
Laurie: Mr Darcy, might I trouble you for some advice?
Darcy: I would be honored to help, if I am able.
Laurie: I have recently proposed to a woman who has rejected me. I understand you have some experience in this matter?
Darcy: Ahhh, yes. One of the most troubling experiences of my life. It might help you to examine the mode of your declaration, before proceeding with any further action – part of the failure of your suit might lie there. Did you happen to disparage her family by repeatedly dwelling on the fact that you had been reluctant to pursue a union with her due to your abhorrence of the idea of associating with such relations?
Laurie: No, I quite like her family – and I believe the feeling is mutual. I didn’t mention her family at all, when I asked her to marry me.
Darcy: That is a good start. Did you disparage someone else she cares about, who you might not care for at all and might even detest – another man, perhaps?
Laurie: Well, I didn’t disparage him – but I did call him old, and I did say something along the lines of, “Don’t tell me that you love him?” She was quite unhappy with that.
Darcy (nods): I see. I made a similar mistake – one, thankfully, that I found could be undone. A detailed letter of explanation would suffice. Was she perhaps under some sort of mistaken impression as to your character? Again, an explanation in a letter can be quite effective in undoing any harmful prejudice.
Laurie: Actually, we’ve known each other for years. She is my closest friend and I believe knows my character well. She did say however, “You are a great deal too good for me.” I completely disagree with that – if anything, I’m not half good enough for her.
Darcy: And did you subsequently write her a letter, to inform her that she is laboring under a false impression? That she is, in fact, a lady most worthy of your faithful love and devotion?
Laurie: Ahhh, no… I did write her some letters while I’ve been abroad, asking her again to marry me.
Darcy: I assume your letters did not meet with a positive response.
Laurie: No, she was quite adamant in her refusal. She also didn’t want to talk of marriage at the time – her favorite sister Beth was very ill, and thought to be dying.
Darcy: A family crisis – a tragedy, to be sure, but the perfect opportunity for you to demonstrate the strength of your character and the depth of your passion for her. I believe that was what won my Elizabeth – her sister Lydia seemed irretrievable from ruin, and I took steps to ensure that did not happen, whilst keeping it a secret from her. I did not actually assist because I sought her favor, but because I sought her peace of mind. Nevertheless, that situation did lead her to thinking better of me, in the end. I assume, then, that you came home from abroad, to both bear her grief with her and direct all your energy and resources to assist in ensuring the well-being of this beloved sister?
Laurie: No… No, I didn’t do that.
Darcy: Did you write some letters in order to secure the best doctors in the country for her sister Beth, then? As I said, letters can have great impact.
Darcy: May I ask, what did you do?
Laurie: I stayed in Europe and comforted her sister Amy.
Darcy (looking incredulous): You comforted her sister?! My dear man, I don’t know that there’s anything I can do for you.
Laurie: Please, Mr Darcy, there must be something I can do! There must be a way!
Darcy: You have a very small window of opportunity now to win her, after the way you have squandered all opportunities thus far to demonstrate that you are after all a man of character, and worthy of her affections. Write some letters, secure some doctors for Beth – and get yourself on the first ship home! You cannot simply tell a woman in words that you love her, you must show her through your deeds!
Laurie: Yes sir, thank you sir.
Darcy (muttering, after Laurie has left): She was right to refuse him. Ah, well. We’ll see if he proves himself worthy.