A few scenes got cut from the final project, but they live on here, for your enjoyment.
The housekeeper burst in. “Excuse me, sir—” she held out a silver tray with a calling card.
Darcy took it and grumbled under his breath.
“Yes.” He stood. “Excuse me. I will receive him in my office.”
He tugged his coat and marched to his sanctuary. If Bennet thought he could engage in an ugly display in Darcy House he would find himself very surprised. He sat down at his desk a moment before the housekeeper showed Bennet in. He did not rise. Bennet did not deserve such recognition. This was not a connection he relished and Bennet had best realize it.
Bennet sauntered in, with arrogance in his step and a scarf of self-righteousness wound around his neck. Quite the proper thing to strangle him with.
They stared at each other. Darcy placed his hands on the desk and rose, slowly, inch by inch, to his full height. He crossed to the front of the desk, folded his arms and stood towering over the self-important interloper to his domain.
Bennet looked away.
Where had Elizabeth gotten her strength from? Certainly it was not learned at her father’s knee.
“My daughter is here?”
“Miss Lydia remains with the Gardiners. I told you, she is not welcome here.”
“You know very well I mean Lizzy.”
Why did he have to call her that? The sound was like gravel in his ears. “She is no concern of yours. If that is all you have come for, you may leave now.”
“I will see my daughter.” Bennet’s eyes narrowed and he leaned slightly closer.
What did he think he was going to do? Intimidate? Hardly. “No, you will not. I will not permit you to hurt her any further.”
“I have done nothing—”
“Indeed you have not, and therein lies the problem. You have never done your duty toward her.”
“Who are you to judge? What do you know of my duty?”
“When did you protect her?”
“She has always had whatever she has needed.”
“Hardly.” Darcy’s fingers knotted. Why was he even having this conversation? Better throw the bounder out.
“What has she wanted for?”
“A man who would stand up and care more for her needs than his.”
“What are you blathering about?”
“When did you protect her from talk that a young lady has no place in hearing?”
“What talk? I have always kept guard on who she has kept company with.”
“The fact you do not know speaks volumes.” Could he be so thick?
“What has she told you to garner your sympathies? I would have thought you above the manipulations and machinations—”
“Enough. Just leave. Your presence is a trial and an irritation.”
Bennet’s eyes bulged and his jaw dropped. “I thought you far more discerning. Be that as it may, as her father I must know, did you mean it when you said you would marry her? Or do you merely intend to set her up under your protection?”
Darcy pressed his fist to his forehead. “I am surprised that you care.”
“It is a father’s role—”
“Just stop now. She will be my wife.”
“And you will write a proper settlement for her?”
Unmitigated gall! “You do not have to worry about her returning to your house for protection if anything happens to me.”
“That is not—”
“Stop!” Darcy stomped a step forward. “Gardiner will sign the papers. I have no doubt anything that meets his satisfaction will be far and away beyond anything you would require.”
“I do not appreciate your tone of disrespect.”
“My tone? My tone of disrespect?” He was shouting now and it did not matter. “How dare you. ! You come into my house uninvited, disparage my betrothed, insult me and all but accuse me—”
“You need to control your temper. I accused you of nothing. It would behoove you to attend to what is actually spoken. You seem entirely predisposed to take offense at—”
“Out! I have heard enough.” He threw his arm toward the door, narrowly missing Bennet’s face.
“I am not finished. You are aware Lady Catherine will be displeased by this turn of events.”
Of course—one could not conclude a call without mention of one’s true purpose. “What is that to me? Her pleasure is nothing to me. She shall not pollute the shades of any of my homes.”
“You would relinquish your connection to her?”
“She is nothing to me.”
“You do realize much of this unpleasantness might have been avoided had you only demonstrated patience.”
Bennet’s lecturing tone and paternal expression—was this what Elizabeth endured daily? Dear, sweet woman …
“I do not take your meaning. You imply this is my fault.”
“Had you been but willing to wait a few short months, all this would have sorted itself out. Miss de Bourgh’s condition is very grave.”
“Then what are you doing here? Get yourself back to Kent. ”
Bennet shook his head and shrugged. “She is beyond my help. The addlepated surgeon finally persuaded Lady Catherine that my efforts were killing Miss de Bourgh. She ordered me to step aside.”
“Which you did.” What outstanding dedication he showed to his most important patient.
“Only because there was absolutely nothing else for me to do. Her heart you see—there are some things for which medical science has no remedy.”
“So you left her to die at someone else’s hands?” Despicable man.
“I would never have left her, save that Lady Catherine ordered me away and insisted I retrieve Lydia. Had I my preference, I would have remained at Miss de Bourgh’s side to ease her sufferings by whatever means available to me.”
“I would call your retreat quite convenient.”
Bennet’s face colored—now he was finding his bollocks. An insult to his daughter meant nothing, but one to his practice, that was meaningful. The man must have been rocked in a stone kitchen!
“I have done everything in my power for Miss de Bourgh. Though it is beyond me to do more, I have no doubt I was able to extend both her life and her comfort through my service to her.”
Darcy grumbled under his breath. “Of that I am quite aware.”
“So about that case you wished me to consult on.”
“What?” The windows rattled. He clutched his hands behind his back before they found a more engaging occupation. “How dare you! After all you have done, you would yet demand a favor of me?”
“I understand your cousin the viscount is quite ill and I may well be in a way to be of significant assistance to him.”
“What do you know of him?”
“Enough to believe I may be able to do for him what others have not.”
“I seek to serve my patients. You yourself have acknowledged my help to Miss de Bourgh. Do you not owe it to your family—”
“What do you know of duty to one’s family?”
“A great deal more than you know.”
“Very well.” Darcy stomped to his desk. He opened his drawer and quickly scratched out a letter while Bennet watched, silent. The man was able to exercise some patience after all. He sanded the wet ink and put away the pen. “This is a letter of introduction to Matlock House. Present it and your card at the door. On the basis of what I have written, my uncle may receive you for an interview. On the other hand, he may not. Since you insist on a letter from me, I have written an honest one. I have told him exactly what I think of you. ”
Bennet’s eyes widened. “My practice of medicine?”
He snorted. “I did make mention of that as well. Make no mistake, I have no respect for you as a man. I hold no personal regard for you and would warn away any acquaintance of mine in making a personal connection with you. You are the lowest, most vile form of man I know and I would not acknowledge you if I met you on the street. You are not welcome in my house and I hope never to see you here again.”
Darcy held up an open hand. “However, you excel in your profession and that is what my cousin has need of. Both Fitzwilliam and I have agreed, you may be better able to help him than any other medical man we have known. I will let my uncle determine if he is willing to do business with you after he has a full accounting of exactly what kind of man you are. I have counseled against it.” He folded the letter and sealed it with his signet ring.
“I suppose you expect me to thank you.”
“No, sir, I expect you to leave and never ask me for another favor.”
Bennet tucked the letter in his coat pocket and turned away. “May I write to her?”
The gall! Darcy laughed a coarse, abrasive noise absent of any mirth. “No, I want nothing of you in any home of mine ever again. Good day, Dr. Bennet.”
Bennet did not turn, did not even acknowledge the reply, just walked away, utterly unaffected.
Darcy pressed his forehead and sucked in a ragged breath. If this was the last he saw of the man, he would count it a victory.