Sufficient Encouragement Refresh

I have reached the end of stories that have published two or more years ago and therefore worth featuring, in my opinion, on Fridays. I have been meaning to re-edit Sufficient Encouragement and Renewed Hope to create a more cohesive story line. There will be no major plot changes. It will continue until the conclusion of story arcs for all the characters.

Chapter One

Escaping the rooms of Netherfield, Elizabeth Bennet hurried to a path out of sight from the house. She intended to pick some flowers in the nearby garden for her sister, Jane. Her host, Mr. Bingley, had provided plenty of hot-house flowers for her, but Elizabeth needed a reason to escape the other residents of the house.

Elizabeth knew all but Mr. Bingley wanted her away from them. Jane had been invited to dine with Bingley’s sisters the other day. However, she was caught in a downpour and caught a cold. In fact, it was planned by their mother. Elizabeth journeyed to Netherfield as much to get away from her scheming mama as to nurse her sister. Despite Bingley’s sisters generally disliking Elizabeth, she was invited to stay until Jane was well. Still, Elizabeth knew that it annoyed Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst as they made their disapproval for the Bennets and Meryton society plain. That did not even begin to address Mr. Darcy’s unsociable behaviour.

Pushing all unpleasant thoughts from her mind, she happily cut the last blooms of mid-November in solitude until she heard the voices of Miss Bingley and Mr. Darcy from the other side of the hedge. A sly smile crept across Elizabeth’s face. Were they out for a lover’s stroll?

Miss Bingley’s grating voice was unmistakable. “I hope you will give your mother-in-law a few hints, when this desirable event takes place, as to the advantage of holding her tongue.”

Elizabeth was surprised to overhear them discuss their marriage, nor did she know Miss Bingley’s mother still lived. More importantly, Elizabeth had not seen any sign of partiality for Caroline on Darcy’s behalf.  However, people often married for reasons other than affection.

Miss Bingley had continued speaking. “And cure the younger girls of running after officers.”

Elizabeth furrowed her brows in confusion. Miss Bingley was certainly not Mr. Darcy’s intended then, and it sounded like…

“Endeavour to check that little something that borders on conceit and impertinence in your lady.”

Of whom could they possibly be speaking? Elizabeth was loath to admit it, but she found eavesdropping on Mr. Darcy’s conversations most fascinating. He often listened in silence to Miss Bingley’s ridiculousness before silencing by confusing her with sarcasm. Elizabeth attempted to crouch behind a bush to hear more without detection.

“Have you anything else to propose for my domestic felicity?” Darcy coolly inquired.

“Oh yes! Do let the portraits of your aunt and uncle Phillips sit next to your great-uncle the judge. They are in the same profession, you know, only different lines. As for your Elizabeth’s likeness, you must not have it taken, for who could do justice to those remarkable eyes?”

Perhaps other ladies would blush or tremble at hearing Mr. Darcy admired them, but Elizabeth saw it all as only a cruel joke. She almost missed Mr. Darcy’s reply.

“It would not be easy indeed to catch the expression, but their colour and shape and the eyelashes, so remarkably fine, might be copied.”

Elizabeth’s eyes widened in disbelief. Mr. Darcy truly admired her? She was so uncomprehending that she could hardly guess who was alarmed more at the unexpected but inevitable meeting. Elizabeth nearly tumbled over. Throwing her arms out, she steadied herself and caught her breath.

“Miss Eliza!” Caroline cried. “I had no idea you were out for a walk.”

Recovering quickly, Elizabeth replied, “Oh, I was only gathering a posy for Jane.”

“How does she do this morning?” Mr. Darcy politely inquired.

“She is improving quickly, thank you.”

“And have you no intention of walking, then?” Darcy asked.

At the same moment, Miss Bingley spoke. “Oh, I do hope she recovers soon.”

They both coloured, and Elizabeth hid her smile.

Miss Bingley began again. “Louisa and I were planning to visit dear Jane after I returned indoors.”

Elizabeth smiled. “She would like that, thank you.”

Darcy turned to Miss Bingley. “Why not visit with her now? It would allow Miss Bennet a more ample excursion. She has scarcely left her sister’s side, and the exercise would do her well.”

“Oh yes. Why, of course. Do excuse us, Miss Elizabeth.” She began to turn but ceased when Darcy did not follow her. “Mr. Darcy, I had thought you were returning as well.”

Elizabeth turned her face to avoid laughing at the suspicion of desperation in Miss Bingley’s voice.

“No. You know I always indulge in an hour’s exercise in the morning.”

Miss Bingley begrudgingly returned to the house, and Elizabeth hoped Darcy would return to his walk without any further conversation with her.

“Do you not feel a great inclination for a country walk?”

She lightly laughed at his request; his words mirrored the ones he spoke the night before when he asked her for a reel. Additionally, it seemed the day was destined to try her nerves. He offered his arm as they began to walk away from the house and Elizabeth took it after a moment’s hesitation.

Still off-kilter from what she had heard, Elizabeth chose to tease in hopes of settling her nerves. “My, my, Mr. Darcy. Hertfordshire is rubbing off on you! First you want to dance a reel, and now a country walk instead of on the avenue of sculpted gardens?”

He smiled. “I miss the wilds of Derbyshire.”

“You do not spend much time in Town?”

“My estate requires much of my attention, but I make trips to Town as often as I can. My sister resides mostly in London for the masters, so it is natural I would wish to spend time with her.”

A single young man of rank and wealth enjoying London only to spend time with his sister? “The amusements of Town do not compel you?”

“I enjoy the diversions of the theatre and the like, particularly the access to the bookshops, but cannot care for all the people.”

Of course, he could not, for most of them were beneath his notice. “Cannot or will not?”

“You imply I do not converse easily with people out of choice.”

“Easily? I daresay you do not talk with anyone outside your own party.”

“I am speaking to you.”

He gave her a pointed look, and Elizabeth grew troubled as she considered again the words she heard earlier. “I suppose you have found some amusement in our discourse because you have made it clear you dislike talking with the others from the area.”

She glanced up at him, and indeed, he did look amused.

“You think you have my character entirely sketched, then? And on only a few weeks’ acquaintance when, by your own testament, I barely speak?”

She had thought that exactly, that is until a moment ago. She could not admit such a thing, though.

“I mean no offence when I say some characters are easier to sketch than others.”

He laughed lightly, and it was as though the sun broke through the clouds on his face. Why would such a handsome man wish to appear grim so often?

“You are uncommonly clever, Miss Bennet.”

She tried to contain her surprise. A compliment from Mr. Darcy?

She was silent too long, and his voice close to her ear startled her. “The correct response would be to thank me.”

She blushed. No, of course, he would not mean to praise her. It was only a means to criticise her again.

“I apologise. I was searching for the correct response to that particular kind of compliment.”

“I did not know compliments came in different forms.”

“Oh, but they do. If at a ball I say how beautiful one’s headdress looks and how delicate it is, and it would be a shame to see it suffer ill-effects, you may be sure I am not complimenting the lady on her ability to dance but rather suggesting she sit out.”

A small smile crept across his face. “And what kind of compliment was my praise?”

She looked down at her feet. “Perhaps you find that I am too intelligent for a woman. Perhaps any intelligence from those of my sex takes you by surprise. Perhaps, from one with such decided opinions on what makes an accomplished lady, you were truly pointing out what you conceive as a failure of mine.”

Satisfied she had made perfect sense of his earlier praise and that he could not be offended by her seeing through his façade, she left his side after exclaiming at the sight of wildflowers. When he approached her, she raised her eyebrows in expectation. Regardless of what he thought of her intelligence, she was sincerely beginning to doubt his.

“You claimed I conceived your intelligence a failure…”

She quickly interrupted him. “Yes, because I am sure the rest of the world does not have such ridiculous expectations.” Actually, she was not so certain at all. She knew Meryton did not.

“True, I do have high expectations. I am certain the rest of society, who enjoy the frivolousness of soirées and gambling, cannot possibly value a lady who is well read and entertains independent thoughts.”

Elizabeth instantly replied. “Undoubtedly, no lady who has so much intelligence and sense would also kill herself to become accomplished in languages, art, dancing, conversation, and everything else you and Miss Bingley believe are required of a woman. Any lady of sense would not go through all that simply for the label of accomplishment and to be displayed on some man’s arm. A woman with so much talent and intelligence would pursue study out of enjoyment and self-gratification. She would have too much self-respect to marry only to be an ornament.”

“Then we are in agreement on what an accomplished lady is like.”

Elizabeth raised her eyebrows in disbelief. His words reminded her of something she overheard on the day of her arrival at Netherfield. “Do you also think being thus accomplished makes a woman a more attractive marital partner?”

He answered cautiously, “Many gentlemen would pursue a lady with so much sense and ability.”

“Gentlemen of sense may think so. Alas, there has been a shortage of gentlemen of sense in my acquaintance. I often meet with men who believe an alliance should be based on connections and fortune.”

Darcy smiled a little. “Are you now to give me a list of what is required for a gentleman?”

“Perhaps you are not the only one with exacting standards. To me, the perfect gentleman is amiable to all he meets and puts his feelings and desires last. He considers those in his care as his primary concern. Perhaps this gives him little time to read or write long letters. He takes care only to have friends of the greatest sense, and so he may rely upon their advice.”

Her companion frowned. “You return to our subject from last night. My friend is unaffectedly modest, and he does rely on my advice perhaps too greatly. I hope I meet with his demands of having good sense. But do you not make allowances for differences in temper and situation? Bingley is very obliging to everyone he meets, and he cannot imagine an offence against him. To assume that I am less gentlemanly than him only because I cannot forgive all the crimes against me would be as if I believed you less of a lady than those who do not walk three miles to nurse their sister. You give my sex no compliment by believing we must all have the same temperament.”

“I speak as I find.”

“And do you still agree that you do not meet as many people with differing personalities in the country?”

“I suppose I must.”

“Then perhaps you have not met many gentlemen who can disprove your narrow constraints of gentlemanly behaviour.”

“Logic would follow that would be the case, and yet you, in all your broad acquaintance, have not met more than half a dozen ladies who are truly accomplished.”

He was silenced, and Elizabeth smiled to herself. Now no one could say she recommended herself to the other sex by undervaluing her own. She rather thought little of men.

“I ought to return to Jane. I have gathered enough flowers.”

She turned to leave and was amazed when he continued to follow. She had believed he was affronted by her words.

“I have been thinking,” he began, “on your words about the influence of friendship.”

“For all that I argued that one of an amiable temper might quickly change his decision out of regard for the friend, you will not change my opinion, sir.”

He chuckled. “I would not dream of it.”

Elizabeth laughed in return. “How diplomatic of you! For, by your agreement, you either state we are not friends or that I do not have an amiable temper.”

“Perhaps I believe this to be too important a subject to try to turn your opinion.”

She was not sure how to reply.

“I have been thinking that one could benefit from the affection of a good friend.”

She ought not to be surprised. She overheard him declare he admired her, but still the idea that he spoke of it stopped her in her tracks. She silently waited for him to continue.

“I have a sister who is more than ten years my junior. She was taken from school last spring. Her education was completed, but she has missed having friends.”

Elizabeth blushed. How silly of her! Had she thought he would declare love for her in Mr. Bingley’s garden? “I had thought Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst quite friendly with her.”

“I believe she may value ones closer to her age and of a certain, shall we say more benevolent, disposition. Might I persuade you and your eldest sister to correspond with her?”

Elizabeth began to argue, but he anticipated her reasons.

“I am uncertain how long I will remain in the country, and if I would ever bring her here, I would like  for her to have more acquaintances.”

They reached the house just before then, and Elizabeth dislodged her arm. “Certainly, sir. Thank you for the escort.”

“My pleasure.”

After a bow and a curtsy, she fled his side for Jane’s room. Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst were sitting with Jane and stared daggers at her. Thankfully, they quickly made their excuses. Certainly they perceived Mr. Darcy had returned, and so Jane could be of little interest to them then.

Jane soon rested, and Elizabeth was left with her thoughts. She had seldom had an admirer before. Frowning, she considered that the ones she did have in the past did not seem to keep their attention on her long—if they noticed her at all instead of Jane. Not that Elizabeth had considered any of those gentlemen as suitors.  Indeed, she had no wish to encourage Mr. Darcy for whatever distraction she provided to him.

Then she reconsidered. Mr. Darcy had argued even the night before how easily led Mr. Bingley was. Undoubtedly, Mr. Darcy had influence over his friend. If she spurned him, his pride would demand he leave Netherfield. Would he take his friend with him? Jane deserved every chance with Mr. Bingley!

Jane was not only Elizabeth’s closest sister; she was her closest confidante as well. She believed Mr. Bingley held Jane’s heart. Believing highly in the connection and value of her family, Elizabeth usually accepted and overlooked flaws in her relations that she would not dismiss as readily for many others. Still, Elizabeth knew how they appeared to the proud guests at Netherfield Park. Already she felt that the wildness of her youngest sisters, coupled with her mother’s ridiculousness and unabashed chastisement of Mr. Darcy, put a connection to her family in a poor light. How terrible it would be if Jane’s hopes were to be disappointed by the work of her nearest kin.

Elizabeth’s mind quickly flicked from her mother and sisters to herself. She had often delighted in sparring with Mr. Darcy in an attempt to put him down. Her own behaviour could just as easily cost Jane’s happiness as anyone else’s. If Elizabeth could persuade him that a match between his friend and her sister was not an evil, then she would simply have to temper her own behaviour and swallow the discomfort. Obviously, Mr. Darcy could never mean anything serious by his admiration. Elizabeth had overheard her family and relations mocked by Mr. Darcy and Miss Bingley on more than one occasion before he admitted finding her pretty. Just now he did not act the part of a lover at all. Admiration did not a proposal make.

7 thoughts on “Sufficient Encouragement Refresh

    1. From time to time, I do have to make corrections to files as typos are discovered or I update links. My understanding is that if you have updates enabled in your Amazon under the “manage content and subscriptions” tab, then things are automatically updated. Sufficient Encouragement and the rest of the series will be completely republished and I will notify Amazon in an attempt to reach the original customers so they can download the new content (they will send emails to the customers). I’ll also be offering download links. The aim is to improve reader experience throughout the series, not to double dip and earn more money from people who already bought. The best way to be sure you’re getting up to date information about this project is by subscribing to my newsletter.


  1. Hi Rose, I am sad. I would like to get my hands on your earlier works but they are not in publication. Is there anyway I can get ‘Sufficient Encouragement’? Pke5and Thanks Charmaine


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