Bennet laced his fingers over his stomach and stared at Darcy.
“I still do not like you, Mr. Darcy. You were proud and disdainful when here last believing that you were above those who have little beauty and no fashion and should receive neither your attention nor pleasure. I believe those were your words after meeting us at the Assembly, were they not, sir?”
“Of course, you do. It is a reflection of your base nature. After you left, some of the servants from Netherfield regaled our servants with your little quips and observations. I have written them down in my journal.” He tapped a ledger on his desk. “My favorite is when speaking of my Lizzy and her proclaimed beauty, I believe you said, ‘She a beauty? I would as soon call her mother a wit.’ Ring any bells?”
He absolutely did say something along those lines and felt a fresh wave of shame wash over him. To think at one time this was how he viewed Elizabeth and her family made him ill.
“Your other insult was not so secretive. Everyone in Meryton knew my Lizzy was not handsome enough to tempt you. That to dance with a young lady who had been slighted by other gentlemen would be a punishment. Do you care for me to continue with how you perceived our quaint, rustic village?”
“No, you have said quite enough, Mr. Bennet.”
Having his words tossed back in his face was like having a mirror shoved before his face. A mirror that reflected what was in a person’s true heart, and his likeness had shown a demon from hell. It shocked him to the core. When had his pride become so great, he thought himself above so many good and honest people?
“So, you see, Mr. Darcy. I do not like you. One heartfelt apology does not negate the image you projected to us poor, ill-educated savages.”
“No, sir. It does not.”
“However, I will accept your apologies.”
“Thank you.” Darcy rose to leave, inherently knowing their meeting was over. About to exit the room, Bennet called after him.
“Tell your faithful follower if he ever comes to his senses, he need not apologize. Not that I expect him to. He seems to be a feckless young man, led about the nose by his willful sister. However, I would ensure your sister stays away from him as he might break her heart. I have been told by Elizabeth that she is as gentle as my Jane and they are the ones he seems to prey upon.”
All Darcy could do was nod and take his leave.