This is the proposal scene I struggled over so agonizingly. Okay, perhaps I didn't quite agonize, but I did struggle. Please give me your honest opinion and don't be afraid to tell me if you think it is rotten. :) I tried to make it sweet, but only succeeded in making it awkward, and finally decided that awkwardness was the way to go.
It was Mercy who all but shoved the two of them outside to the garden bench. “Do it,” she said to Rodney, and disappeared back into the carriage house.
Elizabeth and Rodney looked at each other.
“Elizabeth,” said Rodney, shoving his hands in his pockets, taking them out and then shoving them back in again, “I… ah… have something I need to say, and I have to warn you beforehand that I won’t say it very well. Er, I mean I won’t ask it very well. Because it’s a question, you see. I had it all written out, what I was going to say—I mean ask—and now of course I’ve forgotten most of it. But, ah, I simply have to ask it and I would like you to say yes. Just so you know beforehand, I’d like you to say yes.”
Intelligent thoughts, followed by intelligent speeches, tumbled through Elizabeth’s mind, but alas, they were just out of reach. She succeeded only in saying, “Ah…”
“I shall take that as a signal to begin,” said Rodney. He took his hands out of his pockets and put them on his knees. Then he folded them. Then he put them back in his pockets. If Elizabeth had not been quite so apprehensive, she might have been amused.
Rodney evidently was amused. “What shall I do with my hands?” he inquired, grinning.
“I do not mind if you put them in your pockets,” said Elizabeth helpfully. She was quite sure she knew what was coming, but she was not quite allowing herself to think about it. It was much better that way. She clenched her own hands together and held them still in her lap. It would not be appropriate for her to put them in her pockets, even if her dress had had pockets.
Rodney slid off the bench, obviously intending to kneel on the rather muddy ground, but his shoe caught on the wrought-iron leg of the bench and he landed rather ungracefully. “Hardly an auspicious beginning, don’t you think?”
“Hardly,” said Elizabeth, giving him a hand up.
“Thank you. Now for what I was going to say.”
Suddenly everything was quiet. Rodney obviously was a little uncomfortable standing over Elizabeth, so he knelt back down on the ground again, regardless of the muddy grass. Elizabeth swallowed. Twice.
“Elizabeth, I can’t do this the way Mr. Darcy did it, or the way Mr. Knightley did it—that is, I mean, the way Jane Austen did it. I considered that—I mean, I thought you might appreciate a proposal that came straight out of one of your favorite books. But that didn’t quite seem right, and… uh…”
There was a pause and Elizabeth wanted to help him out, but her tongue seemed glued to her teeth.
“Mmm, ha, this is wonderful. Now I’m floundering like a fish in a, in an empty fishbowl, I guess. All right, perhaps I should just say it. Elizabeth Sophia Markette, will you marry me? Even if I did not call you ‘dearest, loveliest Elizabeth’, since I have the feeling that that one has been used a time or two before? I do like to be original. Please do say yes, because frankly I don’t want to go on any longer not knowing. Remember you practically promised me before.”
This was almost unromantic, and certainly rather undeserving of Jane Austen’s attention, and yet it seemed so right that there was really nothing more to be said.
“I do not remember practically promising anything,” Elizabeth found herself saying, with a smile that was so wide it nearly hurt, “but I… I can’t imagine saying anything but yes.”
“Really?” Rodney’s face lit up with a smile even wider.
“Really?” Mercy’s face popped into view as she stuck her head out of the carriage house window.
“Mercy!” said Rodney. “You weren’t listening? Stupid question, of course you were.” He was not angry.
“I couldn’t miss it,” said Mercy, with only the tiniest hint of shame, “and now I get to be the first to say that it took you much too long to finally ask her.”
“No, it didn’t,” said Elizabeth.
“Yes, it did,” said Rodney.“Just engaged,” said Mercy, sighing dramatically, “and arguing already.”