"I have been a selfish being all my life."
-Fitzwilliam Darcy, Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 58, p. 459
Fitzwilliam Darcy still loved Elizabeth Bennet, even after she had rejected his proposal. At first, when he had written his letter, he had been angry; but then he had heard soon after that that Elizabeth's father had died of an apoplexy, and his only thought had been to save his love from destitution. He raced to Longbourn to find Mr. Collins already there, ready to take possession.
He had found the tradesman, Mrs. Bennet's brother, there and asked his permission to speak to Elizabeth. When he had been given a private audience, he found Elizabeth looking weary and pale from grief. He had begged her to accept his hand in marriage. He would take care of her family for the rest of their lives, he said. He knew she did not love him, but he would be happy enough just to have her as his wife. She had asked him if her family would be welcome to visit, and he had told her that she could visit them, but that they would not be welcome in his homes. He wanted to keep his contact with them, except perhaps Jane Bennet, to a minimum. She had looked uncertain but she had finally agreed.
Mr. Darcy had worked quickly. He set up an establishment for Mrs. Bennet and the other four daughters, and had provided dowries for Elizabeth's sisters. The wedding was a small and quiet affair. Only Colonel Fitzwilliam and Georgiana had come from his side of the family, and only for one night; he did not want Georgiana exposed to Wickham since he was still in the area. He also did not want the rest of his family exposed to Mrs. Bennet and Elizabeth's youngest sisters. Mrs. Bennet's effusions on learning he would become her son-in-law had become unbearable.
He decided to just stay in London one night after the wedding and then go straight to Pemberley. Elizabeth seemed very low from her grief at the death of her father and he thought the atmosphere of Pemberley would help revive her spirits. He decided to wait until they got to his home to consummate the marriage. He wanted Elizabeth to have time to get used to him and recover a bit from her grief.
He knew she did not love him. But he thought his own love would be enough.