Fantasy Friday- Pride and Prejudice and Prophecies, Mr. Darcy and the Bewitched Sisters Chapter One, post one

I’m going to do a cover reveal when I get closer to publication so for now we just have the Fantasy Fridays graphic. Here’s the prologue in case you missed it.

Road in dark forest

Chapter One

Longbourn, Hertfordshire

September 21, 1811

 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that love is the greatest magic of all and to most of the old families in Britain, just as inconceivable.

As the Bennets of Longbourn in Hertfordshire were neither an ancient family nor had they the distinction of rank or wealth, they must be forgiven for Mr. Bennet learning to dearly love his second wife. Despite this vulgarness, they had not openly spoken of the magical world in sixteen years, at least. When news arrived of returning neighbors after a long absence, the conversation between husband and wife were so discreet as to puzzle their three adult daughters. They gathered in the drawing room to enjoy the last hours of sun through the southern windows.

“Have you heard, Mr. Bennet, that General Tilney is to return to Netherfield Abbey, at last?” Martha Bennet asked her husband.

After several moments of silence, Mr. Bennet replied from behind a newspaper. “Is he? I suppose he has his reasons.”

“Indeed. He has married a Mrs. Bingley.” Mrs. Bennet pulled a lamp closer as she pulled out a pile of stockings to darn for the little children.

“And does the new Mrs. Tilney have any grown children? The General’s should all be past their majority by now.”

“Yes, all of their children and a large party of friends are coming to Netherfield.”

Mr. Bennet put down his paper and raised his eyebrows in silent question.

His wife complied. “They are to be here in time for the ball after Michaelmas.”

Mr. Bennet stroked his jaw line. “I suppose that will turn the neighborhood on its heel.”

“Will you call on him?” Mrs. Bennet gave her darning more attention than it usually warranted and did not meet her husband’s eyes.

Mr. Bennet put aside the newspaper and walked across the room to the bookshelves on a far wall. He scanned it for several minutes, muttering under his breath. “I believe I’ll read Leonora to you all tonight. You like that one, don’t you, Lizzy?”

Their second eldest daughter looked up from where she sat with her sisters. “You know I like all those sorts of novels — ”

She was interrupted by the youngest, Catherine. “Oh, no. Why not The Italian?”

“No, Kate! Not that one again!” Lizzy argued. “I am sick of melodrama.” She tossed a ribbon at her younger sister’s head, who shrieked in undignified shock. “I was aiming for the basket to your side. It’s not my fault your head is so big,” she said with a shrug and a smirk while Kate glowered.

“Elizabeth,” the eldest said in a firm but gentle voice. Her wide, clear blue eyes made it difficult to displease her.

“No need to defend me, Jane,” Kate said. “I know how to get even.”

Elizabeth’s jaw dropped open for a scathing retort, but Mrs. Bennet cleared her throat. “Girls,” she said in a sharp tone and with raised eyebrows. Her dark eyes transformed from gentle to piercing and each daughter ducked their heads and returned to their work.

“Ah, here we are. The Vision of Don Roderick by Scott shall be an agreeable compromise,” Mr. Bennet said as though he had not paid any heed to the squabbling of a moment before.

“Mr. Bennet,” Mrs. Bennet said in a milder tone than she used on her daughters but one that demanded an answer all the same.

Mr. Bennet sighed before speaking. “I think it better should I see him at the ball and allow him to settle in first.”

The answer displeased his wife, who sucked in a breath and pursed her lips in a thin line. However, she said nothing.

The three eldest daughters exchanged curious looks with each other. Ordinarily, their parents had far too much sense to care this much about a neighbor returning to his estate.

Elizabeth mused to herself that her birth mother would have had many flutterings over a wealthy gentleman with available sons coming to the area. The first Mrs. Bennet had passed five winters before in an illness that swept the area and took her three youngest daughters and their nearest neighbor, Mrs. Tilney. The current Mrs. Bennet’s first husband, the Reverend Morland, also passed as they were visiting a relation in Hertfordshire.

Mr. Bennet found himself with two grief-stricken daughters of marriageable age, and Mrs. Morland with several children and no pension, the two married for necessity when their half mourning was complete. General Tilney had quickly left the area and took his children: two sons and a daughter, with him. They had not heard a thing from him or about him in all these years.

“Jane, Lizzy,” said Kate, “do you remember General Tilney or his children?”

“It was years ago,” answered Jane, “but they were all kind.”

“But did you know them well?”

Elizabeth shook her head. “Eleanor is Jane’s age but the boys, Frederick and Henry, are four and two years older than her. They were too old to join in our games.”

Kate frowned, and Elizabeth passed a newly mended handkerchief to her. Kate had the most patience for embroidery out of all the girls. Elizabeth looked out the window longingly. It was now too dark for a stroll in the garden. Her father took a break from his reading to place lamps around the room. The slightly worn but pale wallpaper and several well-placed mirrors magnified the light. Elizabeth shuddered at how much they would spend monthly in candlesticks otherwise.

Jane stretched out a gown her youngest sister had outgrown and neatly cut a rectangle. She cut a long strip from a contrasting fabric to make an apron string. “Eleanor was at school when her mother died, as was Henry. The eldest was at university. We had seldom been in their company for many years before Mrs. Tilney’s death. I know not being at home bore heavily on them all.”

Elizabeth nodded. “Yes, as much as I wish Mother would have agreed to send us to school, I am glad we were at home for her final hours.”

Her mother had insisted she would have missed her daughters too much to send them to school, but Elizabeth believed the real reason was that her mother was a spendthrift. Of course, her step-mother’s brood of children cost nearly as much, and so the Bennets continued to spend most of their annual income of two thousand pounds a year.

Kate let out a happy sigh. “General Tilney must have loved his wife very much if he could not stand to be home or remarried until now.”

“Perhaps,” Elizabeth said while shrugging. She had been fifteen and in little company of either elder Tilneys.

At the same moment, Jane said, “Of course!”

“Such romantic sensibilities must be passed on to his sons then,” Catherine continued.

“Kate!” Elizabeth chided quietly. Her sister read too many romantic and gothic novels. “Life is not like your books. Do you suppose that your mother felt the loss of your father any less than General Tilney would have felt of his wife? And she remarried quickly.”

“My mother did love Father dearly,” she replied, evidently reconsidering.

“Life is not fair to women, Lizzy,” Jane said. “Mama may love Papa now, but you know that was not the arrangement when they married.”

Elizabeth frowned as she pulled out another handkerchief from the mending basket. At least this one was for a brother and therefore required less fancy needlework. “Mama, is it James that needs more handkerchiefs?”

“Allow me to consult the list,” Mrs. Bennet said and held a ledger toward the lamp at her side. As a mother of nine children of various ages, she managed the household through extreme organizational means. “Yes, James and John both,” she informed Elizabeth. “What they do with them, I don’t know,” she muttered to herself and stabbed a child’s stocking with her needle.

Elizabeth bent her head over her work and blew a wisp of dark hair out of her eyes. She kept her thoughts to herself about the potential personalities of their neighbors. Jane was too apt to trust and like people. No intimacy had existed between the Netherfield and Longbourn families. Jane would only know what she had seen on the civil calls and large dinners. Additionally, she had only been in company for a year before the Tilneys left the area. She had always been predisposed to view everyone in a favorable light.

Elizabeth wondered if the situation of their parents’ demise and remarriage colored the outlooks that Jane and Kate had of romance and marriage. For herself, she was not easily pleased or impressed. A man would have to love her quite ardently to marry her with only fifty pounds to her name and yet that could hardly be sensible. She could never marry a man out of his wits.

Thursday Three Hundred- 14th of October, Regency

Last week, I posted a story inspired by Thomas Rhett’s Unforgettable. It had a modern setting. Today, I have a story inspired by the same song but set in the Regency Era. Let me know which you liked better!

14th of October, Regency

 

Charles Bingley greeted the master of ceremonies of the country assembly he attended. He had recently let a large house in the neighbourhood. Many of the area gentlemen had called and introduced themselves as a necessary etiquette before they could introduce their wives and daughters. Sir William Lucas, the man he was speaking to, introduced his eldest two daughters, Charlotte and Maria. Both seemed kind young ladies although Maria appeared very young and uncertain of herself. Bingley assumed she had only recently entered Society. Miss Lucas looked a few years his senior, and her mother desperately suggested they partner for the first dance. Never one to want to give offense and an enthusiast of the sport in general, Bingley complied.

As he led Miss Lucas to the dance floor, his eyes fell upon an angel. Her white gown had a blue overlay and exposed nearly all of her shoulders. The seductive glimpses of skin were balanced by covering her ample décolletage.

“Mr. Bingley,” Miss Lucas’ voice interrupted his musings.

“Pardon me, I was admiring the splendour of the room.”

Miss Lucas grinned. “I could see that. She is lovely, is she not?”

Bingley blushed. “Forgive me. I did not wish to offend.”

“Oh, I am not offended. I am quite used to young men falling in love with Jane. She is too sweet for me to be upset about it.”

Was he in love already? His friend, Darcy, would laugh at him for he had a habit of falling for a lady at first sight. Usually, Darcy would have to talk sense into him later and expose the lady’s cruel designs. Joining high society had been Bingley’s father’s greatest wish, but he was far more ready for the cutthroat attitudes of the ton than his son was. Bingley would rather live in the country than in London. His greatest wish was to surround himself with true friends who loved him and not his five thousand a year.

Seeing that Miss Lucas was not upset at his indifference, he asked, “Would you introduce me to her after our set?”

“Certainly.”

Bingley’s heart hammered loudly in his chest as Miss Lucas performed the introduction. He bowed over Miss Bennet’s hand and promptly asked her to dance. When she smiled at his request and agreed, he swore his heart skipped a beat.

Minutes passed while the musicians shuffled their music and couples filtered to the dance floor. Bingley grabbed a cup of punch to steady his nerves. Throughout the dance, Bingley’s tongue could not keep up with his brain which went blank every time Miss Bennet glanced at him. They spent most of their dance in silence, conversation limited to general topics and entirely perused by Miss Bennet.

After their dance, Miss Bennet’s mother came to her side shrieking and complimenting her daughter on her conquest. Many other young ladies, some with striking facial similarities to Miss Bennet, gathered around her. He needed to dance with her again, to feel the pressure of her gloved hand in his. However, etiquette dictated that he could not yet ask her to dance again. Instead, he sought an introduction to the lady closest to him, a Miss King. Then he danced with the younger Miss Lucas. Between sets, he sought out the punch bowl to loosen his tongue so he might dazzle Miss Bennet with his charm and wit during their next dance.

At last, the moment came. Bingley confidently walked to Miss Bennet’s side, but before he could say a word, an aging man with a growing gut appeared.

“If you are free, my dear Miss Bennet, I would be honoured to dance with you.”

Charles scowled at the man and his poorly worded request. He ought to humbly beg this angel sent to earth to deign to glance at him! Feeling his face heat in indignation, Miss Bennet’s sweet voice rang out.

“Forgive me, Mr. Long, but I am already promised to Mr. Bingley for this set.”

She reached her hand forward, and Bingley immediately grabbed it. Without another look, he led her to the dance floor.

“Pray forgive me. I did not mean to trap you, but Mr. Long has been so persistent and will not take my hints at displeasure with his suit.”

“How intolerable. I will gladly be your partner at any ball.” Bingley paused for a moment as the dance separated them. “In fact, dinner engagements may not be safe either. We could arrange to find one another at each meeting and then you would be safe from his attentions.”

A soft smile set on Miss Bennet’s face. “I do not know that we need to go to such lengths. Surely, he will be discouraged soon enough.”

“If it were me, I would not give up so easily.”

Miss Bennet laughed. “Upon my word, that is very forward of you for such a new acquaintance. Sir, are you foxed?”

“No, certainly not.” Missing a step to the dance, he almost fell and most certainly would have sprained his ankle.

Miss Bennet’s eyebrows rose. “I see.”

Taking a deep breath to puff out his chest, Bingley focused on saying something that would convince her of his sobriety. “Would a drunk man say that…” Miss Bennet began to smile, and his mind went blank.

“I am waiting, sir.”

“I am going to marry you.”

“Pardon?” Miss Bennet stumbled, and Bingley caught her by the hand.

“I said I am going to tarry here.”

“No,” Miss Bennet shook her head. “I do not think you did.”

Flushing, Bingley attempted to think fast. “Forgive me, I was attempting to tease, but I think perhaps it was too far.”

Miss Bennet’s eyes went wide and then searched his. Slowly, she began to smile.

“Oh, I can tease as well. My sister, Elizabeth, is a great teaser.”

“Is that so?”

“Yes, that is her in the green.” Miss Bennet nodded to her left. “You ought to ask her to dance next. I think you will enjoy her wit.”

“An excellent suggestion, thank you.”

“You see if I thought you were serious about wanting to marry me I would hardly suggest you dance with my sister.” Miss Bennet’s eyes shined with mirth. “And I might point out how utterly nonsensical it would be to marry a lady when you do not so much as know her Christian name. My sister and I are agreed to never marry a man out of his wits.”

The dance separated them, and Bingley considered how to respond to her tease.

“If that be the only obstacle to our union, then I am assured of our happiness, Diana.”

“I wish you every happiness with the mysterious Diana but am sad to say it is not I.”

As they waited for the others to go down the set, they continued with their game. Thirty minutes later, the set ended and Bingley had not correctly guessed Miss Bennet’s name. She turned to introduce him to her sister.

“This is my next youngest sister, Elizabeth. Lizzy, this is Mr. Bingley.”

Miss Elizabeth curtsied and greeted him with civility and good humour.

“I am very pleased to meet you, Miss Elizabeth. Your sister tells me that you have a very charming wit and love to tease.”

Miss Elizabeth laughed. “Did she indeed?” She turned to Miss Bennet. “Jane! You surprise me!”

Bingley’s rejoiced at Miss Elizabeth’s use of her sister’s name. His eyes immediately met Jane’s. “You remind me a bit of my own sister, Miss Elizabeth. Already, I believe I have a very brotherly regard for you. Your sister, Jane, has made me look forward to this set.”

Elizabeth furrowed her brow but merely glanced between Jane and Bingley. Jane blushed but did not look away from Bingley.

“Indeed?” Elizabeth said. “How else would you describe your dance with Jane?”

“Unforgettable,” he replied.

One year later, Bingley entered the Meryton Assembly hall with Jane by his side as Mrs. Bingley. “There,” he pointed to the centre of the room. “Right there was where I fell in love with you.”

“And I with you,” Jane smiled and squeezed his hand as they walked to the dance floor.

Tea Time Tattle- Jane Bennet

on a white wooden table red roses, cup of tea, heart made of lac

Last week, I discussed Bingley and how some view him as spineless and stupid. Today, I want to consider Jane Bennet.

Fan Fiction usually portrays her as simplistically angelic or stupid and disgustingly naive. A few make her less angelic or maybe even evil. Rarely does one give her a sort of dreamy approach. I tend to disagree with all of these approaches for Canon Jane. Again, this is not criticizing any fan fiction but rather examining the character as Jane Austen wrote her. Be merry and recreate however you please for a re-imagining!

We first learn about Jane with her mother defending her chances with Mr. Bingley while her father has said he would champion his second daughter, Elizabeth.

Lizzy is not a bit better than the others; and I am sure she is not half so handsome as Jane, nor half so good-humoured as Lydia.

To which Mr. Bennet replies:

“They have none of them much to recommend them,” replied he; “they are all silly and ignorant like other girls; but Lizzy has something more of quickness than her sisters.”

Now, the next interaction reveals Mr. Bennet’s teasing personality and we can be sure he doesn’t actually think so little of his daughters. Jane Austen undoubtedly did this to help reveal Elizabeth as the primary protagonist. It’s worth noting that, usually, in novels of the day the heroine was perfectly demure and beautiful. She was often naive and the target of a cad who she had believed to be a hero. She lacked independence and her romantic interest was usually as pure as she was. In other words, the ingenue. The flip side to the ingenue was the femme fatale who used feminine wiles to try and achieve her means.

If the latter sounds familiar, then it’s because Lady Catherine accuses Elizabeth Bennet of using her wiles to entrance Darcy. However, just as there is far more to Elizabeth than her charming personality which “bewitched” Darcy, Jane Bennet is no ingenue despite it seeming so on the surface. Austen does not give us blank characters.

Jane is not really mentioned again until she dances with Mr. Bingley who is soon revealed to have a heart of gold. While Jane reveals her thoughts about Bingley’s sisters, the reader understands that Elizabeth believes Jane is being too kind-hearted. She also says things to the effect.

69c48443b14dcb7cfac35e3ab277e04eAs the book is from Elizabeth’s perspective, it seems that Elizabeth would be justified in thinking Jane too naive to see the guiles of Caroline and Louisa Bingley. Jane is also mentioned as being the only one who saw merit in Mr. Darcy (although I think Elizabeth was the only one who thought him so bad. I think the rest of the area was mostly indifferent to him while it was an all-consuming obsession for Elizabeth). We learn about half way through the book that Darcy isn’t actually bad, most of it was Elizabeth’s prejudices. Jane is also vindicated in regards to Caroline Bingley. She was not alone in arguing for her brother to stay in London. Darcy, he admitted himself, had more weight there. I could say more about Caroline and her motives, but I’ll leave it at the fact that in the end we’re told that she learns enough to stay in Darcy and Elizabeth’s good graces.

So is Jane stupid for seeing the good side in Caroline and Darcy when Elizabeth did not? I’ll admit, I always had trouble with this quote.

if the same circumstances were to happen again, I am sure I should be deceived again.

Ms. Austen is very authentic about human nature. It takes many times for us to learn. Elizabeth is wrong about Charlotte and she did not learn. She was wrong about Mr. Darcy and still she did not learn. She continued to doubt him. It is not until the final chapters that she really overcomes her prejudices about the world. Why should Jane be any different? Why is it forgivable for Elizabeth to be prejudiced in a hateful way while Jane is prejudiced in a sweet way? If you’re going to make mistakes about people and how the world operates, I think having a rosy view on things would be the better way. Both sisters faced separation and heartache. Elizabeth’s cynicism did not protect her from anything and it does not make Jane naive for being so tenderhearted.

Ah, but there’s more to this impression of a naive, stupid Jane than just Caroline and Darcy. What about Mr. Wickham?

What a stroke was this for poor Jane! who would willingly have gone through the world without believing that so much wickedness existed in the whole race of mankind, as was here collected in one individual. Nor was Darcy’s vindication, though grateful to her feelings, capable of consoling her for such discovery. Most earnestly did she labour to prove the probability of error, and seek to clear the one without involving the other.

Elizabeth has just confessed she was mistaken about Darcy’s character. Jane has learned she was mistaken about Caroline’s. It is only sensible then to consider that they might be mistaken regarding Wickham as well. Elizabeth is very hot-headed and largely believes Wickham and then Darcy based on their own words and appearances. Consider that Elizabeth did not consult with Colonel Fitzwilliam, as was offered. Even if she had, he might have lied to corroborate Darcy’s story. Elizabeth really hadn’t learned very much from the ordeal by this point and it was just as likely that Darcy could still have been a villain. The fact that he wasn’t, I believe, was Austen’s way of reinventing the trope.

janebennet2005Elizabeth argues with Jane and tries to make her pick a side. Hmmm…refusing to change one’s opinion is not generally stupid. It might later prove to be so but we typically call that stubbornness. That’s something the entire Bennet family has in spades. Mrs. Gardiner even says Darcy’s real fault is his obstinancy. So, if we do not fault Darcy for his stuborness and often gladly wear Lady Catherine’s intended insult of “obstinate, headstrong girl” as a badge of honor, why then should we fault Jane for sticking to her understanding?

Jane shows even more prudence when she says this regarding Elizabeth asking if they ought to expose Wickham:

To have his errors made public might ruin him for ever. He is now, perhaps, sorry for what he has done, and anxious to re-establish a character. We must not make him desperate.

There is more regarding Jane’s opinion about Wickham to examine. After Lydia’s elopement, Jane remains hopeful that Wickham intends an honorable marriage. When Mrs. Gardiner tries to calm Elizabeth and remind her of Jane’s views, Elizabeth replies in a fit of passion:

Of whom does Jane ever think ill? And who is there, whatever might be their former conduct, that she would think capable of such an attempt, till it were proved against them?

Well, gosh. Is it stupid to give someone a chance to prove themselves? The benefit of the doubt? The idea of innocence until proven guilty? Regardless of what Darcy’s letter said Wickham had never displayed such dishonorable actions to them. Elizabeth had once hated Darcy on Wickham’s behalf. Next, she hates Wickham on Darcy’s behalf. Jane is level-headed and considers that Wickham might have reasons for his treatment to Darcy but that does not necessarily translate to maltreatment of all mankind. She is wrong, we discover, but I can’t fault her for being cautious to condemn the man who, hopefully, would be her brother-in-law.

Throughout the ordeal, Jane supports Mrs. Bennet’s anxieties alone until Elizabeth arrives. Once Elizabeth is there, she can split that burden but must also soothe her sister. Elizabeth blames herself for not exposing Wickham but dearest Jane replies with this:

“But to expose the former faults of any person without knowing what their present feelings were, seemed unjustifiable. We acted with the best intentions.”

Having lived years with guilt and regret and seeking professional help, I can say the line about best intentions can give you a world of freedom. While Elizabeth is busy flaying herself with regrets which adds to the stress she’s feeling, Jane can handle it better. She was not quick to jump to conclusions, she did not act in haste, and had the best intentions at heart. She has nothing to reprove herself with and can bear this entire situation all the easier.

As the crisis continues, and stories about Wickham rip through Meryton, Jane and Elizabeth both reassess their first feelings.

Elizabeth, though she did not credit above half of what was said, believed enough to make her former assurance of her sister’s ruin more certain; and even Jane, who believed still less of it, became almost hopeless, more especially as the time was now come when, if they had gone to Scotland, which she had never before entirely despaired of, they must in all probability have gained some news of them.

When more evidence came to light, Jane did not stubbornly stick her head in the sand. When Mr. Gardiner writes after Darcy finds Wickham and arranges for them to marry, Jane offers this piece of wisdom:

“We must endeavour to forget all that has passed on either side,” said Jane: “I hope and trust they will yet be happy. His consenting to marry her is a proof, I will believe, that he is come to a right way of thinking. Their mutual affection will steady them; and I flatter myself they will settle so quietly, and live in so rational a manner, as may in time make their past imprudence forgotten.”

Elizabeth refuses to believe that others will forget about the situation but, once more, she over reacts. Of course, people will soon forget. A greater scandal will come and in the end, Lydia is married and respectable. That’s hardly the enduring scandal people need to remember the situation forever. I am convinced Elizabeth’s concerns on the matter shrink significantly when Darcy and Bingley arrive, even more so once Bingley proposes and they likely evaporate entirely when Darcy asks for her hand a second time. Let’s be honest, Elizabeth’s real concern here is how Lydia’s actions will affect her possibilities with Darcy. Not with just any suitor but a man who has reason to hate Wickham. The text explains as much so I won’t go into it here.

There is one more character that Jane is sometimes accused of being wrong about. The love of her life, Mr. Bingley. What does the text say about how she handles seeing him again? She was anxious before his arrival and told Elizabeth she could meet him without a problem if only others did not constantly stare at her or talk about it. After he visits Longbourn, Jane says this:

“Now,” said she, “that this first meeting is over, I feel perfectly easy. I know my own strength, and I shall never be embarrassed again by his coming. I am glad he dines here on Tuesday. It will then be publicly seen that, on both sides, we meet only as common and indifferent acquaintance.”

That does not seem naive or stupid to me. Elizabeth, for whatever its worth as her powers of judgment are in serious question by this point, replies:

“Yes, very indifferent indeed,” said Elizabeth, laughingly. “Oh, Jane, take care.”

“My dear Lizzy, you cannot think me so weak, as to be in danger now?”

“I think you are in very great danger of making him as much in love with you as ever.”

Hmmm…but does Jane take care to not make Bingley love her? Or does she act as she ever does and he chooses to seek out her feelings? She did not really change her reactions to him as though she learned from the “mistake” of concealing her emotions too much. She can be stubborn, after all. She can only be herself, as much as any other Bennet daughter can be. But she does not send him flying in the other direction. And I think that was encouragement enough for Bingley. He knew as well as anyone that she had every right to hate him but the fact that she met him with as much attention as she had before when at worst she was accused of being indifferent toward him, I think was a sign he rightly interpreted as reason for hope. Additionally, if she were suddenly bold, she would not be the Jane he fell in love with and had as much potential for disaster as it did for success.

 

I hope I’ve made a case for a more complex Jane that is neither all angelic or naive and stupid. She is delightfully complex as full of flaws, insecurities, anxieties, and worries as the next person but she also has wisdom, intelligence, and fortitude.

If you would like to read more about my observations regarding Jane Bennet, I invite you to read my posts on A January of Janes in which I compare and contrast Jane Bennet and Jane Fairfax.

What do you think of Jane Bennet?

 

 

 

 

Thursday Three Hundred- 14th of October

Rose LetterFor a year or two now (or longer??) I’ve been enjoying Leenie Brown’s blog posts on Thursdays (well, all the posts). Each week, she shares at least 300 words of a story and it is connected to her Music Monday and Wordless Wednesday posts as well. I’ll be doing it a bit different than Leenie. My aim is to have a completed “micro fiction” each week. For the next few weeks they’ll be heavily influenced by copyrighted songs I like so they’ll never be published. However, it will keep me writing, just a bit, during an otherwise tumultuous time in my life (moving again and end of school year craziness!).

This week, I was inspired by Thomas Rhett’s “Unforgettable.” You can listen to it here. Did you know experts think the Meryton Assembly occurred around October 14th? The song references several modern things but, in my heart, I’m a Regency girl so I thought I’ll try Regency next week. Tell me which you like better!

14th of October

Chuck scanned the block party for a place to sit. He had just moved to the neighbourhood, and they were already holding a block party. Of course, each person he met handed him a beer. Southern hospitality. The night had just begun, and he already had more than a buzz. His friend Will had been pacing around the periphery on his cell phone the entire time they had been here. Chuck’s sister Carly twerked in Will’s general direction to the clear astonishment of anyone else around her.

Shaking his head, Chuck pushed through a cluster of middle-aged men attempting to rock their dad bods. He thought tables were on the other side of the suburban linebackers. Then he saw what they had been none too subtly staring at.

Air left Chuck’s lungs as his eyes scanned a woman’s toned body and shiny blonde hair. Dark blue jeans clung to her curves with red peep-toe high heels hinted at a flirty personality. She wore a black graphic tee sloping off one shoulder exposing sun-kissed skin. She seemed to radiate. She swayed in her chair to the music and now and then she chewed her bottom lip. Why wasn’t she dancing? A woman as beautiful as she must have countless men wanting to talk to her.

Emboldened by his liquid courage, Chuck approached. “Mind if I join you?”

The goddess gave him a skeptical look. “Are you drunk?”

“Absolutely sober, babe.” Chuck stuck his hand out to introduce himself and knocked over her solo cup.

“Yeah, right,” she laughed before covering her mouth.

Time stood still, and it had nothing to do with inebriation. The woman was stunning several feet away. Up close and with a smile on her face, she was the most beautiful woman Chuck had ever seen. If looking foolish made her smile at him, he would do it again for the rest of his life.

“Chuck Bingley,” he pushed his hand forward as if nothing was wrong.

“Jane Bennet.” The smile returned as they shook hands.

Plain Jane? He would never think of the name the same.

“I just moved here. Have you lived here long?”

“My whole life,” Jane shrugged. “Usually, the block parties are over when school starts, but I think Lucas, the HOA manager, wanted to impress you.”

“They did all this for me?” Chuck looked around. An unusual amount of eyes were focused on him.

“That McMansion up on the hill has sat empty for years. Construction slowed after the housing bubble burst about ten years ago. They’re all hoping that with you moving in the other lots will sell.”

“I can’t see why they haven’t. It’s a lovely area.”

“Hey, Janie,” a young man wearing a polo shirt with a popped collar and with bleached tips to his spiked hair sat down.

Jane grabbed Chuck’s hand, and his heart started pounding.

“Hi, Aaron. Have you met Chuck?”

“I haven’t,” Aaron didn’t even look in Chuck’s direction. “You ready to cut out of here?”

“I wouldn’t be a very good girlfriend if I left Chuck hanging like that,” Jane narrowed her eyes at the intruder.

“Girlfriend?” Aaron choked on his swig of cheap beer.

Chuck almost did the same.

“You move fast, man,” Aaron said and stood so fast he knocked the table. “You dig him for his money?”

“Nah,” Chuck said. “Jane just likes grown men instead of frat bros.”

Jane smirked, and Aaron sneered at them before leaving. She dropped Chuck’s hand as soon as the jerk left.

“Sorry about that,” she blushed.

“I’ll be your boyfriend any time.”

Jane laughed. “I’m just impressed you didn’t slur your words.”

“I already told you, I’m not drunk.”

“Sure,” she drew out the word.

“If I were drunk I wouldn’t have the intellect it takes to guess your middle name.”

Jane shook her head and burst out laughing. “That’s a display of genius according to you?”

“Yeah, sure. I bet you can guess mine.”

“Ok, I’ll play your game. Let me think a minute… Albert.”

“Wow, first try.” Chuck’s middle name was Roger, but he’d say it was Banana Hammock to keep Jane talking to him. “Stunning and smart.”

Jane blushed. “It’s not even Albert, is it?”

“Not even close. My turn.”

“Noelle.”

“Nope.”

“Howard.”

“Diana?”

Jane shook her head. For the next half hour, they laughed as they continued to guess each other’s middle names. Jane went through three more mangoritas, and Chuck counted six beer cans in front of him. He’d have a devil of a hangover tomorrow.

“Let’s dance,” Chuck said and pulled Jane out of her chair.

“I love this song!” Jane was grooving around. “Show me your moves, Chuck!”

Full of false confidence and poor decisions, Chuck broke into the Running Man even though it didn’t match the rhythm of the Coldplay song at all. Jane almost fell over in laughter but joined him. The most hysterical moment was when others followed their suit. As the song came to an end, Jane pushed back her hair from her eyes. She fisted Chuck’s shirt and pulled him in for a kiss.

“I’m going to remember this forever,” Chuck said as he placed his hands on her face and caressed her lips with his.

“You won’t remember a thing tomorrow,” Jane laughed.

“Wait and see. I’m going to marry you. Maybe then I’ll finally know your full name.”

Chuck kissed her again, feeling her shake with laughter.

A year later, they were in the same location, and again Jane laughed during his kiss.

“I present to you Charles Roger and Jane Danielle Bingley!” the DJ announced over the mic before they stepped onto the dance floor.

“Today has been unforgettable!” Jane cried over the music.

“Every day with you has been unforgettable, since the very first moment I met you!”

Music Monday- Unforgettable

Beautiful black and white rose with note on the petals

I grew up in a conservative Christian household and only listened to various forms of music in the Christian genre. My favorite was bluegrass gospel. I love a banjo! I also listened to classical instrumental music.

As a writer, I have recently begun tuning into country love songs. Maybe I should consider pop or rock songs too but something about contemporary country gets me even though you seldom hear a banjo or mandolin. At any rate, I skip the songs that aren’t about happy love stories. I’m such a romantic sap! So, that’s just an explanation of the type of tunes you’ll find on this thread because I have very limited experiences in anything else unless I hear it in a movie.

Inspired by Leenie Brown, I am going to try matching my posts for the week to my Music Mondays and start a micro fiction thread on Thursdays. Stay tuned!

I’ve loved “Unforgettable” by Thomas Rhett since I first heard it. I was on a road trip the other day and this time when it came on, I started thinking about a Jane Bennet and Charles Bingley scene. Can you pinpoint why?

It was the 14th of October
And that t-shirt off your shoulder
I was drunk, said I was sober
And you said “yeah, right”
We were talkin’ for a minute
Then some guy tried to cut in
You took my hand and we pretended
Like I was your guy
Oh, and I tried to guess your middle name
For thirty minutes bet we played that game
That mango-rita you were drinkin’
And that Coldplay song that you were singin’
And I bet right now you’re probably thinkin’
That it’s crazy I remember every detail, but I do
From your blue jeans to your shoes
Girl, that night was just like you
Unforgettable
We were dancin’, we were buzzin’
Takin’ shots like it was nothin’
Did the runnin’ man, you loved it
Yeah, you laughed out loud
You brushed away your blonde hair
And you kissed me out of nowhere
I can still show you the spot
Where everything went down
Oh, I told you I was gonna marry you
You probably didn’t think that it was true
That mango-rita you were drinkin’
And that Coldplay song that you were singin’
And I bet right now you’re probably thinkin’
That it’s crazy I remember every detail, but I do
I can still smell your perfume
Girl, that night was just like you
Unforgettable
Oh, that night was just like you, baby
I can taste the mango-rita you were drinkin’
And it feels just like it was last weekend
That we jumped in
Right off the deep end
That mango-rita you were drinkin’
And that Coldplay song that you were singin’
And I bet right now you’re probably thinkin’
That it’s crazy I remember every detail, but I do
I can still smell your perfume
Girl, that night was just like you
Unforgettable
From your blue jeans to your shoes
Girl, that night was just like you
Unforgettable
Songwriters: Ashley Gorley / Jesse Frasure / Shane L McAnally / Thomas Rhett
Unforgettable lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd

Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Joy- The First Noel

Previous Chapters: Chapter OneChapter Two /Chapter Four Chapter FiveChapter SixChapter SevenChapter EightChapter Nine Chapter TenChapter ElevenChapter Twelve / Chapter Thirteen / Chapter Fourteen / Chapter Fifteen / Chapter Sixteen

christmas 2016 5The First Noel

Longbourn,

December 23, 1811

 

Elizabeth and Darcy blushed as Mrs. Bennet’s shrieks sent Mr. Bennet to the library. After he had requested a private word with Darcy, Elizabeth whispered to Darcy, “What will you tell him?”

“The truth,” he answered.

“You will tell my father we inexplicably have been repeating the same day?”

“I am not certain he would believe that. No, I intend to tell him that I love you.”

Elizabeth blushed but shyly smiled. “Very well. I will tell him the same.”

Before Darcy could tell Elizabeth to not be untruthful, her mother pulled her away, and Darcy was left with Mr. Bennet.

“Have a seat, Mr. Darcy,” the older gentleman said with deceptive calmness before taking his own on the opposite side of the desk.

“Allow me to apologise for taking liberties with your daughter,” Darcy said, hoping the smile he could not erase did not exasperate matters.

“She seemed far from offended,” Bennet observed.

For once, Darcy thought to himself. Of course, if kissing was what it took to
earn Elizabeth’s favour, he would gladly make himself a slave to the task.

“Ahem.”

Mr. Bennet cleared his throat, and Darcy realized he had been wool-gathering.

“Well, you have done it now,” Bennet said. “Her mother witnessed it, and there will be no mercy from her wailings. I am surprised a man of your worth managed to forget himself enough to be entangled so much.”

Mr. Bennet seemed to have found humour
in the situation.

“I love her,” Darcy blurted.

“Indeed?”

“I have asked her to marry me.” Darcy could hardly tell her father when he had done so. Nor would telling him that Elizabeth had refused help his cause.

“You are not asking for my blessing, so I assume she did not accept?”

Darcy remained mute.

“However, she seemed to welcome your…ahem…attentions
so not all hope is lost.”

“Sir?” Did Bennet want his daughter to marry him?

“I think my wife must have interrupted the settling of things.”

“Well…”

“If I am not mistaken, it has been several days in the making.”

Did Mr. Bennet also regain memory of the last fortnight?

“Now, I will call for Elizabeth. Then, we must hope your cousin does something for Mary. He is fortunate my wife will never recall a thing.”

“I do not understand…” Darcy fumbled. “How?”

“I have, at last, learned caution from your story about Wickham. I believe there must be some Christmas magic at work. Upon realizing how derelict I was in protecting my daughters, I had the most bizarre set of memories fall upon me. I can think of no way to explain your sudden arrival and Jane’s betrothal but to believe they were real, ending with an epiphany of great importance.”

Darcy blinked at the man who, he had found, acted most illogically most of his life. Mr. Bennet had married a silly wife with little fortune. He did not save for his daughters’ inheritance. He allowed them far too much liberty. However, the man had logically explained the alternate realities and time loop they inhabited for two weeks and more, believed it far easier than anyone else had. Perhaps the key lay in being both logical and ridiculous? Bennet began to laugh, interrupting Darcy’s reverie.

“Do not mind me,” the gentleman waved off Darcy’s concerned look.
“I only recalled when Collins had died. Mrs. Bennet has often wished there was no entail and I have often hoped it would not go to him. However, she did not take kindly to him keeling up before marrying one of her daughters and just after proposing to Charlotte Lucas.”

Mr. Bennet chuckled another moment. “Then you and Bingley came bounding in and immediately she turned about, elated with your return and convinced Bingley meant to offer for Jane and save us all. I daresay you will be gaining two or three very silly sisters, but your mother-in-law will always entertain.”

Darcy managed to smile at the image. At present, if he could acquire Elizabeth’s hand and if she could return his love, he would bear all things and count himself blessed. How differently he felt about any number of things in so few days!

Mr. Bennet rang for the servant and in short order, Elizabeth entered the library.

“Now, Elizabeth,” Mr. Bennet began as she sat beside Darcy. “This gentleman tells me that he loves you and has asked for your hand in marriage.”

“Yes.”

She answered nervously. Undoubtedly, she had not meant to speak to her father with Darcy in the room.

“And do you consent?”

Elizabeth glanced at Darcy. “I do.”

If he had not insulted her so soundly in his actual proposal, he would think this arrangement the height of unromantic. Still, Darcy’s heart rate increased. She was accepting him? She had not returned her eyes to her father.

“And you are not out of your senses? Currently, I mean. It would be understandable if you are after the events of the last fortnight.”

Elizabeth gasped. “You know?” She swung her head from him to gape at Mr. Bennet.

“Yes, I do, but you have not answered my question.”

“No,” Elizabeth shook her head and returned her gaze to Darcy. “No, I am in my right mind.”

“Have you not always hated him?” Mr. Bennet said with a humorous note in his voice.

Elizabeth blushed. “No. No, I have never hated him. I love him.”

Darcy’s heart skidded to a stop and then burst. The elation overspread on his face as muscles he had long forgotten he had stretched into a grin of unfettered joy.

“You love me?” He could not keep the wonder from his voice.

“I do,” she replied in a similar voice of disbelief.

He reached for her hands and raised them to his lips. “Words
cannot contain the love I have for you.”

“I do not know,” Elizabeth smiled. “Calling it ‘ardent’ certainly seemed like a good beginning to me.”

It was not the beginning he had trouble with! No, his problem was no matter how his words of love began, in his mind, the scene ended with his capturing her mouth and not relinquishing it until she was his in every way. Still, he would do this right, for her.

Keeping her hand in his, Darcy knelt on one knee. “Elizabeth Bennet, I passionately adore you. I would lay down my life for you. I will go to the ends of the earth to make you happy. I love you as no man has ever loved a woman. Will you be my wife?”

Elizabeth smiled even as a tear trickled down her cheek. “Yes, I will! I have been stupid and blind. I have been unkind and unjust. You have seen me at my worst, and I have seen you at your best. I love you, Fitzwilliam Darcy.”

Darcy could not contain his ardour any longer and met Elizabeth’s lips. When he did not hear a reproach from Mr. Bennet, he pulled back long enough to confirm the gentleman had left the room at some point during their exchange. He met Elizabeth’s lips again.

He would never have enough of her, but when he kept her in his arms as long as he dared, they separated and returned to the drawing room. Upon Mr. Bennet announcing their betrothal, they learned Richard had also sought Mr. Bennet’s blessing to wed Mary.

Darcy gave Richard a hearty handshake and Elizabeth approached her sister.

“Are you certain of this, Mary?” Elizabeth dropped her voice. “Mama does not remember the kiss. No one will be upset if you refuse him.”

Richard cleared his throat. “I will be upset.”

“Perhaps it is a bit sudden,” Darcy cautioned.

“No,” Richard said. “In all this insanity, I admit I felt attraction for another lady. I even believed I might love her.”

Mary began to hang her head in shame.

“Richard, I do not think…”

“I was wrong,” Richard said and lifted Mary’s head by hooking his finger under her chin. “She intrigued me because she was unavailable and I was a glutton for punishment. When I considered never having her, only my pride was wounded. Then you boldly walked into my life and I instantly fell.”

“Did you really?” Mary breathed, her eyes focused on Richard.

“I did,” he nodded. “And such a sweet fall it was.”

Darcy cleared his throat. “I suppose we have established your feelings.”

Elizabeth smirked. “He is only jealous because you are out-romancing him.”

Darcy flushed and looked at his feet.

Elizabeth whispered in his ear, “I still love you.”

He would never tire of her saying it. However, at the moment, they needed to address her sister’s feelings. “What do you say, Miss Mary? I recall Richard once telling me he would settle for marrying a woman who did not love him, so long as he loved her.”

Mary gasped and a surprising fierceness flooded her eyes. Darcy laughed to himself at the familial expression she shared with Elizabeth.

“Don’t you dare let me hear such a thing said of you again.” Mary poked Richard in the chest. “Do not dare think you are not worthy of love. You deserve it more than any other man and I…” Tears flooded her eyes and she wiped at them below her glasses. “I love you. I may be small and plain but I have loved you since I first saw you and—”

Richard silenced her with a kiss which drew the attention of the room again.

“Mr. Bennet! Mr. Bennet!” Mrs. Bennet cried.

“Colonel, I was going to give you my blessing anyway. Can you not speak with a father like a civilised man?” Mr. Bennet laughed. “If any young men come for Kitty or Lydia, show them in. I am quite at my leisure,” he said and withdrew a newspaper to read by the fire.

The three betrothed couples and Georgiana could not contain their amusement while Mr. Bennet’s two youngest daughters had not spared the others more than a moment’s concern as they had instead noticed a bright star in the sky.

When she had caught her breath, Georgiana declared, “Joyeux Noel!”

“Mr. Bennet,” his wife exclaimed. “You take delight in vexing me!” She then clutched her head. “Oh, that clock! My salts! My salts!”

The others had just enough time to reach their seats before fainting.


 

This ends Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Joy, Part I of MR. DARCY’S MIRACLE AT LONGBOURN. I’ll be posting Parts II and III next week!

Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Joy- Auld Lang Syne

Previous Chapters: Chapter OneChapter Two /Chapter Four Chapter FiveChapter SixChapter SevenChapter EightChapter Nine Chapter TenChapter ElevenChapter Twelve / Chapter Thirteen / Chapter Fourteen / Chapter Fifteen

christmas 2016 5Auld Lang Syne

Longbourn

December 23, 1811

 

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?” Elizabeth asked and arched a brow.

“I’ll take a cup of kindness,” Darcy replied smiling.

“As I recall, it was your kindness that saved me.”

Darcy shook his head. “Nay, you saved me. Wickham would not have hurt you…he always meant to injure me.”

Elizabeth thought over Darcy’s words for a moment. He seemed to complacently claim Wickham would have never wounded her. However, at the time, he had desperately clung to her. More than that, he had made sure she was safe and unharmed. Even when it came to promising Wickham tens of thousands of pounds and an estate, he agreed to it without hesitation for her sake. And he would attempt to say he had done nothing heroic? That he was to blame?

Instantly, Elizabeth felt she understood more about Mr. Darcy than she would have if she had known him for a year. Perhaps it was the strangeness of the repeating days — for she recalled that as well — or the stress of being attacked by Wickham. The fact that the man before her had been abominably abused and cast aside in favour of Wickham by nearly everyone — herself included — and yet apologised for perceived weakness and inaction proved he had no improper pride. He lacked social graces. He did not know the pretty words Wickham used or all the right places to smile. Unlike Collins, he did not attempt to practice it either. He could not act differently than he was, whether the world love or despise him.

Or perhaps it was despise and love him? Were the two entirely separate? Did she not often hate her family but always love them?

“I did not mean to make you uncomfortable again,” Darcy said, beginning to approach the door. “Please forgive me.”

“Why should I?” she blurted.

He paused at the door way. “Pardon?”

“Have you said or done something to me that you regret? That you did not mean?”

Darcy paled, incredible pain filling his eyes. He approached and whispered. “Do you mean besides my ungentlemanly behaviour for weeks?
Besides my secrecy leading to Wickham attacking you? Yes, I do have other regrets. Do you not recall?” His eyes searched hers.

Elizabeth had meant his tender attention after subduing Wickham.
She had also meant his proposal — which lacked any loving words but then it seemed actions were his strong suit. “I recall, sir, but I do not have regrets.”

“How can that be? Or are you teasing me?” He shook his head. “No, you would not be so cruel. My wishes and affections are unchanged — and never will — but I grieve ever hurting you with my arrogant presumption.”

He ran a shaking hand through his hair. “When I think of the liberties I took… I am fortunate you did not slap me.”

Elizabeth’s eyes misted to hear his self-rebuke. How could he think she felt remorse for his kiss? Such tenderness and ardent desire, she had never known. At that moment, she very much needed it, and even now her lips tingled at the memory.

“Can you not imagine how grateful I am?” she asked with her voice
rising in pitch. “Can you not understand how it comforted me?”

Some of the pain in Darcy’s expression eased. “I should not have done it. I am pleased it brought you some relief, but I cannot accept your thanks.”

He was leaving again, and something in Elizabeth’s heart told her if she did not speak now she might never have another opportunity. “Pray forgive my selfishness, even as it may wound you. As we have referenced the New Year and our new beginning, should we not seal it with a kiss?”

Elizabeth repressed an urge to laugh as she could see that Darcy had never expected such words. He opened and closed his mouth without words coming several times. At last, he found his voice.

Anxiety and indecision marred his countenance. Restrained energy thrummed from his body. “By your sister’s count, it is well past New Year. It is now the fifth.”

Elizabeth gave him a saucy grin. “Then we are long overdue, do you not agree?”

All hesitation vanished, and Darcy strode to her with determined steps. He pulled her into strong arms and Elizabeth threw hers around his neck. They held each other so tightly she could feel the rapid beat of his heart through his garments.

Just before Darcy’s lips met Elizabeth’s, he rested his forehead on hers. Through laboured breaths, he said, “Will you allow me to tell you how I ardently love you?”

“Yes, but you had much better tell me more later and kiss me now,” Elizabeth demanded.

Her words were immediately heeded and none too soon for far earlier than either would have liked their bliss was interrupted by the screeching of Mrs. Bennet.