Since Jane is hitting it off with Bingley, the Bennets are invited to chill with Bingley, his sisters and Darcy at Netherfield. And because the Bennets were oh so very kind to trek all the way out to say hi at Netherfield, the Bingleys had to return the favor and visit Longbourne (because if you didn't, OH! what would the neighbors think?).
So everyone's visiting and chatting and laughing politely and Elizabeth is examining.
Elizabeth does not like the Bingley sisters. Even though they seem to like Jane, they still treat the Bennets like they're not worthy to be crossing their Oh-We-Just-Ordered-That-Granite-From-Florence floor. She suspected that much of the reason they were being so nice to Jane was because of Mr. Bingley, who couldn't hide his puppy-dog-lovey eyes if he wore sunglasses and space suit.
And Jane is definitely in love with Bingley. But for once, Lizzie is relieved that her sister's mild demeanor will keep everyone from knowing, and keep everyone from thinking that Jane was pursuing Mr. Bingley.
(Men Pursue Women in the Regency Era. Period...Unless you're Caroline Bingley and you can afford it. More on that later.)
Lizzie tells her BFF Charlotte this.
And Charlotte's like, Okay, but if Jane doesn't show ANY signs of affection (ie, winking furiously, slowly licking lips, laughing hilARiously at everything...cause that's how you let them know, right?), then how is Bingley going to know she likes him?
And Lizzie's like, Well, I can see that she likes him, so Bingley would have to be a brick wall not to see it too.
Right, but you know Jane way better than he knows her. She should put a ring on it, and fall in love with him later.
That's great if you want to make sure you marry a rich dude, but what if she wants to be HAPPY?? She barely knows him...
...All the better! She hasn't seen any of his faults yet. Happiness in marriage is left to chance. She's just as likely to be happy with him if she married him tomorrow versus a year from now.
That's absurd and you know it! You'd never do that yourself.
Charlotte doesn't reply.
So our camera swings round to Netherfield where, unbeknownst to Elizabeth, a brooding soul was grappling with the "uncommon intelligence in the beautiful expression of her dark eyes..."
It's lines like these that explain the millions of crazed Darcy lovers around the world. You can see it, can't you? Huddled in an over-sized chair by a roaring fireplace, Mr. Darcy sits, rubbing his fingers across his furrowed brow, madly, desperately, excruciatingly in love with a woman he shouldn't be...
So like you do, when you're completely socially inept and stupidly in love, Darcy starts hovering near Elizabeth at group gatherings. Does he start a conversation? Laugh at her jokes? Offer a counter-point? No, he figures that as long as his body is within a foot or two of hers, he's making progress.
Elizabeth notices, and is sure that he is listening for a reason to make fun of her. During one such incident, Charlotte is with her, and is a totally supportive and awesome best friend (not).
She tells Darcy, You should hear Elizabeth play (piano) sometime. She's great.
For the record, Elizabeth and pianos have never been good friends, and never will.
In fact, continues the scheming Charlotte, Lizzie, why don't you play something right now?
So Lizzie plays. Probably something like "The Itsy Bitsy Spider." Mary takes this as an opportunity to push Lizzie aside and show off some real skill. Or at least, what she thinks is real skill.
Once Elizabeth is away from the piano, Sir William Lucas decides the evening is not awkward enough and basically tells Darcy, Hey, look at this super hot babe! You should totally dance with her.
And Lizzie is like, oh no, *cough* *cough*, I can't dance, I'm sick...
And Darcy is like, I'd be down to dance.
And Lizzie's head is like, Oh, NOW you wanna dance???!! What she says is: Mr. Darcy is all politeness.
And she high-tails it out of there.
In slinks Miss Caroline Bingley. I know what you're thinking, she says to Darcy.
Shaking away the image of Elizabeth in a silky red dress, he says: Uh, probably not.
Caroline says, You're thinking how horrible it would be to spend every evening like this.
Darcy's like, Nope. I was thinking about Miss Elizabeth Bennet.
Caroline's mouth drops to the floor. But she picks it up quickly and says: Well, then when should I wish you congratulations?
Darcy's like, Can't I just like a girl?
And Caroline snaps, No of course, but if you're serious, then it's settled. Enjoy your mother-in-law. I bet you're just gonna love those cozy Sunday brunches with the gang.
Sufficiently satisfied that she had destroyed his hopes, Caroline slink slink slinked away.
To be continued next week!
(Sorry about the tea stain, but it was from my Jane Austen mug so it seemed alright to keep this paper and not start a new one. :))
Alright so now we meet the Lucas family. Sir William Lucas is the head of the household. He was in trade, then he became mayor of Meryton, and then he was knighted. So now he's fairly wealthy and doesn't have to work. His wife, Lady Lucas, is nice, and more importantly has a lots of kids.
Now forget all that because you won't need that information for the rest of the book.
All you need to know is the Lucases eldest daughter is 27, her name is Charlotte, and she's BFFs with Elizabeth.
(Historical Interlude: The reason Charlotte's age is important is that she is unmarried. Being a woman, 27 and unmarried during this time was...problematic, to say the least. We'll come back to this later.)
REPORTER'S VOICE: The Semi-Finals of Community Dances is over, and only the Most Embarrassing Mothers are left. As they straighten their bonnets and tighten their corsets, its clear only one thing is on their minds: Mr. Bingley. As the Singles Superbowl draws near (the Netherfield Ball), we wonder: How far are these Husband-Hunters prepared to go? We'll find out next time, but first, the post-game report from Mertyon:
MRS. BENNET: Charlotte looked pretty good out there, wouldn't you say?
MISS LUCAS: Absolutely. She was in top form and it didn't surprise me in the least that she was the first to be asked to dance by Mr. Bingley.
MRS. BENNET: Sure, but what happened in the second quarter?
MISS LUCAS: Yeah...
MRS. BENNET: She just seemed to lose it. Fumbling all over the place, losing the ball to Jane...
MISS LUCAS: Yeah, and let's talk about Jane for a minute. Who IS this Jane Bennet? I mean, nobody had heard of her before today, and then suddenly, WHAM--
MRS. BENNET: It's raw talent, is what it is right there. She's definitely captured the eye of Mr. Bingley, but whether she can sustain it is another question.
MISS LUCAS: Absolutely. Let's turn our attention for a second to Elizabeth, how did she do today?
MRS. BENNET: She came out of the gate with a ferocity I haven't seen since the Assembly last year--
MISS LUCAS: Yeah, what WAS in that punch??
MRS. BENNET: --but that comment from Mr. Darcy...
MISS LUCAS: Oooh, yeah, that's gonna hurt..
MRS. BENNET: The Derbyshire kids these days...they grow 'em like nothing I've ever seen...
MISS LUCAS: Helluva looker...
MRS. BENNET: ...but horrible attitudes. It's just gonna hurt you on the field.
MISS LUCAS: Well he's lost Lizzie's heart, that's for certain.
MRS. BENNET: And mine.
MISS LUCAS: Well, that's our show folks! Tune in next time for the final showdown, the Singles Superbowl, and find out who will win Mr. Bingley's heart.
To be continued next week! Comment below if there's a style or format that you'd like to see the next chapter paraphrased in.
Caitlin Lushington is the Co-Artistic Director of the Enso Theatre Ensemble, a teacher, director, and actress. Sometimes she works too hard, sometimes she forgets things, and she strives to put the car keys back in the same place every time. She drinks tea every morning from her TARDIS mug and "Mr. Tea" diffuser. She loves the morning and wishes she had a photographic memory, so she could remember the names of every person she meets.