Darcy and Colonel Fitz OUT!
No, seriously. They left. Lady Catherine was very "put out,” and required much of Mr. Collin’s attention to recover from their departure. This of course meant that inevitably Lizzie found herself at a dinner party at Lady C’s honoring the two absent gentlemen.
“I don’t think anyone could feel their absence more strongly than I! Truly, I don’t.”
Lizzie nodded supportively, as was expected, even though she was convinced that her own gratitude that Darcy and the Colonel were gone could contest Lady C’s grief.
Eagle-eyed, Lady Catherine observed Lizzie’s internal turmoil.
“You seem quite out of spirits Miss Bennet. It must be because you are leaving Rosings. Oh! You must write your parents and let them know you must stay awhile longer.”
A verbal tug of war ensued:
“Oh, Lady Catherine, thank you so much for the invitation, but I really must be home on Saturday.” Yank.
Two points to Elizabeth for her delicate refusal!
“But you have only been here six weeks and I expected you for two months. Surely your mother can spare you for a while longer. There is no good reason for you to leave now.” Gritting her teeth, Lady C stands firm and pulls furiously, much like a small but ferocious lap dog.
Four points to Lady Catherine!
Gahhh! Think Lizzie, think!
“My mother may be able to spare me, but my father cannot!” Tug.
Two points to Lizzie! It’s a tie now! Who will pull ahead?
“If your mother can spare you, your father definitely can. Daughters are never of much consequence to fathers.” Yank.
A painfully sexist point for Lady Catherine! Will she be able to keep her lead?
“Besides, if you stay for a month I will take you to London.”
The carrot dangles. Lizzie pretends to consider it.
“You really are too kind, but I believe we must abide by our original plan, Lady Catherine.”
OHHH SNAP! 3 points for Lizzie! Victory for the Bennett sister! In the tug of war power play, Lizzie reigns supreme although she is unable to leave before hearing an unholy amount of travel advice from Lady Catherine. While she certainly didn’t enjoy hearing all of the nonsense on the proper way to fold a handkerchief in a suitcase, Lizzie was grateful for the distraction. Whenever she had a moment of solitude, her mind wandered back to Darcy’s letter and his comments about her family. It was like trying to ignore a sliver in your finger. Torturous. Almost as torturous as Mr. Collins’s “goodbye breakfast” with Lizzie.
“Miss Elizabeth, I just wanted to say that we are SO grateful that you came to visit us here at Huntsford. I know it must seem very plain and dull to a young woman like yourself, but we are so grateful that you condescended to come and visit nevertheless.”
“Mr. Collins, do not worry yourself. I promise I had a wonderful time.”
“Truly.” With the exception of the awkward encounters with Mr. Darcy, but we aren’t going to discuss that.
“Oh, we are SO GLAD to hear that. Of course, our connection with Rosings is nothing to be sniffed at. I flatter myself that you will be able to bring a very favorable report of our situation here to Hertfordshire. As you have seen, Charlotte and I are so VERY happy together. One might go so far as to say we are PERFECT for each other. DESTINED for one another. Mmm. Yes. So wonderfully happy in the bosom of marital bliss.” Mr. Collins coughs discretely. “How about you, Cousin Lizzie? Still single, are you?”
Lizzie dreams of duct taping Mr. Collin’s mouth shut and locking him in one of his perfectly shelved closets.
“That is to say, I can most cordially wish you equal felicitations in marriage, Cousin Elizabeth.”
Lizzie once more expressed her sincere thanks and gave Mr. Collins and Charlotte her blessing, and with that awkward conversation over and done with, Lizzie and Maria made their way to Mr. Gardiner’s house, where they picked up Jane and from there, continued on their journey home, which, while not unpleasant, felt quite tedious to Lizzie, who longed to have a girl’s night with Jane over some Chunky Monkey ice cream to discuss Darcy’s proposal and the fact that Bingley might not be a creep after all!
After a decent chunk of visiting time with the Gardiners, the girls finally made their way to the inn where Mr. Bennett’s coach was to meet them, only to discover that Kitty and Lydia had come to meet them and were waiting in the dining room upstairs.
“LIZZIE! You’re here! Are you surprised? I bet you’re surprised. Look! Kitty and I got a new bonnet! Also, we brought you food! Are we not mature and adult-ish? Are we not nice?”
Wow, Lydia. That’s um… that’s lovely. I really—”
“Feel free to tell us we’re the best sisters ever!” Kitty chimed in.
Lydia stomped her foot. “Shut up Kitty, I’m trying to tell Lizzie about the bonnet!”
“I don’t see why you have to tell all of the stories—”
“My bonnet, my story.” Lydia stuck her tongue out at Kitty and brandished a puce bonnet that looked like vomit and defeat had joined forces to create unquestionable sadness. “Isn’t it horrifically ugly?”
As all of her sisters agreed, Lydia continued “There were more bonnets in the shop much uglier than this one, but when I’ve repurposed this one with some satin and a nice ribbon it will at least be tolerable. Even then, it’s not what we’ll be wearing in the summer because the soldiers are leaving for Brighton in a fortnight. Do you think I can convince Papa to take us there for the summer? How rotten our summer shall be if we don’t have camps full of soldiers to dance with!”
Lizzie and Jane shared a look.
“I have MORE news Lizzie. It’s about a certain gentleman we both know! Guess!”
“No. You’re not being very inventive. Try again.”
“You’re rubbish at this. It’s Mr. Wickham!”
Lizzie could feel her face draining of all color and a slight sense of panic coming over her.
Lydia looked smug. “I thought that might get your attention. Big story: he’s not going to marry Mary King. Right?!? I know what you’re thinking: THANK GOD! Another eligible bachelor for the snatching! Or to drool over. I’m telling you Lizzie, Wickham got out of a very bad situation. Mary King has SO many freckles she looks like a leopard—”
Lizzie made supportive noises of bemusement as she attempted to process this new information. With her newfound knowledge, she wouldn’t wish Wickham on anyone. It seemed a lucky escape for Miss King! But without her money, what would Wickham do next?
Lydia and Kitty talked for the entire duration of the carriage ride home. Again, a welcome distraction from her thoughts of Darcy’s letter, even though the subject matter: soldiers, dances, and Lydia’s “newfound bestie forever” Mrs. Forester were not particularly intriguing to Lizzie. Less interesting was the fact that Lydia somehow brought Wickham up at least once every hour. Not ideal when he is the exact person Lizzie was trying to avoid thinking of.
Luckily, they all made it home without any casualties. Mr. Bennett seemed quite pleased to see Lizzie, and she was pleased to discover that he was standing firm by refusing the Brighton proposal, in spite of Lydia’s best pleading face, much to the distress of Mrs. Bennet, Kitty, and especially Lydia.
The Brighton drama meant the household was chaos, as usual. To the music of Lydia and Kitty’s whining exclamations of “But PaPA!” and her mother’s declarations that her poor nerves could not possibly handle how selfish her cruel husband was, Lizzie made her way to her bedroom, strangely comforted by the madness in the next room. There really is no place like home.
This week's chapters were written by our very own Kylie Rose, who will be playing Lydia Bennet in our upcoming production!
NEXT WEEK: To Expose or Not To Expose? (Wickham, that is) and Where do all the CRAZIEST parties happen in Regency England?? Das right, BRIGHTON BABY!!!!!!
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.