Just when Lizzie thought she had fully recovered from her gut-wrenching “OMG my best friend is marrying Mr. Rosings-Park-Bow-Down-and-Worship-Lady-Catherine-De-Bourgh Collins” feelings, another bit of unexpected news turned her world on its head. Caroline had thoughtfully sent ANOTHER letter to Jane to let her know that the Bingley crew was all settled in London for the winter.
"He didn’t even say goodbye.” Cue the Jane Bennet lip quiver.
“Let me see that.” Snatching the letter from Jane’s hands, Lizzie quickly scanned the contents: “Sooo, 'Mr. Bingley sends his affection… Miss Georgiana Darcy is the best; we’re super close... I’m more and more convinced that she’s totally going to marry my brother… Annnd Darcy is buying new furniture.' Seriously? Why should you care about Mr. Darcy’s furniture?”
“Furniture is a very important purchase, Lizzie.” Jane not-so-subtly tries to pull herself together.
“Furniture. Uh-huh. I’ll store that pearl of wisdom away for future reference.” Lizzie’s snark elicited no reaction from her sister: bad news. Bad news indeed.
"Jane, are you alright?”
“Of course I’m okay. I’m more than okay. I’m wonderful. Think of all of the heartache and angst Caroline’s letter has saved me. I must have been reading too much into Mr. Bingley’s feelings, but now I have been set straight and life can go back to the way it used to be.”
GAH! Lizzie resisted the urge to physically shake some sense into her sister.
“I’ll look at this in the best possible light. He and his sisters seem to want him to marry Miss Darcy. I was just mistaken. No hard feelings.”
While Mrs. Bennett viewed Jane’s distress as a sign that the world was ending, Mr. Bennett observed the situation with both amusement and concern.
“I’m convinced being crossed in love is good for a body. Lord knows Lydia, Kitty, and Mary have been crossed in love, and now Jane has joined their ranks. When will your time come, Lizzie? There are plenty of officers around. Why don’t you let Wickham be your man? He could jilt you quite beautifully.”
“We cannot all expect Jane’s good fortune. I’d gladly be rejected by someone less amiable than Wickham.”
“Well, in any case, your mother will make the best of it.” Mrs. Bennet wails from the other room, “Or rather, the worst.”
Wickham did seem to be making more appearances in her life, and Lizzie was VERY okay with that. He made the post-Collins/Bingley funk a little more cheerful. The Bennett family bonded with him over a mutual dislike of Darcy, and Wickham shared his misfortunes at Darcy’s hands with the rest of Lizzie’s family. Everyone agreed that Darcy was the worst, with the exception of Jane, who always thought the best of everyone.
To the relief of all, at long last Mr. Collins found it necessary to leave Longbourne to get everything situated for his wedding.
*Cue the universal sigh of relief*
Just as Mr. Collins was leaving, Mrs. Bennet’s brother, Mr. Gardiner and his wife came for their annual Christmas visit.
As usual, Mrs. Gardiner was pressed to explain the latest fashions before settling down to hear the Bennett family’s updates, which she was already familiar with, since Jane and Elizabeth often wrote her letters.
“So, Lizzie. Details on Jangley! How serious was it really?"
“As far as I could tell they were both smitten kittens. That’s what makes Bingley's whole disappearing act so hard on Jane.”
“Poor Jane. It would be better if this had happened to you, Lizzie, for you’d bounce right back. Jane, on the other hand, will need some time to get over him. Do you think she might come back to London with us? A change of scene might do her good.”
Lizzie put on her plotting cap and decided that arrangement would work quite nicely. To Lizzie’s mind, the Bingley crew made it clear that ties were severed, so Jane could simply spend her time in London recovering from her heartbreak.
Operation Jane’s Heart Recovery is GO! Aunt Gardiner made the offer to Jane, who was all over it like a fly on poop.
The remainder of the Christmas holiday was spent keeping the Gardiners engaged, and with the number of times that officers were invited to these events, Mrs. Gardiner couldn’t help noticing that Lizzie was fluttering her eyelashes at Wickham in earnest. Mrs. Gardiner’s mama bear instincts began to kick in, and she decided to look into Wickham to see if he was worthy of her niece’s affection. While he made a good impression, Mrs. Gardiner couldn’t help feeling he was just a little too smooth...
“Lizzie, I know this Wickham fellow is charming as all get-out and I certainly have no objections to him, but you must remember to be careful. You have good sense: make sure you use it."
“That sounds serious.”
“Well, I’m encouraging you to be serious in this.”
“Oooooookay. Wickham will not fall in love with me if I have anything to do with it!”
Mrs. Gardiner rolls her eyes.
“Sorry. Okay, I’m not in love with Wickham, I just feel bad that Mr. Darcy was such a douchebag to him! Now, there are no guarantees that I won’t someday fall for Wickham, but I can promise that I will take things slowly.”
“You may be able to help that process by not inviting him over so often…”
“Auntie, he usually doesn’t visit this much! It’s only because Mama is trying to keep you entertained by hosting so many events. You know her! I do promise I will do what I think is wisest though.”
Hugs all-around for well-received life advice!
Holiday over, the Gardiners soon parted, just in time for Mr. Collins to return, antsy and excited for his wedding, although this time he was staying with the Lucases, thank God!
Regardless, Mrs. Bennett was still miffed that Lizzie had rejected Mr. Collins, and whenever Charlotte and Mr. Collins’s wedding was mentioned, she took to saying:
“I WISH they might be happy,” while sniffing disdainfully, much to Lizzie’s embarrassment.
Lizzie took a far kinder approach, and on the wedding day, Charlotte, grateful for her friend’s support, invited Lizzie to join her father and Maria (Charlotte's sister) to visit Charlotte and Mr. Collins in March. Lizzie, of course, agreed to come, even though it sounded SUPER awkward. But how can you say no to someone on their wedding day?
Then Lizzie’s daily grind was spiced up by ALL OF THE LETTERS!
In a number of weeks, Lizzie got her first letter from Charlotte, which was full of kind praises for her new home.
Shortly after, Lizzie received some letters from Jane. The first simply informed her of Jane’s safe arrival in London. The following letters spoke of Jane’s adventures visiting her acquaintances throughout London. Eventually Jane decided to visit Caroline Bingley.
“She seemed out of spirits, but glad to see me. She said my letters to her informing her that I was in London must have gone astray.”
Lizzie almost choked on her biscuit. She was quite convinced that Jane’s letters “went astray” into Caroline Bingley’s fireplace.
"When I asked about her brother she said he was so engaged with Mr. Darcy that he was seldom seen. It was a quick visit because she was on her way out the door with Mrs. Hurst, and Miss Darcy was coming to dinner that evening. I wish I could have met her.”
Lizzie could well imagine Jane’s sad puppy-dog eyes. Jane waited for the Bingleys to call for four weeks before writing Lizzie yet again.
“You were right, Lizzie. Caroline does not seem to be the dear friend that I supposed her to be. She did return my visit, but she made it clear she wasn’t happy about it.
I’m sure that her brother is the root cause of this though. He knows of my being in town, but Caroline made it sound like he has fallen for Miss Darcy. It seems duplicitous, but I don't want to be judgmental. I will focus on the positives: sunshine, rainbows, bunny rabbits, ribbons, and the love and affection of my aunt, uncle, and you, dear sister.”
In YET ANOTHER LETTER around this same time, Mrs. Gardiner asked for Wickham updates. At this point, Wickham felt rather meh for Lizzie. He had moved on to another young lady with a far greater income than Lizzie could offer.
“I ain’t saying he’s a gold digger, but I feel like her money had a bit to do with his change in affections. In any case, it all happened rather naturally. I don’t think I’ve ever been much in love. I like Wickham. I think he’s nice, but I can’t be angry with him or with Miss King (the lady with cash) for their interest in one another. Kitty and Lydia more than make up for my resignation, but they still have to learn that both handsome and plain men must have something to live on."
NEXT WEEK: Collins Attempts to Make Lizzie Jealous (SPOILER: It doesn't work...), We Meet The GLORIOUS Lady Catherine and Play Musical Chairs!
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This week's chapters were written by Kylie Rose, an incredible actress and even more incredible human being. She will be playing "Lydia Bennet" in our upcoming production. Find out more...
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.