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...
So, disaster averted. Lizzie doesn’t have to marry Mr. Collins – she just has to endure her mother’s not-so-subtle whining and Mr. Collins’s resentful silence. All the absurd flattery he had been piling up on Lizzie like a mountain of unwanted Twizzlers gets transferred instantly to Charlotte – and oddly, she doesn’t seem to mind?
So, off they all go to Meryton to find out if the no-show Mr. Wickham has anything to say for himself. And he actually does!
“Yeah,” he says (probably with his gorgeous hair swooshing manfully in the breeze or something, UGH) “I realized I really didn’t want to see Darcy. I just don’t think I could…bear it.” (Stares soulfully away, brooding harder than a glittery vampire.)
When they get back home there’s A LETTER FROM NETHERFIELD.
I repeat: A LETTER FROM NETHERFIELD.
THIS IS NOT A DRILL.
Watching Jane read, Lizzie can tell something’s up. When they get up to their room, Jane tells her what the letter says. Basically:
The Bingley crowd has gone off to join their brother in town.
But actually, NONE of them are coming back this winter.
Could this letter get more shit-tastic? Actually yes, because then comes the worst part:
“OMG Georgiana Darcy is soooooo pretty and elegant and brilliant and perfect and we love her sooooooo much, we all just can’t WAIT to see her, she’s basically like a sister, and actually she probably will be our sister because my brother will definitely fall in love with her and obviously she’ll fall in love with him…so that’s happening. But anyway, hope you have a great Christmas xoxo!”
“Ah well,” says Jane, metaphorically reaching for her tub of Peanut Butter Fudge Core Ben & Jerry’s, “I guess that’s that.”
But Lizzie is calling bullshit on this whole nauseating letter. Bingley totally loves Jane, Caroline is a conniving beyotch, and she’s trying to shove her brother into Georgiana’s arms in hopes it’ll somehow improve her chances with Mr. Darcy (like hell!)
But Jane, spooning ice cream into her mouth, is all: “No, she wouldn’t do that.”
Luckily, Lizzie is the Cheering-up-Jane master. Eventually Jane is willing to admit that MAYBE Bingley will come back before the winter is over and they’ll get their happy ending. Which they totally will because obviously they belong together.
Sisterly mission: accomplished.
Now there’s just the small matter of telling Mrs. Bennet that the Bingley’s have all gone away for a while.
Hoo boy. Shields up.
Okay: Mom Bennet has come down from her freak-out and is now completely certain Mr. Bingley will be back and he and Jane will live happily ever after. Jane is somewhat hopeful. Mr. Collins has been successfully rebuffed.
Whew! Other than Mr. Collins still being around and randomly sneaking out one morning, everything seems to be back to normal.
Oh, hey! It’s Charlotte!
“Lizzie, uh…well…the thing is…I’m marrying Mr. Collins.”
Apparently Mr. Collins snuck out to propose to Charlotte and she actually accepted! Accepted Mr. Collins? WTMother’lovin’F??
But Charlotte explains she really doesn’t care about romance, and at the ripe old age of 27 (which apparently is ANCIENT), she has to get married right quick or she’ll be a huge burden and embarrassment to her family. Since her attitude towards men and marriage is basically, “Meh,” she might as well marry this guy, since he has a pretty sweet house and isn’t too badly off.
Okay, okay. Get a grip on yourself, Lizzie. Swallow the vomit you just threw up in your mouth. Turn your smile on. Friendship dial set to “supporting you even in your stupidest decisions.”
“Wow! Well, that’s great, Charlotte. I mean, you know. If you like…him. Or whatever.”
So now, to visit Charlotte in the future, Lizzie will have to actually lay eyes on Mr. Collins again??
Something not terrible needs to happen, like, now.
Nope. Things just keep getting worse. Because now things between Lizzie and Charlotte are awkward, Mr. Collins is coming back to stay with the Bennets so he can see his bride-to-be (cue disgusting love speeches, GAG), and it turns out Bingley definitely isn’t coming back to Netherfield that winter at all.
Is horrible Caroline actually succeeding in keeping Bingley away from Jane for her own nefarious purposes?? Is the Jane/Bingley ship (Jingley? Bane?) doomed to sink before it even gets out of the harbor????
This week's chapters were written by Peytie McCandless, actress/writer/teacher extraordinaire. She will be playing "Jane Bennet" in our upcoming production. Find out more...
The morning after the Netherfield Ball, Lizzie wakes with a banging headache and foggy recollections of the night before…
What happened last night? (Knock knock) oh my head….Netherfield…right, Netherfield, dresses n stuff, terrible wine, ooooohhhh God the wine, why was I drinking so much wine…( knock, knock) was somebody rapping?? And mum, (knock, knock) mum was, being an arse, and Lydia was being an arse, and Kitty was being an arse, and Wickham was...not there, right, so he’s an arse...and Mary was...singing! (Knock, knock) Dear god the singing...and someone else...who am I forgetting?? (Knock, knock!) Someone was bothering me, (knock) someone kept following me around, (knock) someone kept hitting me on the head, (knock) Jeezy creezy what is that awful sound?? (KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK)
“WHO IS IT don't come in, Ithinkmyheadisexploding…”
“Just your mother dear, breakfast is ready and a Mr. Someone is waiting to speak to you! Hehe!”
Disregarding the fact that her mother just worked “hehe” into everyday conversation, Lizzie manages to put clothing on in (mostly) the right direction and comes downstairs…
...and she remembers who was bothering her last night.
“Good morning dear! Mr. Collins was just saying how he wanted a word with you, I'll just pop out back, Lydia? Kitty? Let's leave Mr. Collins and Lizzie to themselves, hehe!”
Note To Self: The imminent threat of a dreaded proposal is certainly the best hangover cure I’ve seen to date. Sober ya right up.
Lizzie is left to fend off Mr. Collins by herself.
In the book, Collins’ proposal to Lizzie goes on, uninterrupted, for two, full, size 10 font, single-spaced pages, and they are well worth a read if you are studying to deliver the Worst.Proposal.Ever. Luckily we are paraphrasing, and Lizzie is only half listening, so his speech is a little more like this:
“My dear Miss Elizabeth blah blah blah your modesty blah blah blah Lady Catherine blah blah blah you were the first person I wanted to marry as soon as I entered your house (NOT TRUE) blah blah blah My reasons for marrying (oh lord) blah blah blah Lady Catherine blah blah blah And now nothing remains but for me to assure you of the VIOLENCE of my affection (don’t laugh don’t laugh don’t laugh) blah blah blah indifferent to fortune blah blah blah when we are married.”
“Woah, hold up, I haven’t made an answer yet! Wait for it...wait for it...no. My answer is no.”
“But...no means yes, yes?”
“Nope, Mr. Collins, no, believe it or not, actually means NO.”
“A maybe then?”
Elizabeth turns and walks away.
Mrs. B sees Elizabeth exiting the room, and runs in to give congratulations to Mr. Collins on his newly acquired bride. It is a credit to Mr. Collins’ self-deception that he actually agrees with Mrs. B and says, “Thank you! Yeah, we’re totally getting married, I mean, at first she was like, ‘No’, but I mean, that’s just what modest, quiet girls like Elizabeth do, right? He, he, he.”
But Mrs. B is not fooled. She knows her daughter. She leaves Mr. Collins and calls for back-up.
“MR. BENNET!! COME MAKE YOUR DAUGHTER MARRY MR. COLLINS!”
Mr. B comes out. Lizzie comes out. She is flanked on either side by her mother and father.
Dad says: “Your mother tells me that you’ve refused an offer of marriage from Mr. Collins. Is that right?”
Lizzie says: “Yeah.”
Dad says: “Your mother insists that you marry him. Is that right, Mrs. B?”
Mom says: “Yes, or I’ll never see her again.”
And nothing I can paraphrase will top Mr. Bennet’s response:
“An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents.--Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.”
Lizzie smiles and is free.
Chaos insues. Mrs. B is chasing down Lizzie and trying desperately to change her mind, even attempting to bring Jane into the mix. Mr. Collins can’t figure out why anyone would possibly refuse him as a husband. Lydia and Kitty are giggling like mad. And into this mess enters Charlotte.
All you need to know is that Charlotte and Collins have a pleasant little exchange whilst the Bennets are running about. This will come back later.
HISTORICAL INTERLUDE: So here’s what the big whoop is about this situation. When Mr. Bennet dies, Mr. Collins inherits Longbourne, and he can basically do whatever he wants with it. If he marries one of the Bennet girls, he has an incentive to provide for them. If he doesn’t, he can kick the girls out on the street, and they would have to live off of Mrs. Bennet’s income, which is 200 pounds/year, which by today’s standards would be about $7,000/year. Hardly a liveable income for a mother and five daughters. Thus Mrs. Bennet’s insistence at Lizzie marrying Mr. Collins.
NEXT TIME: Wickham’s Excuse, Bingley Peaces Out, and Collins Finally Gets a ‘Yes!’
Comment if you have any questions about the story, the book, or the history behind it!
Elizabeth tells her sister Jane all about what Wickham told her, and how Darcy basically ruined his life.
Jane puts on her rose-colored glasses and closely examines the situation--
--Darcy couldn't possibly be so horrid as Wickham claims, who could do such a thing? To disobey your fathers’ dying wish??
--But that would mean Wickham is lying, and how could Wickham do such a thing? To make up such a horrid story, and potentially ostracize Darcy and all connected to him (Oh no! Bingley!)??
There must be some mistake.
Their musings are interrupted by Bingley himself, who invites everyone to the Netherfield Ball.
Jane is all, YES!! More time with hunka hunka burnin’ love Bingley!
Liz is all, YES!! More time with hunka hunka burnin’ love Wickham!
Lydia is all, ME TOO!
Kitty is all, ME THREE!
Mr. Collins is all, I will dance with Elizabeth for the first two dances!
Liz is all, Shit.
The Netherfield Ball. A rap.
Here's the story of a lady by the name of Lizzie,
She really liked this fella, he made her kinda dizzy.
She was so excited, to get to the ball,
And dance with the man, that she liked to call...
Wickham was his name, he had a great head o’ hair,
But when Lizzie arrived, Mr. Wickham wasn't there!
Wickham wasn't there…
Dazed and confused, she looked all around,
But her Mr. Right just couldn't be found.
When what to her wondering eyes should appear
But--Oh, no that's Collins, we don't want him here.
But Collins was persistent--we gotta give him that,
So she danced with him--ratta tat tat…
Nope mr. Collins, it's to the left, to the left Mr. Collins, your left, mr. Collins, now you're stepping on my toes, okay and this dance is over...
Moving right along...
Lizzie ditched Collins and headed to the bar
She ordered a drink but didn't get very far
When a voice started speaking, it surely wasn't Pharsi,
She turned around and saw that it was Darcy--
Will you dance with me? Is what the voice said
And Lizzie, she musta been outta her head!
She stuttered she faltered, ,blood suga was low
She said, Alright, I'll give it a go!
Lizzie couldn't believe what she'd just done,
Dancing with Darcy just couldn't be fun
He was mean, he was proud, a horrible dude
Stuck up, arrogant, and just plain rude
They started the dance, no one was talkin’
So Liz thought she'd go ahead and mock mock mock him
It's your turn to talk, she said with a grin
And Darcy asked what would give him a win?
And that's when Lizzie got a wicked idea
She brought up Wickham and the mil-i-tia
Militia militia I meant to say militia
Darcy went red and he got super mad
But he held his temper, said Wickham was bad
Lizzie disagreed, she hated him now,
When the dance was over, she left with a bow
And here comes Caroline to tell us more,
And for once she's not behavin like a whore
Wickham isn't really such a great man
Says Caroline to Wickham’s number one fan
But Lizzie she ignores her, and turns away,
Only to find that it's Embarrassment Day!
Lydia’s drinking, Kitty is too,
Mom is gabbin’, what else is new?
Mary is singin at the top of her lungs
And Collins he's actin like a big pile o dung
Poor Lizzie is caught, what can she do?
But try to pretend that her relations are few
On it went, to the end of the night
When at last, sweet relief, the end was in sight
But of course Mama Bennet, she had to postpone
So dear sweet Jane could have a husband of her own.
But finally, finally, the carriage was sent
And the Bennet's climbed in, they were homeward bent
And that's the end of my story y’all
This was the story of the Netherfield Ball.
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That Feeling When You Meet A Guy You Know You Shouldn't Like But You Do Anyway And He Tells You The Story Of His Life And You're Like, "Okay, when are we getting married??!!"
We've met (and we're about to meet) LOTS of new people...so I updated our chart!
Mr. Bennet is particularly loving the absurdity that is Mr. Collins. He wonders if he can stoke the fire of Collins' ridiculousness by mentioning a lady that seems to come up a lot with him--Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
COLLINS: "Ah yes! My patroness* Lady Catherine is quite the finest specimen of the female sex that I have ever encountered, in fact, just the other day I performed two of my sermons for her at her MAGNIFICENT estate, Rosings Park, and she approved of no less than BOTH of them, well, I was FLOORED, I can tell you, simply FLOORED that a Lady of HER esteem would love MY sermons, and if that wasn't enough, she then asked me to dine with her, not once but TWICE she has done me this honor, I tell you I was so pleased the first time I could have fainted, I did, in fact, faint, I believe, I have very little memory of it, but I would not be surprised, for ANYONE would certainly faint in the presence of SUCH a woman, OH and I almost forgot, she did in fact come to visit me, SHE came to visit ME, in my own humble parsonage, to think! that the walls of MY parsonage still glow with the air that SHE breathed upon them, certainly I am the luckiest man alive, for it was at that time that she also was the one to recommend I MARRY, and so of course I took her advice at once, which is *wink* why I am here, and I must say, you ladies DO remind me so of Ms. Anne de Bourgh, Lady Catherine de Bourgh's daughter, a SICKLY thing unfortunately, but TREMENDOUSLY beautiful of course, born to be a duchess, it is a SHAME that the British Court has been DEPRIVED of its BRIGHTEST ornament because of her illness, oh YES, it is, and I said this very thing to Lady Catherine de Bourgh, for I am QUITE talented at delivering little compliments to the ladies, as you ladies will no doubt soon see. *wink*"
And that, my friends, is Mr. Collins.
Elizabeth and Mr. Bennet spend the rest of the evening fueling the flames of Mr. Collins' absurdity, and exchanging sly smiles each time he is about to go on yet another rant.
*HISTORICAL INTERLUDE: Persons of great wealth and status, like Lady Catherine, had the right to appoint someone to clerical positions. In this case, Lady Catherine has appointed Mr. Collins as the rector (priest) of the parish on her estate....a decision that she almost certainly regrets now....So, Mr. Collins has plenty of good reasons to like (or obsess over, apparently) Lady Catherine.
The next morning* Mr. Collins wastes no time in telling Mrs. Bennet that his heart has settled on Jane Bennet, and would it be okay if I marry her pretty please? Mrs. Bennet tells him Jane is about to be engaged (to Bingley) and that maybe Elizabeth would make a suitable second-choice?
Mr. Collins checks out Elizabeth. "Yeah, I mean, she's a hot babe too. I'll go with her."
So when the Bennet girls announce that they're walking to Meryton, Mr. Collins quickly snuggles up next to Liz. Liz is (not) delighted.
The torture of Collins' presence is soon alleviated by the entrance of an absolutely beautiful young man, hubba hubba, holy fishsticks, who is that piece of gorgeousness??!!
The sun sparkled behind his beautiful blonde head, as if drawing energy from his radiant figure. The wind blew back his golden locks and he flashed his baby blues at the Bennet girls, who melted on the spot. He was clearly in the militia, and no one wore those tight trousers better than he. Those perfect lips parted, he was just about to speak, when---
"HELLOOO, ladies!" The arrival of Bingley and Darcy shakes everyone out of the dream. Leave it to the politeness of Bingley to ruin a perfectly good fantasy. Darcy is firmly deciding to NOT oggle at Elizabeth when he sees Wickham.
Wickham looks at Darcy. Darcy looks at Wickham. One turns white. The other red.
And Darcy speeds off on his horse.
"Um, so, I guess I'll see you next time--" says Bingley, as he races to catch up with his friend.
Elizabeth is all, WTF JUST HAPPENED!!!??
The Bennet party plus Wickham continue on to Mrs. Phillips' house, who is Mrs. Bennet's sister. They dine and agree to meet again the next day, making sure to invite the charming Mr. Wickham as well.
Mr. Collins declares that, except for Lady Catherine and her daughter, of course, he has never met with a more amiable, wonderful, lovely, incredible woman than Mrs. Phillips in the whole of his existence forever in the history of the universe.
But come on, Jane! What we really want to hear about is WHAT JUST HAPPENED WITH DARCY AND WICKHAM???!!!!
*HISTORICAL INTERLUDE: It was common for folks to visit for long periods of time, since it took so long to get there in the first place. Mr. Collins stays with the Bennets for two weeks, which was actually considered a "short" visit at that time....although it may be a long visit when it's someone like Mr. Collins...
Alright so the Bennet girls and Collins head back to the Phillips' the next day, they chat, blah, blah, blah, Collins is overexpressive as usual, and Wickham is also there, and he just so happens to sit next to Elizabeth while the rest of the group plays cards.
Elizabeth is trying to figure out a way to subtly get Wickham to talk about Darcy when he asks her--How long as Darcy been at Netherfield?
About a month, says Liz. Wickham says he's known Darcy since he was a baby.
Rrreeeaaallly???? says Liz
Yeah, I'm sure that's surprising given how we greeted each other yesterday, says Wickham.
Naaah, says Liz, I hadn't even thought about it.
"Well--"(and here is the question that Liz will look back on later and realize her mistake)--"do you know Mr. Darcy?" "As much as I ever need to," Liz says.
And Wickham's story begins. It's a long winded thing, beautifully constructed, but here's what you need to know:
Basically, Chapter 16 sets up the rest of the story.
On the way home from the Phillips' house, Elizabeth can't think about anything except Wickham:
She likes Wickham more than ever. Poor man! Can you imagine thinking that your whole life is set up for you, paid for, ready to go, and then to have it completely taken away from you, so that you are forced to join the militia to earn something?
She hates Darcy more than ever. HORRID man. How could you possibly go against your father's dying wishes and literally take EVERYTHING away from a young man you considered your best friend in youth???
She pities Caroline more than ever. She really doesn't have a blessed chance with Darcy. Ha, ha, ha.
They Call Me Collins...Mr. Collins...(killer of ladies extraordinarily...I'm brief with words but not brief in other places...if you comprehend me...babe)
Despite the medical advancements of Jane Austen's day ("Ah ha! I've got it! Leeches will cure EVERYTHING!"), Jane recovers. No matter, Bingley is instantly at her heels: "Blanket? Tea? Water? Too hot? Too cold? Toast? Tums? Leeches? Advil? Morphine? Whatchu want? I'll get it!!!!!"
Caroline decides to impress Mr. Darcy by reading a book! It may have gone better if she had been holding the book right-side-up. Whatever, she ditches the book and falls on back on the thing that is sure to get Darcy's heart: her boobs.
She minces about the room. Mince, mince, mince. Chest high! No good. Damn, what IS Darcy reading, pornography? And then she has it. A sure-fire way of getting Darcy to look at her.
She invites Elizabeth to walk with her.
Sure enough, Darcy's eyes come off the page. "Join us, Mr. Darcy," coos Caroline. Mince, mince, mince. "No thanks, I'm good. Besides, you're either trying to share girly secrets or show off your boobs. If the first, I'd be in the way, and if the second, I can admire them better from here."
Scandalous! Elizabeth wants to tease Mr. Darcy. It's impossible to tease Mr. Darcy, says Caroline, he has no faults.
Darcy argues that he does have faults, he just doesn't make mistakes when it comes to understanding people. "My good opinion once lost, is lost forever." He says everyone has some defect or other.
Elizabeth says "Yes! And yours is to hate everybody."
Darcy says, "And yours is to willfully misunderstand them."
Caroline thinks, Damn, why is that every attempt I make to seduce Darcy ends up heating things up between him and Liz????
Elizabeth and Jane write to their Mum to ask for the carriage to take them home. Like any rational mother, she instantly sends them the carriage and makes their beds ready for their arrival....right?
Of course not! They must stay until Tuesday at least, to finish out the week at Netherfield!
Bingley is all STAY, I LOVE YOU!
Darcy is all GO, I MIGHT LOVE YOU!
Caroline is all GO, HE MIGHT LOVE YOU!
So Liz and Jane ask to borrow Bingley's coach, and they go home, much to the dismay of Mrs. Bennet.
Allow me to introduce the wonder that is Mr. Collins.
Mr. Collins is Mr. Bennet's cousin and closest male relative. The Longbourne estate is entailed to Mr. Collins, meaning that when Mr. Bennet dies, the whole of it will go to Mr. Collins.
Having never met the Bennets before (due to a past disagreement between Collins' father and Mr. Bennet), Collins decides it's time to visit the Bennet family, and choose a wife from among the Bennet daughters...like you do, when you meet someone for the first time...
Mrs. Bennet couldn't be happier.
Oh, did I mention that he's a priest? Yup. He's a priest. But it's the Church of England guys, remember who started that craziness? Henry VIII. See Eddie Izzard for some context.
Collins arrives and they sit in the living room and chat. The fact that the room and everything in it could one day belong to the bizarre stranger sitting in the armchair hovers over everything. Mrs. Bennet delicately brings up the elephant in the room--
"THE ENTAIL, oh, it's such an odd thing, isn't it? All my girls will be DESTITUTE, POOR, KICKED TO THE STREETS, should Mr. Bennet die anytime soon, what horror, what sorrow, oh, if only the receiver of this entail would marry one of my daughters and save us from destitution!"
"Not to worry, my dear Mrs. Bennet," assures the austere Mr. Collins, "I've come to admire your daughters...."
(he proceeds to stare down each of the Bennet girls with a look which he believes to be sexy and alluring, but is in fact, phenomenally creepy and weird)
"...Right now I won't say any more, but later--"
And Mr. Collins is cut off by a summons to dinner.
NEXT WEEK: Mr. Collins Kills Ladies and Mr. Wickham is a Lady-Killer, and we find out Mr. Darcy's secret!
Like & Comment below if you're enjoying the series, or if you have a particular style you'd like to see a chapter written in!
We interrupt your Planet Netherfield program to bring you this awkward, poorly-timed infomercial.
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Never fear! The Awkward Mum is here!
Here's how she works:
1. Write a letter to us requesting your very own Awkward Mum.
2. We’ll send her over at the worst possible moment. Once she establishes that your sister is not life threateningly ill (medical degree not included), she’s programmed to say something like the following:
“OH DEAR!!!!! How terribly ILL my Jane is, oh nooooooo, I think she’s just gonna have to stay longer, oh nooooo, more time for you, Mr. Bingley, to fall in love--ahem--get to know, my dear Jane. WHAT A SHAAAAAME.”
3. We guarantee that anyone within ear-shot will feel so awkward they'll immediately want to disassociate themselves from her, or your money back!
4. In the event that you've got a Mr. Bingley hanging around, one of those sweet, polo-shirt-wearing cutie pies that don't seem to be ruffled by anything, we’ll send in two Awkward Sisters, free of charge! When your Bingley says something like, “Of course, she must stay until she is fully recovered!”, our Awkward Sisters will jump in with:
“RIGHT SO MR. BINGLEY, WE LIKE WANNA HAVE A BALL, AND LIKE YOU PROMISED TO HOLD ONE, SO LIKE WHEN IS IT?”
5. This is sure to shake up even the most polite Mr. Bingleys! He may get out a hesitant “When Jane is better, name the day,” but we guarantee no one in that room will want to be associated with your family ever again!
Call 555-123-4567 now to order your very own Awkward Mum and Sisters for the low, low payment of just 19.99/month!
We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.
(please read the following as David Attenborough:)
Planet Netherfield is a place like nowhere else on earth. Only here can you find a rare mixing of upper and lower class species, each determined to do whatever they must to survive.
We zero in on a particular part of the jungle, where we will see a unique glimpse into the gossip ritual that precedes the hunt. Here, we are looking at two female Bingley Cats discussing the qualities of an Elizabeth Tiger (or Liz Tiger, for short):
“She's so proud, impertinent, terrible manners, nothing to talk about, horrible taste, not particularly pretty, and her family!! Good lord, how will they marry off five daughters with a mother like that? The only thing she has going for her is she is a good walker! (Here it looks as though the female Bingley cats are laughing!) Did you see her paws? Six inches deep in mud!!”
A male Bingley Cat seems to be defending the Liz Tiger: "Guuuuuysss, why you gotta be so mean?"
And the Darcy Bird makes a squawk! "I liked her eyes."
Fascinating. The comment from the Darcy Bird has confused the female Bingley Cats. Awkward silence settles over the jungle. But look! See there!
Into this scene of growing tension returns the Liz Tiger, having no idea what is already underway. The Caroline Bingley Cat eyes her competition, and begins to make her move on her prey (the Darcy Bird).
She must be careful. She cannot make any sudden movement that would alert her prey as to her intentions. Slowly she circles him. To avoid detection, she begins a mating dance, a series of questions aimed at Darcy Bird's younger sister, Georgiana. Let's watch as she approaches him:
"How tall is Georgiana now?.....I wish I could see Georgiana!.....How wonderful she is!"
The prey has not yet taken the bait, but the predator is not finished yet.
"She has such good manners, and so pretty!.....She is so accomplished for her age!......Is she still playing piano?"
Someone snaps at the bait, but alas, it is not the prey she was hoping for: the male Bingley Cat chimes in: "I think all ladies are accomplished."
The Caroline Cat turns on him, but she cannot destroy him without ruining the favor of her prey. “All of them, Charles?” she spits through clenched fangs.
"Yeah!" he replies.
But it works! Somehow the interference of the brother has stirred the prey toward the bait. The Darcy Bird offers: "I don't know more than six ladies that truly deserve the term ‘accomplished.’"
The Caroline Cat licks her lips.
But alas! The Liz Tiger interferes: “Then you must have a prolific understanding of the term ‘accomplished woman’,” the Liz Tiger says, stealing the Darcy Bird's attention.
“I do” says the Darcy Bird.
Now the Caroline Cat must win back the attention of the Darcy Bird, or all is lost. In a last, desperate measure to snag her prey, the Caroline Cat announces that “Yes, no one can really be called accomplished unless they can sing, draw, dance, speak several languages and have a certain je ne sais quoi in their walk.”
Oh! And this is truly extraordinary, a rare moment when we witness the Caroline Cat mince around her prey: yes, there she goes, mince, mince, mince. But will it work?
“And of course, she must read all the time,” says the Darcy Bird.
Caroline Cat looks where the Darcy Bird is looking--at Liz Tiger, who is….oh no….reading a book.
All is lost. The Caroline Cat slinks back into the shadows. And, interestingly enough, the Liz Tiger does not go for the kill, but instead, she too leaves the battlefield. And what's this? A hungry look on the face of the Darcy Bird...well, I say.
This has been another episode of David Attenborough’s “Planet Netherfield.” Tune in next week for our next exploration of the mysterious creatures of Planet Netherfield!
The Boys Are Back In Town! The Boys being the militia, of course. Who doesn't love a man in uniform?
Catherine (Kitty) and Lydia, the two youngest Bennet daughters, certainly do. They've been trekking out to Meryton (a neighboring town) three or four times a week to meet them all. We'll get back to this in a bit...
We interrupt these musings to bring you a special Letter from Netherfield (this is the beginning of a LOT of letters, guys. I'll try to keep it interesting but don't say I didn't warn you).
If you don't get your pretty behind over here ASAP and join my sister and I for cupcakes, we are gonna pull each other's hair out with boredom. The boys are out with the officers, so it's GIRLS NIGHT!!!! Do it.
P.S. Did I mention we have CUPCAKES?????"
Lydia is all, OFFICERS!?!?!
Mum is all, But, but, no Bingley??!!!
Jane is all, Cupcakes!
Just then, the heavens open and drench the earth (it is England, after all).
Mum looks outside. The cogs begin to turn. 'Yes,' she says, 'You should go have cupcakes with Caroline.' A devilish smile crosses her face. 'And you should go on horseback.'
Jane looks outside. 'Ummmm can I just take the car? (The coach)'
'Your father needs the car. Don't you honey?'
Mr. Bennet looks up from his newspaper. 'Did you say something dear?'
So it's settled. Jane grimly leaves Longbourne on horseback and is drenched by the time she reaches Netherfield. Jane grows I'll and sends a letter the next day (here we go!) to let her family know that she won't be coming home any time soon.
Mr. Bennet says, Well, my dear, if Jane should die, it would be a comfort to know that it was all in pursuit of Mr. Bingley.
[that's pretty much straight from the text. Well said, Miss Austen]
Mrs. Bennet couldn't be happier. Because of course, this means Jane is forced to spend more time with Mr. Bingley. And fall in love. And get married. And save the family from financial ruin.
[Side Note: Okay, is there something about girls with runny noses and headaches that totally turn guys on? Because this is definitely a recurring Austen thing. The heroine runs out into the rain, gets sick, and then all the dudes are like, "Oh my dear, that snot coming out of your nose is so sexy, let's get married." I don't know about you, but I am NOT sexy when I am sick. The last thing I want when I'm on the couch in my jammies with tissues stuck up my nose, is some dude in tight pants kneeling in front of me declaring his love for me. Move, I'm trying to watch Pride and Prejudice.)
Lizzie is like, Yeah, you guys are crazy. I'm going to go check on my sister.
So she walks to Netherfield in the mud and cold and arrives while Bingley, Darcy, Caroline and her sisters are having breakfast. Lizzie steps through the door with windswept hair, rosy cheeks, bright eyes and muddy boots.
Darcy's Thoughts: Hottttttt
Caroline's Thoughts: No, no, no don't track mud all over my new floor, bad dog, bad!!
Bingley's Thoughts: The toast looks a bit burnt, doesn't it?
Lizzie goes to see Jane, (who really is pretty sick, thanks a lot Mum), and is invited by the Bingleys to stay overnight to make sure Jane gets better. Lizzie agrees.
And so the drama at Netherfield Park begins to unfold...
To be continued next week!
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!