Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Jane and Bingley: Something Slightly Unsettling (Part Six)

Part One / Part Two / Part Three / Part Four / Part Five


Elizabeth smiled brightly in greeting. “You look well rested! No adverse effects from last evening’s frivolity?”

Jane returned the expression. “No. My daring journey to the drawing room has not set back my recovery. I feel much improved.”

“Good! I was hoping you would, and not only for my own selfish reasons. Nothing matters more to me than your well-being, my dearest sister, but I am anxious to return home. Do let us write to Longbourn and request the carriage.”

Jane saw Elizabeth’s eagerness, but she could not share it. She was not prepared to leave Netherfield just yet, nor did she think her sister should. She would have preferred it had Mr. Darcy expressed such an interest in herself, for to be Mrs. Darcy was something, indeed, but Elizabeth was the next best person he could possibly have alighted upon. Mr. Darcy was too precious an opportunity - wealthy, handsome, and respectable - to quibble over which sister should have him.

She considered her options, quickly concluding that her mother would see the situation in much the same light as herself, even without knowing Mr. Darcy to be a prospect. I do wish Mama had not insulted him! Safe in the knowledge her mother would never concede to the request, Jane acceded to Elizabeth’s wishes, and a letter to Mrs. Bennet was promptly dispatched. When the expected refusal arrived, she participated in Elizabeth’s chagrin while inwardly rejoicing. There was a great deal of satisfaction to be derived in rightfully predicting the actions of others. Furthermore, the color had begun to return to her checks, which must be of assistance in subduing Mr. Bingley’s heart, and she had at least a few more days to enjoy the luxuries of Netherfield while accomplishing that task.

Unfortunately, Elizabeth was not to be so easily satisfied. Soon she was at Jane’s side, continuing to insist on their departure. “You might request the carriage of Mr. Bingley,” she argued, adding, “I fear we might become an imposition, were we to linger any longer.”

Jane scurried to defend her position. “Might it not be too forward a request? I would hate to be a further inconvenience, after having already caused so much.”

“Nonsense, Jane! Only you would imagine such a commonplace courtesy too much to ask.”


She tried again. “I would rather not display our lack of access to the carriage.”

“Says the lady who arrived upon a dripping wet horse!” Elizabeth laughed. “It will not do, my dear! Besides, do you truly imagine that every person at Netherfield did not know precisely how many horses my father keeps and what kind of equipage before they had been a full week in residence?”

Jane could think of no further excuse. She would have to ask Mr. Bingley to return them to Longbourn. Now she lamented her rosy cheeks. If she could only contrive to look wain and subdued, her hosts might forbid her departure.

Fortunate for Jane, the energy required to join the others downstairs restored her sickly pallor. With breathy weariness did she make her request, sitting in languor beside the fire, and the response received was everything she could have wished.

“My dear Jane!” Miss Bingley cried. “But you do not appear at all recovered. I’m surprised you chose to leave your room.” She looked at Elizabeth accusingly. “I’m sure you are not yet ready to travel.”

“But Caroline, I have already caused you such a great deal of trouble ...”

“Nonsense! You must remain with us at least until tomorrow. If you continue to improve, you may return to Longbourn after the morning service. I insist!”

“Very well,” Jane conceded with a look towards Elizabeth that she hoped appeared apologetic. “We shall leave tomorrow, as you insist.”

“Thank you for your continued hospitality,” Elizabeth chimed in, “and for the accommodation of your coach.”

“Not at all,” Miss Bingley replied, with an expression that suggested she might regret her own generosity. She is jealous of Lizzy, as she well should be! Jane happily reflected. 

Jane studied Mr. Darcy closely that evening, but with no satisfaction for her efforts. He paid not the slightest bit of undue attention to her sister or any of the other ladies. If anything, he seemed to be assiduously avoiding Elizabeth’s company. He fears he might raise expectations, Jane thought with mingled respect and regret. He is the perfect gentleman. She sympathized with his reluctance to associate himself with the Bennet family. So long as he doesn’t apply the same scruples to his friend. She understood he was dominate over Bingley in their friendship - in every way the bigger man - and feared his influence. Turning her brightest smile upon Mr. Bingley, she responded to his urgent insistence that she remain for yet another day with a regretful but firm refusal, despite her sincere desire to stay just as long as she could possibly contrive. It would not do to rouse Mr. Darcy’s suspicions regarding her affection for his friend, but neither could she allow her behavior to betray anything but perfect decorum. Suddenly, all attempts to remain longer seemed uncouth and mercenary. 

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Come back tomorrow to read Part Seven!

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11 comments:

  1. This Jane seems like the type to worry about propriety even though bravo girl for that little mercenary streak about keeping Darcy in the family. Yes, I think it was right to go before they outstayed their welcome.

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    1. I love that you are enjoying this Jane so much!

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  2. http://www.pinterest.com/pin/241435229997316733/ (couldn't get the share g+ button at the top to work)

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  3. She was probably right but Jane with a streak of selfishness!

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    1. My Jane is very selfish. Not at all the kind of lady of whom Austen would approve. I'll see if I can do something about the button. Thanks for letting me know.

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  4. I think that it was right to go, though it was little bit sad.
    Jenna O

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    1. HI Jenna. Thanks for commenting! Jane's playing rather deep, isn't she?

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  5. I think she was right because she doesn't want to impose on the Bingleys' generosity and disrupt their usual routine.

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    1. Totally agree - but was that really her reason? I was hoping to make her completely Machiavellian in her motivations.

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  6. It probably would have been hard for Jane to stay. I'm sure some of her niceness prompted it, but I mean sexual tension yes?

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    1. That's a great reason to leave, but I admit I hadn't thought of it! I love it when readers point out something in my work I didn't realize was there. Thanks!

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