More from the old days - Murph imagines...
Pride and Prejudice:
Happy New Year's greetings from the Bennet Household
Well, it has been a sweet year for us at Longbourne, and I knew you would want to know of our family and friends, so I take pen in hand to send you all a letter.
Mr. Bennet stays well. He still enjoys his study and his evening glass of port. After all those year's of book reading, he has begun to write one of his own. He tells me it is a versical satire in the manner of Pope. I have read a bit of it, but it is quite beyond me.
Our Lydia and her Mr. Wickham have once again fallen on hard times. Since the loss of his latest commission, they have moved from here to there. We are hopeful for them though, as a Mrs. Young has gotten them into a music hall review. They are to whistle and dance the Bonny Mode, dressed in country costume. Perhaps you will be able to see them when they pass through your village.
Mary, we are proud to say, is living in London with my brother Mr. Gardner and his wife. She too has written a book, The Sayings of a Country Lass, and people are buying it by the thousands. It is said to be the Queen's favorite.
Kitty still lives with us here at Longbourne, keeping busy with her covering of screens and hat decorating. That will change this April, however, when she is to be married at Pemberly. On her autumn last visit there, she won the heart of Colonel Fitzwilliam with her lively conversation and her infectious laugh.
Our dear Jane cares for her four children and for her husband Charles. He is laid up again after yet another fall from his horse. Each day, no matter how busy she is, she carries her bountiful baskets to the local poor. She continues also on her needlepoint tapestry of the village of Meryton.
Miss Darcy is this week in Baden-Baden, where she continues her concert tour. Her drawing room playing of concerti and her lovely looks have captivated the crown heads of Europe.
Miss Bingley, her sister Louisa Hurst and Mr. Hurst have rented Netherfield again. They stay to themselves. But my sister reports of loud doings there. Rumors abound of Mr. Hurst keeping the two as willing slaves in his drunken licentious revels.
Mr. Collins has followed his patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, to her retirement castle in the south of France. He keeps bees there and listens to the Lady's wholesome conversation.
Charlotte did not accompany him, preferring instead to stay as governess to Lizzie's eight children, and to catalogue the extensive library at Pemberly. She is quite content.
Lizzie and her dear husband are well. Though carrying yet another child, Eliza keeps most active walking the grounds, reading extensively, caring for her children, and exploring newly discovered rooms every day. Her latest project is to oversee the draining of the pond her husband is fond of swimming in. It seems he has developed a strange rash from its murky waters.
Mr. Darcy himself is a most attentive son in law. We do not see him often, since he is much away on business when we visit. Since his marriage, he has become quite pleasant. He is still the handsomest of men, and much in love with our daughter. Because of his relaxed manner, wide smile, and a way of walking some would call noticeable, women flock to his side wherever he goes. Why just last week while they were strolling in Mayfair, Lizzie had to hit a women on the head with her umbrella. The creature tried repeatedly to tear the shirt off Fitzwilliam's back. He seemed much amused, but Lizzie wasn't, I'm sure.
As for myself -- my sister Mrs. Phillips, Lady Lucas and I have opened a smart shop in Meryton. Maria Lucas is the manager, and we sell all manner of local mementos and little delicacies prepared by our Hill. Business is brisk.
Dear me, such a lot of news. I hope this letter finds you all well, and that you will pass it on to the next person on the list I have enclosed with it.
Happiest of new years to you all.
To Mrs. Maud Reynolds
by the London Post
My dear Maud:
How is my old girl today in dreary London? Your Wickie is happily sitting now in Brighton in a Mrs. Tobias Spellwood’s parlor, where the officers of the regiment are billeted. It is a comfortable home, just a few doors away from the promenade road. Colonel Foster and his child bride are a few houses away, and guess who they have with them? No one else but the plump and pretty youngest daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Bennet of Longbourne, Lydia Bennet.
Your remember my talking of the family when I was stationed in Meryton with dear old Denny? Having the impressionable Miss Bennet so near will give me a golden opportunity to pay back my childhood chum Fitzwilliam Darcy everything that he deserves.
It is now many months since he foiled our plans to marry me to the tender Giorgianna, but I will never forget the humiliation I felt when he dismissed you and sent me on my way. I vowed then to find some way to cause him the pain he caused us, and now, By God, I’ve found it.
You know I have told you before that I noted the peculiar regard he has for Miss Elizabeth Bennet, the Bennet’s second oldest daughter. She despised him, thanks to my clever tale and his pride and stiffness, but before I left Meryton, I detected a softening in her manner toward him. Miss Eliza has that amused, knowing manner I dislike in young women -- too bright and quick to the mark. I did not like her dismissal of me at our last meeting. I must keep she and Darcy from each other, and make him suffer. Taking Miss Lydia will be the perfect way
Already I have conversed with her. She is an easy target for my charms, being pliable and not too smart. This evening there is to be a ball. I will dance with her, and use the time profitably. You more than anyone know what I can do with a few well chosen words spoken at the right moment. If my plan goes well, you can expect us in London sometime during the coming month. I will post ahead so you may find rooms for us. Make them secluded, since I want no one to find us.
She will think we are planning to marry, but you know I will marry no one, since you stand, as you have since my 16th year, as the keeper of my heart.
Good bye, old Maud. Keep your fingers crossed as Wickie begins his new conquest.
George Wickman, Capt.