Posted on Saturday, 17 December 2005
'Twas the night before Christmas in a fine London house,
And who's that by the fire - a man or a mouse?
While others were nestled all snug in their beds,
Charles Bingley couldn't sleep for the thoughts in his head.
From the Meryton assembly and that fateful first glance,
To the Netherfield ball where they opened the dance,
And all the meetings between that he couldn't forget,
There was no one like her - that angel, Jane Bennet!
With her fine golden hair and her figure so slim,
Her warm gentle smile and her ankle so trim,
She was of all maidens by far most delightful,
She'd given Bingley happy dreams many a night full.
But now she was gone! Alas, was it forever?
Their joyous connection he'd been forced to sever.
And though for Jane he was still wearing his heart on his sleeve,
Bingley found himself all alone on this Christmas Eve.
And perhaps that's all of Bingley you would have heard,
Except for something odd that next did occur.
He was roused from his funk by a mysterious stomp,
As if something on the roof was having a romp.
(You'd think he would guess, from the time of the year,
That it was a noise made by eight tiny reindeer.
Though they've had ages to practice their rooftop landings,
It's hard to come down quiet where there's a weather vane standing.)
Now Bingley had never claimed to be very bold or brave,
And so himself was the first person he wanted to save.
He dashed behind the sofa, near the fire's warm glowing,
And peeked out only cautiously, with just his eyes showing.
He thought his wondering eyes were playing a trick
When the next thing he saw was (who else?) Saint Nick!
Then he heard a voice say, "Son, don't distress yourself,
For as you can see, I'm a jolly old elf.
Black Peter's not here, I vow you'll come to no harm.
So why not come out by the fire and get warm?
I'm a great listener, too, so why don't you tell
Me what trouble has you under its spell?"
Bingley was silent a moment - how could he have spoke,
Being accustomed to everyone thinking his words were a joke?
No one took him seriously, no one listened at all!
He usually felt like he was talking to a wall.
His family, his friends - they all thought they knew best,
Even answering for him whenever he was addressed!
Though he had to admit, it made his situation quite easy -
When others handled his cares, then life was just breezy!
But perhaps it was time for Bingley on his own feet to stand -
Now that he was of age, he'd better act like a man.
And Santa says he'll listen - why not give it a whirl?
Bingley takes a deep breath and says, "Well, you see, there's this girl..."
The story pours out, and it's easy to tell,
Since lately Jane is the only thing on which his thoughts dwell.
He'd been so sure she loved him - but was he mistaken?
It wouldn't be the first time he'd been by hope overtaken.
He knew his sister's objections - the Bennets were too low
To raise her in Society, and up she must go!
Caroline had somehow gotten it into her head
That Georgiana Darcy was the one he must wed.
Now don't get him wrong - Georgiana was sweet,
But the friendship between them didn't make his heart beat
When thinking of her - no, it just wasn't the same
As when he was thinking of the one and only Jane!
And what of Darcy himself, who for so long had been
His guide and advisor, and very dear friend?
So positive he was about Jane's lack of feeling!
How could he have erred? The idea sent Bingley reeling!
All this time, as promised, Santa sat and listened
As the snow softly fell and in the moonlight glistened.
He wouldn't speak up until the time was ripe,
And while waiting he puffed a bit on his pipe.
At last Bingley was done with his plaintive tale,
Ending with a query that was more like a wail,
"Saint Nick, don't you agree that I'm in quite a spot?
This romantic tangle has me thoroughly caught!"
Santa answered, "Well, I've a few things to say -
But like all free advice, remember it's worth what you pay.
Your situation you describe as a mess and a tangle,
But try viewing your path from another angle.
With young Miss Darcy you may not be in love,
But in Caroline's eyes it's quite the perfect move!
There is one reason alone she acts like such a ditz,
And his name is Darcy, too - your pal Fitz!
If you marry the sister, then she thinks, very merrily,
That she'd be front-runner to be mistress of Pemberley.
I'm sorry to say that it's not quite such a cinch -
Darcy's aware of her scheme and would rather marry the Grinch.
Now, speaking of Darcy, there's another reason
That he whisked you back to London for this holiday season.
About the state of Jane's heart he was very unsure,
And you'd been the prey of fortune hunters before.
Just in case Miss Bennet turned out mercenary,
Darcy thought it was best that you should be wary.
Your feelings he was trying hard to spare,
And he was afraid that Jane for you didn't care.
It's not just you and Jane that have Darcy so dizzy,
But also his weakness for her sister, Miss Lizzy.
His own heart he's tried so much to hide and disguise,
But he's fallen quite hard for her wit and fine eyes.
Well, my boy, now that you've heard my view,
The question is - now just what will you do?
Your future is here, if you'll only begin it,
As you've no reason to doubt the lovely Miss Bennet.
I'll give you a hint - it's quite utterly true
That Jane's Christmas wish was once more to see you!
And so you can more quickly be off on your way,
I'll even - just this once - let you borrow my sleigh.
Once my reindeer deliver you, then back here they'll fly -
The whole trip will be done in the blink of an eye!
And a good thing they're quick, since you'd better believe
That I've much left to do on this Christmas Eve!"
Bingley cried, "Dear Santa! How you've given me hope!
Quite a change from earlier, when I was all in a mope.
I've no words to thank you, you've really made my night,
Soon I'll propose to my Jane under those stars so bright.
Though right now I'm feeling so immensely cheerful,
When I get back Darcy and Caro will get quite an earful!
They may not approve of my choice of a wife,
But from now on it's me who is running my life."
Then Bingley was out of the door and into the sleigh,
And in no more than a moment was flying away.
But Santa heard him exclaim ere he drove out of sight,
"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"