Posted on: 2014-02-28
"Fairy godmother, please tell us the story about your worse godchild again - the bad Caroline!"
"Shhh my dears. You shouldn't call her that"
"But we hear you say that. We want to know how you had fun at her expense. Pleeeaasseee....."
"And don't you think it will be part of our fairy training as well", said another teenager fairy.
Finally Fiona - the older fairy relented.
"OK, make yourselves comfortable. It is a long and funny and interesting story......
You see, when I was given a choice of godchildren, the head fairy said I must choose one bad and one good child.
I chose Georgiana Darcy as the good one and I was assigned Caroline Bingley as the ill tempered one. I was told that I could grant each of them, one wish that they made before they turned one and twenty. Little did I know that their lives would be intertwined when they grew up.
When Caroline was small, she was the most rude, most pampered, ill...."
"We know all that Fiona dear. Let us jump to when she is grown up". Said an older fairy. Fiona looked around to see that a group of older fairies had joined the audience. All of them loved this story about Caroline and Georgiana.
"Alright. Let us jump directly to Netherfield Park"
Caroline was bored. Here she was stuck in an country neighborhood, with shabby neighbors and boring pursuits.
At least Mr Darcy was here. But too often she saw him eyeing that Eliza Bennet from the sides of the room. And once or twice he actually ventured to have a real conversation with her. And then there was Charles, mooning after his angel. Jane was surely in love with him - who wouldn't? Charles was everything that country girl would wish for. But Caroline and Louisa had talked about it at length. They didn't agree that Jane was any good for Charles. No connections, no money, nothing.
Caroline stamped her foot. How she wished she were in London.
She envied Georgiana Darcy a lot. No, not the fact that she was Darcy's sister of course. But that girl had all the resources she needed, house in town, country estate, pin money... Caroline tried to befriend her as soon as she was able. Georgiana was timid, so the friendship didn't flourish the way Caroline would have liked. But still, they were friends and thought to be good ones!
Miss Darcy was happily staying on in London. With a companion, independent to come and go and shop and lunch as she pleased. Oh how Caroline wished she was in Georgiana's place!
On the same day as the above, Georgiana was indeed happy in London. She started the morning with lessons with Mrs Annesely. Following that she practiced an hour on the pianoforte. The afternoon and evening had been spent with her aunt, Lady Rebecca Matlock and her Matlock cousins. Aunt Rebecca had taken her out shopping as well.
Georgiana returned home satisfied and happy....only to be happier. Waiting for her was a letter from her brother. Her second one that week! And again he wrote about an intelligent lady called Elizabeth Bennet. Georgiana sighed as she read how Darcy spent his days - riding the countryside, shooting, meeting up with neighbors once in a while. He was very well satisfied with his friends (except may be Caroline who sometimes put herself forward too much). Oh how she wished she could see her brother relaxing and enjoying his time in Hertfordshire.
Both the girls went to sleep in their respective bedrooms. Both had similar last thoughts before drifting to sleep: one wanted to be in Georgiana's shoes and the other wanted to be at Netherfield.
Fiona could not resist this opportunity - no, she should not waste these wishes!
Caroline was awake early the next morning. She had had a weird dream - she saw herself flying on someones back all the way to London! And enroute she saw Georgiana flying on another creature in the opposite direction. Georgiana waved to her and smiled. Caroline waved back, puzzled.
What an awful dream! Thought she "...let me sleep some more"
Before her eyes could close again, they spied beautiful curtains fluttering at the window. Caroline shot up on her bed.
She looked around in bewilderment. She was in a beautifully appointed bedroom. Egyptian sheets of highest quality on the bed, silk curtains and bed hangings.
Everything was in pastel shades, as if made for an young girl. She herself was wearing a pretty pink silk nightgown.
"Who changed my room's curtains? What happened to my night things". She climbed down from the bed and looked around the room in wonderment. She spied a vanity unit and walked towards it looking for her hairbrush.
Caroline caught her own reflection at the vanity mirror - Looking back at her from the mirror was Georgianna Darcy. Looking just like she had got up from bed!
"what, when, how....oh NO!!"
It took Caroline 5 whole minutes to realize that it was not Georgiana, but her own reflection. She had changed overnight - SHE was Georgiana Darcy! Caroline fainted!!
Georgiana Darcy was up at her usual time, early morning. She immediately remembered her dream. Being more intelligent than Caroline, she had a conversation with the Elf that carried her:
"Where are you taking me, kind creature?"
"You wished for something, remember? Your fairy godmother decided to grant that wish for some time".
"You mean, you are taking me to Netherfield for the night? Oh Thank You. You ARE kind. Please convey my thanks to my fairy godmother".
The elf laughed, "It is not just for a night and you are not going as yourself"
Georgiana was alarmed, "What does that mean?"
The elf laughed again, clearly enjoying being part of the game, "You will find out soon enough. I am not supposed to tell you anything more".
He deposited her in an ugly orange room.
Before going he turned to her, "Because you have been so kind, I will tell you this - if you are really really in trouble and need help, stand at this window and think of me. I will try to come and help you".
And then he said his goodbyes and left.
Georgiana, now fully awake, looked around. Yes, she was still in that ugly room. She guessed what had happened to her...
Back in London, Sally, Georgiana's maid came running in and tried to wake up Caroline
"Ma'am, you have fainted ma'am. Please get up. Here is some water".
The housekeeper and Mrs Annesley soon joined her. In between them, Caroline was soon roused.
She limped to the bed and sat on it with a thump. A glass of cold water was pressed to her. The housekeeper and the maid fussed around her.
"I will get some breakfast for her. The poor dear must be worn out with all the visiting and shopping yesterday".
Caroline croaked, "Shopping?"
"Yes my dear. Do you not remember going to Bond street with Lady Matlock? Do rest now, until breakfast. And no going out today"
Caroline was quiet. She lay back on the bed.
It took her many many hours to realize what had happened. And few more hours to remember that she could now do almost whatever she wanted! Yippie!! She had spent almost the whole day in bed today, but she would make up for it from tomorrow! Yes, she would.
Posted on: 2014-03-04
Georgiana gingerly went down the staircase at Netherfield. She looked around with interest. Everything looked nice....it was a nice house. Except for the orange bedroom, everything looked cosy. She stopped at the foot of the stairs, not knowing which way to go for breakfast.
A door opened nearby (library, she later found out) and her brother exited it.
"Brother! I am soo happy to see you" She exclaimed. Without waiting to think she went close to him and linked her arm in his.
Then wondering why there was no response from him, she looked up to his face.
There she found amazement and disapproval, "Miss Bingley?" Said he.
She immediately remembered who she was supposed to be.
"Oh, I am sorry, I am truly sorry W..Mr Darcy. For some reason I thought it was my brother"
It sounded really lame. This was like being Caroline - too forward with Mr Darcy! And how she, Georgiana, always hated it.
After a small pause she said,
"But of course, you are already like a brother to me. Being my brothers particular friend".
She disengaged her arm and walked ahead in the direction he was headed. Mr Darcy was all amazement!!
In the breakfast room, he wondered at Miss Bingleys changed attitude. She sat with Charles and Louisa as usual for sure. But there were no demands on the servants. She ate her eggs quickly, "soft boiled please" with some bread and cheese. (as opposed to sending back her eggs at least once every morning!)
She said "Thank You" to the servant each time he filled her glass with juice or water.
Apart from that she was very quiet and just looking around her, as if she saw the room for the first time.
After breakfast was done, she dared to ask, "Is anyone going to Longbourn today? I would like to pay a visit there".
A surprised Louisa looked at her. The men quickly agreed to take her there and went off to get ready.
Louisa hissed at her, "What are you doing, Caroline? Did we not agree that the Bennet family don't deserve our friendship?"
"We did? When?"
"Yes, not quite in those words. But weren't we saying that apart from the 2 oldest girls, no one in the family is decent enough to warrant any attention?"
"May be so. But I feel like meeting them again, today."
How many Bennet siblings were there? wondered Georgiana.
Presently, the others were ready & she meekly followed her brother(s) to the carriage. Louisa declined to join then.
Georgiana soon found herself seated at Longbourn. From the various conversations around her she found out that the very beautiful eldest sister was Jane and her current brother Charles was almost in love with her. Her permanent brother (as she had started calling him in her mind) Will was looking more and talking less to the pretty-eyed Elizabeth.
After some silence on her part, she remembered that Miss Bingley would not sit meekly. And if her (Georgiana's) real desire was to get to know Elizabeth, she herself must start conversation.
"Do you like to play often, Miss Elizabeth?"
If Elizabeth was surprised to be singled out by Caroline, she didn't show it. And soon enough they started discussing music and the weather and the Hertfordshire countryside.
In a little while, Mrs Bennet encouraged them all to take a walk. Georgiana chose to walk in between Jane and Elizabeth and made herself agreeable to both. The visit was over soon after that.
That night, Elizabeth admitted to Jane, "May be I *was* mistaken in understanding Miss Bingley. She was all that is friendly and proper and even seemed a little shy today, compared to our previous meetings"
Jane being Jane responded, "I always knew she was good. You just didn't know her well Lizzy... "
All in all, it was a good day for Georgiana. She spent the next few days in a similar fashion - spending lot of time with the Bennet sisters; Jane and especially Elizabeth and also some with Mary and Kitty. At the end of the week, she felt she had a good friendship going with the older two sisters.
In town, Caroline (as Georgiana) was having a wonderful time! She had looked up Georgiana's expense book, was in wonderment about the allowance she received and how much (or how less) of it was actually spent on useful things like clothes, shoes, scarves and hats.
Mrs Anneseley made her sit for lessons every morning for couple hours. Caroline soon found out that Georgiana called her "Mrs A"! "Imagine being so familiar with a mere companion - a companion is just like a servant, may be slightly better"
On her part, Mrs A was surprised how her pupil was less attentive and distracted since the morning of her fall.
Georgiana hardly seemed to spend any time on her music as well. She was always impatient to get out of the house and on to Bond street to shop.
It was Mrs A's duty to go with her and Georgiana resisted having a companion. All Mrs A's arguments fell on deaf years:
"You cannot go out alone. You are still not out dear"
"You don't have to shop every day"
"We cannot go out to Hyde park at that hour - it may be the fashionable hour but you are not out yet".
Until Mrs A almost threatened,
"Your brother will not like you to go alone. I will have to inform him if you go alone anywhere, even to the Matlocks home. You know that very well".
This caught Caroline's attention. She didn't want any of her rights to be revoked. She agreed to have a companion with her.
At the end of four such days, Mrs A wrote a note to Lady Matlock and asked her to visit her niece, who was behaving in a "peculiar manner".
The next day, Lady Matlock came to visit Darcy House. Georgiana was supposed to practice her piano at that time...but instead, having cut her practice time by more than a half, she was getting ready in her room - getting ready to go out for one more day of fun. She so wanted to visit that new bakery and sample the French pastries again. Third day in a row!
Thus Lady Matlock found her chance to visit with Mrs A alone at first.
"What do you mean peculiar manner? What has my niece been doing?"
"You read about her fall in my note? Since she got up, she has not been herself. Not interested in studies - even when we are doing history or poetry"
"Really? That is surprising...." Lady Matlock waited for Mrs A to continue, knowing there was more
"And wants to go out shopping every day. Shops for many many things. Wants to go for a carriage ride in Hyde Park at an hour she calls Fashionable Hour. Wants to eat at the bakery on bond street all the time. It is as if..."
"As if what, Mrs A? You may speak plainly with me"
"It is as if she has just discovered her allowance and wants to spend all of it quickly - the number of shoes and hats she bought, the muslins she ordered, the gowns she is choosing....one would think she has many events to attend. And the colors! I will leave that for you to find out"
"Colors of all the things she bought"
"Alright, is she eating well at home? Sleeping on time?"
"Eating - that is one more change. She orders very fancy dishes these days. Is never happy with her eggs at breakfast. Keeps changing her breakfast order all the time. And shouts at the staff for small things. Had her brother been here, he would not have tolerated her behavior at the breakfast table these days"
" All this does not add up, Mrs A. You were right in sending for me. Let me go to her, I will have a chat"
Lady Matlock climbed the staircase in Darcy House and knocked on Georgiana's room.
"Who is it? I thought I told everyone not to disturb me until I finish getting ready. Sally, you fool, what did you do to my hair? You are so incompetent"
Lady Matlock took a deep breath and said loudly,
"It is me, Aunt Rebecca, my dear. I am coming in".
Lady Matlock pushed open the door and entered her niece's room. She found her at the vanity, with Sarah trying to do an elaborate hair arrangement.
Georgiana looked somewhat shocked to see her. She stammered,
"Good morning Lady Ma...I mean Aunt. How nice to see you here".
"Good Morning dear. What are you having Sarah do to your hair? This looks like a complicated task - something you would want to do for a night out. And its only morning".
"Yes, I was hoping to go to Bond Street at a little French bakery. And then I wanted to visit you and your sons"
"You don't need a hairdo like that for a day visit. Here, let me help Sarah free up your hair. Let us go back to our normal hair braid, shall we? You know you look far more sweeter in it"
A meek response followed that, "Whatever you say, Aunt".
Once the task was completed and Sarah dismissed, Lady Matlock looked around the room.
"This has always been such a pretty room. Your taste is just like your mothers, very dignified. Very pastel and pretty"
Just then her eyes spied new throw,
"*Ugh* where did that ugly Orange throw come from? Looks like something that weird Caroline Bingley would gift you"
Caroline was shocked at the words but put her chin up and said,
"I bought it yesterday at the ___ store. I thought this room needed some color".
Lady Matlock let that pass. She wanted to inspect the remaining shopping.
"I hear you visited Bond street again, two or three days in a row. What did you get? I am looking forward to seeing your purchases".
This perked up the girl immediately,
"Oh, Ma'm. I got such wonderful things. I wonder why she never - I mean why I never got some of these before. Of course, the best warehouses opened their doors for me, when they saw me enter. I got some new shoes, new bonnets. Here let me show you this, and this. What do you think of this? Arent these feathers lovely?"
"Yes, lovely. I tried that hat on and it made me stand out immediately."
"What about gowns?" asked Lady Matlock. She was flabbergasted at the amount of shoes, bonnets and scarves her niece was showing her. The colors were ghastly and the overall look was terrible.
"Gowns - yes, Madam Gorimer will send 3 new gowns this morning. And I got some silk and muslin for a few more. Here let me show you...and I am hoping to have them pattern it on this picture from the French magazine. I also bought the magazine yesterday."
Caroline fully expected Lady Matlock's approval. All these new acquired things would only make her niece look more elegant and refined. Instead, she saw the lady look at the new fabrics with a slight distaste, although she said nothing.
Lady Matlock, for her part was absolutely stunned. She was in two minds: she wanted to correct Georgiana, at the same time thought it may not be prudent to say anything right now. Her niece was probably experiencing her first flush of buying "grown up things".
In a week, she had gone from the meek, correct Georgiana to the suddenly talkative, over confident girl she was seeing.
She wanted Georgiana to retain some of the confidence but not the taste and ugly behavior that came with it.
Instead of discounting her shopping altogether, Lady Matlock said to her niece,
"Georgiana dear, I know all these things look good to you. But where will you wear them? You are not out - last I asked, you did not want to be out for another couple years. And did we not just complete some shopping for you last week?"
After a look at her niece's crestfallen face, Lady Matlock continued, "But seeing that you have already got some of it, why don't you come to Matlock House for dinner some time soon? You can wear some of your new things then" She smiled gently at her niece.
"But in future, if you want to shop please let me know. Until your brother comes back, I would like to accompany you on all trips. Alright?"
Caroline could do nothing but nod in agreement.
After her aunt left, she sat down to think about it. Did she (her aunt) or did she not like everything? She didn't hear any raptures, but there was no censure either.
Or may be there was mild censure for getting so many things at once. She decided to ignore it...What was her censure compared to the amount of satisfaction I will get while wearing all this finery!
Perhaps I can induce my cousins to take me to the theater. What fun to attend on the arm of a Viscount! Although it will be as Miss Darcy & not Miss Bingley.
All these thoughts were running in Caroline's mind when her maid knocked and came in with a letter.
"A letter from your brother Ma'am".
Caroline snatched the letter. Why was Charles writing to her here?
She looked at the even neat handwriting and realized who it was from. She opened it right away, eager to find out what Mr Darcy wrote. May be he will mention the pretty Miss Bingley in his letters!
Imagine her surprise then that there was not a single mention of her! He talked about the countryside, described some recent engagements with neighbors, even talked of Bingley's horse. While reading about a neighbors party, she came across the following passage,
"Miss Elizabeth Bennet performed again. I have told you in previous letters how much pleasure her performance gives me. Today it was the same; she said she was learning a new song and it may not be perfect. To my ears it appeared to be more than perfect. She needs some practice - I don't think she gets it as much as you do. But her taste and execution is flawless".
Caroline's eyebrows shot up. Not only was there no mention of her, but he actually described that lowly Eliza's performance! Something needed to be done.
How could she influence Mr Darcy - she need to think and plan about it soon.....