Posted on: 2014-04-03
"Do stop coughing, Kitty. Have some compassion on my poor nerves." Spoke her mama irritably.
The rest of the room ignored this outburst, but Kitty looked petulantly at her mother. Naturally, the woman's focus was no longer on her second to last daughter; instead she appeared to be counting something under her breath. Kitty coughed again, quite unintentionally, and once again earned the ire of her mother.
"Kitty, I quite lost count, stop your coughing now!"
"Count Mama? What are you counting?"
"The number of officers who will dance with your sister, Lydia, at the ball. Why, there's Sanderson, and Denny, and that handsome Mr Wickham..." her thoughts drifted off (probably to his strong calves, if Kitty new her mother at all).
"LYDIA? Dance with officers. That's a forgone conclusion, Mama. She's desperate to ruin us all." Kitty spoke in anger, causing the occupants of the room to look up in shock.
"Kitty, what's has gotten into you. And in front of Mr Bingley too. Shhhhh child, or leave the room."
"I will not shhhh, Mama. And Mr Bingley doesn't care. Look at him, he can't drag his eyes from dear perfect Jane. What has she ever done to deserve him? She can't sew, she can't play the piano. Yes, she is pretty. Pretty dull."
At this, Elizabeth looked up. "Kitty, that's uncalled for." She could feel the disapproving stares of Mr Darcy and Miss Bingley and wanted nothing more than for Kitty to stop this unexpected tirade.
"Me?" replied Elizabeth.
"Yes you. Fair enough, you don't want Mr Collins. He's repulsive. We know." At this, that gentleman looked up in shock. "But can't you see he's going to propose and if you don't accept it he's not going to look after mama when papa dies. And you will have to look after her. You with your charming Mr Wickham - who tells you things after he's known you for five seconds and you decide to spread this around the entire town so you can continue to abuse a man who insulted you once. Once! Poor Mr Darcy who is obviously in love with you, will never have a chance with you because you decided to eavesdrop on a private conversation." This time the gasp from Mr Darcy was audible, Miss Bingley had paled in horror and even Mr Bingley had dragged his eyes from Jane.
Mr Collins was forced to interject. "Mr Darcy is engaged to my most noble..."
"Yes, yes. Mr Collins," screeched Kitty. "I'm not talking to you." She turned towards her sister.
"Though you've done nothing to deserve it. Mr Darcy loves you. He loves the very person intent on ruining his reputation in this town where you are respected and he is now loathed. Can you not see a fortune hunter when it's right in front of you? Mr Wickham is obviously a bounder of the first order, which you would see if you looked out the window right now and saw what he was doing to Lydia." All eyes swiftly turned to see Lydia just outside the window desperately kissing Mr Wickham.
"LYDIA, you must marry him..."
"We are ruined."
"I will kill him."
"Miss Bennet, I was entrapped by your beautiful eyes. What is happening."
Lydia, ever oblivious to the havoc around her, leaned into the open window, and sweetly asked, "Haven't I found the perfect swain? Aren't his calves dreamy?"
Her mother dropped to the floor in a dead faint. Mary rushed to assist her while the rest of the company looked at each other in shock.
"Lydia Bennet. You make me sick. If only my father had sent you to school." That man entered the room, to find it on some disarray.
"Why would I send her to school? She's the silliest girl I know."
"To teach her some manners and to get her away from me."
Mr Darcy actually looked approvingly at this statement. This was turning out to be an enlightening visit. Though he was a bit concerned that Miss Elizabeth Bennet now knew about his infatuation.
"Miss Catherine Bennet, I would ask you not to speak with me like that. I am your father, and deserve your respect."
"What? My respect. But I'm one of the silliest girls in the country. Why would you trouble yourself gaining my respect? Why would you worry about us at all? What exactly have you been doing for the 25 years since you married my mother? Certainly not troubling yourself with our future. What have we got to offer potential husbands? Pretty looks and bad manners! When do you think of us at all?"
Kitty gave a small sob here, but continued, "Enough. I am most seriously displeased. Mr Bingley?"
He looked up at her expectantly. "Do you love my sister, as insipid as she is?"
"With all my heart."
"Then marry her and be done with it." He nodded solemnly and returned to his love.
"And the rest of you, please go away. GET OUT! Leave me in peace."
Stunned, the rest of the company did as she asked. Mary assisted her mother to her rooms. Elizabeth disappeared into the library to talk about ungrateful sisters with her father. Miss Bingley looked at Kitty with something like respect and took her leave. Lydia skipped back into the garden to find her officer friend had deserted her. She stomped her foot angrily. Mr Collins took one look at Kitty's angry face and mumbled an apology as he left the room. Mr Darcy very politely took his leave...but winked at her as he left.
Finally, Kitty slumped down on the sofa in a most unladylike fashion and coughed again. She smiled
"I hardly cough for my own amusement, mama."
Posted on: 2014-04-08
The calm before the eventual storm unleashed by her words had been beautiful and she had sat in the parlour in the bright sunshine for a while savouring the feeling of freedom her tirade had given her.
It hadn't lasted. Mary, with her copy of Radcliff's latest novel hidden beneath the dust jacket she had purloined from an ancient and dusty book of sermons clutched firmly in hand, had been the one to come and get Kitty and lead her towards her doom. Mary smiled at her little sister, tried not to laugh at her petulant expression and told her the news. Kitty had been summoned to her father's library, given a stern dressing down, been confined to the house for a month and threatened with the prospect of finishing school in Switzerland. She had tried her hardest to look like this wasn't the answers to all her prayers, but had failed at that too. With her father's sharp "it's a punishment, not a reward," ringing in her ears she had left the library, bumped into Lydia and promptly got punched in the left eye by her most frivolous sister. The day was getting worse by the minute.
Lying on the floor and staring at the retreating posterior of her erstwhile best friend wasn't really achieving much, but it did give her a perfect view into the parlour where Mr Bingley and his lover were still staring into each other's eyes. Kitty gritted her teeth in frustration. He still hadn't proposed. She shook her head wearily and looked at the ceiling. There was a small cobweb at the top of the stairs which Sally had obviously missed. As she was contemplating the perfect idea of "The Catherine Bennet Spider" ensnaring fools and nincompoops in her web to deal with later, a large nincompoop in the form of her cousin Collins came bumbling around the corner.
"What are you doing on the floor, Cousin Catherine?" he asked unctuously. As "Cousin Catherine" had not once been spoken to by the gentleman, she immediately became suspicious. What on earth did he want?
"Please help me up, Mr Collins," she requested politely. These may have been the politest words she had spoken all day. She would regret them.
"My dear cousin. I'm shocked and horrified by my actions towards you." said Mr Collins, seriously. "I should have known by your noble name that you would have been the perfect person to be my wife. The less said about your beauty the better." Kitty hurumphed at this, but let him continue, "but your noble nature, your opinions on the conduct of young ladies, your knowledge of the failings of humans, your desire to put things right, your strong held opinions on every subject, your noble name..."
"You're starting to repeat yourself."
"Your noble name," he started again, "have all lead me to see you as my perfect spouse. My patroness, Lady Catherine deBurgh, will be so thrilled to see that I have decided on a wife like you. When can we be wed, my little buttercu.?"
Kitty was just about to reply with all the heat and fury of a thousand splendid suns when she was saved by the appearance of her whole family, all gaping at the sight of their cousin upon bended knee in front of her. Even Mr Bingley had made an appearance to see the "Kitty Bennet Show."
Do you mean, Lady Catherine deBurgh, Darcy's aunt, Mr Collins? I can't imagine she'll be best pleased to be compared to a 16 year old girl, can you? She's always scared the living daylights out of me. You're a brave man risking her displeasure. A very brave man."
Mr Collins, who was nothing of the sort, stopped before enunciating that final 'p.' He backed away in horror from the girl with the swollen eye. "You're right, she'll, she'll, she'll be horrified, she'll kill me!" The strange, squeaking little man, turned tail and raced up the stairs, all the time muttering to himself about golden idols or some such.
Turing to Mr Bingley to thank him for his timely intervention, Kitty was distracted by her mother gaping like a fish. "Mama?"
"A daughter married to Mr Collins! We are all saved. Oh, Kitty, well done. I did think he preferred Lizzy, but now I see that Mr Dar..."
"Enough, Mrs Bennet! "Roared a furious Mr Bennet. "That's quite enough. Kitty is too young to be married. I'm sending her and her sister, Mary, to school where they can learn some manners." That is the end of this nonsense."
Lydia, who had apparently decided that being punched in the eye and proposed to by Mr Collins wasn't enough punishment for Kitty and that she needed to follow her to school, whined "What about me?" Her father looked at her with a frown.
"You, Miss, are going to my Great Aunt Gertrude's in Hull. That old termagant will terrify you into submission. The only calves you'll be looking at from now on are the bovine variety."
Mary snorted under her breath as Lydia looked confused. Mr Bennet sighed in despair and sent the lot of them to their rooms.
Kitty was bored. Oh she knew it was her own fault. She was in disgrace. Her mother wasn't talking to her. Lydia was crowing because for once somebody's behaviour had been worse than hers (though Kitty certainly hadn't been kissing men with dubious morals and excellent calves). Her father looked pained whenever he happened to glance at her (though as this was more attention than she usually received form him, she wasn't too worried about that). Jane, who had perhaps the most to thank her penultimate sister for - she had after all just arranged her marriage to the jovial, though sadly as deep as a sundried puddle, Mr Charles Bingley, was oblivious in her bubble of joy. Elizabeth was in high dudgeon because Kitty had seen something she hadn't and now Elizabeth was obligated to blush whenever Mr Darcy came near. Mary looked at Kitty with a large grin every time she saw her and had taken to bringing her sweets whenever no one else was looking.
Startled out of her ennui by a kerfuffle in the hallway, Kitty looked out into the hall to see her father pulling a face more furious than she had ever seen. Lydia, trailing behind him, was whining about not being able to go to the Netherfield Ball. "But, father, Kitty's behaviour was much worse than mine..."
Kitty and Mr Bennet both snorted in a rare display of synchronicity. Mr Bennet asked his penultimate daughter if she had anything to say about the wisdom of her sister.
Kitty's face dropped. "I was rude, Papa, horribly rude, and I'm sorry, I'm really sorry it happened in front of the visitors. I am sorry, Papa. I am. Lydia's not though. She sees nothing wrong with kissing a man to whom she is not engaged. What I said was true, she's going to ruin us all"
Lydia at this point was struggling to get past her father in order to blacken Kitty's other eye, but her father was not having any of it. She was quickly bundled upstairs and locked in her room, while her father made plans to leave for Hull that afternoon.
So Lydia and Mr Bennet left for Hull, with tales of the curmudgeonly Great Aunt Gertrude ringing in everyone's ears. Lydia was convinced she would be spending her time in a grimy port-town with no entertainment bar Great Aunt Gertrude's seven pugs and her fondness for wine gums. The wailing as they departed went a good way to assuaging everyone's grief and by the time the carriage was out of sight Mrs Bennet was already marshalling her troops. "Kitty, you go upstairs and help Jane with her hair. Lizzy, Jenny will help you. You need all the help you can get with Mr Darcy! Mary, please attend me with some of that lovely tea you prepare. Mr Bennet, to your...oh he's gone with my dearest girl...to Hull...Hull..."
Jane intervened at this point and led her mother inside, murmuring platitudes about what a comfort Lydia will be to Great Aunt Gertrude. Mrs Bennet was soon appeased and calm returned to Longbourn once more.
It is not the purpose of this narrative to speak of the happenings at the Netherfield Ball. Our heroine was unfortunately banned from attendance, though she was asked after most specifically by Mr Darcy and Miss Bingley who seemed worried about her. Jane and Charles announced their engagement to the surprise of absolutely no one, Elizabeth and Mr Darcy danced together very civilly to the surprise of both. Mr Collins danced with Charlotte Lucas to the delight of her mama. Mrs Bennet was calm and dignified - something about Mary's tea - the less said about the better.
Mary and Kitty sat at home looking at an atlas and discussing the possibility of the dastardly French leaving Switzerland* before they needed to go to school. Neither of them could quite figure out how this would happen and Kitty resolved to ask Mr Darcy when next she saw him.
Mr Darcy came to call two days later, bringing news that the reprehensible (though obviously very pretty) Mr Wickham was on a boat to his new farm in Newfoundland. When asked what Wickham was going to farm, Mr Darcy replied, "Icicles I presume," and quirked his eyebrow at Kitty who giggled.
Mr Darcy turned to Mrs Bennet and asked very politely, "Mrs Bennet, now that scoundrel has left the country I have invited my sister to stay. "'Will you allow me, or do I ask too much, to introduce my sister to your acquaintance during my stay at Netherfield."
The surprise of such an application was great indeed,'+ though Mrs Bennet was able to answer very prettily in the affirmative. She couldn't help but think this was a compliment to her Lizzy, and was very pleased with the morning's visit.
Kitty, not being fond of paragons of perfection, decided to reserve her judgement until Miss Georgiana Darcy arrived to stay at Netherfield. She saw an opportunity to discuss the plight of the Swiss with Mr Darcy, and to that gentleman's surprise they discussed military strategy for the rest of the morning.
Lizzy looked on in disbelief.
*In 1798 the French conquered Switzerland, not giving it back till 1815.
+Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen. Chapter 43
Posted on: 2014-04-17
All was quiet at Longbourn. Kitty was amazed at how much noise Lydia had created just by being in the same room. In the week since her 'points for discussion' (her words), or 'big shouty tantrum' (everyone elses), Mr Collins had proposed to and been accepted by Charlotte (with some caveats known only to that good lady). He had invited his noble patroness to the wedding and to everyone's surprise she had accepted. Mr Charles Bingley, being a picture of affability, had offered to have her and her daughter Anne to stay. They were due the following week.
Mrs Bennet had been remarkably unconcerned by the heir of Longbourn not marrying Kitty. Now that Mr Bingley had proposed and Kitty had uncovered Mr Darcy's infatuation with Lizzy, Mrs Bennet was undaunted by the marriage prospects of her three youngest daughters. A chance overhearing of Mr Darcy telling Kitty she was far too young to worry about that yet during one of their incomprehensible discussions had done more to assure her worry than anything. She had even been heard congratulating Mrs Lucas on Charlotte's marriage by a confused Lizzy.
Miss Elizabeth Bennet was confused. Her eldest sister and confidant had launched herself into wedding plans with Charlotte Lucas; her younger sister Mary appeared to be siding with the disgraced Kitty and they were forever pouring over atlases and giggling; Kitty appeared to be truly contrite and not at all concerned by the absence of Lydia; Mr Bennet had returned from the arduous ten day trip to Hull and back vowing to send copious amounts of wine gums to his aunt at his earliest convenience, apparently Lydia had not been a perfect travelling companion; Mrs Bennet seemed to be blaming herself for Lydia's disgrace and was silent for periods of time that often exceeded six minutes; Mr Darcy was unfailingly polite and spent most of his time in discussion with Mary and Kitty; Miss Bingley was furiously preparing her home for the imminent arrival of Lady Catherine and that lady's daughter and niece, and hadn't been seen for days. Everything Lizzy thought she knew had been turned upside down. She wasn't best pleased.
Lizzy flopped down on Kitty's bed in a very unladylike manner causing Kitty's book to land on the floor. "It's a world gone mad, Catherine Agatha Bennet. A world gone mad." She sighed loudly and then started poking her sister with her toe. "What are you reading, Kitty?"
Kitty looked at her sister in annoyance. "Nothing much now, since you decided to throw my book on the floor." Then, deciding to take pity on her sister she launched into a vivid description of her book "It's a novel about the Comte of La Sabroneque who is desperately in love with his ward. She's in love with him too. He can't believe she'll see past the gruesome disfigurement of his teenage acne, or maybe he was attacked by squirrels, I can't remember which..."
Lizzy's jaw dropped and she interrupted her sister, "I don't know if that's appropriate, Kitty."
Kitty took pity on her elder sister, "Not really, Lizzy, it's about military history in the Holy Roman Empire. Do you know about Charles V?"
It really was a world gone mad. The sisters settled into a comfortable coze.
The days turned, as days do, and finally the great personage of Lady Catherine deBourgh swept into the parlour of Longbourn with all the dignity she could display. Miss Anne deBourgh and Miss Georgiana Darcy, escorted by Mr Fiztwilliam Darcy followed the lady in. When the introductions finally got to Miss Kitty Bennet, Lay Catherine turned to her with an imperious glare. "Miss Catherine Bennet?"
"Miss Catherine Bennet. The slip of a girl who refused to marry my vicar?"
"Miss Catherine Bennet, the very girl who caused outrage across the parish with your wish to be educated?"
Kitty nodded again.
"Miss Catherine Bennet, I've come to speak with you particularly." Kitty looked terrified.
"Miss Catherine Bennet" (for Lady Catherine was obviously well accomplished at rhetoric). "I congratulate you on your lucky escape. The man's a giant turnip. Well done my girl. To fight for your education is most sensible indeed. Five girls without a governess - what could your parents be thinking?" Those parents were now looking quite agog again. "Now come and speak with my daughter and niece. They could use some company with a bit of spirit. I can't stand a milksop, not at all."
Kitty looked relieved and went to meet the young ladies. Soon they were giggling away together while Lady Catherine interrogated Mrs Bennet about parlours and pianos.
Lizzy shook her head and went to talk with Mr Darcy.
"It's a world gone mad."
"Those three may just conquer it," he replied wryly.
Lizzy grinned up at him. "Should I be scared?"
Posted on: 2014-05-04
It turned out, to Kitty's considerable relief, that Miss Georgiana Darcy, though a very sweet girl, was not a pinnacle of perfection after all. She had an awful habit of snorting when she giggled and a rather unfortunate pimple on the tip of her chin. Her cousin, Anne, perhaps seven years older, was a softly spoken girl with the Fitzwilliam nose (a generous soul might call it Roman). She laughed at her cousin when poor Georgiana snorted once more.
"What is it George?"
"Your mother just told Mrs Bennet that Fitzwilliam would marry you!" She snorted again.
"Well that's not going to happen!"
Kitty looked quizzical. "Because he's in love with Lizzy?"
The other two looked sharply at her. "No, because she knows she'll be shipped off to the dower house at Rosings faster than you can say, 'I do.' Replied Anne, "and it's a horrible old haunted house with a mice problem and terrible attics. She'll never stand for that. I love my cousin but he's a dreadful bore. All that time staring out windows..."
Georgiana interrupted, "Now what is this about Lizzy? Do you mean your sister, Miss Elizabeth? Why do you think he's in love with her? What's been happening?"
Kitty gave an overview of her Mr Darcy theory. She told of the long stares, the pointed conversations, and the witty banter. The other two couldn't help but agree with her when they looked up and saw Darcy and Elizabeth laughing together. Kitty explained that he was smitten, but she still was not quite convinced. "He insulted her once and he's not quite forgiven. She's like an elephant, that girl."
Georgiana sorted again, "I'm not sure she'll like that comparison."
Kitty giggled and begged them both not to repeat it.
Life in Meryton continued, with far more sanguinity than before. The inhabitants of Netherfield spent most of their time at Longbourne. Kitty bothered her father with questions about school and the French campaign. Mary stole Georgiana as often as she could so they could practise together. Mr Darcy and Lizzy continued their comfortable courtship. Mrs Bennet and Lady Catherine formed an unlikely alliance fuelled by Mary's secret tea. Mr Bennet hid in his library and looked at schooling options and bribes for his poor aunt. Jane and Mr Bingley stared into each other's eyes. Kitty told Georgiana about Lydia and Mr Wickham and Georgiana snorted in amusement at the thought of that fastidious miscreant working on a farm. She told a bemused audience that he would have made a terrible soldier anyway because he fainted at the sight of blood.
Mr Collins, the enormous turnip, married Charlotte Lucas in a quiet ceremony in St Jude's in Meryton. The bride's mother was triumphant, her father bombastic. The groom was strangely quiet; those caveats of the former Miss Lucas had already set in. The two left for Hunsford in a flurry of congratulations from the parish and only one small shudder from Kitty. Lady Catherine and her daughter chose to remain at Netherfield, giving Charlotte an opportunity to whip her husband into shape without an audience.
Happy was the day when Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy proposed to the fetching Miss Elizabeth. That good lady was moved by the deepest affection to accept him. Kitty took all the credit.
Lady Catherine breathed a sigh of relief at the news. She hated the thought of the dower house with all its mice. Ghosts, of course were not a problem. They would not dare to haunt a lady of her consequence. She pretended to be grumpy with her nephew, for forms sake, but by the end of the week was declaring that it was all her idea after all.
Mrs Bennet couldn't believe her luck. Her second daughter was affianced to a man of great fortune and charming relations (what is in that tea?) and it had happened without any input from her at all. She crowed her good fortune to the four and twenty families in the area who, being nice people and remembering the Lydia debacle, agreed that she was the most fortunate woman in the world.
Mr Bennet was thrilled at the thought of his new son in law's library. He had tried to talk to Bingley about books, but had given up and spoken to Miss Bingley instead. That lady was very informed about the state of the world and confessed to Mr Bennet that she had been doing her brother's accounts for years. She had offered to teach Jane everything she needed to know before the wedding and had found a willing student in Miss Bennet, as long as Mr Bingley was not in the room.
Georgiana's companion soon arrived at Netherfield and her lessons recommenced. She invited Kitty and Mary to join her in her studies and the three girls were soon working hard each morning to the approval of their respective families.
Lydia spent a fortune sending letters to her father, begging to come home. Unfortunately for her, she showed no remorse at all and her father could not be swayed. He shipped off another huge box of wine gums and reconsidered investing in that shipping enterprise of his brother Gardiner's.
Posted on: 2014-05-14
Kitty was not to go to school.
Anne deBurgh, now happily jilted by her imaginary suitor, Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy, had decided to take a husband. Although burdened by a Roman nose and a bossy mother, no one thought that this would be a problem. She was, of course, splendidly dowered, and her father had left her both the manor at Rosings Park and around half of Kent in his will. She was also a good sort of girl, having been doted on by various relations on both sides of the family all her life. Some people might call Anne spoiled, but she had become a great favourite with the Bennet ladies.
In order to facilitate the taking of a husband, Anne had decided to form an establishment in London. Her mother, not wanting to be stuck at Rosings near the Big Turnip, had decided to attend her daughter and had invited Georgiana, Mary and Kitty to accompany them. It was all arranged, the finest masters would attend the girls, they would be schooled in the modern languages, art, music, history and in the study of those feminine accomplishments so admired by the ton. Lady Catherine was happy to be of use to the Bennet girls; she loved to be of use.
Mr Bennet was thrilled to be educating his daughters with very little cost to himself. He immediately set to writing to his brother Gardiner about those shipping investments and under the advice of his financial advisor, Miss Bingley, he made some fortuitous investments in his daughters' names. This ensured any profits made went to them, rather than the estate and the irritating Mr Collins.
Kitty wasn't exactly thrilled that her dreams of school had turned sour, but a particularly plaintive letter from her sister Lydia had convinced her she was getting a good deal. Apparently it had been raining for 41 days and nights in Hull and Lydia was considering building an ark to escape.
Happy for all her maternal feelings was the day that Mrs Bennet got rid of her two eldest daughters. It started with a bang as Kitty ran into Jane's room and jumped into the bed. Her cold toes did more to wake up Jane than anything and Kitty soon found herself shoved to the floor in an ungainly heap. She wondered for a charitable moment if she should advise Charles about Jane's temper in the mornings but with a giggle decided not to. He needed to learn that you can't be an angel all the time.
Kitty pulled herself off the floor and jumped on Jane again. This time her sister deigned to open her eyes and Kitty quickly told her that Lizzy had been up for hours and was pacing the house like a caged lion. Shutting her eyes with a groan, Jane told her sister to stop comparing Lizzy to wild animals. At that exact second the door to Jane's room burst open and slammed against the wall. Jane quirked an eyebrow at Kitty, "perhaps not caged," and dragged herself from the bed with an enormous groan.
The girls gathered up Mary and descended to the breakfast room where Mr and Mrs Bennet waited for them. They broke their fast, with some looks of confusion towards Jane and Kitty as they made the occasional growling noise over their bacon and toast. "Mr Bingley won't want to marry you if he finds you've gone mad," complained Mrs Bennet.
"I'd worry more about Mr Darcy," quipped Kitty, "Jane might be a bear in the mornings, but he's the one marrying a lion." Mary and Mr Bennet joined in the laughter while Mrs Bennet tried to console a perfectly happy Jane and scold the jittery Elizabeth.
Soon the girls were ready for the walk to St Jude's in Meryton. Mr Bennet took his wife's arm and followed by their gaggle of daughters they walked to meet the grooms. Quietly Elizabeth confessed to her sisters that she wished Lydia was there too. A quiet moment followed and soon they were at the church.
Kitty and Mary fussed around their sisters, smoothing and straightening their gowns and handing them the roses they were to carry. All too soon Mr Bennet came to take his little girls' hands and lead then down the aisle towards their good men. He shed a tear or two as he gave them away, but the brides were radiant, the grooms cheerful and the congregation jubilant.
The wedding breakfast passed in a flurry of congratulations and cake. Kitty and Mary, joined by Anne and Georgiana, sat in the corner and planned their London adventures. Their giggling gained the notice of their papa, and he joined them to talk about the museums and galleries they were to see. He was surprised to think he would miss them when they went, and planned a trip or two to London himself.
Soon the breakfast was over and the couples were quickly on their way to the coast were they would honeymoon. Kitty and Mary looked rather wistful as they stood at the entrance of Longborne long after the coaches and guests left. Finally they sighed and went inside.
Posted on: 2014-05-23
Kitty sat, slumped rather ungraciously, on a particularly hideous chaise in the smallest drawing room in Anne de Burgh's townhouse in Mayfair. It was raining. It had been raining for weeks. Weeks and weeks. She glared at the windows in disgust. This was supposed to be the adventure of her life, and here she was, on a puce seat, in a violet room, trapped by the rain.
She could hear Mary and Georgiana plunking away at the piano in the next room. Anne had had the music room refurnished and there was no puce there. It was a lovely room, but it contained the harp which Kitty had been attempting to play. Kitty and the harp were no longer friends. Her fingers hurt, a lot, and the music master had yelled at her for completely missing every C in the music. She had slumped lower on the chaise when Anne rushed into the room and very quietly shut the door.
Anne de Burgh had set out on her husband hunt with some vigour. Her mother had a huge list of potential spouses, but they all seemed to be related to Anne in some way. Anne was all for keeping the money in the family, but the tremendous amount of cousins from both sides of the family all had one fatal flaw; they were terrified of Lady Catherine. Anne couldn't really blame them, her mother was formidable at the best of times, and these were the worst of times.
While Kitty, Mary and Georgiana had spent the morning ruining their music master's legendary calm, Anne had been sequestered in the morning room entertaining the never-ending stream of younger sons and retired war heroes who had come to pay court. She was not amused by their toadying and ingratiating ways. Anne had no use at all for the insignificant scions of London's elite that Lady Catherine kept parading in front of her. She had fallen in love. Unfortunately, it wasn't just her mother who disapproved of Henri Bonheur; the rest of society did as well. He looked like a pirate, acted like a rake and was completely and utterly unperturbed by Lady Catherine. Anne adored him.
Anne slumped down on the sofa beside Kitty and laughed at her petulant frown, "Fingers?"
Kitty held out her harp-damaged fingers and frowned again. "I'm sure if you had learnt, you'd have been a true proficient."
Anne sniggered at her friend and told her she was becoming more like Lady Catherine by the day. As Kitty was growing increasingly fond of Lady Catherine for all her overbearing ways (and terrible taste in upholstery), she wasn't too offended. She then asked Anne about her morning.
This caused Anne to groan again and lament the fact that the great love of her life had not come to call. He had no patience for the poetry and flowers of the drawing room or the young bucks who thought they could marry Anne deBurgh for her money.
Anne and Mr Bonheur had met through Anne's cousin, the charming Colonel James Fitzwilliam, who had been escorting his cousin and his ward to a bookstore on Bond Street. Georgiana had been struck silent by the dark good looks of the young French nobleman and the good Colonel had been too busy looking after her to concentrate on the immediate connection between Bonheur and Anne.
Although no one approved of Bonheur, everyone agreed that his name was quite apt. He had been removed from France by his mother many years before when the widow Bonheur had remarried into a minor branch of the English aristocracy, thus he had missed the worst of the conflict and been educated at both Eton and Cambridge with Colonel Fitzwilliam. Bonheur had quickly become a favourite of his stepfather and had inherited a vast amount of land in England and the colonies. His tea plantations in Asia were rumoured to make obscene amounts of money as were his gold mines in Africa. Henri Goodluck, indeed.
Bonheur had returned from his tour of his holdings to discover he had allegedly broken the heart of the daughter of a duke who he could not remember meeting and his reputation had been destroyed. He didn't mind. It saved him the bother of making meaningless social calls to insipid misses. He liked the clever Anne deBourgh and had thanked the Colonel for introducing them. The colonel, full of remorse, maintained he had done no such thing. The two lovers had continued to meet clandestinely in bookstores and parks but this morning he had come to visit.
"He was here."
Anne sighed, "Really. He's extraordinarily handsome."
"Does he still look like a pirate?"
"And your mother?"
"Oh...but I love him."
"He asked me to marry him."
"I said yes."
Suddenly the day looked brighter Kitty launched herself at her friend. "You'll be so happy!" She was thrilled by the news, but then thought of Lady Catherine. "But your mother?"
"He told her his annual income."
"He makes Darcy look like a pauper."
"She's quite excited, planning the wedding as we speak."
Kitty grinned at her friend. "Just how rich will you be?"
'Croesus could ask for a loan."
Anne threw a puce cushion at her friend and sighed happily.
"I love him."
Posted on: 2014-08-15
After Anne's quick marriage to her piraticalesque paramour (by special licence, you understand, nothing but the best for the noble daughter of Lady Catherine deBourgh), and her relocation to Bonheur's palatial mansion, life in London settled into a regular routine for Mary, Kitty, Georgiana and Lady Catherine.
Mary was well on her way to becoming a true proficient at the pianoforte, mainly due to Georgiana dropping the lid on her fingers whenever she got too ponderous. Kitty tried not to approve of this Pavlovian approach to music practise (especially because Pavlov hadn't been born yet), but in reality, it made her life much more pleasant. Lady Catherine, believing all young ladies, who were not her daughter, needed to be truly proficient at all ladylike accomplishments, had encouraged Kitty away from the music room after it had become increasingly obvious that she had no talent on the harp. Instead, Kitty, having discovered a previously unknown aptitude for the modern languages, was allowed to practise her French and Italian with her language tutor while Georgiana and Mary bickered in the music room.
Said tutor, while unfortunately not a handsome and impoverished young man, was full of adventurous tales of his youth spent on the continent. Kitty was inspired by his tales of Rome and Greece and faithfully tracked his historical journeys in an atlas she had swiped from her Brother Darcy's library.
When she wasn't conjugating verbs, embroidering handkerchiefs, netting purses, painting screens and improving her mind by extensive reading, Kitty had undertaken something of an epistolic challenge. While she adored her new sister Georginana and her old sister Mary, Kitty found herself missing her mother and father (something she found odd, as she was sure that they forgot she existed more often than not). Her letters to her mother, though rarely answered, were full of witty news of the latest fashions - learnt through the pilfering of the latest fashion magazines of her cousin-in-law Anne Bonheur. Her letters to her father had taken on a different task though. She was attempting (with considerable success) to correspond with Mr Bennet in Latin. That man, as laconic as he was, missed his daughters now the halls of Longbourn were quiet. He took delight in his letters to Kitty, mainly because he could assured of a swift response in an archaic language that his wife could not understand in the slightest.
Lydia, trapped in Hull, could be persuaded to write back to Kitty every now and then when Kitty threatened to stop writing to her altogether. Your author would like to suggest that Lydia was improving, but all signs pointed to her being bored. Great Aunt Gertrude had moved on from wine gums to sherry under the stress of it all and spent most of her days lying about the drawing room instead of educating her great niece. Thus Lydia, although unable to go out without permission, was confined and bored. Kitty thought this was an explosive situation, and wrote to Mr Bennet with the suggestion he bring his youngest daughter home lest his aunt commit nepoticide*. He wasn't quite so keen, but saw the necessity of removing Lydia from her aunt's care. So Lydia was to go to school. Kitty was surprised to find she wasn't at all jealous of this situation. She found that her education under the surprisingly generous Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and with her sisters, was all that she needed. Lydia wasn't rich or well-connected enough to get into too much trouble at school and she had to wear the most ghastly uniform ever invented. Her reports back from school were not overwhelmingly positive, but the ever-present threat of Great Aunt Gertrude and Hull^ were enough to keep her in check in the meantime.
Letters to Jane were full of rainbows and butterflies and pixies. All was well at Netherfield Park. Kitty was under the impression that Jane and Charles were so compliant that nothing was ever resolved upon. She had taken to writing letters to her brother Darcy so he could intervene whenever something she could sense something terrible was about to happen. Darcy, in turn, had encouraged Mr Bingley to employ a sensible steward. Mr Benjamin Smith, though not the most charismatic of people, and not at all handsome and impoverished, was able to rein in the worst excesses of the Bingley's generosity and upon taking the job had dismissed half of the servants on the spot.
Lizzy and Darcy, Kitty refused to call him Fitzwilliam on the grounds it was a ridiculous name, had a marriage that was far more volatile. The two of them, both used to getting their own way on all things, fought all the time. They were also, after six months of marriage, expecting their first child. Everyone had been invited to Pemberley for the happy occasion and Kitty was looking forward to the long trip to Derbyshire. Kitty's letters to her sister were a bit more guarded than those to her brother-in-law. Lizzy had a tendency to lecture Kitty, which Kitty did not like at all. And truly, she was doing her best to be respectable.
Miss Kitty Bennet was bored. She slumped in the barouche as it made its interminable way north through the English countryside. Georgiana and Mary were sound asleep. Lady Catherine had decided to join Mr and Mrs Bennet in her coach as she couldn't cope with the girls' constant bickering. Kitty could imagine the coach now, with all three of them slumbering in comparative comfort. The barouche looked nice, but it was most uncomfortable, and Kitty felt ill whenever she took up her book to read.
Staring out the window, Kitty reflected on the letter she had received from Lydia before leaving London. Lydia was in disgrace, having flirted unashamedly with a young man in the village near her school. That you man, though both handsome and impoverished, was also somewhat of a prude and had quickly reported Lydia's behaviour to the school. As such, Lydia was no longer allowed out of the school grounds and had been allocated a room with one of the younger girls. This girl, at only 11 years old, showed more maturity than her companion and refused to go along with any of her jokes. Kitty still had some hopes that Lydia would grow up.
Finally, after having left the third inn very early, the weary convoy pulled into Pemberley. The Bingley coach arrived first, with Jane emerging like Venus from the sea (though obviously fully clothed). Secondly, Lady Catherine and Mr and Mrs Bennet appeared from the relative comfort of their coach. Finally, a hyperactive Georgiana Darcy leapt from the barouche into the arms of her amused brother. Mary and Kitty attempted a graceful curtsy, but they too were caught up in the flurry around Darcy and his sister, and found themselves being thoroughly hugged as well.
It quickly became apparent to Kitty that Lizzy, never the most imperturbable of her sisters, was in a bad mood. She was huge, she waddled like an ungainly duck and her fingers were puffy. After greeting her family she and Jane slipped away to her rooms for a rest.
Mrs Bennet, quite agog at the splendour that is Pemberley, recovered from the journey quickly and was soon bothering poor Darcy for a tour. He was quick to give the task to his Aunt Catherine who had an encyclopaedic knowledge of window tax and a passion for antiquities. Georgiana had disappeared with the housekeeper, a sensible looking elderly woman who quite doted on her. Mr Bennet had escaped to the library, leaving Mary and Kitty at a loss of quite what to do. There were some disadvantages to being considered part of the furniture after all.
As Kitty already adored her Brother Darcy, she also thought of how hard it must have been for him, to have been given so much responsibility at such a young age, while he was mourning his father and looking after his orphaned sister. He had looked older somehow, when they arrived, and Kitty knew he was worried about Lizzy. His mother had died giving birth to his younger brother, who had in turn not lived to draw his first breath. Kitty reminded herself to mention to him just how hearty, although occasionally bad tempered, the Bennet ladies were.
As the days passed, Lizzy received word from Charlotte that she was also in the family way. It would take stronger people than the Bennet sisters not to give a small shudder at the thought of The Giant Turnip procreating, but they were all glad for Charlotte, who would be mistress of Longbourn soon enough. Kitty thought, not very privately, that Charlotte had certainly paid the price for her eventual status.
And finally, after days of waiting and many a fluttering nerve, the former Miss Elizabeth Bennet gave her husband a healthy boy child. Young Master Bennet Fitzwilliam George Henry Bartholomew James Darcy was as small as his name was long and his aunts fell in love at first sight.
*Is there a feminine version of nepoticide? I can't find it!
^Apologies to the good people of Hull. It's not that bad.