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The Secret Life of Caroline Bingley - Part One Chapt 1- 3

July 25, 2017 05:14PM
Shortly after Darcy and Bingley's wedding, Caroline Bingley is sent packing to visit her Scottish relatives by her mother. Losing Darcy has put her in a tailspin. During P&P we saw as she went through the stages of DENIAL, ANGER, and NEGOTIATIONS, we pick up with her very firmly in the last stage of grief, that is to say, she is seriously DEPRESSED. This first part gives you a bit more background on Caroline's perspective on her relationship with Darcy, and the events in P&P. ~ H.C. Ingram

Author’s Note

What have I done?

An entire book about Caroline Bingley? Who would do such a thing? I know, but please hear me out.

After reading Pride and Prejudice watching the movie, listening to the audiobook, and devouring every variation imaginable with and without zombies- there are certain truths that must to be universally acknowledged. Specifically, that Caroline Bingley was, is, and always will be, the absolute worst.

How dare she interfere with Lizzy and Darcy? She has always been a complete and utter snob, fake, and plain mean. I wanted nothing to do with her, or her horrible sister.

Flash forward several years and I found myself writing about Mary and Kitty. I've always thought them to be neglected in so many ways and deserving of their own adventure. I imagined Kitty updating Mary gossiping about Caroline's upcoming nuptials. “This has to be good,” I thought. I hoped to hear that Caroline had gotten her comeuppance. She deserved marry some old geezer, or ship off somewhere terrible – like Virginia.

To my surprise, that isn’t what I found at all.

After much exploration, I realized that I had to forgive Caroline. Despite her horrible machinations, her biggest flaw wasn’t really a flaw at all. Yes, she behaved horribly, stupidly, and meanly, but I had always assumed she was, like Wickham, shallow, selfish and eager for the Darcy fortune.

All of a sudden, I found myself asking the question – what if she loved him? What if she loved Darcy because he was the most reasonable, sensible man she had ever met? What if she loved him because he was the only man that appreciated her sharp wit? What if he was the only person she felt she could be herself around? What if she loved him with all the tumult and passion of first love?

Oh dear. Of course she did, after all hadn’t Jane written as much?

It has been over twenty years since I first read Pride and Prejudice. I am now twice as old as I was when I first fell in love with the book, and twice as old as Caroline and Elizabeth were in 1812.

With age comes insight and wisdom (unless you are Mrs. Bennet). Caroline’s greatest fault is not her pride but the bad fortune of being in the way of the greatest love story of all time.

In fact she was the first to fall in love with the same man that millions have swooned over for centuries. As Charlotte would say, “We are all fools in love.” I say better to be a fool than to marry Mr. Collins.

So I've written this story. I hope you, dear reader may forgive her as I have and, in time, even hope for her own bit of happiness.

Yours most sincerely,

H.C. Ingram

# # #

Chapter 1

Where We Left Off

It has long been the common view that there is no fury in hell quite like that of a woman scorned. Perhaps this is true in general, but Ms. Caroline Bingley, one of London’s most accomplished young women had too much sense and dignity to expose herself in such a manner.

It would be prudent to recount, more completely, the events that took place in the English county of Hertfordshire. Charles Bingley, a young man of moderate wealth, has rented Netherfield Park for some country amusements. It was an absurdly large country house for hunting and relaxation.

Hertfordshire was a tolerable but unfashionable county. Most considered too close to London for a proper holiday. For Charles, it had the perfect advantage of being far enough away to ensure his mother would never visit.

Charles would escape the scrutiny of that came with recently coming into one’s fortune. His friend Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley, and his younger sister Caroline joined him. Both were no less eager to distance themselves from the atmosphere of matrimonial negotiations. His sister and brother-in-law, Mr. & Mrs. John Hurst, also joined the party. Neither of them had a preference on locale, and card games were as easily enjoyed in the country as in town.

Very soon upon taking up residence, Charles fell for Jane Bennet, a local beauty. This was no surprise to Caroline. Her brother had less of an aversion to marriage than to the imposition of their mother’s preference.

However, it had been a shock when Darcy, who had long withstood matrimonial machinations, would likewise become ensnared. It was Caroline who had first noticed his partiality toward Jane’s sister, Elizabeth Bennet, well before anyone else. Indeed, she seemed to be aware before the two most interested parties.

Caroline had every reason to be secure in the imperviousness of Mr. Darcy’s heart. For nearly a decade, e had withstood the attentions of some of England’s and Europe’s most eligible women. It might be allowed that Ms. Elizabeth Bennet was pretty, she was nothing extraordinary, but she was intelligent, and witty. Caroline might have even liked her under different circumstances. And yet.

There was something irksome about her easy manners, which hardly deferred to rank or custom. And her family, in particular her mother was an intolerable, embarrassing creature, foisting her daughters into social settings without any regard for sentiment or propriety.

Of course the additions to their circle wouldn’t have been nearly as troubling if not for the cataclysmic realization that Caroline Bingley did not simply admire Mr. Darcy as a friend, as she had once supposed. The idea that he would leave their society in general and hers in particular had started to become increasingly unbearable. So much so that she was finally forced to realize the depth of her affections for him.

She had always been aware that he was rich, and marriage to him would have every advantage, including satisfying her mother. It was more than that, however.

Darcy had a superior wit and understanding that made all other young men, even those of more wealth and consequence, seem unbearably insipid.

And so Caroline had done what she felt she must to preserve their intimate group, that their party might continue as they always had. It seemed at the time that every measure of propriety demanded that she hinder the connection. For a time she Darcy himself had wanted her intervention.

After much ado, including scandals and intrigues, none of that had mattered. With every obstacle, Darcy’s admiration for Elizabeth had only grown. As his admiration grew so did Caroline’s chance for happiness fade. In the end, Mr. Darcy wed Elizabeth standing next to Charles and Jane.

Thus Caroline had only the memory and mortification of her role throughout the affair. She thought of her inconsistencies, outright duplicities, and failed maneuverings. With her brother's marriage she was no longer needed to run his home. She had returned to London where she found her mother, disappointed and resentful over Charles's choice of bride. She was determined that her last child be far more advantageously engaged.

Caroline struggled to retain her as poise but was unable to maintain that facade of perfect serenity.

And thus, soon after she arrived in town, her mother had bundled her off and sent her to stay with her Scottish relatives.

# # #

Chapter 2

In the Carriage

North of Dumfries, Scotland

The jerk of the carriage pitched Caroline violently forward, nearly causing her to plunge into the ample bosom of her maid. Lucy, a plump woman of twenty-four, slept through the rocky tumult entirely unaware of her mistress’s predicament.

Caroline pushed herself back into her seat. This she considered was only the latest in a string of humiliations. The loss of her position as mistress of her brother's home. Exiled from London until she were more presentable, to a tiny seaside town in Scotland.

Caroline’s head banged against the back of the carriage as a wheel pulled free from a muddy rut. It seemed to Caroline that the roads deteriorate precipitously the farther they ventured from London. It felt as though she would rattle into pieces before long.

The journey had already taken three days longer than expected. Even staying at the best inns and houses along the way, the trip was wretched. In truth, it wasn’t ill kept roads that put the young lady into such low spirits. Nor could blame be laid on the weather. Caroline possessed remarkable fortitude and hardly attended the weather. This was in spite of an excellent education that taught her how to maintain an air of feminine fragility,

She could credit her robust constitution to Celtic ancestors, who had thrived in even the most frigid Scottish winters. Unfortunately her fiery temper could likewise be attributed to that same heredity. And yet she felt none of the vivacity that had sustained her entire life. Inside she was --

Caroline didn’t have the words for the emptiness, the sense of loss she felt since hearing the parson pronounce Darcy and Elizabeth man and wife. If she had read more novels she might have described the feeling as heartbreak, but she was not so sentimental. And thus the sensation remained a mystery to her.

Her close friend and confidante, Lady Rebecca Tanner, had foisted upon her a novel to “entertain her on the long journey.” Rebecca had promised that the novel Camilla would be a perfect distraction. It might, she suggested even given Caroline some insight. Unfortunately, reading while being jostled about gave Caroline a blazing headache. After several attempts, Caroline had to put the book aside. She would mail the obnoxious thing back at the first opportunity.

Her gaze fell once again on Lucy, noting how the wretched woman continued to sleep peacefully. Irritably, she considered waking her with some trivial demand but thought better of it. Lucy had been her attendant for going on seven years and knew her mistress too well. She knew Caroline better than she knew herself and had the habit of bearing any ill temper with a solicitude that was quite vexing.

This had been especially notable since her brother's wedding. Lucy had born Caroline's irritability with equanimity that bordered on condescension. No, it was better to leave her be and remain alone with her own thoughts.

Caroline turned her attention outside the carriage window. She watched as endless mountains and fields emerged and disappeared, submerging in a blue-gray dream. She thought of her father, a businessman with a penchant for military metaphors. He used to say to his children, “Before going into battle still your nerves and quiet your heart. And above all remember you are a Bingley and more than enough for any challenge.”

Closing her eyes she breathed in the earthy scent of moss and horse. Inhaling, she let the thick, damp air fill her lungs before slowly exhaling and tried to remember.

# # #

Chapter 3

Recollections of Town

London. That was where she belonged. She ought to be attending parties and meeting suitors, not tossed about in a chaise and four.

Her mother was right about one thing; she had failed in her obligation in finding a suitable husband. She had remained fixed on a person who had amounted to nothing more than a foolish fantasy. She knew that. Of course she knew that.

She was, she told her self, resigned to marry the most suitable suitor her mother could find.

If she was being truthful she may have admitted she was not entirely confident in that conviction. She hadn’t always been so sanguine about her mother’s opinions. And yet, after failing so completely, it might be possible that her mother had been right all along.

Perhaps, she was hopeless and that such matters ought be taken from her hands. It was clear; she had no idea what made one happy in marriage. The only thing that was certain was exactly little she knew of men.

Thinking of her future gave her a headache. Instead turned her thoughts to more pleasant memories, like the first time she had met Mr. Darcy.

It had been at her dear friend Rebecca Tanner’s London family home where she was first introduced. It was the first season for both Caroline and her friend.

Her mother, Moira Bingley, had arranged for her and Louisa to arrive at midnight. For, as her mother had often explained, if one was not needed early, one's entrance was an opportunity

Moira herself had gained some notoriety for her keen fashion sense as well as her friendship with many of society's most elegant ladies. Heads turned, when she was announced, if only to see what she was wearing. They were not disappointed to see not only Moira but her two daughters modeling, the latest fashions from the continent and abroad. How Caroline had shone under all those admiring gazes.

Louisa attended immediately by Mr. John Hurst, her fiancé. Offering her his arm, he led the elder Ms. Bingley away to the card tables.

Rebecca sought out her friend soon after. Begging her pardon of Mrs. Bingley she puled Caroline away into her confidence.

“Everyone is here,” Rebecca reported with evident delight.

Caroline had to agree. The Tanner home, one of the largest homes on St. James Street, was full with the very best of London society.

“You look astonishing. I dare say your mother will have several proposals for you before the end of the season," Rebecca laughed. "Possibly before the end of the night."

The Bingleys were not as elevated in station as the Tanners. Nonetheless the two families had been quite intimate for quite sometime. Moira Bingley was the particular friend of Lady XXX, the youngest daughter of the Earl of Gettsworth. She had been the one to introduce her friend to Rebecca's father not long after he had been knighted.

The ladies had attracted quite the following as trendsetters.

*** FIX **** Moira sharp, politically savvy, with the connections to latest merchandise. Leveraged Lady XX status to be seen.

Caroline knew her worth very well. She had wealth. When had has died, Mr. Bingley had left his daughters twenty thousand pounds each, as well as an interest in Bingley & Co, which was far more valuable. In addition, her family was very well connected, both in business and in society. Finally, Caroline possessed uncommonly pretty features and had mastered every acceptable female accomplishment. She knew that she was a very attractive match.

Still Caroline could not help protesting Rebecca's prediction.

“I hope not,” she cried, at seventeen, she wasn’t ready to marry. “I should hope to enjoy at least a few parties without feeling obligated to one man or another.”

She did not mention to her friend that she would also like to thoroughly assess her options.

“How wicked. Don’t you want to marry?” Rebecca asked.

“I do or did – but then I look at Louisa and Hurst,” She lowered her voice. “Can you imagine engaging yourself to someone like him?”

Rebecca tried to hide her smile. The match was quite respectable. Mr. Hurst was decent enough. He was stylish, wealthy and not entirely unattractive. Unfortunately, his sort appealed neither to Caroline's pragmatic heart nor Rebecca's romantic one.

Caroline continued, “If I let my mother choose for me I am sure that it is what I’ll be agreeing to.”

“It could be worse. My mother is always going on that I should marry Jerry.”

“If I were your mother I’d say the same thing,” Caroline laughed. “Jerry may be a bit shy--”

“Ugh, it would be so dull.” Rebecca rolled her eyes, "I've known him for forever."

Caroline said ignoring the interruption, “-- but he’s going to be an Earl and he is terribly in love with you.”

It was an ongoing dispute between the two young women. Caroline doubted she would ever make much headway. She wished Rebecca could find romance in the steadfast Mr. Gerald Monroe, but had long since given it up trying to convince her friend.

“I should like to have some mystery. No we mustn’t give in, we must choose better ourselves. Someone handsome, and fine...” Rebecca said.

“...And intelligent and interesting,” Caroline added.

“...And rich enough to satisfy our mothers,” Rebecca added, they both laughed. As if they cared what their mothers thought.

“But doesn’t your brother have any suitable friends?” Rebecca asked. “What’s the point of going to Cambridge if not to find eligible young men to introduce to one’s sister and her friends?”

“Charles is a dear brother but completely lacking in discernment,” Caroline said, adding, “I worry sometimes that he is too kind. I don’t know that he has enough sense to attend to his family obligations.”

“Careful my dear, you wouldn’t want anyone to infer any criticism." Rebecca said in near perfect imitation of Moira Bingley.

Caroline smirked.

Oh the importance of good sense as well as the grace to avoid the appearance of it. That was what all well-bred ladies must learn.

“Yes Ma’am,” she said with a sigh. “Tonight we will comport ourselves like the charming and taciturn ladies we ought to be. So tell me who is here?” she asked looking around, finally taking the time to assess the party’s occupants.

The drawing room was crowded, but not unpleasant so. The two young women managed to glide between groups. Rebecca gave her a full accounting of the most eligible and notorious society in town.

“Did you invite Marcus Kent?” Caroline exclaimed, both a little impressed and scandalized.

“I did, but only after I heard that it was Larissa who ended their engagement.” Rebecca agreed.

How had she missed that bit of gossip, Caroline wondered aloud.

The two young women continued to entertain themselves with who was and was not there, and what they wore. Rebecca suddenly engaged Caroline's arm, attempting to lead her away.

“Odious Madeline.” She hissed, intent on being anywhere else. Alas it was too late. Odious Madeline had seen them.

“Rebecca. Caroline,” Odious Madeline cooed making her way through the party. “Thank you so much for the invitation.”

“Of course. I couldn’t avoid it,” Rebecca said so sweetly it was impossible to take her meaning.

“Indeed,“ Madeline said her smiling. Caroline employed every ounce of discipline she possessed not to gaze heavenward.

Before Madeline could reply, a baritone boomed, “There you are!”

Caroline recognized that voice. Her brother had found them.

Charles Bingley maneuvered through the throng to join his sister and her friends. Fortunately his exuberant headlong plunge through the crowd garnered few arched brows. Caroline saw in his wake a tall, stately young man followed.

“I’m so glad you are here!” He exclaimed. “This is such a capital affair, well done Rebecca. We arrived at the same time as two Earls and a Marquis. I even heard the Duke of Bedford is about. Extraordinary. I’m not even sure how I made it on the guest list without a Lord preceding my name.”

Caroline loved her brother but his lack of pretension was irritating. From anyone else she would have assumed false modesty. With Charles, she knew it to be his own particular idiocy. Even if the Tanners were not such intimate friends, Charles was welcome anywhere. He was wealthy, agreeable, and unattached.

Explaining such matters to Charles, or rather repeating such lessons, was futile.

For a moment she thought she detected a similar hint of amusement in his friend's eyes. Her brother plowed on, introducing himself to Odious Madeline and her fiancé.

Caroline sighed. Charles had met Madeline, many times before. Madeline had attended the lady's seminary with Rebecca and Caroline. All the young ladies at the seminary had had hopeless crushes on Charles. There had been a good deal of speculation about which one of them he would marry.

“We’ve met,” Madeline told him, not bothering to conceal her annoyance at his poor memory. Charles’s faux pas, followed by his earnest apology, did not mollify Odious Madeline. She had been so certain that she had made an “impression” on Caroline's handsome older brother. Caroline had trouble concealing her delight at this exchange. Indeed she almost laughed, when she caught Rebecca's small wink.

“Forgive me, I haven’t introduced my friend. Fitzwilliam Darcy, my little sister Caroline, her friend Ms. Rebecca Tanner, and Mr. George and Ms. Madeline Havermawr.”

“Mr. Darcy of Pemberley?” Caroline asked, suddenly making the connection.

“Indeed,” he confirmed with a slight bow.

“Our family has stayed many times at your estate,” Caroline said. She recalled her infatuation with this man’s portrait displayed at Pemberley’s great hall. The young man before her was even more handsome than his portrait. She didn't know if that was delightful or unsettling.

“How--,” She stammered, then composed herself. “You must tell me how we are connected.”

“Darcy’s father and our father went in on a few ventures, Caroline,” Charles said, answering for his friend. “When I was at Cambridge Darcy found me and has helped bring me along in my responsibilities, so to speak.”

“It’s a wonder our paths never crossed.” Caroline said.

“Indeed. Your family stayed at Pemberley while I was finishing at Cambridge.”

“You must be right.” Caroline agreed.

What no one mentioned was that this was before each of their esteemed fathers’ passing. It was, after all, a party and there was no need for morbid recollections.

“Did you study together at Cambridge?” Odious Madeline asked. "You must have been there at the same time as my dear Georgie,” she said. Georgie for his part stood aside slack-jawed, completely disinterested in the conversation.

Odious Madeline could not conceal the slight sigh of disappointment.

“Indeed not. I finished several years before Bingley. However, I often have business in that town. I thought it best if I help steward him, as it were.”

“Making sure I don’t make a complete idiot of myself, more like,” Charles laughed. Caroline did her best not to roll her eyes, although she was certain that was all too true.

Just then, strands of a fine German waltz drifted in from the ballroom.

“Come Darcy, what do you say?” Bingley asked, nodding his head towards the dance floor. "Shall we escort these ladies in a dance?”

“I had better not,” Darcy said with a shake of his head.

“Come now, this is not the time to remain aloof.”

“You’re mistaken. I’m only hesitant to make you feel inferior with my dancing prowess,” he said.

Bingley laughed, but before he could further entreat his friend an impatient Rebecca led him away. She had no designs on Caroline’s older brother, he was an agreeable dance partner and she intended to make use of him.

“My fiancé and I will join them. George is such a superior dancer.” Madeline said and rose. It was clear she took no small delight in leaving Caroline alone with such a taciturn and disagreeable companion.

Caroline watched her departure with some relief. “Odious Madeline thinks she is giving offense when really I could not wait for her to go,” Caroline said, and then blushed realizing she had said that aloud.

To her relief, the gentleman burst out laughing. “Indeed we may share the sentiment.” A footman passed and Darcy procured two tumblers of punch and offered one to Caroline.

After only a few minutes of conversation, she found that he was hardly taciturn. He did not enjoy common pleasantries and banter. However, she found him willing to engage on innumerable more interesting topics.

While she would not have minded standing up with him for a dance. Still, she found that she enjoyed his conversation far above anything else. It was, she thought, then and even now, the beginning of a wonderful friendship.

Caroline clung to that memory. She needed to believe after everything that at least it had all begun most sincerely.

# # #

The Secret Life of Caroline Bingley - Part One Chapt 1- 3

HCIngramJuly 25, 2017 05:14PM

Re: The Secret Life of Caroline Bingley - Part One Chapt 1- 3

Joe78751November 09, 2017 04:09AM

Re: The Secret Life of Caroline Bingley - Part One Chapt 1- 3

M UOctober 26, 2017 02:39PM

Re: The Secret Life of Caroline Bingley - Part One Chapt 1- 3

M UDecember 12, 2017 02:49PM

where can I find your other stories?

janasheAugust 06, 2017 07:22PM

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MarciJuly 26, 2017 03:01PM

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VesperJuly 26, 2017 02:35PM

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Lucy J.July 26, 2017 04:17AM

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HCIngramJuly 27, 2017 04:33PM

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LucieJuly 25, 2017 11:57PM

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AlidaJuly 25, 2017 11:50PM

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Maria VJuly 25, 2017 05:33PM

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Kathleen GlancyJuly 28, 2017 07:59PM

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HCIngramJuly 29, 2017 01:57PM

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Kathleen GlancyJuly 30, 2017 04:34PM


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