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Not One Figure - JaOctGoHoNo 2019 - one shot

November 01, 2019 12:14AM
Thank you Marci for beta'ing this for me. I have played with it afterwards, all errors are my own.

I shamelessly used a setup from That 70's Show, Season 1 Episode 7 "That Disco Show"


Summary: Mr. Bennet finds a way to have an entertaining afternoon in his study.


Mr. Thomas Bennet was in the process of farewelling Mr. Holter, after that gentleman gave an inspiring Sunday sermon, when his youngest daughter’s voice caught his attention.

“La, Sir William, you must insist the musicians perform nothing but quadrilles at the upcoming assembly. It would be most shameful if we did not show our appreciation to Mr. Settleton. He will be visiting again you know, and he was ever so kind to teach everyone the dance,” Lydia Bennet boldly suggested.

“Oh, capital, Lydia, capital! It would be a most highly gratifying way to thank him, indeed it would. What a charming amusement for you young people, it was smashing of him to teach the dance figures he learned during his grand tour. Allow me to say, it would be a feather in our cap to dance the quadrille in Meryton before St James does,” Sir William agreed.

Mr. Bennet quietly chuckled at the look on John Lucas’ face. At Mr. Holter’s inquiring look, he discreetly nodded toward young Mr. Lucas.

“Father, you cannot expect everyone to dance quadrilles to the exclusion of all other dances. Why, some people could be required to sit out the entire assembly,” his son protested.

“Nonsense John. Mr. Settleton taught the dance figures to the Miss Gouldings, you remember they are his cousins, and the Bennet sisters. Afterwards they made sure everyone else was instructed,” Sir William defended . With a nod at Mary, “Why, I even saw Miss Mary Bennet practicing and you know she prefers reading to dancing. Singular to be sure, but to each their own.”

“Really father, every single dance? I do believe that is a little excessive.”

“John, the ladies have made a request that I see no reason to deny,” Sir William answered.

“Ladies, every single dance? Personally, I would be bored after the first set was done,” John tried again.

A cacophony of female denials met his ears, Miss Mary’s being the loudest.

“There you have it, a decision has been made. I will post notice in the town square tomorrow. Please excuse me, I see my wife requesting my presence,” Sir William ended the discussion.

“Well I for one will not dance at all if anyone is forced to sit out. It would be ungentlemanlike indeed to dance when others cannot,” John stated after his father left. He was forced to hold his stance over the protests of his sisters, the Bennet sisters, and the other young ladies in their group.

After the ladies departed, Mr. Bennet smirked at Mr. Holter and with a wicked gleam in his eye made that gentleman understand to follow as he approached Mr. Lucas. “John, my boy, we could not help but overhear your refusal to dance,” Mr. Bennet said including Mr. Holter with a wave of his hand.

“That is correct sir, I feel it would be better if I spoke with those people who cannot participate. Smooth things over as it were,” John replied.

“You never learned the dance figures, did you?” Mr. Bennet inquired.

“Of course I did, you heard my father say the young people were all taught,” said John.

“Come now young man, do not think you can pull the wool over our eyes,” Mr. Holter interjected. “Mr. Bennet pointed out the look of sheer panic on your face when your father agreed with Miss Lydia.”

“I know the dance, sirs,” John protested.

“Not one figure,” Mr. Bennet replied with a soft chuckle.

John looked between the gentleman for a moment before confirming, “You are right, not one figure.”

“Well son, I would say you have a problem,” Mr. Holter said. “It is my experience that women love to dance. With the increasing popularity of the quadrille, it will be nigh impossible to hide your ignorance.”

“Why does a dance need five figures?” Lucas asked. “It is so confusing. I cannot catch the rhythm or follow the turns. I do not understand why ladies love to dance so much,” John said.

“Why? I thought that would be obvious,” Mr. Bennet responded. “They get to showcase their accomplishments in a safe atmosphere, usually dressed up in their finest wares, and hopefully find a husband in the process.”

“But I am not looking for a wife,” John sighed.

“That is immaterial my good man,” Mr. Holter said with a pat on John’s back.

“Our point is, you will have to learn, otherwise later in life you may not be able to find a wife,” Mr. Bennet said before continuing with a mischievous look in his eye, “We may be able to help you.”

~*~


“Mr. Phillips! Oh, Mr. Phillips! I saw my Sister Bennet headed towards the church. Would you help me locate her?” Mrs. Alice Phillips asked.

“Yes dear,” Mr. Alden Phillips responded before offering his arm and starting down the street.

“Wait here, my dear. I will see if she stepped inside the church,” Mr. Phillips said just before he heard his wife gasp while looking in a window.

“Mr. Phillips, look! There is my sister with Mr. Lucas in an assignation. Oh my, in a church no less. I must go tell Mrs. Goulding and Mrs. Long,” Mrs. Phillips said excitedly.

“Alice!” Mr. Phillips said sternly, “This is forbidden information! Do not think of telling anyone what you are seeing or I will withhold your pin money for a quarter.”

“But this is news! I must tell everyone. How cruel you are.”

“Stop and think for a moment,” Phillips cautioned. “What would happen if you spread this about town?”

“Why, I would be the first with news! I would be welcome in everyone’s parlor,” his wife said with even more exuberance. “Everyone will want to speak with me, invite me to teas, and visit my parlor.”

“Yes, but what about the Bennets? What would this information do to them?” he asked.

“Nothing would happen to my family, the Bennets are the leading family,” his wife dissembled. “People will gossip for a time but something else will happen soon enough.”

“Now that is not true and you know it, Alice. This information would ruin your nieces,” he said gently. At his wife’s gasp he continued, “And what about Bennet? Do you think he will do nothing?”

“Oh, I suppose you are correct,” she agreed glumly.

“Remember my dear, forbidden. I would be seriously displeased if word of what we saw today becomes drawing room fodder.”

~*~


“There she goes again, Mr. Phillips. This time with Mr. Lucas right next to her, bold as can be. Oh, my poor sister, I hope this is a flirtation and nothing more,” Mrs. Phillips worried. “I have seen them go to the church every day this week.”

Privately Mr. Phillips thought it unlikely to be only a flirtation. They were holding hands, looking into each others eyes, and then his hand was on her waist. He could have sworn he heard Lucas say he didn’t want anyone to find out what they were doing and Mrs. Bennet say he was better than her husband.

“Has Mrs. Bennet seemed... different this week?” Mr. Phillips inquired.

“Different how?” his wife asked.

“Happier; giddy even.”

His wife thought for a moment and responded, “Now that you mention it, she does indeed seem to be glowing and happier. I haven’t heard her giggle and carry on like this since she was being courted by Mr. Bennet.”

The couple shared a long look before Mr. Phillips admitted, “I do not know what to do.”

~*~


The night of the assembly arrived and everyone started to find their partners as the musicians warmed up.

Mr. and Mrs. Phillips made sure to stand next to the Bennet and Lucas families.

“I do believe I have changed my mind,” Mr. Lucas declared. “Father assures me everyone knows the quadrille and he will ask the musicians to play a different dance should anyone be forced to sit out. Miss Kitty, it looks as though you are also without a partner. Might I have the honor of the first set?”

“Yes Mr. Lucas,” responded she.

Mr. and Mrs. Phillips were astounded when Mr. Lucas approached Mrs. Bennet and had to strain to hear him say she he appreciated how amazing she was.

Mrs. Phillips sat next to her sister and started a conversation, “Sister, may I take you into confidence?”

“Of course, sister, what is wrong?”

“I have this acquaintance, a very close one really, who is about to throw her marriage away because of a younger man.”

“Oh my, it is Mrs. Long, right? I am sure it is her!” Mrs. Bennet said excitedly. “I always thought she had a wandering eye.”

“No, it is not Mrs. Long.”

“I must know her, unless your husband introduced you to the wife of a client?”

“Yes Fanny, you know her. Very well indeed,” Mrs. Phillips said laced with innuendo.

Mrs. Bennet wondered who it could be. The sisters were friendly with all the matrons of Meryton, but were only closely acquainted with each other and their sister in law... “Alice, is it my brothers wife, Madeline?” she asked.

“Madeline? Of course not, she lives much closer than London,” Mrs. Phillips said with a wink.

Mrs. Bennet thought for a few moments before gasping and looking at her sister with wide eyes. “Alice! Oh my, how could... Does Alden suspect?”

“Yes, of course. He has no idea how to resolve the issue discretely and told me I was forbidden to discuss it during my morning calls, but I just knew I could tell my dear sister. I do not know what to do either,” she said worriedly.

“Oh Alice, you must tell your friend to think about what she is doing. To destroy a family, throw away a marriage, hurt who knows how many... This is bigger than two people. Perhaps you should tell this younger man, whoever he is, to look towards someone his own age.”

“Thank you, Fanny. I just hope my friend takes the advice.”

“I am sure she will Alice,” Mrs. Bennet replied with a wink.

~*~


The day after the assembly Mr. Phillips walked to Longbourn wondering how he was going to tell Bennet. How would he want to be told his wife was unfaithful? It was news no man should hear, but he reasoned to himself that it would be better coming from a family member in a private setting than in town by a random person.

“Phillips, it is nice to see you again. Twice in as many days. What brings you to my door this fine day?” Mr. Bennet asked.

“Bennet, I do not know how to ask this,” Mr. Phillips stuttered nervously.

“Speak Phillips, we have known each other too long to mince words. What has you so rattled?”

“Well... how well do you know young Lucas?”

“Young Lucas?” Mr. Bennet asked with a growing suspicion. “I know him very well. He is a fine young man in need of attention and guidance,” Mr. Bennet answered.

“That he is getting,” Mr. Phillips muttered.

“Alden, what is going on?”

“Earlier this week, Alice saw Fanny headed towards the church and asked me to help her find her sister. We saw her through the church window...” Mr. Phillips stopped when a knock was heard.

“Enter,” Mr. Bennet called out.

“Sir, Mr. Holter is here to see you,” Hill stated.

“Show him in,” Bennet responded. “Holter, nice to see you. Now this is sure to end up being an even more entertaining afternoon.”

“Bennet, Phillips it is fortuitous you are here. I was hoping to speak to Bennet about some parish business and we would have to confer with you.”

“Phillips was just telling me about seeing Fanny at church every day this week,” Bennet responded with a delighted twinkle in his eye.

“No Bennet, it must wait,” Phillips said.

“Phillips, I insist you continue. You asked me about young Mr. Lucas and said you saw Mrs. Bennet head to the church?” said Bennet with a smirk at Holter.

Mr. Phillips looked uncomfortable and it took the gentleman badgering him before he would continue.

“Come Phillips, surely it cannot be something that I am unable to hear,” Holter chimed in.

“Entertaining indeed,” Bennet muttered before adding, “Phillips, I have no secrets from Holter. We are not leaving until you continue.”

“Mrs. Phillips and I saw Mrs. Bennet and young Mr. Lucas...” Phillips paused and took a deep sigh. “Bennet, I am sorry, there is no easy way to break the news. They... were in a provocative stance, almost an embrace,” Phillips finally admitted hesitantly. “We have seen them heading to the church all week. I am afraid they are carrying on a clandestine affair.”

“Oh my goodness, now I must challenge him to a duel,” Mr. Bennet exclaimed while slapping his hand on the desk. “Gentleman, go get your hunting rifles. Young Lucas would certainly beat me in a duel so I will invite him to hunt with us and have a convenient accident.”

“Bennet!” Philips exclaimed in horror.

“No Phillips, what choice do I have? My honor demands I do something. This insult cannot go unanswered.”

“I agree Bennet,” said Mr. Holter solemnly. “How could you look yourself in the mirror? How would you face your daughters? They would be made the laughing stock of the town, their reputations would be ruined, and unscrupulous men would approach them. For heavens sake, be a man!”

“Mr. Holter! You are the rector of Longbourn, it is your responsibility to see to your flocks spiritual needs,” Mr. Phillips said in a panic, “not encourage us to break a commandment.”

“As Bennet said, his honor demands satisfaction,” Holter continued. “Things like this cannot be kept quiet for long. How many people would trifle with his wife and daughters if they knew Bennet would not act?”

“You are giving me such clarity of mind, Holter,” Bennet replied. “Maybe I should make it a public spectacle. Phillips, how illegal is murder, exactly? Is there any way to ensure I will not hang? With enough planning it could be done. Holter, you will claim I was with you all day?” At Holters nod he continued, “Nobody would accuse the rector of lying.”

“Gentlemen, calm down. It could have been innocent! Maybe she tripped. Or... ummm, maybe she was teaching him how to dance,” Mr. Phillips suggested desperately. “Yes, she must have been teaching him to dance before the assembly. See, nothing untoward happened, it was all innocent.”

“Dancing? Yes, that would explain things nicely. It’s a good thing I didn’t shoot him,” Mr. Bennet said dryly.

“I think you are right Bennet. It would illogical to attempt an affair with my wife and sister in the room too,” Holter added gleefully.

“Your wife and sister were in the room?” Phillips asked. “I did not see them.”

“Obviously,” said Bennet.

Phillips looked back and forth from Bennet to Holter with an almost vacant look on his face.

“Careful man,” Bennet cautioned, “You will injure your neck.”

“You knew? All this time you knew? Of course, you did. Your ladies got to dance with no effort on your parts. You sat back and allowed me to make a cake of myself. Bad form gentleman,” Phillips said shaking his head. “Go ahead, laugh like a couple of hoydens.”
SubjectAuthorPosted

Not One Figure - JaOctGoHoNo 2019 - one shot

LizzySNovember 01, 2019 12:14AM

Re: Not One Figure - JaOctGoHoNo 2019 - one shot

BrigidNovember 01, 2019 01:08PM



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