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Alicia M
November 30, 2019 12:41AM
DNA: When I read the September story prompt, I was reminded of this story that I wrote years ago which fit it so perfectly that I was inspired to repost. It has taken me this long to go through it to clean it up and remove the outdated inside jokes. Thanks to Alida for proofreading for me. This is a very silly (and, I think, hilarious) parody of the over-villainization of Caroline Bingley in fanfiction. I crack myself up every time I read it. Archivers, please replace the old version with this one. It is too long for one post so I will post it in two.

blurb: Miss Bingley resorts to desperate measures to ensnare Mr. Darcy.

She believed that the answer to everything was in a good cup of tea ....RA


Chapter 1

Miss Caroline Susan Bingley had mixed feelings about her brother's announcement. She had no real desire to go to the country or to be in the country; yet she had to admit that it was always preferable to be able to describe, while in town, all the pleasures and delights one had enjoyed in one's country home. Her brother, Charles Bingley, had been left a sufficient fortune by their father to purchase an estate, but after a year of being of age he still had not found one to buy. So now he had decided upon leasing a country house, and Miss Bingley began to wonder whether he would leave it to his children to purchase the family estate. In any case, the one good thing about the matter was that she would be the mistress of any home taken by her brother – whether leased or purchased – until he should marry.

Nevertheless, the idea of her brother only leasing a home vexed Miss Bingley greatly – for having sufficient fortune at his disposal, it was only wanting for her brother to make an actual purchase for their family to enter the coveted sphere of the elite in their own right, by becoming members of the landed gentry. They had fortune, fashion, education, and accomplishments; the only thing they did not have was land. But, she took some comfort in the fact that with him only leasing in Hertfordshire, there was yet hope that he might actually purchase in Derbyshire.

Miss Bingley smiled – with her brother's house in the country and her sister's house in town, her circumstances would be ideal. (Except when her brother and sister were together and she was left without a choice between the two.) Well, it was nearly ideal, the only inconvenience being that Charles was settling in entirely the wrong county.

As soon as her maid was finished with her hair, Miss Bingley sashayed ever so elegantly down the staircase to join her sister at breakfast.

"Good morning, Louisa," she said.

"Good morning, Carrie-Sue."

Miss Bingley disdained this childhood nickname, but tolerated it from her relations because they persisted in using it. At least there was no one else present to hear it. "You know what I prefer you to call me when we are alone, Louisa," scolded Miss Bingley.

Mrs. Hurst rolled her eyes and let out her breath dramatically, "Very well, Good morning, Mrs. Darcy."

Miss Bingley purred dreamily. "That is much better. Now, what shall we do today? Shall we call on Miss Darcy this morning?"

"Why Caroline, you have read my mind. I was just thinking it had been entirely too long since we have had the pleasure of her company."

"Perhaps we can prevail upon her, and her brother of course, to dine with us this evening. Charles is due back before dinner is not he?"

"He is indeed. That is a brilliant idea, Caroline. What a happy, intimate, party we shall all be together."

When the ladies arrived at the Darcy home, they found Georgiana Darcy with her friend, Miss Grantley, engaged in covering screens together. If Miss Darcy rolled her eyes in a silent message to her friend, and if Miss Grantley suppressed a giggle, neither Miss Bingley nor Mrs. Hurst noticed.

"Good morning, my dear Georgiana," effused Miss Bingley, grasping the younger girl's hands."

"Miss Bingley, how kind of you to call on me again so soon," replied the usually shy, except when she's annoyed and has to be sarcastic, Miss Darcy.

The ladies ordered tea and chatted for about half an hour – at least half of which time was spent by Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst in praising Miss Darcy's work and giving Miss Grantley advice on how to improve hers.

Miss Bingley then nudged her sister with little subtlety and Mrs. Hurst said, "My dear Georgiana, you and Mr. Darcy must dine with us in Grosvenor Street this evening."

"Oh yes, what a splendid idea, Louisa," chimed in Miss Bingley. Then addressing Miss Darcy, she added, "Our brother has gone to the country to look at a house but he should be home for dinner."

"I do not know," Miss Darcy prevaricated, "I cannot accept without my brother's approval."

"We shall apply to him, then. Certainly he cannot object. Is he in the house?" asked Miss Bingley with a gleam in her eye.

Miss Darcy could do naught but have her brother summoned from his study to pay his respects to the ladies and consider their invitation to dine.

As soon as he arrived in the room, Miss Bingley moved to his side and grasped his arm, "My dear Mr. Darcy, how good of you to join us."

He disengaged his arm from her clutches and said to his sister, "What did you need, my dear?"

"Mrs. Hurst has invited us to dine this evening. Do we have any other engagements?" Please let us have another engagement, she begged silently in her own mind. But Darcy wished very much to forward his sister's acquaintance with Mr. Bingley and, therefore, accepted the invitation.

"Oh how delightful," shrieked Miss Bingley, grasping for his arm again. "What a pleasant evening we shall all have together." He avoided her attempts to grab him with some deft Matrix-like movements and quitted the room immediately thereafter on the excuse of having a pressing matter of business requiring his attention.

A few moments later, after several meaningful looks from her sister, Mrs. Hurst distracted Miss Grantley. Miss Bingley took the opportunity to pull Miss Darcy into a corner for some private discourse. When they were alone, Miss Bingley removed her gold locket from around her neck (which held a miniature drawing of her on one side and a tiny looking glass on the other). She gently allowed the locket to sway before Miss Darcy's eyes as she chanted, "Your eyelids are growing very, very, heavy." Miss Darcy followed the gold locket back and forth with her eyes, mesmerized by the pendulum-like movement. But just as Miss Darcy's eyes were about to close, Miss Grantley called her friend's attention away, foiling Miss Bingley's designs – but only for the present.

At dinner that evening, Mr. Bingley announced his pleasure with the house he had seen and his intent of taking it. He prevailed upon his brother and his friend to accompany him to Netherfield for the autumn to partake in shooting, and to bring the ladies including (why not) Georgiana. And so to Hertfordshire they were all to go.

Chapter 2

When Miss Bingley returned home from a shopping excursion with her sister – in preparation for their journey to Hertfordshire – she literally ran up to her room and energetically opened the bottom drawer of her armoire. She threw the various books, articles of clothing, and other personal effects that were concealing the object of her search over her shoulder frantically. Finally, she found it: her book, Witchcraft and Black Magic, a History. She quickly scanned the pages until she found the one she was seeking. It was a drawing of the sign of a witch. The sign that indicated the presence of a real witch. The sign to look for if one is searching for the services of a witch. The same sign she had seen on the wall at the last shop they had been to today. She smiled.

She could follow the suggestions in the book, but she was an amateur and lacked access to many of the substances called for in the spells; but to obtain the assistance of a professional would bring her certain success. It was at this moment that her sister caught up with her and entered the room.

"My goodness, Carrie-Sue," said Louisa, as she scanned the floor, noticing the various and sundry discarded items strewn about, “whatever were you in such a hurry for? I thought you would break your neck running up the stairs."

Miss Bingley did not respond, she just sat on the floor in front of the open drawer of her armoire amidst a scattering of various personal items, staring at a page in a book.

"Carrie," repeated Mrs. Hurst, taking another step into the room.

Still, there was no answer.

Mrs. Hurst took a deep breath and assuming a patronizing tone said, "Mrs. Darcy."

"Yes," responded Miss Bingley as if it was the most natural thing in the world. She finally tore her eyes from the page before her and fixed them expectantly on her sister.

"What is the matter with you?"

"Nothing, Louisa." She wanted her sister to go away. "I have a headache and would like to take a nap before dinner. Please excuse me." Louisa left the room, and Caroline returned her attention to her book.

After dinner, Caroline retired early, claiming to still have a headache. But instead of going to bed, she donned a dark traveling cloak and sneaked out of the house into the dark London streets. The air was thick and the night was foggy, but she made her way back to the shop guided by the light of the full moon overhead. Everything was locked up, but there was a faint glow of putrid light emanating from one of the back windows. She walked around and knocked on a door, which she could only surmise, was the entrance to the living quarters of the proprietor. The door was opened by the woman who had waited upon Caroline and Louisa at the shop earlier in the day; except, she appeared darker, older, and more haggard than Caroline had remembered. She had a long thin nose that had a wart protruding from the end of it with one hair sticking out of the wart, and she was all dressed in black with a strange and very unfashionable hat upon her head that came to a point. "Ah, Miss Bingley, we have been expecting you."

Caroline had not caught the name of the lady who had assisted her and Louisa in the shop and merely replied in astonishment, "You have?"

"Of course. I noticed you staring at the drawing on the wall in the shop. I knew you would be wanting our services." Then she opened the door more fully and Caroline stepped in. There were five other women in the room and there was a large black cauldron boiling over the fire, with green goo bubbling over its sides. There was a putrid, foul stench permeating the room and a mist floated throughout the air and rolled thick along the floor. There were also shelves covered with old jars and bottles filled with colorful substances, and countless thick books, all covered with dust and cobwebs. Next to them were six broomsticks leaning against the wall. And, just as Caroline walked into the room, a black cat crossed in front of her. She began to tremble with fear.

The woman spoke again, "I am Mrs. Rushworth. These are my sisters, Mrs. Ferrars, Mrs. Churchill, Mrs. Clay, and Mrs. Elton." Then she added with deference, "And Mrs. Norris is our leader, mentor, and teacher."

"How do you do?" said Miss Bingley, addressing all of them, as she executed a perfunctory curtsy.

None of them said anything, and they all returned to their employment. Mrs. Ferrars was taking jars off the shelves and sniffing them one by one, as if searching for something. Mrs. Elton was stirring the ever-bubbling goo with tireless monotony as Mrs. Clay added a variety of substances one by one, sometimes missing or, worse, adding too much, due to her clumsy wrist, and Mrs. Churchill chanted quietly and incoherently over the brew as she read from a book that lay open on a bewebbed table in front of her. Mrs. Rushworth looked to Mrs. Norris and said, "This is the young lady I was telling you about. She was in the shop earlier today."

"Welcome to our coven," said Mrs. Norris, as she gestured towards a dusty sofa upholstered in a thick black tapestry. "What brings you to us this evening?"

"I was hoping to avail myself of your services," said Miss Bingley, as she sat down.

"What exactly do you wish us to do for you, Miss Bingley?"

"I wish to be married to a gentleman."

"That should not be terribly difficult. You are, I presume, a gentleman’s daughter?”

Miss Bingley looked uncomfortable for a moment, then raising her chin answered resolutely, “Yes, of course.”

“Hmm,” replied Mrs. Norris. “Will any gentleman do, or is there one in particular?"

"There is one in particular."

"I might have known. I assume you brought something of his, a personal effect?"

"Of course," said Miss Bingley, proud that she had known enough to do so. She reached into her reticule and took out Mr. Darcy's watch fob that she had pilfered from his home the day before and handed it to Mrs. Norris.

"A watch fob?" asked the lady in an amused tone. Miss Bingley turned as she heard the other women snickering behind her.

"It was all I could find," she replied.

"Most people do manage to get a lock of hair or some such thing."

"Will it do?"

"Yes, it will do."

As Miss Bingley stood, she could see that Mrs. Clay was already preparing a smaller cauldron and placing it over the fire next to the large one. Mrs. Elton began ladling out a bit of the rich green goo from the large pot into the smaller one.

"What is that?" asked Miss Bingley.

"That is our stock brew; now we only have to personalize it for your purposes."

Mrs. Elton then approached Miss Bingley with a towel and a pin. "I need three drops of your blood," she said, taking Miss Bingley's hand.

Miss Bingley was shocked. "But why?"

Mrs. Elton sighed heavily and rolled her eyes, "Because the recipe calls for it." By this time she had led Miss Bingley to the small pot and placed her hand over it. Miss Bingley complied, hesitantly. Mrs. Elton pricked her finger and then let three drops fall into the pot. She then wrapped Miss Bingley's finger in the towel and relinquished her hand.

Mrs. Ferrars finally spoke announcing, "Ah, I have found it."

"Found what?" asked Miss Bingley.

But no one answered her. Mrs. Ferrars then sprinkled a reddish powder generously into the small pot. Eye of Newt and Adder's Fork and other such things were then added – liquids, powders and solids alike. The goo changed color from green to a deep purple to a crimson red and then to a frothy black. Mrs. Churchill then poured a layer of brandy over the top and set it on fire. As the brew caught fire a bolt of lightning struck outside and a roll of thunder crashed about them. When the brandy burned off Mrs. Elton tied the watch fob to the end of a string and tied the other end of the string to the middle of a stick, which was balanced across the top of the pot allowing the fob to dangle into the goo.

As it boiled Mrs. Clay pulled a book from the shelf and Miss Bingley noticed that it had the image of a skull and crossbones overlaying a large drawing of a heart across the front of it. She turned to Miss Bingley and said, "What's his name, dear?"

"Darcy, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley, Derbyshire."

"Yes, thank you Carrie," said Mrs. Elton.

Then all six witches joined hands in front of the fire and read from the book in unison. All Caroline could understand was her name and Darcy's name mentioned here and there. At length they stopped and removed the boiled fob from the pot. To Caroline's surprise it was cool, dry, and undamaged. She would be able to return it to where she had found it. Finally, Mrs. Rushworth grabbed a bottle from the shelf and poured a few drops of a rich dark brown syrup into the brew.

"What's that?" asked Caroline.

"Chocolate," said Mrs. Rushworth.


Mrs. Churchill nodded and smiled, "Makes it go down easier!"

Mrs. Elton stirred the goo a few more times while Mrs. Ferrars retrieved a small empty glass vial from the shelf. She held it as Mrs. Churchill expertly poured every last drop of liquid from the significantly larger pot into the tiny bottle. Mrs. Rushworth then placed the cap on the vial and handed it to Caroline.

Mrs. Clay said, "You must add a thimble-full of this potion to his tea."

"A thimble-full" repeated Caroline.

"A thimble-full, no more, no less," emphasized Mrs. Elton.

"The tea must be prepared with sugar but no milk," said Mrs. Ferrars.

"Sugar, no milk," repeated Caroline trying to remember how Darcy took his tea. Did he even drink tea?

"Two sugars," said Mrs. Churchill, "no milk."

"Then you must chant as he drinks it," said Mrs. Norris.

"He must not sip, he must swallow it in one gulp," said Mrs. Rushworth.

"One gulp, no sipping," repeated Caroline. Then turning her attention back to Mrs. Norris she asked, "What must I chant?"

All of them answered at once, "Double, double, toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble."

Caroline began to repeat it, "Double, double, toil and . . . wait a minute, is that not from Shakespeare?"

"Yes," replied Mrs. Clay hurriedly, "and our ancestors were extremely vexed that he revealed one of our secret chants in his play." The others began to nod their agreement vigorously.

"You must chant it three times," said Mrs. Elton.

"Three times."

"Three times," repeated Mrs. Ferrars, "while pressing your left hand to your heart and your right hand to his."

"Left hand on my heart, right hand on his."

"And you must be wearing an orange gown," said Mrs. Churchill.

"Orange gown. That shouldn't be a problem."

"And you must do all of this while standing on one foot," said Mrs. Rushworth.

"One foot."

"The right foot," added Mrs. Ferrars, helpfully.

"And, if at all possible," said Mrs. Clay, "he should be wearing that fob when it is done."

"Wearing the fob."

"Thimble full . . . two sugars, no milk . . . gulp no sipping . . . 'double double toil and trouble fire burn and cauldron bubble' . . . left hand on my heart, right hand on his . . . orange gown . . . stand on right foot . . . wear the fob." She continued to repeat everything, trying to commit it to memory. Then she placed the vial in her reticule and asked, "How much do I owe you?"

As if on cue, Mrs. Rushworth then handed Mrs. Norris a book and the latter answered, "Before we tell you, allow us to show you our lovely book of simple spells." Mrs. Norris held the book up with one hand to show it to Caroline and then gestured to it with her other hand as she spoke. "It looks like an ordinary diary, so you can carry it with you, but it contains the most basic spells needed for everyday life."

"One to cause a recalcitrant servant to come down with a pox," said Mrs. Ferrars.
"Another to cause sudden facial blemishes to disappear," said the befreckled Mrs. Clay.

". . . or appear," added Mrs. Churchill.

"Another to make your rival trip and fall while she dances with your beloved," said Mrs. Elton.

"Another to bring on memory loss in those who may have witnessed you doing something inappropriate," said Mrs. Rushworth.

"Everything you need to make life a little easier," finished Mrs. Norris.

"I'll take it," replied Caroline, grabbing the little book. "How much?"

"One hundred and fifty pounds."

Caroline gasped. "One hundred and fifty pounds?!?!"

"Do you think running a coven is inexpensive? Do you know the going rate for Blind-Worm's Sting these days?"

Caroline breathed heavily. She was dying to get out of there. She thought of all the pin money and jewels she would have as Mrs. Darcy and quickly handed over the required payment and left the place – very satisfied with her purchases.

As soon as the door was closed behind her, Mrs. Norris said to the others, "Well done, ladies," and they all laughed. Then she looked at Mrs. Clay and said, "Nice save on Macbeth. I didn't think she'd recognize it."

"That was a close one," agreed Mrs. Churchill.

"Perhaps we should consider looking to other resources," suggested Mrs. Ferrars.

Then Mrs. Elton looked at Mrs. Rushworth and said, "Standing on one foot? That's a new one. Very creative."

"I confess I was tempted to make her look ridiculous."

"Oh, she will," said Mrs. Norris, "she will," as they all cackled, imagining the spectacle of Miss Bingley trying to carry out their spell.

When they had all calmed themselves and wiped the tears of mirth from their eyes, Mrs. Rushworth looked at Mrs. Norris and asked, "Think it'll work?"

"It would take a miracle."

Chapter 3

Caroline smiled to herself as the carriage rumbled on towards Netherfield House. She clutched her reticule to her bosom as she thought of its contents: her small vial of love potion, a thimble, and her spell book. She wondered how soon after their arrival she would be able to fix a cup of tea for Mr. Darcy. Certainly he would be wishing for some refreshment after the journey. She glanced outside the carriage window and watched as he sat regally astride his horse, riding along next to the carriage. Georgiana made some trifling commentary about the countryside and luckily Louisa replied with the necessary civility and attentiveness, leaving Caroline free to daydream.

She thought of her imminent wedding to Mr. Darcy, of herself enthroned as mistress of his vast estate. Suddenly a memory came unbidden to her mind. She recalled visiting Pemberley last summer. She had been walking the gardens surrounding the house when she perceived Mr. Darcy emerge, wet and in a scandalous state of undress from an afternoon swim in his pond. She recalled how the water droplets had glistened from his masculine face and his dark, curly locks – which hung provocatively against his forehead; how his lawn shirt had clung to his sculpted chest, and his breeches to his chiseled thighs. She began fanning herself, in spite of the brisk weather. Indeed, she had quite forgotten the dirt and scum that had lodged itself in his hair and clothing, or the entrails of some curious water-plant that had clung to his body, or the foul stench that had hung in the air surrounding him, after immersing himself in the murky waters of his pond. No, these thoughts had quite escaped her as she sighed dreamily, thinking only of the more pleasant aspects of that long ago encounter.

Once they had reached the house at last, Caroline was eager to enter and order tea service. Unhappily for her, it was her brother who had handed her down from the coach. Then she walked into the foyer and was arrested by the sight of a fat, drooling bulldog. She looked towards the woman with whom her brother was just exchanging pleasantries and, discerning her to be the housekeeper, said sharply, "What is that?" as she pointed to the dog.

"Oh, that's just ol' Lucy, Miss, he's a guard dog of sorts for the place. Don't you pay him no mind."

Before Caroline could speak again, Mr. Bingley said, "Lucy? But did not you say he was a male dog?"

"Aye, Sir, I did. My girl, Nancy, was but four years old when old Mr. Smythe first brought Lucy to live with us and he charged her with namin' him so she called him Lucy. When we told her he was a boy she said she didn't care and she would call him Lucy."

Mr. Bingley laughed and began patting the dog's head. Lucy seemed to enjoy it and rubbed eagerly against the offered hand.

"See there, he's real friendly," said Mrs. Martin. The others approached Lucy and began petting him. Mr. Hurst and Mr. Darcy each gave him a few pats and even Louisa touched the top of his head tentatively.

Looking towards Mrs. Martin, Miss Bingley said, "You will remove that dog from this house at once."

Mrs. Martin looked down and said, "Yes ma'am."

Miss Bingley heard a low rumbling sound and turned to Lucy to see him staring right at her, teeth bared, growling as he allowed himself to be led away by a footman. Lifting her chin triumphantly, Miss Bingley smiled to Mrs. Martin and said, "Mrs. Martin, I presume? I am Miss Caroline Bingley, your new mistress."

"How d'you do ma'am," said Mrs. Martin with a curtsy. Miss Bingley then acquainted her with the names of her guests and Mrs. Martin, in turn, introduced the rest of the household staff. This was tedious and time consuming for Miss Bingley who was impatient to have tea served, but she made up for her lack of patience during this interlude by excelling in inattentiveness. For while her servants were being introduced, she was daydreaming of ways to exact revenge upon Mrs. Martin as she clutched her reticule ever more closely, wondering which of the spells in her book would suit the impertinent old shrew.

At last the name of the final scullery maid was uttered and Miss Bingley wasted no time in ordering a tray of tea for all the company. The others wished to be shown to their rooms, to refresh themselves and perhaps rest following the journey, but Miss Bingley insisted that they all remain for tea.

Once it was brought into the room, Miss Bingley offered a cup to Mr. Darcy, "May I fix you a cup of tea, Mr. Darcy?"

He looked at her in open astonishment, "Perhaps the ladies would care for some first, madam."

"Of course," she replied, quickly giving half-full cups of tea to Louisa and Georgiana without bothering to ask whether either of them desired milk or sugar.

She then turned her back to the company and removed the vial of love potion from her reticule. She prepared Mr. Darcy's tea – just as the witches had prescribed it – carefully measuring out a thimble full of the potion and adding two sugars and no cream. She offered it to the object of her schemes, saying, "Now drink deeply, Mr. Darcy," while lifting her left foot and clutching her own heart with her left hand, as she held the cup out to him in her right, her lips poised to articulate the words stolen from ancient witches by the Bard for use in his tragic play.

In spite of her preparedness to carry out the requirements of the spell, the gentleman declined any desire for tea. She began to insist, but upon glancing down, she noticed that Mr. Darcy was wearing a different watch fob than the one she had borrowed.

He followed her eyes down to where his fob dangled and said, "Miss Bingley? What is it?"

"Your fob, sir," she muttered absently. "You are wearing your brown one rather than your black one."

"So I am," he replied, wondering if all the candles in her candelabrum were lit.

Miss Bingley then moved to return the tea to the tray, when Mr. Bingley reached for the cup, announcing that "Some tea would be just the thing."

She was mortified and as he reached for it, she purposely tipped the cup, and it fell onto the floor. One thimble-full wasted, not to mention a mess on the floor. She would have to try again another time. She immediately called for someone to come clean up the mess and after the shards of the cup and saucer were picked up, the tea was duly mopped up and the water pitched out of doors.

When the others had retired to their rooms to dress for the evening, Miss Bingley remained in the drawing room and withdrew her book of spells from her reticule. She chose an easy spell, this being her first occasion to use the book, and it being more convenient by requiring the presence of neither the object of the spell nor any of her personal effects, but only the pronouncement of her name in the printed verse said aloud three times:
One spot, two spot, three spot four
Mrs. Martin is now an eyesore.
She smiled to herself in smug satisfaction, as she finished chanting it a fourth time, for good measure.

That evening, the whole party was engaged to attend a public assembly in the nearby village of Meryton. There they were to make the acquaintance of the finest personages the neighborhood had to offer. Miss Bingley had no expectation of being impressed. On the whole, the event as well as the people who attended it were everything she had anticipated, vulgar, coarse, and utterly beneath her notice. The local squire was titled by virtue of little more than an accident of providence, while the wealthiest man in the country boasted an income less than half the size of her brother's – and even his estate, she had heard, was entailed away from his five daughters. The local society certainly left much to be desired. They were interested in nothing more than local concerns, the incomes of the single gentlemen of her own party, and speculation as to which of the local young ladies would win their hearts.

The prettiest girl in the country was the eldest of the aforementioned five daughters of the aforementioned estate owner, a Miss Bennet. Miss Bingley found her pretty enough and sweet enough, but perhaps not as fashionable as she would have preferred to desire furthering an intimate acquaintance with her. She had four sisters. The youngest two were not worth a moment's thought as they were both wild girls whose propriety was as lacking as their vanity was overflowing. The middle daughter was plain and otherwise unremarkable. But the second daughter, she was another story entirely. She had neither beauty, nor taste, nor elegance, nor refinement, nor fashion – this Caroline could perceive in an instant – but nevertheless, our heroine knew that this Miss Elizabeth Bennet would bring trouble and she chose to dislike her from the moment she set eyes on her.

Miss Bingley was strong in her conviction that Mr. Darcy could not give a second thought to a girl so far beneath him, especially one with so little to recommend her. Indeed, he had slighted her by refusing to dance with her. Miss Bingley had overheard his conversation with her brother wherein he claimed she was not handsome enough to tempt him to stand up with her. Unaccountably, Caroline took great satisfaction in this particular bit of incivility – though he acted with almost equal disdain to everyone present during the course of the evening. Nevertheless, she sensed that Miss Elizabeth already had designs on her Mr. Darcy.

The gentleman in question did, of course, dance with herself, and she relished his attention in doing so. She glanced at Miss Elizabeth with an expression of smug satisfaction and took his arm with a proprietary air. Let the local women fall over themselves for her brother's attentions, but she was determined that they should know Mr. Darcy was for her; certainly none of them could even dream of competing with her. Miss Bingley had the highest opinion of herself and considered herself the veritable standard of the accomplished gentlewoman.

On the way home in the carriage, she had the pleasure of listening to Mr. Darcy's strictures on the society they had been in company with. He had spent much of the evening protecting his sister against the ambitious young fortune hunters with nothing to recommend themselves except false charm and flattery. When the young men of the neighborhood had been sufficiently disparaged, the Bennet family followed. His remarks on Miss Elizabeth's looks and person answered all Miss Bingley could have hoped for. He even found fault with the beautiful Miss Bennet and her cavity-inducing sweetness, pronouncing that she "smiled too much." Charles, of course, took a different view. Never had he conceived an angel more lovely. Miss Bennet was the personification of feminine perfection. But since Mr. Bingley was often waxing poetic on some young woman or another, no one gave the least bit consideration to his present exclamations.

When they arrived home and entered the vestibule, they were met by Mrs. Martin. When Miss Bingley first saw her she screamed. Mrs. Martin's face was covered with blemishes. "Is aught the matter, Miss?" asked the housekeeper.

When the others saw Mrs. Martin, they were equally shocked and torn between turning away in disgust and staring out of morbid curiosity – similar to one's reaction at seeing a horrible carriage accident on the side of the road. Mr. Bingley said, "Are you unwell, Mrs. Martin?"

"I am well, sir, why do you ask?"

"You look . . . uh, . . . unwell." Then without asking leave of the intended patient, he immediately dispatched a footman to Meryton to fetch the apothecary, and ordered Mrs. Martin to her bed.

Miss Bingley had just recovered from her shock enough to rejoice in knowing that the spell had been quite effective, when Lucy came bounding into the room through the door left open by the footman on his way out. She had little time to wonder what he was doing in the house, for the dog was immediately upon her, jumping up and down, running circles around her, licking her affectionately, and even drooling all over her, all the while wagging his tail most passionately.

Chapter 4

The following morning, Miss Bingley was dreaming happily of being kissed by Mr. Darcy when she was awakened – and consequently all of Netherfield was awakened. The sound of the scream coming from Miss Bingley’s room caused Mrs. Hurst and Mr. Bingley to fear for their sister’s life, and they raced to her suite just as her maid also rushed in. There, they were met with the sight of Miss Bingley lying in her bed and fighting off the affections of Lucy, who was standing on the bed hovering over her face and licking her ardently. Miss Bingley struggled under the animal as she yelled, "Get this dog off of me," in between her panting breaths.

Within a moment, a few more maids of the household were in the room, while several of the household footmen, along with Mr. Hurst and Mr. Darcy, were assembled in the hallway outside Miss Bingley’s bedroom door. While the others were thus gathering, Mr. Bingley, being the only man in the room, had already lunged forward in true heroic fashion, in an effort to subdue the dog. In an attempt to avoid Bingley’s grasp, Lucy climbed nimbly over Miss Bingley to the opposite side of the bed. Bingley then ran around the bed to grab the animal from the other side and back Lucy jumped to the other side of Miss Bingley. The two went back and forth several times while Miss Bingley was trampled repeatedly – and it seemed as if one of the three was enjoying this game. As she lay under the romping animal, Miss Bingley attempted in vain to dodge the increasingly voluminous spillages of drool emanating from it. At last she gathered all her strength, and as the dog crossed over her, she pushed against it and heaved it onto the floor.

After glaring at her brother for a moment, she screamed, "How did that animal get back into this house?" She turned her angry eyes towards Lucy and pointed an accusatory finger at him as she spoke. Lucy, feeling the wrath of the object of his devotion upon him, crawled with some trepidation towards her and placed himself at her feet where he lowered his head in abject humility and let out a whimper. Unmoved, Miss Bingley yelled, "I want that mutt gone!" and stomped into her dressing room. Lucy followed at her heels, only to have the door slammed on his snout. The footmen were now allowed into the room and they dragged the dog away to be tied up at the stable.

When Miss Bingley was dressed, she went to sit in the drawing room before breakfast. As she approached the door, she heard a great crash and clattering of dishes and glassware from around the corner in the corridor. Following the source of the sound, she found a kitchen maid with her back pressed against the wall and her hand against her bosom, trembling and panting wildly, her eyes bright with fear and surrounded by broken crystal and china.

"What is it?" demanded the mistress. "Was that dog in here?"

"No ma’am," said the maid, "‘twas Mrs. Martin walking by . . . I was so shocked . . . I wasn’t prepared to see her . . . I was told she was indisposed, but I had no idea . . . ."

Just then another crash was heard further down the corridor in the direction the girl had tilted her head when she’d mentioned Mrs. Martin’s name.

"Clean this up and be more careful," snapped Miss Bingley.

Then she went off to find the source of the second crash. This time she found a young house maid crouching on the floor in a puddle of water surrounded by broken glassware and fresh flowers, with tears flowing down her cheeks. Upon seeing her mistress, the maid merely pointed down the hall and said in a quivering voice, "Mrs. Martin."

Again, Miss Bingley instructed the maid to clean up the mess and then walked in the direction the maid had pointed in the hope of preventing further catastrophes. She heard another crash and followed the sound to the breakfast room. There she found two footmen staring absently at the other door to the room and holding empty trays. The family’s breakfast was strewn all over the floor.

Before mid-morning more than half of Netherfield’s staff had fled the house. Miss Bingley had not had breakfast, and to make matters worse, she was called upon by the Bennet ladies during the course of the morning and was forced to face them on an empty stomach.

Upon entering the drawing room, Miss Bingley had the unhappy pleasure of being met by all six of the Bennet women. She put on her best pageant smile as she wondered where her sister, Louisa, might be. After initial greetings were exchanged, which was no inconsequential space of time due to the superfluity of Bennets in the room, Miss Bingley rang the bell for refreshments. After the passage of a full five minutes without the appearance of a servant, she smiled prettily to her company and rang again. When no one appeared after several more minutes and she felt her ability to maintain the conversation waning, she suggested a walk outdoors.

Mrs. Bennet was not incredibly keen on the idea and had not given up the hope that Mr. Bingley might yet make an appearance. She was prevailed upon, not by the persuasion of her two eldest daughters but by her youngest who absently wondered whether they might meet with the gentlemen out of doors, to indulge in some fresh air and exercise.

After spending a quarter hour promenading through the pleasure gardens, the path led the party around behind the stables. There Miss Elizabeth spied Lucy tied outside the stable. The rope allowed the dog to reach the patch of ground in front of the door leading from Netherfield’s kitchen, and they all observed Lucy bound to the door as it opened and drink from the puddle created when someone pitched out a bucket of water. Miss Bingley now understood the source of Lucy’s infatuation.

Delighted with the prospect of making a new friend, Miss Elizabeth immediately moved towards the animal. Lucy, who had been lying recumbent on the ground with his eyes closed, immediately stood and faced her. He appeared puzzled and sniffed the air, then glanced at Miss Bingley and upon returning his gaze to Miss Elizabeth he began barking and growling at her ferociously, baring his teeth and lunging at her viciously to the extent allowed by his rope. Miss Bingley was startled at first, but her fear soon gave way to pleasure as the scene unfolded. Miss Elizabeth had frozen in place as the other Bennet ladies cowered back at a safe distance.

It was at this moment, just as Miss Bingley’s enjoyment of the scene was rising, that Mr. Darcy appeared from around the corner. He surveyed the scene and immediately sprang into action, taking Miss Elizabeth’s arm and leading her to a safe distance.

"Are you well?" he asked her tenderly.

"I am, thank you," she replied in a voice that sounded excessively coquettish to Miss Bingley’s ear. Only after this assurance was given did Mr. Darcy relinquish the fair damsel’s arm. He then turned to the dog, who was still lunging forcefully in Miss Elizabeth’s direction on the end of his taut rope. Darcy attempted to quiet the animal with commands and soothing words, but to no avail.

After a few moments, Miss Bingley stepped forward and spoke softly, "Lucy."

The dog immediately quieted and prostrated himself before her, whimpering as the rope went limp.

She walked to his side and he stood to meet her hand with his head. She patted him and said, "Now quiet down." Then she rejoined the ladies and said, "I do not know what could have gotten into him. He is really the sweetest creature," smiling insincerely into Miss Elizabeth’s skeptical eyes as Mr. Darcy looked on in awe. The Longbourn ladies took their leave soon after.

Miss Bingley immediately went to the kitchens to berate the entire staff for failing to respond to the bell earlier, but she was astonished to find an empty room. Seeking clues to their mysterious disappearance, she ran into her sister. Louisa was able to inform Caroline that the entire staff had quit and fled the house because they could not bear to work under the supervision of Mrs. Martin in her present state. Mrs. Martin was removed from Netherfield and Mr. Bingley had arranged for her to be placed in the care of a blind widow in Meryton. Miss Bingley now found herself at the task of hiring a housekeeper and staff for an entire house, among a small community where lived a good number of former employees who had fled the house in dread and fear and spread the word of their inability to work under such conditions. She did not even know where to begin.

Luckily, Louisa had the presence of mind to summon the five personal servants of all the inhabitants of the house who still remained. They were immediately rounded up and other duties divided among them. Their grumbling was only diminished by doubling their wages.

Miss Bingley finally had a private moment to seek out her spell book and undo the spell she had placed on Mrs. Martin. She found the reversal spell and repeated it three times, as indicated:
Out, damned spots! out, I say!
Then she remembered she had uttered the original spell four times and added a fourth chant of the reversal spell just to be safe.

Dinner was a meager affair, the gentlemen’s valets were adequate footmen, but the ladies’ maids were poor cooks. After dinner, Miss Bingley was relieved to at least have dominion over the tea pot. She fixed Darcy another cup of tea with a dose of her love potion, but he politely refused it. She was becoming a little frustrated with his lack of cooperation and did not know what to do with the tea. She could not simply leave it sitting out, the danger that someone else might drink it was too great; though, perhaps not entirely without benefit, she thought in reference to Lucy’s case. Finally, when no one was looking, she poured the tea into the pot of a small tree that was in the room. Another thimble full of love potion gone.

During the course of the ensuing fortnight the Netherfield party was invited to dine out three times with neighbors. They were unable, however, to return any invitations due to their lack of a household staff. Meanwhile, Miss Bingley was preoccupied with attempting to hire servants. At first it was difficult, but once she paraded the fully recovered Mrs. Martin through the streets of Meryton, she was able to hire a full staff.

These two weeks also brought about a change in Lucy’s status in the household. He was now Miss Bingley’s constant companion. He followed her everywhere and was admitted to every part of the house. It was even rumored among the new staff that Lucy slept in the mistress’ bed with her.

Miss Bingley took advantage of every opportunity during this time to attempt to serve her love potion to Mr. Darcy. Each of these attempts was foiled, however, with the gentleman left questioning Miss Bingley’s sanity.

With the house finally fully staffed again, Miss Bingley was able to breathe a sigh of relief and she began planning her own dinner party when they were obliged to spend an evening at Lucas Lodge. Miss Bingley found nothing to enjoy in the evening except the knowledge that Mr. Darcy shared her views on the tediousness of the evening and the unworthiness of the company. Her spirits were significantly dampened when she learned that not only had his thoughts not been bent in that direction, but that he admired the supposedly fine eyes of none other than Miss Elizabeth Bennet. She sighed discontentedly, longing for an end to the evening. How she missed Lucy!

to be continued ...


Alicia MNovember 30, 2019 12:41AM


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