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Shades of Purple - JaOctGoHoNo 2020

November 01, 2020 04:06AM
I apologize this was posted so late in the day, EST anyway. We have an extra dog for the weekend and my daughters and I helped my sister take my nieces and nephews trick-or-treating.

You will notice chunks of this seem familiar. A few times I used JA’s text verbatim and others it was adapted to fit my storyline.

The village of Meryton assembly, which was routinely held for the amusement of the young people, was expected to be very well attended as it was the first public appearance of the new tenant of Netherfield Park. When the party entered the assembly room it consisted of five people: Mr. Bingley, his two sisters, the husband of the eldest, and another young man.

Mr. Bingley was good-looking and gentlemanlike. He had a pleasant countenance, and easy, unaffected manners. His sisters were fine women, with an air of decided fashion. His brother-in-law, Mr. Hurst, merely looked the gentleman. But his friend Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien, and the report which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having ten thousand a year.

Mr. Bingley had soon made himself acquainted with all the principal people in the room. He was lively and unreserved.

Elizabeth Bennet and Charlotte Lucas were standing just outside the room on the balcony conversing, unaware someone was standing close enough to overhear them.

“Eliza, I was surprised to see you, Jane, and Mr. Bennet walk in the assembly,” Charlotte told her closest friend.

“Mama insisted we attend, but Kitty and Lydia did not want her to leave them alone. It took all of us to convince papa to leave his study to escort me and Jane.”

“Speaking of your youngest sisters, how are Kitty and Lydia today?” asked Charlotte.

“They are the same,” replied Elizabeth.

“I was so hopeful Mr. Jones’ new treatment would work.”

“So were we, Charlotte. Papa is corresponding with a doctor in London who may have a solution,” Elizabeth stated.

“My parents are worried whatever happened to your sisters will make me and my siblings sick. I am surprised they let us attend today. Mother had to convince father, probably for the same reason your mother did.”

“Let me guess,” Elizabeth said. “Lady Lucas convinced Sir William that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife?”

Charlotte nodded. “Neither of them questioned whether or not he settled here with marriage on his mind.”

“I may be able to ease your parents mind, slightly,” said Elizabeth.

“What do you mean?” asked Charlotte.

“Papa has also been corresponding with the head gardener of the Kew Botanical Gardens.”

“You visited the gardens prior to leaving London just before your sisters became ill, did you not?” Charlotte asked.

“Yes,” Elizabeth nodded. “While we were there, Kitty and Lydia got into an argument.”

“I remember you telling me about it. Lydia pushed Kitty down,” Charlotte said slowly, as though trying to recall.

“Kitty thought a flower was purple and Lydia was calling it violet,” Elizabeth said with a sigh. “It started a silly fight over which shade of purple the flower was. When Kitty was pushed and fell, she landed in a plant, but not before she managed to grab Lydia’s arm and bring her down too.”

“I hate to say it, but it sounds like Lydia reaped what she sowed.”

“The head gardener wrote to papa for two reasons. Unfortunately, another person tripped, fell into the same plant, heracleum mantegazzianum or giant hogweed, and also developed burns just like my sisters,” explained Elizabeth.

“While I am sad someone else became injured, I am happy your family may have answers. Will the gardener remove the plant?” asked Charlotte.

“No, the head gardener had a fence built around the plants to protect other guests.”

“You said there were two reasons,” Charlotte said. “What was the second one?”

“In the four months since the accident, he has received letters from his peers who work on the continent.”

“Oh no,” Charlotte said. “This has happened to others?”

“Yes. Kitty is not the only person to lose their sight because of giant hogweed. I know it does not seem like it, but apparently, she was terribly lucky. Because of the way she fell, only one of her eyes came into contact with the stem. Most people whose face comes into contact with the plant completely lose their sight.”

“Did others develop the burns your sisters both have on their faces, arms, and hands?”

“Yes,” Elizabeth confirmed. “They also believe they know why Kitty’s facial burns are not as severe as Lydia’s. When Kitty stood up, she had pieces of plant in her eye so she was taken to water and her eyes and face rinsed off.”

“Do the burns of the people on the continent also get worse if they go outside?”

“Yes. Apparently, the doctors in Europe referred to it as a sensitivity to light and recommend their patients stay inside or wear long sleeves. Anything to keep the wounds out of the sunlight.”

“I am so sorry this happened to your family, Eliza. Although, it is good you have some possible answers now. Perhaps our neighbours will start inviting your family to parties again,” Charlotte stated.

“On some level, I understand why everyone was afraid to socialize with us, but I do not appreciate the way they treated my family. My sisters have been avoided as if they have leprosy.”

“I know it has been hard for all of you, Eliza. I hope that Kitty and Lydia will start to heal emotionally as well as physically.”

“Kitty has started, I think,” stated Elizabeth. “Aunt Phillips came to tea yesterday and Kitty joined us for the first time since she was injured.”

“What about Lydia?” asked Charlotte.

“She barely allows her sisters to see her,” Elizabeth sighed. “I do not think she will feel comfortable with anyone else until her face is fully healed, if it ever is. I wish I could do something more for them. I feel helpless.”

The Darcy family was very small, it consisted of the master of Pemberley, eight and twenty-year-old Fitzwilliam Darcy, and fifteen-year-old Georgiana Darcy. The siblings were orphans. Their mother, Lady Anne Darcy, had passed away many years ago and their father, almost five, George Darcy, years ago.

Fitzwilliam Darcy, the man who was eavesdropping, was shocked at how much his feelings regarding his own sister mirrored those of this young lady. His sister, younger by twelve years, had been approached by a former friend of the family and betrayed. George Wickham had persuaded a young girl half his age, Georgiana Darcy, whose affectionate heart remembered his kindness to her as a child, that she was in love, and to consent to an elopement. Mercifully, Mr. Darcy had joined his sister on her holiday in Ramsgate and Miss Darcy acknowledged the scheme to her brother.

Miss Darcy had always been a shy girl, but ever since Ramsgate, it had gotten worse. Her reputation was always on her mind and she was terrified that people would know what she had agreed to do merely by looking at her. Mr. Darcy was concerned his sister would never go back to the carefree girl who loved to play and sing all day long.

As Mr. Darcy listened to the conversation on the balcony, he could not help but feel empathy for what this family was going through. Mr. Bingley, who came from the dance for a few minutes, pressed his friend to join the next set.

“Come, Darcy,” said he, “I must have you dance. I hate to see you standing about by yourself in this stupid manner. You had much better dance.”

Mr. Darcy heard a gasp behind him and knew the ladies were aware of his closeness. “I certainly shall not. You know how I detest it, unless I am particularly acquainted with my partner. Your sisters are engaged.”

“Upon my honour, I never met with so many friendly and pleasant girls in my life as I have this evening. There are several of them you see uncommonly pretty. I am sure we can find someone with whom it would not be a punishment for you to stand up with.”

You are dancing with the most handsome girl in the room,” said Mr. Darcy, looking at the eldest Miss Bennet.

“Oh! She is without a doubt the most beautiful creature I ever beheld! But there is one of her sisters standing just behind you with the daughter of our host, who is very pretty, and I dare say very agreeable. Do let me ask my partner to introduce you.”

Mr. Darcy thought through his options quickly before agreeing. Miss Bennet was applied to and the introductions performed with much haste as the next set was lining up.

Charlotte could not help cautioning her in a whisper, not to be a simpleton, and allow her family’s misfortune to make her appear unpleasant in the eyes of a man of his consequence and income. Elizabeth made no answer, and took her place in the set. Due to the unease of the village that was created by her sisters’ illness, Elizabeth had not expected to dance more than a few sets this evening. She was amazed at the dignity to which she felt in being allowed to stand opposite to Mr. Darcy, and reading in her neighbours’ looks, their equal amazement in beholding it.

They stood for some time without speaking a word. She began to wonder why he invited her to dance at all till suddenly fancying that he must have overheard her conversation with Charlotte. Elizabeth made some slight observation on the dance. He replied, and was again silent. After a pause of some minutes, she addressed him a second time with: “It is your turn to say something now, Mr. Darcy. I talked about the dance, and you ought to make some sort of remark on the size of the room, or the number of couples.”

He smiled, and assured her that whatever she wished him to say should be said.

“Very well. That reply will do for the present. Perhaps by and by I may observe that it is nice to be able to dance. But now we may be silent.”

“Do you talk by rule, then, while you are dancing?”

“Sometimes. One must speak a little, you know. It would look odd to be entirely silent for half an hour together.”

“Are you consulting your own feelings in the present case, or do you imagine that you are gratifying mine?”

“Both,” replied Elizabeth archly.

“I am afraid I must disappoint you, Miss Bennet,” Mr. Darcy responded.

“In what way?” Elizabeth asked with a raised brow.

“I do not want to be silent.”

“That statement puzzles me, Mr. Darcy.”

“I am sure it does,” that man admitted. “I am merely attempting to find a way to confess that I overheard your conversation with Miss Lucas.”

“We were not discussing anything that one could not hear from any of the gossips in Meryton, however, I must admit I am rather surprised at your disclosure, sir.”

“Miss Bennet, I have not known you long, but from what I observed I believe we are in a unique position to help each other.”

“That is a rather ambiguous statement, Mr. Darcy. Would you care to elucidate?”

“This past summer my sister was betrayed by someone she trusted and is rather fragile. I thought perhaps our sisters might help each other.”

Elizabeth was shocked. Here was an obviously wealthy man, who barely knew her family, and still wanted to entrust something so sensitive to virtual strangers. “Why?”

“Because, Miss Elizabeth, when I heard you speaking about feeling helpless, it echoed my own feelings.”

The pair was silent for the rest of their dance. When it ended, Elizabeth took Mr. Darcy to meet her father.

The two men were introduced and found that they had many similarities. After Mr. Darcy explained his request to Mr. Bennet, and answered many of the same questions that man’s daughter had put forth, they watched the rest of the current set in silence.

“Your idea just may work, Mr. Darcy,” Mr. Bennet broke the silence. “The hardest part that I see, would be convincing my youngest daughters to even let Miss Darcy see them.”

“I have an idea there, papa,” Elizabeth said. “When Miss Darcy arrives, Mr. Darcy will bring her to Longbourn to meet our family. If she loves music as much as Mr. Darcy says, I believe she will get on well with Mary. Between me, Jane, and Mary, we may be able to convince Kitty to meet Miss Darcy. If not, we can always trick them both.”

“I agree, Lizzy. Kitty’s gentle soul is unlikely to be purposefully cruel. Very well, Mr. Darcy. Invite your sister to Netherfield and we will see what happens,” Mr. Bennet decided.


Once Miss Darcy arrived in Meryton, things progressed faster than anyone had anticipated.

The first day she visited Longbourn, Miss Darcy encountered Kitty Bennet on her way to the necessary room and they became fast friends. It took a little longer for Lydia Bennet to agree to meet Miss Darcy, but when her family’s new acquaintance did not appear revolted by her sores, they became good friends.

The very day after they met, Mr. Bennet and Mrs. Bennet and Mr. Darcy were applied to for permission for Miss Darcy to move to Longbourn with her new friends. Mrs. Bennet readily acquiesced, if for no other reason than it was bound to bring the gentleman to their yard more frequently.

A month later, the courtships of Mr. Charles Bingley with Miss Jane Bennet and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy with Elizabeth Bennet were announced. Almost two months after their courtships began, just before Christmas, a double wedding was held.

At the request of the brides and grooms, everyone attending the weddings dressed as though they were attending a masquerade to allow all of the Bennet sisters to feel comfortable.

When the Darcy’s returned to Pemberley, they brought Mary, Kitty, and Lydia Bennet with them. The sisters never returned to their home at Longbourn. The younger sisters recovered from their burns with minimal scarring and all three sisters met, fell in love with, and married, residents of Derbyshire.

Mr. Bingley and Jane remained at Netherfield only a twelvemonth until he bought an estate in a neighbouring county to Derbyshire, and Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty, and Lydia, in addition to every other source of happiness, were within thirty miles of each other.

The sisters all made sure to have as many shades of purple flowers in their gardens as possible. It served as a reminder to not let their emotions get the better of themselves.

Their parents delighted in visiting their daughters in Derbyshire, especially when least expected.

Note: I did take a minor liberty. According to Wikipedia, which I know is fallible, heracleum mantegazzianum was not added to the seed list at the Kew Botanical Gardens until 1817, which is after P&P was published.

Shades of Purple - JaOctGoHoNo 2020

LizzySNovember 01, 2020 04:06AM

Re: Shades of Purple - JaOctGoHoNo 2020

BrigidNovember 01, 2020 09:30PM

Re: Shades of Purple - JaOctGoHoNo 2020

Shannon KNovember 01, 2020 12:51PM

Re: Shades of Purple - JaOctGoHoNo 2020

EvelynJeanNovember 01, 2020 05:50AM


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