Thursday’s 300: Hoops at Hyde Park, Part 4

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Welcome back to Austen Promises!

In today’s episode, we will see Mrs. Bennet and how she interacts with Elizabeth. Again, this has not been edited at all…you are getting the raw version.

Did you know that if you were one of my Patrons at Patreon, you would have been able to see this post yesterday? There are lots of perks for Patrons, and a link at the bottom of the post if you’re interested in checking it out.

Enjoy!

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“Jane!” Mrs. Bennet ran right past her second daughter to pull her eldest in for a hug as Elizabeth and Darcy stared after her, one with an expression of disbelief and offense on his face and the other with resignation mixed with disappointment on hers.

“Lizzy, it is good to have you home.” The couple turned at the sound of Mr. Bennet’s voice. “Mr. Darcy, thank you for seeing my daughters home.” Elizabeth’s father bowed a greeting to his future son-in-law as he spoke.

“It was my pleasure, sir.” Darcy returned Mr. Bennet’s greeting. “I have the settlement with me; we can review it whenever it is convenient.”

“Excellent! I am sure my wife will invite you to dine tonight; bring it with you and we can take care of it after we eat.”

“Very good, sir.”

“Papa,” Elizabeth interjected, “I expected Mama to make a fuss over my engagement, but she has not.”

Mr. Bennet blushed. “I…have not yet told her of it.”

“You did not tell her? Whyever not?”

“I am sorry, Child; I simply could not countenance her outrageous exclamations the day your young man was here. I thought to wait a day or two but as time passed, I found it more and more difficult. And now, you are here.”

“Papa!” Elizabeth’s disappointment was clear. “Now Mr. Darcy will be subject to her behavior, as well. I had hoped to spare him. How could you?”

“I am sorry, Daughter. We will see just what kind of a man your Mr. Darcy is, though, will we not?” With a chuckle, the Bennet patriarch turned away to greet Jane himself.

Elizabeth sighed. “I am so sorry.”

Darcy did his best to reassure her. “All will be well, I promise you.” He was prevented from saying more when Elizabeth’s younger sisters, seeing that their father had completed his conversation with her, surrounded her. Darcy stepped back and watched, observing the obvious affection that the girls had for each other. Their reunion was interrupted when their parents swept past them, urging them inside. Jane and Bingley followed in the elder Bennets’ wake; their mother had never acknowledged Elizabeth’s presence, nor Darcy’s. Giving Elizabeth a look at the same time perplexed and apologetic, Darcy escorted his betrothed through Longbourn’s door.

Bustling into the drawing room ahead of her family, Mrs. Bennet, speaking rapidly, ordered tea for her family and guests. Shooing the housekeeper away as the rest of the group entered in ones and twos, she began directing everyone where to sit. Still she did not greet her second daughter. It was not until everyone else was seated that she made note of Elizabeth’s presence, and the tall, handsome, and well-dressed gentleman at her side. “And who have we here?” she cooed, mentally tallying the cost of his garments. She had automatically paired Jane with Bingley, but if this gentleman was a better match for her most beautiful daughter, she would make certain it was made.

“Mama, this is Mr. Darcy.”

Darcy bowed. “I am pleased to make your acquaintance, Mrs. Bennet. Miss Elizabeth has spoken of you often.”

Mrs. Bennet appeared taken aback at his statement. “She has? Oh, well, then. Come, Mr. Darcy, there is room on the other side of Jane for you to sit. Lizzy, you may seat yourself there, by the window.” She gestured to a pair of wingback chairs positioned at the far side of the room.

Darcy was not about to allow his future mother’s machinations to separate him from his betrothed, and escorted Elizabeth to the chairs indicated, first seating her before pulling the other chair closer to hers and sitting himself down.

Mrs. Bennet huffed but turned back to Jane and Bingley, fawning over them almost to the exclusion of everyone else. Once the tea was poured, Mr. Bennet broke the news to his wife, though not in a manner appreciated by his favorite daughter.

“Mrs. Bennet, you disappoint me.”

“I do? How so, Mr. Bennet?”

“Why, you have not interrogated Mr. Darcy here! We have learned nothing of his income, nor the number of carriages he owns. We have heard nothing of his estate, or where it is located. I had fully expected by now to hear all the details pulled out of him, one by one.”

“Oh,” said Mrs. Bennet with a shrug of her shoulder. “I admit he is nicely dressed, and I thought to inquire many of those things of him, but he chose instead to sit with Lizzy.” Her disdain for that action was clear in her voice. “He cannot be worth much of anything if he chose her.”

Over the sound of gasping that came from every mouth in the room, Mr. Bennet continued.  “So you would say that his interest in your daughter makes him…poor?”

“He’s a poor prospect, indeed, if he cannot see the superiority of Jane or Lydia. They are far more desirable. Lizzy will never be as beautiful as her elder sister, as I have predicted for years. Nor is she as lively as my youngest daughter. She has nothing to recommend her; she reads too much and does not know when to keep her mouth closed. He will soon tire of her, and she will remain unmarried, and I will remind her again that I told her so.”

“Well then, Wife, you will be surprised to hear that Mr. Darcy visited me a fortnight ago to ask for Lizzy’s hand in marriage. Since you are convinced that he is worthless, I will not share his income with you. I will, however,” Mr. Bennet turned to Elizabeth and Darcy, “recommend to you, Mr. Darcy, that you marry soon. The sooner, the better. Do not let Mrs. Bennet talk you into delaying the wedding so she can organize a grand celebration.”

Darcy, who had sat through the discussion with his anger barely under control, grabbed his chance to speak with both hands. “Indeed, I will, sir.” He stood, the better to make his point. Glaring at Elizabeth’s stunned mother, he made his opinions known. “Miss Elizabeth is an accomplished and genteel woman. She is everything I wanted in a wife and feared I would never find.” He spoke next to his future father, though his eyes never left that gentleman’s wife. “I will take your advice, Mr. Bennet. I have already purchased a special license. I am certain Bingley would allow us to marry at Netherfield tomorrow, and if not, the church is likely available. I will ask Elizabeth her preference before I leave here today. Mrs. Bennet, if I were not concerned for my betrothed’s reputation, I would take her with me tonight and you would never see her again. As it is, I must leave her here. It is only with the greatest reluctance that I abandon her to contend with such horrible abuse. You may be assured, however, that as soon as the sun has risen in the morning, I will be on your doorstep. She had best be in the exact condition she is now.”

Copyright 2017 by the author

As always, I eagerly await your thoughts!

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