Mr. Bingley always seems to be a bit of a pathetic 2D character, so I thought I’d liven him up a bit. I’ve tried to focus on the day-to-day happenings around the house, the things we never get to hear much about, as far as my imagination will stretch… I’ll admit it was a bit difficult, and I kept jumbling up things. If there are any glaring errors let me know.
This is Mr. Bingley’s monologue, said about the time he has just moved in to Netherfield Park:
It has been but several days at Netherfield, and yet I am already all anticipation to meet the lovely females of Longbourn. I have heard that they are very fine, indeed, and I imagine that Caroline is scarcely less eager to have company other than her brother, I, Charles Bingley, to entertain her and Mrs. Hurst, who I fear is far too preoccupied with her husband currently. Caroline has been keeping rather close to Darcy, much to his displeasure I have thought, but she is a fine example of a female- if not as gentle as would be generally pleasing. Darcy has not the character for gentler women though, for there is not one that has broken him yet, and though his sister, Georgiana, is a very sweet child, I fear she does not have the courage to force him into other circles. Though I can hardly speak for I know that any disagreement between Darcy and I ends with the former pressing his viewpoint incessantly upon me as I subdue to his experience.
“But that” he says, “is the material concern”. Or even, “You cannot deny that it is true.” Adding emphasis as though he were speaking to an infant misbehaving rather than his good friend and, dare I say it, confidante. I often wonder if he thinks me a worthy partner in business and friendship, I have so frequently heard him remark scathingly about his other acquaintances, in fact there are very few he speaks well of outside of his own family, that it leaves me doubting his sincerity towards myself at some stages. These are, of course, the thoughts of a man with far too much leisure time. Darcy has given me no reason to mistrust him, and I love him as one would a brother, but I often wonder if he believes me capable of handling my own affairs. His advice, though sought on the odd few occasions, is more often than not given without request.
We went riding over the grounds of Netherfield the other day, taking in the sights and deeming it suitable for our small group- Mr. and Mrs. Hurst, Caroline, Darcy and I. “I would imagine you need to hire a few more hands around the stables,” Darcy announced from atop his mare, “and request that extra rooms be prepared in the servants’ quarters, they rarely get the numbers accurately organised in these country estates.” I didn’t hear very much else from him, his brow was creased in a pondering silence. I sat there, similarly quiet, breathing in the cool air and making a conscious effort to remember the scent of clover that now rose up, pulled from the earth by the horses’ hooves. But he started up again, “You shan’t want to hold any balls or large parties here, Charles.” As was always the same with Darcy, he started the conversation in his mind and ended it aloud.
“Why ever not?” I asked him, forcing my reluctant mare to trot over to his. “If I see it fit to invite over a party numbering five-and-twenty or even thirty, I shall. Netherfield seems to have the perfect capacity for it.”
“But that,” and here the familiar emphasis, “will not be the case. You will not want to force yourself into company that is below your own standing. No, no, let them invite you, enjoy yourself with their dances and short-lived interest, and then fade out into the background as is the usual practice of an eligible gentlemen.”
At this I laughed. “You cannot be serious, man! Darcy, upon my life, you sound almost bitter!”
“Do not fall into the trap of spending your every evening leered over by all the sonless mothers” he brought up the idea of heirless families frequently, “and having to exclaim with delight at silly girls that play their instruments poorly. This level of unsophistication is certainly one that I shall not involve myself in.”
This ended the conversation, he was clearly not in a humorous state of mind. As usual, I spent the next few minutes riding in silence, endeavouring to understand why he seemed so uncomfortable. And now, back here at the estate several days since, I have had no progress. Yet I remain in good spirits, it will be a glorious time in the country, a lovely escape from the stresses and smog of London, and I daresay I will be able to encourage Darcy to make some sort of an appearance at a country dance, no matter what he says now.
I have been kept relatively well amused by several of the countryfolk coming to greet me, and when they do so it is in a most charming neighbourly way. Mr. Lucas, who has one daughter I have been told about, is a very sensible gentleman and I found his conversation to be comfortably diverting. Mr. Paridge, a man of little wealth but good breeding, has one married son, whom I am sure to meet soon. He walked to Netherfield on a Monday afternoon, being one of our closest neighbours, but only stayed for some tea, making his excuses at five o’clock before the roast beef was served. Mr. Bennet, who has himself five unmarried girls, was also a very nice addition to Netherfield on Tuesday morning. He was a rather quiet sort of man, but not of a timid constitution- to be frank, I felt that he was humoured by my own manners in the same way that I was curious about his. And yet Darcy would not greet any of them, disappearing out the French windows to go hunting with his dogs at the precise moment anyone’s arrival was announced.
To all this, the general tedium of visiting a new house can be added to Darcy’s list of greviances. Although not one to complain, his irritation manifests itself in less overt ways. He paces. He makes more snide remarks. He disappears outside. Visiting other estates is one of my most greatest pleasures. New grounds to explore and fresh forests for hunting. But Darcy has seen none of this happiness in the past week and a half. I cannot quite put my finger on what makes him uneasy, and it is quite frustrating. Normally, the chance to travel and to be outside would thrill him, but something is amiss. He has been writing to Georgiana an uncommon amount, and speaks frequently of returning to London and then to Pemberley. I have resolved to leave him be on the matter, for I hope it is but a passing phase.
Unfortunately, Caroline has made no such resolution. She frequently enquires into the content of his letters and, making no progress, proceeds on to commenting on the welfare of his sister- how much she admires Georgiana, her certainty that she will marry high, the many accomplishments that Georgiana displays, how well she looked when she last saw her et cetera. It is enough to make myself feel consistently weary, so how Darcy bears it with just a frown I know not. Only yesterday Caroline began remarking upon Georgiana’s taste and style on the piano forte, “There are few girls of her age whom I can speak as well of,” she had smiled down at Darcy, “and yet she also surpasses, in attention and application to music, ladies who are so many years her senior and who-”
“Caroline, would you enjoy a game of whist.” I had cut in. It was ill-timed, for I saw her ears redden slightly under a row of ringlets.
“My sister is, as you say, very well practiced on the piano forte. But I hope that she also applies herself to other pursuits. There are many things an elegant female must consider if she is to be truly accomplished.”
That ended the conversation. I dealt out the cards, Mr. Hurst eventually joined in, and Darcy retired to his writing desk once more.