Perfectly Preposterous Pride and Prejudice, number 2

What now?

Jane Austen, without a doubt, is one of the wittiest women authors you can find. She is absolutely one of our favorite authors. Here is our second in this series of preposterous episodes -- click here to see the first. Now, let's get into this one:
Bingley visits Mr. Bennet

Imagine a blue coat like the border.
Charles Bingley, having received a visit from his neighbor of Longbourn estates, Mr. Bennet, sought now to return the honor and went to visit the older man. Of course, he might not have hastened to do his neighborly duty if Mr. Bennet did not have five daughters of whose reputed beauty he had heard much about; it was for that reason that Charles, in his becoming blue coat that was such a lovely pairing to his blond hair and blue eyes, went to visit Mr. Bennet.

“Ah, Mr. Bingley, how good of you to come and see me,” Mr. Bennet declared on greeting him. “If you will follow me, we can talk in the library where we are sure not to be interrupted.”
“You know, Mr. Bennet, I for one am not averse to interruptions ... in fact, in some way, I believe they can prove to be diverting—in their own way,” Charles repeated, testing the waters.

“Nonsense!” declared Mr. Bennet. “There is no need for you to trouble yourself with that. I’m quite sure you have heard that I have five daughters and you mean to put me at ease, for no one seems to be half so good at ill-timed poking in of the head than young ladies, you know. But, rest assured, we will not have to worry about such things in the library,” Mr. Bennet teased, his eyes twinkling.

Charles sighed and tried to look satisfied as he followed his host to the library. Making sure he was a step or two behind Mr. Bennet, he scanned from left to right in hopes of a glimpse of at least one of the girls. Mr. Bennet, turning back to look at his guest, noticed his looking about, and laughed, “Longbourn is not quite Netherfield Park is it?”

Surprised, Bingley jumped a bit, with the countenance of a boy caught cheating at his school work, and stammered, “What?.... oh, no, I assure you, I was .... well ....uh, what I mean to say is ...”

“Do not concern yourself over such an innocent act, Mr. Bingley. We all examine other people’s things, for we find some private amusement in feeling a bit superior to our neighbors whenever we can.”

“Indeed, you are very kind, sir,” he replied sheepishly.

Now in the library, Charles heard the door shut with the sound of a prisoner being condemned to never see the light of day. This feeling of condemnation only increased with his host's small talk of the condition of the roads and the last poor growing season. In vain, he attempted to turn the conversation to the ladies of Longbourn house, inquiring, “Do any of the young ladies take an interest in the running of things?”

He might just as well have placed a red rubber nose on and danced about like a monkey for the reaction this question elicited from their father! As Mr. Bennet finally stopped laughing, a knock at the door drew their attention, and for the first time Charles’ face lit up, hoping the voice on the other side of the door would be female, but to no avail. The servant entered, begging pardon, “Mr. Bennet, it seems there is some emergency with one of the tenants.”

“Emergency? That sounds like something that cannot be put off till after lunch, does it?” he said, looking at his guest.

“I have rarely used the word for anything that was not urgent,” Charles agreed, and thinking fast, he added, “... but perhaps it is something that can be seen to with speed. I shall wait for you, and if you are detained long, I will take my leave, knowing it cannot be helped.”

“Very good,” replied Mr. Bennet, proceeding for the door. Seeing him turn the corner as he left the room, Charles called out in as low a voice as he could manage that might still be deemed audible, “Perhaps I will wait for you in one of the other rooms.” Receiving no answer, he muttered, “Obviously, if he had some objection, he would have said so.”

He rose from his chair tentatively, still feeling remnants of the schoolboy that had only recently been caught at something. Each step toward the door made him more bold, however, and the expectation of seeing at least one of the girls was all the added motivation he needed to get him out of the library and into the hall. Now which way should he go, especially since he didn’t really know where the sitting room was? He reasoned, “If I make my way toward the entrance, I at least ... wait, what was that?”

He heard the definite sound of gigglingyes, the sound young females express in those light, pleasant tones of subdued laughterthat made him put his ears up as if he were a hound on the hunt. Just when he believed he had caught the direction, though, it stopped. He now moved ever so quietly forward, like an American Indian sneaking up on a buffalo. Had Mr. Hill, the manservant, not been so intrigued by his odd behavior, he would have approached and offered to be of assistance. But knowing this was the rich fellow of Netherfield Park, he opted to watch instead, for he had heard that these rich men can be quite eccentric, and what he was beholding certainly qualified for unconventional, and more than a little strange.

Having determined the general direction he should go in search of his quest for a sighting of lovely ladies, Bingley proceeded toward the sitting room. The beauties, who were unknowingly being sought, were in the sitting room discussing how unfair it was that Papa not allow them even a brief hello from their new neighbor. Lydia finally proclaimed, “I don't know about you, but disappointment always makes me hungry—I am going to the kitchen.”

It seems that disappointment made them all hungry, for they each followed their sister. As the last one exited the room, Charles had finally found his way there, followed at a good distance by Mr. Hill, who was glad the household never was at a loss for some diversion.

Entering the room, Charles put on his most innocent face and prepared himself to give the appearance of surprise upon finding the Bennet girls. Alas, all his innocent face-making and surprise preparation came to naught, for he found the room empty. “How do those American Indians manage sneaking up on a buffalo out in the wide open spaces and I cannot conduct a successful hunt for five ladies in the confines of a house such as this?” he cried.

Mr. Hill had pretty much determined the young man was in search of the Bennet girls, but with this declaration, he now had confirmation. “I know it has been to my master’s detriment that he did not have a son, but what we have gained in the way of entertainment with these girls has been worth it!” he chuckled.

In the kitchen, the girls were treated to fresh biscuits just come from the oven. Kitty declared, “I believe I could do very well without seeing our new neighbor for another of these biscuits,” causing her sisters to laugh heartily as they each helped themselves to another. The laughter drifted along with the aroma of the biscuits to the sitting room, bringing their neighbor to a more active posture. “I may not be an American Indian, but I am certain I can trace that sound and the unmistakable aroma of biscuits!”

Who wears bonnets and cloaks in the house?
Meanwhile, Elizabeth, with a mischievous grin, suggested, “Let us take our treats and meander past father’s library ... we might perchance hear something of our neighbor at least, even if we are prevented from seeing him.” Giggling with delight, the girls left the kitchen for the hall that communicated with the library door.

Nevertheless, the sound of laughter and growing intensity of the bouquet of biscuits confirmed Charles was nearing his goal. He traded in his face of innocence for the real look of wanting a fresh biscuit; the surprise, he felt sure, would come naturally. So he pushed open the door, only to find the cook and her help busily replacing the biscuits that had been eaten by the five girls. The staff turned to look upon the young gentleman, and as things turned out, it was he and the cooks that had the look of surprise—he, for he was sure he had come upon the girls, and they, for they were not accustomed to receiving guests in the kitchen. “I say,” began Charles, overcome with the smell of the delights just placed upon the table, “ … I realize it is fearfully unusual, but might I trouble you for a sample of those delicious smelling biscuits?”

“Certainly, sir, have as many as you like.”

Having proclaimed the biscuit as being among the finest he had ever tasted, the cook recommended he try some raspberry jam on another. Bingley, giving voice to the exquisite tastes dancing upon his tongue, moved the cook to make further recommendations to his willing acquiescence.

While Charles was enjoying himself in the kitchen, the girls moved slowly past the door of the library, hoping to hear something, but to no avail. Mary, thinking quick on her feet, pretended to trip on the carpet and bump against the door. All five turned in unison, biscuits in hand, to await some response from within the library ... how simple to explain a happy tripping accident of their nearsighted sister to their father. But, alas, nothing. Jane said optimistically, “He may not even be here, but let us go upstairs and see if his horse is still here.” With that the girls hustled away.

At this point, Bingley, having his fill of the delicious biscuits, asked the most sensible question to ask once his stomach was full, “May I inquire, were the young ladies of the house just here?”

“Indeed, sir, they have gone to the library, I heard them say.”

“Ahh, excellent! I shall just go there then ... thanks ever so much for the biscuits.”

Proceeding to the library, Charles was filled with high hope, as well as biscuits, the smile on his face bespeaking both feelings. Coming to the library door, he swung it open only to find no one was there either. “Well, I know I am supposed to be in here, but I might as well venture to the front door,” he said, heading directly there. He now stopped by the stairs, feeling rather suspicious for all his lurking about.

Suddenly, one of the servants in the other part of the house made a rather loud noise, causing Charles to jump and look about. Seeing no one, he struck a pose near the banister, looking as innocent as a grave robber outside the cemetery gates. Observing no one either coming or going, he first allowed his eyes to wander as far afield as possible without actually turning his head. With the moments ticking by making him feel more safe, he permitted himself the freedom of looking about, so very much desiring the nerve to gaze upstairs, thinking it would be from one those apartments he might catch a glimpse of one of the beauties. Ever so slowly, he began to turn his head that direction and, feigning to yawn, he stretched his arms above his head and opened his mouth wide for the full effect. Unseen to him, an innocent gnat happened by at that very moment, only to be sucked into his mouth, causing him to cough and gag and try to remove the offending gnat in the only way one can remove such a creature that had crossed one’s lips and gone into the cavity beyond where teeth and tongue reside! Had Mr. Hill not been practised in the art of remaining silent as human comedy played out before his eyes, he could not have watched the scene and continued quiet.

Hearing once again the sound of young ladies giggling, Charles was made to look all the more silly as he frantically contorted this way and that in an effort to regain composure. Thinking he was still beside the banister, he attempted to place his right hand on it and look nonchalant, only to find his twisting and jostling about had brought him further away from the said banister than expected. His hand finding only the open air on which to lean, Bingley found it sorely lacking in its ability to hold him up, and his leaning did not stop till he was flat on the floor.

However, being still a young man of some dexterity, he sprung up from this prone position with surprising swiftness. Straightening and examining his blue coat and seeing that it was none the worse for these gymnastics, he said calmly to himself, “Well, it appears Mr. Bennet will not be returning very soon. Just as I thought.”

Thereupon, Charles Bingley calmly walked out the front door, sporting his beguiling smile, and had he been less in a hurry to ride off, he might have observed five lovely faces looking down, admiring his blue coat.

copyright © 2016 by NoeandCindy

The end of this episode ....

Want to read more "Perfectly Preposterous P&P" posts?
Here they are:
Number 1, The Continuing Saga
Number 3, Sisters will talk

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