Part I, 9/15 to 10/5
Sunday, September 15
A very odd coincidence has occurred. When I wrote last, I mentioned seeing two gentlemen on horseback racing across the fields toward the empty Netherfield house. I took particular notice not only because strangers in the neighborhood are always an event to make comment on, but also because the strangers appeared to be young gentlemen, a cause for even greater attention where eligible men are in such short supply. However, I thought no more of it until I heard Mama speaking to Father after church today. A single man with a large fortune, so Mama says, will take possession of Netherfield by Michaelmas. Mrs. Long saw him in town on Monday and Monday was the day I saw the two riders. I am sure one of them must have been the gentleman, Bingley, I heard Mama say. Of course she is determined that we must meet him and one of us must get him to fall in love. I fear gentlemen with large fortunes would not look on a match with any of the Bennet sisters as an advantageous match but Mama will dream.
Father will not help Mama's dreams by making an acquaintance with Mr. Bingley. He may see the futility of it though I do believe he refuses to introduce himself merely to vex Mama. She is quite beside herself that Father will not further the Bingley/Bennet match. I am enough of my father's daughter to laugh with him at poor Mama's frustrations for surely in a small town such as ours, we will become acquainted with Mr. Bingley in some way. We will not fall in love, though one may dream as Mama does. At least we may make a new acquaintance to visit and add new dance partners to our tired assemblies. Nothing changes!
I imagine Mr. Bingley to be very handsome, very stylish, pompous, and empty headed. He will like sport above all other concerns. He will never have read a book in his life and will race about on his black steed (or perhaps he was the one on the white horse), breaking every heart in the country. A marriage with a man of Bingley's reported fortune is not to be expected by any Bennet. Poor Jane. She, of us all, deserves the very best for she is so good and kind. She wants to marry well for her sisters' sakes but she wants to marry for love above all. So do I but since that prospect is quite remote, I will become a spinster and be quite content.
Monday, September 30
I am so happy I saved my new muslin for the assembly on Saturday for we have just heard that our new neighbor, Mr. Bingley, will be there. And he brings seven gentlemen and twelve ladies (or four gentlemen and six ladies) if Kitty and Lydia are to be believed. And we are to be introduced to him for Father has visited him after all. Poor Mr. Bingley. I fear Mama will descend on him like a cat on a mouse. She is determined he will marry one of her daughters. I am determined to keep my new gown from being trod on by odious Mr. Abbott and his wig and perhaps gain a new dance partner in Mr. Bingley.
Saturday, October 5
Such news to tell you. I write very late for tonight was the assembly ball and I can not wait for morning. First of all, Mama was very afraid that Mr. Bingley and his party were not to come for we had danced fully four dances and yet he had not appeared. I had to dance with Mr. Tinker twice, he with the big yellow teeth and false hair. With all his jumping, I can not imagine how it stays on his head! But I love to dance and can not be particular in Meryton society.
Then lo! in came the Bingley party. He is more than I had hoped - warm, genial, kind, and he loves to dance! Too bad his sisters and friend could not be so. Two sisters - one married, Mrs. Hurst, whose husband I saw only twice the entire evening and the second, a Miss Caroline Bingley, unmarried though quite attached to a Mr. Darcy, Mr. B.'s friend.
Who deserves my sport most? Mr. Darcy is my target. Handsome he may be, tall he may be, rich he may be, but, as we all agreed, the proudest, most disagreeable man we have ever met. True, Mama's exuberance makes her giddy but he need not to have been so rude when Mama spoke to him before being introduced. And he need not have snubbed me so coldly when Mama broadly hinted he should dance with me. He then spent the rest of the evening prowling the room looking as if there was not a place in the world he could prefer less.
I believe he danced with Mr. B.'s sisters who could barely suppress their own disdain for the company they were in. He danced with no one else though he refused to dance with me a second time. How many more times will this man make me feel ridiculous? Mr. B. approached him within my hearing and said some very kind words about Jane, much to my gratification. He then proceeded to suggest that Mr. D. should dance with me! I pretended I could not overhear but could not help but know that D. finds me "tolerable, but not handsome enough". And he was in no humor to give consequence to young ladies slighted by other men! What effrontery! I did not have a partner for only three dances and he made be feel I was the least attractive woman in the hall. I could not feel humbled for long. I confess I know I looked pretty in my new gown no matter what he thought so I gave him a sly glance as I passed him on my way to Charlotte to tell her what I had just overheard. He seemed quite taken aback, I believe, for he kept looking at us as we laughed at him. I hope he knew why we were laughing.
The evening belonged to Jane. So beautiful she looked tonight and Mr. Bingley gave almost all his attentions to her and so right for him to do so for I may say they look a perfect pair. I sound like Mama but I was so happy for her. Jane deserves a bit of luck and perhaps it was luck that brought Mr. B. to Netherfield. Not so much luck to have the rest of his party be so cold and unapproachable. It will provide sport for me at least to laugh at them, particularly at Mr. Darcy. I am glad he is so handsome for if he were ugly and fat with warts or a wig, I could not find him so ridiculous.
Part 2, October 13-October 25
Sunday, October 13
I have not told even Jane how Mr. Darcy's rejection of me unnerved me. I can not help wondering what faults he detected. I admit I have many but none before that have so repulsed a gentleman before. Time and again I tell myself it was only his stupid arrogance that found me wanting yet I still wonder. So I have tried as hard as I could all week to forget his slight of me last Saturday but it appears now revenge is the antidote to make me feel myself again. I will explain.
The party at Lucas Lodge went very pleasantly. The officers of the militia were there which pleased Kitty and Lydia mightily. It pleases me to have more satisfying dance partners than Mr. Abbott and Mr. Darcy. Colonel Forster and his very young wife were introduced to Mama and me. I wonder to whose advantage the match becomes. Mrs. Forster seems a silly young woman for so worldly a man as the colonel so perhaps she brought some fortune. She seemed not to mind at all Mama's constant chirpings about Mr. Bingley's attentions to Jane though Lady Lucas looked quite put out. Charlotte cajoled me into sitting at the pianoforte to play. I know now how well I performed for I am not accomplished. Mr. Darcy seemed to judge me quite severely for he glared at me through both my songs.
Now for my small triumph. Yes, the Bingley party was there as I was hoping they would be for Jane's sake. Sir William spent the evening seeing to the comforts of his guests. As I happened to walk by him, he reached for my hand to stop me and present me to Mr. Darcy as a dance partner. At first I was mortified and pleaded that I was not looking for a partner. I waited for D. to refuse me once more but no, he invited me to dance instead. It gave me the greatest pleasure to decline and could barely suppress a smile at the look of shock I think I detected in his eye. Of course, since I refused D., I could not accept the invitation of any other offers to dance for the rest of the evening but the opportunity to reject him was too great a prize. Now he can wonder what I find objectionable about him.
Mr. Bingley was rarely not at Jane's side. It is gratifying to see her so admired. She is glowing with happiness. Perhaps Mama is not wrong about her hopes for her. Could he be the man to overlook Jane's poor fortune? Charlotte says B. needs to be shown more affection than Jane feels if she wants to secure him. I don't think Jane could have more affection for him than she does but she is not the kind of girl to lay all her feelings before her without being sure of those feelings being reciprocated. There is surely no need to rush. I have no doubt that if allowed to run its course, Jane will not need to use feminine trickery to become his wife.
On the whole, I feel quite satisfied. I exacted my revenge on Mr. Darcy and now I hope I never see him or feel his contempt again.
Thursday, October 24
I fear Jane's faith in her new friends is unfounded. Miss Caroline Bingley and Mrs. Louisa Hurst are the most conceited, narrow minded, supercilious women I know and their regard for Jane appears as deep as Lydia's thoughts. If their brother was not their complete opposite and if dear Jane were not as ill as she is, I would not spend another night at Netherfield. Yes, this is where I am. After Mama's scheme to keep Jane at Netherfield by sending her to visit in the rain worked only too well, Jane became fevered and was obliged to stay Wednesday night. I set out immediately today to provide her with some comfort and a familiar face. I was quite distressed to see her so pale and listless but I believe the worst is past. She has been able to take some broth and her sleep is much less restless. Lucky for her, she may stay in bed. I must play my role as guest and abide the company of the Bingley sisters and the two dour faced gentlemen. Mr. Bingley insists I stay to comfort Jane and it is my wish to do so if I could only stay upstairs.
I sent word to home for some gowns (and my journal) to be brought to Netherfield. The two ladies dressed so elegantly for dinner and I noticed Miss Bingley's look at my new muslin which I fear is new no more for she has already seen it at the assembly ball. After dinner, I read while the others played cards. Except for Mr. Darcy who turned away from everyone in the room to write a letter to his sister. I declined an invitation to join the card party for I fear they were playing high. Miss Bingley announced to the room that I am a great reader but she certainly did not mean it as a compliment. Then she proceeded to list the accomplishments that young ladies should have with an evident desire to show that she has all and I have none. Let me see, a lady must sing, draw, dance, and have an indefinable certain something. I suppose that certain something means speaking contemptuously of those who do not move in her rarefied circles.
I am amused by Miss Bingley's attempts to draw in Mr. Darcy. He seems to show little interest in her though I suppose there is no one he can admire more than himself. I take offense at almost everything he says and I'm sure he means to be offensive, at least to me.
I had two odd encounters with D. today. He was the first person I saw when I walked up to the house. He rather startled me and I believe I startled him but then he quickly recovered himself and stood silent and smirking. I had to ask him to take me to Jane and I believe he was almost laughing at me. I suppose I was a sight. Then, after I had dressed for the evening and was looking for the drawing room, I mistakenly walked into the billiard room where he was playing alone. Again I felt unnerved. He stood silently staring at me and I quickly left, feeling foolish because I could not think of anything to say. Jane would laugh at me if she knew I became suddenly mute. Mr. Darcy has an effect on me I find most infuriating. He has a lock of hair that is unruly and sometimes falls onto his forehead. I want to reach up and push it back. Oh, I am ridiculous.
Friday, October 25
I made a grave error by sending for Mama this morning. Jane had a restless night and I felt Mama should judge what should be done for her. I should have just begged Mr. Bingley for a carriage and taken Jane back home where I am sure she will recover better in her own bed and then I would not have been so mortified by Mama's raptures and songs of praise to B. about the charms and beauties of the house, grounds, his kindnesses and solicitations. Poor Jane was made a saint and she was not there to protest. Mr. Darcy easily offended Mama though I do not think he meant to. She could not resist offending him which is what she meant to do. I still shudder at his looks of disgust and at the Bingley sisters vain attempts to hide their laughter at my poor, impervious mother.
For once, I was glad Kitty and Lydia were with her. At least they were able to change the subject to a neutral one. Mr. Bingley charmingly acceded to Lydia's wish that he hold a ball. Without his kindness, I don't believe I could bear to stay here.
Later this afternoon, I took a good walk to clear my head and now I feel more refreshed. I chanced across Mr. Bingley's beautiful spotted hound. I forgot myself and ran and played with him a bit. Mama has told me many times that I do not look like a lady when I run. I found later I was playing with the dog under Mr. Darcy's very window. Thankfully, he did not see me for I am sure my actions would have confirmed his suspicions of me as something less than a desirable, accomplished female.
Part 3, 10/26-11/20
Saturday, October 26
Jane felt much better this afternoon and was well enough to come downstairs for an hour after dinner. Mr. Bingley was all solicitousness and could not attend her to any less degree. She was sitting too close to the fire or not close enough and never did he leave her side. I saw Mr. Darcy watching B.'s attentions from a corner of the room. His brow was arched. I do not know whether in amusement or consternation.
I felt obliged to stay with my hosts after Jane retired for the evening. This is to be our last evening and how glad I am of it. Another night as trying as this one was and I should not be able to hold my tongue. Mr. Hurst is not interested in anything but cards and since there was not a table out, his chief occupation tonight was sleep. Mrs. Hurst seemed to be enjoying her jewelry and admiring her gown. After Jane left, B. sat gazing into the fire. Mr. Darcy and I were reading and Miss Bingley attempted to show interest in a History of the Carthaginians but, not gaining Mr. Darcy's admiration for her choice, walked about the room and insisted I join her.
Why does D. insist on watching everything I do? I know he must be noting all my defects but to what purpose? Could he be studying the weaknesses of the lower classes? I could easily detect his weakness - his vanity and pride. He dared to admit to me that pride is commendable when one has a superiority of mind! I could only retort that he must have no defects then. He admitted that he does have a resentful temper. I can well believe it. I felt a small sting of it when he accused me of willfully misunderstanding him. Perhaps I was, but I confess I enjoyed provoking him. It would not do to make an enemy of Mr. Darcy, but I will not let him get the best of me.
Monday, November 18
Although my few days at Netherfield were trying, I almost look back on them with regret at their passing, for these past few weeks have been as dull as any before the Bingleys arrived. Until today that is. We have a visitor at Longbourn, our cousin William Collins, and a most ridiculous character he is. I believe he will provide ample amusement for Father and me during his visit with us. I do not wish to cause hurt to anyone by openly laughing at them but Mr. Collins is so ignorant of his foolish ways, he can not know we find him absurd.
Father only let us know today that Mr. Collins was coming to "offer the olive branch" to heal the unpleasantness created by the entail of Longbourn. Perhaps C. has only visited so he may take note of what will belong to him when Father dies. I can not fathom yet why else he should come. Mama is very courteous to him for she is keen to see what amends he may make to us for inheriting Longbourn.
As to William Collins himself, he is a man to be sure, but I can not find another good thing to say about him. I will not judge a man by his looks, but oh, his looks! He reminds me of Aunt Phillips's little pug dog - round face and cheeks, pursed lips and a pushed-up nose. He wears a most supercilious smile and speaks with an air of such pomposity that if I did not know he was a clergyman, I should think he was an earl. However, when the subject lights on his patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, his air changes to one of deference and reverence to this great lady. His flattery of her and her daughter must please this noblewoman to great length. It took no urging from Father for C. to expound on his lady's affability, her condescension, her charming daughter, and it was all I could do to keep my soup in its proper place and not spilt on my gown. After dinner, C. entertained us by reading from Fordyce's Sermons. His manner was so affected that I fear listening to one of his sermons would be a trial indeed. This may yet prove to be a trial for us all.
Wednesday, November 20
I had not time to write last night, but a most unusual event occurred last evening. I must first tell you what happened yesterday morning. Mama seems to welcome Mr. Collins's presence into the family more and more and imposed upon her daughters to take him into town. I feared for Jane at first when C. seemed to take an interest in her (who could not?). Now I fear for myself, as his interest seems to have been turned toward me. I do my best to ignore it, but it is hard to ignore his comic ramblings on the superior society he is used to.
Be that as it may, going into town was indeed providential for we met a most genial, agreeable, charming new officer who, I may also add, was not above being handsome too. I scold my younger sisters for their too easy attachment to the militia quartered in Meryton this winter but I must admit they add some interest to our little countryside.
We were all, my sisters and Mr. Collins, introduced to Mr. Wickham by Lydia's favorite, Mr. Denny. I could not help notice his self-deprecation when invited to Aunt Phillips's this evening by an oh-too-forward Liddy but he charmingly accepted, much to my quiet delight. I was fearful of spending the evening trying to escape C.'s attentions, now I could spend my time learning more about Mr. Wickham. And much I longed to know, for we were not speaking for more than one minute in town when Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy rode up to us. B. immediately approached Jane and I was pleased at his distinguishing her. Lo, Mr. Darcy appeared about to dismount when his eye caught Mr. Wickham. A most astonished look appeared on both the gentlemen's faces with Mr. Darcy's soon turning wintry and off he rode without a word to anyone. I wondered at this greeting. I knew, surely, they were acquainted, but how? When we went to Aunt Phillips's last evening, I found out.
My aunt seems to approve of Mr. Collins just as much as Mother does. Thank the heavens for that, for she drew him away to a table of cards, and I was free to speak to Mr. Wickham. I made sure to leave myself idle and sat rather fetchingly alone by the fire and after a few glances at W., he answered my wishes and sat next to me. I still did not dare to inquire about his acquaintance with Mr. Darcy but W. obligingly satisfied my curiosity after a few hints on my side. W. has known D. all his life. They grew up together and W. was apparently thought of quite fondly, almost as a son, by the elder Mr. Darcy. While allowing that he can not be impartial to give his opinion of D., I believe W. gave me all the facts and circumstances of his relationship quite well enough for me to form a very clear picture of Mr. Darcy. It is worse than I could ever imagine. D. has denied W. his rightful living conferred on him by D.'s own father! There must have been pure envy in this despicable act, an envy festering through all their boyhood years. I daresay the elder Mr. Darcy may have had a fondness for W. exceeding that of his own son, considering the nature of the man. The son refused to give W. his rightful living in the church and he forced W. to make his own way in the world. So generous a man as W. does not hold any resentment for Darcy. I myself must feel that resentment. A man who has everything stoops to deny a small living to one who has nothing. This is more than arrogance, this is venality and petty jealousy.
When I told Jane of this turn in Mr. Darcy's character, she could scarce believe it. Who could, though I am sure I shall not tell anyone else. Mr. Bingley can not know of this defect in his friend. Jane can see that I like Mr. Wickham. I confessed I did and am relieved that D.'s presence in our town will not deter W. from being in our society.
Part 4, 11/22-11/27 am
Friday, November 22
After all the excitement of being invited to the Netherfield ball, I thought Lydia and Kitty could not be more untethered, but today, our favorite members of the militia came to call--Denny, Pratt, and Wickham, and this threw them into even more of a frenzy. Someone must speak to them of their unbridled expressions. One would think they had seen the Prince instead of just a red coat.
Mama was visiting the Lucases and Papa remained in his library, but Jane played hostess quite admirably. She was so thoughtful as to lure Mr. Collins away from his exhortations to Mr. Wickham of Lady Catherine's large chimney piece so W. only had my company as we walked through the garden. He will be attending the ball. I am sure I shall dance at least once with him which may make up for my having to dance twice with Mr. Collins.
Our conversation turned to Mr. Darcy. I find myself still amazed that such a man of consequence could behave so maliciously to one who surely has done nothing to hurt him, except perhaps to hurt his pride. A pride shared by his sister, I am told by W. She is just sixteen and as proud as her brother. I believe this pride must be passed on from the maternal side for the mother is the sister of Lady Catherine herself, so W. tells me, who is the noble patroness of Mr. Collins and condescends to have him at her dinner table from time to time. A woman as formidable as this must share the Darcy pride. More interesting news is that her daughter, whose sickly constitution does not permit her to be out much in society, is to be Mr. Darcy's wife! Does Miss Bingley know this?
Wednesday morning, November 27
My head is in such a state of confusion that even a good night's sleep has not eased my aggravation. I expected a glorious time at the ball, full of dancing, witty conversation, renewing acquaintances, and perhaps making new. But none of this has come to pass.
First Mama has made it be known to me that she expects me to acknowledge my cousin's attentions to me. They have become impossible to ignore. Kitty and Lydia can not help but burst into fits of giggles when Mr. Collins remarks on my "healthy countenance" or "sturdy stock". I believe he may be envisioning me as an addition to the dinners with Lady Catherine. Well, enough of that. This I shall continue to ignore for he is leaving Saturday.
Secondly, Mr. Wickham was not at the ball. I could scarce hide my disappointment when Mr. Denny approached me with Wickham's regrets that he was called to London. Or course he was not at the ball because Mr. Darcy would make it uncomfortable for him.
Thirdly, Mr. Darcy imposed himself upon me by asking me to dance and I knew not how to refuse him. I thought I could be cool and detached with him and let it be known that he can not affect me. I pride myself in a game of wits for I usually win but I believe he bested me in the end and I can not think how to retaliate.
The aggravations go on and on. Mr. Collins embarrassed me time and again. He has no skill at dancing but seems not to know it. He hops around in such a pretentious display that I was quite shamed and it was sheer ecstasy when our dances were over. I found Mr. Darcy watching me during this torture and I was infuriated doubly at the insufferable smile on his face. I am not fond of Mr. Collins but I am angry that a cousin of mine would be made sport of by the likes of Mr. Darcy. Only my relations have that right.
Then I foolishly acceded to Mr. Darcy's application for a dance. I was so surprised and then angered anew for I promised myself never to dance with him. But once I agreed, I resolved to make the best of it and humble him with my superior wit. What a fool I am. I must say I received amazed looks from my neighbors as I was standing opposite Mr. Darcy. He has an imposing presence and he has learned to use that to full effect. If I had not learned what he had done to Mr. Wickham, I might almost have been proud to be considered worthy of his attentions although the reason for them quite escapes me.
He seemed content to dance the entire set without saying a word so to punish him I made some innocent comments about the dance to oblige him to respond. At first I was feeling quite smug, I confess, in forcing him to reply to my witticisms. I took the opportunity to bring Wickham into the conversation and held my breath to see how he would react. He dared to say Wickham easily makes friends but is not as easily capable of keeping them. A not unexpected reply from someone who no doubt has very few friends of his own. D. managed to stay civil through our exchange but unluckily, Sir William interrupted our set to spout banalities on our superior dancing and Jane's expected union with Mr. Bingley. He did not say it thus but he left no doubt whom he was speaking of. This is when everything seemed to fall apart. Mr. Darcy seemed to grow colder and I admit Sir William's comments were as unwelcome to me. I found a boldness I did not feel in asking Darcy if he were cautious in allowing his resentment to be created since he has already told me he can never forgive. D. did not seem pleased by my probing and asked why I had such questions. I admitted he puzzles me. He asked me not to continue examining his character for it would not reflect well on either of us. I told him I may never have another opportunity. He coldly informed me he would not suspend any pleasure of mine and, as the dance had ended, briskly walked away. I was dreadfully dissatisfied with our exchange. My attempts to understand the man has created more questions than answers.
Still the evening wore on. My family's behavior last night could not have shamed me more than if they had set out purposefully to do so. It almost makes me overlook the ill behavior of Mr. Bingley's sisters. Miss Bingley sought me out to maliciously denounce Mr. Wickham's character. She knows nothing of the truth and her opinion can not be considered. I soon forgot her insolence however when my family chose to exhibit themselves to everyone. Mr. Collins gained D.'s contempt by forcing himself on him and introducing himself as if he were an equal. I felt mortified as Mr. Darcy walked past me stone faced after this exchange with my cousin. Mary felt it was her duty to entertain the party by performing at the pianoforte. She was not asked and she chose a most unfortunate piece for it required her to sing. As Jane and I fidgeted through Mary's performance, everyone else looked on in wonder. Mary received scant applause but even that encouraged her to begin a new song. Father interrupted her too late and I am afraid embarrassed Mary. Mr. Collins then informed the room that he was determined to sing although he can not sing! What could I do? Mrs. Hurst silenced C. rather insultingly by sitting herself at the pianoforte and playing something unsingable.
Mama exclaimed loudly for all the surrounding tables to hear that Jane and Mr. Bingley will soon marry. I am sure not only B. but also D. heard my mother's exaltations that such a match will bring rich husbands for her other daughters as well. I tried to let my mother know she was speaking too loudly but she would not notice me and I sank even lower when Lydia and Kitty came screaming into the room chased by soldiers. Then my mother arranged for our carriages to be the last to depart. It was evident by all at Netherfield, except Mr. Bingley, that we were fervently wished away.
The ball was a terrible trial. I must expect to become stronger by it. At least Mr. Bingley's attachment to Jane grows. I will dwell solely on Jane and Mr. Bingley and will not let Mr. Darcy or anyone else distract me from that one source of pleasure I received all evening.
Part 5, 11/27 pm-12/16
Wednesday evening, November 27
Has this day surpassed yesterday for humiliation and frustration? I knew Mr. Collins was paying special attentions to me but I thought I was successful at silently communicating to him my disinterest. Today I have been treated to a proposal of marriage by my senseless cousin.
He has convinced himself that he loves me and chooses me for his wife because he is a clergyman, it will make him happy, and he has been told by Lady Catherine that he should do so. I do believe he may turn to Mary next for his intended, for of course I speedily rejected him, or as speedily as I could for his reasons for marrying were lengthy.
It was difficult at times to check my amusement at his confidence in his successful application. When I finally was given a moment to respond, I was not able to convince C. that I could not be his wife. My horror grew as I realized he would not take no for an answer. If not for my father's complete rejection of the notion of my marriage to that man, I believe I may have become Mrs. William Collins simply because no one could believe I would not.
Mama will not speak to me, so she says, for she harangues me constantly and accuses me of ruining the whole family's prospects of future comfort. My cousin has gone to visit the Lucases and I hope he will stay away until his time to return to his patroness has come.
Thursday, November 28
Kitty and Lydia have just raced into the room to tell us the most unbelievable news. Charlotte Lucas has accepted Mr. Collins's proposal of marriage! I knew he would turn his attentions elsewhere but I could not believe my friend, with her acuity of perception and sense, would accept him. How sad I feel.
Friday, November 29
My dearest sister has let Caroline Bingley deceive her into thinking Mr. Bingley does not care for her. She tells Jane today in a letter that everyone has left Netherfield with little expectation of returning. This can not be true for I know Mr. Bingley has more regard for Jane's feelings than would be shown by leaving and not saying a word to her. I am convinced his sister wants him to leave Hertfordshire for his thoughts are too much on Jane and she has other plans for him. From her letter it appears she wishes B. to enter into a marriage with Mr. Darcy's sister. She has a desire to see the families united. I would imagine she would expect a second wedding for her to Mr. Darcy himself. She is very welcome to him if she can pry his cousin away. Perhaps they can wrestle for him and take on any other accomplished females who dream of a rich, powerful union. Good looks are always welcome in a husband but I should prefer kindness and understanding.
Those are qualities which I now fear Mr. Bingley may be lacking. It is most thoughtless of him to have left without informing Jane. I must believe he will return by Christmas and have told Jane so. Let us hope he returns without his sisters and Mr. Darcy.
I feel disappointed for Jane but I feel the most disappointment in my friend Charlotte. I paid a call to her today to gain an understanding of her engagement to such a man as Mr. Collins. How can she not feel anything but contempt for him? It seems only to matter to her that he will give her a good home and comfortable living. I am not yet seven and twenty but even if I were, I can say that looming spinsterhood would never induce me into marriage with such a man or any man I could not passionately love. I have yet to feel such a passion, certainly none for the young men of the town and I know what I feel for Wickham is not passion. I feel passionate about Mr. Darcy but is a passionate dislike - certainly not love.
Charlotte will never feel passion for her husband. How could she? I can never hold her again in the same esteem as I once did and I feel most sad for that.
Mama heaps abuse and blame on me for not accepting Mr. Collins and now having Charlotte be the next mistress of Longbourn is giving her fainting spells. Father is amused to think that Charlotte is as silly as Mama.
Monday, December 16
Dear Jane has been suffering and I fear I have been of little comfort to her. Mama has inquired of her every day if she has heard from Mr. Bingley and every day she must tell her she has not. She bears her pain in graceful silence. I must be of more comfort to her and not be so willing to choose Wickham's company over hers.
Lydia, Kitty and I met Wickham, Denny, and Carter in town today and I invited them to tea. I had been looking forward to introducing W. to Mama and Father for he has such an amiable nature, I was sure he would be very pleasant company and so he was. He surprised me by relating Mr. Darcy's injustices to him to my family. I had thought he preferred to keep silent on that score but since he does not, I suppose there is no harm in telling our other friends the dreadful story.
I am always struck by the difference in character between Wickham and Darcy. Natural ease and friendliness is W.'s strongest recommendation which D. appears to have none of. W. also shows keen discernment. He is aware of the fragility of Jane and Mr. Bingley's attachment which was one reason he stayed away from the Netherfield ball. He knows that D. would protest his presence and any small objection can destroy the connection completely. How thoughtful a motive.
His gesture may not have done any good though because Jane has received another letter from Caroline Bingley informing her they will not be returning this winter. I am sure Bingley's sisters and friend keep him from returning which turns my anger to Bingley for being so weak and foolish as to be so easily turned away from one who truly cares for him. Jane bears this news with her usual sweetness and will not think ill of anyone. I will do that for her. I will convince her to go to London with Aunt and Uncle Gardiner after Christmas. All Bingley has to do is see her sweet face and the others' designs will be useless.
Part 6, 12/21-1/13
Saturday, December 21
Charlotte and Mr. Collins are to be married the day after Christmas. He comes back and forth from Hunsford to visit his betrothed and stays at Longbourn when he is here, much to my mother's chagrin. But soon he will be gone for good and Charlotte with him.
Jane will leave with our Aunt and Uncle the day after to go to London. Lydia and Kitty clamor to go with her but this visit is medicinal for Jane (and will be a proper tonic if she can gain a sight of Mr. Bingley).
Today the Gardiners arrived and such a welcome relief and joyful spirit they bring to our gloomy household. I introduced Mr. Wickham to Aunt this evening at our gathering at the Phillipses. She is an acute judge of character and her opinion is most valuable. I want her to support my view of him as a warm, good man who has risen above the afflictions put on him and maintained a genial vigor. One or two people in this town (my father included, I believe) do not care for W. and sometimes I have a doubt or two of his sincerity. But my aunt seems most cordial toward him. She may have heard of Darcy's mistreatment of him by now for most the town knows, so she may feel warmth for W. because of his misfortune. Aunt has some familiarity with the Darcys, having come from the same county but she has never met the family.
Charlotte has invited me to Hunsford in the spring. I feel sorry for her so I promised to visit. She seems nervous and less confident but I know she will not change her mind. I suppose all prospective brides have fears, particularly about the wedding night. I don't dwell on things I know nothing about but I feel repulsed when I imagine a man like my cousin kissing me. I should at least like to love my husband before I become so familiar with him.
Wednesday, December 25
We had a pleasant Christmas day. Reverend Mr. Dawson allowed Mr. Collins to preach a sermon at church. I believe the subject was the joys of giving but it was hard to say since so much of it was on the advantages he has enjoyed being connected to a noble family. I suppose Lady Catherine must enjoy giving very much, certainly giving her opinions and advice at any rate.
Some of the soldiers joined us at Longbourn after dinner, including Mr. Wickham. He seemed somewhat distracted and could not stay long. Lydia tells me he has been enjoying the company of a Mary King who is visiting her uncle in town. I can not take much stock in Lydia's gossip but if it is true, I wonder at his fickleness. We were flirting and dancing together quite pleasantly just on Saturday.
My aunt is concerned lest I be in love with Mr. Wickham. I assure her I am not in any danger for I knew long ago that I could not be a suitable match for him and therefore, he could not be one for me. Our circumstances are much too unfavorable to create a happy marriage. I remain sensible on that score. He is one I may have enjoyed being kissed by but I shall have to wait for just the right man. I wonder if I will I even know the right man when I meet him.
Monday, January 13
Two letters and a bit of shocking gossip has arrived today. The gossip was about Mr. Wickham. It appears he has left Meryton to follow Miss King to her home in Barnet. I am somewhat surprised at her family allowing such an attachment as Miss King has inherited a small fortune and could look higher. However, an announcement of a betrothal is expected and I suppose I am happy for him. He will rise to a new station, one deprived of him long ago.
I first read the letter from Charlotte Lucas (I mean Collins). She writes of her impressions of Lady Catherine and Rosings Park with a rationality I never heard from her husband. I detect a bit of amusement in her lines regarding Lady C.'s behavior though she speaks of nothing that is not good. I suppose I must wait to see the grand lady myself before a full judgment can be reached. Charlotte writes about her housekeeping, linens and poultry but speaks little about her husband. She says she is quite settled and looks forward to seeing me in March.
I saved Jane's letter for last but it did not bring me much satisfaction. Her visit to London has not produced the pleasure I hoped for. She has had no sight of Mr. Bingley. She has been waiting for a visit from Miss Bingley after paying a call on her soon after her arrival in London. Miss Bingley finally came yesterday but I fear it was not very satisfactory and must have pained Jane greatly for now her eyes have been opened to the true shallowness of Miss Bingley's regard for her. Her visit was short and seems to signal a complete end to their friendship. Apparently, B. knows Jane is in town but is too busy spending time with Miss Darcy.
I have written to Jane immediately with my news of Mr. Wickham and Charlotte to try to help her keep her thoughts away from B. and his odious sister. His character is not what I thought. I hope he does marry Miss Darcy for Wickham has told me she is as cold and proud as her brother.
Part 7, 3/20-3/27
Thursday, March 20
It was a beautiful first day of spring. Mr. Wickham has called. I have not seen him all winter. It was a curious feeling I had while walking in the garden with him. I do not think I am sorry not to be pursued by him still but I feel a vague emptiness that he will soon be out of our circle. Yes, we will always be friends but a single woman can not take walks and have long conversations with a married man and that I will miss.
I felt near to tears when he began to explain in so many words that if circumstances had been different, perhaps we could have . . . Well, I do not long to be Mr. Wickham's wife. I just long to be valued, cherished, and admired as a woman, not as a sister or daughter. He is soon gone and I will soon be in Kent and may never see him again. I will always hold him in high esteem.
Tuesday, March 25
Yesterday we began our trip to Kent and I was pleased to stop in Gracechurch Street for the night. Sir William is a kind man but his constant prattle on the carriages we passed and the possible noble personages inside them drove me to distraction.
Jane looked very well. Here in London there is much to keep her busy and away from thinking too much of Mr. Bingley. My aunt does not think too highly of Wickham for chasing after Mary King. She thinks he is mercenary for marrying for money. I tell her he would be foolish if he did not. She is afraid I was in love with him and now am injured. I do not know why I defend him so but she will soon forgive him for he is from Derbyshire and no one bad can come from there. She has not yet met Mr. Darcy.
Today we arrived at Hunsford where I am happy to say I am able to make a favorable judgment of Charlotte's situation. Mr. Collins took great pains in showing me particularly the comfort and simplicity of his home and the condescension and solicitousness shown by Lady Catherine, as if he were showing me what I had lost. But Charlotte seems to have found the best of her circumstances and can ignore her husband's effusiveness.
We spent some time alone this afternoon for Mr. Collins's vocation requires him to be ever at his patroness's beck and call. Charlotte's home is truly lovely and comfortable. She is quite content with the duties of her domestic life and her husband appears merely incidental. Were she to have a child I believe her life would be fully complete, but I can't tell if she spends enough time with Mr. Collins to ever make that event a possibility.
Wednesday, March 26
I saw the elegant Miss Anne de Bourgh today. She did not deign to come into the house but sat outside in her carriage making Charlotte attend to her in the wind. She is a mousy, sharp featured, pale little woman. What a mate for Mr. Darcy! The purpose of her visit was to ask us all to dine at Rosings tomorrow. I await Lady Catherine with great anticipation.
Thursday, March 27
Mr. Collins has been beyond happiness for now Lady Catherine's prompt invitation has only proven to his relations how civil, affable, and well-bred she is and how fortunate we are to have been noticed by such greatness. I am scarcely awestruck by my betters and today was no different. Lady Catherine held court on a chair that could only be described as a throne. She dictated her opinions on everything from which window held a better view every season to how Charlotte should manage her milk cow. Sir William and Maria looked quite frightened.
At dinner, Mr. Collins could not praise each dish quickly enough. I wonder how Lady Catherine can bear such fawning attention but she takes it as if it were quite well deserved. I am afraid this great lady thinks I do not show my deference well enough. She was quite shocked when I voiced my opinion that younger sisters should be allowed to be out before elder sisters are married, if the elder do not or can not marry. I do not think I overstepped my bounds for Charlotte looked amused though Mr. Collins looked staggered.
After cards, at which I was seated with the silent Anne and her ever constant companion, Mrs. Jenkinson (a fair match for Mr. Collins), Lady Catherine told us we would have fine weather tomorrow and sent us on our way.
On the way home, I searched my memory for a resemblance to her nephew, Mr. Darcy. I can think of very few - perhaps the strong jaw although Lady Catherine has not the cleft in her chin he has that makes me want to reach up and fit my thumb in it. I must stop. Being near to Lady Catherine makes me think too much of him and I have barely thought of him at all in months.
Part 8, 4/9-4/17
Wednesday, April 9
Never would I dare suggest to Mr. Collins that our twice weekly dinners with Lady Catherine have become quite dull. It is too many times that I have heard Charlotte scolded for her too liberal household or herself praised for her beneficence to the parish. But how could I suppose that the arrival of Lady Catherine's nephews would be the means to enliven the dreary atmosphere.
Colonel Fitzwilliam is the younger son of Lady Catherine's brother, the Earl of Matlock. He surprised me with his charm and pleasing manners. I can not guess from whom he has learned to be civil for I thought all of Mr. Darcy's relatives must be like his aunt. Of the other nephew, it is Mr. Darcy himself. He appears not to have changed in his dislike of me for he sat in Charlotte's sitting room today and said barely a word though Mr. Collins was sitting before him, actually almost kneeling before him, singing his praises of Mr. Darcy's aunt. At one point, D. rose in the middle of C.'s comments and presented himself before me to inquire after my family. I don't know why he exerted himself. I can't imagine why he came to the parsonage at all except perhaps to be released from his betrothed and her mother for an afternoon.
I was curious as to what he would reveal of his knowledge of the Bingleys and Jane in London so I asked him if he had seen her in town. He seemed confused and walked away after answering in the negative. I suppose he found my question impertinent so to add to my impertinence, I repeated to the colonel what Darcy himself told me at Netherfield - that once his good opinion is lost, it is lost forever. I know D. knew I was mocking him for he turned to stare at me. I could not help but smile. His visit may turn out to be great sport.
I can not speak too highly of Colonel Fitzwilliam. He is not nearly as handsome as his cousin and does not wear his clothes as well but he seems truly pleased to be in my company. There is no arrogance or contempt in his tone. Perhaps because he is a younger son, he does not have to bear the weight of title and property and all the responsibility it brings.
Sunday, April 13
Today after Easter services, Lady Catherine commanded our presence at her table this evening. We had not been invited all the week since her nephews arrived so Mr. Collins obeyed with the greatest alacrity and effusive thanks.
I was asked to play at the pianoforte by the colonel and though I dislike performing, I could not refuse his appeal. The colonel sat next to me all evening. If I did not understand the requirements of finding a rich wife for a younger son, I would guess that he was forming an attachment to me, but I believe he understands his needs too well to be in danger of that, so we may converse and even flirt without concern that one of us may fall in love. I do not know if Lady Catherine took notice of her nephew's attentions to me but Mr. Darcy certainly did. He sat most of the evening being dark and brooding. Even his clothes were all black making him look most saturnine. But as the colonel and I were enjoying our conversation at the pianoforte, he approached us with that quick stride of his and looked ready to voice his disapproval. Instead of objecting to our tÍte-ý-tÍte, however, he seemed to want to join in. A menage-a-trois perhaps?
If I did not know Darcy better, I would say he was almost teasing me this evening. I admit I was feeling a bit flushed from all the port and claret that was served at dinner and perhaps that's why we had such a curious exchange. I related to the colonel Mr. Darcy's failings at the assembly ball when he would not dance. I was tempted to be cruel and reveal how he refused twice to dance with me but something in D.'s air made me feel he was attempting a rapprochement. I wonder if his arrogance may actually be rooted in shyness. He professed to not be comfortable with strangers. How can someone with all of his advantages lack confidence? I could not resist telling him it was his own fault he does not do well in company because he does not even attempt it. He actually smiled a little at me and complimented me on my performance. I do not know if he meant my performance at the pianoforte or in company. "We neither of us perform to strangers", he said. I could not stop gazing at him for his countenance appeared so intense and yet tender and for a moment I was not aware of anything else in the room but him. Lady Catherine then demanded Darcy's attention and the colonel demanded mine so I spoke no more with him which is just as well for I surely had too much wine tonight.
Thursday, April 17
I had been looking forward to my morning alone today for Charlotte and Maria had gone to Hunsford Village. The colonel comes every day to visit but I knew he would not come today for he was bidden by his aunt to look at her horses. I was afraid to take my daily walk for it seems I always encounter Mr. Darcy and I am annoyed to be intruded upon when I am out. So I planned to stay in and write to Jane. I had not gotten far in my letter when who should come to call but Mr. Darcy.
He was very civil, yet he sat for almost five minutes and said barely a word. After vainly bringing up topics of conversation and getting only a few cursory remarks from the man, I vowed to remain silent until he would approach a subject himself. After all, I had not asked him to visit! He finally obliged and we conversed about the Collinses and their comfortable home. It was a safe subject and I was perfectly willing to follow it through til there were no more threads to pull when he strangely offered his opinion that I would not wish to be settled closely to Longbourn after I marry. I did not know how to respond and he jumped up quickly to leave. I wonder if he was thinking of Jane and our close proximity to Netherfield. He had looked so earnestly at me.
These past few days have made me know Mr. Darcy better. I believe, surrounded by my family and our neighbors, he intentionally becomes aloof and withdrawn because he feels he must play a role. But within his own family and familiar surroundings, he can step away from that guise and be more human and even allow himself to smile occasionally. Charlotte teases me and says he must be in love with me because he has said more to me in two days than he ever did in two months. I know I am just a diversion from a gentleman's activities and obligations and I expect once he leaves Hunsford, he will find no more reason to pay any attention to me at all.
Part 9, 4/28-5/1
Monday, April 28
My heart is so full. I am in an agony of emotions and I want to cry and I want to go home and I want to never see Mr. Darcy again. I am sad and angry and indignant. I have such a terrible headache but I have so much to write about. Mr. Darcy has hurt Jane intentionally and tremendously. He has been the source of all her unhappiness. I was a fool to think he was not so willful and imperious after all. He is the same as I always knew him. And this man thinks I can love him. He wants to marry me. My head hurts. I will try to sleep and wait til morning to continue if I can.
It is now three o'clock and I can not sleep. Perhaps putting my thoughts on paper will help. I met Colonel Fitzwilliam on my walk yesterday. He imparted unknowingly to me the role D. has played in separating Mr. Bingley from Jane and causing my sister a loss so great, I know she has not yet become herself. Apparently he felt there were some great objections to Jane and has convinced B. not to see her again. Jane, the most honest, innocent, truly good person I know. The poor colonel had no idea he was speaking of my own sister and I tried to hide my hurt and resentment but could not, so he kindly cut short our walk and escorted me back to the parsonage.
My head ached terribly, so I was released from tea with Lady Catherine. Sweet, blessed quiet was what I needed and was glad when the rest of the house left in a tizzy for fear they would be late. But I could not be alone with Jane's letters and my thoughts for long, for I soon received a visitor.
When I heard the bell ring, I thought at first the colonel had come but to my astonishment and dismay, the very cause of my torment entered the room. Darcy rushed in as he always does and I thought perhaps he would leave after asking of my health but he proceeded to walk about the room in an agitated manner. He paced, he sat, he stood, he paced. I refused to speak and I wish he had chosen not to for what he told me has shaken me to my very core and caused my months-long resentment of this man to finally spill over into words.
He loves me. He loves me! He wants to marry me! Where has all this come from? When could it have started? I actually felt sorry for him at first when he confessed to me his feelings, because I knew I could not return his. But then his hateful pride showed through as he told me how reprehensible our union must be and rationally he objects to such a marriage to someone with such low connections but he can not help it and will marry me anyway. I had no doubt he expected me to fling myself at his feet and thank him for his gracious proposal. I could see in his eyes how shocked he was when I refused him. I attempted this as politely as I could Perhaps the whole thing could have ended there but after long moments of silence which I found dreadful, he told me I was uncivil and asked for more of an explanation. What could I say? My feelings on Jane and Wickham and Darcy's character are so strongly felt. I let them take complete control of me. I told him I knew his role in ruining my sister's happiness and humbling Wickham. He had the audacity to congratulate himself on his success in severing Mr. Bingley's relationship with Jane. He is contemptuous of Wickham's afflictions. He feels no remorse!
After my tirade, Darcy retaliated. He called me proud and said my pride was hurt by his honesty and I would have preferred him to conceal his disapproval of my family's connections. This was too much for me to take. Oh, we had many angry words. I practically told him he was not a gentleman and that nothing could ever induce me to accept his hand. I told him everything I have ever felt about him. I do not even remember my words but he was startled and I never saw him look so angry.
Finally he left. I had to gasp for air. I felt as if I were suffocating. I had fought through our angry exchange to control my tears and finally I could let them out and cried for half an hour.
How could he love me and I not know it? Why must he be such a cold, cruel man? How can such a man with all his fine looks, standing, intelligence be so deficient in human compassion and understanding?
When I heard the Collinses return, I ran upstairs and here I still am. I believe I may be able to sleep now but oh, my head still aches.
Tuesday, April 29
My agony increases. I can not stay here much longer and look forward to Friday but at least the gentlemen have left. I can not tell Charlotte what happened for she will feel obliged to tell her husband. My refusal of Mr. Darcy's hand would leave Mr. Collins only less surprised than my refusal of his own.
I declined breakfast and went for a walk instead. It is very warm today but I walked rapidly not knowing where I was heading. It was very bad luck indeed to almost walk right into Mr. Darcy. He had apparently been looking for me for he had a letter for me. He left promptly and I had to read this letter right away. Dread was in my heart but also extreme curiosity.
The contents of this letter have made me feel so oppressed, unjust and prejudiced. At first he made an attempt to explain his actions regarding Jane and his friend. I was so angered, I barely comprehended what he meant. Then, oh, I am ashamed to recall my eagerness in blaming D. for all of Wickham's troubles and now I see he was entirely blameless. I think back on all of W.'s assertions that he would not blemish the good name of Darcy but then proceeded to do just that by relating his falsehoods to all the town. Darcy never exposed Wickham's character though I suppose that would be exposing his own sister as well. I think how foolishly I allowed W.'s charm and easy manner to pull me into his deceit. I must have gratified his vanity to no end. I have prided myself on my clever abilities to see through the false pretense of people. Instead, I have been thoroughly fooled and blind. I will never again be so smug about my abilities and disdainful of other's generosity. I have been wrong all this time.
I re-read Darcy's lines on Jane and with more reflection I begin to see the credit of some of his convictions. He acted where he should not have done, but Bingley can be a foolish man and D. is probably used to protecting him. I am sorry Jane has had to suffer. I deserve my suffering.
Thursday, May 1
We dined at Rosings for the last time. I made little effort to be charming. I do not care for Lady Catherine, no matter that she wants Maria and me to stay another month. I told her my father wishes me to return home as soon as possible, which is a falsehood but I can not bear to stay in Hunsford, the scene of my greatest humiliation. I need to return to my home and Jane.
I can not stop thinking of Darcy. I wonder now what he was seeing all those times I found him looking at me. Did he love me at Netherfield? Could I love him if he were not so rich and dominating? I don't know, for then he would not be the man he is for surely his obligations are what helped create him.
I do not repent my refusal of his proposal. His manner is still proud and his humour lacking but I laugh at Lady Catherine's evident expectation that he will one day be her son-in-law. A man like him would have no use for such a weak, meek, sickly woman. He needs a wife with spirit and determination and life and laughter. That description does not fit Anne de Bourgh, nor does it now fit me
Continued in Part 2
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