Heard It Through the Grapevine
"Thank you, sir, it was a pleasure doing business with you."Mr. Morris said as he bowed Mr. Bingley out the door of his office.Lying on his desk was the signed lease for Netherfield, the ink had yet to dry.
Mr. Morris rubbed his hands in delight.The fee for this business would allow him purchase the new horse that he wanted, and maybe, he would procure the silver tea set Mrs. Morris so had her eye on.
Thinking of tea and tea cakes caused Mr. Morris' stomach to rumble. Glancing at his watch he noticed that it was almost supper time.He decided to close his office early that day.Checking at his watch, he noticed he just had time to stop at the pub before heading home.
The Red Lion Pub
Mr. Morris entered the pub wearing a smile on his face.There were few customers in the tap room, but he did notice Mr. Phillips sitting by himself in one corner of the room.Mr. Morris and Mr. Phillips were both friends and rivals.Mr. Morris could not resist the chance to brag about his wealthy new client.
"Phillips, how are you my friend.What brings here on such fine day as today?" called Mr. Morris, as he crossed the room to sit across from his friend.
"Mrs. Phillips is entertaining her sister and nieces today.I needed to be around some male company.All that gossiping and chitter chatter quite gets on my nerves,"Mr. Phillips took a long sip from his tankard of ale,"And what brings you here, for I have never known you to close your shop early."
"Oh, nothing much.Just a small celebration.I have let Netherfield Park. Man, bring me a tankard," Mr. Morris called out the innkeeper.
Mr. Phillips began sputter and cough.His ale had not gone down his throat the way it should.
"What?" Mr. Phillips asked between gasping breaths."What did you say?" for he could not believe his ears."I thought you said you let Netherfield Park."
"I did.To a Mr. Charles Bingley.A fine young lad from Northern England.A gentleman.He will do the neighborhood proud."
"He must be very rich to afford Netherfield Park," Mr. Phillips probed gently.
"He must be, for he signed the lease without even debating the cost," Mr. Morris agreed.The innkeeper set a tankard of ale in front of him, and he took a drink, letting it flow down his throat in delight.Mrs. Morris did not approve of strong drink, so he seldom indulged, but today was a day for indulgence.
"I shall be handling all the particulars involved with this rental," related Mr. Morris, "and Mr. Bingley has been so kind as to invite me and Mrs. Morris to dine when he takes possession of the house at Michaelmas."
Mr. Phillips felt a pang of envy.While he was a successful solicitor, but Netherfield Park wasa plum indeed, the bill for services rendered could make a man a tidy sum in no time.
Mr. Morris finished his tankard of ale, and throwing a coin to the innkeeper, told him to keep the change."I must be heading home for supper.Give my regards to Mrs. Phillips."Mr. Morris bowed his head slightly and left the room, having the satisfaction of knowing that he had a scored a point against his friend and rival.
Mr. Morris' and Mr. Phillips' houses
"What!Netherfield Park let at last!" cried Mrs. Morris/Phillips."To a rich young man!What did you say his name was?"
"Charles Bingley," replied Mr. Morris/Phillips.
"Charles Bingley" repeated Mrs. Morris/Phillips savoring the name.
"When will supper be ready?I am famished, my dear" asked Mr. Morris/Phillips.
"Supper?!How can you think of supper of a time like this?John fetch the carriage," cried Mrs. Morris/Phillips to their respective footmen.
"You will not do so if you value your situation.I want my supper," Mr. Morris/Phillips informed their respective footmen.
"Very well, fetch my coat and bonnet.If I cannot have the carriage, then I shall walk.You, sir, may eat your supper as soon as you please.I am going to visit my dear friend, Mrs. Long," insisted Mrs. Morris/Phillips."And may you choke on piece of cold chicken," each woman cursed their spouse as the door slammed behind them.
Mr. Morris/Phillips sat down to a quiet, relaxed supper, which, thankfully, did not include any chicken.
Mrs. Long's House
Mrs. Morris lived on the East side of Meryton, while Mrs. Phillips lived on the West.Mrs. Long lived in the middle. Mrs. Morris and Mrs. Phillips moved as swiftly as they could to Mrs. Long's residence, each believing that she would be the first to be able to relay the most delicious piece of gossip to come along since the baker's daughter eloped with blacksmith.
It was with some surprise that they viewed the other at the end of the block.Each walked faster until they could be said running to Mrs. Long's door.Mrs. Phillips made it first and lifted the knocker.As the footman opened the door and Mrs. Morris came barreling into the house."Eugenia, where are you?I have the most exciting news!" she cried.
The door to the front parlor opened and Mrs. Long beckoned her visitors enter.Her niece/companion was playing the piano softly in one corner.
"Abigail, Prudence," Mrs. Long greeted."What is all the commotion about?"
"Netherfield Park is let at last!" they both screamed in unison.
"And what to you know of it!" cried Mrs. Morris, to her rival."It is my husband who is handling the business, not yours, Abigail."
"I know that the house has been let by a Mr. Charles Bingley, a young man of large fortune from the North of England," Mrs. Phillips played her trump card.
"And did you know that Mr. Morris and myself have been invited to dine at Netherfield as soon he takes possession of the estate?" inquired Mrs. Morris, with extremely false sweetness, knowing she had just overtrumped Mrs. Phillips.
"No, I did not.I must say I pity Mr. Bingley, having to look at your sour face on his first night at Netherfield," returned Mrs. Phillips.
Mrs. Morris bridled and was ready to make a devastating blow to Mrs. Phillips when Mrs. Long intervened."My dear ladies, please do not come to fisticuffs in my parlor.Here is John with the tea.Can I offer you a cup.Sit down, sit down.Fill us in on the details, Mrs. Morris."
Mrs. Morris obliged and a comfortable coze was had for the next fifteen minutes.Mrs. Morris and Mrs. Phillips both agreed that they had to return to the husbands and now cold suppers. In reality, each had two or three more stops to make before reaching home.Mrs. Morris was careful to detail that she and Mr. Morris would be dining at Netherfield to Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Jones.Mrs. Phillips thought the event was not newsworthy enough to mention to Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Alistair.
Mrs. Long, being unburdened with a spouse for some years, ordered her coach to be brought around.First she would visit Mrs. Bennet at Longbourn, and then Lady Lucas at Lucas Lodge.
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