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From Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

I love this conversation between the Bennet sisters which reveals their closeness and fond regard for each other as well as Jane Austen’s wonderful sense of humour! Jane Bennet is recently engaged to Mr Bingley and has only just become aware of the true duplicity of his sister, Caroline Bingley.

Elizabeth had now but little time for conversation with her sister; for while he was present, Jane had no attention to bestow on any one else; but she found herself considerably useful to both of them, in those hours of separation that must sometimes occur. In the absence of Jane, he always attached himself to Elizabeth for the pleasure of talking of her; and when Bingley was gone, Jane constantly sought the same means of relief.

“He has made me so happy,” said she one evening, “by telling me, that he was totally ignorant of my being in town last spring! I had not believed it possible.”

“I suspected as much,” replied Elizabeth. “But how did he account for it?”

“It must have been his sister’s doing. They were certainly no friends to his acquaintance with me, which I cannot wonder at, since he might have chosen so much more advantageously in many respects. But when they see, as I trust they will, that their brother is happy with me, they will learn to be contented, and we shall be on good terms again; though we can never be what we once were to each other.”

“That is the most unforgiving speech,” said Elizabeth, “that I ever heard you utter. Good girl! It would vex me, indeed, to see you again the dupe of Miss Bingley’s pretended regard.”

“Would you believe it, Lizzy, that when he went to town last November, he really loved me, and nothing but a persuasion of my being indifferent would have prevented his coming down again?”

“He made a little mistake, to be sure; but it is to the credit of his modesty.”

This naturally introduced a panegyric from Jane on his diffidence, and the little value he put on his own good qualities.

Elizabeth was pleased to find that he had not betrayed the interference of his friend; for, though Jane had the most generous and forgiving heart in the world, she knew it was a circumstance which must prejudice her against him.

“I am certainly the most fortunate creature that ever existed!” cried Jane. “Oh! Lizzy, why am I thus singled from my family, and blessed above them all! If I could but see you as happy! If there were but such another man for you!”

“If you were to give me forty such men, I never could be so happy as you. Till I have your disposition, your goodness, I never can have your happiness. No, no, let me shift for myself; and perhaps, if I have very good luck, I may meet with another Mr. Collins in time.”

I don’t think Jane Austen could have written this without enjoying the very close relationship she had with her sister. Whenever I read Pride and Prejudice I think about my lovely sister who unfortunately lives quite far away, but visits whenever she can. We chat for hours on the phone, but I have to say I do miss those times we spent together as girls. I hope you are as lucky as I am to have such a close friend in a sibling.

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Lydia Bennet’s Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia’s online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet’s Story, begins.


Friday, November 6th, 1801

We attended an evening party at Lucas Lodge tonight. Kitty and I were never without a partner – my satin slippers are worn into shreds! I wore my sprigged muslin with a pink ribbon sash and was delighted with my looks as were several gentlemen of my acquaintance. Captain Carter admired my gown excessively, indeed, he scarce took his eyes off me for the entire evening. I declare he is quite smitten!
Mr Darcy spent all his time staring at Elizabeth.
He had the audacity to ask her to dance but I am glad to note that she refused him. Jane and Bingley spent the whole evening looking into one another’s eyes – mama has them married off already and is planning the happy event.

Sunday, November 8th, 1801

After church, Kitty and I visited Aunt Philips to become more acquainted with some of the officers. Mr Denny and Mr Pratt are so sweet and Captain Carter is so dashing, I think it likely I may fall in love with him, although Catherine insists that as she is my elder she is entitled to have first choice and has declared that she is in love with him. I do not care what she says, for his partiality is very clear to me. I think Captain Carter is one of the most handsome men I have ever set eyes on!

Tuesday, November 10th, 1801

Any hopes of meeting with Capt. C were dashed when Jane received a note from Miss Bingley, asking her to dine with her and her sister Louisa and informing her also that Charles Bingley and the gentlemen were to dine with the officers. Jane was not allowed the carriage and made to go on horseback, for my mother thought as rain looked imminent this would keep her at Netherfield for the night. Sometimes, my mother displays a remarkable and devious level of cunning behaviour, quite beyond what one would expect. I daresay my hints to her will have given her some ideas. Poor Jane had not been gone long when the heavens opened and it seems there is no end to the deluge.
Mama fetched out the workbox and Kitty and I were given papa’s shirts to mend. What does he do to fray his cuffs so? He should refrain from scribbling curt messages to me with ceaseless errands to the wine merchant. That might remedy his chafed sleeves. Lord! How tiresome it is to sew. When I am married, I shall not make my daughters demean themselves in such a fashion. Besides, because it was so dark with rain, we were forced to squint so much that I should not be surprised if I were prematurely blinded as a consequence!
We do not expect to see Jane back again this evening. Mama’s plan is to succeed.
How I long to see Capt. C.
Mrs Lydia Carter – there – that looks very well!

Lydia Bennet

Illusrations:

Lydia in sprigged muslin, Jane Odiwe
Elizabeth, Sir William Lucas and Mr Darcy by Charles Brock
Jane Bennet on horseback in the rain by Charles Brock

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