The Tale of Mr. & Mrs Bennet
by Ney Mitch
The Bennet sisters of Longbourn have experienced many Christmases. However, many Christmas Pasts before them, their parents were young, single, and had their own happily ever after to find. But they are not alone. For there are three Gardiner children, and each have a part to play at one significant Christmas where their lives change forever. Here is the love story of Mrs. Bennet, Mr. Bennet, Aunt Philips, and Uncle Gardiner, when they were young, and everything was just beginning!
Release Date: November 1, 2022
Genre: Historical | Christmas
A Pink Satin Romance
When living in a great house, one’s estate becomes one’s world. So, when the larger world quite bursts in, making one’s social sphere that much larger, there is always much ado about something.
As a result, nothing stirs more interest than two such items:
First, a ball or dinner party.
Second, an arrival of an amiable company—for something must always be said for novelty.
“At such a time of year, nothing could be more agreeable than an engagement party with dancing at the end of it,” I remarked, practically dancing around the room.
“Yes, Elizabeth,” Lydia said, equally as joyous as I was. As she sat at her toilette, brushing her hair, I leaned forward and looked at us both in the mirror.
Grimacing, I pursed my lips.
“I wish that I could have been born with curly hair,” I groaned, envying Lydia’s curly hair that fell down her shoulders in a beautiful cascade.
“I disagree,” Lydia replied. “You forget the joys of contrast. With your straight blonde hair and my curly raven look, do you know what men call us? The Day and the Night.”
I chuckled at that. “Ah, believe me, I’ve heard them.”
As I looked at us both in the mirror, I could not help but feel the effects of vanity. But who cares? Quite frankly, if a woman is lovely, why can she not feel pleased with how she looks? Lydia Thorpe and I had similar features, from our plump and lovely figures to our dainty but round faces. While my eyes were a striking gray, Lydia’s was a lovely blue.
“Look at us,” I said, taking in our appearance, as we were wearing nothing more than our shifts, stockings, and corsets, “in moments like this, no gown can make us appear to better advantage.”
“Imagine if we walked downstairs, wearing nothing but this?” Lydia laughed.
“The shock of it,” Lydia and I said together, while I feigned a swoon. Suddenly, Lydia’s face shifted from amused and animated, to serious and sober.
“Your face goes from illuminated to somber,” I remarked. “That will not do. A lovely woman should not look so serious so soon before her wedding.”
“My dear Elizabeth,” Lydia responded, “sometimes a wedding leads to serious looks. There is so much to care over. But that’s not what this look is for.”
“Lizzy,” she said, “you don’t have to leave Briony Park after my marriage. I’m sure Mama would love for you to stay on. And Jane should stay as well. When I leave, Mama would love to have company remain.”
I groaned inwardly. The inner frustrations of doing what was owing to family, despite that one wants the reverse.
“Oh, I do so wish to stay,” I uttered, bitter. “Believe me, I would. However, Father finds it within his desire to suddenly have us visit him in Hertfordshire. And, since he is most pressing, we ought to finally go.” I rolled my eyes. “I sound terrible, don’t I?”
“Never,” Lydia replied. “It doesn’t matter how much one tries, but it’s not so very simple to feel a spark of affection just because someone is one’s parents. One needs time to develop love.”
“That is precisely what I believe. While I do appreciate all that he has done, it doesn’t change the fact that Briony has been my home for too long now. What’s in Hertfordshire anyway? I can hardly remember very much about it.”
There was a knock on the door, and Lydia and I jumped.
“Oh, do come in, Juliana,” Lydia said, and surely it was the servant, Juliana, with three bouquets of flowers in her hands.
“If you please, Miss Thorpe and Miss Gardiner,” Juliana said, cheerfully, “these bouquets arrived.”
“Oh,” I said, dashing forward, “thank you, Juliana.”
Once she handed them to us, she remained in the background, whenever we were ready to get dressed. I handed Lydia her bouquet, and holding mine, I opened the note.
“Oh,” Lydia said, “they are lovely. Who are they from?”
When I read the note, I smiled.
“Who do you think?” I handed her the note, and she read it aloud, taking all the pleasure in having a handsome fiancé who understood romance.
‘To my exquisite bride-to-be, and her constant companions,
Dear ladies, please accept these bouquets, as a kind remembrance of me. And I do hope, pray, that you will remember me, my perfect Lydia, for the first two dances of the evening. And since one’s friends are so dear to you, Miss Gardiner, and Miss Elizabeth, you cannot be forgotten. Therefore, I ask that both Gardiner sisters accept my hand for the third and fourth set as well.
What joy is mine, to dance with one’s fiancée, and her devoted friends.
* * *
When closing the letter, Lydia’s cheeks reddened from blushing. Taking note of her expression filled me with a significant amount of comfort for herself, and jealousy, regarding myself. What can one do? It is not easy to see a delightful friend so easily disposed of in marriage, and you are quite left to the wayside of affections and your life changing so terribly.
Bouncing up to Lydia Thorpe again, I leaned over her and began to place the floral ornaments in her hair for decoration.
“Lydia,” I said, “blushing becomes you.”
“Take heart,” I said, “you are marrying one of the most impressive men that ever lived—who understands the importance of a good bouquet.”
“I want to make him happy, Lizzy.”
“I’m sure you shall. For he is rich, and you are rich and handsome. What more can there be to fulfilling all one’s source of happiness?”
We were interrupted by the sound of horses galloping down the lane.
“Is that John?” Lydia cried, jumping up from her seat and rushing to the window. Feeling the contagious euphoria, I followed her.
“Miss Thorpe and Miss Gardiner?” Juliana cried, rushing forward with shawls to wrap around us. “Do you both forget yourselves? Don’t be so exposed in front of the window, where you both might be seen.”
While she wrapped the shawls around our shoulders, we looked down at the road and we saw two riders, both with satchel bags slung over their shoulders. One of the men was dressed as a gentleman, and the other as an officer.
Looking down, I was able to recognize one of them.
“It’s my brother!” I cried. “It’s Edward.”
And sure enough, Edward Gardiner was riding down the lane with an officer beside him, riding a black stallion.
My brother had come to Briony Park.