21st October 1811. The Ball. Enter Mr Darcy (he wishes!)

So Blingley turns out to be a nice enough looking guy, seems quite sweet really, though a bit dim, friendly, good dancer which is so rare among non-military men. I managed to fit him in, among the mob of lumpen local families’ sons who stampeded me the nanosecond I appeared, makes a change for them from chatting up cattle and killing things I suppose. Can’t blame them for being excited being within groping distance of a real live girl instead of the straw-stuffed sacks they prolly make do with when the livestock’s locked away for the night. So I danced with a few of them and no doubt fuelled their fantasies for the next year in the process.

The tight pantaloons and short jackets men wear these days leave no doubt about whether a guy fancies you or not, though sometimes you’d rather not see the evidence of it. Quite put me off the saveloys at half time... however all thoughts of fresher meat than saveloys were banished, turns out Blingers has sisters rather than bros. Two of them, total beehatches, snobby as hell in come-court-me shoes and dresses to die for, not to mention the ultimate accessories. Jewels, lace, oh my life! Wasted on them as they were frankly too old to carry it all off. Clearly thought they were mint but I reckon some work had been done on their faces and hair, not all of it was from nature’s hand if you get my drift. Extensions R Us must be short of stock right now. To think, these two live in London, and I’m stuck here!

They were talking in high pitched voices about how ‘quaint’ we all are and how dear Brother Charles should have got a decent crib someplace else, though they are going to be here all the damn time living off his dosh. Oh well I can ignore them while getting our faithful servant Hill to copy their sleeve details and bonnets for me.

But this wasn’t all. With Blingers was his bezzie mate, Darcy. Arsey more like. Oh dear, he thinks he’s all that, and with reason to be honest. Handsome, if you like them snooty, looking down on us all and not just because he’s tall. Decent legs though.

Kitty came bundling over, sweating like a spitted pig, and grabbed me painfully. ‘Eeeeh!’ she shrieked, above the noise of seriously wild fiddle playing from local band ‘Ultra Violins’, ‘that Mr Darcy, he’s dead loaded! He’s got ten big ones a year!’

I could see he’d heard, he turned away like he’d smelled something bad, like she’d said something wrong or something! ‘Has he, so the stick up his arse’ll be platinum plated then,’ I bantered back, at equal volume.

If his back’d got any stiffer, they could’ve used it for an extra table, swear down. Laugh, I nearly wet my drawers. But didn’t of course, or hardly at all. I do have standards. Well of course everybody else had been ready to give him their kidneys, what with the dosh and the legs and the tallness and all, but when he only danced with his mate’s sisters, and sneered at the locals, they all turned against him and muttered about how much they hated him, though almost any of the grisly and desperate daughters of the Lucas’ and Longs and such would have dropped their empire lines below the equator in a heartbeat if he’d asked them. Not me though. I have standards, as I said. I couldn’t get with a guy unless he was not only fit, but fun. This guy looked like he’d never had fun in his life and wasn’t about to start trying. Ok he was dead right, it was a grotty little country dance, populated by horny-handed grubby wannabe pig-stickers, but that’s not the point.

I overheard Blingers giving him some attitude. ‘Hey, I hate to see you standing about by yourself in this stupid manner! You’d better dance, Darcy.’

I thought, good for you Blings. And he’d danced twice with our Jane, who was all aglow with innocent pleasure poor mare, as was Ma who’d been eyeballing them with almost indecent delight. And they did look kind of right together, J and B, a couple of nice but dimboids.

 But Arsey was like, ‘At such an assembly as this, it would be insupportable’.

I thought, get him! Can’t he, like, speak English?

It was at this point, that Lizzy got involved. Needless to say, all the hours in Pa’s library cataloguing his collections of French porn had given her a reputation for intelligence, so that despite her really quite pretty face and figure (she’s got a decent rack on her), she had no partner. Clueless, totally clueless, she wandered around, not even having the sense to hide in the Ladies’. So she blundered into the situation, just as Blings says that Jane is the most beautiful girl he ever beheld, (aw, bless!) but there’s one of her sisters, who is very pretty... I assume he meant me, but I was already dancing with a Lucas bro and fully occupied keeping his mitts out of my muff.

But Lizzy was standing right there in earshot, to hear the Alpha Git mouthing off, looking right at her. ‘She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me’, and other stuff of the same kind.

Well, I was fit to be tied. How dare he diss my sis! And I have to say, Lizzy handled it really well, instead of running off in tears or going off on one, she actually told it to all her friends and made a joke of it, all credit to her for that. We got home and it was Bingley this and Bingley that, like he was Justin Lord Bieber, and how horrible Mr Darcy was and so on. My shoes were ruined with clod-hopping footmarks on the satin, my stockings were torn, and I had a raging thirst, after quaffing large quantities of a new fruit cup called ‘Red Bull’ after the inn in Meryton which invented it. Oh my, I danced like I had wings after a few of those! My hair was a total lost cause, so I was too busy applying CPR (curling, pinning, rolling) to take in all that was going on. Pa had waited up for us, supposedly ‘lost in a book’ (I wish), I wondered if he did care about Ma after all and thought some ancient admirer might’ve been after her. Well Sir William Lucas always had the hots for her if village goss is right. He only married whatsherface on the rebound, it’s a well known fact.

‘I wish you had been there,’ Ma was saying to Pa as I staggered up to bed practically carrying Kitty who was well away, ‘to give Darcy one of your set-downs.’ She’d tortured Pa for ice ages about the dance, until he prolly wished Sir Wills had eloped with her after all. ‘I detest the man Darcy!’

I took a risk, and told her, on the qt, that I’d contrived to spill a cup of chocolate down the back of his pantaloons in passing, which might explain why he kept his back to the wall after that... we all three were howling with mirth, when Lizzy gives us a disapproving look like she’s the Ma, and I suddenly thought, why, Lizzy and Arsey would be well matched! And with all that dosh in the family, I could visit them unmercifully and get asked to some really rocking parties. Proper London ones. Where the very best officers hang out. Sounds like a plan!

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