Anyhoo Charls insists, maybe she’s so besotted she thinks Lizzy rocks, or is it to show up her lack of finesse and accomplishments to Darcy and his mob? Either way, Liz belts out a couple of numbers, no harm no foul, before Mary elbows her way in and starts torturing us with interminable concertos (that means, small concerts but these went on for like, years). The party’s bombing now, and worse, Darcy and co start looking for their hats and gloves, so I save the day, as ever, by getting Mary to play some dance tunes and a bunch of us start dancing with the officers, I making sure to dance with Captain P just to keep Carter on his well-polished toes. I also make sure to keep swooping by Darcy, so I’m right there to hear him squishing Sir Wills, who’s burbling about dancing being a refinement of polished societies, by remarking ‘every savage can dance.’ Well they can all breathe as well, it’s not going to stop any of us doing that, honestly how stuck up can he be! I have a bit of a qualm, maybe he’s not nice enough for my sister, clueless and old though she be, but then I see Sir W, not the sharpest knife in the box, trying to get Darcy to dance with Liz! When he’s just said he despises it! Aha, thinks I, Sir W is trying to put him off Liz, by pointing out that yet again she’s got an empty dance card, to give his own brood of freakos a better chance of grabbing the readies. But get this, Darcy actually asks her, and Liz tells him to take a hike!
‘I have not the least intention of dancing, I didn’t move this way to beg for a partner,’ and she turns away with a smile.
She didn’t see Darcy’s face, honestly, he looked like he’d been stuffed and mounted like my uncle’s prize salmon. Result! I drag my partner over to Lizzy, and give her a sisterly hug in passing, to her surprise. What a put down! Or ‘set down’ as Ma would say. I bet that man has never been turned down in his life. It’ll do him the world of good, and it’ll do Liz the world of good too, in his eyes. And of course I was right, as ever, as the vilest Blingley sister, our arch enemy, trips over to Darcy all smarmy.
‘I know what you’re thinking,’ she goes. Men hate that, they don’t know themselves what they are thinking and this only confuses them, she knows nothing of the gender methinketh. ‘You are thinking how insupportable it would be to pass many evenings in this manner. I’m quite of your opinion, I was never more annoyed!’
I’m like, well why did you come then you daft bint? She then goes on to accuse us of, wait for it, insipidity, noise, nothingness, and self-importance! Right, this means war! Any doubts I had about getting D and L together, are gone. I vow then and there that any effort, any resulting marital misery for all involved, will be worth it, just to see her sour lemon-sucking gob when she hears they are engaged.
This beehatch is going down! Oh, it’s so ON!
And like the gods are cheering me on in my good and unselfish works, Darcy himself gives her a right verbal slap in the chops. ‘Actually I’m meditating on the very great pleasure a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can bestow,’ he goes.
Eyes, eh! I’d say his own eyes were mostly looking further south of my sister if you get my drift. Anyhoo, Miss B’s face lights up, thinking he means her, as if!
She asks who, all faux coy, and he goes for the killer punch – ‘Miss Elizabeth Bennet’. YES!
I suddenly realise I’ve shouted it aloud, and have to spend the next five minutes fighting off my partner who’d just asked me a rather impertinent question... but it gets Captain Carter rushing over to cut in, and I only manage to hear one bit of her response, which is ‘You’ll have a charming mother in law, she’ll always be at Pemberley with you.’
Another huge tactical error, a rookie mistake! She’s reminding him of our family, our poverty, yadda yadda, well there’s no hiding that, and he’s so minted he doesn’t need dosh, but she’s also reminded him of Ma, one of our best assets! Ok she’s a bit nervy these days, but she still looks good for her age, and they do say a young man looks at his girl’s mother to see what she’ll be like some years down the line. I’m so full of triumph and excitement, I have to go outside for some fresh air, and Captain Carter kisses my hand and then, oh then, the side of my neck... ooohhh, it feels good, he smells good, and I don’t care that we’re not engaged, to hell with all that carp!
All in all a damn fine night’s work I’d say!