First, a solemn moment where I share with you a solemn vow. And this is because I’ve had it, yes had it, with my Pa. A line in the sand has been drawn, and I’ve stepped over it, or he has, well anyway we’re not on the same side in any sense of the words. And yes, I know, I’ve just vowed revenge on my family’s nemesis, Miss Blingley, and her ugly sister/sidekick, but in Real Life, nemesises don’t come nicely spaced out but sometimes in lumps, like breakouts on teenage complexions (ask Kitty). This is the final straw that the camel clutched at, if you’ll forgive a literate illusion. We are at breakfast at Longbourn, Kitty and I discussing the officers, where we are likeliest to run into them accidentally on purpose, who’s fitter than who, you know the drill. Ma is listening fondly, occasionally mentioning Bingley, Netherfield, four grand a year, as far as she’s concerned it’s a done deal, he’s her son in law.
‘Oh, Lydia’ goes Kitty, ‘if Lizzy and Jane find husbands, it’ll be our turn to get the next wealthy gentlemen to move into Netherfield! Just think of the carriages, the gloves, the jewels...’
I’m like, ‘And the endless responsibilities! You poor moo, thou knowest naught. Four grand a year is not enough, nor is ten grand a year like what Arsey’s got, to compensate for being lady of those manors. Think of it, stuck out in the sticks, running a huge household, being polite to grisly old relics for miles around, squeezing out babies like blackheads every few months, eeuuwww! And nobody sees your carriages and jewels, the husband goes up to town and you get left behind vegetating in the country, no thanks!’
Kitty’s like, ‘Well you can just give him an heir and a spare, then do that thing you thought of , you know... pay the doctor to say any more babies will kill you.’
‘Oh yes, and what if you’re like Ma, having girl after girl? Hello! No, I want money, but I want fun, and travel, and adventure, not responsibilities like big estates. Ma can bust her gusset over Bing’s bling, but give me the regimentals of an ensign any day of the week. Now Captain Carter for example...’
At this point Pa suddenly raised his head from his book and totally unprovoked, launches a blistering attack on us, his very daughters.
You will hardly credit this verbal abuse but he goes, ‘You must be two of the silliest girls in the country, I have suspected it for some time, but I am now convinced.’
Bastard! Kitty was like, totally crushed. The urge to unleash vengeance upon him with some sort of blunt implement was strong, but I resisted. Instead, knowing perfect indifference would rile him more, I pretended he hadn’t spoken, and just carried on about Captain Carter.
‘I’m sooo hoping to see him today, I’ve heard he’s going to London tomorrow for a while, and he’s so fine!’
Pa looked amazed at my supreme scornful ignoring of him! Way to show him how insignificant he is, a man who, may I remind you, can’t even put a permanent roof over his family’s heads.
Ma came charging to the rescue in a spirited defence of us her little chicks. Bless her!
She was all, ‘What, thinking your own children silly! They are all very clever.’
Hm, a bit optimistic in the cases of Kitty, Mary, and Jane, but full marks for motherly supportiveness.
She went on, nailing her like, colours to the mast of marital revolution, ‘I remember the time I liked a red coat myself, and so I do still at my heart!’
This clearly an attack on his masculinity and general unexcitingness. Way to go, Ma! I squeezed her poor old mitt and included her in the general chat about where Captain Carter and Col Forster might be found during the day, would it be Miss Watson’s or Clarke’s Library? It’d take a scarlet coat to get me in there.
Pa humphed and buried his head in his probably dodgy book about French women or Greek men or some such. One of them has a pic of a woman getting jiggy with a swan. I ask you! But despite talking away normally, I was cursing my situation, being under the power of Pa, and I resolved to a), get out from under his iron fist asap, and c), get my revenge, in some way, at some time, oh, yes, sooner or later old man, it’ll be payback time!
Many would be daunted by having multiple enemies, but I can handle it, never fear. Bring it on, bring it all on!