Mr. Bennet sat back in his chair and sighed. His wife had just come in looking very excited. Mr. Bennet knew he wouldn't get a moment's peace when he saw her thrilled expression.
"My dear Mr. Bennet", said she, "have you heard the news?" Without waiting for a reply Mrs. Bennet continued, "Netherfield is let at last! 'Tis a great thing for our children, as there will be two single young men, who more importantly, happen to be rich, and a single young lady as well!"
"And how my dear, is this news going to benefit our children?"
"Why it's very simple! We might be able to get a match for one of them! Or maybe even three! Oh, could you imagine? Three children married! What a fine thing that would be!"
Upon hearing this, Mr. Bennet felt it wise to retreat to his library, as he knew only more silliness would be coming from his wife.
Elizabeth, the third eldest of the Bennet children, heard her mother's squeals and wisely chose to avoid the parlor. She went upstairs in search of her elder sister Jane, and her brother James. She found them in a small sitting room adjacent to Jane's bedroom. Standing in the doorway, Elizabeth, who had wild dark curly hair, marvelled at how much her siblings looked alike, which happened to mean they looked nothing like her. Jane and James both had blond hair and fair complexions. Elizabeth's two younger sisters, Mary and Kitty, shared Elizabeth's dark hair and eyes.
Jane called Elizabeth's name and startled her out of her thoughts. She asked what Lizzy was thinking of, and Elizabeth just smiled and sat down with her two favorite siblings. Elizabeth proceeded to tell them the news her mother was so excited about. Jane, in her usual manner, was happy that her mother was so pleased, and stated that she looked forward to meeting her new neighbors. James on the other hand, was intrigued.
"A single lady, and with a large fortune? Well, This is good news indeed. It's about time our little neighborhood got a bit bigger. The ladies are so scarce in these parts."
Elizabeth, who always hoped for a match between her 23-year-old brother and her best friend, Charlotte Lucas, playfully slapped her brother's shoulder.
"Don't look so pleased James. I'm sure the young lady didn't come all this way to make a match with you! Why, you don't even know anything about her and you're already excited. You're just like our mother!"
This was one of the worst things Elizabeth could say if she was hoping for a quiet, peaceful afternoon. A pillow landed on her head with a thump, and their laughter could be heard throughout the house for the next half hour.
Mr. Darcy looked out the window of his friend's new "retreat in the country". Why on earth Mr. Bingley decided to come to the countryside was beyond him. He did, however, have to admit that he was glad his sister had come with them. She had fallen in with bad company lately, as far as Mr. Darcy was concerned, and it was a great relief to him that these new friends of hers were now far away, back in London.
"What are you thinking of dear Mr. Darcy?" He turned at the sound of the nasal voice and looked stonily at Mr. Bingley's eldest sister. Every trip had to have its down side, he supposed, and Miss Bingley was definitely it. He understood a man's responsibility to his siblings, particularly to those of the fairer sex, but he heartily wished Miss Bingley would kindly find herself a husband and remove herself from their social circle. A thoroughly unbearable woman, he thought to himself.
"Nothing at all," he answered. "I was merely wondering what your plans were, I know you are not fond of the countryside, and was wondering if you were to be visiting your sister and her husband back in London."
"I wouldn't dream of it," she said. "That husband of hers has turned her thoroughly boring. Besides, the country is only as dull as you make it, and I plan on making it very interesting indeed. Your sister Georgiana and I have much catching up to do. I plan to spend as much time as possible with your dear sister."
Darcy gave a silent groan inside. How utterly unbearable this woman was.
"Since we have been out here, I have made a point to converse a little with the...locals, I suppose we shall call them." she said with a sniff. "I have heard that the nearest family to Netherfield is a family by the name of Bennet. I have also heard tell that their children are all of remarkable beauty, though little culture. More directly, they have a son but little older than Georgiana and myself. I am sure he would be honoured to show us around the area."
Darcy knew that Caroline Bingley was man crazy, as much as any dignified woman could be. Though she is only borderline dignified. By having the Bingley name only, really, he thought. He knew that at social events, she had a history of latching on to rich men, including himself, to try to secure her position in society. He also knew of her cruel streak, and knew that this boy next door would be little more than a play thing to help her bide her time in the countryside. He did not want Georgiana to have any part of petty cat and mouse games. And to this end, he knew he must visit the family as soon as may be to find out the situation for himself. Shield his sister from unwanted attention of the neighbour's end, and unwanted cruelty for amusement on the part of Miss Bingley. The things we do for our family , he thought with a grimace.
Much to Mr. Darcy's displeasure, he was not able to meet the family in question before Miss Bingley. They all met together at the Meryton Assembly ball two short weeks after their coming into the country. The parties were introduced by Mrs. Long, the wife of the local parson, who was the first in the neighborhood to meet the gentlemen.
Mr. Bingley, who was struck with Jane Bennet's beauty and grace, asked her to dance as soon as propriety allowed. Jane gently agreed, and the newly formed couple went to join the others already dancing.
Mr. Darcy, who did not enjoy dancing, stuck by his sister, and watched her while she conversed with Miss Elizabeth Bennet.
"It is a pleasure to meet you Miss Bennet," Georgiana began, "although I have only been in the area for a fortnight I have heard many great things about your family, including their great beauty. I see that none of the reports were exaggerated."
"Oh my!" Elizabeth exclaimed, "I see you and I shall become fast friends Miss Darcy. You must call me Elizabeth."
"Alright, but only if you address me as Georgiana."
Mr. Darcy, who had overheard the entire conversation, was once again surprised at his younger sister's ability to fit in wherever she went. And at the remarkable ability young ladies everywhere seem to have of becoming the best of friends in the shortest of times.
The entire town of Meryton was well pleased with the Bingley party. Mr. Bingley seemed to only have eyes for Jane, although he did dance with all her sisters and Georgiana as well. Georgiana was admired as well, dancing nearly every dance, including two with James Bennet. Although Miss Bingley seemed slightly snobbish, her beauty and money more than outweighed her behavior for many men. Mr. James Bennet did seem to be a favorite of hers, as he was the only gentleman she deemed worthy to dance with, besides her brother and Mr. Darcy. As for that gentleman, most were unsure of how to think of him. Although he wasn't nearly so friendly as Mr. Bingley, he was definitely the richest and most handsome of the two. And though he danced only two sets, his obvious affection for his sister was very pleasing. Most of the locals decided to wait and get to know the gentleman better before disliking him.
Elizabeth and Jane were very happy as well with the additions to their society. Jane had already developed a crush on Mr. Bingley, and Elizabeth was looking forward to future conversations with Georgiana. Elizabeth thought Miss Bingley a vain coquette and had no desire to further her acquaintance with her, although she knew it would be unavoidable. As for Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth felt neither like or dislike. He appeared to her to be very shy, and she wanted to make sure she didn't jump to any unwarranted conclusions early in their acquaintance, considering her budding friendship with Georgiana.
James Bennet was confused. The only thing he knew was that he had the most wonderful night of his life. Dancing with Miss Darcy had been like a dream, her soft voice floating to his ears, her beautiful bright smile shining up at him. Dancing with Miss Bingley on the other hand, well, James still didn't know what to think. She was amazing. Her beauty, her style, her sharp wit and batting eyelashes. James Bennet was in trouble.