Posted on: 2009-04-12
Oh, that silly girl has made the tea too strong again. The mistress couldn't stand it at any time, and surely not just now. If I don't see to everything myself, nothing would ever be done properly. I'll add some hot water and take the tray upstairs myself. At least I know how to soothe the mistress when she's in such a way.
And she is in a fair way! No wonder, what with Miss Lydia run off with that officer. Not that I'm supposed to know anything about it, but how could I not know? All the shouting and the hysterics, and Miss Kitty being scolded and Mrs Phillips talking at the top of her voice all the way up the staircase. Next thing we know, the master is off to London to do what he can do, the mistress is laid up in bed with the nerves, and the girls left to mill about the house like headless chickens. Well, Miss Jane, she keeps her head well enough, I admit, and still manages to look after the little ones, and little enough help she gets from either Miss Mary or Miss Kitty! Would that the mistress had a bit more command over herself and get some order into the household. Not much method in it at the best of times, but right now the place is like an upturned beehive. The master will have a more comfortable time wherever he is in London than he would have had here. Small wonder it is that he always locks himself up in that library of his.
Not that I hold him blameless, not at all. Teasing her wherever he can, he does. It's not a pretty way for a husband to behave. A bit of kindness from him would cure much of her nerves and her other weird ways, I wager. But he just winds her up, winds her up whenever he gets the chance. Shameful, that's what it is, and cruel. The girls don't notice, apart from one. Miss Jane is too kind-hearted to see a fault in anyone, and the younger girls never pay attention. But Miss Lizzy, now, she knows this fine well. She's got a right shrewd head on her pretty shoulders, and I've seen her look at her father and blush and frown. She's not fond of her mother, that much I know, certainly doesn't care for her the way I do! But she can't help understanding that the mistress is quite right, however much she makes too much of a fuss. The girls must marry and they must marry well. Otherwise, what's to become of them? It's all very well for the master to laugh about it, for he won't live to see the day when that Mr Collins turns them out of the house.
Aye, much as she might be flattered by his fancy for her, Miss Lizzy knows as well as I do that her father is letting them down. It is his duty to look after his family, and what is he doing about it? Just think how the mistress must have felt when she found out. She'd have thought she'd reached the safe haven of marriage, only to be told that at any time she might be cast out again into a stormy sea! Such a strange thing, that entail. Well, I'm not supposed to know about that either, but how often have the girls explained it over and over?
I wonder how Miss Lizzy thinks it's all going to work out for her. She turned down that Mr Collins, well, he was a tedious young man, but still. Who else is going to offer for her? I know she's got a right good opinion of herself, and not without reason, but the young men don't just look at a pretty face and listen to clever talk. They'll look for the money, too, and come to think of it, it was quite noble of Mr Collins that he didn't. Did Miss Lizzy even consider that? With all her cleverness, I think she's fooling herself.
Well, she might be on her way back home by now, and what a welcome she's going to have! A bit of a nasty awakening, I dare say, from her pleasures of travelling, for I can't see much going on in the way of balls and dinner parties after what's happened. Miss Jane will be so glad to see her, but I don't think anyone else is going to pay her much heed. Oh, well, such is the way of things. What was I thinking? Oh, yes, some butter for the buns. There now, that's the tray ready. I'll take it up to the mistress, poor dear, and give Miss Jane a bit of a rest. When Miss Lizzy is back, she can do it herself and see if she can talk some sense into her mother, but really, I don't know what's to become of them all.
Well, upon my word, I didn't expect to have to clear out this room today! They were meant to stay for another three days at least. Very strange that they should leave in such a hurry. What was in that letter, I wonder? Or was it two letters, I think it was two. Hopkins brought them up earlier. It was only when I came in with the fresh linen that I saw they were all in an uproar and about to leave. It must have been one of those letters, because they hadn't said a word about leaving before, and they were to go out tonight to dine at Pemberley! Somebody fallen ill at home, maybe? But then they could have just said so. Or was the letter maybe from Mr Darcy?
Because Mr Darcy was here, even after the letters arrived. I saw him go up the stairs to see the young lady. The gentleman and his wife were both out. Such a handsome man, Mr Darcy, I've never seen him so close up before. And half an hour later they're leaving and the young lady is all in tears. Is it to do with Mr Darcy? I wonder. He's certainly very handsome. A very fine gentleman, everyone says.
Only last night she was in such high spirits. Humming to herself. "What do you think of Mr Darcy?" she said to me. What could I say to that? It's not as if I've ever met him. All I could tell her was that people speak well of him. Never seen him close up until today! A handsome man, and I wonder...? She's such a lovely young lady. I really liked her. She just laughed when I dropped that water jug and didn't scold me at all. She even took a towel and helped me to mop it up. Mind you, not that Mr Darcy would marry anyone who's not a very fine lady, such a great gentleman as he is. I don't think she is a very fine lady, not in that way anyway. If she was, she wouldn't be staying at the Inn, for a start, but right up there at Pemberley. The very fine ladies, when they're forced to stay at an Inn, they always bring their own linen. She's not quite so pernickety as that. No, she's lovely. I think she must be about the same age as I. If it wasn't for her being a gentlewoman and all that, I could even imagine us being friends.
If Mr Darcy came to call on her here at the Inn, he must be mighty fond of her. He doesn't normally even come into the village much. I wonder if they are engaged? Maybe it's a secret engagement, maybe his fine relations don't want him to marry her? Was that what was in the letter, that he told her they couldn't marry? That would surely be enough reason for her to be all in tears. But if the letter was to say that he broke up with her, why did he come to see her? It makes no sense. And then he left in such a rush just now.
Let me just sneak up to the window and see if they're away yet. No, they're still busy with the trunks. Is she still crying? If she looks up, I'll wave to her. I hope it'll all turn out well for her. How I wish I had a friend like her. It was so nice when she laughed. That's the carriage doors being opened now. She's looking up!
She can't have seen me. I'm sure she would have waved back if she had. I think she was still crying, it sure looked like it. Well, that's them away. I wonder if they'll ever come back here? I wouldn't imagine so, if there's been a broken engagement and all. Wouldn't have thought it of that proud Mr Darcy, but one never knows...
Well, I'd better get this room cleaned out. Start with the fireplace. You can tell that they've left in a rush. Bit of a mess. Here's a silk stocking, she'll miss that one. People in a rush always leave things behind. And what's this? Looks like the first page of a letter. Is it from him? I wonder. They're well down the road by now. Still, it's no good, reading other people's letters. Did he jilt her? I'll just have one little peek, no more. "By this time, my dearest sister, you have received my hurried letter; I wish this may be more intelligible, but though not confined for time, my head is so bewildered…" Dear me, I really shouldn't read this, should I?
The master is so restless tonight. I've never seen him like this. He's been pacing up and down the gallery for nearly an hour this evening, and with such a face! And then sitting in his bookroom, rather than with Miss Georgiana and the other ladies and gentlemen, why, if they weren't such good friends of his, they might well take offence! In fact, I think the two ladies have, they gave each other such looks. Miss Georgiana, she is worried, and so is that nice Mr Bingley. They know the master well, and it's not like him to neglect his guests. And when I brought him his tea, he just waved me away, and never a "Thank you, Mrs Reynolds," though he is usually so courteous.
And what's this now about going off to London first thing in the morning? He's only just arrived! His trunk barely unpacked, and already Simmons has been told to fill it again. Why, it's almost flighty, one might say, and that's not how the master is, no, not he. Always steady, always composed. One couldn't find a more dignified young man in the world. And now, just come down from London, brought a party of friends with him and Miss Georgiana, too, and off he wants to go again. On urgent business, he says.
Oh, I know his urgent business! It's that Miss Bennet. I knew it as soon as I saw her: She is one to be reckoned with. A pretty face, I dare say, not as pretty as some, but still, and a clever head. It's not as if I cannot put two and two together. First she says she only knows the master a little, but next he is off with Miss Georgiana to wait upon her at the Inn, and then a morning visit and a dinner invitation and that Miss Bingley going about with a face like vinegar. Not that I would mind to see her outdone by the young lady. A right haughty one she is, Miss Bingley, and would get her claws on the master if he would but let her. There's none good enough for him, but that Miss Bingley least of all.
The other one, well, who knows. She's more courteous, to be sure, and better tempered, though not so meek, I think, as to appear dull to the master. I don't think he'd want a meek wife. After all, he never has taken to Miss de Bourgh, the poor dear. And her friends that are with her seem decent enough people, but it's not really what we would call a good family. Would the master mind that? If it was rank and fortune he was after, he could have proposed to Miss de Bourgh long ago. He maybe won't seek what he already has aplenty. That Miss Bennet, she's got a twinkle in her eye, and the more I think about it, the more I believe the master would like that very much.
But it's a strange business, this suddenly leaving, and not even a note to Miss Georgiana, just the master saying that they're gone. What business could be so urgent that they wouldn't delay it for a dinner party at Pemberley? Why be so secretive? If someone had been taken ill, well, yes, I could see that they would leave all in a hurry, but then why didn't the master say so? I'm sure he knows what their business is. Making him restless, it does. And he looks as if he's made some dead serious decision. He plans to follow her, I'm certain of it. Such a clever young lady, and then there's that twinkle in her eye. A Miss Bennet from Hertforshire. It was clear as daylight that Miss Georgiana liked her, and probably had been told to like her! And that Miss Bingley scowling as if someone had snatched a tasty morsel right out of her mouth.
Well, I wouldn't have thought that I'd see a new mistress in Pemberley any time soon, but what else can the master possibly be about? Mr and Mrs Gardiner and Miss Bennet have left, he said, on urgent business. It was the way he said her name. Miss Bennet. Just like this, as if he's said it a thousand times to himself. We will see you again, Miss Bennet, we will see you at Pemberley, or I know nothing at all.