A courtship is a journey of discovery…
…but what do we know of the official betrothal of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet? We may assume there were awkward social events to navigate, tedious wedding arrangements to negotiate, and Bingley’s toplofty sisters to accommodate. How did Darcy and Elizabeth manage these travails, and each other?
Longbourn to London is not a Pride and Prejudice “what if,” nor is it a sequel. Rather, it is an expansion of the betrothal of Jane Austen’s favorite couple. We follow Lizzy’s journey from spirited maiden scampering about the fields of Hertfordshire to nervous, blushing bride in Mayfair, where she learns the unexpected joys of marriage to a man as willing to be teased as she is to tease him.
Join us as IPPY award-winning author Linda Beutler (2013 Silver Medal, Independent Publishers Awards, for The Red Chrysanthemum) imagines the betrothal and early honeymoon of Jane Austen’s greatest couple.
Includes mature content.
Thanks for the opportunity to share a little more of Longbourn to London with you and your readers. This is the beginning of Chapter 6, The Taming of the Flibbertigibbet, when Mr. Bennet has become aware that Mrs. Bennet and her sister Mrs. Phillips have been filling Lizzy and Jane’s heads with all sorts for dire predictions for married life. They have words…
Linda Beutler, author Longbourn to London
Thomas Bennet opened the door to his library and called for his wife. After waiting a few moments, he called for Mrs. Hill, who came to him immediately.
“Mr. Bennet, sir?”
“Ah, Hill. Where is Mrs. Bennet?”
“In her sitting room above stairs, taking some tea and making lists of things, sir.”
“So she should have heard me when I called just now?”
“I should think so, sir. I heard you from the kitchen.”
“Has she been taken deaf, do you think?”
Mrs. Hill smirked and shook her head. “Would you like me to fetch her, sir?”
“No, Hill. It is time the insubordination in this house was dealt with as it should have been long ago.” Mr. Bennet took the stairs as briskly as Mrs. Hill had ever seen him, and he entered the open door of his wife’s sitting room.
“Mrs. Bennet! Did you not hear my call?”
She looked up with surprise. Her husband usually sent a servant for her, or forgot what he wanted if she ignored him. It was much more exhilarating to make lists of wedding details than to attend to whatever petty issues Mr. Bennet might raise.
“Mr. Bennet! Is there some emergency? Are Mr. Darcy or Mr. Bingley ill?” This was her chief concern as the wedding neared, that an errant infectious disease might carry off either groom.
Mr. Bennet closed the door to his wife’s sitting room, and took a seat facing her. “Mrs. Bennet, let me first say that, when your husband calls you, he expects a response. I do not think, after nearly twenty-five years of marriage, that expecting courtesy is too much to ask. Do I make myself clear?”
“Oh, Mr. Bennet, if you have come in here to argue with me, I pray you leave at once.”
“I am here, Mrs. Bennet, because you would not come to me, and we have a matter of immense and immediate importance, which we must discuss.”
Grumbling under her breath, Mrs. Bennet made a great show of setting aside her lap desk and turning her attention to her husband.
“It has come to my attention, madam, that you have been relating stories of married life to Lizzy and Jane, which our daughters find most unsettling, and these, by extension, reflect upon me in a poor light.”
“Nonsense. Of what can you be speaking?”
“How do you know it is nonsense if you claim not to know the topic? Oh, never mind . . . My point is, Mrs. Bennet, you have told the girls disturbing stories about marital relations and what they may expect, and it has frightened them. I want you to correct what you have said and cease discussing the topic with them if you cannot or will not be truthful.”
“And may I ask how you came by this knowledge? A father should not know of this. My daughters would never discuss such a thing with their father. It is a mother’s place to prepare daughters for what may happen in the marriage bed.”
“Both of our daughters have complained to their intended spouses.” Mr. Bennet was not above stretching the truth to carry his point. “They have been vague as to details, but so completely forthright about their attendant fears as to make what was told to them completely apparent.”
“Mr. Bennet! I shall not be criticised on this subject. The girls have no idea what to expect on their wedding night, and I believe it prudent that they be made to expect the worst. I consider their behaviour to their intendeds to be highly improper, implying any of what should be talked of only amongst women, and I shall scold them, sir. Make no mistake.”
“Fanny, you will do no such thing.”
Voices were raised. From their bedroom, Elizabeth and Jane could hear the tone but not the content. They looked at each other with open astonishment.
“Mr. Bennet, on this point I shall stand my ground. It is a mother’s duty to protect daughters from false hopes of the marriage bed.”
“Have you no consideration for their future husbands, and therefore madam, no respect for what they may infer our relationship has been? Have I been a brute to you? Have I ever made unacceptable demands upon your person? If you speak of horrors you yourself have not experienced, the girls will infer you have experienced them, and at my hands!”
“Mr. Bennet, that is ridiculous! The girls do not think of you and me in such a way.”
“No indeed, I believe they did not until you felt you needed to see that they enter the married state expecting the worst, as you say.”
“And so they should!”
“Mrs. Bennet! You will speak of this subject to Lizzy and Jane no more, except to say you have no reason to believe either Mr. Darcy or Mr. Bingley are brutish, unkind, or perverted in any way. They are gentlemen and will be kind at the very least. You do no one any good service by painting all men with the same brush. You will stop this.”
“No, sir, I certainly shall not. This is not your concern, Mr. Bennet—not your concern at all!”
“Fanny, I shall lock you in this room until the wedding if you leave me no other choice. No details, no lace, no shopping, no hectoring Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst—none of it.”
“Oh, Mr. Bennet! You cannot mean it!”
“Do not try my patience further, madam. You will apologise to Lizzy and Jane and amend the untruths you have foisted upon them, or I shall have you kept separate from them until they are wed. I have never been unkind to you in our marriage bed, and I shall not have you implying to anyone that I have. You have no idea the harm you have done, and I shall see it does not continue. The choice is yours, Mrs. Bennet.” He stood and began pacing in what little space was available in front of his wife.
“This is most improper, Mr. Bennet—most indelicate. Fathers of daughters must not concern themselves with such things. This was Lizzy, was it not? She’s gone telling tales, has she? Only Lizzy would ever think to seek counsel in such a shameful way.”
“Lizzy and Jane should not approach their wedding in a spirit of fear and misapprehension; you and your gossiping sister have overstepped yourselves. You give Lizzy and Jane the advice better used on Lydia, who is now married to one of the vilest seducers we are ever likely to meet, no thanks to ourselves . . . ”
“Oh, Mr. Bennet! Lower your voice . . . ”
“No, Fanny. I shall not be moved. You have a decision to make. Remain in your room until the wedding, or amend your advice to Lizzy and Jane. And no more social engagements with Mrs. Phillips. She is no longer fit for civil society—drunk or sober!”
International Giveaway: Longbourn to London
More About Linda Beutler
Linda Beutler is an Oregon native who began writing professionally in 1996 in the field of garden writing. First published in magazines, Linda graduated to book authorship in 2004 with the publication of Gardening With Clematis (2004, Timber Press). In 2007 Timber Press presented her second title, Garden to Vase, a partnership with garden photographer Allan Mandell. Recently Linda has been working with Meryton Press.
Linda lives the gardening life: she is a part-time instructor in the horticulture department at Clackamas Community College; writes and lectures about gardening topics throughout the USA; and is traveling the world through her active participation in the International Clematis Society, of which she is the current president. Then there's that dream job--which she is sure everyone else must covet but which she alone has-- curator of the Rogerson Clematis Collection, which is located at Luscher Farm, a farm/park maintained by the city of Lake Oswego. She signed on as curator to North America's most comprehensive and publicly accessible collection of the genus clematis in July 2007, and they will no doubt not get shut of her until she can be carried out in a pine box.
September 2011, Linda checked out a book of Jane Austen fan fiction from her local library. After devouring every title she could get her hands on, began writing her own expansions and variations of Pride and Prejudice. The will to publish became too tempting, and after viewing the welcoming Meryton Press website, she sent her child before the firing squad. Luckily, the discerning editors at Meryton Press saved the child from slaughter, and Linda's first work of Austenesque fiction, The Red Chrysanthemum was published.
Author Blog: http://lindabeutler.merytonpress.com
||More Linda Beutler
||More Linda Beutler