The Pump Room at Bath has always been a place for social gathering, where people take the water dispensed by the pumper who stands behind a bar and fills glasses with the warm spa water. If you have ever been to Bath, you will know that you can still sample the waters today in the Pump Room.
This extract from Lydia Bennet's Story takes place in Bath. Lydia is accompanied by her friend Isabella and brother Alexander who have promised to help her discover the real truth behind some dreadful news. Isabella's beau, Mr Freddie Rowlandson and his sister Eleanor have just arrived in town.
They planned to start the day with a trip to the Pump Rooms but Isabella was clearly more excited than she had been previously at the thought of meeting Mr Rowlandson. They hastened down to the town, with Alexander in tow, urging them both to slow down and were instantly gratified to see their friends already there and waiting for them under the clock. The usual felicitations preceded a request from Miss Rowlandson to take a turn about the room. She latched onto Isabella and pulled Lydia over to her other side.
“We must walk together so, we will cause a little stir, will we not? See, how the gentlemen cannot help but be drawn in our direction.”
Lydia glanced behind her to see Alexander and Freddie deep in companionable chatter and could have laughed out loud. It was clear they were not impressed by the ladies’ efforts to attract the notice of young men and were completely oblivious to their charms.
“We are planning to go to the Upper Rooms tomorrow evening,” said Eleanor. “I confess I am excited at the prospect. Will you be going too?”
“I am not sure if we will be able. Mrs Wickham is here for her health and has been quite unwell, I do not think she will be up to dancing,” answered Isabella, conscious that Lydia, for all her brave words might prefer to remain at home.
“Nonsense,” Lydia cried. “I insist that you go, Isabella, and besides, I am sure I shall enjoy some dancing. It will be good for my spirits. I am determined to enjoy my holiday and am feeling much better, I assure you.”
“Can you guess who else is in town?” Eleanor said, but did not wait for an answer. “Ralph Howard, that lovely man who danced with me at Netherfield is here and not far in Laura Place; which is as elegant as it is exclusive. He has called a few times at HighCross recently and mentioned he was coming here for a couple of weeks but I daresay we will not see him.”
“I am sure you will,” cried Lydia, as she and Isabella exchanged glances. Her mention of Ralph Howard calling at HighCross had not been missed by either of them. “Bath is a big town but it seems everyone follows the same pursuits, just like they do in Brighton.”
“Oh, I should like to go to Brighton,” Eleanor declared, “but there is never enough money for too many expeditions.”
“What are you talking of, my dear?” asked her brother Freddie.
“I was just saying I should like to go to Brighton, but visits are so expensive, it is impossible to go everywhere one should like.”
“Aye,” said Freddie, “but you were as keen to come to Bath as I, were you not, Eleanor?”
She blushed at his words and quickly turned the conversation to join Lydia and Isabella who were discussing the morning gowns of the fashionables.
A very old pic of me with Martin the Pumper