Lydia Bennet's Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia's online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet's Story, begins.
Friday, September 25th, 1801
Aunt and Uncle Phillips came for dinner. My aunt is my very favourite person - she is such a rattle and knows every last piece of gossip in Meryton. We had two courses, pigeon pie, curry soup, fish and vegetables, then macaroni, baskets of pastry, roast beef and celery. That was not enough to satisfy, however, and we managed some delicious iced cake, summer fruits and syllabub to follow. I ate until fit to burst but was still able to find the wherewithall for a jig after.
As I had a captive audience after enthralling everyone with an exhibition of the hornpipe, (instruction received by courtesy of my friend Maria Lucas's brother) I took my chance to air my dearest wish in public, knowing that my mother in particular, might be persuaded to agree to my wishes.
“Mama, I long to go to a ball! Please may we go to the next Assembly?” I begged, “or else we will be old maids before Jane, Lizzy or Mary are wed and will suffer rheumatic knees and a hunch back before we are allowed our first steps at a dance. It is so unfair!”
“Lydia, my dear,” my mother sighed, “I understand exactly how you feel. I am sure if there were more eligible young men in the county, we would have attended at least one wedding this summer, but as it is, there seem to be a scarcity. If Jane with all her beauty and endowments has been unable to secure the attentions of a worthy gentleman, then there is no hope for any young girl in the neighbouring vicinity. Indeed, it vexes me, to think of my dear girls with no hope of making a suitable match and something needs to be done. Mr Bennet, what think you of a trip to Bath?”
“Oh, yes please, mama, a trip to Bath would be the very thing, and papa, think how you would save on the household expenditure. Everything can be got much cheaper in Bath,” I cried. “Isn’t that so, Lizzy? Didn’t Maria Lucas say silk stockings were cheaper by fourpence a pair when they stayed there last winter? I am sure she did and lodgings too are very reasonable. We could take a house on the upper slopes as Sir William Lucas did, I am sure Lady Lucas can tell us where the best situations are to be had.”
“Lady Lucas need not trouble herself on our account, I am sure we are quite capable of finding a splendid situation ourselves,” my mother declared. “As to a trip westwards, I would never have thought we would have to resort to such a scheme. I must confess I am a little uneasy about such an excursion. I hear that quality folk do not frequent such watering places these days as did in my youth and I do not know that my nerves could undertake such a journey, in the uncertain knowledge that we may not meet anybody worthy of our girls’ consideration. Sister Phillips, what do you make of this sorry situation?”
My aunt’s commiserations were interrupted by my father who took great pleasure in vexing me.
“I am very pleased to register that you are making such a study of household economics, Lydia, and that you show an appreciation of the financial limits that are deemed necessary to our present style of living, which promote both prosperity and providence. Therefore, I am justified in thinking that you will consider the true cost of a jaunt to Bath as the last enterprise which any sensible man should embark upon, despite the remarkable savings to be had on the price of a pair of stockings.”
My aunt made soothing remarks aimed at placating both of my parents and papa declared once and for all that there would be no expeditions to Bath or anywhere else, adding that if any man, worthy or not, made him an offer to take us off his hands, he would sign a contract on the spot, much to mama’s chagrin.
We danced till midnight and I sat down not once. Jane and Lizzy make fine partners but I dream of a young man taking my hand and leading me to the dance floor. Mama has promised that Kitty and I may go to the next Assembly Ball, and in an effort to prevent our father having other opinions on the matter, she has advised us to keep out of his way and to behave as sensibly as our sisters if we are to have our wish. However, it is very hard on a girl with natural high spirits to be so quiet - how I shall keep this up is beyond me. I have tiptoed upstairs, knocked on doors before entering, curtseyed like a bobbing ball in a wooden cup and have not quarrelled with Kitty for a whole day. The strain of being so good is killing me!