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.
Wednesday, November 25th, 1801
I do not know where to start to record the momentous events of the past twenty four hours which are almost too numerous to mention.
We arrived and entered a scene from fairyland. There were so many people, half of Hertfordshire out in their finery, and it took an age to sail through the sea of personages to Mr Denny who was waving like a simpleton across the room. What he had to divulge on our greeting, however, shocked us all to the core. Mr Wickham was not to be in attendance and had apparently left for town on business! You may imagine that to receive this news was most provoking; Lizzy looked particularly crestfallen. Her mortification was further increased by the arrival of cousin Collins to take her hand for the first two dances, her pledge clearly forgotten by the expression on her countenance. As Denny and I joined the set, I could see my sister suffering the agony of being coupled with the only man in the room who has the rhythmic motion of a duck in distress with what must be two webbed feet to match! As if that was not enough, the next moment she was up and prancing with Mr Darcy of all people. Jane most happily had Bingley for her partner and they hardly left each other’s side for the entirety.
By the bye, I spied Isabella, Henry Forster and Diana just arrived and made haste to greet them and hear all their news. Mr Denny and Mr Chamberlayne joined our party and then Captain Carter arrived, looking so handsome, I blushed whenever he addressed me. I was very much in request and did not sit down for two hours together. Captain Carter was most attentive with all the ladies in our party, making sure we had all the refreshment we required. Dancing is thirsty work and a cup or two of rum punch makes one feel very light on one’s feet.
After supper (which was highly embarrassing on account of Mary’s prolonged piano playing, utterly impeding ready digestion of the excellent cold cuts), I made my escape and joined Isabella, Diana and the officers in the library where the card tables were set out and Cassino was the game of choice. In haste as I crossed the room, I left my slipper behind and as I leapt to retrieve it, Captain Carter anticipated me and we both landed, buffeted together in a heap on the floor. How the assembled party laughed and when Capt C. proceeded to steal my shoe and proposed a game of ‘Hunt the Slipper’ there was an uproar. The disrupted games were swiftly concluded as Captain Carter lobbed my slipper into the air where it was caught by Denny who ran off out of the room, with the entire card party in pursuit.
I stood up rather too quickly to follow my friends, the effects of the heat and punch causing me to stagger a little. I quite missed my footing, caught the end of the handsome Wilton carpet and fell headlong. I consider it most fortunate that Captain Carter was there to break my fall and catch me in his arms. He kindly insisted on holding me for several seconds in order for me to recover my breathing, but the proximity of Capt. C’s heart next to mine was most unsettling.
“Come now, I cannot have the most ravishing creature at the ball dying in my arms,” the Captain murmured in my ear. “Please allow me to escort you to the sofa where you may recline in comfort and compose yourself.” He simply lifted me into his strong arms and laid me down gently upon the settee before I had a chance to protest. “I trust there are no bones broken, Miss Lydia,” he said as he raised my hand, brushing my fingertips with his lips.
“I am sure there are none, Captain,” I managed to say at last, “indeed, your thoughtful concern seems to be aiding the healing process most effectively.”
“We must call back your friends. What would your mother think if she were to know you were unchaperoned at this moment?” Captain Carter removed his gloves and continued to feel his way up one arm and then down the other, reassuring me at every touch that he could find not a break nor fissure in the bones.
“Oh no, that is not necessary. I am sure she would be pleased that I was being looked after by such a kind gentleman,” I managed to whisper, reclining in raptures at the deft touch of his fingers.
“I will just feel the bones about your neck, my dear,” he insisted. “One cannot be too careful with a blow to the head.”
“Indeed, Captain Carter, I do feel a little faint,” I declared as his lips brushed my cheek.
We were forced apart by the noisy throng returning, my shoe held aloft on a satin cushion by Mr Evelyn. Everyone professed great concern when they saw me reclined on the sofa, with the Captain on his knees at my side but with my slipper restored to its proper place and Isabella’s smelling salts procured, I was soon revived.
Denny begged to dance with me again before I had a moment to thank Captain Carter for his chivalry, but as he was next engaged to dance with Diana, I was only able to smile at him as we went down the set. There were thirty couple still standing at midnight, although my sister Lizzy and her beau were not amongst the dancers. Despite her attempts to shake him off, Mr Collins did not leave her side and Lizzy found no route to escape and had to endure his merciless teasing.
We finally left Netherfield in the early hours, my mother full of self-congratulation on having a daughter on the brink of matrimony, and a promise from Bingley himself to wait on us all after he returns from London.
I acquainted Kitty with my amorous adventure - she is beside herself with envy!! My first grand ball and I am in love with Captain Carter, though I missed dear Wickham more than I can say. He had better take greater pains to attend next time if he wishes to dance with me!