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Phantasmagoria at Lucas Lodge!

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.

Saturday, December 26th, 1801
We arrived at Lucas Lodge this evening and were all ushered into the library where the candles had been snuffed and the large fire put out so that the room was warm but very dark. Even when our eyes became adjusted to the gloom, it was difficult to see and there was no time to look about but grope for our places. There were only seats for the elders who sat at the front as though in a theatre and the rest of us stumbled about in the dark, treading on toes and trains of dresses. There must have been a hundred people crammed in the room, all vying for position, and I heard my mother complain at the top of her voice that she would faint without her fan and her salts. I managed to lose her and worked my way to the back of the room where there was a much better view, a draught from an open window which relieved the stink of so many bodies closely packed together and best of all, no-one I knew, or so I believed. Sir William asked us not to be alarmed for we were to witness a Phantasmagoria exhibition by the travelling showman, Mr Benvenuti, all the way from Italy. This was excitement indeed, for I had never heard of such a thing before.

As the last candle was snuffed and before mystic lights displaying shipwrecks illuminated the walls, displaying ghosts, disasters and hideous creatures, I was aware of someone standing so closely behind me that I could feel his breath on my shoulder. In the next second, I felt a single gloved finger run down the back of my arm. I was frozen to the spot, quivering at the touch, but I dared not turn round. To know that Captain Carter was behind me was more than enough and I felt quite thrilled at the thought. I felt his warm breath on my neck and took two steps back inviting Richard Carter to touch me again, but this time I was denied that indulgence, so I contented myself with the thought that he was so close and allowed myself to be drawn into the magic of the theatre unfolding before me. Tales of damsels in distress with hideous monsters rising from the deep, drew huge gasps from the audience as they came alive on the library wall to the musical strains of Benvenuti’s quintet.

I only allowed myself to turn round when at last the performance finished and as the audience cheered loudly, I turned my head to gaze directly into the eyes of MR WICKHAM. I must have looked very shocked, but he, naughty man, just winked at me and bowed. As the candles were being lit, I searched the room, scanning every face for the one I wanted to see and then I saw him in profile, Richard Carter, with his aquiline nose and curly brown hair. In a darkened corner he was talking, his mouth barely moving into the soft curls of his companion. I then observed the young woman with whom he was engaged in conversation. Their heads were bowed together and as I watched them, my handsome Captain and my friend, Diana Cavendish, he raised her hand to his mouth and gently kissed it. He whispered again in her ear before escorting her from the room following the great crowd to the supper table, her arm in his and their heads inclined toward one another.

Click here to read more about Phantasmagoria and The History of the discovery of Cinematography