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Dancing at the Meryton Assembly

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.

Monday, October 19th, 1801

A splendid ball we had tonight - despite a lack of gentlemen Kitty and I jigged all night and were never without a partner, though it has to be said that some of them were hideously ugly and not one of them the sort of handsome beau I have dreamed about.

Mr Bingley, two of his sisters, the husband of the eldest and a very haughty looking gentleman, a Mr Darcy, were in attendance. With the exception of Mr Bingley the others all looked as if they were suffering from a bit of old mousetrap cheese up their noses, so sneering were their expressions. I have decided to like Mr Bingley, he is a cheerful sort of fellow but too simpering for my taste. Jane can have him and after this evening, it seems she may well get him. Bingley danced with her twice, which pleased our mother, especially as he favoured Charlotte Lucas at first - mama’s face was a picture, so vexed was she that the Lucases had got in first.

Lizzy was found wanting a partner on more than one occasion and she was even snubbed by Mr Darcy, the odious man who came with Bingley. To own the truth, Lizzy did not miss much for having been slighted by him, for all his tens of thousands, he really was very proud and strutted about the place, no doubt fancying he owned us all. RUDE MAN INDEED!!!

The Bingley sisters gave all the appearance of elegance and good manners but for all their finery and satin, they were not as handsome as I should have thought from the reports that have been circulating over half of Hertfordshire. Some people, despite their wealth and connections do not know what it is to cut a dash or break a young man’s heart with their unadulterated beauty. To speak plainly, their ill-favoured countenances would sooner frighten farmer Felbrigg’s cows and turn the milk sour, than set the hearts of the local beaux aflutter.

I overheard them talking. “Oh Caroline,” sighed Mrs Hurst, “did you ever see such a dowdy collection?”
Miss Bingley stifled a laugh. “Dear sister, pray tell, to what do you allude? Surely this is not a comment on the modistes of Meryton or the beauty of the local wenches? I, for one, have never seen such finery, such satin, such jewels! Take care dear, or you will be dazzled, nay blinded, by the sparkle of such fine glass. Dear me, I meant to say diamonds, sister. Heaven forgive my slip of the tongue!”

“Quite so,” her sister agreed with a snort. “And as for the men, Caroline, why it will be impossible for you to choose a husband from such an array of eligibility. Indeed, I was introduced to a farmer just now whom I am sure will be just to your taste!”

Both sisters scoffed and laughed with great vulgarity. Mother is quite correct - there is something very vulgar about an excess of pearls at a country dance!

Lydia Bennet

Illustrations: Top, an old print of the King's Arms Dorchester, Pride and Prejudice illustration by Hugh Thomson, Meryton Assembly by Jane Odiwe