As my brother informed you in his last post, we’ve collaborated on a work that is almost ready for release. Collaborations tend to take longer, and the details can sometimes be a bit fuzzy—after all, I only wrote half of it, and that’s the half I remember the best! But it’s done and in the final stages of preparation for release. Thus, I thought I’d take you through another early excerpt from the book, which now has a name: Prisoner of Longbourn.
What do you get when you have a wealthy man confined to Longbourn until he recovers from a significant injury? And if that gentleman has a friend living nearby, a friend who is wealthy in his own right? Why, you have a scheming Mrs. Bennet, that’s what! In this short excerpt, Mrs. Bennet gets a little too greedy, and then resolves her own problem neatly. I hope you enjoy!
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Mrs. Bennet’s flighty character had long been known to Elizabeth, but it was so obvious that Elizabeth had never thought it required a particularly astute judge of character to have seen it. Despite this, however, she had also never seen her mother in such a state as she was now, though that could be attributed to the fact that there had never been suitors of any eligibility in their neighborhood before. Now that they boasted two such gentlemen, she could not quite contain her excitement, which became a source of much amusement.
“Oh, Mr. Bennet!” said she after the Netherfield party left that afternoon. “What a fine thing it is for all of us!”
“While I am sure there are many fine things to be had, I am uncertain of the exact nature of your comment.”
“Mr. Bingley is such an amiable and agreeable man,” continued Mrs. Bennet, proving she was not listening to her husband. “I cannot recall having ever met a better one, a man more perfectly suited to be our neighbor.”
“I cannot imagine Mr. Bingley would have been so agreeable had he not been so wealthy,” said Mr. Bennet as an aside to Elizabeth. As diverting as she found her father’s comments, Elizabeth declined to reply, knowing it would not do for a daughter to openly mock her mother.
“And his sisters, so charming and elegant! It seemed to me that they were pleased with our family—very pleased, indeed! And Mr. Bingley choosing a seat next to our Jane, his attention fixed upon her, asking her in particular to attend his ball. Mark my words, there will be wedding bells ringing before long!”
Poor Jane was embarrassed by her mother’s continual crowing over the gentleman’s attentions, such as they were, for her eyes were fixed on the floor and she would not look up. Though Elizabeth thought it a promising inclination, for all that there had only been one meeting between them, Mr. Bingley had sat for only a half hour with Jane. Surely there was no cause to plan for Jane’s wedding clothes before the man had even visited a second time.
“If there are wedding bells,” said Mr. Bennet, his voice once again infused with amusement, “it seems there shall be a plethora of them, Mrs. Bennet; by my count you have Jane married two times over.”
Mrs. Bennet frowned, not understanding her husband’s wry words, as was usual. “Whatever do you mean, Mr. Bennet? Our Jane cannot marry twice.”
“Hmm, I suppose not. Unless of course you mean her first husband to die quickly so she might have a second. Then again, perhaps that might be best, for it would increase Jane’s fortune handsomely, if you can convince her first husband to leave all his worldly wealth to her.”
Mrs. Bennet appeared scandalized, and she was not the only one. Her husband, however, paid no attention, continuing his teasing by saying: “If you do not mean for that eventuality, then perhaps you might allow some other young woman to have one of them. After all, in the past two days, you have set your sights on both Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley for Jane. Since it appears you may only have one, it would be best to remove the hook from the mouth of one of these fish and return it to the pond.”
Having said this, Mr. Bennet grinned at his wife and rose to his feet, leaving a thoughtful Mrs. Bennet behind. It was commonly known between the sisters that their father amused himself by teasing and vexing his wife, and while there were times when Elizabeth found herself embarrassed by his lack of respect for her, she understood his dry sense of humor served as his solace in dealing with a woman of weak understanding.
For several minutes after their father departed, the sitting-room was left in silence, as Mrs. Bennet pondered her husband’s words. Her reflection was punctuated by her occasional muttering, not to mention her frequent glances at her daughters, such that Elizabeth wondered what new stratagems her mother was pondering. It was inconceivable she would remain ignorant of them, for Mrs. Bennet was not the type of woman to remain silent.
“It seems your father is correct,” said she after some time of this. “Since Mr. Darcy is the wealthier of the two men, he will be for Jane. But we cannot simply ignore Mr. Bingley, for he is also single and in need of a good wife. Therefore, Lizzy shall do for him.” Mrs. Bennet paused and eyed Elizabeth with some asperity. “If Lizzy can control her tongue and avoid offending him.”
It was so like Mrs. Bennet to come to such a conclusion that Elizabeth was unsurprised. Experience, however, had informed her it was useless to argue and would only provoke an argument.
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What do you think of Mr. Bennet’s teasing? Of Mrs. Bennet’s solution? Find out more on April 22nd, when Prisoner of Longbourn goes live on Amazon.
As a bonus, here is the reveal of the cover. Please note that this is a draft, though an advanced one. There will be further tweaks, the model made bigger, the text potentially moved around a bit, and perhaps a few other things. But this is basically what it will be.