The Hunt, the Glorious Hunt! by Colin Rowland

The Hunt, the Glorious Hunt! by Colin Rowland

The hunt, be it foxes, birds, or other game, features in most of Jane Austen’s literature and in many of the modern works of the genre. In Hidden Desires, my last offering, a hunting expedition was the catalyst which set the plot in motion. Below is that excerpt, setting the stage for the entire twisted plot to come.

 

“Am I mistaken in the date we had agreed upon?” said Mr. Bingley, bewilderment apparent on his countenance. Miss Bingley, standing behind him, rolled her eyes at her brother’s confusion.

Mr. Bennet approached Mr. Bingley, a small smile playing at the corners of his mouth. “Do not worry,” said he. “It was I who neglected to inform Mrs. Bennet of our plans. Please make yourself comfortable while I attend to a few small items of business. I shall return quickly.”

Mr. Bingley looked around the room for a chair in which to sit and await Mr. Bennet’s return. Finally, as if at that moment reaching a decision, he chose the one closest to Jane, leaving his sister to flounce across the room and sit beside Mrs. Bennet, as though the very act was a burden.

“Is it not a wonderful day?” said Mr. Bingley as he settled himself beside Jane. “I was grateful to Mr. Bennet for his invitation and have been expecting this day with ever-increasing excitement. The extent of my gratitude for his kind offer is almost beyond my ability to express.”

“To what offer do you refer?” asked Elizabeth, unable to recall her father mentioning such a thing.

“Why, the invitation to join Mr. Bennet in a hunt,” said Mr. Bingley as if knowledge of the subject was common to all present. “I spoke with him at the assembly. In the course of our conversation, I informed him of my desire to experience a hunt for game, but my sparse knowledge of the countryside would prevent my enjoyment of the sport. Mr. Bennet was kind enough to suggest that I join him on the Longbourn estate, where he would show me the best copses from which to flush our prey. I accepted at once, and we agreed upon today as convenient for both.”

“So, you visit today is not mere coincidence,” said Elizabeth, casting a satisfied glance toward Jane, who looked in another direction.”

“I have planned my visit since the night of the assembly,” said Mr. Bingley. “When Caroline learned of Mr. Bennet’s invitation, she asked if she might accompany me, so she could spend the afternoon with her two newest acquaintances. She has spoken of you with affection frequently.”

Elizabeth looked at Miss Bingley in time to see her eyes roll in what Elizabeth could only assume was a look of annoyance with her brother. As her eyes came to rest upon Elizabeth, her face assumed a smile reminiscent of the look the estate’s dogs would wear upon sighting unwelcome vermin in need of extermination.

“It is nice to see you again,” said Jane. “And you, Miss Bingley. I hope you are becoming familiar with Netherfield. It is so nice to see it occupied again, after having been vacant for so long.”

“The estate is wonderful,” said Mr. Bingley. “I especially look forward to my exploration of the grounds. Unfortunately, business of one sort or another has conspired to draw me away repeatedly to London, against my wishes, so that goal is still unaccomplished. Netherfield has few tenants, as many had departed prior to my occupation of the manor. I do not know why they left, but I intend to restore the ability of the estate to support itself, should I elect to remain.”

“Netherfield had always been a beautiful property,” said Mr. Bennet as he joined them again. “Many happy times were spent hunting there in my youth, as the previous master of the estate had a son of my age. In my formative years, we explored many of Netherfield’s nooks and crannies. It had always seemed to be teeming with an overabundance of game just waiting for a skilled huntsman to find.”

“Sadly, there is little game there at present,” said Mr. Bingley. “In speaking with Mr. Garvey, the gamekeeper who at one time worked at Netherfield, I learned trespassers denuded the estate of wildlife. For years there was nobody in a position to deny access, so those wanting to lay waste to the game in the name of fun had free run of the property. Upon learning of this, I instituted a ban on hunting or fishing of any sort, hoping to repopulate the property. In my mind, if we hunt the creatures who inhabit our fields and forests to extinction, we all suffer a loss.”

“You should be commended for you sensible stewardship of the property,” said Mr. Bennet. “If ever you find yourself in need of advice or assistance, please ask.”

“Thank you for your kindness,” said Mr. Bingley, “and your charity. I am unaccustomed to such an outpouring of friendship and sociability. The welcome extended since my arrival in Hertfordshire, and from the neighbors of Netherfield, has been remarkable. I feel I am almost daily establishing new companionships which will endure the rest of my days.”

“Are you an experienced hunter?” asked Mr. Bennet.

“I enjoy the occasional hunt,” said Mr. Bingley, “although I can say with confidence my expertise does not approach your own.”

“In that case,” said Mr. Bennet, “I will put you in Mr. Andrews’s capable hands. He is the finest gamekeeper in all of Hertfordshire.”

“They are ready,” said Mr. Bennet in response to a signal from a boy sent by the gamekeeper to summon them. “If you will follow me, we will begin.” With that, he led Mr. Bingley out into the garden, where the gamekeeper waited with two bird dogs and an assortment of shotguns essential to the hunting of the game which would be their prey.

“The hunt will not conclude very much before darkness falls,” said Jane to Miss Bingley. “This will allow us to strengthen our friendship, which I very much look forward to.”

“The opportunity of building our relationship is one I could not bear to miss,” said Miss Bingley in a voice that dripped of vinegar. “It is always so much fun meeting Charles’s infatuations. He has such a facility in establishing friendships, it is often difficult to remember them all.”

Elizabeth listened to the girl, her arrogant tone informing Elizabeth of the contempt she felt for Longbourn and its residents. “Mr. Bingley seems a very personable man, that is true,” said Elizabeth in response, determined not to let the disagreeable girl goad her into unpleasantries.

“Country life will not agree with him for long,” said Miss Bingley. “He has so many dear acquaintances in London; he will soon long for the stimulation of their company. I spoke with him, as we were on our way here, about returning to the city. While he did not express a desire to depart yet, I am sure it will not be long before he decides of his own volition that it is time.”

Elizabeth, watching Jane’s countenance, saw a flash of worry crease her brow before her usual good nature returned.

“I would not want Mr. Bingley to remain at Netherfield against his will,” said Jane, her smile masking the concern Elizabeth knew her sister felt at Miss Bingley’s words.

“It appears as though life at Netherfield agrees with Mr. Bingley,” said Elizabeth to calm Jane’s fears. “If he was hating his time in Hertfordshire, I presume he would have declined our father’s invitation to take part in a hunt.”

“His charitable nature will not allow him to excuse himself from something he regards as his duty as a neighbor,” said Miss Bingley, a satisfied smirk on her lips.

“For something he does not enjoy, as you claim,” said Elizabeth, “he seemed to harbor a great deal of excitement at the invitation to take part in the sport.”

“I am sure,” said Miss Bingley, the false sincerity of her voice long since departed, “once he returns to London and reacquaints himself with all the city has to offer, he will abandon his silly notion of spending any further time so far from the city.”

The return of the gamekeeper with one of the stable hands interrupted Elizabeth’s retort. Between the two men was Mr. Bingley, who leaned heavily on their shoulders as they carried him. Sweat poured in rivulets down his face, which sported a ghastly white hue.

Mr. Bennet led the party into the manor, stopping just inside the garden doors. “Take him to the library and make him comfortable on the chaise,” said he to those holding Mr. Bingley erect.

“What has happened? What have you done to my brother?” said Miss Bingley with an accusatory glare at Mr. Bennet, as she followed the procession to the library, Elizabeth and Jane behind her.

“Mr. Bingley lost his footing while attempting to leap a fallen log,” said Mr. Bennet. “From the way his leg turned as he fell, in addition to the pain he is suffering, I fear he broke his ankle.”

“You must arrange for Charles’s transport to London at once,” said Miss Bingley, “where the finest doctors can examine him, rather than any of these Hertfordshire pretenders posing as medical practitioners. We can address your ineptitude at a later date.”

 

Looks like poor Mr. Bingley’s accident could be fortuitous. Will Caroline Bingley prevail in her demand to take Mr. Bingley to London “at once”? Or, will his injury keep him bound to Netherfield even longer, and in need of a pretty nurse? And how does Mr. Darcy play into all of this? Find out by purchasing Hidden Desires ASAP!

More about Colin Rowland’s novels on his Author Page.

When Mr. Charles Bingley is injured on a hunting excursion, Mr. Bennet feels responsible for the mishap. To assuage his guilt, he volunteers his assistance to Mr. Bingley in managing and improving Netherfield.

The recovering Mr. Bingley, uncomfortable in accepting such aid from his neighbor, instead writes to his closest friend for help. Mr. Darcy soon arrives in answer to the summons, bringing his sister, Georgiana, with him. As she has recently suffered mistreatment at the hands of a former acquaintance of Mr. Darcy’s, Georgiana is eager to stay at her brother’s side. A burgeoning friendship with the clever and kind Elizabeth Bennet can only assist Georgiana’s confidence.

Unfortunately, a trip to Meryton becomes a return to terror when Georgiana sees Mary Bennet, one of Elizabeth’s sisters, talking to the man who had treated her poorly.

Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy come together in a desire for retribution and the urgent need to rescue a Bennet daughter from the hands of an unrepentant Lothario. The events of the night will either feed their growing attraction or drive them apart forever.

 

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10 COMMENTS
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darcybennett
September 30, 2020 2:52 PM

Enjoyed the excerpt. After reading the blurb, I wondered does this mean that Wickham sets his sights on Mary?

carylkane
carylkane
September 23, 2020 5:45 PM

Love the excerpt!

J. W. Garrett
J. W. Garrett
September 22, 2020 2:21 PM

I love this excerpt. We often hear of hunts and we even see them returning from the hunt in the classic 1995 movie version. I like hearing of the things the men do off the page. I think it adds variety to the story. Caroline is just plain evil in her snide comments. She is so haughty and conceded. These are daughters of a landed gentleman and her superior in every way and yet, she treats them with disdain in their own home. I hope you have something horrid planned for her. Now my question… Mary is talking with Wickham? Now that is different. Wickham always goes for the young, silly, certainly beautiful, but mainly he seeks a rich heiress. Mary is not the youngest, nor the silliest, and certainly not the prettiest of the Bennet sisters, nor is she wealthy. I wonder why Wickham chose to talk to her? I can’t wait to see what you have done. I have this on my wish-list. I may need to move it up and see what is going on with this version. Blessings on its success. Take care and stay safe.

Riana Everly
AuAu
September 22, 2020 2:00 PM

During one of our family walks just the other day, we had a long discussion about the hunt and its history – both good and bad. That’s a great excerpt and the blurb is most intriguing!

cindie snyder
cindie snyder
September 22, 2020 6:43 AM

Good e,cerpt! Interesting facts about the hunt!

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