We’re thinking of Netherfield in November, and today I have for you a “missing scene” derived from the last chapter of Pride and Prejudice. In that epilogue-style chapter (which was my guide and jumping-off point when I wrote The Darcys of Pemberley), Jane Austen tells us quite a bit about what lies ahead for the Darcys, Bingleys, and the Bennets, including this passage, on which the following scene is based:
Mr. Bingley and Jane remained at Netherfield only a twelvemonth. So near a vicinity to her mother and Meryton relations was not desirable even to his easy temper or her affectionate heart. The darling wish of his sisters was then gratified; he bought an estate in a neighbouring county to Derbyshire, and Jane and Elizabeth, in addition to every other source of happiness, were within thirty miles of each other.
[The Darcys] were presently returned to Netherfield and to the Bingleys, with whom they spent the whole of the next day in mutually enjoyable pursuits. The men walked out to shoot whilst the ladies sat and talked. The ladies took a turn round the park whilst the men occupied themselves with billiards. The four of them played Whist, but paid more attention to their companions than to the cards.
As the game paused between hands, Darcy leaned back in his chair and cast an admiring gaze about the room. “This has always been a handsome house, Bingley, and you have made some fine improvements since you came here. Do you plan any further changes?” Darcy asked.
Mr. Bingley gave Jane a quizzical look, and she offered a little nod in answer.
“Well, since you ask…,” Bingley began tentatively. “After thinking about this for some considerable time, we have come to the conclusion that it would be best for us to change to another house entirely.” Seeing Darcy and Elizabeth’s astonished expressions, Bingley went on to explain. “As you know, old friend, it has always been my goal to acquire an estate of my own, something solid that I can hand down to my son one day. Jane and I agree that now is the time to act on it. We adore Netherfield but it does have certain insurmountable drawbacks, chiefly the fact that I am obliged to lease the house because it is not for sale. So now we intend to start the search for a suitable estate to purchase or lands on which to build our own home.”
Recovering from his surprise, Mr. Darcy had the presence of mind to inquire, “Where are you looking? In this general area, in Hertfordshire?”
“Actually, no,” said Bingley. “I have never very much occasion to go into town anymore, so there is no need to be this close to London. And we have found after living here for some months that certain aspects of the neighborhood are not completely…uh…agreeable. We would, therefore, like to make a change.”
Although he did not say the words, his meaning was clear enough. They could all appreciate the idea that it is possible for a woman to be settled too near her family.
“Then where will you go?” Elizabeth demanded. “Do not keep us in suspense! What is your plan?”
With a shy grin, Jane answered, “We were thinking that some place in Derbyshire might be nice.”
The Bingleys could have been in no doubt as to how their friends would receive this proposal. Exclamations of delight immediately confirmed the general approbation of the plan. While the sisters expounded on their felicity, the men discussed the logistics of the move and the task of making inquiries.
“My resources are entirely at your disposal, Bingley,” said Darcy. “I will send word as soon as I hear of anything suitable. What specifically do you have in mind?”
“You know that Pemberley has always been my ideal, but I suppose it is not available,” Bingley said laughing. “And something on a more modest scale will do very well for us. Let it be a place with a little charm, a good income, and within an easy distance of our friends and we shall be satisfied.”
“Again, as with the other matter,” said Jane, “we must ask you to keep this confidential until we are able to find the best way of telling my parents. I am afraid they will not be as pleased with our decision as you are, Lizzy.”
“Indeed. I do not envy you the job of informing Mama; she will likely go into hysterics. Our gain is truly at her expense. I should be sorry for her loss, but I cannot help smiling. Oh, Jane, to have you and Bingley close to Pemberley – I could ask for nothing better!”
I hope you enjoyed this scene, which is an excerpt from The Darcys of Pemberley. I wrote it several years ago now, but I still remember how thrilled I was to be translating what Jane Austen implied in her epilogue into a fully fleshed-out sequel to her masterpiece.
Do you love the last chapter of Pride and Prejudice like I do? When is the last time you read it? Is this the way you pictured the Bingleys’ change of house coming about?