What better way to start the year than to focus on one of Jane Austen’s most beloved characters? Join Austen Variations as we spend January looking into the lovely Jane Bennet.
I dread trying to compete with Leslie Diamond’s tale from yesterday, but here we go…Back to Regency Era London with Miss Jane Bennet!
January 10: We arrived in London early this afternoon and my dear aunt and uncle are happy to be home and comfortable after the busy time in Hertfordshire for the holidays. I wish Lizzie was here with me to enjoy London, but I know how much trouble she went through to arrange this visit for me; convincing Mama that she can do without me for a few weeks and trying to keep her from going into transports over the idea that I will be in the same city as Mr. Bingley and his sisters. I confess that I hope to see Caroline but I doubt that I shall see Mr. Bingley as we will be moving in quite different social circles. However, she will tell him if I see her and he will know where to find me should he choose to do so. Caroline’s letter after the Netherfield ball gave me to fear that Mr. Bingley does not care for me as I would have liked him to. So kind, so comfortable to be with! I must finish this and go down to help ready the children for their dinner!
January 11: I attended church with my aunt and uncle and all the dear children! They are so good, in spite of a very long sermon on trusting God, who will see to all our needs. I do trust and love him and I pray that it is his will that Mr. Bingley will learn to care for me as much as I care for him. But I must not repine. Lizzie is sure that Miss Bingley would try to separate us if she could, but I cannot think that she would be so duplicitous!! Why would she go out of her way to befriend me if she is afraid her brother would marry me? I admit that she did not reply to my letter telling her that I was coming to the City, but perhaps the letter was lost, or they could have gone to Pemberley for Christmas and the letter may be following them to Derbyshire and back to London. We shall see.
January 13: Had a pleasant day with my aunt yesterday as we went into the City and did a little shopping . My dear little cousins are growing so quickly that they constantly need new clothing and we spent the evening cutting out gowns for the little girls and new shirts for the boys. The sewing will keep up busy this week, but I hope they will have lovely new clothes for church next Sunday! We dine at the Kellings tonight. I have not met these friends of my uncle’s before, but he speaks very well of them. Mr Kelling has several ships which are kept busy importing silks from India and ivory from South Africa. I am looking forward to an evening out and I’m sure we will have a pleasant time.
January 14: I very much enjoyed the dinner last night and Mr. and Mrs. Kelling are very pleasant. Mrs. Kelling is the daughter of a Colonel who served in India during her entire childhood. Mr. Kelling met her at a ball given at the post and they married within a month! Mr. Kelling is a forthright man, not refined in his manner, but very kind and with many interesting stories about his travels before their marriage. I am certain that they never lack for conversation! I hope we will see them again soon.
January 15: We spent the evening at home tonight and had a quiet family dinner, then my aunt and I continued our sewing. A very pleasant and quiet time and I played games with the children before their bedtime. No answer to my letter to Caroline.
January 17: We continue very quiet here and are almost finished with the clothes for my dear nieces and nephews. They will look very smart for church on Sunday. Still no word from Caroline and I have not heard from Lizzie that they have returned to Netherfield, and I know she would write me instantly if they returned.
January 20: Dinner with the Hartnetts. They are old friends of my aunt and uncle (I believe he is a distant relative of my dear aunt) and I know them well. We can be sure of a fine dinner and comfortable conversation.
February 1: Still no word from Caroline. I cannot imagine what has happened to keep her from answering! Surely nothing has happened to her or her sister or brother!
February 10: I have not been sleeping well in the past few days over worrying about the Bingleys. I hope that they are well. My aunt and I are going into town in the morning and I am determined to stop at the Hursts’ to see how they are doing, and, I admit, to make sure all are well. I cannot think that they would have ignored my letter if all was well.
February 11: I stopped at the Hursts’ as I planned and was happy to find that Mrs. Hurst and Caroline are both well, although we did not get to speak long as they were on their way out to the shops when we arrived. Caroline will visit Cheapside very soon and we will have time for a good chat then. Mr. Bingley is staying with Mr. Darcy and his sister and Caroline says that they rarely see them as they have so many engagements.
February 18: We go on quietly, as usual here. My aunt and uncle are so kind to me!! They took me to the opera last night and enjoyed it enormously! I saw Mr. Darcy across the way with Mr. Bingley and a young lady, whom I assume is Mr. Darcy’s sister. They did not see us and i did not see them in the lobby during the interval. Perhaps they had refreshments brought to their box to avoid the crowds, which are tremendous. I am sure I will hear from Caroline very soon.
February 28: Caroline finally visited me at my uncle’s house. She seemed very different than when I saw her at Mrs. Hursts’ home- she was very nervous, twisting and playing with her gloves the entire time. She drank her tea very quickly and immediately jumped up and apologized, saying she had an important errand that she had forgotten. She left as soon as her pelisse was brought and barely spoke a kind word before she left. She most definitely did not indicate that we should see her again. I can only think that she is trying to let me down kindly but wants me to know that her brother has no interest in seeing me again. I cannot think of another interpretation for her actions, and I’m sorry if she feels that I am a threat to her brother’s peace of mind. It is clear that Lizzie was right. I don’t know why Miss Bingley went out of her way to gain my friendship in Hertfordshire, but she clearly does not want to continue it in London. I am resigned and disappointed that she would feel that we could not be friends even if Mr. Bingley does not want to see me. I must just continue my visit with my aunt and uncle and I’m determined to enjoy the time I have with them. I wish, however, that I could go home before Easter. I would be happier at Longbourn, even without Lizzie, as she will soon be visiting Charlotte and Mr. Collins at Hunsford and will then stop in London on her way home and we will finish the last part of the trip together. It will be lovely to be home. (a few water spots have blurred these last words)
Advise Jane on how to recover from her disappointment with Bingley…