ExceedinglyJane.com by Ed S.
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Darcy's Adventure in Hertfordshire
My friend Bingley
It happens routinely, year in and year out
when my friend Mister Bingley meanders about
with the object of finding a suitable wife
and he cares not a fig what it does to my life.
If Bingley continues to move out of town
then I might have to burn his new manor house down.
I've told him before that there's hardly a chance
that the ladies out there even know how to dance.
The only thing women out there will have learned
is to manage a cow and to handle a churn.
If all that he wants is a wife he can flaunt
then he's better off snagging the next debutante.
My surname is Darcy, a name of renown.
I'm rather well-known on the posh side of town.
The women in London are tigers, it's true,
but the adequate choices found elsewhere are few.
But Bingley's approach to acquiring a mate
is to capture his prey with a fancy estate.
His exploits consistently cause him distress
and he always expects me to clean up the mess.
To give an example of what I've been through,
just listen to what Bingley once made me do.
Last April in Oxfordshire Bingley was caught
by a girl who insisted on tying the knot.
A gentleman always should honour his lies
but a problem might call for a quick compromise.
His efforts last April had little success
so I paid out substantial financial redress.
And still he insists upon leasing a house
in the hope that its splendour will catch him a spouse.
But all he is likely to find at his door
is a line-up of mothers with daughters galore.
So now he has moved into Netherfield Hall
which is almost as far as the state of Nepal.
It's true that I live quite a bit farther still
but the journey to my house is mostly downhill.
So now I am stuck in his lonely estate
and I'm sitting here watching my pupils dilate.
I really would like to ride out on a tour
but the air here at Netherfield smells of manure.
On Saturday, Bingley would not let me dodge
a monotonous visit to old Lucas Lodge.
It houses a daughter who's well past her prime
which confirms my suspicion we're wasting our time.
Sir William held forth on a topic I dread:
the neighbourhood girls who are anxious to wed.
He spoke without letting me get in a word.
The King had gone mad when that Knight was conferred.
It seems there are plenty of ladies nearby
who are waiting around for a man to apply.
The Long girl, the Johnston twins; there's quite a few,
so Bingley's fired up by the work left to do.
The Bennets, however, are drowning in tears
for their mother has girls coming out of her ears.
Whatever possessed that poor woman to bear
only man-hungry females and no proper heir?
No sooner had Bingley got word of that crew
than he rode to their manor to give them a view.
But since their Papa kept them hidden all night,
I have to assume they're a horrible sight.
I know what these feminine cougars are like.
As soon as they're born they are taught how to strike.
My head starts to burst so I go for a ride
to survey the delights the surroundings provide.
I notice two girls who are walking ahead
and I wish I was back in the parlour instead.
They veer off the path and then start their approach.
I guess they've been trained by a very good coach.
They've probably heard that old Netherfield Hall
has been leased by a couple of gents for the fall.
I really should turn and just gallop away
but I don't want the letdown to ruin their day.
But when they get closer I'm somewhat surprised
by the startling pulchritude dazzling my eyes.
I never believed such perfection was here,
that beauties like these could be living so near.
It seems they're the Johnstons I've heard all about.
I guess I was wrong and there's no female drought.
The sight of these girls starts to quicken my blood
so I reach for my hat and it falls in the mud.
They seem not to notice my clumsy display
for they don't get to meet such a gent every day.
Their gaze is averted a moment or two.
At least they don't giggle like most women do.
Now hold on a minute, I shouldn't forget
that I've never been caught by a rustic girl yet.
I have a few guidelines I don't contravene
but these girls on the road are like nothing I've seen.
A Ball in Town
Now tomorrow's the fanciest ball of the year
and I think it's to honour our presence up here.
I'd like to stay home and avoid the applause
but just think of the great disappointment I'd cause.
I find when we get to this Meryton shed
that the ballroom's so small that I might bump my head.
So many are here and they all look our way
but the odours in here cause my lungs to decay.
The smell in this ballroom is like a fish stew
so I'm glad that I didn't wear anything new.
Last May up in Oxford a lesson was learned
when I had to have seven cravats duly burned.
It seems that each county has smells of its own
and you have to be sure to wear lots of cologne.
Last May I held Bingley's head under a spout
just to get the aroma of Oxfordshire out.
I'll try to be pleasant till something goes wrong,
for Bingley just might have been right all along.
With girls like those Johnstons secure in our grip,
this might just be Bingley's most bountiful trip.
Behind me the words of Sir William resound
and he offers to help introduce me around.
"The Johnstons, you say? I'm afraid they're the ones
who are probably dancing all night with my sons."
He points out Miss Long and she's also a sight.
Perhaps good old Bingley has always been right.
I guess I misjudged these romantic crusades
for this little excursion may pay off in spades.
Sir William is pointing to girls left and right
but the next one I see makes my whiskers ignite.
For there in the corner beside the buffet
is a goddess who's actually looking my way!
A quick little query and what do I find?
That lady is sweetness and beauty combined.
Jane Bennet's her name and her feminine arts
have demolished a number of masculine hearts.
But wait! Does she hail from that family of five?
With five of them how do they ever survive?
With beauty like that she cannot still be free,
unless she is waiting for someone like me.
I'd better go over and bring her a chair.
I'd better show up before Bingley gets there.
To dance with her must be a most pleasant task
but it seems that the men are too timid to ask.
Her shape is the loveliest I've ever seen.
I'll bet that she'd make quite a birthing machine.
Her ample proportions are quite well dispersed,
but oh my good god! Bingley got to her first!
Well what is the point now of trying too hard
when there's nothing to do in this smelly old yard?
This sort of thing happens again and again.
Now Bingley's made off with that beautiful Jane.
That traitorous Bingley comes over to check
but it's all I can do not to strangle his neck.
He points to a girl and he says there's no harm
if I saunter on over and show off my charm.
My mood by this time is as black as can be
so my consummate charm carries no guarantee.
I put on my very best look of disdain
and I say right out loud that I think she's too plain.
Oh lord, there I go again, being absurd.
I wish I could reach out and pull back that word.
It's really not like me to make such a slur
but just look at the people I have to endure.
Now Bingley brings Jane and they ask if I might
have a chat with her sister, who's sat out all night.
For Jane I'll comply and I give her a bow
but she points to the girl I insulted just now.
That girl hobbles over, her ego in shreds
and she eyes me as if I were growing two heads.
Before this whole evening completely goes south
I had better untangle the foot from my mouth.
"Don't trouble yourself, sir. I've no wish to move
for my skill as a partner won't likely improve.
My swollen left ankle's about to explode
for I tripped on a hat someone left in the road."
"A hat?" Bingley says. "Darcy, didn't you state..."
but I stop him from speaking before it's too late.
"I see, it was yours," says the girl with a laugh.
This shrewd little waif is too clever by half.
"I stepped on a hat while I walked in the rain.
I'm shocked it was yours for it looked rather plain.
I wonder you just let it just lay where it dropped."
I tell her it came from a Meryton shop.
"I'm sorry our Meryton merchants don't sell
all the fancy apparel that suits you so well.
I wouldn't expect you to bear the disgrace
of appearing in something that's not to your taste."
"Elizabeth!" Jane tries to soften the blows.
Imagine! A girl with opinions like those!
Rebuke from her sister is what she deserves
for her comments are starting to get on my nerves.
I'd like to find out where her manners were taught
but she isn't deserving of any more thought.
The rules of decorum are really clear-cut.
Her family should urge her to keep her mouth shut.
I'm keeping an eye on that insolent girl
for she might have a lot more invective to hurl.
(That story I gave was a bit of a lie
for that hat was the very best hat I could buy.)
I'm noticing now to my utter dismay
that she's peeking and furtively glancing my way.
I'm peeking myself to a minor degree
but I think that she's being more furtive than me.
And now she is limping to all of her friends
and she's whispering something that surely offends
for they listen and widen their eyeballs with awe
and they glower at me and then start to guffaw.
I'd better reply before things go amiss.
I can't let that upstart insult me like this.
She thinks it's a sport to humiliate me.
I'll show her how lethal a Darcy can be.
"One moment, my dear; I'm not wont to complain
but I'd really do hope that you'll kindly explain
how it seems I've become, in your quaint little sphere,
quite a source of amusement to everyone here."
"Oh no, Mister Darcy, you've got it all wrong.
We thought you a humourless man all along.
But the waistcoat you've worn to our quaint little sphere
was on sale in our Meryton clothier's last year."
The music is loud and the night's wearing on
and I'm finding it harder to stifle a yawn.
The Bennet contingent has finally withdrawn.
Thank God that annoying Elizabeth's gone!
As soon as the Bennets had walked out that door,
this cavernous danceroom had lost its rapport.
Miss Jane can't be causing my mood to disrupt
because Bingley has that one completely sewn up.
The Next Day
At Netherfield, morning can't come soon enough
for I've stayed up all night and the going is rough
because Bingley has kept me awake with a "chat".
It's "Jane Bennet this" and it's "Jane Bennet that."
If Bingley won't settle I'll do him some harm
for I've heard quite enough about Jane Bennet's charm.
She very well might be the one that he's sought
if it weren't for that troublesome sister she's got.
So I hop on my horse and he takes me away.
I can't stay awake so he hunts for some hay.
And where he is going I don't really care
for I'm having a dream of that cute Johnston pair.
Those Johnston's are trailing wherever I go
and they're tossing my muddy old hat to and fro.
I suddenly stumble and fall to the floor
for I'm dumped by my horse at the Bennets' front door!
Now how he arrived here I haven't a clue.
An equine adjustment is long overdue.
The very last place that I wanted to be
is the home of annoying Elizabeth B.
I'd better get up before someone comes by.
I'd better get up while my pants are still dry.
But what is that feminine singing I hear?
It seems that Elizabeth Bennet is near.
That's her by the big shady tree near the well.
Perhaps I should push her right in and not tell.
Her foot has improved if she's walked out this far
so I hope that my hat didn't leave a big scar.
She's bending down over a fence to pick flowers.
My word! I could stare at her backside for hours.
To spy on a maiden I'd never endorse
but it's really the fault of my negligent horse.
I'm awfully surprised she's not looking my way
for my clumsy arrival was quite a display.
Oh look! She is peeking from under that shade.
She knows that I'm here and won't come to my aid!
Her father himself now appears at the door
and my lightning-fast intellect comes to the fore.
"Good day, Mister Bennet. I came in the hope
I could borrow an 'Iliad' translated by Pope."
I'm really quite proud of this clever remark.
I'd rather not say that I'm here by some lark.
He may have the book but he probably won't
but he's staring as if he knows something I don't.
"I heard just last night you're a lover of books,
and my query to Bingley brought nothing but looks.
His Netherfield library's such a big mess
and I thought that at Longbourn I'd have more success."
A few minutes later I'm stuck in the room
where his tomes are arrayed like a bookseller's tomb.
He's started an argument out of my scope
for he's claiming that Chapman is better than Pope.
Now Homer's a subject on which I can't speak.
To understand Homer is like learning Greek.
I can't keep my mind on a book so sublime
for that bothersome Lizzy comes in all the time.
He's calling her name every minute or three
to provide us with biscuits or coffee or tea.
And each time she enters she's looking unsure.
Perhaps she has learned now to be more demure.
It's hard to be saddled with daughters like her.
It's hard to provide them a life that's secure.
It's hard to put up with a daughter's demands.
It's hard not to want such a girl off your hands.
He's wasting his time with this little charade.
I'm always immune to this "offspring parade."
I'm sort of embarrassed when someone's this bold
but I wish she'd come back here: my tea has gone cold.
[...to be continued...]
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