ExceedinglyJane.com by Ed S.
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The "After Pride and Prejudice" Series
Part 2 -- Mister Bennet comes to Pemberley
The only thing worse than living with females for two decades is travelling with them in a carriage for two days.
A typical day on the distaff side comprises eight hours of gossip, eight hours of drivel, and eight hours of mindless chatter. No insightful remarks or cogent observations are anywhere to be found, only ballgowns and pelerines and red coats. Thank goodness I have a heavy door on my library.
There's been no one at home to exchange a lucid word with for months now, or to challenge me at backgammon or chess. I actually look forward now to visiting Lucas Lodge these days, where I can have the pleasure of listening to Sir William regale me with those thrilling stories of his great-great-great-uncle's time in the Upper House with George Two or of his own fearless campaigns against rheumatic fever.
My god, I miss Lizzy dreadfully.

What will I do at Pemberley when my one bottle of brandy runs out? Leave it to women to use up every inch of space in a carriage with their bows and bonnets and petticoats. Mr. Darcy will be the only source of male companionship for me in all of Derbyshire, but he'll probably be with Lizzy the entire time. I'll be at my wit's end without friend or drink to console me. Maybe I can befriend Darcy's butler or his sommelier.
Too bad Bingley wasn't able to join me on the trip. He's acquired quite a taste for fine French brandy since I've known him -- he's a good pupil. What a high time we'd have had on the trip to Pemberley, just the two of us alone in a carriage with our tobacco and our songs and a few good bottles. The carriage springs would've been in shambles by the time we reached Derbyshire, and when we reached Pemberley's doorstep they'd have to haul our lifeless bodies out of the carriage with a grappling hook.
But Jane would probably have wanted Bingley all to herself on the ride up. My sweet little Jane, who used to sit on my lap and pull on my beard till it hurt. Even my wife used to like that beard. I'd wave it in front of Jane's nose and she'd screw up her face and try to pull my whiskers off. And then Lizzy would get up on the other knee and start pulling. Lizzy would always have to sit on my left knee for some reason, I suppose because my left knee gave her a better grip, what with her being left-handed. How will I survive without my little Lizzy?

For years I've been dreading the day when Lizzy would find some handsome ruffian to run off with, some scoundrel who would promise her an exciting life beyond the confines of Hertfordshire, some highway robber who would steal away my only source of joy. This Darcy fellow seems like a good sort -- and thankfully rich -- but not exactly the type who can keep Lizzy's mind stimulated or make her spirits soar for very long. Too dour and stiff a fellow for my taste. Even after the wedding he could barely speak a word to me or look me in the eye.
But Lizzy seems happy with him -- and I hope she remains so. I'd hate to see her get tired of him within the first two years of her marriage, which seems to be the usual duration of marital bliss according to my observation. But by that time she'll probably be kept well occupied with a couple of children.
Not all girls I hope. A grandson would be fine. Fine, indeed. Or two grandsons, one on each knee. I could teach them how to catch a fish, how to tie a knot, and how to skip a rock on a lake. Lizzy was the only one who ever wanted to learn those skills.
And I certainly hope Pemberley has some lakes. Nice large lakes, well stocked with fish. I didn't have time to pack my rods or lures, but in any case there was no room in the carriage. Maybe I can purchase some tackle in that town near Pemberley.
I can't visualize Mr. Darcy holding a fishing rod or hooking a worm or handling a gun, or even tying his own cravat for that matter. His sons will need a knowledgable grandfather at their side, someone to teach them how to be boys. Perhaps if I ensconce myself in some room at Pemberley, a room near the brandy cabinet, then I can just stay put and await the arrival of my grandsons. Squatter's rights, as they say.

Well, the driver says we'll be at Pemberley within the hour. Then I'll have some silence finally. And my little Lizzy.
I wonder of I'll ever get a chance to be alone with her. Perhaps after dinner we can retire to her husband's library -- her library now -- and have a game of backgammon or parcheesi -- if her mother will leave her be. But my wife will probably be deep in deliberation with Lady Catherine.
Lizzy had warned me some time ago about this Lady Catherine de Bourgh, but I don't think she ever envisioned the Great Lady getting along so well with her mother. I certainly can't explain it. As far as I'm concerned, it does Lady Catherine no credit whatsoever that she actually enjoys my wife's company.
During the first four hours of this carriage ride they went on and on about the old courtship customs and mating rituals of the '70's and '80's. I can hardly believe that I ever participated in those quaint old practices. Times have certainly changed.
I was quite surprised that my wife was able to remember as far back as '85, the time when we visited the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens and got lost in the Looking-Glass Palace. My word, to think of the scandalous way we took advantage of the privacy that the Palace gave us -- and with my wife's mother just a few yards away. And I'm even more surprised that my wife revealed it to Lady Catherine so freely. Of course, Lady Catherine seems to have had her own share of fun and frolic with her late husband in those early days.
And I had completely forgotten about that secluded bench on the south end of Vauxhall, in the corner that was always deserted after ten o'clock when the fireworks started. Whenever I hum Handel's "Music for the Royal Fireworks" to myself, certain regions of my body begin to reminisce. Oh, thank the lord for allowing us the folly of youth. I wish Mary would learn to play some Handel.

I've been feigning a nap ever since we left Leicester, and so Lady Catherine and my wife have been speaking quite openly with one another and with no regard for my poor nerves. Thank goodness our girls are in the other carriage and couldn't hear what their mother is revealing about our earlier life together.
Well, we're almost at Pemberley and I'll finally get to stretch my legs as soon as my wife finishes explaining to Lady Catherine how our daughters got their names. A safe and dull subject.
Come to think of it, that could actually be a rather dangerous subject, but I don't expect my wife to remember the colourful nicknames she liked to apply to certain unmentionable apparatuses of anatomy. I'm glad Lizzy never found out where the expression "my Little Lizzy" really came from. My wife coined the term "Lizard" for my... well, not even my wife would reveal that detail to Lady Catherine.
What?! What's that she's telling Lady Catherine? She does remember!
"My god, Mrs. Bennet! Have you no shame?!"

Next: Mrs. Bennet at Pemberley