Chapter 1 of Extortion
Elizabeth Bennet stood in front of Netherfield Hall while waiting for her family’s carriage to arrive. Everyone else had already left. Their family were the only ones still waiting for their carriage. Elizabeth was quite sure that Mrs. Bennet had arranged for their carriage to come last. Not only that, but later than everyone else’s carriage. However, it did not make the Bennets grow fonder to the Bingleys as she had a first-hand view of how much some Bingleys wanted them to leave.
This embarrassment on top of the entire mortifying and disappointing evening made Elizabeth wish that she could fly home. She knew Mr. Bingley was still talking to Jane and completely oblivious to Caroline Bingley, Mrs. Louisa Hurst and Mr. Hurst yawning, coughing and making pointed comments about how much they wanted to go to bed. Elizabeth was glad though that Jane and Mr. Bingley had this extra time to talk to each other. She was sure that Mr. Bingley would offer for Jane within the sennight.
However, that was the only thing Elizabeth was glad for with this evening. She had spent extra time on her hair and dress to look good for George Wickham. Who never even appeared at the ball. He had sent a word with his friend Denny that he decided it was best if he did not show up because of someone else there. Denny did not name anyone, but pointedly looked at Mr. Darcy.
So Mr. Darcy had ruined her evening without even trying. Then Mr. Darcy had the gall to ask for her to dance! This after he insulted her at the Meryton Assembly when he stated that she was not handsome enough to tempt him! Elizabeth did not care for men who could not make up their mind and keep it. She especially did not care for men who ruined the livelihoods of others. Namely how Mr. Darcy ruined George Wickham’s life.
Charlotte Lucas had warned her not to make Mr. Darcy angry, that he was a man of great consequence. Charlotte was of course correct however, Elizabeth could not keep quiet about such injustices Mr. Darcy did to poor George Wickham. So during her dances with Mr. Darcy she questioned him. It did not go well.
She left the dance more frustrated than ever with Mr. Darcy. She did not know nor care what Mr. Darcy thought of her. The man may have 10,000 pounds a year but he lived in Derbyshire. How did his opinion even matter to her? He was just a friend of Mr. Bingley, an arrogant and proud friend.
Then the Bingley sisters had to stick their nose into it. Caroline told her that she did not know the particulars but were quite sure George Wickham had done something awful to Mr. Darcy. Did they not think that Mr. Darcy told them whatever would make him look good?
And then to make the night even worse, she had accidentally agreed to dance the first two with Mr. Collins. What an embarrassment. Elizabeth blushed just remembering it. Mr. Collins did not even know how to dance correctly. He stepped on her feet, turned in the wrong directions and used her exceedingly ill. She could not wait to get away from him but he continued to embarrassed her, along with her entire family except Jane, throughout the night.
Finally the Bennet’s carriage pulled up. If she had to listen to Miss. Bingley utter one more time how much she wished to go to bed, Elizabeth did not know what she would do. They all squeezed into the carriage with some of them sitting on each other’s laps. And no she would not sit on Mr. Collins lap, thank you for the offer though.
She did not know how Mr. Collins ever came to be a parson. He was so entranced with the woman’s figure. She felt pity for whoever had to marry him. She was glad that she never would know as she vowed to marry for love. Nothing less than love with a man that was intelligent, playful and one that she respected.
Mr. Darcy did not feel that he had to stand with the Bingleys and wait for their last guest to leave. But for some reason he could not keep himself from the occupation. So he stood quietly listening to the comments of Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst, the quiet talk of Mr. Bingley and Miss Bennet, and the simpering praises of Miss Bennet by Mrs. Bennet.
He had not thought his friend in danger until Mrs. Bennet had made a statement during the ball that she expected Mr. Bingley to offer for Miss Bennet soon. He then paid attention to his friend and Miss Bennet throughout the rest of the evening. He would much rather have kept an eye on those two but the rest of the Bennet family, except Elizabeth, seemed determined to make spectacles of themselves. His attention was drawn over to their lack of decorum over and over.
It was quite obvious the Bennet family were an embarrassment. It was a miracle that Mr. Bingley was even dancing and talking to Miss Bennet. There was no way he would let Mr. Bingley make such a monumental mistake and offer for Miss Bennet. Sure, Miss Bennet was nice and pleasing to look at, but her family was horrid. The younger girls, Lydia and Kitty, ran around and played as if a ball was a big lark for them. Mary Bennet could not understand this was not her own theater to showcase her lackadaisical pianoforte talents. And that singing voice! Mr. Darcy shuddered.
He could not think of anything bad about Elizabeth though. Her eyes, her pleasing form, her luscious lips. He had enjoyed holding her hand while dancing with her. Unfortunately George Wickham had told her a fictional version of events that Elizabeth believed. She had spent their dancing questioning him. Of course she did not outright accuse him, but her questions were obviously about Wickham. Instead of being angry at Elizabeth, he was attracted even more to her quick mind. He was even more angry at Wickham though.
It was far too dangerous to pay any more attention to Elizabeth Bennet. He greatly admired her wit, intelligence and pleasing figure but it was too dangerous for him to continue to think of her, let alone be around her. He could not marry someone with such a family as hers. He would have to exert control on himself that he had put forth in every other aspect of his life. He would ignore the Bennets, especially Elizabeth Bennet from this day forward.