It Will Surely Rain!
The next morning found the household back to its routine. It was teatime and Jane could do nothing but sit and stare out the window. She leaned her elbow against the windowsill, a smile across her face. I handed her a cup of tea, and she took one sip and set it on the ledge. She would not eat and would not express any interest in walking to Meryton. Lydia giggled at her expense.
"Look at her," Lydia laughed, "sighing and looking out the window, one would imagine that she was genuinely in love."
I turned to Lydia, "Do you talk like this in public?"
Affronted, Lydia said, "No."
"Then I assume," I rose to the defense of Jane, "you should not speak like this in your home as well."
"Do not claim to be so pious, Lizzy," Lydia dismissed me with a wave of her hand, "when I have seen you looking at men."
"That is enough from you," Mrs. Bennet spoke up. "I will not have my daughters fawning over men." She stood up and smiled mischievously, "Men should be fawning over you."
I groaned in exasperation, "Don't encourage Lydia. She might take your advice to heart."
The maid walked into the parlor room with a letter in her hand, "Miss Jane Bennet?"
"Huh?" I looked upwards from my needlework as I stabbed myself in the finger, "Ouch!"
"A letter has come. It is addressed to you."
"Oh," Jane looked from the window, smiling. "For me?"
I raised an eyebrow, "Already?"
"What do you mean already?" Jane asked.
I reminded myself to stop talking out loud and muttered, "Nothing."
Jane took the letter from our maid and looked at the wax seal. CB. She gasped and broke the wax seal open to see Caroline Bingley's perfectly spun letter. She started to read aloud.
Dear Miss Jane Bennet,
Fitzwilliam apologizes for not being able to make the ball last night. He was indisposed when a slight headache turned into a small fever (a first for him). Do not fret; he is fully recovered now.
I would like to invite you and your sister to tea at Netherfield at your convenience. The country is so lonely that I must keep company and hope that you will indulge me and visit at once. For, I would like to get to know you better.
Charles talks of nothing but, Jane and her superior dancing as though the ball were still occurring. How very tiresome indeed!
After she was done with the letter, I looked at Jane, "We must go now."
Jane smiled, "We can take the carriage."
"No!" I shook my head; determined to make the story right, "We must go on horseback."
Mrs. Bennet protested, "It will surely rain!"
"Yes," I smiled, "and we will get colds. But, who will take care of us then?"
Mrs. Bennet gasped, "Mr. Bingley for Jane and Mr. Darcy for Lizzy?" Mrs. Bennet pushed us out the door, "Stop nowhere for shelter and write once you reach! Oh, how I hope they both come down with colds!" Jane Austen once said that to be fond of dancing was the first step towards falling in love. According to Mrs. Bennet, it was an illness.
With the both of us on horseback, we rode off into the rain. We thought it would be a slight drizzle. But, it turned into a full-blown thunderstorm. A sheet of torrential rain hit us hard, and we started to shiver. I was certain that we were both going to be so ill that we would have to stay at Netherfield for a full week! Perhaps this was all a mistake. It was one matter to read about Jane falling sick from riding horseback in the rain. But going through it with her was different.
Jane said, "I think we should turn back."
"No," I blinked away the raindrops; "let us go forth; it is only two more miles. We have already traveled one mile. There is no sense in going back now."
We finally reached Netherfield, and the servant took our horses to the stable. Once we were inside the house, both Jane and I passed out on the cold marble floor.