This month’s blog contains an excerpt from my most recent book, When Jane Got Angry; I hope you enjoy it! I also got my act together to offer a Giveaway of the book. Please see the instructions after the excerpt if you want to enter the Giveaway.
Had Jane been wrong about Mr. Bingley’s regard for her? She had hoped that an acquaintance with Miss Bingley would allow her to see the woman’s brother once more. However, if Miss Bingley is not my friend, I may never see Mr. Bingley again. The realization bore down on Jane, pinning her to her chair like an enormous weight.
She tried to assemble a smile despite finding it difficult to breathe. Jane had slowly lost all hope of Mr. Bingley after he left Netherfield, but her arrival in London had rekindled those dormant embers. Now Miss Bingley’s disdain snuffed them out as completely as if they had been doused with water.
The chances were never very good. Any hopes likely were in vain. This reminder did nothing to ease her breathing.
Hitherto Jane had refrained from mentioning Mr. Bingley to his sister. She did not wish to appear overly solicitous of his company, particularly since Miss Bingley had spoken of his attentions to Miss Darcy.
But now a spirit of reckless disregard took hold of her. If Miss Bingley indeed held Jane and her relations in such low esteem, perhaps the woman’s opinion did not signify at all. Jane might never see her again. “How is your brother enjoying London?” She heard the words issue from her lips, although she was still unsure from where she obtained the daring to express them.
Miss Bingley narrowed her eyes as if unhappy that Jane dared to mention him. “He is quite well, thank you. I mentioned that you were residing in London, but he is much occupied with Mr. Darcy and his sister at the moment, or he might have called. He stays at Darcy House, you know.”
He knows I am in London, and he has not called to pay his respects. Jane’s hands shook slightly where she clasped them in her lap, but she took pains to hide her discomposure. Drawing on her reserves of steadiness and her accustomed placidness of expression, Jane gave a bland smile. “How pleasant for them.”
Miss Bingley’s smile revealed all her teeth. “Indeed. Charles is quite taken with Miss Darcy. I am extremely hopeful on that account.”
Similar words in a letter had cut Jane deeply before, but now she wondered… If Miss Bingley had been deceiving Jane about her regard, perhaps she also been wrong about her brother’s affection for Miss Darcy.
No, surely the woman could not be so awful. Would she actively work against her brother’s happiness? Nobody could be so cruel.
And yet…Jane tried to observe Miss Bingley dispassionately. The other woman sat on the edge of the settee, as if she feared the entire piece of furniture were infected with fleas. As Aunt Gardiner attempted to engage the woman in conversation, Miss Bingley almost completely ignored her.
Perhaps Miss Bingley was capable of scheming against Jane. Lizzy had proven correct about many other assertions about the woman. But how could Jane ascertain the truth? Without an opportunity to meet Mr. Bingley, it seemed a hopeless business.
And yet…Jane was not quite ready to concede defeat. What would Lizzy do in such circumstances? Surely Lizzy would not simply surrender.
Aunt Gardiner and Miss Bingley had reached a lull in their conversation. Imagining herself as Lizzy, Jane stepped into the breach. “You said Mr. Bingley was much taken with Miss Darcy.”
“Y-Yes,” Miss Bingley said uncertainly.
“Then I suppose they have danced at balls? Taken carriage rides together? Has he purchased her flowers?” A secret thrill pulsed through her body. Jane Bennet would not have been so bold, but Jane-as-Lizzy could be.
Miss Bingley squirmed in her seat and coughed. “I…um…I do not believe things have proceeded quite so far. He did dance with her at the Harringtons’ dinner. But she is not out yet, so she does not attend balls.”
Aunt Gardiner seized on this information. “Not out? Did Mr. Bingley secure permission from Mr. Darcy to court his sister?”
Miss Bingley’s hands fidgeted in her lap. “I do not believe there has been any formal…”
When Miss Bingley’s voice faded, Aunt Gardiner continued, “Miss Darcy is full young to be considering matrimony already. Does her brother approve?”
Miss Bingley pulled herself to her full height and regarded the other woman disdainfully. “I have not discussed the subject with Mr. Darcy.”
“But you have seen them together? Observed your brother’s partiality?” Jane said, feeling a bit giddy. Even Lizzy would not have been so bold.
“I have not had the pleasure of observing them together very often,” Miss Bingley admitted. “But they have been much thrown together at Darcy House…I believe.”
Aunt Gardiner regarded Jane with a triumphant expression. Indeed, Miss Bingley’s stammering explanations suggested that she may have manufactured much or all of her brother’s interest in Miss Darcy.
NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY. I am giving away an eBook copy of When Jane Got Angry for a winner randomly chosen from those who comment below. The giveaway will end at midnight EST, Monday, November 12. The winners will be announced on Saturday, November 17. Good Luck!