Welcome back to Austen Promises!
This Regency tidbit is part of a story that came from a bunny I got from a reader. I have no idea how it’s going to fit into the final story or how long it will be. I’m having difficulty reconciling my style of “get them together quick” with the bunny I was asked to take on, but I do have some ideas. I don’t yet know if I’ll post the whole story here or just excerpts. I like to change stuff up sometimes, you know? 😉
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Fanny Bennet hurried from her sister Phillips’ home toward the milliner’s shop. She had forgotten to pick up a purchase of lace she had made for a gown she was remaking, and had left her five daughters with her sister so she could do it now. The milliner was a few doors down from the Phillips residence and just the other side of the haberdashery. She noted the open doors to that particular shop as she passed it and smiled to herself. The proprietor of that shop preferred fresh air to that of a closed up building, and every day that weather permitted, he had the doors wide open. Suddenly, she stopped, her eyes going wide at what she heard. She glanced in the windows beside the door and, realizing that if one of the speakers turned, he would see her, took a step forward and then pressed herself against the side of the building where she could hear but not be noticed.
“What do you think of the local ladies, Wickham?” Lieutenant Denny was curious what his friend thought, now that he had been a member of the militia for several days.
“There are some beautiful women in this town,” Lieutenant George Wickham replied. “Especially those Bennets.”
“Ah, yes, the Bennet ladies. All five are pleasant to look upon, though the middle one is not as handsome as her sisters.” Denny continued browsing the table before him, which was filled with gloves in various sizes, as he spoke.
“If she dressed better, she would be,” Captain Carter observed as he joined his fellow officers. “She certainly has the shape the rest of her sisters do.”
“True, true, but her manner is off-putting. Miss Elizabeth is far more welcoming,” Wickham replied.
“Ah, but Miss Lydia and Miss Kitty are even more so,” Denny said. “There is not a single Bennet lady who is not happy to see us when we enter a room.”
Wickham snickered. “I venture to say any of them would be pleased to receive our attentions at any time or place.”
“Miss Lydia would certainly like to entertain you, Wickham. Denny and I noticed that weeks ago, at the Gouldings’ card party.”
“Yes,” Denny added, “I would venture to say that she is a peach ripe for the picking if you would just crook your finger at her.”
“She is a delectable morsel, I grant you, and based on the behaviour I have witnessed, she is rather round of heel. Any one of us could have her for the asking, if I am reading her correctly.” Wickham grinned lasciviously.
“She is quite the flirt,” Carter agreed. “I have seen her throw herself at every man in the regiment.”
“The officers, anyway,” Denny sniggered.
“Yes, the officers,” Carter amended. “She seems rather fond of the red coats; I think if the soldiers had such bright uniforms, they would also be in danger.”
“You may be correct,” Wickham agreed, “but she is a gentleman’s daughter; I would imagine even an enlisted man with a bright coat would not have enough income to suit her desires.”
“What does that matter? None of us plan to marry her.” Denny finally chose the pair of gloves he wanted and moved on to the display of socks.
Wickham and Carter laughed. “I certainly do not plan to marry a chit with nothing but good looks to her name. What about you, Captain?”
“Oh, no. Not I. My parents have made it perfectly clear that they expect a marriage to a girl from the best of society. If they witnessed Miss Lydia’s wanton behaviour and heard her wild speech, they would forbid me from even speaking to her.”
What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment for me! <3