© Our Life at Longbourne: A Narrative of The Bennet Sisters, Patricia Anne Reid, 2021
My name is Elizabeth Bennet and I live with my mother and father and four sisters at our English estate Longbourne in Hertfordshire where my father collects a meager yearly income of two thousand pounds.
This vexes him greatly but not enough to do anything about it. It vexes my mother too and we daily hear this as it taxes upon her poor nerves.
She wails and echoes the estate is entailed on Mr. Collins, our cousin, who is a new vicar. We condole with her.
He will toss us out of the house before your father has gone cold in his grave girls. Oh Hill bring me … where is Hill?
This is my mother.
We do not like Mr. Collins though I am loathe to state this reader. He taxes upon all our nerves. Fortunately we see him infrequently. We will reside here at Longbourne until he sees fit to push. his. point. This is what my father says.
My mother exclaims regularly that our two thousand pounds is hardly enough to support us all. She says we will be starved by spring each winter, yet still we survive and even thrive and by spring we are again a thrifty and lively family.
I believe we do well enough though mother remains attentively concerned and father is always magnanimous on this point. Father says alas I have no sons and my estate is entailed away by a failure of my loins.
Lydia was birthed and I threw up my hands in despair Lizzie. He says this in his study to me. There is nothing to be done for it. I surrender my line.
Father is sanguine here. It is his rejoinder to my mother's despair and it does not meet its mark in a happy way with her.
My mother mourns in the parlor and my father continues the monologue from the study. I have five beautiful daughters he says who fill my heart with daily gladness. God will provide my dear.
He often addresses my mother. I am occasionally a resourceful man my dear he says. I married you did I not?
To this my mother makes no reply but fans herself all the more and heaves at the breast. My mother is not so faithful as Father in all this. She says my daughters will provide and sets her cap on straight in this regard.
I am the second Bennet daughter. My older sister is Jane Bennet and she is a dear sweet girl known as a local country beauty. She has long thick blond hair - famous tresses - and big blue soulful eyes full of compassion and knowing.
She is my senior by not one year.
My mother is certain that Jane will secure a large fortune of many thousands of pounds. Jane will save the family my mother says.
At any moment Jane will do this. We will not be entailed away. I believe this is true. I am quite sure of it. Jane is very beautiful and lovely in temperment. I am fair enough myself though I am dark where my sister is light.
We form an association through our contrast and we love one another very much.
We are set to as the eldest Bennet daughters by our sisters who torture us by degrees with their personalities. Our sister Mary is a pedant and a fireside theologian.
This is quite tedious at times.
Then comes Katherine who we call Kitty and this is appropriate as she whines and mews all the live long day. Finally there is Lydia. She is but sixteen years old at present.
In age I am twenty. You can figure the rest from there. It will be approximate but it will suffice.
What say you? You say do tell?
Very well Jane is twenty one almost.
You understood that well enough.
That was a rapid birthing for our mother. Then Mary is nearly nineteen. She would insist I present it in this way. Kitty is just seventeen and we recently celebrated Lydia's sixteenth anniversary.
Our mother is tired reader. Father says heavily the son will not come and sleeps in the anteroom most nights.
Now Lydia at sixteen is irresolute and lazy. She is the only one of us like that. We agree it is because she is the youngest child and has been coddled excessively for that reason.
We understand this and we condole in our turn with one another over her poor behaviour. Lydia is very pretty yet she grows fat. She and Kitty squabble like blue jays and vex us all greatly.
Mary keeps her head in liturgy and speaks little. She is the hinge between sister sobriety and over merriment and we value her for this.
We are all bonded on an eternal adventure and I love my sisters very much. They daily challenge and teach me.
I will describe my sisters and myself. I will start with what I know best. I am a dark haired quiet beauty with fine brown eyes the color of mahogany wood my father says. My hair is long and curly, unlike Jane's whose is thick and straight.
I am prone to wearing my hair down which is wild my mother says so I am encouraged to secure it fashionably up which I do to quit the complaints of my mother who says my dear girl no a plait is not for the morning table excuse yourself and properly attend to your ablutions.
I leave the table obediently and secure my hair at the back with a china stick.
This satisfies her enough for my return.