*-I don’t own these characters, just borrowing
On His Own
At first glance, one might see Charles Bingley as an amiable man who looked upon everyone he met with a gentle eye and a warm heart. That in fact, was the truth of his character. His good friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy and his sisters, Caroline Bingley and Louisa Hurst knew of his character and made certain attempts to prevent him from being taken advantage of by unscrupulous sorts.
He had been in love before, or so he claimed. Every woman he met was beautiful and charming. The most beautiful and charming of all of the women he had ever come into acquaintance with was a Miss Jane Bennett, the eldest daughter of a minor country gentlemen. She had four younger sisters and a very small inheritance. Charles had not spoken that he loved her, but his companions could see it in his eyes, in his actions.
His sisters claimed to like Miss Bennett, for she was sweet and agreeable, but upon seeing the actions of Miss Bennett and her immediate family, they had come to the conclusion that Mrs. Bennett was like every country mama, looking for a rich husband for her daughters and her eldest daughter had no true feeling for Charles beyond his income. It was thus concluded and explained to Charles that a match with Miss Bennett was improper.
Half heartedly, he agreed. He left Netherfield, hoping that one day; she would forgive him for his actions.
He got that chance, only a few months later, noticing the carriage pulling away from the London townhouse he shared with Caroline.
“Who was in that carriage?” Charles inquired of his housekeeper.
“A Miss Jane Bennett to see your sisters, sir”.
She was here, in London, a fact which had been concealed from him.
“Caroline, was Miss Bennett here?” he asked pointedly.
“Yes, Charles, she just left”.
“Why did you not tell me she was here?”.
“We did not want to disturb your work, Charles, we were perfectly capable to entertaining Miss Bennett by ourselves” Louisa interjected.
“Charles, where are you going?” his sisters demanded.
But before they could get answer, he was already in the carriage, directing the driver to his lawyer’s office. Miss Bennett had mentioned that her uncle was a lawyer, living in Cheapside. If he wished to find her and make amends, there was only one place to start.
Two hours later, Charles stepped into the office of Mr. Edward Gardiner.
“May I help you sir?” the clerk asked.
“Is Mr. Gardiner in?”.
“Do you have an appointment?”.
“No, I don’t, my name is Charles Bingley, I am acquainted with his sister’s family in Meryton”.
He was led into the office of Mr. Gardiner.
“So you are Charles Bingley”.
“I am sir”.
He took a moment to assess the young man who stood before him. Fanny had enthusiastically written to her brother, that their presence would soon be needed in Meryton for a wedding. Not even a month later, her letters took an entirely sober tone, Mr. Bingley and his party had departed Netherfield, the day they would return was unknown.
Jane was a quiet girl, she had always been. Her uncle suspected that Mr. Bingley’s sudden departure had led to his eldest niece’s more somber tone.
“I understand from my sister that your departure from Meryton was rather sudden, they were quite fond of your company”.
“Our departure was not of my choosing, my companions felt it was best for all if we moved on”.
“I suspect young man, that you have sought me out to make amends for your sudden disappearance”.
“Yes, sir, though I cannot make amends to all, perhaps your eldest niece would be good enough, at least for the present”.
“Well, you seem eager enough to make amends. You are invited tomorrow night for dinner, if my niece sees fit to forgive you, that is her choice”.
The next night, as the housekeeper prepared the table for dinner, Mrs. Gardiner asked why an additional place was being set.
“It was the masters order, ma’am”.
“We are having a guest for dinner” .
“May I ask who?”.
“You shall know when he arrives” Mr. Gardiner replied. He had only known of Charles Bingley through his sister’s letters, but he suspected some unspoken feelings between the young people.
“Mr. Bingley” Jane was surprised to see him in the entrance of her aunt and uncle’s house.
They looked at each other for a moment, waiting for the other to speak first.
“How are your sisters since I saw them last?” Jane asked.
“They are well. And you? Your family?”.
“My sisters are both well, thank you” she replied.
“Pardon me, miss, the master has called for dinner to begin” the maid led the both of them to the dinner table.
“My love, what exactly are you planning?” Mrs. Gardiner asked her husband, noticing the two young people had been placed together at the table.
“Nothing” her husband replied with a smile.
Dinner was a relatively quiet meal, without much excitement.
After dinner, Mrs. Gardiner hurried her children to prepare for bed.
“Mama, we want to stay up with cousin Jane” The Gardiner’s children adored their older cousins and were thrilled that Jane was staying with them.
“Not tonight, my dears” Mrs. Gardiner ushered her children upstairs, finally understanding her husbands plan.
“It is lovely night” Charles commented.
“It is” Jane agreed.
“How lovely you are” he thought.
They stood for the next few moments in silence. He dared not reach out; even to brush her hand if only for a moment. It would take only that moment to draw out everything he wished he could say to her.
“I think, Miss Bennett, that our evening must draw to a close, Caroline will be concerned about my whereabouts”.
“Of course Mr. Bingley, it was a pleasure to see you again” Jane started usher him out. He could feel his heart beating, if he walked out now, he might never have this chance again.
“Miss Bennett…Jane” he stammered and then burst out uncharacteristically “I love you; I have loved you since the moment we met. I beg of you to forgive me, I never meant to hurt you. Please marry me”.
“Mr. Bingley, I, uh, I thank for your offer, but I must consider what have proposed, your absence has caused me much to consider”.
“Of course, take as much time as you need” kissing her hand, he then walked out.
If he had proposed three months ago, her answer would have been an immediate yes. But his sudden departure had caused her truly consider what her life would be with him. Or was Elizabeth starting to influence her?
The question that haunted her as she sat down to write to Elizabeth.
“Mr. Bingley has proposed to me. He must have found out our uncle’s residence from his sisters. I do love him, Lizzy, but I do not know if marriage is the best choice, for I fear that he may put my opinions second to his sisters and Mr. Darcy’s. Please write and advise me, for it is your opinion that I rely on most.
Your beloved sister, etc
A week later, Elizabeth’s letter arrived.
“If you love him Jane, then I see no reason to not accept him. However, I believe that must make him understand he must put your marriage first, for you both are of such an amiable disposition, that your opinions would be drowned out by others. Write to me and tell me of your answer, for I would dearly love to see you happy.
It just over a week later, that Jane finally wrote to him. The week since the dinner at her uncle’s house had progressed to the point of madness. He wondered if she had even considered his proposal, or even if she had left another man in Meryton. After all, he had left her unexpectedly and she was far from lacking in agreeability, intelligence and beauty.
Then the letter came.
“Mr. Bingley, I have answer for you. If you are free tomorrow, I should like to speak with you”
Dropping the letter, he called for the carriage. Two hours later, he returned.
“Charles, where have you been?” Caroline asked.
Then she saw what he had purchased.
“Charles Edward Bingley, do not tell me that you still wish to marry Miss Bennett?”.
“As a matter of fact, I do intend to marry her”.
“Charles, I implore you, do not marry her. Think of yourself, think of me, think of our family reputation. Her family is ridiculous and will ruin us all”.
“Caroline” while her brother was normally quite amiable, he could only take so much “I will marry Miss Bennett, if she will have me, which I hope she will, especially after the way you and Louisa have treated her. After we are wed, if you do not extend every courtesy to her family, you will not be welcome in my home”.
With that, Caroline Bingley became quiet, a feat which few had been able to accomplish.
The next day, Charles entered the Gardiners home.
“I understand, young man, you wish to marry my niece” Mr. Gardiner was quick the point.
“I do sir”.
“And you, Jane, would you marry him?”.
“I would uncle”. Jane replied.
If they were properly betrothed, he would have kissed her; reveling in what he hoped would be the first of many kisses.
But they were not, there was still one obstacle; Jane’s father. He knew little of Mr. Bennett; he only hoped that he would approve their marriage.
“Well, young man, it is not for me to ultimately decide who my nieces marry, but I shall write to my brother in law and inform him of your proposal”.
A week later, Charles arrived at Longbourne, anxious about the conversation he was about the conversation he was about to have.
Jane had arrived the day before, to prepare her family for Mr. Bingley’s arrival.
“Come in Mr. Bingley” Elizabeth opened the door for him.
“Mr. Bingley” he was greeted in turn by each of the younger Bennett girls, who had to be shooed away by Elizabeth.
“I trust your journey was uneventful, sir” Mrs. Bennett and Jane approached him.
“My father wishes to speak to you, Mr. Bingley”.
The day before she was to return to Hertfordshire, they spoke privately.
“Are you positive? I have treated you abominably; I do not want to force you into marriage in which you feel I would be unreliable…”.
“I understand your reasoning, Charles, I only hope that it is your opinion and heart you will consider before your sisters and Mr. Darcy”.
He light up at her use of his Christian name.
“May I kiss you?” he asked.
It was chaste and sweet, but it felt like the beginning of something new and wonderful.
Then she took a step back and became quiet.
“What? Have I become too forward?” Charles asked.
“No, I feel as if I am to blame, had I spoken of my feelings sooner…”.
“My dear, sweet Jane, you are blameless. I was too easily persuaded, I should have come forward sooner”.
“But it was I who should have expressed myself…”.
“May we leave it as we were both wrong?” Charles asked.
“Yes” Jane agreed. “I believe sir; we have completed our first quarrel”.
“We indeed, have, madam”.
“Jane, send Mr. Bingley and close the door behind you” came her father’s voice.
“I have received an interesting letter from my brother in law, it seems, sir, you have laid a proposal of marriage at feet of my eldest daughter”.
“I have, sir”.
“Has she accepted you?”.
He tried to remain calm, but the thought that she had accepted him, despite his actions, brought a smile to his face.
“Yes, she has”.
“I have concerns, Mr. Bingley. I know my Jane loves you, but I also know the heartbreak she experienced when you left Meryton. Knowing that Jane and my grandchildren are unhappy are not the thoughts that should cross a father’s mind when he lays his head down at night”.
His heart immediately dropped to his stomach, he was nearly expecting that Mr. Bennett would refuse his blessing.
“However, I admire a man who has the courage to admit when he had made a mistake. As I stated, Jane’s happiness is all that I wish for and if you should make her happy for the rest of her days, I see no reason to impede your marriage”.
“Thank you, sir, you will not regret your decision” Outside the door came a loud cheer.
“I am sure I wont, sir” letting his wife and his daughters celebrate Jane’s engagement, he returned to his paper.
Within a month, they were married. The morning after the wedding, they lay in their bridal chamber.
“What shall we do now?” Jane asked. The shock of their first intimate act as husband and wife soon gave way to a very pleasurable evening.
“I think it is high time that Darcy should be wed and I do believe your sister Elizabeth would be a fine wife for him”.
“My sister would rather walk on cut glass than even consider a marriage proposal from Mr. Darcy”.
“Is that a challenge?” Charles asked.
“Perhaps” Jane replied.
But that was for tomorrow, for the rest of the day, everyone else faded into the background.