20. Roads untravelled
"Weep not for roads untravelled, weep not for sights unseen."
"Am', I swear to God, if she is saying something about shoes again, I'm throwing myself out of this bloody carriage!"
My cousin chuckled next to me, and Mrs Bennett, oblivious to our quiet chatter, carried on planning a fictive wedding.
Poor old woman. She was that dumb to really believe Bingley capable of marrying someone as boringly immature as Lydia? Seriously, grow up!
Mrs Bennett stopped babbling and stared at me strangely.
I looked over at Amanda, who was looking at me the same way.
"Did I say that out loud?" Am' nodded quietly, a smile tugging on her lips. "Sorry, Mrs Bennett, I was chastising myself. Do carry on."
She smiled dumbly and then threw her hands in the air and squeaked. "I cannot wait to buy dresses for Mary and Kitty! Of course, blue would be nice on them both, but I think Mary will have to take off her spectacles, they are not really fit for that kind of event, and..." I stopped listening and resumed watching the country run under our wheels.
After some time, I recognize the fields, which even in the darkness of night sent memories through my mind... That was the field where George had run to me after Jane's wedding, and there was the one where we had been caught in the rain...
Just by thinking about George's shirt clinging to his chest, and his brown hair smoothed by it, I could sigh in longing.
"Angie, I would respectfully ask of you to stop drooling."
I snapped my head and thoughts at my cousin and smiled playfully.
We were back at Longbourne, and Mrs Bennett hadn't stopped talking the whole four hours of the journey!
The mistress of the house literally jumped out of the carriage once it stopped in front of the house and started shouting her husband's name hysterically.
As I followed her and helped Amanda down the steps, I chuckled darkly. "Well, at least we've survived four hours alone with her."
"Still, I wonder how he survived twenty years..."
I rolled my eyes and pulled her inside. "I do not think Mr Bennett survives it without the glad help of his friends tobacco and literature."
She chuckled back and we stopped on tracks when Mr Bennett appeared at the sitting-room's door.
"However extraordinary, Madam, it cannot match the adventure that awaits you in your drawing-room." I watched behind him, where a greenish smoke was pouring in the hall. What was that again? "Lady Catherine sends us gifts." Oh dear.
Mr Bennett gestured his wife to enter the small room clouded with intoxicating smoke, and we shared a knowing look before I followed her. Seriously, nothing went well in that house!
And on cue, three of the most horrible men in the world were gathered on the couches, one snoring, another smoking heavily, and the other...trying to fix his pants. How charming.
They was a name written on their faces. I snorted in disgust. These could only be Collinses.
"Gentlemen! Allow me to introduce you to Mrs Bennett" He turned to his wife and again our gazes crossed, mine, I suppose, hilariously disgusted as he narrowed his eyes at me.
"Mr Probity Collins, currently resting after his exhilarations at the dining-table, Dr Elysium Collins, favouring us with a tobacco mixed of his own devising, and Mr Cymbal Collins, enlivening a dull Tuesday evening with his amusing trousers."
"I trust, Madam, you shall come to call me Tinkler." I repressed another snort.
"Mrs Bennett will dedicate herself to that end." I silently chuckled at the horror written on Mrs Bennett's face and wondered how she could have survived to the William Collins with a different expression.
Amanda then came bolting into the room, to the point where I wondered where she had been, and Mr Bennett's face even enlightened more with mischief.
"Ah, I am delighted to find Miss Amanda Price from Hammersmith. I cannot yet hear Lydia, which is unusual, but nevertheless-"
Mrs Bennett then outburst and let it spill out. "She is to be married! Mr Bennett, that is what I tried to say!"
"Married, Madam? Anyone we know?"
"Mr Charles Bingley." She eyed the Collins' brothers in awe, and I couldn't repress a soft face-palm.
"This is extraordinary."
Am' then spoke up. "Mr Bennett, might we speak a moment, with Mrs Bennett?" He nodded and she hurried out, Mrs Bennett squeaking behind her, and Mr Bennett quickly leaned to my ear.
"Sorry to ask this of you, but please do escort these men to their rooms."
I nodded and grimaced in their back, before plastering a fake smile onto my face. "Gentlemen, let me introduce myself. I am Miss Prince's cousin, Miss Johnson."
They all bowed and offered me the most horrifying 'Miss Johnson's the world had ever behold.
"Mr Bennett has asked of me the privilege of escorting you to your rooms. Shall you follow me?" I gestured to the door and slowly made my way upstairs, completely aware of Cymbal shadowing my steps and eyeing my bottom in an appropriate way, and of Elysium still smoking on his way up, half-carrying...what was his name again?...ah, yes, Probity.
I clenched my fists as I felt as if a pair of cigarettes were burning holes on my ass and tried to convince myself this wasn't a Collins eyeing me but George. It didn't work, only revived my already high longing.
Margaret, the house-maid, showed me the three guest rooms on the third floor which would be the honoured guests' bedrooms for the night.
I curtsied Probity and Elysium goodnight, and quickly waved Cymbal away, aware of the fact that his pig-like eyes followed me until I left his sight.
I made my way downstairs in a blink, and heard Amanda coming out of Mr Bennett's office, muttering all sorts of words she only said when really in a shitty situation.
I caught her in the stairs, on her way up to Lizzie's room.
"Angie, we're done." I opened my mouth to ask, but she didn't leave me. "Lydia's gone to Hammersmith, and Mr Bennett wants us to lead them there."
"Oh, darn." I sat onto the bed and heard my head working twice as fast as usual. "Darn, darn, darn. We'd be compelled to show them your house, and meet Uncle and Aunt Price. For fuck's sake, this had to happen now?" I stomped. "I'm gonna kill Lydia."
"I know, I'm gonna kill her too, but until we find her, we have to pack and think very quickly. The road to Hammersmith is only three hours long, and besides, there will also be the matter of Lizzie."
"Oh yeah, perfect. Where will their charming little bird be? We're completely damned."
She nodded then sighed. "Quick, Angie, grab some clothes, put on a bonnet or anything and go back downstairs, we're going at once."
I swore under my breath and hurried down and back into the Bennett's carriage. Mrs Bennett was already there, crying heavily, and I tried to ease her by stroking her hair and muttering kind words. After a while, her sobs stopped and she just...fell asleep, her head in my lap.
Mr Bennett and Amanda joined us then, and we started riding towards our fictitious home-town.
"Well, at least we'll not have to bear her constant sobbing!"
I glared at him. "Stop being this harsh. You'd be a woman in this situation, you'd also cry. Not that loud, but even."
His gaze softened and he sighed before looking out of the window, and I soon did so myself.
I could hear the clogs in Amanda's head. Mine stopped working, and I just let myself drive to my fate.
Loosing the Bennetts' trust wouldn't be that hard, after all...
Chose to stop it here. Kind of a filler, I know, but still useful to the story. Now, the girls will freak out until George appears... ^^