Just as promised, though no Ball activity. I haven't had enough time to type that part up, so this will have to suffice for now. Hope you enjoy this chapter regardless x
Lost in What?
"I thought we were going to Netherfield Park to see Mr Bingley." Stella complained, as she helped Lydia tidy up her room.
Lydia giggled, "Do you like him Miss Price?" she asked teasingly, continuing with a growing grin, "He is certainly a fine gentleman – from what we have seen thus far at least."
"Is he not?" she finished, picking up a doll and placing it carefully upon her bed.
Stella sneered, "Yes, he is definitely lovely, but that doesn't mean i intend to pursue a marriage with him as you are not so covertly suggesting."
She straightened out the quilt and brushed her hair out of her eyes, "Besides, Amanda has laid down the law." At Lydia's confounded expression she explained, sighing in frustration, "Amanda has denied me any meddling with any man. I am not allowed to court, marry or even fancy any man whilst we are here."
She huffed, falling to lie back on the neat bed.
Lydia' perplexed look gave way to a bamboozled laugh, "I don't understand," she said loudly, "Why has your sister denied you this?"
"She says that Mr Bingley and any other gentleman are for the pickings of the Bennet girls… even if I were to fall deeply in love with a man here I do not doubt she would deny me the right."
Lydia's smile faded and climbed atop the bed to sit beside Stella, "That makes little sense. After all, I am still too young to marry. Mary has more interest in her studies. Kitty, admittedly, would adore the chance to marry, but it is only Jane here now that is expected to do so…" her smile began to remerge, "Now she is to marry Mr Darcy as well, which means that Mr Bingley is a free man, so to speak."
Stella grinned, "Lydia I am no fool. I will not be pursuing Mr Bingley or any man. Amanda is in charge and I will do as she says and she says: No."
Lydia whined, shuffling, "Why not? He is ever so lovely and you like him – don't lie to me. I know you do." She beamed at Stella, a wistful look overcoming her face, "The way he looked at you when we first met him. At least, I think it was you he was looking at." She bit her lip, as though she could not truly decide.
Stella sighed, slowly rising from the bed, "Well, either way I am not allowed to be anywhere near him." She tiptoed to the door, "Why did we not go see him today? We were at Netherfield."
She smirked, looking back at Lydia who returned the look, "It was really just father's way of making the most of the good weather. Netherfield Park, as you now know, has beautiful gardens." Lydia stared out the window for a moment, "We may not have seen Mr Bingley or Mr Darcy, but we will at the ball." A mischievous grin sprouted upon her visage, "Perhaps it will be difficult to avoid him there and your sister will have no choice but to allow you to speak with him. Maybe you will even dance!" She jumped up from her bed, dancing a few steps, "I have heard that he is a wonderful dancer!"
"I shall have to be the perfect wall flower then and blend in with the crowds, so I am not noticed." Stella laughed, closing the door behind her. Lydia's giggles could be heard down the entire corridor. Kitty's own joined her soon enough.
Amanda was not in their room. Neither was she having tea, chattering with any Bennet or simply wandering the halls. Stella found her after an hour, plodding down the servants quarters. She hurried to her sister's side, "What is it?" she asked quickly, "Is it Elizabeth? Has she said anything? Can we go home now - already?"
Amanda's downtrodden expression suggested otherwise and Stella gulped, "What happened?"
"She's not answering the door and the door isn't budging." Amanda muttered, pushing passed Stella and wandering in the direction of Elizabeth's room.
"We're actually going to the party then?" Stella queried.
Amanda threw her a snarky look, "Unfortunately, yes."
Stella bit her lips, trying to bite back the giggle that threatened to overcome her. She never giggled – not since she was little. That was most likely Lydia's influence.
Stella was beginning to really dislike the fashion of this era. Her party dress was just as drab as that for church. It was also just as modest, if not more so. It was the same creamy colour, which did not particularly flatter her pale skin tone, though the gold coloured trim certainly brightened it up a bit.
"This was my own dress not but a few months ago, but I have grown since that time." Lydia smugly told her, tightening the lace at the back of the dress, "I have gotten taller in a very short space of time," she grinned, "It drives mother mad, because she keeps having to alter all my dresses so that my ankles do not show." She giggled, tying a bow with the gold ribbon.
"The dress is a little childish, but it fits you well and the gold colour suits you." Jane said, glancing at the pair from her place beside Amanda. Once more Amanda required help with her own dress. She was adamant beforehand of staying in the dress she already had on, but Jane insisted it was not 'proper' for a ball. Thus, began the trouble of getting out of her first dress and into another.
"The creamy colour doesn't look as good though, does it?" Stella complained, tugging at the material.
Lydia rolled her eyes dramatically, "Every dress is of a similar shade. Do not worry yourself."
Jane smiled, "Lydia is right. Your skin may be a little too pale in comparison to the dress, but the two tones merely stand apart, which is not necessarily a bad thing." She pulled down Amanda's sleeves a little more, "Besides, the paler your skin, the less time you appear to spend outside."
"That doesn't sound very healthy." Amanda laughed.
Jane looked a little put out, saying, "Workers work outside, servants and other occupied people. The rich need not go outside, so the paler one's skin, the wealthier they appear." She turned to smile again at Stella whose frown only deepened, "Your skin is very pale, so I do not doubt that you will acquire attention tonight. There should be plenty of suitors."
Amanda began to scrunch up her nose, "That doesn't mean you need to talk to these people that are giving you 'attention', Stella." She firmly told her, "Just have fun. Remember, good, clean fun!"
Stella stuck her tongue out indignantly, "I'll do what I want." She muttered, sighing at Amanda's furious glare, "Within reason." She picked up a brush and began scraping it through her tangled hair, "You need not worry sister," she said with a posh tone, "I shall forever do as you ask and will behave myself tonight."
Amanda sighed with relief, "Thank you, at least that's one thing off my mind."
Stella scowled. She was old enough to keep herself out of trouble. She did not require Amanda to babysit her. Regardless of being in another time altogether, she could still very well look after herself. She was an adult after all or at least adult enough.
"Whatever." She grunted, replacing the brush and flitting from the room with Lydia.
"I am so looking forward to the prospect of Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy." Mrs Bennet gladly expressed, as the powerful horse pulling the dark carriage trotted down a small road.
Stella muffled a snort. What a name he had. It was truly unbelievable. It was no wonder people referred to him as 'Darcy', as opposed to his first name. Amanda nudged her discretely and she smothered her amused smile from her face.
"I hate a man with too much money." Mary stated. It was so out of the blue that Stella could not retain the laugh that broke from her windpipe. Lydia also shared a short laugh, as Mrs Bennet chided Mary for her declaration.
Her lecture was postponed, as she caught sight of Amanda slicking a pink gloss over her lips.
Stella could have smacked her. Not because she was divulging the future though.
"You never told me you had that," Stella said grumpily, "I could use some myself, you know."
"You don't need it." She said, tearing it away and offering it to the Bennet's instead, "Last minute lippy – for luck."
At their stunned expressions she continued, "It's all the rage in Hammersmith."
They did not talk much after that. Mrs Bennet attained a bit of her hysterical persona again and became easily startled by the smallest of movements or sounds. Jane opted to remain silent completely, ignoring all those around her in favour of staring out the window. There was not much to see, as the night prevented seeing anything beyond the first few bushes and trees on either side of the road. Lydia and Kitty did giggle and whisper, but it was merely about their dresses and the dresses they might see on other girls present at the ball. Mary had enough nerve to bring a book for the journey and blatantly ignored her mother's stern look and read until their arrival. Stella refused to make small talk with Amanda due to her refusal of sharing with her the lip gloss and Amanda just felt it was too awkward and tense in the carriage to attempt any conversation with anyone.