Author's Note: Please review!
Disclaimer: I do not own Pride and Prejudice (only in my dreams).
"To sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon verdure, is the most perfect refreshment."
From Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
Mr. James Hastings look conveyed his pride as he stood in front of his new estate, Haye Park. Despite his age, (28) he had never settled down in one place long enough to call it home. Hastings was not prone to dissatisfaction, and was content to live in any place as long as it offered good company and decent food. After much persuasion from his sister, Mr. Hastings decided it was time to settle down and maybe marry. After all, every single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. Therefore, after a cursory look, he was so satisfied with Haye Park that he immediately decided to let it from the Gouldings.
Yes, he thought to himself, I am quite glad that I was lucky enough to secure this beautiful estate, even if it is a short lease. Many people of Hastings's acquaintance would not call Haye Park beautiful, for it was old without the stateliness that some estates contained, but Hastings did not judge estates like people of the ton. Instead of looking for opulent furnishings and extravagant ornaments, Hastings leased the estate for its wonderful prospects. The forest around Haye Park was wild enough without looking menacing, and the different colors of the leaves emphasized the life that the land exuded. The green grass and rotund hills conveyed fertility, and Hastings sighed with content as he pictured the many horse rides and delightful walks he would take.
Even though Hastings leased the estate because of the alluring land, the house itself did not invite any complaints. Though it could not be called stately, the house was charming, and though it was not large, it was adequate enough to entertain. In addition, Hastings felt comfortable that his sister, a Miss Claire Hastings, would enjoy this estate as much as he did because, like her brother, Claire also lacked the superficiality that was ubiquitous in London. Hastings was thinking about the calls he would be receiving from his neighbors when the house would be livable with delight, not knowing that his neighbors were already discussing said calls.
Mrs. Bennet barged into Mr. Bennet's study, ignoring the irritation that emanated from him.
"My dear Mr. Bennet," Mrs. Bennet trilled, "have you heard? The Gouldings have up and suddenly moved to Bath (from Mr. Goulding's health, you know) and they have decided to let their estate!"
Mr. Bennet replied in the negative.
"But they have," replied Mrs. Bennet, "for Lady Lucas has heard it from Mrs. Phillips, who heard it from Mrs. Long, whose cousin-"
"Mrs. Bennet! Please get to the point dear."
Mrs. Bennet interpreted this as an invitation to continue. "Haye Park is taken by a young man of large fortune from London, who was so delighted with it that he agreed immediately and is to take possession of it before the end of the month."
"And what is this young man's name?"
"Is he married or single?"
"Oh, single to be sure! A single man of seven or eight thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girls!"
Here Mr. Bennet paused, experiencing a strange sense of déjà vu. "Mrs. Bennet, I feel as if we have already had this conversation."
"How nonsensical, Mr. Bennet! How could we already had this conversation! I have just learned about it when Lady Lucas called."
Mr. Bennet remained silent, attempting to remember why their tête-à-tête sounded so familiar. Mrs. Bennet felt encouraged to continue.
"You must visit Mr. Hastings when he comes into the neighborhood." Mr. Bennet was about to answer and, Mrs. Bennet, sensing that he would deny her request, decided to use his weakness, Lizzy.
"Mr. Bennet, you must! Jane has almost secured Mr. Bingley, and Lizzy will be next. You want Lizzy to make a good match, don't you? La! I know you will call on him, for you told me that you would not call on Mr. Bingley when he arrived, but you did. And because Lizzy is your favorite, you will not avoid calling on him just to spite me. Good day, Mr. Bennet."
With that, Mrs. Bennet exited the study, leaving a very baffled Mr. Bennet behind. Did my wife just leave as a victor? I was not aware hell was freezing over… Mr. Bennet returned to his book, acknowledging the fact that he would have to visit the mysterious Mr. Hastings.