Thomas Bennet rode to Netherfield with a myriad of conflicting emotions. He was riding to meet the son of Mr. James Bingley, now deceased, who had helped Thomas earn a fortune through investments in trade and mining. The son, a Mr. Charles Bingley, seemed an amiable young man from the letters Thomas had received over the past few years.
Now the Bennet daughters, five in total, were all of marriageable age, and Mrs. Bennet continuously panicked over her fate should her dear Mr. Bennet leave this world for his reward before one of her daughters was advantageously married. Thomas decided that it was high time to settle his business with the Bingley family and liquidate his investments. The Bennet family was about to have a much higher consequence in this world.
Thomas knew that the course of events he was about to set in motion would forever alter life as he or any of his family members knew it. He had known this fact the moment he suggested the lease of Netherfield to James Bingley's son. Thomas knew that James wanted nothing more than for his offspring to live as landed gentry, and lending his support to James' son was the least he could do to help.
When it was clear that Mrs. Bennet would not conceive again and the couple had despaired of having a son, Thomas had contacted James Bingley through Mrs. Bennet's brother, Mr. Gardiner. James had been looking for an investor to start a mining expedition on the continent. Mr. Bennet was looking for a way to protect his widow and unmarried daughters after his death. That was ten long years ago.
Recent letters from his ridiculous cousin, Mr. Collins, who is to inherit after Thomas has passed, prompted the transition of country gentleman to a landowner worthy of the London ton. Mr. Collins intimated in his sycophantic tones that he wished to choose one of the Bennet daughters as a bride. Thomas shuddered. It would be a cold day in hell before he allowed one of his girls to be forever joined to that sapskull.
Shifting in his saddle after such an uncomfortable thought, Thomas thought on to what these riches would mean for his family. His daughters would have sizable dowries, making them attractive to men of means and fortune. His wife would hopefully return to the flirtatious and carefree miss he had married. Now there was a pleasant thought for Thomas Bennet. All of the women he loved would be secure in their futures, never having to marry for anything but love. That is why he started all of this in the first place.
The thought of any of his daughters, especially his bright and headstrong Lizzy, being forced into a marriage of convenience because of a lack of funds drove Thomas leave the comfort of Longbourn, his estate, and the tranquility of its library sanctuary. Today he would meet the son of the man who would make the worst of his problems disappear.
The three miles passed all too quickly for Thomas Bennet. The façade of Netherfield came into view and a groom appeared to take the reins of Thomas' horse. A young man, no more than five and twenty years of age, greeted Thomas upon his entrance. Charles Bingley was a lively and unreserved young man with unaffected manners. Thomas liked him almost instantly as he reminded him of his sweet and unassuming daughter, Jane.
The two men bowed and Thomas remarked on how much Charles looked like his father. The comment made Charles smile widely, but with still a hint of sadness in his eyes. It had only been two years since his dear father had passed. The two men moved into the study where two glasses of brandy had already been poured.
"Mr. Charles Bingley, at your service, sir. It is wonderful to finally meet the man that my father spoke so much about," started Charles nervously, but with hand outstretched. Charles owed everything to the man standing in front of him. Without his investments, the Charles would not have the fortune he has now. The glint of intelligence and warmth of welcome, however, put Charles at ease. This was not a man Charles needed to be afraid of and his handshake was accepted wholeheartedly.
"Well, Mr. Bingley, I am sad to say that our days of business together must come to an end. We have both made our fortunes and it is time to enjoy spending them. While I will miss the thrill of success, I shall not pine for the uneasiness that came with the fear of failure," said Thomas.
"Mr. Bennet, I will forever be grateful to you for the help you gave my father. I have everything you will need for the solicitor in London in this packet," Charles patted the packet on the table "and the, well, boxes are here in the safe." Charles moved to unlock the safe and removed 6 velvet-lined boxes, each the size of large book. "I collected these from the jeweler myself, Mr. Bennet. I think you will be very pleased with them. The jeweler was particularly proud of the amethyst pieces. Which of your lucky daughters will receive these?" Mr. Bingley opened one of the boxes.
"That particular piece goes to my second eldest, Miss Elizabeth. It is her favorite color and I hope it will please her enormously," Mr. Bennet beamed. Peering over Thomas shoulder, Mr. Bingley agreed eagerly "I cannot imagine any young lady ever being disappointed by these pieces, sir."