This Time Round / Look Who's Talking: Storytime
Pride and Petulance
by V. Jewitt
Part 4: Casting Arrangements
By the time Lizzy came to return to Hertfordshire, Lizzy knew Mr
Darcy's letter off by heart. She was thankful to return to her home
and to see her sisters, particularly Jane, and her parents again.
Unfortunately, Longbourn was in uproar, due to the departure of the -
[The UNIT troops march away through the village]
LYDIA / JO GRANT [sobbing]
What is to become of us?
KITTY / JAMIE [sulkily, going so far as to blow his nose in a large
What are we to do?
I don't know what you are smiling for, Lizzy!
LIZZY / SARAH JANE
Jamie in a dress, crying because the soldiers have gone...
Now, look, there's only so far I'll go along with this!
MRS BENNET / NANCY
I am sure I cried for two days together when Colonel Millar's regiment
went away, even though the miners were pleased to see the back of
them. I thought I should have broke my heart.
[NARRATOR considers telling NANCY to put more effort into it and stop
the unnecessary references to Wales, but decides it would be a waste
I am sure I shall break mine! I *must* go to Brighton with all the
And I'd like a seaside holiday, too.
I'm sure we all would.
Shortly afterwards, Lydia received an invitation from Colonel
Forster's young wife to accompany her to Brighton.
LYDIA [jumping up and down for joy]
I can go with the soldiers to Brighton and make them lots of cups of
KITTY [without much feeling, it has to be said]
It's not fair. I don't see why Mrs Forster should not have asked for
me, for I am two years the older.
Lizzy was concerned about this development and went to see her father.
Father, you cannot let Lydia go to Brighton with all those soldiers.
It cannot end well, I'm sure of it. All of us with lose our good
reputations through her bad behaviour.
MR BENNET / THIRD DOCTOR
Lydia will never be easy till she has exposed herself in some public
place or other, and we can never expect her to do it with so little
expense or inconvenience to her family as under the present
Yes, but -
Didn't you notice how many times her knickers have been seen on
camera? If she wishes to do the same at Brighton, I don't see that it
will make much difference.
LIZZY [gamely trying to continue]
If you were aware of the very great disadvantage to us all I am sure
you would judge differently in the matter.
Has she frightened away some of your lovers? Poor little Lizzy! But
do not be cast down. Such squeamish youths as cannot bear to be
connected with a little absurdity, are not worth regret. And if she's
scared the Brigadier or the Master away, I should have thought you
would be grateful!
Indeed you are mistaken. I am complaining of general evils - our
importance, our very respectability in the world is brought into
question by Lydia's character.
Now, now, Lizzy, do not upset yourself. Colonel Forster is a sensible
man and he and his wife will look after her. At Brighton, she will
find herself of no importance and that may teach her her own
On the last day of the regiment remaining in Meryton, Lizzy
encountered Mr Wickham once more.
I met Colonel Fitzwilliam when I was staying near Rosings. He and Mr
Darcy stayed there for three weeks and we saw them frequently. Are
you acquainted with the Colonel?
MR WICKHAM [looking worried]
Yes. His manners are very different from his cousin's.
Yes, very different. It's hard to believe that they are related. But
I think Mr Darcy improves on acquaintance.
MR WICKHAM [looking even more concerned]
You can't mean to tell me that he now deigns to talk to the rank and
file - I dare not hope that he has improved in essentials.
Oh no! In essentials, I believe he is very much what he ever was.
MR WICKHAM [smiling insincerely]
It must have been the influence of Lady Catherine de Bourgh. He is
greatly in awe of her, I believe.
LIZZY [unable to keep back a snort of laughter]
[MR WICKHAM hurries away. Off-stage, there is the inexplicable sound
of a scuffle.]
Lydia and the regiment departed for Brighton and everything at Meryton
and Longbourn returned to normal. The next event expected was the
arrival of Elizabeth's Aunt and Uncle Gardiner (with whom Jane had
stayed in London). They planned a trip to the Lakes with Elizabeth.
Unfortunately, their arrival brought the news that they must visit
Derbyshire and the Peaks instead.
[A carriage is standing outside Longbourn and KITTY, LIZZY, JANE, MRS
BENNET, MR BENNET and MARY come out to meet the newcomers.]
[ROMANA I emerges from the carriage, dragging the FOURTH DOCTOR by the
Oh dear. That shouldn't have happened.
Ow! Look, I don't do living characters and I don't do lines.
ROMANA / AUNT GARDINER
I am *not* letting you get away with it again. [To the assembled
Bennets] I've already had to resuscitate him when he tried to fake a
heart attack on the way here.
MR GARDINER / FOUR [sulkily]
I only do dead fathers. I demand to speak to someone!
Mr Gardiner, we may have to have a discussion about your casting
Well, it's not fair and I won't do it!
Doctor - er, Uncle - you're being childish.
ROMANA / AUNT GARDINER
What casting arrangement? I don't wish to be involved in this,
either. Can't I get an exemption card? I'm happy to play dead
mothers if needed, but I refuse to keep playing his abandoned widow!
FOUR / MR GARDINER
Well, I don't know. It's just a little understanding I seem to have
with the Book. Now I'm not dead and I've got lines and everything. I
want to make a complaint!
NARRATOR [with a sigh]
Izzy warned me about this. She said things have been getting odd at
storytime lately - I suppose that's how you got this part. You're
only ever supposed to be cast as a deceased character to ensure that
there is no excessive damage to the storyline.
What! Are you saying that it doesn't trust me? Of all the downright
cheek - a brainless pile of paper and ink discriminating against me!
I think it was believed that you might be ... tempted to alter the
story, scene steal and otherwise misbehave.
ROMANA / AUNT GARDINER [folding her arms and smirking]
Ha! Deal with your agent, indeed! The Book has decided that the only
good Fourth Doctor is a dead Fourth Doctor!
Now, hang about -
I don't know what happened, you getting an active part in this. I
suppose it got so used to casting you as the father, that it tried
with Mr Bennet, and when that failed, pushed you in here. Izzy did
say things were getting very strange.
MR BENNET / THIRD DOCTOR
I see. It all makes sense now.
Sense? It makes less sense than an early Cyberman on sherbet! And
this only applies to *me*, does it?
Well, I understand that involvement of villains and certain other
characters has been limited so far, but... yes.
FOUR / MR GARDINER
Right. Why are we standing around here, wasting time? We've got a
story to tell! If we stay here yammering, Lizzy will never marry Mr
LIZZY [under her breath]
Well, that'd be something...
NARRATOR [to FOUR]
I think you may get to go fishing.
Splendid! Couldn't be better! Nice to see you, Mr Bennet - and how's
my sister? [Hugs NANCY / MRS BENNET before pausing and looking at
her] You're supposed to be my sister?
I'm afraid so. Now come in, and we can all have a fungus sandwich and
some dandelion wine.
LIZZY [winking at the unseen NARRATOR]
Nice work, Barbara.
It's only what Izzy told me...
The next morning, Elizabeth set off with her Aunt and Uncle for
Derbyshire. Since this is not a travel book, we shall say no more
until they arrived at Lambton, where Mrs Gardiner had grown up - a
little town a mere five miles away from Pemberley. After being
assured that the family were away, Elizabeth saw no harm in a trip to
Pemberley, Mr Darcy's house and estate.
[AUNT GARDINER, MR GARDINER and LIZZY are sitting in a horse and
carriage heading down the drive to a backdrop on which is painted an
impressive stately house. Some moments later, they dismount and knock
at the door.]
HOUSEKEEPER / CORPORAL BELL [opening the door and ushering them
Yes, of course you may come in and have a look around.
LIZZY [to herself, looking at everything around her]
And to think that of all this I might have been mistress! I could
have invited my Aunt and Uncle here, to my own house... No, wait - Mr
Darcy would never have allowed it. My Aunt and Uncle would have been
lost to me!
Charming view from the window. You wouldn't be taken by surprise by
marauding Mummies from up here.
If you don't behave, I shall slap you.
What? What did I say? I make an innocent comment, entirely in
character, and I'm threatened with violence! I worry about you, my
Perhaps you would like to see a portrait of the master -
A portrait of The Master?
No, she means Mr Darcy. The Master is Mr Collins.
THE HOUSEKEEPER [motioning at the picture, which turns out to be the
There. Is he not a most handsome gentleman?
Well, Lizzy, is it a good likeness?
[LIZZY is struck dumb.]
MR GARDINER [grinning widely]
And is Miss Darcy as handsome as her brother?
Oh, yes, sir - the handsomest young lady that was ever seen. And my
master is the best of men. I'm sure I don't know anyone who would be
good enough for him.
Are you sure I can't run away?
Later on, when crossing the grounds to leave, they unexpectedly ran
into the owner himself - Mr Darcy!
MR GARDINER [staring at DARCY / BRIGADIER]
MR DARCY [with a resigned sigh]
Yes. Unfortunately. Hello, again, Miss Bennet. It's very good to
Oh no! I'm so embarrassed! I hardly know what to say!
*You* are supposed to be *Mr Darcy*?
I thought we'd established that. Miss Bennet, perhaps you would
introduce me to your friends?
MR GARDINER [laughing loudly]
Ha! HAH! THE BRIGADIER IS MR DARCY? Well, now I know that this book
has no sense in casting at all.
AUNT GARDINER [kicking MR G hard]
How nice to meet you, Mr Darcy. We are Elizabeth's aunt and uncle
How nice to meet you, madam. [Stiffly] And you sir, do you fish?
[MR GARDINER is still laughing. LIZZY grabs him by the lapels of his
coats and drags him off]
Stop it! Now you've hurt the Brig's feelings.
Well, how could that dunderhead be Mr Darcy? Jane would be turning in
I *know* you didn't meet Jane Austen, so don't start that! Come back
and behave nicely, or everyone will think that the book was right.
What do I care? The book thinks casting blundering blockheads as one
of the world's most famous romantic heroes is acceptable behaviour.
Well, I don't! I think it's a disgrace, a shameless mockery of the
LIZZY [beginning to despair]
Doctor, please -
MR GARDINER [brightening suddenly]
Wait! Did he mention fishing? Sarah -
Lizzy, he mentioned fishing!
[MR GARDINER heads back to MRS G and MR DARCY at a run, LIZZY trailing
behind in exasperation.]
MR DARCY [eying him warily]
Believe me, I didn't ask for this.
Oh, I'm sure you didn't.
MR DARCY [continuing as best as he can]
I will be joined tomorrow by a group of friends. I particularly wish
to introduce you to my sister Georgiana.
Lizzy was thoroughly embarrassed by the meeting and puzzled as to what
could have brought about this softening of Mr Darcy's character.
Oh. It's very good to see you, Miss Sm- Bennet!
I'm going to die...!
But not before we reach the end of this story.
Afterwards, her aunt and uncle discussed how impressed they had been
by Mr Darcy.
Ha! Not likely.
There is something a little stately in his air, but it is not
unbecoming to him. Some people may call him proud, but I have seen
nothing of it.
The Brigadier as Mr Darcy! Nobody could take this seriously. I want
to know when I get to go fishing.
Doctor, can you try? It feels as though we've been trapped in this
for years and I want to get to the end and get out of here.
Oh, all right. I suppose the fellow didn't seem too bad. *Now* can I
[LIZZY puts her head in her hands]
Mr Darcy was not long in bringing his sister to meet Lizzy at the inn
Miss Bennet, this is my sister, Georgiana.
GEORGIANA / VICTORIA
I'm afraid I'm so shy I can barely speak to you.
Never mind, I understand.
I had to bring someone else along - he was most insistent on coming to
pay his regards -
[MR BINGLEY / HARRY SULLIVAN enters at speed, nearly tripping over the
step up to the room]
MR BINGLEY [hugging her]
I say, it's good to see you again, Lizzy! And are *all* your sisters
still at Longbourn? None of them are, for instance, here with you
All my family are at home, sir - save one. My sister Lydia has gone
MR BINGLEY [hiding his relief]
Thank the -. I mean, I'm sorry to hear that.
It's all right; she wanted to go to Brighton.
Please join us this evening. I am counting on you, or S-Bingley and I
will be left alone with Miss Hawthorne, Miss Winters and Sergeant
Benton as well, while Victoria has a go at playing the piano.
Don't worry, I can play the piano perfectly well. If I can overcome
Later, Mr and Mrs Gardiner and Elizabeth went to Pemberley to meet the
rest of the party.
[LIZZY and MRS GARDINER are sitting with MISS DARCY, MISS BINGLEY and
MRS HURST and try to make conversation.]
Charming weather, isn't it?
MISS BINGLEY / MISS HILDA WINTERS
I might have known that would have been the limit of your
conversation. Yes, the atmospheric conditions have been pleasant.
MRS GARDINER [pointedly]
Although this evening seems to be a little chillier.
I'm so shy I really daren't say a word.
MRS HURST / MISS HAWTHORNE
Well, we must talk about something, everyone. So, hands up who
believes in magic?
It depends what you mean by magic, Mrs Hurst. I think most things can
be explained by science, but it has to be admitted that no one has
understood all the mysteries of the universe. After travelling with
the - Mr Gardiner, I don't think I would be as quick to rule it out as
I once would have done.
Balderdash! I'm surprised at that from someone as supposedly as
intelligent as you. But then, if we look at your dress sense, I think
we find -.
MRS GARDINER [icily]
I beg your pardon? Is something wrong with my dress sense?
It was only an innocent question. Let's not argue.
A singularly inept response, I might add.
[LIZZY makes a face at GEORGIANA. A long and awkward pause follows.]
So how are your family, Miss Bennet?
They are well. Oh, look, here come the gentlemen!
MISS BINGLEY [smiling insincerely]
So, have the militia removed from Meryton, Miss Bennet? That must be
a very great loss to *your* family!
LIZZY [as she, MR DARCY and GEORGIANA exchange alarmed looks]
We bear it as well as we can, Miss Bingley.
After Elizabeth and the Gardiners had left, the party discussed their
How very ill Eliza Bennet looks today, Mr Darcy. I never in my life
saw anyone so altered as she is since the winter. She is grown so
brown and coarse. Louisa and I were agreeing that we should not have
known her again.
MRS HURST (Louisa)
I never said anything of the sort.
I'm doing my best with this wretched story, even though it's of
absolutely no benefit to society and the rest of you -
I wouldn't say that.
What? Be specific, Mr Darcy!
I don't think this novel is of no benefit to society. I can think of
quite a few people who might gain from considering their behaviour -
and their manners - more closely, Miss Bingley. Although, given the
choice, I wouldn't have ended up *inside* it. And no, I don't think
Miss Bennet was altered. But then it was only a few minutes ago I
last saw her.
"She was rather tanned..." Why am I even trying?
I'd have thought you would have appreciated the defence of Miss
Yes. Thank you, Brigadier.
MISS BINGLEY [not at all pleased]
For my own part, I must confess that I never could see any beauty in
her. Her face is too thin; her complexion has no brilliancy; and her
features are not at all handsome. Her nose wants character. Her
teeth are tolerable, but nothing out of the common way; her clothes
are entirely impractical and as for her eyes, which have sometimes
been called fine, I never could -
MR HURST / SERGEANT BENTON
I always thought she had good teeth.
MR BINGLEY [angrily]
I don't know how you have the nerve to call her ugly, Caroline. Have
you looked in the mirror?
Do you want any more lines, Mr Bingley? Mr Hurst?
MR BINGLEY & MR HURST [sheepishly]
But all the same, for her to go on and on about Sarah like that -
NARRATOR [coughs meaningfully]
Mr Bingley -
I don't like to be insulting to anyone, but if she's going to start
saying things about Miss Bennet's appearance, when she claims not to
worry about things like that -
Mr Bingley, will you let your sister finish her sentence and leave the
defence of Elizabeth to Mr Darcy?
And as for her so called 'fine eyes', I never could perceive anything
extraordinary in them. They have a sharp, shrewish look -
Oh, I say! Come off it - how about that for the pot calling the
Right Mr Bingley, please leave the room - and that's another set of a
hundred lines for you!
[MR BINGLEY leaves]
I don't wish to be obstructive, Miss Wright, but as a matter of
discipline, I feel that Sullivan should have more than a hundred lines
for punching a superior officer.
Shall I continue or would you rather argue about writing lines instead
of letting me say them?
Carry on, Miss Bingley, you're doing a splendid job of appearing as a
MISS BINGLEY [her eyes narrowing]
In her air there is a self-sufficiency without fashion, which is
intolerable. She should listen to the advice of the Scientific Reform
Society and learn to be a rational person. I remember how amazed we
all were to find her a reputed beauty in Hertfordshire and I
particularly remember you, Mr Darcy, saying at Netherfield, "She a
beauty! - I should as soon call her mother a wit." But afterwards she
seemed to improve on you. I believe you thought her rather pretty at
Yes, but that was only when I first knew her, for it is many months
since I have considered her as one of the handsomest women of my
NARRATOR [in an aside]
Well done, Mr Darcy. You're almost getting the hang of this.
Not really - anything to put that awful woman in her place!
Unfortunately for everyone, Lizzy was about to receive a letter with
terrible news from home...
To be continued, in which something odd happens to Mr Wickham, Lydia
causes trouble for everyone and the Brigadier wonders if he might have
to propose. Again.
Hopefully, only one more part to come (and nobody can be hoping that
more than me...!)
Full credits at end, but people may notice the shameless rewriting of
Part One - Part Two - Part Three - Part Five - Part Six