Who Needs Mr Darcy? – Chapter 1
Pemberley – Sept.1815
Black does not become me: I am convinced that it drains my complexion of all life. I suggested to Lizzie that I might wear something in pale grey; perhaps a frilled muslin threaded with purple velvet ribbon at dinner this evening. The look of horror on her face rapidly put an end to that idea. Marriage to Mr Darcy has transformed my sister into a model of propriety and mysteriously removed her sense of humour.
‘How can you think of going into half mourning so soon?’ she gasped. ‘Think of the scandal it would cause.’ I lowered my eyes so that she would not see the gleam in them at the prospect of a little scandal – anything that would lighten the atmosphere here at Pemberley. Spirits were higher on the battlefield at Waterloo.
‘I only thought…my black dress is so drab. I would not want to embarrass you.’ I am, naturally, regarded as an embarrassment by the entire family. Miss Georgiana Darcy looks down her long, aristocratic nose at me. I am not fooled by her reputation for sweetness.
The Bad Miss Bennet Abroad: The Further Adventures of Lydia Bennet
We have been swaying around on this dreadful vessel, vomiting and bewailing our lot for twenty one days since our departure in August in this year of grace 1817. As I write this in my journal Adelaide is muttering in the background, ‘This is a coffin ship.’
It is not quite that: my maid has a tendency to exaggeration. Our plight is best described as being imprisoned in a cell with its bare stone walls hidden with a velvet cover, but a cell, nevertheless, smelling badly and constantly moving. The captain of this prison keeps a brightly coloured parrot in similar circumstances.
Not that the cramped cabin I share with Adelaide boasts much in the way of velvet covers. My maid attempts to make it more comfortable with the linens and coverlets taken from our trunks, but after a few weeks at sea with little or no washing facilities the place has become somewhat foetid. And during the frequent bouts of bad weather the entire ship leaks. It is scarcely to be borne.
I have become salt-encrusted in soul and body. The sanitary arrangements at sea are not to be thought of, as far as possible. I am not much troubled by sea sickness but the entire Portuguese contingent is prone to vomit with every roll of the waves – surprising behaviour from such a stout, seafaring people. My royal employer, Dona Leopoldina, is not affected. ‘We must maintain self-control at all times,’ she admonishes us.
A memoir of a trip around the world in the footsteps of early women travellers.
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