I own no characters. No copyright here.
DUE TO POPULAR DEMAND - I have changed the Ms. to Miss, haha. So many people were bothered by that. Not much has changed. I changed a few grammar errors, but it's the same story. Enjoy!
Takes place at the Netherfield house while Jane is lying incapacitated upstairs. Elizabeth's mother and sisters were there that morning and left. They sat down to lunch shortly after. This idea came to me because I love interactions with Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth, and I wish the movie had more of them. This takes place in the book/1995 movie. I love the new cinematic movie too, but they don't have Louisa who I think adds the ever-important "Henchman's evil minion" character to the story, hehe. Enjoy this cute drabble. It's just for fun. If it's not up to your level of writing, leave me a message telling me how much you hate me... and I'll shower hugs and kisses on you to make you feel like crap about yourself. Cheerio darling! ;)
"Let's play a game, "Elizabeth said, seeking something to keep her brain from turning to mush.
Miss. Bingley and Mrs. Hurst stopped talking about the bonnet of Sarah Fitzherbert. Everyone at the table turned and looked at her questioningly.
"A test, actually. To begin you must think of your two most favorite animals and why. Afterward, I will tell you what the test is and how it's played. For example, my favorite animal of all the animals on God's green earth is the elephant."
"An elephant?! Quite a peculiar choice!" Caroline smirked.
Elizabeth smiled, indulging her, "Yes. It's not a very common favorite."
"Why is it your favorite, Miss. Elizabeth?" Mr. Bingley asked curiously, unknowingly getting into the game.
Elizabeth allowed her face to reflect thoughtfulness as she formulated her answer. "Well, I've only seen paintings and drawings of elephants but, when I look at them... I can't help but see a form of wisdom and intelligence on their countenance and in their eyes. Being the largest creatures on earth; they are quite powerful, and yet are very gentle in nature. They are very useful creatures when trained. They travel in herds, and are very close to their families."
"My my, Miss. Elizabeth! You certainly have a lot of information on the matter. Pray tell, how did you come about such knowledge? Do you speak from experience?" Louisa spoke up, glancing around the table briefly.
"I read a book on African wildlife my uncle gave me. It also said that they have an EXCELLENT memory and have been seen revisiting gravesites of their family members." Elizabeth continued, "And my second favorite is a horse. Because they are strong, intelligent and have a noble bearing. They are quite beautiful. "
Elizabeth smiled and turned to Mr. Bingley, indicating for him to go next.
"Excellent! Alright then," Mr. Bingley said eagerly. Lizzy had the feeling that he liked animals. "My favorite animal is a dog. They're excellent companions and are always wanting to please you!"
Lizzy had to stifle her laugh at his declaration. Of course, he would choose a dog...
""They are quite energetic, and happy. And very loyal! And for my second favorite animal..." Mr. Bingley paused, "Oh dear, I've never really given it much thought. Well, umm, Caroline and Louisa already know this much to their chagrin but... I've always found turtles to be so charming!"
"Ugh, Charles!" Caroline cried in disgust, with exclamations of the same coming from Mrs. Hurst. "Don't say such things in front of our company! Wet, slimy, nasty turtles and frogs, and...OH! How I can't STAND such wretched things!"
"No, no. That will not do for this game to be played." Lizzy jumped in, secretly thinking of her own frog-capturing as a little girl. "You may choose your favorites, but there are no bad animals to pick. And no demeaning each other's choice. Tell us why a turtle, Mr. Bingley."
"Well, " He said, smiling self-deprecatingly, but growing more animated as he explained "When I was a boy I used to love going to the pond in the park with my schoolmates. We would catch all sorts of things. But my favorites were turtles. They were such timid, shy, FASCINATING creatures!" His eyes lit up with memories of his boyhood as he spoke, "My favorite story growing up was 'the tortoise and the hare' by Aesop's Fables which my mother used to read to us. I love how they carry home wherever they go! And I like how slow they are. Steady and consistent. I should like to develop those traits more in my own life." He declared, turning a little towards Mr. Darcy and smiled.
Mr. Darcy's lips quirked upwards at this. Thus far, Mr. Darcy had not spoken.
Caroline was next. She said she loved cats for their beauty, grace, and poise. They had a certain superior air about them. They are curious and loved affection. And she loved peacocks second because she saw a woman of the ton once wear peacock feathers to a ball and they were exquisite. It was the dress most talked about the year past.
Mrs. Hurst said she didn't like animals all that much. She had no favorites. In the end, she picked a peacock, for the same reason that Louisa had; the dress at the ton had indeed been the most exquisite dress she'd ever seen.
Mr. Hurst said only the following as he ate, "I like pigs the most. They're delicious. A bit of sauce on the side."
Lizzy hid her reactio very well, considering the fact that her amusement was a bit overcome with a hint of revulsion for this...porkish man.
Everyone looked at Mr. Darcy who up until now had been silent, with his finger on his mouth in contemplation, "My favorite animal is the horse." He said finally. "In my estimation, the horse is the most noble and fundamental of animals. Whether using them in war, in the fields, in entertainment, or companionship; they progress civilization. They provide the fastest transportation. And while they are varied in their mannerisms from being high spirited to being extremely docile, they are very much the same. Much like people. With a horse, once you have won their heart, you've won it forever. They are a very loyal companion."
"Would such an animal be considered 'proud', Mr. Darcy?" Elizabeth couldn't help but ask, secretly gleeful by what she heard him say. She didn't realize she was doing the same impertinent thing that Miss. Bingley had done to her.
"Yes, they are. And to some degree, they merit it. But with a careful and wise master, they submit and are the most useful of creatures." He continued, "I've never considered my second favorite animal before, but as I've pondered it, I would have to say the fox."
At this, Elizabeth tipped her head in interest at this strange announcement. Intrigued. "Really? Why?"
"They are cunning and beautiful creatures. I used to foxhunt, and it's quite the challenge to hunt them. They're elusive and like to throw you off the trail. But it's a wonderful challenge and fox fur is a very rare commodity." Mr. Darcy didn't mention that he hadn't been foxhunting in years. It was his father that used to take his men and young Mr. Darcy with him. He remembered the first time he had seen a fox. It had been hunting field mice by pouncing on snow. Its coat had looked like blood against the white field.
"Interesting." Elizabeth tried to think of the "foxy" ladies of the ton. But, instead of trying to evade capture, they were trying to capture him.
"To what do these questions intend, Miss. Elizabeth? What is the game?" Mr. Darcy asked.
Elizabeth smiled playfully and then leaned back. "Why, nothing, sir. I've merely had you all lay your souls bare to me is all. The first animal," She paused, looking around the table. She always relished this moment when she did this game with new friends," Is what you think of yourself. And the second, "She paused again, "Is what you think of your friends...Or spouse, if you are married." she turned to Mr. and Mrs. Hurst, nodding.
Mr. Bingley began laughing in delight. "Upon my honor, Ms. Elizabeth! What a sly thing you are! Having us all speak about ourselves not even knowing it! It appears you really are a student of character."
Elizabeth couldn't help but laugh along as well, "I knew you were a dog before we even started, Mr. Bingley!" She was caught, it turns out, "This is a game I play with all new friends. I learned it at a dinner party one evening while my family was visiting relatives for Christmas. I liked it so much I've used it at dinner parties ever since. So! Let us begin dissecting your characters..." Turning fully to Mr. Bingley she said, "You think of yourself as happy, energetic, a good friend" she smirked, thinking of his promise to hold a ball, "and you like to please everyone."
Everyone gawffed and chuckled at the truth of this.
"You think of your friends," she nodded at Mr. Darcy, "as timid and shy, steady and constant."
"How fascinating!" Mr. Bingley cried, "While I was thinking of the turtle, I was recalling Darcy's advice to me the other day while we're going over business papers. To be slow and consistent. Never rushing too hastily into things. How remarkable!"
"Miss. Bingley, you picked a cat. You think of yourself as beautiful, graceful, and poised." Elizabeth left out the 'superior air' Caroline had mentioned. It wouldn't do to embarrass her hostess, "And your friends are peacocks, very beautiful and stylish." Elizabeth did very well at keeping her face straight, and not laughing at how hilarious this was. They didn't know what her opinion was on these animals, so they couldn't guess that she found them absurd. It was only what THEY thought about the creatures that was important.
Mr. Darcy had been drinking from his cup when he made a choking cough sound, which sounded suspiciously like a poorly concealed laugh.
Miss. Bingley, who had been previously smiling as Elizabeth painted the picture of her being a beautiful and graceful cat having beautiful and rich peacock friends, became flushed after that and looked upset.
Elizabeth moved on to Mrs. Hurst with a smile, as it seemed the poor kitty wouldn't get the affection she wanted from Mr. Darcy.
"Your favorite animal is a peacock, so you are beautiful, quite stylish and like to be admired. Unfortunately, you don't like animals, so I wasn't able to determine what you think your friends or husband are like." Elizabeth said warmly, trying to make it sound like it didn't matter.
Mrs. Hurst didn't say a word. She looked oddly embarrassed for some reason. Perhaps she didn't like her friends? Or her husband for that matter?
"Mr. Hurst's favorite animal is a pig because they have big appetites." She chuckled, trying to make it sound like he had told a joke, and seem like no big deal. He merely grunted in reply, before returning to his food. The table looked on in silence. Some in embarrassed amazement at how true the test had proven.
"And lastly, Mr. Darcy," He gazed unblinkingly back at her. She turned to him with her full attention, something she tried rarely to do. Oh yes, she was going to enjoy this. It was HE who had admitted his faults, and she was going to merely read back to him his own lines."You, sir, are a horse. You think of yourself as a 'most noble and fundamental' type of person. You mentioned a variety of subjects that the horse is good at, which means you have many...accomplishments." Elizabeth let that word seep out of her mouth with a hint of derision, remembering how 'accomplished' an accomplished woman would have to be to deserve the word. She had to tone it down however, lest the others think of her as rude.
"You feel that you 'progress civilization'. And once you give your heart to someone, they have it forever. You are a loyal person." She again glanced over to Mr. Bingley and smiled. Mr. Darcy, she supposed, had one good attribute: he had given his loyalty to a very good friend.
"And your friends are foxes!" She laughed suddenly, lightening the mood, pointing at Mr. Bingley. "They are lively, intelligent, and quite hard to find! But once you find them, they are a true and rare treasure."
"What a fitting animal the horse is to describe our Mr. Darcy!" Miss. Bingley felt the need to chime in, beaming at him. "He does indeed forward civilization! As he cares for and maintains half of Derbyshire, and is the most efficient and productive landowner of all my acquaintance. As I've always said, it's a blessing you have him as a friend, Charles."
Mr. Darcy flushed red and was about to reply but Bingley nodded in agreement and said, "I certainly have found a most loyal companion."
Mr. Darcy ducked his head, becoming absorbed in his crumbs leftover from lunch.
"Is it possible that the second animal is what you look for in a companion if you are unmarried?" Mr. Bingley asked, turning to Elizabeth. He seemed deep in thought.
She thought too for a moment. "Perhaps. I only know that if you are happily married, the second animal reflects what you think of your spouse. But, I suppose, the second animal could be the type of person you'd LIKE to marry... Yes, that seems about right."
Mr. Darcy spoke up then, still seemingly preoccupied with pushing the unwanted food on his plate, "So then, I'm seeking a fox. Mr. Bingley is seeking a turtle. Caroline's seeking a peacock. And you're seeking a horse..." He looked up at Elizabeth, from under his eyelashes.
"Yes. I suppose," Elizabeth felt awkward as she remembered that her second favorite animal was indeed a horse. Caroline scowled. Elizabeth had mentioned it before Mr. Darcy had said what his favorite animal was, so it wasn't as if she had been trying to win his favor. Many people liked horses. She wished she had lied and picked something else.
"I also like lions, dogs, and eagles," She shrugged, nonchalantly. "Any of those would do."
Judging by Caroline's face she was none too pleased. Caroline was in truth realizing by her own admission how lacking in depth of character she was. She was aware that having peacocks as friends was not what society or religious ideals would deem as "desirable" companions. Or a future husband for that matter. She wished she had known beforehand so she could have chosen a horse to match. Although, if she was being honest with herself, Mr. Darcy was indeed a peacock in her estimation. Rich and powerful and handsome. A match unlike any other. With his plumed feathers she would indeed fly high.
"Foxes are also very playful." Mr. Darcy suddenly stated, seeming to recall something, as he looked up at the table and at Elizabeth.
"Really? And how would you know that when you only hunt them?" Lizzy quirked an eyebrow, teasingly. Mr. Bingley could be playful, she supposed. She didn't know any of Mr. Darcy's other friends.
"They play in the snow on the lawns of Pemberly during Christmastime. My sister and I enjoy sitting on the couch, laughing at them." He smiled a full genuine smile. Elizabeth looked a tad longer at Mr. Darcy face than normal. His face transformed when he smiled. His eyes sparkled. He really was a handsome man. Elizabeth quickly squashed the idea and swept it away like a little bug. Who cares if he's handsome? He thinks he's above the rest of the world and should be paid homage to. But he's a hooo-oorse, her mind sing- songed at her. She swatted it away like a pesky fly.
"So," Mr. Darcy unconsciously leaned towards her, scrutinizing her, "You are strong, intelligent, wise, gentle, useful, and love your family."
Elizabeth nodded, smiling. She had been happy with her response at that Christmas dinner when her Uncle Gardiner's associate, from the mythical land of China, had asked the question of all those present. The Asian man had liked her answer, and he gave her a "Chinese finger-trap" to "keep her wise like an elephant". She kept it in her keepsake trunk at home.
Mr. Darcy smiled and continued, "An elephant is known as a creature of royalty. Kings, Sultans, and emperors have acquired them as pets. King George III has one in his menagerie. As well as King Louis XVI of France had one. Their ivory is also very rare and beautiful."
Elizabeth blushed at the positivity he gave her when she had been thinking only ill toward him and his "horsey" attributes, "I..Well, Mr. Darcy, you must remember that that is merely what I THINK of myself. It does not necessarily mean that is what I actually am. And I never considered the royal aspect of it. I merely enjoy looking into their eyes and pondering the mystery that is there."
"Indeed." Mr. Darcy replied quietly, looking into the fine and mystery-filled eyes before him.
"No one would doubt you have a clever and intelligent way about you, Miss. Bennett." Miss. Bingley jumped in, uncomfortable with the manner was speaking with her adersary. She offered a fake smile, "But you must admit that you had us at an advantage. You allowed us to talk about ourselves, but we did so unknowing that the animals would reflect us. You, however, knew that what you would be saying would reflect you. It hardly seems fair, speaking only of the positive attributes you possess, that we may not know your character as well as we should otherwise."
Lizzy paused, thinking about the idea, "True, but I answered the same way that I had the first time at that dinner party. No one speaks of bad things about the animal that they admire." She tried but failed, not to think of Mrs. and Mr. Hurst's unbecoming answers, who still remained quiet. And so she had to backtrack and said, "But... if you insist...something BAD about an elephant could be that when they are provoked, or their family is in danger, they have the ability to crush their adversary. An elephant on a rampage is not something I'd want to trifle with."
"Oh, that is hardly a fault, Miss. Bennett. When family is in danger, one does what one must. But could an elephant have...a hidden flaw perhaps? Such as prejudice or vanity, maybe?" Caroline pressed. Her only aim was to make the competition less desirable in her company's eyes, which made the question lack propriety.
But Elizabeth considered her question as it was a valid and thoughtful question. Lizzy knew that Caroline wasn't talking about elephants. Yes, she did have quite a bit of vanity. But, as she was the hostess of the game perhaps she WAS allowed that advantage, she reasoned within herself, of not admitting faults. And she didn't think of elephants as vain creatures. But she refused to rise to the bait. As long as it wasn't directed at her family, the elephant wouldn't allow the little kitty to upset her.
"Hmmm, I don't get that impression when I look at an elephant. But, I must confess that I don't know what goes on inside an elephant's brain." She smiled ruefully, eyes sparkling, "Perhaps they do."
So intriguing had been the conversation for all involved, that time had slipped by unawares and they had sat at the table 30 minutes longer than had been originally planned. Elizabeth was the first to excuse herself in order to check on Jane. Everyone got up as well, and dispersed to different parts of the house.
In the hallway, however, Mr. Bingley addressed Elizabeth as she was about to climb the stairs to the bedrooms. "Miss. Elizabeth, might I have a word with you?"
"Certainly." she replied, curious.
"I was wondering ah, well, if...if you could perhaps tell me what Jane's favorite animal is?" he said, a little embarrassed.
Elizabeth's eyes twinkled in delight. She nonetheless gave him a nonchalant reply, in order to make him feel more at ease. "Oh, she loves rabbits."
"Truly?!" he thought a moment, then smiled radiantly "Excellent! And her second?"
"I'll let you ask her that yourself." Lizzy smiled at the expression he then gave her, curtsied, and made her way upstairs.
Mr. Bingley chuckled after she was gone, and then turned to Mr. Darcy who he didn't realize had been there, "She's quite the vixen, that Miss. Elizabeth." not realizing what he had said.
Mr. Darcy scowled, "What are you implying, Charles?"
Mr. Bingley was caught off guard. "You think I was implying something? What could I be implying?"
Mr. Darcy stared at Mr. Bingley for a while, before sighing and bringing a hand through his hair. He thought Mr. Bingley had been implying that she was Mr. Darcy's vixen, which he had already begun to suspect himself during almost the whole course of the conversation about spouses and friends. Clever, playful, beautiful, teasing, and out of reach. Not much of a challenge to "hunt" though, surely. Any woman would accept him. "Bird hunting" would be a better match for him and in-line with his family's expectations though. But the thought of bird hunting made him think of how unpleasant it would be to "hunt" superficial, loud-mouthed peacocks instead of a fine-eyed fox.
He finally said, "Nothing. Leave it be. Let's go check on the damaged irrigation ditch." He turned and left in a foul mood, at war with himself... with a bewildered Mr. Bingley following him, wondering what could be making his friend so pensive.
Elizabeth tended to Jane. Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy were fixing their tenant's flooding irrigation problem. Mr. Hurst was taking a nice, warm, sunlit nap on the couch by the window. While Louisa and Caroline were in the piano room, speaking of lace, feathers, and a certain young woman residing in their home.
The occupants went about their day and remained in contemplation of the things they had learned. Not only about themselves, but about one another.
Vixen- female fox. Also known as an impertinent lady ;)
This is something you should try with people! It works. Ask them what their first and second favorite animals are and to be specific about why. You'll be surprised by how exact it is if the person likes animals. If they don't like animals, then they're stupid and not worth your time. Jk...but seriously. ^_^ Have a lovely day all you animal lovers out there!