Saturday 2 March 2024



Introducing Damn Her and Her Fine Eyes!

Greetings, dear readers of My Jane Austen Book Club! Today, I am thrilled to present to you a delightful treat for all lovers of Regency-era literature and the intricate dance of courtship: Damn Her and Her Fine Eyes!

This short story, penned by the talented author behind "The Three Witches of Milton," delves into the world of Caroline Bingley, a character familiar to fans of Jane Austen's beloved classic, Pride and Prejudice. Set in the illustrious realm of Austen's England, Damn Her and Her Fine Eyes! offers a captivating glimpse into the life and intrigues of one of literature's most memorable antagonists.

In this intimate tale, Caroline Bingley takes center stage, revealing layers of her character often left unexplored. With a narrative spanning a mere 2,000 words, the story unfolds with precision and nuance, inviting readers to unravel the complexities of Caroline's ambitions, desires, and innermost thoughts.

As we journey through the pages of Damn Her and Her Fine Eyes! we witness Caroline Bingley in all her glory and vulnerability, her aspirations laid bare against the backdrop of Regency society. Through the author's skillful prose, we are drawn into Caroline's world, where wit and charm mask a yearning for recognition and affection.

This short story, nestled within the pages of  The Three Witches of Milton, offers a fresh perspective on a character often relegated to the role of antagonist. As we explore Caroline Bingley's motivations and desires, we are reminded that even the most seemingly composed individuals harbor secrets and vulnerabilities beneath their polished exteriors.

I invite you, dear readers, to immerse yourselves in the world of "Damn Her and Her Fine Eyes!" Join us as we unravel the mysteries of Caroline Bingley's heart and engage in spirited discussion about the nuances of her character. Your insights, reflections, and interpretations are invaluable as we explore the depths of this intriguing figure from the annals of literary history.

So, without further ado, let us embark on this journey together and discover the hidden truths lurking within the pages of Damn Her and Her Fine Eyes! I eagerly anticipate our discussions and the insights that will undoubtedly enrich our understanding of Caroline Bingley and the world she inhabits.


Damn Her And Her Fine Eyes!

Caroline Bingley’s Story

As Caroline Bingley sat at the breakfast table of her Chelsea house, nibbling crossly at the corner of a crumpet that had, much to her irritation, not been toasted to her exact specifications, she cast a disdainful glance at the window where the rain lashed, wiggling down the panes like a cluster of translucent worms in a race. A loathing for rain gripped her; it had a knack for spoiling the exquisite hems of her silken gowns. To compound matters, the inclement weather dampened the likelihood of a certain gentleman making social calls when in town, meaning that he was less likely to find the opportunity or impulse to request her hand in marriage.

Nevertheless, at least she could find some slight solace in the fact that she was in London, once again supplanted in civilisation. The busy thoroughfare outside, with its harried hum, provided a congenial symphony of urban sophistication that matched the melody of her character. She admired the symmetry and uniformity of cities, the way they edited disorder, eradicated it, rather, and corrected it with exactness in the form of straight streets and shiny marble buildings. Indeed, Caroline found relief in the cacophony, grateful for the absence of the insufferable chirping that inundated the trees around Netherfield Park. Those horrid little birds, with their audacious insolence, seemed to have claimed the wildlife-infested land as their own, as if they held some preposterous entitlement to the grounds that predated and predestined hers.

‘Ugh! Nature!’ she exclaimed with an air of exasperation, her sensibilities offended by the very idea of such insubordination. Was there ever anything more unnatural? Caroline's contemplation was accompanied by a contemptuous grimace that etched itself upon her refined features and attempted to sink into her skin as wrinkles set in stone. In her discerning estimation, nature appeared as an unwelcome intrusion into the cultivated realm of elegance she sought to establish. The very notion of untamed creatures asserting their presence in domains of genteel living struck her as a direct affront to the principles of propriety she held dear. Moreover, the expansive grounds provided ample space for walking, a most irksome exercise. Legs had been made by God to wear fine silken stockings, not, to be used for traipsing about. Besides, it afforded obstinate and headstrong women, who refused to adhere to conventional decorum, the freedom to wander and captivate the notice of eligible bachelors.

Yes, nature should be kept in its place.

With a dismissive shake of her head, Caroline deftly dabbed at her mouth to rid it of the lingering smears of jam and put her mind to contemplating much pleasanter concerns. Pondering the allocation of her precious time, she resolved to dedicate it exclusively to the most superior pursuits. Perhaps a leisurely shopping expedition, a scenic drive through St James's Park, or the attendance of an elegant luncheon with the potential for disseminating some tastefully malicious gossip. After all, for what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn? Though, Caroline would personally omit any suggestion that she could ever make sport for others, for one so exemplary as she could only be talked of with the utmost admiration, and, of course, envy.

Yet, the most alluring prospect of all, was the idea of reclining on her sumptuous settee, allowing her thoughts to luxuriate in contemplation of the handsome Fitzwilliam Darcy and the abundance of his marvellous wealth. In this quest for elevated indulgence, Caroline envisioned her day unfolding with an exquisite fantasy.

Cue breathy sigh.

In Caroline’s case, the saying was truer than true: A lady's imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.

As she thought this most deliciously delightful thought, her quixotic musings were interrupted as the door opened abruptly, and her brother marched right on in, as if he owned the place, even if he did, in fact, own the place. Caroline's giddy grin flopped into a frown.


'Charles,' she nipped, declining him the courtesy of a “good morning,” and doing her best to perfect her pitch so that it sounded as peeved as possible, a proficient art that any finishing school worth its salt would teach a respectable young lady, and needless to say, Caroline Bingley was the very best there ever was at spouting a cynical and sneering jibe.

However, much to her dissatisfaction, her brother was not the least bit perturbed by her artful attempt at rudeness, and as she looked up, a disgruntled Caroline discerned the sparkle in his irritatingly lively eyes, his cheeks pink and plump, just like a baby's bottom. With her flawless skin turning scarlet in provocation, Caroline scowled, and if one listened carefully, then one would swear that she snarled too.

'What is the matter with you?' she bit out with a wasp-like sting, sipping her coffee and swirling the tart brew around her mouth. Caroline was never happy with her brother at the best of times, but she had made a vow to permanently dislike him -no, wait, detest him, - ever since he had become engaged to that Bennet creature and thus degraded the Bingley name by association. What would people think of them? He was entering into a marriage with a family lacking any distinguished pedigree, accompanied by a mother of unapologetic vulgarity and sisters spanning the spectrum from mind-numbingly mundane to outrageously shocking. His ill-advised match (to put it mildly), blatantly invited the scrutiny of public opinion.

As Charles roamed back and forth with eager agitation, his curly hair caught the rays of the sun which shone through the window, affecting the red strands upon his head to gleam like fine wires of copper -how common! With her narrowed eyes tracking him as he paced about the lavishly decorated morning room like a buffoon, practically prancing as he went, Caroline grumbled, a slight growl seeping out from between her gritted (yet perfectly straight and white), teeth.

Charles, exuding an unrestrained exuberance akin to a poorly trained puppy, could hardly contain the bubbling excitement coursing through him from tip to toe. As he clapped his hands and licked his lips, the man energetically rolled on the balls of his feet, preparing to unleash his most remarkable announcement with an infectious zeal that promised to captivate the attention of his sibling.

'I have something to tell you,' he started, his face awash with animation. ‘It is about our dear friend, Darcy.'

Caroline, who had been drinking her coffee, suddenly stopped and stilled, a generous mouthful of hot, brown, sugary liquid now stuck in her gossiping mouth while she waited with bated breath.

Oh! What was this? The tantalising mystery hung in the air, supplemented by a cascade of questions. Was it something truly ominous? Was Mr Darcy unwell, or worse, involved in an accident that had permanently disfigured his handsome face? The belief seemed implausible and it did not tally with her brother’s jovial demeanour. It had to be something delightful, Caroline reassured herself. Could it be that his horrid aunt had passed away, leaving him a substantial fortune and the grand estate of Rosings Park? Or, perhaps he had finally persuaded Charles to relinquish his intentions of marrying Jane Bennet and instead consider uniting with Mr Darcy's sister, Georgiana? The prospect of such a twist in fate enthralled Caroline, and she found herself favouring the notion.

‘You will never guess!’ he taunted good-naturedly.

Good heavens! What could it possibly be, thought she?!

Charles was grinning from ear to ear like a Cheshire Cat who had well and truly got his cream, and after letting out a strident chuckle of joy, one which can only derive from a person with the most gentle and generous of hearts, he cheerfully revealed, 'Why, he is engaged to be married!'

In a mere twinkling of an eye, Caroline spat out her coffee, the contents spilling out, rather like...well, I am sorry to have to say it and be so uncouth (especially over the breakfast table), but rather like an animal spraying its...well, you know what.

Coughing and spluttering, Caroline nearly choked, her countenance flushing a vivid hue resembling rhubarb.

Engaged!’ she blustered, the word struggling to escape, its two syllables momentarily lodged in the recesses of her throat, threatening to do her in.

Charles' head bobbed with such fervour that it seemed a marvel it did not dislodge from its figurative perch altogether. The vigour of his nodding left Caroline feeling distinctly woozy.

'Yes!' he confirmed merrily. 'Is it not wonderful? And to think, he and I will be like brothers since we shall marry two sisters, the dearest ladies in all the world, Jane and Elizabeth Bennet!' he cried, overjoyed by this most agreeable turn of events.

'Oh! I must go and tell Louisa!' he said, opening the door and skidding off down the hallway to speak with his other sister.

Left alone once more, Caroline sat there in stunned silence, her mind seething, pounding in the stillness of her solitude. Clutching onto the coffee cup which still reposed in her well-polished hand, she tightened her grip, and before she knew it, the fine china had shattered, sending fragments of Royal Doulton across the table in a furious frenzy.
As these pent-up passions erupted within, Caroline found herself utterly devastated. Her nostrils flared, her eyes bulged, and her chest heaved with the intensity of the agitation she felt, not to forget the mephitic anger. The world around her seemed to blur as her mind reeled from the overwhelming spate of feelings. In a moment of unbridled release, all she could do was unleash the loudest and most unladylike scream that had ever escaped her pretty yet petty lips.

The reverberations of her shriek boomed through the room, setting the delicate glass of the windows aquiver, causing the chandelier to sway precariously, and even affecting the water goblets on the table to shudder in fright. The physical manifestations of her emotional outburst mirrored the chaos she suppressed inside, leaving an aftermath of trembling fragility in the once-stately room.

She was experiencing not only humiliation but, on a deeper level, a twinge of heartbreak. Had she ever genuinely loved Mr Darcy? Perhaps not, but she desired him fervently, making the prospect of him marrying another, especially someone as unsuitable and wholly unexpected as Elizabeth Bennet, particularly painful. The impulse to cry overtook her, a tumultuous wave labouring to breach the walls of her composure. With unyielding determination, she resisted, refusing to yield to the dander that loomed. How could she see him again after this? And, perhaps more daunting still, how could she face herself? The relics of her broken aspirations recoiled and cowered in her wake, casting shadows over the demoralising prospect of a fractured self-image that was beyond repair. She would never be a Darcy. She would never live at Pemberley. And worst of all, she would never have ten thousand a year.

Caroline remained unmarried, never encountering a man who could command her admiration as Mr Darcy had. On the rare occasions when she approached the brink of such a connection, her spiteful tongue promptly repelled any potential suitors. They considered her an embittered spinster, which was exactly what she was. Gradually, even her sister wearied of her escalating animosity. She found herself unable to visit her brother, whose happiness had flourished in stark contrast to her own diminishing prospects. His joy had become entangled with the Bennet family, a name she abhorred. There is, in every disposition a tendency to some particular evil, a natural defect, which not even the best education can overcome. And her defect was a propensity to hate everybody.

Over the passing years, Caroline withdrew into a reclusive existence, her mind even going so far as to fondly recall her days at Netherfield, wondering how different everything could have been if she had simply made peace with those around her. Still, the resentment continued to poison her gradually. Each encounter with a woman of striking beauty, who thought and spoke her mind, evoked an involuntary hiss, a testament to the venom that had bled into her solitary existence, and she would be known to boo:

‘Damn her and her fine eyes!’



John Thornton just wants to settle down by the fire after a long week at Marlborough Mills. However, when he enters his drawing room, the master is horrified to find that far from being alone, he is beset by the company of three guileful antagonists, each one intent on trapping him with her feminine charms, claiming this eligible bachelor for her husband. Forced to ward off North and South’s Ann Latimer, Pride and Prejudice’s Caroline Bingley and Jane Eyre’s Blanche Ingram, John must use his wit and wiles to evade the flirtatious enchantments of these three figurative witches of Milton. But just as he thinks he has eluded their womanly spells, they begin to sharpen their claws and vilify a certain young lady whom John cherishes in his broken heart, and that, our literary hero will not stand for.

N.B. 100% of the lifetime royalties are being given by the author to Gaskell's House, Jane Autsen's House and the Bronte Parsonage 


1 comment:

Frankie Pennington Groff said...

To be so petty and resentful wasting ones own life on stubbornness.