My first short story deals with how Mr. Bingley came to lease Netherfield Hall
An Accidental Recommendation
Mr. Bingley had not been of age two years, when he was tempted by an accidental recommendation to look at Netherfield House.
Comfortably seated across from his man of affairs, Mr. Bingley asked, “Mr. Brown, how goes the search? Has any respectable manor come to light?” It was a question he had been asking for the past year.
Mr. Brown shuffled some papers on his desk. “I fear not, Mr. Bingley. I have made additional inquiries, but I have received little response.”
“That is quite disappointing. My sisters and myself have been all anticipation since the search began. I had no notion that finding a home would take so long.”
“It is a pity that all the previous homes were flawed.”
“Yes, my sisters are very particular in their requirements.”
Mr. Brown decided to offer some manly advice, “Mr. Bingley, if I may be so bold, I advise you to take the next property that meets your requirements. To request your sisters’ opinion is admirable, but I fear, futile. Purchasing an estate can be quite difficult without relying on indecisive female minds.”
Bingley had never considered his sisters to be indecisive. Opinionated suited them better, he thought, but did not mention it.
“Are you quite sure that you wish to purchase an estate?”
“My father had always intended to purchase an estate, but unfortunately did not live to do so. I have determined to purchase an estate as soon as may be possible, in part to fulfill my father’s wishes, but also my own. You will let me know when a desirable property comes on the market?” Bingley added as he rose to leave.
“Indeed, I will sir. I am truly sorry that I could be of more service.” He shook Bingley’s hand.
Bingley was almost to the door when Mr. Brown said, “I had hopes earlier this week that at last I had found the perfect place. I received a letter from a colleague who knew of a place that was all you could have wished for, but alas, the owner only wished to lease the house, not sell.”
Bingley hesitated a moment before turning back to Mr. Brown, “All that could be wished for, you say? I had not thought to lease the property. Did your associate provide any details regarding the estate?”
“Indeed he did. Netherfield Hall is situated a half day’s journey from London. The property includes the Hall, a Park, several farms and a wood land, ideal for sport. The village of Meryton is located less than 3 miles from the Hall. Mr. Moore assures me that hall is in good repair and is in readiness for any family to move in. The owner will be embarking for India and has no plans to return to England in the foreseeable future.”
“It certainly sounds agreeable. Since the property is close, I believe that I will look at the Hall myself. Do you think the house will be available for viewing three days hence?” Bingley asked.
“I will make certain that it is,” declared Mr. Brown as he showed his client out the door.
Illustration by Joseph Miralles from the Great Illustrated Classics edition of Pride & Prejudice and colored by me.
Three days later, Bingley set off for Netherfield. He asked his friend Darcy to join him. Between them there was a very long and steady friendship, in spite of a great opposition of character. Bingley had the highest opinion of Darcy’s understanding and cleverness. Thus his view of Netherfield was to be valued.
Bingley and Darcy arrived shortly after midday. They looked at Netherfield and around it for half an hour. Bingley was very well pleased with the situation and all the principal rooms, and quite satisfied with what the owner said in its praise. Bingley was ready to take it immediately. However, he checked his enthusiasm, for Darcy had yet to venture an opinion.
Shaking the owner’s hand, Bingley said, “Would you mind if we took a closer look at the grounds?”
There were no objections and a further half-hour was passed as Bingley and Darcy rode about the land. It looked to be a well-run establishment with the Park, farms and woods all well situated. Bingley’ was almost certain that he would take it, but he had yet to hear Darcy’s opinion.
“Do you think the property is suitable?” he asked, no longer able to withstand his friend’s silence.
“The house is in good repair, the grounds are well-tended, and the property appears to managed by a competent steward. You could do worse.”
“Yes, but how can I do better? You will not sell Pemberley.”
“No, I will not,” Darcy smiled. “Take the house if meets all your expectations.”
“I believe it does, yes, I believe it does. I shall speak with the attorney this afternoon.”
“You are confident that your sisters will also find it suitable?” Darcy asked.
“No,” said Bingley truthfully, “but I daresay they will come around eventually.” All anticipation he spurred his horse forward.
Darcy was not as optimistic as his young friend but chose to keep that counsel to himself. He urged his horse to a gallop and quickly overtook Bingley in the impromptu race.
The rest of the day was spent with the attorney, going over the details of leasing an establishment, but as Bingley lay his head on the inn’s pillow that evening, he knew himself to be the possessor of Netherfield Hall.
And all of Meryton knew it, too.
The following afternoon, Bingley enthusiastically related the good news to his sisters.
Caroline, of course, took exception, “But it is not an estate of your own. You will only be a tenant. You should have not settled for someone else’s property, but purchased your own.”
“I had thought to do so previously, but the property in Scotland was too far north, if you will recall. And the estate outside of Bath was dismissed on the grounds that the society was too gouty. And the place in Cornwall was too wild, Romney to marshy…”
“Yes,” Louisa interrupted, “all very good reasons for not purchasing those properties. But do you really think this Neverfield is the answer?”
“Netherfield, Louisa, Netherfield Park. I believe it will do splendidly. I am already making plans to have a small shooting party in the fall. Darcy and a few others, perhaps.”
Miss Bingley cheered up at that prospect, “I am by no means unwilling to preside at your table, Brother, and act as your hostess.”
Bingley smiled happily, “I knew I could count on you, Caroline. Louisa, you and Hurst will also have to make up our first party.”
Mrs. Hurst, who had married a man of more fashion than fortune, was disposed to consider Bingley’s house as her home when it suited her. “Of course we will come. We should not miss it for the world.”
“Good. I will be returning there shortly to ascertain that all is readiness for your arrival and to take care of the final details with the attorneys. Then I shall return to escort you to Netherfield.”
When Bingley left the room, Caroline remarked, “Now that he is provided with a good house and the liberty of a manor, it is highly probable that he will spend the remainder of his days at Netherfield, and never purchase an estate of his own.”
“I agree that owning an estate is much better than leasing one. However, the summer months in London have been horrendous. The country air shall be refreshing. And if Netherfield is all that our dear brother believes it to be, I am sure we shall settle happily there.”
“And if it is not, we can escape to London quite readily,” Caroline countered, “Our dear brother is likely to see good where there is too little merit for it.”
“But consider this good, Caroline, Darcy will be able to see how well you can run an establishment.”
“For that I am willing to go wherever our brother wishes, even into the wilds of Hertfordshire.”