Having said that, my husband and I are actually quite lucky in the fact we are both retired, so we don't have to be 'out' there unless we need and/or want to. On the first of January, I did all my shopping for three months - the butcher just about had a fit because I bought over 25 pounds of lean ground and loads of chicken, stewing beef, and a couple of roasts. I have a vacuum sealer and I portion out the food and then freeze them. The only things I must shop for are vegetables and dairy products. Oh! - and wine. I bake all my own bread and have tons of vegetables/fruits that I preserved last fall. I hope all of you are doing your best to stay safe and sane.
Let's get on it with a bonnet, shall we? We ended with Mr. and Mrs. Bennet becoming - ahem - amorous:
All of Meryton was in an uproar over the pending arrival of the gentleman to Netherfield, especially when it became known that Mr. Charles Bingley, a man with over four thousand a year, planned on attending the quarterly Assembly with a large party. The shops in the small village soon ran out of ribbons, lace, dancing slippers, and fans – the local modiste and her assistants were run off their feet with orders for new gowns.
The ladies of Longbourn were equally excited, but not frantic in their preparations. Their papa had visited Mr. Bingley when he arrived and the young gentleman had returned the honor a few days later. The ladies, unaware of the visit until a few minutes after he left, caught sight of him as he cantered down the graveled drive just before he crested the hill and disappeared from sight.
The sum total of their experience was that he wore a blue jacket and rode a very large horse.
Finally, the night was upon them and the Bennet family was surrounded by friends and neighbors, enjoying moments of great hilarity and somber reflection as news of an unexpected death of one of their neighbors became known. A woman, well into her sixth decade, had become a permanent fixture in the clutch of women who tittered behind fans during these types of events. Her caustic wit would be sorely missed, especially by Elizabeth Bennet. In previous Assemblies, she’d sat out dances in order to visit with the lady. More than once, during the night, her gaze flew to the chair the citizens of Meryton left empty that night in honor of their dearly departed friend.