Texts From Pride and Prejudice

by Mallory Ortberg

And you must see to it that your sister invites Mr. Bingley, Lizzie
He isn’t here, Mother
Isn’t here?
he must be here
the ball is in seven days
and if he is not here then how will we convince our Mr. Darcy to attend?
Mr. Darcy is not here either
but I thought he was in London
for business
and would return in time for the ball
he is not in London
he is on a ship
he is going to war
but this is terrible news
There is an actual war on right now
against Napoleon
how could this have happened??
He was commissioned months ago
And Mr. Bingley?
He is also there
He is also at the war that is happening now
oh my god
we are going to have to put off this ball
Probably yes

do you know who I miss?
Mr. Collins
remember Mr. Collins?
remember him?
remember when he visited?
I do
I do remember
what I liked about him the most
how much he wanted to marry you
remember that?
remember when there was someone who wanted to marry you
there isn’t anyone like that now

Mother, have you seen Mary?
No one has seen her since Jane returned from London
Mary who?
I don’t know anybody by that name
Mary Bennett
I don’t believe so
doesn’t sound familiar

Does this mean that Mr. Wickham has left too?
for the war?
you’re asking if military officer Mr. Wickham has also gone off to war?
He has also gone off to war, yes
good God
if there is a man you are thinking of
under the age of 35
who is in the militia or an officer of any kind
he is probably at the war
is that where your friend Mary went too
the one who went missing
I don’t think so
well you should check
apparently everyone is going there
apparently no one is going to balls anymore because they just can’t get enough of Napoleon

did you mean MARY?
did I mean what?
when you were talking about Mary earlier
were you talking about MARY Mary?
which Mary did you think I was talking about?
the tall one
the one who lives upstairs
with the glasses
the upstairs girl
who frowns at the piano

oh Jane i’m so happy for you
Thank you
and Lizzie too of course
Yes, that’s wonderful
and now Lydia too
thank God you all found such wonderful men to marry
Thank you
we would all honestly be homeless right now if you hadn’t
I suppose that’s true
we would have nowhere to go
everyone we know would just
allow that to happen to us
I hope you don’t think I was so hard on all of you about it without cause
No of course not
It’s just that if you didn’t marry I would spend the rest of my life worrying about my homeless daughters
I’m just glad we’re all so happy now
and even if you aren’t
literally your only other options would have been prostitution or begging
Let’s not talk about it
Please have sons
all right, Mother
have sons and be happy
I know
I’m still going to lose the house
the minute your father dies
he’ll just be dead and I’ll have no husband
and no house and nothing
I know
I’m going to have to live with one of you
you’re going to have let me move in with you
I know

Previously: Texts From Don Quixote

Mallory Ortberg is a writer in the Bay Area. She is a regular contributer for Gawker and The Gloss.