Did you have ‘A cricket match’ on your period drama bingo card? Congratulations! You get to tick that one off because of course there had to be a cricket match. Cricket, you know:
Seriously, though, cricket? Why do they keep throwing that into costume dramas? Is there no other way to say ‘we’re in England, you know?’ Do the accents and rivers of tea not give it away?
Oh, whatever. There’s cricket. Apparently there’s this very, very important cricket game between the rich people and the workers that’s so vital we’ve only just started hearing about it now. Wasn’t there supposed to be a regatta or something? What’s happened to that?
So, this VERY, VERY important cricket game is in peril because Tom’s not been paying the workers (broke, remember), so they’re threatening to just not show up to the match. I mean, that’s just so British right there. ‘You, sir! You scoundrel! I could just refuse to work, but no! I shall simply embarrass you socially!’
The show tries very hard to turn this into a whole tense thing, but of course they show up to the match. But not before Arthur’s scarfed all the sandwiches because he’s FAT and all he does is EAT of course.
Also attending this match are Sidney and his pals, Lord Babington and That Other Guy Who Just Drinks All the Time. Babington has pretty much come to town because he’s starting to hope he might have a chance with Esther. This is because Lady D wrote to him on Esther’s behalf, encouraging his pursuit, and Esther, pressured by her aunt and getting kind of sick of being jerked around by her brother
Sorry, this is what pops into my head every time I have to write that.
Right, Esther, tired of being jerked around by Edward, starts to think maybe she’ll just go ahead and encourage Babington. I don’t think Esther really knows what she wants anymore. To be fair, she’s in a bad position. She has no money and Babington has loads. He seems like a nice enough guy, but you know he’ll bore the hell out of her in no time flat, which is an unfair situation for both of them. She knows she shouldn’t really go ahead with this, but isn’t being given much of a choice.
Cricket happens. Like many people, I don’t know anything about cricket, so I can’t comment on the game, but at one point Tom throws a wobbler over something or other. The umpire declares against him, and the argument escalates until Young Stringer and the workmen let slip that Tom hasn’t been paying them. Tom stomps off in a snit. Mary, mortified, follows him home and yells at him for not confiding in her. So now he’s humiliated, ruined, and his wife hates him.
Back at the match, you’d think that the big deal would be the fact that the men building the town aren’t being paid, but no, the most pressing issue is that the rich people are now down a man and can’t continue. Such drama! But oh, look, here’s Charlotte ready to step up and play. Presumably she learned from playing with her 825 younger brothers. Everyone’s all, ‘A girl? Playing cricket?’
But of course they let her play, because no way are they going to let the rich people forfeit.
Charlotte turns out to be amazing (imagine that!) and the rich people win. Because cricket is, apparently, like life. The rich always do win and the workmen continue to just not get paid.
Meanwhile, Clara’s been kind of sidling up to Edward in a way that just seems creepy. I mean, everything about Edward tends to feel a bit creepy, but Clara’s presence really dials it up. There’s something…off about this girl. Anyway, they’re kind of…flirting? I guess? As much as either of these people really flirt. It’s not terribly romantic.
Also not terribly romantic: Esther and Babington, though they’re giving it the old college try. They abandon the match for a nice stroll in a very picturesque spot, and he ends up proposing. Later, Esther tells Edward she’ll probably accept, because why not, really? But he convinces her not to. With his tongue. So, Esther dumps Babington.
Lady D, as you can imagine, is NOT happy about that. She summons Esther to ream her out and then ends up having some sort of episode. Heart attack, maybe?
Also absconding from the match is Georgiana. She uses the fact that everyone’s enthralled by the cricket to her advantage and flees to London to join Otis. Now, Charlotte had had some inkling that something like this might happen, and so she was keeping an eye on her friend but then she got involved in the match and, well, that happened.
Sidney is enraged when he finds out that Charlotte knew something and didn’t speak up. Charlotte, for her part, is so chagrined she hops on the next coach to London to find her friend herself. Well, this might be interesting. After all, London was one of those places that Austen frequently mentioned but never actually went to in her novels. So, this is something a bit different, at least.