Welcome back to Crappy Pride and Prejudice! Let’s get started, shall we?
Lady D has decided it’s high time to get the creepy Denham step-siblings married (but not to each other, despite their apparent fantasies). She dispatches Clara to their place with a note summoning them for a choose-a-spouse session. Clara wanders in at just the right or wrong time, depending on whose side you’re on, and catches the pair in a rather creepy and inappropriate stays-lacing situation.
Later, at Lady D’s, her ladyship berates the pair for refusing to just settle down with some rich ugly people already. She’s apparently found an English Walder Frey with a passel of daughters for Edward to choose from, and when she hears that one of Sidney’s friends, Lord Babingdon, is sniffing around Esther she practically claps her hands with glee. But Esther’s utterly uninterested in the guy, so now Lady D’s mad at her.
She dispatches both Esther and Clara to the piano to play for her. Clara plays away, and taunts Esther with what she knows about her and Edward, until Esther storms out. Clara goes after her and, in a moment that seems friendly (but I don’t know that I really trust this chick, to be honest), she warns Esther that men kinda suck.
Back home, Esther starts to get upset about how stuck she seems to be in every area. She kind of wildly suggests to Edward that they just pack up and go to Venice or wherever, and he laughs and tells her that’s not going to happen anytime soon, because eventually they’ll both have to get married, despite what they really want. She holds it together until he leaves the room, and then bursts into tears.
In other news, Tom’s in a bad way, financially speaking. He’s scaling back plans for the building and clearly can’t get the extra workers or equipment he promised Young Stringer. He’s hoping that Sidney can get his credit extended at the bank, but apparently that’s not happening. In his panic, he does what a lot of people do in that position: sticks his head in the sand and buys his wife an expensive gift, because he’s trying to convince himself as much as everyone else that everything is JUST FINE!
Meanwhile, Charlotte’s getting to be pretty good friends with Young Stringer, who seems to be experimenting with architectural design in his free time. His father gruffly tells him to stop getting ideas above his station, so you can all go ahead and tick that phrase off your Period Piece Bingo Cards.
Charlotte then heads off to go see Georgiana Lambe. Georgiana begs Charlotte to help her get out of the house, so Charlotte lies to the governess that they’re going on a picnic with Tom and Mary Parker. Totally proper!
But when they get to the picnic spot, guess who’s waiting for them! It’s Georgiana’s boyfriend, Otis Molyneux. Charlotte is not pleased by this development and rightly feels used. She also refuses to leave when Georgiana attempts to dismiss her and so becomes a grudging third wheel.
She eventually unbends a bit, and the trio have some fun. Charlotte asks how the pair met and Georgiana laughs and says he mistook her for a servant at a ball, which makes him sound really stupid. I mean, I get that there’s a race aspect to that, but he’s black too, which makes you think he would know better than to just assume that every black person he sees is a servant. Also, we’ve seen her dressed for a ball. No way would she be mistaken for a servant. Come on. Anyway, they get all googly and talk about how he thought she was spoiled and she thought he was rude and high-handed. Hey! What other couple does this sound like?
The three of them
steal borrow someone’s boat and Otis proceeds to propose. With Charlotte sitting right behind him. Awkward! Georgiana reminds him that she can’t marry without Sidney’s consent, so Otis throws himself out of the boat and pretends to have drowned for a few seconds. You know, for laughs!
And then Charlotte gets clued into the fact that slavery exists. No kidding, she seems shocked to find out that Otis was born a slave and stammers that slavery is just part of history. Oh, come on, Charlotte. Slavery wasn’t even abolished in the UK until 1833, and obviously it continued far longer in other countries and colonies. I find this level of cluelessness, even on a young woman who’s grown up in the countryside, kind of hard to believe. But fine, let’s go with it.
Lucky for Otis, he was bought by a man who freed and educated him, and now he belongs to an abolitionist organisation called the Sons of Africa.
Georgiana then chips in that Charlotte should ask Sidney about his time in Antigua, where he was apparently happy to condone slavery when there was money to be made.
Charlotte is HORRIFIED.
And hey! Sidney’s back from London! What great timing! He swings by the Parker home first, where he sees Mary, and then goes to see Georgiana, only to be told she’s out on a picnic with… Mary. He knows that’s not true and takes off to go find her.
The date is winding down. Otis needs to go. He and Charlotte are pals now, and she asks why Sidney would object to Otis as a suitor for Georgiana. It’s because he’s black, of course.
The trio head back into town to deliver the ladies home. And that’s when Sidney comes upon them. He’s practically apoplectic at the sight of Otis and tells Mrs Griffiths, the governess, that Miss Lambe is never to see this man again. He also tells Otis to clear off and never come back.
Charlotte tries to intervene and is told by Sidney to just back off. Otis gets on the coach back to London and Georgiana is bundled off.
Sidney then rounds on Charlotte and scolds her for not keeping Georgiana out of trouble. She yells at him for interfering in Georgiana’s happiness, and he tells her to stay out of a matter she doesn’t understand. People passing on the street stop to stare at these two rich people just yelling at each other. She accuses him of being a racist and a defender of slavery and he screams at her to basically shut up.
She takes a walk to cool down, accompanied by Young Stringer. She talks about how much people can suck, and he’s like, ‘You’re so outspoken! I love it!’
So, there’s that.
The next day, Charlotte goes to see Georgiana and tells her she totally hates Sidney now, so if Georgiana wants to keep contacting Otis, she’ll help. And so, she becomes their go-between.