Once upon a time, in the grand countryside of England, resided a fine and handsome gentleman named Mr. Darcy. A good man who sought to do justly and care for the hurting, and, more importantly a man of great wealth and estate, he had been pledged at birth to a young woman of noble descent, the daughter of Lady Catherine de Bourgh. This young woman, being an equal to himself as far as family and good breeding were required, was an excellent match for him but for one thing lacking– love.
It happened, that while on a trip to his friend Mr. Bingley’s country house, which also was a great estate with many servants, he met a family with all daughters by the name of Bennet. The oldest was fair and renowned for her beauty, yet it was the second Elizabeth, called ‘Lizzie by those of close acquaintance, who might be his wistful bride.
The Bennet family did not have much to offer. The girls’ dowry would only be eight-hundred pounds each, not enough to draw the eye of many gentlemen. Their family was also a bit questionable when it came to respect of class. Sometimes the mother and youngest daughter in particular would do such horrid things that one might wonder if there was any good breeding left in the borough of Netherfield.
Lizzie herself was not as accomplished as the daughter of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, whom Darcy was betrothed to, yet she could play the piano and sing a little. She also had not had the privilege of the fine education that had been graced upon Miss de Bourgh, yet she was a thinking young woman who could make sense of things.
One crisp day in Spring when Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley passed near the Bennet home of Longbourn, they decided to pay a visit. Upon entrance into the small but elegant parlor, the company were all seated as the housekeeper brought in the afternoon tea. It was during this brief eclipse of conversation that Mr. Darcy’s eye spied something- or rather someone- just beyond the door which had been hastily left ajar by the staff. There down the hall, in the kitchen was a young girl of no great importance who was meant to be scrubbing the floors.
She sat on her knees in a tattered, and from the looks of it, very dirty dress that she had outgrown at least two summers past. Her eyes were dull and squinty like a dismal morning on the moors. Her nose was just as crooked as her forehead was broad. She paused for a moment as her unsolicited onlooker surveyed her. She sat back upon her heels, took a big sniff and wiped away a clod of drainage pouring out from her hooked nose with a dirty sleeve.
Darcy cocked his head and observed yet more with his keen eye. This young woman, who could not be more than 17 years of age, had skin with large red splotches that mimicked the scarlet-colored clay that he had seen on the north of the island. Her large, bulbous fingers were covered with layers of grime that was so thick it might have been assumed that is was from many past civilizations. Could her nails have been seen beneath the muck, it would be noted that they had been bitten ferociously all the way down to but a sliver.
Her hair appeared to be the color of a dark ale at first inspection, but a bucket of suds might reveal a lighter hue, as well as a large colony of crawlers within it that kept her filthy hands scratching it near continuously. Her figure was just as brilliant as the rest of her visage…it was wiry thin with no shape or form, like one of the fenceposts that lined the pastureland just outside.
His heart now beating violently in his chest, Darcy stood to his feet and rushed abruptly past Miss Lizzie Bennet to the scullery maid’s side.
“Pardon me, ma’am,” said the gentleman with eyes bright and his voice gently lilting down to her, “would you join me for a turn around the garden on this lovely afternoon?”
Uncertain but curious, the girl stood, and together the pair took their leave of the fashionable persons sitting bewildered in the far room.
“Tell me, does your family live nearby?” the gentleman inquired.
“Ain’t got no family so as tuh speak of…me fawther’s always in the gutta’ bloind drunk. He ain’t got a brass farthing tuh his name these daze,” she muttered angrily revealing an alarming smile of mostly missing teeth.
“What schooling have you had? Do you play the piano and sing? Do you speak French and German or just French?”
“Awgh! Sir, I ain’t nevuh been tuh skool. They can’t make no propuh’ gul outta me! An’ I don’t knu’ how tuh play a bloomin’ note on thu piano!” She laughed far too loudly, and Darcy smiled down at her.
“My lovely one, do pray, put my feelings at ease…I need hear no more! Please say that you will be my wife, that you will come and eat at my table and share quiet evenings in sweet conversation by the fire. Marry me and be the mistress of my great estate Pemberly!”
Before Ms. Austin rolls over in her literary grave, let’s set things straight. This is not how the story goes. In days, where women with no hope of inheriting their father’s estate and very little dowry were subject to find a way to provide for themselves and their family by marrying well, so it was quite a stretch for a man like Mr. Darcy to give a second glance to Ms. Lizzie Bennet who was fairly accomplished at music, art, and etiquette. It was nothing but absolute, tea-cart rattling love that would drive him to marry beneath his status like that; and so it is with all these tales. It is shocking that a man would stoop “so low” as to marry a lady of less wealth and breeding than him. Yet it is absolutely preposterous, even to the greatest of romantic minds, that a man such as this would fall desperately in love with the pathetic, unbecoming, penniless, filthy, ignorant creature that was the scullery maid.
That story is not one that can be found in Brit’ lit. It is shall we say “a ghastly and peculiar thought of absolutely no merit whatsoever! Pure poppycock!!!”
….until it wasn’t.
You see, there was a day, when the Greatest of them all- more than a lord- the King of all Kings with wealth and kindness beyond measure looked down at the most pitiful and pathetic wretch. She had no power to improve her station in life and was nothing but unlovable. Yet, as unimaginable as this may be, He loved her deeply. He loved her not for anything that she was or would ever be. He loved her because that is who He is.
My friend, we are the scullery maids, and we have been chosen by Him– to walk safely holding to His arm, to claim His name, to hold privilege to all that He possesses. It makes no sense. It is quite unimaginable. But it is true, and it has the happiest of endings.
“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,” Eph. 4:1-4