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A Whole New Way

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Lizzie Bennet -- handsome, clever, and rich -- seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence, yet she had lived twenty-one years in the world feeling a near-constant sensation of distress and vexation. She came to desire a change in her situation, and she set about effecting such a change with a singular determination. Her first order of business was to instigate a most invigorating boxing match with her sister. In this manner a secret Club, The Fight Club, was erected between Lizzie and some of her most intimate friends.

All the ladies found the activities of the Club most agreeable, and time found them all much altered for the better. They became happier young women -- many even purported to have acquired useful skills that aided them in securing an engagement to be married ("You know I found Mr Bingley a very handsome and agreeable man when I first met him, and I am now assured he thought of me likewise," Jane would later tell her sister in a letter. "But I am now certain that he would never have had the courage to come forward had I not punched him in the face. How positively wonderful love is, sweet Lizzie.").

And yet, in spite of the wonderful secret she shared with her friends, and the renewed vigour she had at first felt when making the other young ladies bleed and beg for respite, Lizzie found her good spirits waning. Something was, quite simply, missing.

One genial and pleasant evening Lizzie and her friend Charlotte were strolling about the gardens in a leisurely manner when Charlotte (being sensitive to her friend's ennui) pushed Lizzie vigorously into a tall hedge. Lizzie gave out an astonished cry and waved her arms to regain the equilibrium to extract herself from the thorny brush while Charlotte gazed fondly at her.

When at length Lizzie had freed herself from the vegetation, she gave her friend a quizzical look. "What on Earth was that for," she cried and set her hands on her hips.

Charlotte smirked and curved an eyebrow. "I thought perhaps there was something you wished to ask me, Liz."

Lizzie looked away. "I'm sure I don't know what you mean."

Charlotte crossed her arms. "Liz, the seventh rule of Fight Club is: the fight continues as long as a lady requires. Have you been heeding all the rules, Liz?" Lizzie stayed very quiet. "Is there something you would like to ask me?" Charlotte said again, tapping her foot impatiently.

Lizzie looked at Charlotte, her eyes shining with fresh hope and rekindled fondness. "I want you to hit me as hard as you can," she said mischievously, head held high and ready.

Charlotte laughed in fond exasperation and stepped very close. She leaned in and touched her lips to Lizzie's, biting down with such intensity as to nearly draw blood, and Lizzie exclaimed a gasp of anticipation. "All you had to do was ask," she whispered, and Lizzie shivered happily.

It was a truth universally acknowledged within the Fight Club that Lizzie's pursuit of bruises was by nature somewhat apart from that of the other ladies. A familiar gleam would certainly adorn the eye of all the members of the club during the days succeeding a meeting, but Lizzie would be positively aglow.