Sunday, May 15, 2011

Wickham's Story

“Wickedness is always wickedness, but folly is not always folly.
It depends upon the character of those who handle it.”
—JANE AUSTEN, English novelist

October 28, 18--
Well, this is a change.  I have received a letter from Denny.  It seems that he is with his regiment in a small town called Meryton, in Hertfordshire.  He has implored me to visit him, as there are a number of pretty girls in the area; and a few seemingly well-off families that attend local society events.  How could country lasses be more diverting than what London has to offer?

A shout and the jangling of harnesses brought Wickham’s head up from his journal writing and he put down his quill and let his eyes drift to the scene outside his window.  It seemed as if the steady flow of humanity outside his rented room was never varied.  The constant noise, as the window had to remain open despite the smell and sounds, was going to undo him.  He thought back to his earlier days as a young boy running alongside the Master of Pemberley.  Those were the days, idyllic and full of envy.  Yes, envy.  Why should he have to go back to his small cramped house with his father who was constantly preoccupied, and his mother who could never seem to stop ordering everyone about - to include her own son?  Fitz had the pleasure to return home to a cool house where he wanted for nothing. 

A loud knock at the front door snapped Wickham from his reverie.  He was not expecting anyone and therefore allowed Mrs. Younge to answer it, as it must be a caller for her.  However, elevated voices caught his attention.  George stood up, grabbing his coat while making sure that he was no longer in view of the window.

‘I’m telling you, sir, that I do not have a boarder by the name of George Wickham in my establishment.  Good day to you.’

‘Well, ma’am, if you know what’s good for ye and that no good lout, you make sure that Wickham sees Mr. Snyde as soon as he sees fit, or there be consequences for the both of ye.’  The loud booming voice was fading as its owner walked away from the front door of Mrs. Younge’s boarding house. 

The slammed door alerted Wickham to the fact that his ‘land lady’ once again covered for him.  Maybe a turn in the countryside would do him some good.  George felt it best to go down and assure Mrs. Younge that this would be the last of people knocking on the door, asking for him.  George Wickham was going to find himself an heiress to pay off his gaming debts, and keep him in ready money to continue his favourite ‘pastime.’

November 3, 18—
Meryton is much smaller than I expected and the ‘well-off’ families are hardly that.  No heiresses to be found in this small part of the world.  However, lovely girls abound and further intelligence has me to understand that Darcy is in the area.  This should be good sport.  I shall have to watch him to see who he has set his cap at and go after her myself.  That should infuriate the old man!  Also, the protection of the Regiment should keep me hidden for a time, and the funds should tide me over for a bit, get some of the creditors off my back...

Why was there always a disturbance when he sat down to write?  It wasn’t as if he did this regularly, but Wickham did occasionally put his thoughts down after taking care of business, since he already had the quill and ink out.  It was Denny, wanting to go into town.  Wickham had taken to walking with Denny while his visited in London.  On these walks, Denny told George that in Meryton most of the local society passed along the shops in one fashion or another.  It seemed as if walking was the style around here, which suited George quite a bit.  Nothing shows a woman’s figure like walking.  George grabbed his hat and walking cane and set out with Denny.

My, My.  What a pretty little group of naiveté.  The Bennet sisters were in Meryton to look for new ribbons and bonnets.  When the younger Bennet sisters spotted Denny they crossed the street to meet his new friend.  Denny had the pleasure of introducing George Wickham to the Bennet sisters and was introduced, in turn, to Mr. Collins, a cousin.  As Denny was recounting the story that Mr. Wickham had only just joined the regiment the day before that hoof beats were heard, all turned when Mr. Bingley of Netherfield addressed Miss Bennet, stating that he and his companion were on their way to Longbourn to inquire after her health.
Wickham saw the second eldest, Miss Elizabeth, glance at someone behind him.  As he turned, he saw that he was looking at the very Mr. Darcy, the one whom he envied and loathed for taking away what was his.  The colour from Mr. Wickham’s face drained quite rapidly, as he was not yet ready to see the man whom he planned to destroy.  Miss Elizabeth noticed that Mr. Darcy became very red in the face, and noticed that Mr. Wickham was not looking well either.  However, Mr. Wickham tipped his hat at Mr. Darcy, who barely acknowledged Wickham before he turned his horse away, pulling the happy Mr. Bingley away from his attentive conversation with Miss Bennet.
Mr. Wickham then turned his attention to Miss Elizabeth, as he had seen something pass on Fitz’s face when he beheld her face.  So, this is a possible target in which to get at Fitz, Wickham thought to himself.  He had to make sure to single out Miss Elizabeth in the days ahead.

November 14, 18—
It is amazing what a handsome face and a well-planned story can do to a pretty country woman.  Simply by wearing a military uniform, be pleasing to the gentle species, and having a well-crafted lie can turn a young lady’s attention from a man of Fitzwilliam Darcy’s status.  Miss Elizabeth has a ready wit and a quick smile, and fell instantly for my story of how I was deprived of the living of Kympton by Mr. Darcy.  Luckily, she already saw Mr. Darcy as a proud man, so this slight twist of the truth was very easy to pass off.  I have noticed that wherever I am, he is not.  It should prove telling to Miss Elizabeth that he is ‘embarrassed’ by how he has wronged me, as he cannot remain in my company.  This only helps my ‘plight’ in Miss Elizabeth’s eyes.  However, I cannot wait to see the look on his face when I am attending to Miss Elizabeth at the Netherfield ball.  I do hope that Darcy is there so that I can feel the triumph of taking something away from him, as he took away from me.  It is a shame that he happened to ‘surprise’ Georgiana at Ramsgate.  I was so close to the Darcy fortune, I could have tasted it.  Well, toying with the object of his affection will have to be a small comfort.

Wickham was interrupted from his writing once again by a delivery of a note.  Frowning, George stood up to receive his missive and thanked the ensign who had delivered it.  As he was walking back to his writing desk, he turned the envelope over to look at the seal.  Well, well, speak of the devil himself, Wickham thought to himself.  If it isn’t a note from Mr. High and Mighty?  What ever could Mr. Darcy want by sending a note to Wickham.  No time like the present, thought George, as he broke the seal.

November 14, 18—
Mr. Wickham,
I think you will find it prudent to make your apologies and hasten to town for the night of the Netherfield ball.  I would not be as distressed as you if I were to inform the families of Meryton of your past dealings.
Fitzwilliam Darcy

Oh, how I hate that man.  George Wickham put away his diary, no longer feeling up to writing how he will take down Mr. Darcy.  It was truly amazing how a few words from that hand had crushed his spirit.  He needed to remain anonymous in Meryton in order to avoid his creditors.  If word did get out about his debts, he would be dressed down by his superiors and possibly cast out to the wolves, as it were.  No, it was time to pay respects to Mrs. Younge, and to have a proper evening out on London town while he was at it.

April 23, 18—
I have so far managed to lie low in this slow little village.  How droll it is to be with the --shire, stuck in Meryton where the society is consistently the same.  Though, I cannot fault having a steady income.  I do hope to be in the pathway of the pretty new heiress, Miss King.  As Miss Elizabeth has gone away for a visit to a friend, I shall be free to follow my baser needs, and win myself a fortune through flattery.  Miss Elizabeth has been rather amusing to pursue, but there truly is no money to be had from this venture.  Although, to thwart Darcy has been a certain pleasurable pastime, it is time to think of my future.

With Miss King and her fortune called away to attend her uncle in Liverpool and Miss Elizabeth returned, it was time to continue his friendship with her.  To Wickham’s thinking, she was still a target to use against Fitzwilliam Darcy, as she was sure to have been in his company in Kent.  Once again, he had attended the young ladies of Longbourn in hopes of turning Miss Elizabeth to his side.  However, this proved more difficult than he thought; it seemed as if the tables were turned against him yet again. 

‘Damn that fellow, Darcy!’ Wickham swore out loud to himself.  Was he ever to succeed?  Wickham continued to smile and smirk and knew that his time with this family was short; not only because of the intelligence that Elizabeth seemed to have acquired, but the corps was to remove to Brighton.  May there be more plentiful heiresses in Brighton, Wickham fervently wished.

June 17, 18—
Is it really this easy to get back at Miss Elizabeth and Fitz with one simple act?  Miss King was visiting in Brighton with her uncle, but she had spread word to other young ladies who had a fortune for the taking that I was not to be trusted.  I had found many doors barred against me.  However, one familiar face continued to look up to me.  Miss Lydia Bennet.  Granted, she is quite young, but I can only see how this could work in my favour.  Obviously her sister had said nothing to her family, and Lydia does not know my true character.  My, what a flirt Lydia is!  I shall use this to my advantage and ruin the Bennet family with my plan.  Why should I want to ruin the Bennet family?  Why not!  Not only will it make Fitzwilliam Darcy a very unhappy man, with one dashing smile, I could ruin the future of five relatively penniless girls at once.  If the family is ruined through the youngest daughter, the other siblings shall not make advantageous matches.  Oh, it is hard to be me.  I will get a playful companion and cause heartbreak in the same stroke.

Little did Wickham realize how his ‘simple’ plan would settle upon him the most annoying young chit he had ever encountered.  Lydia played right into his plan and was quite willing to elope with him to Gretna Green.  However, after a few hours in the carriage with her, Wickham quickly changed his mind and had the carriage head for London.  There was no inducement that could force George Wickham to attach himself to Lydia Bennet for more than a few nights’ entertainment.  Marriage was quite out of the question.  On that night leaving Brighton, Lydia Bennet would not stop talking.  She droned on and on about how excited she was, being the youngest, to be the first to be married.  Oh, how her siblings would have to pay deference to her now, a married woman.  Oh, how handsome her husband was in his regimentals, and she could not wait to hear her sisters call her ‘Mrs. Wickham.’

Having gone directly to Mrs. Younge’s house, Wickham knew that he could not send Lydia back to her family or to Brighton without a court martial filed against him immediately.  He figured that they could hide away in London, as no one would know where to search for him for some time.  They did not leave his rooms, however, for fear of being discovered by his creditors.  Lydia complained of not being able to leave the rooms so that they could take in a play.  Didn’t her dear Wickham want to show off his bride-to-be?  George did not know which was worse: facing his creditors or being stuck in a room with young Miss Lydia.

This was quickly answered one afternoon as Lydia was looking out the window.  While trying to cool off from the stifling heat of the room, she exclaimed, ‘What on earth is HE doing here?’  Mr. Darcy, of all people, had found them.  Wickham had forgotten that Darcy knew of his connection with Mrs. Younge.  Now what was he to do?

Well, Mr. Darcy had all of that figured out.  George Wickham had two choices that were presented to him by Mr. Darcy:  marry Lydia Bennet quietly, or be court martialled and then fed to his creditors.  It appeared that it would be a prison sentence either way, may as well choose the one with benefits and some freedom.  George Wickham and Lydia Bennet were married quickly and quietly.  With Darcy having paid his creditors, Wickham began thinking of new plots against Darcy. He had no idea what those plans might be, but he was sure it would come to him... in time.
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