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Timing is Everything - Chapter 13

June 03, 2019 11:49PM
AN: It has been a long time coming, but here is the next chapter of this story. I'm committed to finishing it, and plan to do so by the end of the week. The kids just got out of school for summer vacation, so we'll see if this week works out the way that I plan. Thanks for your patience! Let me know your thoughts.

Timing is Everything

Chapter 13

Lydia Bennet loved to gossip. She had been subdued in the days following her father’s funeral, but as time passed, she again found her voice.

She first leaked a few tidbits about Mr. Wickham’s history with Mr. Darcy to her mother, Mrs. Bennet. Mrs. Bennet then shared the gossip with her sister, Mrs. Phillips. Next, Lydia let a few facts slip to Maria Lucas, who shared them with her mother. Lady Lucas then shared them with Sir William, who thought it might be best to warn the shopkeepers.

All in all, as the people in their corner of Hertfordshire came to like Mr. Darcy, they also came to dislike Mr. Wickham. No longer was Mr. Darcy a proud disagreeable man. Instead, he was sad, quiet, and misunderstood.

No longer was Mr. Wickham a cheerful agreeable fellow. Instead, he was grasping and wasteful. It became well known that he had gone through four thousand pounds in less than five years.

Mr. Wickham’s reception among the local populace had cooled considerably following the funeral for Mr. Bennet. For the first couple of weeks, he was hopeful that this attitude shift would not transfer to the regiment. He was destined to be disappointed.

He blamed the innkeeper.

One evening, as was customary, Wickham joined his fellow officers for a pint at the local inn. When he placed his order, the innkeeper requested that he first produce the coin to cover his debt. Wearing his most flattering smile, he admitted to not having the funds with him, but promised to bring them by the next day. When the innkeeper continued to refuse to serve him, his fellow officers questioned why. The innkeeper explained that Wickham had amassed a larger debt than any two other officers combined. The other officers were shocked.

That is when the talk began among the officers.

The talk that somehow made its way back to Colonel Forster.

The talk that caused Colonel Forster to inquire with other local merchants as to the amount of Mr. Wickham’s debts.

When Colonel Forster realized that Mr. Wickham would not be able to pay his debts in Hertfordshire from his pay as an officer, he questioned the Lieutenant about other sources of income. He had none. He was told he would not receive his pay until all his debts had been paid for him.

Then there was more talk.

Among his fellow officers, he had several debts of honor. They began complaining to Colonel Forster. No one would play cards with him to allow him to win back some of the money he had lost. He was not finding the militia to his liking at all, especially not this militia.

Deciding that it was once again time to start over, Wickham snuck out of his tent late at night. Being the greedy, grasping man that he was, he decided he would rather start out anew with a few coins in his pocket. Unfortunately for him, Colonel Forster was a light sleeper.

When it was learned that Mr. Wickham would be facing a court martial and possible transportation, the matrons of the town were delighted. They exclaimed to each other over and over that they had all seen through the dastardly fellow.

Several of the other officers even found themselves with an increasing number of invitations as the gossips matrons tried to discover even the tiniest of details concerning Mr. Wickham.

On the day that Wickham was escorted out of Meryton, several of the matrons just happened to be gathered in the town. After he was carted away, many gathered in the home of Mrs. Phillips so that they could once again discuss what an evil man he was, and how glad they were that they were now all safe from him.

Caroline Bingley watched her maid finish packing her trunks. Soon, she would be on her way to Lyme. When Caroline had first talked to Louisa and her husband about a trip to the seaside, Hurst had suggested Brighton. As it was a favored destination of the Prince Regent, Caroline had agreed. Then, she learned that the militia would soon be leaving for Brighton. To Caroline, appearances were everything, and under no circumstances would she give the appearance of following a militia to their next location. So, to Lyme they would go. It may not be the most fashionable location available, but it was acceptable. Most importantly, it was not located anywhere near Hertfordshire.

The trunks now packed, Caroline took a deep breath and made her way downstairs.

“Are you sure you will not wait until morning?” Charles was asking Louisa as Caroline entered the room.

“It is still morning,” Caroline replied for her sister. “By starting now, we will be well on our way before we need to stop for the day.”

Mr. Darcy glanced at the clock, noting the time as one o’clock. He had delayed his visit to Longbourn in deference to his host in order to farewell his sisters. He had no desire to do so a second day in a row, even if they would not be able to get more than thirty miles or so into their trip by leaving so late in the day.

“We do not want to delay you,” Darcy said. Knowing it would be the quickest way to gain Miss Bingley’s compliance, he offered his arm to escort her from the room. He pretended not to notice when she grasped it much tighter than needed.

“Are you certain that you are set on your course?” Caroline asked him.

“Exceedingly,” Darcy replied.

“Very well,” Caroline replied, trying to hide her huff of displeasure. “Give my regards to Miss Elizabeth. I hope to see both of you again when next we are in London.”

When they exited the front door, the footmen were still in the process of securing the last of the trunks to the carriage. If he did not know it would be inappropriate, Darcy would have handed Miss Bingley into the carriage even before the footmen were done.

The evening before their departure, Mr. and Mrs. Hurst had discussed the different possibilities for the future. They had no desire to fall out of favor with the Darcys, but neither were ignorant of the fact that the future Mrs. Darcy did not hold them in any sort of esteem. They had long been hoping for a marriage between their brother and Miss Darcy in order to facilitate a more familial relationship, and increase the number of invitations to Pemberley. Unfortunately, Miss Darcy was only sixteen years old. With the strained relationship between Caroline and Miss Elizabeth, there was no certainty that the friendship between the families would exist for the couple of years needed before Miss Darcy would be old enough for her brother to allow her to marry. Miss Bennet, on the other hand, was the favorite sister of Miss Elizabeth.

On the way out of Netherfield Park, Louisa Hurst set a very slow pace at her brother’s side. When she was certain that Caroline was out of earshot, she began her campaign.

“We were very surprised to hear Mr. Darcy’s news when we arrived,” she began. “When you have your own news to share, I hope that you will notify us right away so that we can wish you joy.”

“I do not know when that will be,” Bingley replied.

“Oh,” Mrs. Hurst replied, feigning surprise. “I thought you had decided to pursue Miss Bennet.”

“I am as yet undecided,” Bingley admitted. “I want to first discover her feelings before making any plans.”

“I am certain that she has some regard for you,” Mrs. Hurst replied. “She seems to welcome your attentions.”

“But, does she hold me in particular regard, or am I just a friend. I do not trust myself to know the difference.”

“You should ask her,” Mrs. Hurst replied. “We are ready to welcome her into the family when you do. I am certain I know what her answer will be.”

“There are still several months before she will be out of mourning. It would not be appropriate, yet.”

“Then tell her you would like to ask her a very particular question when the timing is right,” Mrs. Hurst said. “Ask her if she wants you to stay and ask the question, or if she would rather you left.”

“But, what if she tells me she wants me to leave?” Bingley asked.

“She won’t,” Mrs. Hurst replied.

Darcy had instructed the stables to have his horse ready at the same time as the Hurst’s carriage.

The moment the footmen stepped back from securing the last of the luggage to the carriage, Darcy stepped forward to hand in Miss Bingley. He looked behind to encourage the Hursts to get in the carriage as well, only to see Bingley and his sister dawdling. After what felt like an eternity, they arrived at the carriage. After exchanging farewells, Mr. Hurst handed his wife into the carriage, then stepped up behind her. As the door of the carriage closed, Darcy mounted his horse.

“Are you off to Longbourn?” Bingley asked him.

“Yes, I would like to see Elizabeth today,” Darcy replied.

“If you would wait for my horse to be readied, I would like to join you,” Bingley told him.

Although Darcy was antsy to be on his way, he could not deny his friend. It was only a few minutes later that the gentlemen were on their way to Longbourn, each with a different sister on their minds.

Timing is Everything - Chapter 13

BethWJune 03, 2019 11:49PM

Re: Timing is Everything - Chapter 13

PESJune 22, 2019 10:57PM

Re: Timing is Everything - Chapter 13

MarilynNJune 05, 2019 11:03AM

Links to old chapters

BethWJune 06, 2019 01:02AM

Re: Links to old chapters

MichaJune 10, 2019 08:14PM

Re: Timing is Everything - Chapter 13

EvelynJeanJune 04, 2019 06:13AM


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