Thursday’s Three Hundred: With the Colonel’s Help, Part 10

Previous parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6Part 7, Part 8, Part 9,

A/N: This week, we step off of that cliff I left you on last week and begin our descent into the more dismal section of this story.  This is where the shift in tone that I mentioned in comment threads begins. 

Chapter 5B

“Lydia?”  Surely it must be someone who looked like Lydia.  Lydia was at home in Meryton, not wandering along the London Road thought Elizabeth as she leaned toward the window and looked where Maria had pointed.  She gasped.  “It is! But what is she doing here?”

She sat back and shook her head, looking in bewilderment from one gentleman across from her to the other.

Darcy rapped on the roof of the coach, and the carriage slowed and then stopped.  “I am certain we have room for one more,” he offered with as smile.

“Thank you,” Elizabeth replied before leaning forward to look out the window again.

“Her sleeve is torn,” said Maria, who was still watching through the window.  “It looks like she has injured herself.  See.  Is that not blood?”

Indeed, Elizabeth could see that Lydia’s arm bore a bright patch of red below a tear in the material.  Lydia’s hair was also disheveled, and she seemed to stumble as she moved.

Darcy jumped down from the carriage and lifted Elizabeth to the ground so that neither would have to wait for the steps to be put in place.  If his sister were injured, he knew that he would not wish to wait for such a thing, and he assumed from the distraught look on Elizabeth’s face that she felt the same.

Elizabeth thanked him once again and then hurried toward Lydia calling her name.  Lydia jumped at her name, and Elizabeth thought for a moment she would run away.  “Lydia,” she called again.

“Lizzy,” Lydia called back as she turned to meet Elizabeth.

The sisters met in an embrace.  Lydia clinging tightly to Elizabeth and weeping.  Darcy stood a short distance way. He did not wish to intrude on their privacy nor did he wish to be too far away if assistance was needed.

“What are you doing here?” Elizabeth asked as she rubbed her sister’s back in an attempt to calm her.  Lydia was not one to become overwrought, so having her dissolve into great shaking sobs was unsettling to Elizabeth.

“I…wanted…to…see…Jane.”  Lydia managed to get the words out between shuddering breaths.  “He…said…he …would…help…me.”

Elizabeth sucked in a quick breath and turned her head slightly toward Darcy.

He could see the fear in her eyes and stepped closer.

“Who said he would help you?”  Although she already suspected who might have been willing to help Lydia with her scheme, Elizabeth asked anyway, needing to have her suspicions confirmed.

“Wi…Wickham.”  This admission brought on a fresh wave of sobs, and Elizabeth feeling the seriousness of what might have happened, wavered and then sank to the ground, guided by the strong hands of Darcy.

As Elizabeth sat on the ground for some minutes cradling Lydia and cooing soothingly to her, Darcy waved for Richard to join him.

“Did he hurt you?” Elizabeth asked.  She pulled back to look at Lydia. There was a bruise on her right temple and a few scrapes on her cheek, and then there was also the gash on her arm.

Lydia shook her head.  “I left before … he could.”  Her sobbing had calmed, but her breathing was still shuttering.

It took some time, but the story was finally all told.  Lydia, knowing that Jane’s letters spoke of her sister’s sadness, had determined to assist her sister by going to London and calling on Mr. Bingley.  Surely, if Mr. Bingley knew of Jane’s despondence, he would set things to right.  She was utterly convinced that Mr. Bingley loved Jane, and being given to romantic fancies as many a young lady of her age and sensibilities might be, she knew that it would only take a word to Mr. Bingley, and he would fly to his love.

The trouble was that she did not know where to look for Mr. Bingley in London.  However, Wickham had assured her that he did.  And so a scheme was proposed where Wickham would accompany Lydia to Mr. Bingley’s house and then on to the house of her aunt and uncle. Wickham was on his way to play cards with friends as was his custom, and it would only mean a brief stop along the journey for a bit of fun.

Thinking Wickham to be a trustworthy friend, — a fact that she kept repeating throughout her tale — Lydia had agreed readily to the plan, and the pair had set out for London.

The fun, as Wickham had called it, had involved small bets at first, but as time progressed, the amounts became larger, and Lydia had bowed out of the game.  Wickham, though his pockets were nearly empty, did not.

Tiring of sitting about and watching the gentlemen play, Lydia had gone to refresh herself and then a short turn around the courtyard of the inn. As she was returning, she heard raised voices.  Wickham had lost yet another hand and was completely without funds, a fact that seemed to anger his companions from the sound of their shouting.

Lydia had wavered in her decision to actually enter the room.  She did not wish to be in the middle of a fight, and it did sound as if a scuffle was about to break out until Wickham suggested a deal of sorts.  He had offered them her — a likely maiden as he had not yet lifted her skirts — as payment for the hand he had just lost.  Frightened and unwilling to be misused, Lydia had snuck down the hall and out the window of an empty room. She had not wanted to exit by the front of the inn.  It would be better, she had thought, if no one could point to where she had gone.

However, climbing out a window as not as easy as it had seemed, and that was where she had fallen.  It was a bush that had torn her sleeve and arm and a rock that had bruised her head.

She had run as long as she could before slowing to a walk, but always moving forward and constantly watching behind.

Elizabeth sat silently, just rubbing Lydia’s back for several minutes. The results of Lydia’s adventure were not good but could have been so much worse.  As it was, Lydia would likely be ruined.  How could she not be? She had left her home in the company of a man who was not her father or brother or husband. But those consequences could be dealt with later. Right now, Lydia needed to be gotten into the safety of the carriage.

“We need to get you into the carriage,” she finally said to Lydia, who was fighting to keep her weary eyes open.  “Can you walk?”

Lydia smiled and attempted to nod her head as her eyes fluttered shut.

“Lydia?” Elizabeth waited for a response.  “Lydia,” she called again.  Still, there was no response.  She looked to where Darcy stood nearby with Richard at his side.  She would need one of them to help her move Lydia.  The colonel, she decided, was likely most familiar with carrying injured people.

“Lydia,” she said a third time as she looked at Richard with a silent plea for assistance in her eyes and spoke loudly enough for him to hear, “I am going to ask Colonel Fitzwilliam to carry you.  He is a friend and can be trusted.  Lydia, do you hear me? Do not be frightened.  I will join you again in the carriage, but I cannot carry you myself.”  She rubbed Lydia’s back.  Receiving no reply, she whispered, “Do not be frightened,” once more before relinquishing her sister to Richard’s strong arms.

~*~*~

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Leenie Brown

Leenie Brown fell in love with Jane Austen's works when she first read Sense and Sensibility followed immediately by Pride and Prejudice in her early teens. As the second of five daughters and an avid reader, she has always loved to see where her imagination takes her and to play with and write about the characters she meets along the way. In 2013, these two loves collided when she stumbled upon the world of Jane Austen Fan Fiction. A year later, in 2014, she began writing her own Austen-inspired stories and began publishing them in 2015. Leenie lives in Nova Scotia, Canada with her two teenage boys and her very own Mr. Brown (a wonderful mix of all the best of Darcy, Bingley and Edmund with healthy dose of the teasing Mr. Tillney and just a dash of the scolding Mr. Knightley).

8 thoughts on “Thursday’s Three Hundred: With the Colonel’s Help, Part 10”

  1. Poor stupid Lydia! I hope they can come up with something. And I hope that Darcy won’t be upset at Elizabeth choosing Fitzwilliam to help with Lydia.
    I think they maybe should get her to the Gardiners and maybe no one will need to know she left home with Wickham.
    I have every confidence in Darcy coming up with a solution and hope that he and Elizabeth can work together to sort it out? (Pretty please Leenie?)

    1. Welllll…. 😀 since the story is called With the Colonel’s Help ODC is going to need his help to sort things out, especially after — wait, I can’t tell you that yet. 😉

      No, I am sure Darcy was happy to help Elizabeth back to the carriage as his cousin took care of Lydia.

  2. Poor Lydia. She had good intentions with wanting to help Jane but was hampered by poor planning and a disastrous choice of accomplice. Well, at least everyone will now know that Wickham is not fit company for any young lady, especially if her name happens to be Bennet. Can Maria be trusted not to spread the tale of Lydia’s ruin throughout all of Hertfordshire? Is Mrs. Bennet already acting as the town cryer, running through the village wailing about Lydia and her adventure/disappearance? Surely the three intelligent people in the carriage will be able to devise some method for saving Lydia’s reputation — they will, won’t they? Oh well, a little angst won’t hurt me — at least I don’t think it will — it won’t hurt me, right? Still — poor Lydia — what a harsh introduction to the cruel realities of the world.

    1. Yes, her intentions were good — she loves her sister and wants to see her happy –, but her plan was awful! Of course, she thought Wickham was a friend — he is a convincing scoundrel! This is just the beginning of our angst — another blow to the future happiness of ODC is coming.

    1. Well, they will get Lydia to her aunt’s house and make sure she has been seen by a doctor and then…. Well, that part will be revealed as the story progresses. I don’t want to spoil the story for you. 🙂

  3. Did I miss something? Is Darcy a wimp that he couldn’t carry Lydia or did Elizabeth just not wish her sister to be in Darcy’s arms. 🙂 I am looking forward to where you are going to take it.

    1. No, Elizabeth does not think Darcy is a wimp. Her decision was made on the knowledge that Colonel Fitzwilliam probably had more experience carrying injured people because he was a soldier and soldiers likely come across casualties more often than wealthy landowners. She knew Darcy was strong. He was the one who guided her to the ground when she collapsed under the strain of what Lydia’s story might be. She likely appreciated that help and though her mind was focused on the injured sister in her arms, her subconscious might have made note of how comforting having his help was. Likewise, she was grateful for Darcy’s assistance when returning to the carriage. You know being a proper gentleman, he would have helped her up and supported her as they walked back to the vehicle. We must also remember, Elizabeth does not yet understand her feeling for Darcy. She will soon, but she doesn’t at this point. So, that is one reason I could not have her think such things and had to leave it to the reader to decipher.

      On Darcy’s side, he might actually be pleased that she gave her sister to Colonel Fitzwilliam and “kept” him for herself. Again, I think these thoughts and feelings would have been subconscious ones because their thoughts would be focused on Lydia and her needs rather than their own wishes and desires. I don’t believe either would be so conceited as to be focused on themselves at a time like this — because to me, if you are thinking about yourself when there is an unresponsive injured young girl in need of medical attention, you have to be very full of yourself, and these two have already shown that they are not. They have offered apologies and accepted them and worked things out like mature adults. This is the other reason, I chose to let the subconscious thinkings remain unwritten.
      I am glad you are enjoying the story so far.

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