Thursday’s Three Hundred: With the Colonel’s Help, Part 11

Previous parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10,

A/N: If you don’t wish to see a grown man cry, you should probably look away before you get to the last paragraph of this installment.

Chapter 6A

Lydia did not wake when Colonel Fitzwilliam lifted her from Elizabeth’s arms, nor did she wake when she was settled in the carriage beside her sister.  In fact, for the remaining forty-five minutes of the journey to London and then through the streets to Gracechurch Street, she did not wake — not even when a pause was made to send a footman in search of Darcy’s physician.

Lydia simply would not wake.

In fact, Lydia had still not woken when Darcy and Richard left the Gardener’s home some two hours after arriving.  The physician had come and gone. Mr. Bennet, who had arrived with Sir William, had been advised of what had happened.  Tea and brandy had been shared as well as tales of Wickham’s previous treachery.

Darcy paced the length of the passageway at Darcy House. Thankfully, his sister was with their aunt, the Countess of Matlock. He would not have been able to see her and hide his agony.  Miss Lydia lay lifeless in a bed, watched over by her relatives, and he was to blame.

If only he had he spoken to anyone of Wickham. If only he had at least told Sir William of Wickham’s penchant for gambling and seducing young maids.  He shook his head and leaned heavily on the wall next to Richard’s bedroom door and covered his face with his hands.  His hope was gone.  Elizabeth would never be his.

“You look like the devil, Darcy,” said Richard as he approached him.  Richard had gone out to visit a few friends, who he thought might be of use in ferreting out if Wickham were away from his unit with or without permission.

From the way his cousin was grinning, Darcy guessed it was likely that Wickham had not been granted permission to leave Hertfordshire.

Richard opened the door to his room and motioned for Darcy to enter before him.  “Wickham is in town.  He was spotted at a gaming hell tonight, foxed beyond reason, as is the regular habit of one such as Wickham.”

Richard shrugged out of his coat, tossed it on his bed and then sat down to remove his boots.  “A hand, Darcy.”

He had not yet called his batman for assistance. There were particulars that needed to be discussed without the audience of even such a trusted and loyal man as Mr. Chase .

Between the two of them, Richard was soon free of his shoes and stockings and was working on removing the rest of his things as he continued his report on Wickham.  “It is said he has debts in Meryton, as well as here in town, and not enough coin to pay. He is in serious trouble.”  Richard smirked.  “My guess is he will make a run for some obscure location as soon as he sobers.”

Darcy nodded.  It did not matter where Wickham ran, he had done what he needed to ensure Darcy’s misery.

“He’ll sober in the room of one of my friends.”  Richard pulled on his nightshirt.

“And then what?” Darcy shook his head.

Richard shrugged. “Likely he will get better than he deserves, but worse than he wishes.”  He took a seat across from Darcy.  “We have been here before.  As you know, drawing his next breath is more than I think that man deserves, but there are laws.”

Richard rubbed the back of his neck, a sure sign to Darcy that there was a wrinkle in the well-laid plans of his cousin.

“He has spoken of Miss Lydia?” Darcy prompted.  He did not wish to draw out this meeting any longer than need be.  There was no need to take a circuitous route around whatever unpleasant bit of information Richard held.  There was nothing that could sink him lower in his own despair, was there?

Richard grimaced.  “It is worse than you think. He has not just claimed her to be ruined.”

Darcy’s brows furrowed.  What worse could be said?

Richard drew a deep breath and released it.  “He claims she ran off with his purse.”

“He calls her a thief?” Darcy sank back in his chair. That certainly would threaten more than Miss Lydia’s ability to marry, if Wickham were to pursue the claim as if it were true.

“When Miss Lydia ran off, he was not happy to be left without payment for his debts, and the gentlemen he was with had a fair go at him to show their displeasure.”

“Surely, he could stumble into the Thames, could he not?” Darcy wished to empty the contents of his stomach at the depth of Wickham’s rankness.

Richard tipped his head and studied his cousin. A distraught and tormented Darcy he had seen before but never had Darcy once suggested killing a man.  “What are you not telling me?” he said, sitting forward in his chair.

Darcy pulled a note from his pocket and handed it to his cousin. “I am no longer welcome to call at the Gardiners or Longbourn.”

Richard unfolded the paper he had been handed.

Mr. Darcy,

I would like to extend to you my families thanks at having provided care for my Lydia on her arrival in town, but I have decided she would do better at home, and so we will be leaving in the morning and will not be here to receive your call.  As I am certain, you will understand the need for peace and quiet while at Longbourn and will therefore not impose upon myself, my wife, or any of our daughters during this time of trouble.  In fact, it is likely best if we sever all acquaintance.  Your tales of woe done to yourself and to your family by the scoundrel that has now threatened mine will not leave my lips. I give you my word as a gentleman.  However, I cannot get beyond the fact that the present circumstances might not have occurred had these grievous acts of Mr. W been known in the autumn when the regiment arrived in Meryton.  I thought it better for my daughters’ peace of mind to write these things to you rather than to air them before you in their presence.

T.B.                                                            

Darcy rose from his chair and moved to leave the room.  “Do what you will with Wickham.  I do not care,” he said as his hand rested on the door knob.  “I will be leaving for Pemberley in the morning, and I would like to be left alone to mourn in peace.”

He swallowed the tears that threatened.  “In three month’s time, I will do my duty and call on Aunt Catherine and Cousin Anne.”

Richard sprang from his chair.  “No,” he fairly shouted as he grabbed Darcy by the shoulders. “You will not do your duty. This,”  he waved the letter in front of Darcy’s face, “I will not accept this.”

“It is my fault,” Darcy snapped.  “He is correct in that.  Even if I had his permission, what hope to I have of winning Elizabeth when her sister has been so injured due to my negligence.  You may not accept it, but I have no choice.”

“No choice? Fight for her! Fight for her sister!” Richard urged.

Darcy pushed Richard away. “Why?  Why should I fight? How can I fight?  I am the cause.  I am the one I would wish to run through if it were Georgiana who was wounded and ruined.” He shook his head. “Leave me be.”

Richard grabbed Darcy’s arm before he left the room and held it firmly so that Darcy could not pull away.  “Two weeks.  Stay in town for two weeks.  We must see Wickham to some end. Then, if things have not improved with Mr. Bennet, I will allow you to go to Pemberley and wallow.” He paused.  There was one last strategy to keep his cousin where Richard could watch him and work on him.  “If you go to Pemberley, Georgiana will hear you have returned, and my mother will allow her to come to you.”

Darcy closed his eyes and swallowed.    Then, as the tears he had attempted to hold at bay spilled down his cheeks, he nodded and whispered his agreement before returning to his rooms.

~*~*~

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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).

15 thoughts on “Thursday’s Three Hundred: With the Colonel’s Help, Part 11”

  1. Oh poor Darcy! I know he could have said something but would people have believed him without his mentioning Georgiana?
    Surely the person to blame is Wickham!
    Well I sincerely hope the Colonel can come up with something before Darcy goes back to Rosings. I will leave it with you Leenie!

    1. Oh, yes! Wickham is to blame…as is Lydia for being foolish and her father for not caring for her better…however, we are in the heat of the moment and emotions are high and rational thought is low. 🙂 The colonel will keep his wits about him and will see all of this resolved — have no fear on that account. It’s just going to take a while.

  2. I am not sure this really sounds like Darcy, to be distraught, yes, to blame himself, yes. But to be so melancholy and hopeless as to not want to fight for her love and respect and Mr. Bennet’s, and to settle himself that he will do his duty and marry Anne because of it, that is not Darcy. Richard is his same reliable self indeed. I look foreword to what he has in store for Wickham. The plot seems to be a good one and I have enjoyed it so far. But this weak Darcy, I just don’t know Leenie.
    Julie R

    1. Don’t give up on poor old Darcy or me just yet. 🙂

      Let me explain a bit of my reasoning here. (I enjoy doing so ─ It is likely the teacher in me 🙂 I will, however, I apologize for the length of the response. I know I can be wordy. LOL)

      When looking at canon to determine Darcy’s character, we have to sift through the bits and pieces of information that are presented to us through Elizabeth’s eyes because the story is told from her vantage point. And when doing so, we must remember to take into account her prejudiced view of him and his actions.

      Do we know how he would respond to having his “life” (aka Elizabeth in this story) ripped away from him? Not completely. We have a couple of examples of him meeting with unpleasantness in canon. We know he walked away from interacting with Wickham ─ an action that Elizabeth misreads. We know that after her refusal (which is likely closer to having his life ripped away), he wrote a letter in defense of his character and then left.

      As far as we know, that was the end of what he was planning to do to try to sway Elizabeth’s opinion of him. He did not show up in Hertfordshire or visit Jane in town. There is no indication that he spoke to Bingley or sent his friend to see Jane. There is no evidence that he tried to win Elizabeth beyond that letter. Nothing happens on his part until after he sees her again several months later in August, and even then, his actions are done in such a fashion as to keep them from her. If Elizabeth had not been the curious sort and had Lydia not been a blabbermouth, Elizabeth might not have ever heard of his help. Even after that when he and Bingley return to Netherfield, he acts cautiously.

      From all that analysis, I created a Darcy that feels duty strongly and wishes to act circumspectly even if it causes himself pain. He is also, in my version, a character that feels deeply but keeps that emotion contained within himself as much as he can. It seeps out in moroseness and sullenness ─ a particular look to his features, a few movements or postures in the way he carries himself, but not a lot of shouting or physical aggression.

      Here, at this moment in the story, he is overreacting. He is not thinking rationally. He has been thrown into a deep grief and is incapable, at present, of sorting everything out logically. His reaction is a “life is over” sort of reaction. He loves her. He knows she has been kind and welcoming to him, but he does not know her feelings for him beyond that. The evening at Rosings, before which he had learned she disliked him, was only about four days ago. Their walk was only three days ago. There has not been ample time for him to discover how she truly feels about him. And she was angry about Jane ─ why would she not now be angry about Lydia? This is part of his thinking. He does not feel a need to defend himself as he did in his letter in canon because in his mind he feels responsible, at least in part, for Lydia being injured and possibly dying. He’s just down at the bottom of the well of despair at this moment. Once he has had time to process, I am sure he would not be running back to Rosings ─ that is a knee-jerk reaction. If he had solid evidence of Elizabeth’s love for him, he would likely be thinking differently and doing all he could to keep it. But he does not have this yet and will not have this for a while. He might have a hint of it, but he needs more, irrefutable proof at this time. For now, he will respect Mr. Bennet’s wishes.

      Mr. Bennet is also down in that well. He is not acting rationally either.

      Both men will need some guidance ─ and therein lies a key element of the plot and the reason for the title. 🙂 Thankfully, Richard is a level-headed, seasoned in battle, sort of gent.

      Thanks for your comments. It was fun to write this out. 🙂 I hope it helps you understand where I was coming from when writing this part of the story (and some of what is to come). Neither Darcy nor I have lost it completely. LOL

      1. Thank you Leenie, that was a great help and insight to this Darcy and the story to come. No you are not long winded. I enjoyed your reply very much. 🙂

        Julie R

  3. Oh dear! Well, at least I’m somewhat grateful that Mr. Bennet has finally decided to be a protective father. However, it is certainly convenient that he can blame Darcy for what has befallen Lydia, thereby completely avoiding attaching any blame to himself. Now we just have to wait for Colonel Fitzwilliam to work his magic.

    1. Mr. Bennet is just lashing out right now. He’s not thinking rationally, yet. As the lovely Colonel will mention later, it is hard for some to claim their piece of the blame — even when it is theirs to claim. 🙂

  4. Okay, you did make my eyes tear up. It is going to be interesting to see how Darcy will overcome this. If Lizzy was starting to care for him, I am not sure she will just stand by for her father edict. Looking forward to next week.

    1. This severing of ties will come as a shock to her as well. No one was expecting it. Eventually, it will all get worked out. Our story’s hero, the colonel, is determined, and he won’t fail. 🙂

  5. Well, Mr. Bennett speaks too harshly to Darcy especially when he and his wife have been such indolent parents. We all know that he is a selfish man. Lydia went to help Jane. With the amount of time that Bingley spent with Jane, why didn’t Mr. Bennett ask him about his intentions? I wonder how Elizabeth will respond to all of this. Perhaps she will give her father and mother a mirror.

    1. How will Elizabeth respond? Well, we’ll see at least part of that next week. So, I won’t give any of that away. However, we must remember how high emotions are running here. Lydia does not just have a scraped knee. She is unresponsive and there is a very real possibility that she might die (I am not going to say just yet if she does or not). Is Mr. Bennet overreacting? From our vantage point — most certainly. But from where he stands next to his possibly dying daughter, he wouldn’t think so.

  6. Mr. Bennet is a little too late to act the protective and caring father. He finds it easier to put the blame on Darcys’ shoulders than accept his and Lydia actions. Lydia was warned and so was he. I don’t think Elizabeth will accept this. Darcys actions are totally a part of his character but I have faith in Richard. He is not eaten up with guilt.

    1. It is often easier to blame others rather than wearing that blame ourselves. Being a pastor’s daughter, the story that immediately comes to mind is of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. “It wasn’t me. It was the snake.” “It wasn’t me. It was the woman.” The blame game has been played for years! What needs to happen in this story is that as emotions settle and things progress one way or another with Lydia, someone needs to remind Mr. Bennet of the part he has played in this tragedy, and he needs to take responsibility for his part. Hopefully, that will happen. 😉 Right now, everyone close to the situation is in a state of shock and grief and worry that overruns how they might normally think and act. The colonel, however, has experience in handling crisis situations, so he will be able to see things more clearly than the rest of the characters.

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