Lydia Bennet's Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia's online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet's Story, begins.
Tuesday, November 17th 1801
A day that started out as a dismal business with papa foisting Mr Collins out of his study and inviting him to accompany my sisters and I on our walk into town, has taken a most pleasurable and unlikely turn. We walked into Meryton, Catherine, Jane, Lizzy and I, with Mr Collins talking incessantly all the way. However, such a treat was in store as we reached the High Street. On the other side of the way, we spied Mr Denny, accompanied by an extremely gentleman-like figure, nodding and bowing in our direction. Chancing to meet them as they turned back, Kitty and I crossed the road as if to admire a striped pink sarcenet in a window just in time as we 'accidentally' reached the same spot. The handsome man was introduced as Mr Wickham.
“And what are you doing in Meryton, sir?” I asked boldly before Elizabeth had a chance to correct me. “Are you to be a soldier like your friend here?”
He instantly gave me the fullest attention of his brown eyes and smiled directly into mine. “I have just accepted a lieutenant’s commission in the corps, Miss Lydia, I hope I shall do justice to my uniform and perform my duties well.”
“I feel certain he will do great justice to his uniform merely by wearing it,” I whispered to Kitty when a moment later he turned to stare at my sister Lizzy with that same wicked sparkle in his eyes.
“I cannot wait for the day when we shall see him swaggering down the High Street in his scarlet coat,” Kitty whispered back.
“Indeed,” I replied, scarcely able to suppress a giggle, “Mr Wickham’s muscular frame in tight breeches is a joy to observe.”
My sisters then took over all the conversation, (though I was pleased to see Mr Wickham could hardly take his eyes away from mine) until Mr Bingley and Mr Darcy appeared on horseback, the latter looking as ill-tempered as ever and the former having eyes only for Jane. Thankfully, they soon took their leave.
“We are to visit my aunt this morning, Mr Denny, will you be joining us?” I begged, jumping to his side and taking his arm. Mr Denny appealed to his friend.
“We would be very pleased to escort you, ladies, it would be our pleasure,” Mr Wickham announced, with a twinkle in his eye and a twirl of his cane.
Mr Denny and Mr Wickham escorted us to our aunt’s door, where very sadly, they made their bows. I am sorry to say they would not be invited in, even though my aunt entreated them from the parlour window.
Once inside, Mr Collins was introduced to Aunt Philips, but I do not think she knew what to make of him. He would keep talking nonsense, hardly pausing for breath between apologies for everything and nothing. Indeed I do not think any of us know what to make of him, though I think my sister Elizabeth is beginning to realise what he is about! His former inclination for Jane seems to have turned into a passion to be at Lizzy's side. There was no mistaking it, he would keep following her around the room! It seems my mother's hints to him about an engagement between Jane and Bingley have turned not only his footsteps, but his heart towards Elizabeth.
I could not bear watching him or listening to his dull discourse a minute longer - I soon turned the conversation round to the subject of the delightful stranger. “Wickham is such a gentleman, aunt, he would not come in because he has not been formally introduced. He is so good-looking, do not you agree? I think him one of the most handsome men I ever set eyes on!”
Everyone laughed, though Aunt Philips was forced to agree wholeheartedly, adding that she had heard of Wickham’s commission and promising that my uncle would call to invite him to dine tomorrow with the officers. We are invited too, for an evening party, a game of lottery tickets, and a hot supper with all the officers! What a prospect! I do not know what I shall wear, I am most anxious to look my best.
Illustrations: The same scene where Lydia Bennet and her sisters meet Mr Wickham, illustrated by H. M. Brock (top) and C. E. Brock (bottom)