Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Harriet arrives and Mr Wickham promises Lydia a Dance!

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.

I set off for Meryton shortly after breakfast and met Mr Wickham in the High Street, intent on a few calls.

“Miss Bennet, I declare I have not seen you or any of your family for a month at least. Have you all been in hiding?” he asked with a mischievous grin, as he stepped in alongside me with a bow and a flourish.

“No,” I retorted. “Any reasons I might have had for hiding have long since disappeared and are enjoying themselves at Bath, as well you know. My sister Jane is still in London, Catherine has gone to stay with her friend in Hatfield and I believe you did see my sister Elizabeth before she went to Hunsford, not more than five days ago.”

I paused outside the milliner’s and made a study of the bonnets in the window and my reflection in the glass. I glanced sideways at Mr Wickham and twirled a curl that was intent on escaping from my bonnet around my finger.

“Ah yes I did, you are quite correct,” he answered. “Forgive me, it had quite escaped my mind. How is Miss Elizabeth? Have you had any news? Has Lady Catherine condescended to entertain your sister and the Collinses?”

“Elizabeth is quite well, thank you, but suffering greatly as far as any of us can tell from the tone of her letters which are very few. She has dined once at Rosings Park, I believe, but we have yet to hear the particulars. I daresay she will survive, but it must be a dull month she will have to endure, without the promise of any stimulating company or dancing. I envied her the trip at first, but I am so glad to be here now that Colonel Forster’s Harriet is come.”

“And so am I, glad that you are not gone with your sisters. Who would make me laugh, Miss Bennet? What should I do for amusement? And if you went away, I should have no-one to dance with-now what should I do then?”

“You are cruel to tease me so, Mr Wickham, and I think you had best not let Mary King hear you say that you would have no partner with which to dance. How is she? I have not seen her lately. We have been much at home with the weather as it is and, I have had much to do,” I added quickly, lest he should think I am a hopeless creature with no interests, pursuits or society.

“Miss King is well enough, I daresay, but you are probably as well qualified to comment on her welfare, as I have not seen her for a fortnight and then t’was only to tip her the nod as she was calling on her friend, Miss Harrington. Are you acquainted with the Miss Harrington's?”

“I know them slightly, not as well as I would wish,” I stated before enquiring if Mr Wickham had seen anything of Colonel Forster’s fiancee.

“Tell me Mr Wickham, have you seen Miss Harriet Fitzalan yet? What is she like?”

“She is a very handsome young girl, a little older than you, I would guess. Indeed, I would say the Colonel is a very fortunate fellow.”

“What, have you already been introduced? Pray, is she fair like her sister? Has she Isabella’s blue eyes? Do not delay, Mr Wickham. Do tell all!”

“No Miss Bennet, I have not yet had the pleasure of introduction, but I certainly had a capital view of her stepping out of the carriage when she arrived early this morning and, I think I can safely describe her appearance as most attractive. Whether she is dark or fair, however, I cannot say, owing to the large bonnet and bunches of ribbons that were obscuring her hair and most of her features. I will never understand why young ladies enjoy wearing such contraptions on their heads and the practice certainly impedes any chap’s close scrutiny, which has to be a disadvantage to my way of thinking.”

“What do you mean by this, you impossible tease, I do not believe you have noticed anything about Harriet apart from the turn of her pretty ankle, which is just the sort of feature that arrests the attentions of certain gentlemen who strut about Meryton in scarlet coats, giving their pronounced opinions on any poor creature who happens to cross their path. Deny that you are one of them!”

“Miss Bennet, you treat me too harshly, but then, what can I expect from a girl whose heart is still tender from a bruising?”

“Mr Wickham, you vex me exceedingly. Indeed, my heart is not bruised or even grazed and, if you make one more reference to that gentleman, I declare I shall never stand up with you again. I am not in love with him, I never was and, you quite mistake the matter!”

“Consider it settled, Miss Lydia Bennet, I shall never mention a certain person within your hearing ever again as long as I have the breath in my body to cut a quadrille, for henceforth I will live in fear of being shunned and spurned by your good self on the dance floor. Speaking of the latter, when may I expect to have the pleasure of dancing with you again, do you think?”

“If you ask me very nicely as a gentleman ought, I may consider taking a turn with you at the next Assembly Ball, which I believe is to be held on Monday. That is, if you are not already engaged to dance every one with a certain young lady whose talents far exceed my own,” I added, with a playful reference to Mary King’s legacy.

George Wickham’s eyes narrowed as they penetrated mine, yet he laughed as he took his leave and graciously requested to be given the honour of leading me in the dances. “I will teach you a new Valse, my dear, Miss Bennet, in which I am sure you will excel. And despite what you have to say about Mary King’s accomplishments, whatever they may be, I think you know there are none who dance as beautifully as you. It will be my pleasure to be your instructor and I look forward to the Ball!”

A brand new Valse! How I long to see such a dance and to have the joy of partnering Mr Wickham again, I daresay I shall be the envy of all!
After this encounter, I called briefly on my aunt to tell her about Harriet’s arrival. She was very pleased to see me but I could not stay long as it was time to keep my engagement at Emma’s and finally meet Harriet. As Emma opened the door, I could hear high spirited conversation and laughter and knew before I set eyes on her, that Miss Harriet Fitzalan would be the epitome of good nature and playfulness.

She is everything that I admire in a fellow creature. Harriet is tall and slender with dark eyes and brown curly hair which falls in natural ringlets about her face. She is very pretty and is possessed of a sunny disposition. Indeed, it is when she laughs that she reminds me most of her sister. In physical appearance, she is as different as any sibling can be from another, but there is something in her manner and personality which is so similar to Isabella that we are on easy terms already. I just know we shall be great friends!

Lydia Bennet

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