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.
When I came to, everything was upside down and the air strangely quiet except for the whinnying of the horses, the creaking of tree branches which were poking through the window of the coach, and the low moaning of my companions who appeared hurt and shaken.
I managed to climb through the window after smashing the glass with my morocco bag, (though who can say if the tortoiseshell panels will ever be the same) partly covering my head and shoulders with what remained of my mantle. The rest of it lay torn and trapped between two solid oak branches and had to be left behind, but I was grateful simply to be uninjured. I could not think what to do next. I called out to Shaw the coachman for assistance but he was not conscious and so having made my friends as comfortable as one can in an upturned carriage, I decided to head back to St. Albans to find Mr Wickham. I reassured Harriet and Emma who were conscious yet in no fit state to move and then I set off back the way we had come.
Our coachman had clearly taken a detour, we were off the main road and so there was no one around who could assist me. I was very cold without my cloak, the rain was persistent and drenched through my thin dress very quickly. I ran as fast as I could and had gone a fair distance when feelings of panic started to overcome me. I did not really know where I was going, I thought I was headed in the right direction but I could not be sure. You may imagine my feelings of relief when the figure of a gentleman I recognised loomed out of the torrent on horseback, but in my effort to avoid being ridden over I leaped for the safety of the hedge quite missing my footing and fell headlong into the ditch. All was confusion as darkness overcame me!
“Miss Bennet, Miss Bennet,” Mr Wickham’s urgent voice called me back to consciousness. I was suddenly aware of his manly figure looming above me, his mouth pressing on mine, which produced so curious a sensation all over me, that I was unable to come to immediately.
“Forgive me,” he said, as I struggled at last to sit up, “you were unconscious and as I am trained to relieve symptoms such as yours, I had no choice but to administer the kiss of life, to give you the breath from my own body. Are you quite well, Miss Bennet? Good God, I am relieved. I could not think what I would say to your mother if you were taken from us!”
“I am well, I think, but very cold, I am not dressed for this weather as you can see,” I laughed as I saw that he was studying my form intently, from top to bottom. I blushed, as it was very clear that he was far from shocked by my appearance and was enjoying the spectacle.
“I felt I had neglected my duty to you all for selfish reasons of my own,” he whispered. “I had to come back and make sure you were all safe. Thank the Lord that I did, although I cannot forgive myself, if I had been with you I might have prevented such an accident.”
“Even the great George Wickham would not have been able to prevent the demise of an ancient tree in a gale,” I retorted.
With one swift move he lifted me into his arms and carried me back whence I had come. It was impossible not to stare up at his handsome face above me as he walked. Once, he met my eyes and such a look passed between us as I cannot describe!
Before long help was summoned. Mr Wickham helped my trapped friends to their freedom and made our coachman comfortable. It was soon decided that it would be best to secure a room at an inn for the evening and return home on the morrow. Letters were quickly despatched to Colonel Forster and Captain Nicolson telling them of our calamity and the new plans. It was decided that we need not worry mama with a letter, as she was not expecting me home until the next day and so what had started as a most frightening ordeal, turned out to be strangely exhilarating and ended with friends, more intimate than ever, round a cosy fire, swapping stories from the past and hearty jokes from the present.
By some miracle, all our purchases are safe, Colonel Forster has been able to have his carriage repaired and through some contrivance of all the party involved, my mother is not wise to the full story. Papa, as ever, has no inkling. I myself have made light of it and fortunately they are both so occupied with their own concerns, she with the unmarried state of her elder daughters and he with the perusal of a new book in his study, that the incident has not even been mentioned.
I must admit that my admiration for Mr Wickham grows daily and I find in moments of reflection that the entire episode has a habit of playing over in my mind. I still feel the warmth of his lips on mine.
Mary King will be a lucky girl if she weds him!