Dear readers: Vic, Ms. Place and Jane Odiwe have been exchanging letters as Lydia Wickham and her friend Lucy. Vic writes as Lucy, and Jane writes as Lydia. This letter brings us to Lizzy's and Mr. Darcy's wedding.
Oh, my dear Lydia,
I cannot imagine how I allowed so much time to slip by before answering your last two letters. My sincerest apologies, but I have had such an adventure these past few months, and I simply could not catch my breath long enough to sit still and sharpen the nubs on my quills. They were quite worn down, you see, and I kept thinking: tomorrow, tomorrow I'll tend to my writing instruments, and then I can write to my dear Lydia at leisure, and she will see what a good friend I am.
First, Lady Catherine de Bourgh returned from Longbourn after her tête à tête with your sister Lizzy, ready to do battle. There was such a commotion! She arrived at the Collins's doorstep late in the evening to announce that to all intents and purposes Miss Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy were engaged. Accusations flew around the room when she and Mr. Collins heatedly discussed how your sister could have STOLEN Mr. Darcy from under Miss Anne's nose. Charlotte stepped in the fray and defended your sister quite vigorously. Charlotte is quite cast out of Lady Catherine's good graces, for the latter declared that had she not invited that "Bennet hussy" for a prolonged visit, then that "shameless, common, impudent, and scheming woman" would not have had the opportunity to seduce Mr. Darcy with her questionable and tepid charms.
I daresay, if Charlotte had not had the good sense to convince Mr. Collins to remove to Lucas lodge until Lady Catherine recovered her equanimity, we might still be subject to the sort of language that would make a regiment blush. Lady Catherine's use of the King's English can be quite creative, to say the least, and even Mr. Collins - obsequiesce as he is towards her ladyship - was hard pressed to listen to her abusive language without betraying his astonishment. Indeed his face turned so ruddy at times that it quite alarmed Charlotte, who then took it upon herself to pack for the three of us and remove us from such "relentless and roiling agitation".
The instant we arrived at Lucas lodge, Lady Lucas announced that your sister Jane had been promised to Mr. Bingley. With much surprise, we learned that Lady Catherine's premonition about your sister Lizzy's engagement to Mr. Darcy was true. Lady Lucas, who has been wont to crow over Charlotte's marriage to Mr. Collins, seemed a bit put out by all this good news. I must say that your mama did not help the situation by boasting at every opportunity about the fine matches that her three girls have made. Even I began to tire of her conversations about trousseaus and weddings and fine houses, and you know how drawn I am to such topics!! Oh, dear, how I do run on at the mouth. You are my dearest friend, and at times I forget that I am speaking of your family. Do IGNORE my comments about your mama, which I will cross out, for I do not have time to start this letter over again and I am danger of running out of paper!
I was ecstatic to be invited to attend your sisters' weddings along with the Lucases, and mourned when I learned that neither you nor Mr. Wickham would be able make the journey from Newcastle. Oh, Lydia, had I known you were not coming, I would have worn my pink dress with the pale blue satin ribands. I was certain you would want to wear your magnificent pink silk and I did not want to compete with you (not that I ever could, for you are by far prettier, but I must admit, my hair, which I am dressing in the Grecian style, has received some very fine compliments of late.) I chose to wear my blue sarcanet silk instead, which, with the addition of new ribands and buttons, looked quite stylish.
I finally come to THE WEDDING. Your sister Jane was lovely as always, and Mr. Bingley looked suitably handsome, but it was your sister Lizzy who stole the day. I never did think her as pretty as Jane and I always feel quite tongue tied when speaking to her for she is so very bookish, is she not? And she brooks no silly remarks, which my papa says I drop like pearls from an overactive oyster. To return to the new Mrs. Darcy, she looked stunningly beautiful, with her shining eyes and lovely skin, which surely glowed from happiness. Mr. Darcy could not take his eyes off her, and he did not seem half as forbidding to me on that day, even speaking to me on occasion and asking me a question or two, if you can imagine! I caught him laughing once or twice, and always smiling in the direction of his new bride. I do wonder why the future Mrs. Darcy, who now has more money than all of Meryton put together, chose to wear such a plain dress. The material was very fine, to be sure, but my marriage gown will have more ruffles, lace, and ribands as suits the occasion.
To answer your question in your last letter, Papa will arrive in a few days to take me to Bath, where we will stay for the winter. Oh, dear, how vexing! I have run out of paper and I have still so much to relate. Pray, write to me and tell me what you have been doing! I promise I shall not let so much time pass by until next I write.
Sincerely, your errant but loving friend, Lucy
My Dear Lucy,
How delightful to hear from you again! I had begun to wonder from your lack of correspondence if you were ailing, but it now seems clear that you have been enjoying rude health enough to keep abreast of all news concerning my family with your usual flair, aptitude and resolve for gleaning gossip. No one was more surprised than I to hear of both my sisters' engagements. I was very happy for Jane but I was almost at a loss for words to describe my sentiments on discovering the truth of Lizzy's commitment to Mr Darcy. I declare I never worried so much for my sister's sanity than when I received the news. Gone MAD, I thought, like my poor Aunt Fanny, (my mother's sister, who incidentally is never mentioned - well, for a long time she convinced herself that she was betrothed to my father who spurned all her advances - as a result she took to the bottle - but that's another story.)
I never thought for a minute that Lizzy would actually go through with it and wed that odious man. All I can think is that when Jane announced her engagement, (bless her - though he is not my dish of tea, Mr Bingley certainly has his charms) - that Lizzy became frightened. Well, what would you have done, Lucy, if you were a spinster watching your other sisters getting wed?
Forgive me; I have committed a faux pas without any intention. I do not mean to imply that you are in a similar situation, even though you are not yet married. I am sure it is just a matter of time - you have been most unfortunate - not every girl has the good luck to have a young man fall for
Can you imagine? To be left on the shelf with the bitter memory that the only man Lizzy ever adored had transferred his affections and married me! Well, I should be sorry for her but what could I do if Mr Wickham was in such a passion for me? Anyway, as I say, I think she threw herself away in a moment of madness because Mr Darcy happened to ask her and as Kitty pointed out he does have a big house. Not that I feel envious for Lizzy's lot; I should imagine it's very wild on those peaks, a veritable icebox the whole year round! It is evident why he was in such a hurry to marry my sister. I don't say she is ugly, but Anne de Bourgh's countenance is what my mother would describe as suet pudding and two currants. I wonder if he pictured himself waking up to that every day; I fancy she didn't take his fancy in the least!
As for the weddings, I'd had quite enough excitement with my own, quite frankly, to make such a journey. I daresay my sisters will invite Georgie and I to stay soon. Indeed, I am holding out for an invitation from Jane to spend Christmas at Netherfield but I might give her a hint if I do not hear anything soon.
You mentioned that you are going to Bath. Apparently George is travelling there soon on some sort of regimental affair, though he is so secretive I am inclined to think it is on a matter of espionage. He is not allowed to give me the name and address of his lodging house, which surely indicates the secretive nature and importance of his mission. All I know is that when I asked Captain Welby about it he denied any knowledge of George's assignment - so I think I cannot be far from the truth! Sometimes I think the men underestimate my intelligence but I am one step ahead of them, I can assure you! I doubt very much whether you will see George in town or at the assemblies because he works so hard that sometimes I don't see him from morn till night for two days together! Fortunately, my friends are very good and keep me entertained when George is called away. You would adore Captain Bostock; he has the bluest eyes I ever saw. And though he is a rascal, for he is the greatest flirt I ever knew, I manage to forgive him every time.
Do let me know of your adventures in Bath,
Read Lydia Bennet's Journal here, and click here to read Lucy and Lydia's first exchange of letters.