After reading through her letters and having a SUPER embarrassing encounter with Darcy, Lizzie was exhausted. Following countless cups of tea to help her to gather her thoughts (and her nerves) she was finally able to broach the subject of The Scandalous Elopement with her aunt and uncle.
“With the facts of the situation being what they are,” Uncle Gardiner “I have to agree with Jane on this one. Lydia isn’t alone in this world. I can’t imagine that Wickham would elope with her to take advantage of her when he knows that Lydia has family and friends to look after her. I am inclined to hope for the best—that they are in love and plan to marry.”
While a tiny part of Lizzie’s mind was screaming “YOU’RE A MORON, UNCLE! WICKHAM IS BAD NEWS: JUST ASK DARCY!” the fact was, she much preferred her uncle’s optimism, and as much as she doubted Wickham’s intentions were honorable, it made her a little happier to briefly imagine the possibility that they were. Even so, the situation was mind-boggling. Especially the suggestion that they had gone to Scotland, of all places! What is even IN Scotland? Haggis? Thistles? Do they even have tea there? Lizzie shuddered. Imagine a world without tea. How barbaric.
“To my mind, it seems most logical that they’ve hidden themselves away in London. They can’t have much money between the two of them, and it would be easier to get married cheaply in London than it would in Scotland.”
“Even so, Uncle, I still don’t see why their wedding has to be in secret! I have heard it said that Wickham cannot afford to marry a woman without money, and Lydia has nothing to offer him in that regard.”
Uncle Gardiner frowned. “Do you think so little of Lydia that she would live with him on any terms other than marriage?”
“I don’t know. Lydia is a young, impulsive romantic, and for the past year the only thing she has been doing is partying and flirting. Who knows what warped logic she has at this point!”
Thinking about Lydia’s naivety and the consequences this stupid decision would have on her youngest sister’s life made Lizzie’s blood boil. Lizzie began to blame herself. She knew that Lydia couldn’t be trusted alone with a camp full of soldiers. She should have pushed her father more to keep Lydia at home. She also knew the horrible deeds Wickham had been accused of by Mr. Darcy; she should have made her family aware of Wickham’s true character rather than keeping that knowledge to herself. True, when Lydia left for Brighton, Lizzie had no idea that Wickham and Lydia might be fond of one another, but as an older sister, was it not her duty to look after her younger siblings and keep them out of danger? Surely Lydia wouldn’t be so fooling as to run off with Wickham if she knew of his history… or would she?
This chaotic whirlwind of guilt and anger occupied Lizzie’s mind for most of the trip back to Longbourne. Thankfully Jane was ready and waiting to meet Lizzie and update her on all of the goings on.
“Papa has arrived safely into town, but has nothing significant to report. Mama, as you may have guessed, is a hot mess, poor dear.”
Jane’s comment was accentuated by a harsh wail from the direction of their mother’s bedroom.
Further questioning of Jane revealed that there was no news, although Jane remained hopeful that the situation would all turn out for the best. Thankfully out of the goodness of his heart, Uncle Gardiner offered to assist as best he could in the search.
After WAY too much waiting, news arrived at last, in the form of Lydia’s farewell letter, which Colonel Forester had sent along to Uncle Gardiner:
My Dear Harriet,
What up? Lolz. You’re probably wondering where I am, right? Well, here’s the dealio (I’m letting you know first because you are my BFF): I am going to Gretna Green with the only man that I love (and if you don’t know who I mean, I will be totes ashamed of you!). I am redonkulously happy!
Also, don’t tell my family because I want to imagine the look on their faces when I write to them and sign my name: Lydia Wickham. It will be such a scream!! I can hardly write for laughing! Also, do tell Sally to mend the tear in my dress – she knows the one I mean—and let Pratt know that I’m sorry I had to break my promise to dance with him tonight, but that I’ll catch him at the next ball!
Upon reading the letter, Mrs. Bennet, understandably, had a fit of hysterics and the Bennett household flew into an uproar once more.
Mr. Bennett had always been a man of few words: a quality which the Bennett family usually did not mind, but in light of the Lydia drama, it proved infuriating.
The more that Wickham was scrutinized, the more moneylenders Mr. Bennett and Mr. Gardiner discovered. The two men came to the inevitable conclusion that Wickham was a wicked man indeed. In spite of all of this chaos, they seemed to be making little progress in locating Lydia and Wickham.
Just when you thought the situation couldn’t become more stressful for the Bennett family, they received a mortifying letter from Mr. Collins intended for Mr. Bennett:
Because we are family I felt the need to send my condolences for the current trial you are enduring. You have my deepest sympathy during this trying time.
Indeed, your daughter’s death would be a blessing in comparison to this. It is even more to be lamented because, my dear Charlotte inform me, his licentiousness of behavior in your daughter comes from a faulty degree of indulgence of yourself and Mrs. Bennett. In spite of this, you are grievously to be pitied, and Mrs. Collins, Lady Catherine, and her daughter agree with me that this injurious act of your daughter will harm the fortunes of your other daughters as well.
This consideration does lead me to reflect with augmented satisfaction on certain events of last November, for had it been otherwise, I might have been involved in all of your sorrow and disgrace. Let me advise you, dear sir, to console yourself as much as possible and cut all connections with your child and leave her to suffer the consequences of her actions.
This, of course, did not go over well in the Bennett household, and Mrs. Bennett, who had already worried herself sick over the possibility of Mr. Bennett being killed in an imaginary duel with Wickham was beside herself.
At long last, Mr. Bennett returned home, feeling sufficiently guilty and wearied by fruitless searching.
“You were right to warn me, Lizzie. Your advice showed greatness of mind… if only I had listened!”
“Do not blame yourself, Papa. There was no way for us to know that this would happen!”
“I might as well lock myself away in my room, like you dear Mother is doing. Add a little elegance to our misfortunate by giving as much trouble as I can until Kitty decides to run away.”
Kitty sniffed indignantly, “I am not going to run away Papa. If I were to go to Brighton I would behave much better than Lydia!”
Incensed, Mr. Bennett lost his shit. “YOU go to Brighton? Not going to happen. I have learned my lesson, Kitty. No officer is to ever enter my house again or even to pass through the village. Balls are a no-go unless you stand up with one of your sisters, and you are not allowed outdoors unless you have proven that you have spent ten minutes of every day in a rational matter.”
Understandably, Kitty burst into tears.
“There, there, Kitty. Do not make yourself unhappy. If you’re a good girl for the next ten years I’ll reconsider my position.”
This week's chapters were written by Miss Lydia Bennet herself, Kylie Rose.
NEXT WEEK: How To Marry Off Your Insane Psycho Youngest Daughter--just add Darcy!
Caitlin Lushington is the Co-Artistic Director of the Enso Theatre Ensemble, a teacher, director, and actress. Sometimes she works too hard, sometimes she forgets things, and she strives to put the car keys back in the same place every time. She drinks tea every morning from her TARDIS mug and "Mr. Tea" diffuser. She loves the morning and wishes she had a photographic memory, so she could remember the names of every person she meets.