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Her Own Insignificance -Epilogue

October 28, 2022 07:50AM
Epilogue

4 months after the wedding


Kitty sat in her father's study, attempting to sketch her father and Lydia playing chess together, when a maid came in and announced that there was mail for Kitty.

Kitty rose and went to collect it, delighted to find a letter from Georgiana.


Dear Kitty

I miss having you around so much. I have not had so much fun at Pemberley as when you were there and I cannot wait till next year when I come out and you get to spend the whole season with me.

How are things at Longbourn? Is your mother still talking about the wedding of the decade? Though I do admit, I think the wedding was absolutely perfect. I've never seen anyone as beautiful as your sisters on that day.

I’d like you to know that my brother loves the paintings you gifted him. He has hang your painting of Pemberley in his study right in front of his desk, right next to the painting you did of Lizzy reading in the parlour at Pemberley.

I've never stayed here at Darcy House with it being so very full. Besides William, Lizzy and myself, the Bingley’s and Mary are here. Lizzy’s friend Mrs Harriet Montfort, whom she met on her honeymoon in the Lakes, is also here.

Harriet’s story is truely tragic. It makes me so sad to think of it. The year she was supposed to come out, her father died so she spent the year in mourning. Then when she came out at eighteen, she married Mr Montfort. However, it wasn't long into the marriage that he started to become sick. She looked after him for four years as his health declined and he died. The poor woman, now twenty six, a widow and has spent three years in mourning.

Lizzy apparently struck up a friendship over their common interest in charity work; Mrs Montfort helps out at the orphanage. She’s stunningly beautiful as well. In fact there's a strong resemblance between her and your sister Jane. I think my cousin Richard is quite taken with her- he finds any excuse he can to come over and is disappointed when he does not find her here, even if his reason for coming was to visit me. It's quite amusing.

I'll get to the information that I know you are waiting for – the Matlock ball and Lizzy's presentation at court. The presentation was a great amount of fuss. Very elaborate dress and her best jewellery. To think I will have to go through all that next year! Lizzy says it was successful and overall, underwhelming.

Lizzy and Jane both looked stunning for the ball. I know you want the details of the dresses. Jane wrote a stunning blue gown with black lace overlay on the bodice, and a sapphire necklace. Lizzy wore an emerald green gown (no lace) with a ruby necklace. Even Mary (your aunt has done wonders with her wardrobe) looked wonderful, and I think I've gotten the best account of the ball from her. I wish I could have attended.
Mary says both her sisters danced every dance, and she says she danced most dances as well. The only upset, I believe, is when Jane’s nose started bleeding during a dance.

They must have had a great deal of fun last night – Lizzy and Jane are both feeling quite sick this morning. My brother and Mr Bingley are hovering over them quite worried.

I can't wait to hear from you.

Georgie


“Has Miss Darcy written to you? Has she written about the ball?” asked Mrs Bennet.

To satisfy her mother, Kitty read out the section on the ball. Mrs Bennet arose, excited and raced to her husband’s study, with Kitty trailing behind her in surprise. “Oh Mr Bennet Mr Bennet, what good news! We are to become grandparents.”

Kitty looked surprised. “How do you know that?”

“Oh Mr Bennet, do you remember how my nose would bleed when I was pregnant with Jane? And so very sick as well?”

“If your mother says your sisters are pregnant, then they are pregnant,” said Mr Bennet, though he wore a silly grin on his face for the remainder of his chess game with Lydia.


11 months after the wedding


Mr Bennet was handed the express which had just been received. He went to his study to read it peacefully. As expected, it came from Darcy.


Dear Mr Bennet

On the 18th of September, Master Bennet George Darcy was born. Both mother and child are healthy and well and the midwife said that there were no complications with the birth.

I must thank you for allowing Miss Catherine to attend Lizzy during this time. She has been a great comfort to Lizzy in keeping her spirits up. As you can imagine, Lizzy has been rather cross and out of sorts as she has not been able to wander as long or as far as she is want to do. Kitty has been a great comfort to us all, especially as we know that your wife has been busy attending Mrs Bingley after the birth of young Elizabeth.

Regards

Fitzwilliam Darcy



Mr Bennet sat back and smiled. He then rose and went to find his wife. “Mrs Bennet, the heir to Pemberley had been born.” He handed her the express.

Mrs Bennet fanned herself in happiness. “God had been so very good to us and the girls!”


12 months later


Mr Darcy sat in his study and opened the letter from Bingley.


D***y

Congratulations on the birth *blot* Ben***. We’re *blot* hear that mother and son *blot* well and the birth was uncomplicated.
Little Beth is growing well and sleeping *blot*. She is a true little angel *blot blot* mother.

Mrs Bennet is *blot blot* well- meaning advice *blot blot* constantly. *blot* considerate of Jane *blotblot* tired. Jane and I are thinking *blot* buying an estate further North. Jane would love to be closer to her sister and having the cousins grow *blot* together.

We’re both excited *blotblot* Colonel Fitzwilliam’s wedding next month to Mrs Harriet *blot blot* Lakes. *blot* excited *blot* meet little Bennet and to see you *blot* again. Jane, too, is keen to see her friend Harriet, who she grew so fond of earlier *blot* year. *blot* happy for the two of them.

Talking of weddings, Caroline is engaged to *blot* family friend of Mr Hurst, Mr Andrew Grady. He has finished mourning the death of his first wife, hence why we haven't seen much of him. I think *blot blot* lucky *blot* didn’t marry *blot*. I must say the two of them are well suited to each other. They both enjoy society and their attitudes *blot blot blot*. She is delighted that his estate is only 5 miles from Bath *blot blot* close to London. The wedding will be in London in *blot blot* on the 17th of *blot*.

*blot* will be happy to see you next month. We'll be arriving at Pemberley on the *blot*. *blot* looking forward to viewing suitable estates in Derbyshire and neighbouring surrounds.

Your sincerely

Charles Bingley


Elizabeth came in, walked behind the desk and put her arms around her husband’s shoulders, resting her chin on his head. “Do you know what Mr Bingley has written to you?”

“Mostly. Is little Ben asleep?”

“He tried hard fighting going to sleep, but I won in the end. What did you get out of the letter?”

“I think Bingley wants to buy an estate closer to us.”

“And further away from my mother? I take it Jane has finally had enough. There's that empty estate in Bakewell that's probably the right size for them.”

“I think Richard might have been considering purchasing it after his marriage to Mrs Montfort.”

“I thought even with her dowry and the money he had they still couldn't afford it.”

Mr Darcy tipped his head in a half nod. “You’re probably right. I think they can afford a smaller estate, about the size of your father's.”

“Where are they going to live after the wedding? Is Richard going to retire from the army?”

“I know his parents want him to, however, I think deep down, he enjoys the army too much. I think he will continue on for a few more years before retiring to an estate. I think he'll use the excuse of not finding the right property as an excuse to stay in the army.”

“Where will they live?”

“I think with his parents for the time being,” replied Mr Darcy.

“I am so happy for her that she gets this second chance to be happy and to have children.” Elizabeth walked over to the window. “Talking about second chances, will Lady Catherine be at the wedding?”

Mr Darcy nodded his head. “Why do you ask?”

“Now that we have an heir for Pemberley, and that Richard is the recalcitrant nephew for not marrying Anne, is now the right time to attempt to extend an olive branch to Lady Catherine?”

“Richard did ask Anne to marry him, as the Rosings’ estate was exactly the kind of estate that would suit him. But Anne is determined not to marry and she knows Richard wants children. Of course this was all kept quiet else our Aunt would have declared it a match regardless of her daughter's wishes. But yes, we could try now and see if she is willing to make amends.”


15 months later



Dear Kitty

It sounds like you are having a grand old time in London. Do try to remember your little sister whilst you are at all those balls and dinners, dancing with Lord such-and-such. I find it odd that Mary wants to stay with Aunt and Uncle Gardiner rather than staying with Lizzy at Darcy House.

Mama is still put out with Jane for moving to Bakewell. Even though the Gardiner’s good friends have now purchased Netherfield, as the son of the owner is only ten, she sees it as a complete waste, not that it worries me one hoot. I try to remind her that the new owner’s single brother and cousin visit them regularly, but she’s not interested in them in the least. Though the Green’s younger brother is clearly making a move on Maria. He's always sitting with her or following her around.

Lizzy is mother's favourite daughter, especially as she is now the ‘grandmother to the heir of Pemberley’. I have seen Mrs Long roll her eyes at the mention of young Bennet. I'm mighty impressed that Lady Lucas has yet to roll her eyes whilst I've been watching, but then she talks about little Lucas Collins just as much as Mama mentions Ben.

Do tell Lizzy I have finally beat Papa at chess. I'm waiting to have a game with her next time we meet.

With love

Lydia Bennet



17 months later



Dear Lydia

I have never had so much fun. Georgiana and I must now have seen every opera and Shakespeare play currently showing in London. We've been to the museum and gallery and have visited Matlock house to dine with the Earl and Countess more times than I can possibly count.

I'm glad that Lizzy had told us there’s no rush to get married and that we should both enjoy our time being single. I look at Lizzy, married for barely a year and she does not look like she is having fun. She's tired all the time, I in fact caught her yawning at the Shakespeare play “A Mid-Summer Nights Dream” the other night. The other day she had been trying to feed Ben and he was having far too much fun spitting his food out over her. Then when she went to pick him up, he vomited all over her hair. Ten minutes later she’s changed and the maid got most of her hair clean and she’s smiling at some surprise guest that has shown up.
She’s busy running the house, or with Ben or smiling after guests. I know she’s trying her hardest at making sure Georgiana makes the most of her debut year, yet, I think she’d much rather be at Pemberley. I'm going to enjoy being unmarried and get the most out of visiting London. And though it is fun to cuddle Ben, I'm not remotely ready to have my own.

I've been busy painting a painting of Georgiana in her gown she wore for her coming out ball. This is by far and away my largest painting yet and I think my best.

We had Lady Catherine show up, Mr Collins’ patroness. What a rude, pompous, old woman! She came into the house and insulted all the changes Elizabeth has made. I do not know how Lizzy sat there with a smile on her face. Mr Darcy had a stony look on his face. It was the same kind of look he had all the time in Meryton.

I believe Mary went to stay with the Gardiners as she likes one of their friends, a young Dr Andrew Johnson. I've even seen Mary reading through the anatomy and medical books in the library here. When we are at dinner with the Gardiner’s she'll spend all night talking with him if he's there. I expect there will be an announcement soon.

Colonel Richard has a staff Officer, Major Rothwell. He has become a pleasant constant in our company as he always accompanies Colonel Fitzwilliam wherever he goes, which is quite often to the Darcy’s, or we see him at the Matlock’s. He certainly livens up the company with his army anecdotes.

You would have loved the Matlock ball and we’re busy preparing for the Darcy ball on Friday. I've never had such nice dresses, or enjoyed my dances nearly so much. I danced....


Lydia skimmed the rest of the letter, bored of the references to all the dull people that Kitty or Georgiana had danced with or what people had worn. She was trying to work out what would be the most profitable crop to plant in the spring in Longbourn’s fields.

She wandered to her father’s study and stopped as she could see a maid had just entered before she got there. “Sir, there's a Dr Andrew Johnson to see you.”


3 Years later




Dear Kitty

It is so nice to be home again. Our honeymoon to Italy was just magical. The art, the museums, the music, it was all beyond anything I've enjoyed before. The food was magnificent! I've become addicted to their pizza, which is a dough that they put sauce and herbs on. So simple yet so delicious. James and I both agree it was our favourite. I'll be sure to have our cook make that.

You must come and visit me at Hillgrove Hall, perhaps on your way home from Christmas with the Bingleys. I absolutely insist or this Baroness will be most put out! How strange to now be a Baroness.

James has been wonderful showing me his estate around the castle and his staff are very competent. It's daunting managing the accounts and staff for such a place. I’m so glad that Lizzy took me through Pemberley’s accounts and we got to practice whilst Lizzy was pregnant.

Talking about Lizzy, have you heard she’s pregnant again? I hope I get a niece this time. I heard that Mrs Bingley has had a son. Everyone is getting married and having children! Harriet and Richard are expecting as well. And then when we go to London for the season there is Miss Emma Hargrave’s wedding. The painting you did of her in her debut dress was wonderful.

Talking of portraits, my brother was rather put out that I took my painting with me. It's now hanging in the hall at Hillgrove but I think I'll put it in the London house.

How is your sister Mary settling into her new home in London as Mrs Johnson? It is such an adjustment. This will be the first time I do not have Christmas with William. We will be having Christmas with my husband’s sister and her family.

When will we see you engaged to young Major Rothwell? I saw the two of you at my wedding and over the last season in London. The two of you were always together. I hope to hear of an engagement soon.

How strange to sign off with my new name. I suppose I'll get used to it at some stage and sign off with the same amount of pomp as my Aunt Catherine.

Yours sincerely

Lady Georgiana Hamilton



4 years later



Dear Lizzy

It is good to be home again. Thank you so much for having me at Pemberley for so long. Little Thomas is such a sweet little baby, and Bennet appeared to do all in his power to be a good older brother.

With all of us sister’s flitting around the country staying with either the Gardiner’s or with yourself or Jane, our household costs have certainly come down. Along with the changes I've made on the estate, I believe we'll see a 20% increase in estate revenue.

Kitty will certainly need all increases in Longbourn’s profits to marry her Major. He'll need to save his money to purchase his commission for Colonel. Kitty and I have gone over their budget with what the major earns and her dowry and it is a tight living. I know the aim is to purchase a small estate, but they are short many thousands of pounds, and it will realistically take them a good decade to afford any form of estate. However, they can do it, so I think they should be able to marry in the spring, after this next season.

Everyone raves about Kitty’s paintings. I've decided I can do just as well and I’ve taken up painting to see what the fuss is all about. I will acknowledge she is much better at portraits than I. Any drawing I do of people is terrible, especially their faces. I don't know how she is able to get them looking so real and lifelike. I will stick to painting flowers and plants.

I know you'll be coming late to the season this year. I look forward to our trip to London and staying with the Gardiners. It is always such fun to terrorise his young clerks by walking behind them and pointing out their book keeping errors. It's even more fun when they try and flirt with me first before I do so. But Uncle Gardiner says I'm not to distract his staff in such a way any more and that I make them nervous. He’s no fun at all!

I also look forward to beating you at chess.

Your sincerely

Lydia Bennet



6 years later



Dear Lizzy

I have wonderful news to share. I’m now engaged to Robert Bracks, the young biologist we met at that dinner you hosted in London last season.

I am very grateful to our Aunt Madelein for all the trips to Hyde Park where I met with Robert and helped him draw the flowers for his research papers. You are probably unaware, but after our meeting at your dinner I stumbled on him in Hyde Park where he was making a complete mess of his attempts to draw the flowers and plants for his paper. His drawings are worse than Mr Bingley’s letters! Smudge marks with no sense of proportion. So I agreed to help him with his drawing, and we've been working together like that since. Aunt Madelein would kindly escort me to the park or Robert would drop off samples at the Gardiner residence for me to sketch.

Then, last week he comes to me all distressed to tell me he's been offered a position in South America and he’s distressed about leaving me behind. So I say he could marry me, then I could go with him. Men are such complete dolts! It had not remotely occurred to him that that was the solution, thought it a great idea and thought we were engaged! I had to tell him we weren't engaged until he asked me, so he immediately asks me, so I refuse! Such a look of shock on his face. I say to him ‘You can't do a terrible proposal like that with no thought and expect me to accept. Go away, put some proper thought and effort like you mean it, and then I will think about it.’

So he goes and visits father to seek permission, asks to meet me in Hyde Park near the Rose gardens at sunset. He gets down on one knee, brings out a ring and asks me if I’d do him the honour of becoming his wife and travel the world looking for adventure with him. It was beautiful and romantic and of course I said yes! We've been the best of friends and I can think of no other man better than him. I'm so ecstatically happy!

I remember you saying that one day I would meet the man who complements me, and you were right. We met and became friends as I could draw and help him with his work as he was terrible. He is calm and quiet and can calm me down when I am cross. Not to mention he is the most handsome man to ever walk this earth. He has an exciting occupation that allows me to travel with him instead of being stuck on a dull estate. I'm sorry to say so but it is true. You and Mr Darcy are both exceedingly dull.

I expect to see you at our wedding in two months time at Longbourn. We'll be leaving the week after for South America – our wedding trip will be on a ship! I'm so excited.

Oh, by the way, Robert and I have long shared everything. He’s spoken about the man who manages the money he inherited from his mother and from what I can gather, I believe this man to not be honest. I think he may be stealing from Robert. I'll soon get to look through the books to determine the truth for myself, but I suspect I won't be believed. Can Mr Darcy perhaps recommend a good auditor that he knows of in either London or Oxford? Oxford will be our permanent home when we get back from South America.

From your loving and happy sister

Lydia Bennet



7 years later



Dear Kitty

I've arrived in Rio de Janeiro safe and well, though delighted to be off the ship. I think I may have been pregnant, but in truth, who could tell between the sea sickness. I am relieved to have not had a child during the voyage as I've no idea how I would have looked after it.

Robert and I will be off to Sao Paulo tomorrow for him to start his research work. Sao Paulo will be our home between each expedition. How exciting that we will be exploring into the jungle. Robert says there are bound to be hundreds of new species of plants and animals, and he has promised to name the first flower he finds after me! I must admit I am excited to draw them all. My pictures will get published in the scientific papers. Ha, who would have thought that a decade ago? I certainly never would have thought that I'd ever leave England.

Do not despair, we will only be away three years. Feel free to use one of our apartments, especially if you are in Oxford. I've told our lawyer they are to give you and the Colonel free rent if you wish to stay there.

Robert is absolutely perfect for me. He is completely absorbed by his biology and work that I have complete free reign to organise the finances. At any rate, this is a grand new adventure. My only sorrow is that I don't have you to share it with.

Lydia Bracks



12 years later



Dear Fitzwilliam

I've written to announce my impending marriage to Mr Clark. I know you are surprised but stop! I know what I am about. I know he is our old butler and I was the one to propose to him.

After Mama’s death two years back, I've been getting in touch with my be Bourgh cousins to work out who will be my heir, as Mama had worked hard to cut off any communication between myself and my cousins. My father had two brothers and a sister. The elder of the two brothers went into the law as did both of his two sons. His eldest boy would naturally be my heir, however, on meeting them, I simply don’t like either of them. My Aunt, and her son and daughters were also haughty and tried hard to convince me that they would make much better heirs. I don't like them either.

My youngest uncle went into the church and he is a warm and caring person. He has seven children, the eldest of which is now also in the church. His wife died in childbirth, leaving him alone to raise the children, but it is a tough life with seven mouths to feed.

I've decided that I wish to make the youngest two my heirs, their ages being fifteen and twelve, but my lawyer says that my lawyer cousins may dispute it after my death. He had said the best way to ensure no contest was to adopt them, which requires me to marry. I am marrying the retired Rosings’ butler, who has always been loyal to us and worked faithfully for us. It is a win-win situation. His future is secured in comfort for the remainder of his life, and I adopt my cousins. I do not care about the Ton or what they have to say.

Please pass on to Lizzy that the Collins’ are doing well. Their two children are polite, sensible and considerate children, but that is to be expected with Charlotte as their mother. Little Anna Marie Collins is a true little angel, always kind to everyone. Just the other day she picked up an injured bird and insisted on nursing it back to health.

Tell Mrs Bracks if you see her before her departure to Van Diemen’s land that I loved her book on her adventures in South America. I can understand why it was a best seller amongst the Ton. It is a pity I didn't make it to one of your wife’s parties to meet her sister in person, though Mr Collins, I hear, did not approve of her adventures.

Give your four darling children a hug for me. In particular, give little Richard a pinch on the cheek. That is for the broken vase I found hidden under his bed when he last stayed with us.

Your faithful cousin

Anne de Bourgh



25 years later


Sir and Lady Darcy entered their London house, pulling off their outer ware, along with their three youngest children. A maid led them into the parlour for some refreshments, before they got changed from their travel clothes. The Bingley’s with three of their five children soon followed.

“I'm glad to be home again,” announced Jane Madeleine Darcy. At eighteen years of age, she should have been in the midst of enjoying her second season. Instead, she was in mourning clothes after attending the funeral of their grandfather, Mr Bennet.

Bennet, his grandfather’s namesake, had been given the management of the Scotland estate, and had departed Longbourn to return to Scotland.

Thomas Darcy, so much like his father, stood by the window looking out. “How long will you stay in London? There's not much point in remaining here when you cannot enjoy the amusements.”

“Bingley and I were made the executors of Mr Bennet’s will, so we must ensure the estate is settled properly before returning North. I've other business to attend to as well. I hope for it to be done within a month.”

Thomas nodded, then looked at his youngest brother Richard, and the younger Bingley boy, Frederick. “When do you two return to Eton?”

“Semester break. We've got two weeks off,” replied Richard.

“When do you return to work?” asked Mrs Bingley.

Thomas, instead of following the usual second son occupations of law, armed forces or the church had decided to pursue journalism, and now worked as a beginner reporter for the Times. “I return Monday.”

Richard Fitzwilliam, who alternated between staying at his brother's townhouse and Darcy’s when in London, entered then.
“It is good to see you all back. Lady Darcy, Mrs Bingley, I'm very sorry for your loss.”

“Thankyou Richard,” replied Elizabeth.
The Bingleys and the Darcy siblings rose and excused themselves to change, leaving just Sir and Lady Darcy with Richard.

“How is my young Major and your sister Catherine? Is their removal from Longbourn to their new estate settled?” asked Richard.

Catherine had married Major Rothwell, and for the first several years they had rented cheap accommodation or lived with family. The Major was promoted and their situation improved, though Kitty lived as cheaply as she could so they could save up for an estate. That became more difficult to achieve after the birth of three children, two boys and one daughter. However, when Mrs Bennet died, it was decided that Kitty and the children would move back to Longbourn so that Kitty could help her elderly father manage the estate. That helped to save enough money to be able to purchase their own small estate, which they had done the previous year. They had put Bingley’s eldest boy in charge so that he could get experience in managing a small estate.

“They’ve got a month to pack. Lydia, Jane, Mary and I will return after the will reading to sort through my father’s affects and work out what remains with the estate and what is divided out amongst us.”

“When do the Collins’ move in?”

“In two months. Mr de Bourgh has insisted they cannot leave until he has found a replacement for the living. I also don't believe Charlotte feels any hurry to leave her daughter.” Mr de Bourgh inherited Rosings three years earlier when Anne de Bourgh died. As he had no interest in fashion and cared not for the Ton, there was no surprise when he married his lifelong friend, Anna Collins, the previous year.

“What of your sister, Mrs Bracks? Is she staying in the country or is she on any further overseas adventures?”

Elizabeth laughed. “No, Lydia is staying home. Her time gallivanting around the world is over. She’s focused on raising her four children now.” Lydia, after three years in South America where her eldest was born, had stayed in England for two years, enough time for a second child to be born. But she and her husband had got the travel bug and found England dull compared to exploring new lands. They then went to spend four years in Van Diemen’s Land with a one year stint in South Africa. Two further children had been born to Lydia in this time.

“I have some news of an old acquaintance,” announced Richard, pulling out a letter. “Darcy, do you remember Lumley?”

“Yes, I remember we used to play with him whenever we visited Matlock.”

“He was given a senior post in the colony of Victoria. He wrote me a letter after running into our old friend Wickham when visiting Sydney for work.”

Sir Darcy raised an eyebrow. “How is Wickham? Drunk and bankrupt in a gutter?”

“The opposite in fact. Read the letter.” Elizabeth came to read the letter over her husband’s shoulder.


Dear Richard

How are you and Harriet and the children doing? Is your second son following you into an army career?

My post here keeps me busy but the weather here is crazy, especially in summer. One minute boiling hot, the next blows in a frosty rain and is then raining for the next several days with a frosty wind, then back to steaming hot.

I've recently had to travel to Sydney to visit the Governor of New South Wales. Whilst there I was invited to the races at Hyde Park which is the central Sydney Park. Whilst there, I could hear a familiar voice. I turn around to see who it is when I spot a man, dressed in a fine coat and top hat in amongst many other finely dressed men, with an exceptionally attractive woman in her early forties on his arm.

I approach George Wickham who at this stage is celebrating with his friends as his racehorse had won. He hails me, introduces me to his wife Rebecca, his two brother-in-laws, and two of the sons of John Macarthur.


Darcy put down the letter. “Where have I heard the name Macarthur.”

“Yes, it sounds very familiar,” agreed Elizabeth.

“You are wearing the wool from his sheep right now. He produced the world’s finest merino wool. Owned thousands upon thousands of acres of land in New South Wales. And he was here in London for a number of years after that fiasco with Bligh,” answered Richard.

They both nodded and continued to read.


It appears he had won his winning racehorse in a game of cards with Macarthur’s sons, and that they regularly exchanged horses in this manner. Mr Wickham owns a number of racehorses, several of which were racing that day. Mr Wickham invited me to lunch during the week.

It was with great anticipation that I caught up with Mr Wickham. I asked how he came to be here, as I had heard he had been sentenced to deportation. Mr Wickham had just laughed.

‘Coming to Australia was the best thing that ever happened to me. On completing my sentence, one of the local farmers, ex-convicts from the first fleet, employed me as a tutor for his son. University educated men, or even men who can read, outside of those in the military, are in short supply. I was paid handsomely to teach his children, and particularly the boys on how to be gentlemen.’

I asked him if he was still running up debts by gambling. He laughed. ‘I'm in a country full of convicts. By default credit is not extended unless you've proven yourself. They certainly don't extend it to an ex-convict. So if I could not produce the money upfront, I didn't get what I wanted. A very effective way of not running up debts.’

I asked him if he was still womanising, and he pointed to a faded burn scar across his cheek. ‘In the early days I had tried to entertain a certain young lady until her father and brothers found out about it. They were ex-convicts and they had no problem treating me in an ungentlemanly like way. What was said the next day was that I had gotten drunk and fell into a fire, but everyone in Sydney knew the truth. The women here were then warned enough to stay away.’

I then asked him how he had convinced his wife to marry him. Yet again, he laughed. ‘Ha, I had no say in the matter. Dear Rebecca had already chosen me as her future husband before I even knew her name. I had been introduced to her a few times, but the first time she truely came to my notice was during a party we'd both been invited to with all the prominent Sydney families. I remember her coming up to me and asking ‘who do you think is the most powerful person in this room?’ I, of course, dutifully point to the Governor. She merely laughed. ‘Look to the man on your left.’ I saw a man I’d not met before, sitting at a table, essentially holding court, surrounded by others. ‘That is John Macarthur, largest landholder, courtesy of him being friends with some English lord. He mutinied against a Governor, throws him in prison and yet here he sits, alive, richer than ever, newly returned from London. Make no mistake, he is the most powerful man in New South Wales. He is setting his family up as the nobility here, with himself as King.’

She had asked Mr Wickham outright. ‘How ambitious are you, Mr Wickham? Do you wish to be a tutor of rich men’s children, or do you wish to be a rich man?’ Mr Wickham said he'd never been so bewitched with a woman before.

Mr Wickham said she’d approached him a week later with a deal. ‘I will permit you to marry me provided you work for my brother. Once you’ve made ten thousand pounds in sales, or can sell five thousand pounds and secure five merino sheep for my brother, we can marry.’

Mr Wickham said he'd laughed and straight out asked why she was interested in him at all when she could marry many other richer men, especially with her ten thousand pound dowry. She had said she had multiple reasons. First that she had seen his potential as a natural salesman, especially as her own brother was useless at it. Her other reason was that she believed Mr Wickham to be smart and ambitious enough to give her control over her money. She did not believe the other options in the colony would give her that freedom. He said his wife was a genius with money. She intuitively knew what were growth markets, which businesses would succeed and others fail.

I asked him how long it took him to meet his end of the bargain. ‘One year’ said he. Apparently his wife had been right, and he was a natural in sales. He became a partner in her brother's business and within a year it had tripled in size. He said it was hilarious when he went to propose. ‘I knocked on her brother’s door at his sheep station. Rebecca came out and was surprised to find me in the middle of 10 merino sheep, seven ewes and three rams. From the middle of the flock I asked her to marry me. She, with her mouth agape asked how I'd got the sheep. I told her I'd won them in a card game with Edward Macarthur. She asked what on earth I'd used as collateral, and I told her I'd used her brother’s sheep station. She was furious and told me she would kill me and anyone else involved if I ever gambled her brother's sheep station again. At any rate, we married.’

I told him I never thought to see him settle down. I asked if his eye wandered at all and he said he wouldn’t dare else his wife would kill him. ‘And that is no idle threat,’ said he. ‘When she was pregnant with our first child, I had thought to take advantage of our servant girl and I had thought Rebecca hadn't noticed it. Then one time, as I was talking with the girl, she walks past, carrying her rifle muttering ‘damn kangaroos’. She marched to the patio, lined up her rifle, made enough noise to get the roos hopping off, and from 200 yards, shoots one down straight through the head. I knew that had been purely for my benefit, and would be the only warning I’d ever get. I asked her brothers about her shooting skill, and they said it was the one sport that she outshone her brothers. As her elder brother said, ‘her rifle is guided by the devil himself’. I am not fool enough to cross her.’

I then asked if he missed England and wished to return. That was answered by a simple ‘why, everything that matters to me is here. I have an estate at Rose Hill, racehorses, a beautiful wife and family. I have a controlling interest in some 10 percent of Sydney’s businesses. I return to England and I have nothing and am nothing. No, I do not want to return to England.’

I then asked him about his children and the response was one of the funniest I heard for many a year. I'm certain you'll find it appropriate. ‘I have been both cursed and blessed with five children. All daughters. I hope that they do not turn out to be like either their father or mother. I absolutely fear them turning out like me. At least their mother has the rifle ready.’


At this, both Elizabeth and Sir Darcy started to laugh, starting as a small chuckle and building to a belly shaking laugh. After many minutes, Elizabeth wiped a tear from her eye. “Thank you Richard. I have not laughed like that since I heard about my father’s illness.”

Sir Darcy, wiping the tear from his eye, “what a fitting punishment for his womanising. Now he needs to consistently be on the lookout for men like him, and hope his daughters don't have his lack of discipline or have the same taste for risk as himself.”

“I thought you would enjoy that,” said Richard, then glancing at his watch, “oh no, I'm late to meet the lawyers. I’ll be back in a few hours.”

They watched him leave. “It makes sense that working in sales was where his natural talents always lay. His ease and charm with people; he never had an issue convincing people to do as he bid. Who would have thought that all it took was a good woman to control Wickham and to see his potential?” said Darcy.

“I'm not sure she’s a ‘good’ woman. Strong and crafty, clever, yes, but a ‘good’ woman would never try to control anyone in that way. Let's say she is the ‘right’ woman for Wickham.”

“He never had to strive or earn the affections of a woman before. I think that was a genius move. For the first time he had to work to gain what he sought. I must admit I had some guilt when I had him tried. I'm glad he has found success and happiness in the colonies.”

They were silent whilst they contemplated this. Sir Darcy asked Elizabeth “how will Lydia feel about this?”

“I doubt she will feel anything at all; so much time has passed since the events in Brighton.” Elizabeth tapped her chin as she thought. “If the events in Brighton hadn't occurred, Lydia would never have sought to improve herself. Had she run off with Wickham, she and all of us would have been ruined. Had Wickham acted the gentleman, Lydia would have returned unaffected and unchanged from the trip and would have learnt nothing. She needed to have her heart broken to understand her insignificance to be able to improve her mind and to actually become someone who has done some significant things. She took control of Longbourn’s finances and mama’s spending, hence why on mama’s death we each inherited two thousand instead of one thousand pounds. That extra thousand allowed the Rothwell’s to purchase their estate. She increased yields at Longbourn and reduced waste. Lydia travelled the world, wrote two best selling books about her travels, and had her drawings of new plants published in scientific papers. Her husband named a South American flower after her. Just as our work on education got you knighted, her husband's work on biology will see him knighted and her becoming a lady. I think she has made a significant contribution. Papa was proud of her.”


The end
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