It's Thursday and apparently the forecast is for a much warmer weekend!
So how about a treat from my work-in-progress to kick it all off?
Please remember this is unedited. Any comments are greatly welcomed :-)
Wickham was glad to be out of the house and on active duty. Lydia was driving him insane with her constant whining about being confined to the house. He simply would not risk another child’s life to her stupidity. It irked him that she could not or would not see that as more important than pandering to her desire for gaiety and to be out in society.
His regiment had been prepared for action for months. They were called up twice to join in the fight against Napoléon, but then the orders were cancelled at the last minute. Idleness was not good for morale and the men grew agitated. Wickham was among them. He wanted to be active and useful. He wanted the heat of battle to make him forget his woes and troubles at home.
They knew the war against Napoléon was heating up and were certain they would be a welcome reinforcement of the troops. But all they could do was sit and wait while practicing manoeuvres and guarding the French prisoners that were held captive in Scarborough Castle.
He heard that Darcy’s cousin; Colonel Fitzwilliam’s regiment had seen action and taken quite a few casualties. He also heard rumours that the colonel had been rewarded handsomely for his bravery. Wickham wanted a slice of that action too, he said as much to his comrades-in-arms.
“Wickham, from what I hear, Colonel Fitzwilliam risked his life to save the Doña de somewhere-or-other. They were going to hang her for working against ole Boney, apparently. Is it worth risking your life for a woman on the off-chance that she might reward you with gold?” Poynter laughed as he dipped his boot brush into the polish and began to apply it thickly to his boots.
Wickham shook his head and laughed with his friend, but yes, to him money was always worth taking some risk.
Turpin slapped him on the back. “Of course if the woman in question was comely it’d be worth the risk, eh Wickham?”
Although he laughed at the jibe, Wickham was aware of the truth of it too. They knew what he was like only too well. They were his closest friends and as they say birds of a feather flock together, and they had fallen in together almost as soon as they met. Lydia, unfortunately for Wickham, did not like Poynter very much at all. Wickham knew so from how much she moaned after he visited. Poynter flirted with her and Wickham was aware she expected to be treated like a respectable married woman and the daughter of a gentleman. However, Poynter and Turpin knew the Wickham’s history and knew that Lydia was far from being a respectable, married gentlewoman.
Wickham clenched his jaw and not for the first time that day, he wished he were unshackled from the marriage state. Lydia’s sister, Elizabeth, had been a better prospect, but she was the marrying kind, not the sort to take to bed for a little fun and games at all and Wickham would not have tried it with her. He was certain that she would have ruined his reputation forever had he laid one single finger upon her person inappropriately. What made a bad situation worse in his mind was that Elizabeth was now married to Mr Darcy. He was the one person that Wickham would prefer never to see again. He knew all about Wickham and had known about him since they were young boys. There was not a moment of Wickham’s history that he did not know and, now, some of which he was a part of. To add insult to injury, he was his brother-in-law too. Darcy had him watched like a hawk. Wickham knew that if he put one toe out of line then Darcy would come down hard on him, and he feared that. A man as rich as Mr Darcy was also immeasurably powerful and could make Wickham’s life a real misery should he so wish it. He had to learn to tread more carefully if he wanted to continue to have his sport.
“Penny for them, Wickham,” Poynter was watching him.
He shook his head bringing his mind back to the present.
“Dwelling on things, are we?” Poynter laughed again.
Wickham made no bones over telling Poynter and Turpin how the land lay at home. They knew all about the elopement and the forced marriage, and they were the ones who actively encouraged him to find solace elsewhere, be it at the card table or in the back room of some boarding house or other.
“Worry not. I hear that a new batch of recruits is being sent this way.” Turpin grinned. “Methinks we might have us some larks separating them from their hard earned money over the card tables.”
It was Wickham’s turn to laugh. “Tommy Turpin, you always know the best ways to cheer a fellow up.”
“Aye, I do.”
“When do they arrive?” Poynter asked with interest. “I could do with a few extra shillings in my purse.”
Wickham smiled and stretched. “Gentlemen, I think things are about to look up for us.” He looked pleased with himself. “Shall I invite them to my house? A full belly and a skin full of wine should be all the encouragement they need to join us at a friendly game of cards.”