Sufficient Encouragement Refresh– Chapter Thirteen

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Chapter Thirteen

Wickham arrived at the tavern and took a seat at an unoccupied table. In less than five minutes, Darcy walked in.

“I was surprised to receive a note from you,” Wickham said.

Darcy raised an eyebrow as he sat. “Were you? I had thought you were rather hoping for it.”

Wickham was, of course, but would give no hint to it. “What can I do for you, old friend?”

“What makes you believe that I need anything from you?”

“You requested to meet with me.”

“There was once a time you believed that I took such an eager interest in your life out of reverence for my father that I would forgive any and all of your transgressions. Can I not simply wonder about my…what did you call me?” He paused a moment and said with derision, “An old friend.”

“So you would be willing to do something for me?” Wickham asked and took a swig of his ale.

Darcy leaned forward and tapped the table with his index finger. “How much will it take?”

“For what?”

“To leave Meryton and never return. To never see her again. To never show your face to me again.”

“My, my, Darcy. You think I joined the militia and happened to be stationed here with some kind of foul intent? And I am certain you would be the first to know if I had seen your sister again.”

Darcy’s face showed his surprise, and Wickham grinned. Oh yes, the “her” Darcy mentioned could only be Elizabeth Bennet.

“I can hardly believe the militia was your only opportunity. A whole army’s worth of rules and regulations held over you? You have always found other, easier means of money.”

“Ah, but the housing is free,” Wickham quipped. “Beware, you sound excessively paranoid. No matter your wealth, few ladies will want a mad husband.”

“Your pretence to be my friend shows you have some scheme afoot, and as usual; you seek to gain my money and smear the Darcy name. If that is your tactic, you will not succeed.”

“Because they already dislike you here?”

Darcy’s face turned cold, exactly as Wickham wanted, but he gave no answer.

Wickham pushed further. “You seem to be ingratiating yourself with certain families in the neighbourhood. They will not take lightly to you trifling with their daughters.”

“I would not dream of it. And it is you who needs to worry how the area perceives him.” Darcy scoffed.

“How is Bingley? And his lovely sisters?” Wickham affected a relaxed posture and crossed an ankle over his knee.

“They are all in Town.”

“Bingley is to remain there long?”

“Of course not. How could I remain at Netherfield if that were the case?”

“Precisely.” Wickham leaned forward, knowing he had caught Darcy. “And you certainly wish to remain, do you not?”

“I have enjoyed my holiday.”

“I wonder how Georgiana gets on without you.”

Fury filled Darcy’s eyes, but he spoke with deadly calm. “My father was always soft on you, and so have I been…so far. Must I show you what happens when my compassion is terminated?”

Wickham grinned. “I promise to be the absolute, perfect gentleman. Nor will I allow our dispute to colour my time in the area.”

Darcy looked at him for a long time. “Your word means nothing. I know you are attempting something.”

“Are you not supposed to forgive me? You need not worry about me. I have no need to threaten you or need of your money. These country gentlemen are terrible at the tables.”

“In the past, any affluence of yours has only been transitory. I would suggest not running up debts.” Darcy tapped his fingers on the table. “I still hold yours from Lambton and quite a few in London as well. Combined, it would be more than enough to remove you from society for a considerable period, should you exploit their good will.”

“Warning heeded.” Wickham rolled his eyes. Darcy was trying to play the savior again.

They regarded each other in silence, and Darcy remained only a moment longer. Wickham left a few minutes later. He was rather certain that he held the superior cards in the game against Fitzwilliam Darcy for the first time in his life.

That night, the Lucases held a dinner, and Wickham was unsurprised to notice Darcy’s absence. He had likely left for London to check on Georgiana immediately after speaking with Wickham. He was shocked, however, to hear from Miss Lydia that the entire Netherfield party reportedly left the day before. It was clear they did not know Darcy had stayed behind. Eventually, Wickham was free of the youngest Bennet and made his way to the second.

“You seem out of spirits,” he said after they greeted one another.

“Not at all. I am only tired.”

“Your eldest sister certainly seems lonely. I have heard Netherfield is quite empty now.”

Elizabeth looked at him with hope in her eyes. “Did your friend call on you before leaving?”

Did she ask for her sake or her sister’s? he wondered. “No, I have not seen Darcy.”

“He once told me that he can resent a person if constantly offended. Do you think it very easy to do?”

Darcy must have talked to her about him. She seemed to think it could be true for her, too. “I have only known him to be so offended with one person, who quite deserved it. Surely nothing you have said or done could do such a thing.”

She gave a wry smile. “This may surprise you, Mr. Wickham, but I do not have the easiest temperament. I may have spoken too freely to Mr. Darcy in a moment of exasperation.”

“I think you do my friend an injustice if you think you may have offended him, and then he selfishly suggested that Mr. Bingley stay in Town.”

“Mr. Bingley? Oh yes. Of course, that was my fear. Thank you for putting me at ease.”

“I would think Darcy only missed his sister. I would not be surprised if he returned soon.”

“Do you really think…that is, I know Miss Darcy certainly misses him.”

She must be corresponding with Miss Darcy; yet more evidence! If Darcy returned with Georgiana in tow, Wickham’s plan would be infallible.

Sensing her unease, he changed the subject. “Your cousin seems quite taken with your friend, Miss Lucas. I would almost think he intends to offer for her.”

Elizabeth laughed. “I fear he would meet with another sad answer. It has crossed my mind that he is partial to her and ridiculous enough to propose marriage on so slight an acquaintance. However, I know Charlotte is too sensible to accept him.”

He allowed it to be so, although truthfully he wondered if Miss Lucas would refuse him. All ladies had a price, and he was rather certain he also knew Elizabeth’s. He did not remain too long at her side. Her initial dislike and hesitance were thawing, but he did not wish to push it too far. The time for that would be later.


“Fitzwilliam!” Georgiana called in surprise as Darcy entered the drawing room of his London house. He took in her smile and leaned down to kiss the top of her head.

“How are you?” he asked anxiously.

Wickham’s words had echoed in his head the entire way to London. He had been unable to begin a conversation with Mr. Bennet on the subject during his call. He had intended to tell him not to believe Wickham’s lies, but then it seemed officious to tell a man he might believe a liar, and Darcy’s pride revolted at looking weak. The other gentleman was quieter than usual and intent on their chess match. Darcy had intended to remain at Netherfield while Bingley was away and determined he could meet with Mr. Bennet another time. However, when Wickham threatened Georgiana, and Darcy had to leave for London immediately. He prayed protection for her the entire ride.

“I am entirely well. I am surprised to see you, though!”

“Bingley came to town on business the other day. As luck would have it, I received a notice of my own just yesterday.”

Georgiana frowned. “Oh.”

“You are unhappy to see me? Here I thought I was your favourite brother.”

“You are my only brother, and therefore, I have no choice but to be fond of you,” she teased back. They smiled at each other. “I was hoping I might be invited to Netherfield. I would like to meet Miss Bennet and Miss Elizabeth.”

He could not retain his grin. “You like them, then?”

“Very much! Only now I will never get to meet them.”

“Why do you think that?”

“You are here now, and Aunt Eleanor will drag you away to all kinds of parties and events on the quest of finding you a wife. You will not have time to return to Hertfordshire above a twelvemonth, and I daresay Mr. Bingley will not be too keen to leave London either. I have already had notes from Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst telling me how happy they are to be back in town and lamenting the country.”

She paused a moment and added, “William, why is it such a prize to have a country estate if all you want to do is spend your time in town?”

He sighed. His little sister was rapidly growing up and had just made some very correct assessments. “I suppose it is all about status. Too many believe that we are to enjoy our income from the land but not enjoy living there.”

“But we do enjoy living there! Do you not grow tired of performing to the demands of society?”

Darcy only nodded before inquiring, “Do you really fear Aunt Eleanor will have me in the parson’s noose?”

“Lud! What a terrible way to describe marriage!”

He smiled again. He only teased like this in his own home. Georgiana was the one most likely to see it, although Bingley and his male cousins knew it as well.

She did not wait for his answer. “And yes, I do. Most men who are the masters of their estates would have married years ago. She has been beyond patient, and at least she has not pushed Anne on you like Aunt Catherine does.”

Georgiana met his eyes, and they smiled at their unsaid knowledge. Aunt Eleanor desired Anne to marry their cousin, the viscount. However, he disliked this marriage talk. He would not be forced by anyone. “I will take a bride of my own choosing and in my own time.” He said it with finality, but the imp did not hear.

Georgiana patted his cheek and said in a placating tone, “Of course, dear brother. You always do what is expected of you.” She began with gusto, but then her hand fell to her lap and shame flooded her eyes before she looked away. “Unlike me.”

Uncaring that Mrs. Annesley sat in the corner of the room, Darcy pulled his sister into an embrace. “No, dearest. I am very proud of you. Few would have the fortitude to confess to their scheme or recognise it as wrong afterwards. You should not criticise yourself so. We are so fortunate. You were saved. Do not forget that you are forgiven and must forgive yourself.”

“I know you are right, but it is hard to believe that Jesus can still love me. That I’m still worthy.”

“All have sinned, Georgie. Everyone with true repentance and contrition in their heart feel this way. But God no longer condemns you. You are free. Remember that.”

Georgiana slowly nodded against his chest. “It is difficult to believe he is so terrible. He knows he does wrong and does not repent.”

Darcy paused for a minute. “I know it is. He was my friend for many years as we grew up. And I think in some ways, he could have been no worse than many men as your husband. However, you know I want so much more for you than a man of questionable character marrying you only for your fortune.”

She sniffed in his arms. “There are times I wish we had no money at all!”

He could entirely understand the sentiment. If he had no fortune and family name to think of, then he would not feel so guilty for longing to have Elizabeth Bennet as his wife.

“Come, let us have no more tears. I shall refresh myself and change for dinner, and then if you ladies would allow me to escort you, I would be most pleased.”

Georgiana released him and managed a small smile. After a silly and sloppy bow designed to make her laugh, he exited to his chambers.

2 thoughts on “Sufficient Encouragement Refresh– Chapter Thirteen

  1. I know it’s wrong but I so wish Wickham would suffer a fatal accident! Life would be so much easier for everyone then.


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