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Jane Odiwe, Monica Fairview and the officers at the RNA day

In Lydia’s imagination, a visit to Brighton comprised every possibility of earthly happiness. She saw, with the creative eye of fancy, the streets of that gay bathing place covered with officers. She saw herself the object of attention to tens and to scores of them at present unknown. She saw all the glories of the camp — its tents stretched forth in beauteous uniformity of lines, crowded with the young and the gay, and dazzling with scarlet; and, to complete the view, she saw herself seated beneath a tent, tenderly flirting with at least six officers at once.
Pride and Prejudice

A fun day was had by all at the Romantic Novelist’s Association Regency Day held at the Royal Overseas club in Mayfair. As you can see, Monica Fairview and I experienced a ‘Lydia Bennet’ moment when we met a group of redcoats who were there to add a touch of authenticity to the proceedings. Thank you, Monica, for the lovely photo!
We also met fellow author Juliet Archer who was there to talk brilliantly on a panel about Sense and Sensibility, which included quite a bit of discussion about Mr. Willoughby and Colonel Brandon (would you believe?) 
I got to dance with Georgette Heyer biographer, Jennifer Kloester, who gave a fascinating talk on Georgette, and I managed to get my book signed! The Regency dancing was brilliant though I must admit Mr. Collins would probably look like an expert next to my efforts. Still, we laughed a lot, and had a good time. There are excellent reports on the day on the RNA blog and by Juliet Archer on Austen Authors.


Here’s an extract from Lydia Bennet’s Story:

Lydia Bennet, Mr. Wickham, and Kitty

Chapter 1

The true misfortune, which besets any young lady who believes herself destined for fortune and favour, is to find that she has been born into an unsuitable family. Lydia Bennet of Longbourn, Hertfordshire, not only believed that her mama and papa had most likely stolen her from noble parents, but also considered it a small miracle that they could have produced between them her own fair self and four comely girls—Jane, Lizzy, Mary and Kitty—though to tell the truth, she felt herself most blessed in looks. Lydia’s greatest desire in life was to be married before any of her sisters, but a lack of marriageable beau in the county and her papa’s reluctance to accompany her to as many Assembly Balls as she wished had thwarted her efforts thus far.
The youngest Longbourn ladies, Lydia and Kitty, were employed in preparations for a trip out into the nearby town of Meryton. Their bedchamber was strewn with cambrics, muslins, and ribbons, all cast aside for want of something better. Slippers and shoes, sashes and shawls spilled over the bed and onto the floor. Feathers, fans, and frills flowed from open drawers like a fountain cascade. Amongst the spoils, Kitty reclined against propped, plump cushions to regard her sibling, one arm resting behind her head whilst the other held back the heavy bed drapes, so as not to obscure her view. Lydia sat before the glass on her dressing table, scrutinising her reflection as she put the last touches to her toilette. She dusted a little powder over her full, rosy cheeks and twisted the dark curls on her forehead with a finger, patting them into place until she was satisfied with her appearance.
“Is it not a face designed for love?” she asked Kitty with a chuckle, practising several expressions she thought might stand her in good stead with the officers, or at the very least amuse her sister for five minutes. She was perfecting what she could only describe as a “passion promoter” to great comic effect, pouting her generous mouth and flashing her wide, black eyes with slow sweeps of her lashes, which had Kitty reeling on the bed with laughter. “No doubt, I shall capture Mr Denny’s heart once and for all!”
“I do not think making faces at Denny will make one jot of difference to his regard for you,” Kitty declared, spying a bauble amongst the strewn bedclothes and sitting up to clasp the necklace about her throat. “But, in any case, is it wise to spend so much time on a young man who has such a glad eye? I should have thought you would have learned your lesson by now!” Kitty was the sister with whom Lydia shared all her fears and secrets, cares and woes, secure in the knowledge that she was acquainted with as many of Kitty’s confidences, as her sister was of her own. Lydia would never divulge what followed when Charles Palmer detained Kitty in the conservatory and proposed to show her the illuminations, nor disclose intelligence of the letters that passed between them afterwards. Their confidence was absolute.
“I do hope Denny will like my new hairstyle,” Lydia went on, tying a length of coral silk around her tresses and ignoring her sister’s comments. “I daresay he will; he is always very attentive to every little thing. Why, I only changed the ribbons on my straw bonnet from white to coquelicot last Sunday and he had noticed before the first hymn was sung in church. Oh, Denny, he is so very sweet, though perhaps he is not quite so gallant as Mr Wickham, whose compliments are without doubt the most accomplished. I wonder what he will have to say. Do you think Mr Wickham will notice my hair?”
Kitty did not think Lydia really expected an answer to her question but ventured to comment on the fact that Mr Wickham, one of the best looking officers of their acquaintance, might have his attentions engaged elsewhere. “I do not think Mr Wickham’s notice extends much beyond that of his present interest in Miss Mary King. I hate to disappoint you, Lydia, but quite frankly, you could have Jane’s best bonnet on your head and he would not notice you! Pen Harrington believes he is quite in love.”
“Well, I am not convinced he is in love with Mary King,” said Lydia, liberally sprinkling Steele’s lavender water on her wrists, “but with her ten thousand pounds! Money will certainly give a girl all the charm she needs to attract any suitor. If you and I had half so much, do you think we should still be single?”
“Well, be that as it may, whatever Mr Wickham’s true feelings are on the matter, I declare that I shall never forgive him for his conduct to our sister. I think he used our Lizzy very ill,” Kitty cried, as she drew a white chip bonnet from its pink and white striped box and pulled it on over her ebony locks. “No wonder Lizzy went off to Hunsford to visit Charlotte Collins. I think Mr Wickham quite broke her heart.”
“Mr Wickham is a very amiable, but wicked, man and if he were not so charming or so handsome, I swear I would snub him forever,” Lydia replied. She stood up to smooth her muslin gown over her hips, pulling it down as hard as she could and sighing at its length in despair. Jane, the eldest of the Bennet daughters was a little shorter than herself, Lydia reflected, tugging at her cast off gown. Indeed, none of her sisters were as tall. And whilst she enjoyed her superior height, she knew that nobody else had to suffer the indignity of wearing clothes that were too small. If only she could persuade her papa that she really needed a new dress for herself alone, she knew she would be the happiest girl alive. But that was impossible. There was never enough money and, if there was any left over for the occasional luxury, as the youngest of five daughters, Lydia knew she would be the last to feel its effects. Tacking on another length of fabric from the workbox was the only answer but there just wasn’t time for that now. If they were not careful, they would be late and miss all the fun.
“If I know Lizzy, she will not be downhearted for long and her letters from Hunsford parsonage are cheerful enough,” Lydia added, pinching her cheeks between thumbs and forefingers for added bloom. “She expresses no feelings of regret and certainly there is no mention of moping for Mr Wickham, though how she can possibly be having fun with our dreary cousin Collins is quite beyond me. Poor Charlotte! I know you and I used to joke about the “Lovebirds of Longbourn” but, now she is married, I cannot help but feel sorry for her. Can you imagine having to live with William Collins for the rest of your life? Well, at least Lizzy managed to avoid that, although I am not sure our mother will ever completely forgive her for refusing to marry him.”
“Even sister Mary was not keen on the idea of becoming a parson’s wife, despite her penchant for bible study and religious tracts,” added Kitty, tying blue ribbons under her chin. “Although as I recall, if pressed, she might have consented to the match.”
“But Mr Collins never asked her!” Lydia giggled. She adjusted her bonnet, setting it at a jaunty angle before winking at her sister. “To be married with a house of my own is my ambition, I admit, but I declare I could never love a clergyman, not in a million years. Come, Kitty,” Lydia urged, picking up her reticule with one hand and taking her sister’s arm with the other. “Let us make haste. If we delay much longer, the morning will be gone and we will miss all the gossip!

Lydia and Kitty Bennet admiring the soldiers
Such a pretty scene met Lydia’s eyes on their arrival in town that she didn’t know which way to look: at the ravishing bonnets in straw and silk in the milliner’s bow-fronted windows or at the figured muslins, crêpes, and linens ruched and draped across the width and length of the tall windows of the mercer’s warehouse. Vying for her attention was a highway teeming with those captivating visions in scarlet; officers were everywhere, strutting the pavements and swaggering in step. A whole regiment of soldiers had arrived in Meryton several months ago, along with the changeable autumn winds, blowing every maiden’s saucy kisses like copper leaves down upon their handsome heads. Lydia and Kitty had been far from disappointed when line upon line of handsome soldiers and debonair officers had come parading along the High Street, a blaze of scarlet and gleaming gold buttons, laden with muskets and swords, clanking in rhythm as they marched. It had not been very long before both girls had made firm friends with all the officers, helped along by the introductions from their Aunt and Uncle Phillips who lived in the town.

Harriet Forster, the Colonel’s wife, was fast becoming Lydia’s most particular friend, and it was to her elegant lodgings that the Bennet sisters now hastened on this spring morning. As was expected, they found her in good company. Penelope Harrington and Harriet’s sister, Isabella Fitzalan, were regaling Harriet with the latest news. The three ladies were most elegantly dressed to Lydia’s mind: Harriet in a white muslin, Penelope in blue with lace let into the sleeves, and Isabella in lilac, to match the blossoms on the trees outside. Lydia thought Miss Fitzalan was elegance personified, with her golden curls dressed just like the portrait of Madame Recamier she had seen in her mother’s monthly periodical.
“I am so glad you have arrived at last, Lydia and Kitty,” Harriet exclaimed, as she rang the bell for tea, “for I have some news which cannot wait to be told. You will never guess what has happened!” 
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If we are lucky, August is a time for holidays! In Regency times Brighton was a very popular and fashionable destination. Lydia is thrilled when she is invited by her friend Harriet to accompany the regiment to the seaside. Romances ‘abroad’ were just as likely then as they are now – Lydia falls hook, line and sinker for that most unsuitable of officers, the charming Mr Wickham who leads her completely astray…

In this extract from Lydia Bennet’s Story, we learn what happens when she decides to take the plunge and run away with the man of her dreams!

She ran to her room, retrieved her bundle, and was about to go when she was taken by the idea that she could not disappear without leaving Harriet with a hint of where she had gone. She sat down at the desk in front of the window to compose her letter. As she reached for her pen and dipped the quill in the black ink, she was overwhelmed by a desire for mirth. She tried to steady her nerves, breathing the salt tang coming in off the sea, but her laughter rose inside her to erupt into the silence of the room. The muslin at the bow window, caught by a sudden gust, snapped and flapped back, rattling the curtain rings, shaking the blinds. Lydia paused to look out through the glass at the grey clouds massing over the sea and heard the sound made by the waves as they crashed and churned, water sucking up the stones and dashing them down again on the beach below. A summer storm was brewing, but it did nothing to dampen her excitement. She could hardly believe that the time to depart had arrived.
She started to write:

Dear Harriet,
You will laugh when you know where I am gone, and I cannot help laughing myself at your surprise tomorrow morning, as soon as I am missed…

She hesitated as a resounding clap like a cracking whip tore across the heavens, lighting up the sky in sulphurous tones before a roll of thunder crashed overhead. At once the rain began, blowing large, fat droplets across her missive, smudging and dissolving the ink, extinguishing the candle she had lit to provide more light against the dim evening. She stood up and lowered the window, taking in the scene below as figures dashed for cover from the tumultuous downpour. Carriages were arriving, bringing their pretty passengers to dance at the Assembly Rooms below. A girl, shivering in sheer muslin, alighted from a phaeton with her beau and was buffeted along by the wind, which whipped at her legs and threatened to snatch her bonnet. Some high-spirited young men leered enthusiastically at a trio of females who left them in no doubt of their mutual interest as they passed by. Coachmen turned up their collars, pulling down their hats and fastening close their carriage hoods against the unseasonable squall. Satin slippers were soaked through in seconds and shawls clutched tightly in an effort to stay dry as another coach-load of ladies ran from the streaming gutters, shrieking and hopping through the puddles.
“Lord, what fun! What delights have been mine whilst here,” mused Lydia. “I will never forget my time in this pleasure haven. I could never have imagined, when I begged mama to let me go dancing with my sisters all those months ago, that my life would change so much, that I would not only be in love but with the dearest and most handsome man in the whole world.” She felt another wave of sheer joy, mixed with the hope that her dreams were at last to be realised, and she laughed again to relieve the feelings bubbling inside.
But there was no time to stand and ponder, especially when her eye caught sight of a certain young Captain she wished to avoid running out across the road. She quickly drew back behind the curtain, returning to the desk to resume her letter.

I am going to Gretna Green, and if you cannot guess with whom I shall think you a simpleton, for there is but one man in the world I love, and he is an angel. I should never be happy without him so think it no harm to be off. You need not send them word at Longbourn of my going if you do not like it, for it will make the surprise the greater when I write to them and sign my name Lydia Wickham. What a good joke it will be! I can hardly write for laughing. Pray, make my excuses to Pratt for not keeping my engagement and dancing with him tonight. Tell him I hope he will excuse me when he knows all, and tell him when we next meet at a ball I will dance with him with great pleasure. I shall send for my clothes when I get to Longbourn, but I wish you would tell Sally to mend a great slit in my worked muslin gown before they are packed up. Goodbye. Give my love to Colonel Forster. I hope you will drink to our good journey.
Your affectionate friend,
Lydia Bennet

“La, what a good joke,” she said to herself laughing and putting down her pen with a flourish. “She will be vastly surprised when she reads with whom I have run away!”
Lydia slid the missive to Harriet under her door, in the hope she should find it by the end of the evening, before running down the back stairs as fast as her legs would take her. Her flight was nimble, marred only by twisting her ankle on the last step, but as she limped through the back door, her heart leapt with joy to see that Wickham and the carriage were waiting.
So it was that Miss Lydia Bennet and Mr George Wickham did leave all their friends in the middle of a dance and run away together.

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The winner of the competition is Milka from Finland! Congratulations! I have e-mailed you, so if you can send me details of where to send your books they will be posted soon.
I thought you might like to see one of the mood boards I created when I was writing Lydia Bennet’s Story. I always start with a map, in this case, one of Hertfordshire where Pride and Prejudice is set. We don’t know exactly where Meryton and Longbourn were but I based my research around Hertford. I like to find contemporary paintings for inspiration and look for portraits which might suit the characters I am writing about. As time goes on the maps get scribbled on with information about travel times, notes about towns and villages and plot directions. In this instance I added images which helped me to picture my heroine, so a girl in flimsy muslim, a pink bonnet, and bathing huts in Brighton all aided and inspired.
I do a lot of research, but I probably don’t use half of it. I find it very useful if you are trying to convey the mood of a scene. If you have read up on the subject you are writing about, it is easier to imagine transporting yourself back in time. Well, that’s the theory!

The following extract from Lydia Bennet’s Story was inspired by a true account, that of a mock battle that got out of hand which took place on Church Hill in Brighton, September 1803 between the militia of the South Gloucesters, The Sussex Volunteers, The South Hampshires and regular troops from the Flying Artillery.

With a mind excited by the promise of an entertaining afternoon, Lydia set forth with her friends on the following Wednesday to attend a review given by the Prince to celebrate the magnificence of the encampment. Barouches, landaus and gigs paraded into the grounds with military precision, each one filled with laughing girls in sheer muslin, decorously draped to best advantage, displaying new bonnets with fluttering ribbons, all determined to catch the eye of a handsome soldier. Every regiment was involved and participated in some way, every soldier out swaggered the last and it was impossible to know where to look; Lydia’s eye wished to be in every direction at once so as not to miss a single treat. They witnessed the Prince’s inspection of the parade ground and there were several mock fights and displays of sword fighting. Lydia watched in awe as Mr Wickham, whose execution in wielding a sabre was as superior as any of the royal dragoons, showed them all how it should be done with dash and flair.

“Mr Wickham is in such good looks today, is he not?” Harriet said, as she stood up out of the Colonel’s landau to make a closer study. “Where is Miss Westlake? I daresay she is enjoying his performance.”

“I have not seen her, indeed I do not think she is here,” said Lydia, well aware that she had not been seen at any function since the day of the pic-nic, and that she was not in attendance here either. Lydia had her own idea that Miss Westlake was out of humour with Mr Wickham and that she was keeping her distance. There had obviously been some falling out between them on that last occasion and though she had no idea what it had all been about, she felt certain that neither of them were in a hurry to make up.

The man in question chose to ride past their carriage at that moment, doffed his hat and blew a kiss in her direction.
Lydia glowed as she looked out at the scene, and though her bonnet afforded some protection, she shaded her eyes with both hands, thus obscuring her reddened face. She watched him gallop away on his horse, resolute in her desire not to completely forgive him. She had not forgotten how badly behaved he had been and she kept these thoughts uppermost in her mind.

“Would you like a drink, Harriet? I’ve a terrible thirst, it’s so very hot.”

“Yes please,” answered Harriet turning to face her. “Are you quite sure you wish to go? You look awfully pink you know.”

Lydia nodded furiously, opening the carriage door and skipping off to find the refreshment tent, before her friend could witness her agitation.

In the sweltering heat, a mock battle of epic proportions was taking place next, with the Prince leading his dragoons against the other regiments. Lydia kept one eye on the proceedings as the two opposing armies lined up, facing one another. All was quiet but for the clink of swords and stirrups, the creak of leather, the flap of flags snapping in the breeze. Horses stamped, twitching with impatience to be on the move. George Wickham, groomed to perfection, looked steadily ahead, waiting for the signal.

It was so hot Lydia felt she might faint as she hurried along under the blistering sun, and she wondered how it was that the soldiers did not collapse in the heat. She appeared to be the only person moving amongst the quiet crowds, who watched intently in expectation. Then the silent, tranquility of the day was broken. A flag waved, a pistol fired, the Prince’s troops advanced with lightning speed. The battle began with such bloodthirsty vigour that, within minutes it got completely out of hand, and it soon became impossible to separate the spectators from the combatants. The defending army was forced back into the crowd. Soldiers on horseback became entangled with carriages and laundelettes, phaetons and tilburies. Horses reared and bolted, ladies screamed and fainted, blood was spilled by over zealous swordsmen, and the air was thick from pistol fire, sending all into confusion.

Lydia found herself in the middle of the battle scene through no fault of her own. Officers on horseback charged toward her, shouting to get out of their way, as they let pistol shots fire into the air to warn others of their proximity. She ran as hard as she could, but there was nowhere to go but further into the ensuing battlefield, and she missed being trampled underfoot by seconds. A young officer of the Prince’s regiment grabbed Lydia’s arm as she stood looking about her helplessly. “Come along my pretty girl, I will look after you,” he said, taking her hand and leading her away at a trot.

She snatched her hand from his firm grasp and ran toward the place she thought she had left Harriet, but she could not find nor see the Colonel’s carriage. Everyone was running in every direction, horses panicked and brayed, and gunpowder smoke from the cannons filled the air, making it impossible to see or decide on the best course. As she started to feel more than a little hysterical at the worsening scene and had become like a young rabbit rooted to the spot, too frightened to move, a horse galloped alongside her and a hand was thrust and proffered in her direction. She looked up but hesitated as she identified her rescuer. She was overcome to see him but wanted him to know that she had not fully forgiven him.

“Do you want to stay here and be killed? Give me your hand for God’s sake!” shouted George Wickham. He leapt down from the horse to help her mount before she could utter another word, and as he settled into the saddle behind her she felt his arm snake around her waist, his fingers pressing through the fabric of her gown as he held her close. She was enjoying the sensation so much she quite forgot to be vexed. All she could do was smile.

“I have you safe, Miss Bennet,” he whispered into her hair. “Hold tight, lean into me, I will not let you fall.”

Mr Wickham is rescuing me, she thought as they left the horrific scene, galloping away at speed, weaving their way through the mayhem. It was all quite delightful.

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Lydia Bennet’s Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia’s online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet’s Story, begins.

Monday, March 8th, 1802
Lizzy set off for Hunsford today with Sir William Lucas and his daughter Maria. They are all gone to see how Charlotte does – I do hope married life is suiting her, but I would bet all my ivory fish that she has exchanged her glowing bridal fervour for a haunted countenance and a sombre disposition.
Most vexing is the knowledge that they are to break their journey in London to call on the Gardiners to see Jane and will, no doubt, find time to go shopping and have a pleasant evening’s entertainment at the theatre. How I long to go shopping in London. I can’t even get as far as Ware! When I am a married lady, my daughters will have numerous carriages at their disposal, at any time of the year, for travelling on any state of road and in any weather!!
I have had a letter from Emma N. inviting Kitty and I to a reception for Harriet on Saturday, as she is very keen to meet us and will have no other acquaintance in Meryton apart from her dear Henry and the Miss Harrington’s who are distant cousins. I do wonder if she looks like Isabella and I sincerely wish she is as much fun. Lord! I hope she is as handsome and agreeable.
On reflection I am convinced, that no matter what her physical attractions may or may not be, she must surely be a woman of fashion and sensibility. I will take care to dress myself in my best cambric muslin, crimson mantle and velvet bonnet!

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In Lydia’s imagination, a visit to Brighton comprised every possibility of earthly happiness. She saw, with the creative eye of fancy, the streets of that gay bathing place covered with officers. She saw herself the object of attention to tens and to scores of them at present unknown. She saw all the glories of the camp – its tents stretched forth in beauteous uniformity of lines, crowded with the young and the gay, and dazzling with scarlet; and, to complete the view, she saw herself seated beneath a tent, tenderly flirting with at least six officers at once. From Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
The reality of life for the officers was most certainly quite different to that of Lydia’s imagination. Like Wickham, many of the officers lived well beyond their means and were in debt. The entertainments were very tempting, including gentleman’s clubs where fortunes could be lost at the gambling tables. Ragget’s was typical of this type of establishment and in Lydia Bennet’s Story George Wickham is a frequent visitor. The officers seldom rose before midday and then spent their time drinking, dining, attending the theatre, races and balls. Their horses were of great interest to them in the same way that cars are fascinating today. There were numerous opportunities to strike up liasons with the local girls-I can quite see why Jane Austen sent her most wayward character off to Brighton! What were Mr and Mrs Bennet thinking? I think the answer is that they weren’t thinking at all-dreadful parents, the pair of them! Lizzy Bennet tried to warn her father but he did not really pay any attention. Even taking into account her knowledge of Wickham’s character, Elizabeth is clearly wiser than both of her parents, don’t you think?

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In Lydia’s imagination, a visit to Brighton comprised every possibility of earthly happiness. She saw, with the creative eye of fancy, the streets of that gay bathing place covered with officers. She saw herself the object of attention to tens and to scores of them at present unknown. She saw all the glories of the camp – its tents stretched forth in beauteous uniformity of lines, crowded with the young and the gay, and dazzling with scarlet; and, to complete the view, she saw herself seated beneath a tent, tenderly flirting with at least six officers at once. From Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
The reality of life for the officers was most certainly quite different to that of Lydia’s imagination. Like Wickham, many of the officers lived well beyond their means and were in debt. The entertainments were very tempting, including gentleman’s clubs where fortunes could be lost at the gambling tables. Ragget’s was typical of this type of establishment and in Lydia Bennet’s Story George Wickham is a frequent visitor. The officers seldom rose before midday and then spent their time drinking, dining, attending the theatre, races and balls. Their horses were of great interest to them in the same way that cars are fascinating today. There were numerous opportunities to strike up liasons with the local girls-I can quite see why Jane Austen sent her most wayward character off to Brighton! What were Mr and Mrs Bennet thinking? I think the answer is that they weren’t thinking at all-dreadful parents, the pair of them! Lizzy Bennet tried to warn her father but he did not really pay any attention. Even taking into account her knowledge of Wickham’s character, Elizabeth is clearly wiser than both of her parents, don’t you think?

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Lydia, my dear,

I have had the most awful time keeping your secret. If I do not reveal your whereabouts with Mr Wickham, my papa threatens to cut off my pin money and send me packing to live with my Aunt Beatrice – who, I am sure, you will hardly recall, for she is so dreadfully dull and boring! However, I am hardened in my resolve to help you, and my lips remain sealed.

Mr Bennet and Mr Gardiner have been beating down the doors in Brighton, searching for any clues that might lead them to you. My papa says Mr Wickham should be horsewhipped for having abducted you, and for placing your family in such an untenable situation. He declares that none of your sisters will ever make advantageous marriages now. And I must admit, this situation has all the earmarks of a most spectacular SCANDAL.

To be sure, your Mr Wickham is ever so handsome and dashing. Still, I shall always wonder how you found the courage to run off with him. (La, what a silly observation. You are the MOST adventuresome person of my acquaintance.) Pray, do tell me, how is it that you are living in London? Did you not whisper to me at the ball that you and Mr Wickham were ELOPING to Gretna Green? What happened to change your mind? And, oh, Lydia, how did you ever manage to get married in England? Are you not too young? Did you LIE? Oh, this is all too delicious to keep inside, but I shall. Do not worry.

Well, I must end this letter in haste. Soames promised to post my missive, but in order to catch the Royal Coach he must leave within the half hour. You can trust that his lips are sealed, for he owes me a favor for helping his sister find employment as a lady’s maid. He also promised to deliver any letter of yours addressed to me! So, do hurry and write.

Your loyal, admiring, and most anxious friend, Lucy

My Dearest Lucy,

I cannot thank you enough for keeping my secret – I always knew you were a true confidante!

As for beating down doors, I cannot believe a word of it. My father has never shown the slightest interest in me in my life – why should he start now? But, if it is as you say, I am glad I am holed up in Candlewick Street with my darling George, from whom I shall never be separated and where my papa cannot reach me. I daresay he is a little vexed and needs to cool down before I see him, so George’s idea to stay here a bit longer seems a good one.

My friend, I needed no courage to run away with my angel, the man of my dreams, the love of my life! We were and are in love and have been since we were thrown together in Brighton – to be honest, there were others vying for my affections, but George captured my heart completely. As perfect a couple you could never imagine. I never believed I could feel this way and to have my love returned a hundredfold – well, I do not exaggerate when I say that Mr Wickham is in a passion for me – indeed, there is little time for anything but love! La! You would laugh to see us!

It was our greatest wish to go to Gretna, but at the last, we were forced to come to London – there are some very wicked people in the world – gambling vagabonds tricked my Georgie out of his funds. It does not matter, we still have my winnings from the Brighton Races and a little of my allowance, though this morning I could not but help treat myself to a bonnet from the shops. Such a divine confection of ribbon and lace, you never did see. And when he can, Mr Wickham has promised to take me to the theatre at Drury Lane, Astley’s to see the horses, and Bond Street for a few trifles, so you see, dear Lucy, it has all turned out for the best.

As for a wedding, I have to tell you our plans are for the present postponed. I am sure we will be wed soon but I am so happy I do not care when that will be. My wish is to be married from home in Longbourn Church where all my friends can see me, but whenever I broach the subject of leaving our love nest, George pretends he does not hear me! Wickham is so funny, he does not want to share me with anyone else, the darling man!

I must go, George is impatient for my attendance upon him. La! Lucy, his insatiable appetite for my company is quite exhausting! Can Charlotte Collins know of such bliss?

Yours affectly,
Lydia

Thanks again Ms Place (aka Lucy). Follow Ms Place’s wonderful blog at Jane Austen Today

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