Despite feeling the young woman’s rudeness toward the others, Georgiana silently consented. When they were a few paces ahead of their party, Lydia said, “My sisters, Mary and Kitty, had the pleasure of making your acquaintance at Lizzy’s wedding. I should have liked to have been there, and I would have been there too had Lizzy prevailed upon Darcy to make the proper arrangements, which I am certain he would have done given everything else he did for me and my dear Wickham.”
“I beg your pardon,” cried Georgiana.
“Oh, I should not have said a word, for that is meant to be a great secret. Pray forget I said anything.”
Georgiana’s countenance clouded a bit, but she said nothing.
Lydia said, “It is a fine morning for a walk, is it not?”
“Indeed, it is.”
“I always enjoyed walking with my sisters when we were all at Longbourn. Hardly a day went by, weather permitting, that we did not venture to Meryton. Do you ever walk to Lambton?”
“I am afraid I do not. Even if I wished it, my brother would never hear of such a thing.”
“I suppose it is very far when I am forced to think of it. Meryton is a very easy distance from my father’s estate. And, as I said, my sisters and I so enjoyed walking there—Lizzy especially, for she has always been an excellent walker. Did you know that on one of our walks to Meryton we had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Wickham for the first time?”
Georgiana’s voice cracked a little. “I did not.”
“Indeed. How fortunate we thought ourselves at the time, although I am forced to confess that he only noticed Lizzy and she likewise took note of him. He was her favorite beau for the longest time, but then a Miss Mary King —who went away to Liverpool once she inherited a small fortune —stole him away from Lizzy. That freckled thing—what Wickham admired about her I can scarcely imagine. However, as I said, she went away, which delighted all the other ladies in Meryton exceedingly and no one more than me, for I became the happy woman toward whom he lavished all his adoration from then on, and the rest, as they say, is history.” Lydia shrugged. “I say ‘as they say’ although, for the life of me, I have not a clue who they are.”
Georgiana did not utter anything in reply. Her mind was frantically engaged in thought on the implications of Lydia’s speech. She wondered if her brother knew of Elizabeth’s early fondness for George Wickham. If perchance he did then how did he endure it?
Lydia tugged at Georgiana’s sleeve to reclaim her attention. “Why does your brother not allow my Wickham to visit Pemberley? We are all family are we not?”
“No doubt my brother has what he supposes is a valid reason.”
“I’ll tell you his reason. It is because Darcy is so very mean. Why, you would think he would welcome both of us with open arms given that he paid for my own wedding and Wickham’s commission.” Lydia slapped her hand over her mouth. “Oh,” she cried, “there I go again telling the world what is meant to be a secret, but I trust I may depend on you not to tell another living soul, and I shall endeavor to do the same.”
“You may depend on it,” Georgiana said tentatively, not entirely convinced she would keep her word. Why would my brother do such a thing?
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