The Perfect Plan ~ by Alicia
"Blast that self-righteous prig!" I crumpled the letter and threw it into the fire.
"What is it, love?" asked Tessa, the woman who had happened to share my bed the night before I received the letter.
"Darcy. He refuses to give me the living at Kympton. It should be mine, it was left to me; but the blasted old man gave him the discretion to withhold it. Twenty years of making myself agreeable to the old goat and it all comes to nothing. The fool. He might as well not have left me anything as give Darcy the power to take it from me. Darcy has always been jealous of me, since we were boys. He enjoys seeing me penniless, while he flaunts his life of privilege."
Tessa moved towards me and put her arms around me in an effort to comfort me, but I was inconsolable and no longer in the mood for that kind of comfort. I shrugged off her embrace. "I deserve more. I was raised to expect it, led to believe I'd be taken care of -- but look at me. This shabby room is all I can afford, while he is surrounded by luxury." I slammed my fist on the table. "How am I to live? How am I to pay my debts? Damn him."
"There are other ways of making your fortune."
"There is only one way I can think of to make a fortune large enough to join the rank he enjoys -- but oh, would he be surprised to find me there, on equal footing with him in society! I must marry an heiress."
"There are few heiresses to be found whose parents will allow them to marry a penniless rogue."
"Oh, a rogue am I?" said I with a smile, as I approached her and drew her to me.
"Mmmm," she said in affirmation as she began planting kisses on my neck.
"Then I shall just have to sweep my prize off her feet and carry her away to Gretna Green without her parents' knowledge. But I must find one silly enough to consent."
"Oh all girls that age have such silly romantic notions. And with your capacity for charm, I don't believe there is one who could resist! But you will have to choose carefully. An innocent, demure girl who will be easily convinced that she is the sun in your sky; one who has not yet learnt that she should doubt your motives. But you have to get into polite society first to get close to her, and get her away from her family. Two obstacles not easily overcome. Any one of the girls whose education I've superintended over the years would do. If I still had a situation I might introduce you to one of my charges."
That's when it occurred to me. The perfect plan. Perfect. I would secure my future and exact my revenge, not only on Darcy but on the Darcy family, the Darcy name -- the old goat included -- and there would be no obstacles. I smiled. "Georgiana."
"Miss Georgiana Darcy, the young, innocent sister of the very fiend who has reduced me to this situation." I began pacing the room as I formulated my plan. "I am already acquainted with her. I spent hours devoted to her entertainment when she was a child. Surely, she will remember me fondly. And as for being innocent and demure, there could not be a girl who is more of either. She would be about fifteen years old now. Just the right age to have her head filled with silly romantic ideas. Getting her to consent to an elopement may be the biggest challenge -- the Darcys pride themselves on their propriety -- but she must know me as her brother's friend for I am sure Darcy has not troubled her with the details of our falling out, and that can be used to my advantage."
"What is her fortune?"
"Thirty-thousand pounds. But, that is the beauty of this plan. I am not limited to her fortune. Darcy would not cast her off as many other families might. And, once I am her husband, he will never be able to deny me anything. My power over her will give me power over him -- for once in our lives. We will reside right at Pemberley with him; and if my luck holds out, he will die childless."
"He won't let you near her."
I looked at Tessa. Her words brought me back to the present. I had gotten ahead of myself. Making myself agreeable to Georgiana Darcy would be easy, but only if I could happen upon her while her brother was nowhere nearby.
"Does she have a companion? Perhaps you should start working your charm there."
"I believe she is still in school."
"But you said she was fifteen, she must be near the conclusion of her schooling."
"He will probably establish her in London and find her a companion."
I smiled at her, "And you, my dear Tessa, will be in need of a situation at that time, won't you?"
"Indeed," she said with a smile, "and what will I get out of it?"
"You should know I will always take care of you. I will set you up in a nice little townhouse and visit every chance I get, while my poor little wife pines away for me."
"Ha, I am no innocent girl of fifteen who can be lured to do your bidding with empty promises."
"Then I will have to show you that I am in earnest," I replied, leading her towards the bed.
It was several months until Georgiana was removed from school and an establishment formed for her in London. Tessa managed to find a way to recommend herself to Darcy and was employed as her companion. That summer she took Georgiana to the seaside, at Ramsate, without Darcy, -- and I followed.
The morning after they had arrived and settled into their lodgings, I happened upon them in the confectionary. I strolled in as if I belonged there and noticed a familiar face from my youth. I was all shock and surprise. "Miss Georgiana Darcy," said I as I passed her, "why, it must be five years since I've seen you. You've grown into a lady, and a lovely one at that." She blushed and cast down her eyes. "Oh do not say that you don't remember your old friend," I said in mock mortification.
"Oh no," she almost whispered. "It is a pleasure to see you again, Mr. Wickham."
"My dear Miss Darcy, the pleasure is all mine. I assure you. But, how is your brother? I hope he is well. It has been an age since I've had the pleasure of speaking to him. You must tell me where you are staying so that I can call on him and renew our acquaintance."
"Oh, he is very well, but he is not here. I am staying at ____ building with Mrs. Younge. Mrs. Younge, this is Mr. Wickham, an old friend of my brother's."
"How do you do, Mrs. Younge. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance."
"I am well, sir, thank you. I am pleased to meet you as well. I am happy to see Miss Darcy has found a friend here. Will you be in town long?"
"A few weeks, and I hope to see you both again while I am here." Then I turned to Miss Darcy, "perhaps I can call on you in a day or so," I turned back to Tessa, "if that is agreeable to you, of course."
"I believe that will be fine, sir. We look forward to seeing you." And with that, they left.
I knew what Tessa would say to her as they walked home. We had carefully planned how it was all to go.
"He was quite an amiable young man."
Georgiana would smile and agree.
"And you say he is a family friend?"
"Oh yes. I have known him as long as I can remember. He was raised with my brother. My father was his godfather."
"Then I can see no reason why he should not be admitted to your company, as long as I can be sure your brother would approve."
"Oh yes, I am sure he would. I only wish he had been here, so that they could meet."
"I will mention that we met Mr. Wickham in my next letter to Mr. Darcy."
Over the course of the next few weeks, I met with Georgiana every two or three days. I would walk out with them often. At first, the three of us would walk together, but Tessa soon began giving me the space to work my charm. I told Georgiana several times how pleased I was to have met her again; how fondly I remembered her from my days at Pemberley; and how frequently I had thought of her since our last meeting shortly after her father's death.
I knew she was thinking of me in my absence, for Tessa told me how often she would mention me. When I felt she was ready to accept my love, I offered it to her. One day as we walked, Tessa had stopped to talk to an acquaintance she'd made. I took the opportunity to continue walking with Georgiana alone. When we were out of hearing distance, I said, "Miss Darcy, I cannot express to you how much our time together here has meant to me." She blushed deeply. "When I last saw you, you were but a child; now you are a woman. A lovely woman. I have always felt a special fondness for you, but over the past few weeks that has grown into something more . . . tender. My feelings have surprised me. I had no notion when I decided to come to Ramsgate, that I would find love." She looked at me in surprise, but I could see that she was pleased. "You must have suspected my feelings. You must know that I love you." She looked away, she looked at Tessa. "Only say that you love me in return and I will be the happiest man that ever breathed."
"Mr. Wickham, I . . .," she faltered.
"I have little to offer you. I have no fortune to speak of, but I intend to purchase a commission in the militia. I know it is not much. I cannot make a life that is worthy of you, but with economy I can make a good life for us. And I know that if only we can be together, we will be happy."
"But I have a fortune of thirty-thousand pounds. Surely, that is enough to make a comfortable life."
I smiled. "My dearest Georgiana, it is more than enough; but I could not live solely off of your inheritance, my love. And, we must have something for our children." She blushed again. "Say that you will marry me, dearest."
She smiled up to me, her eyes shining with adoration, with trust and faith. "I will."
I squeezed her hand and whispered, "thank you." Then I said, "I will write to your brother and tell him the good news. As soon as we have his blessing we can arrange the wedding. We shall be married at Pemberley."
"But we will have to wait until my birthday. I am not yet sixteen."
"Are you not?" She blushed again. "Very well then," said I, in a tone that suggested I was joking, "perhaps I should just carry you off to Gretna Green."
She smiled. "But do not you think that would make Fitzwilliam angry?"
"I believe that once he sees how happy you are, he would not be angry. I have no doubt he would be pleased to see that we have wed. In fact, we could make it a sort of surprise, if you like. We really could go to Scotland and then return to Pemberley afterwards to give him the news in person, and we can stay there until I have to join my regiment. Darcy would be beside himself to see me again -- and then to learn that we are brothers -- just as we used to pretend when we were children."
"Did you truly pretend to be brothers?"
"Oh yes! I will relate stories to you of our childhood together during the journey to Scotland. What do you say?" She looked down in contemplation. I placed my fingers under her chin and tilted her head towards me so that her eyes would meet mine. "We would not have to wait to be wed."
"This would please you?"
"More than anything."
"Then I will agree to it."
I smiled my most charming smile. "I will make all the arrangements, and hire a carriage to convey us to Gretna Green within the next two or three days. You will be my wife before the end of the week."
"Mrs. Wickham," she said softly, "how well that sounds!"
I spent the following day planning and arranging everything. My aim was to carry out the elopement as soon as possible -- before she had an opportunity to change her mind. I had no fear of her notifying her brother of the plan, for I knew Tessa would intercept any of her letters to him. The next morning, everything was in place for our departure the following day. I was on my way out to meet Georgiana on the seashore when I received a note from Tessa:
Mr. Darcy has arrived.
"Blast him!" I cried as I threw the note into the fire. "I was so close. So close!" But, perhaps she would not say anything to him, perhaps she would still leave with me tonight. No, I knew she would tell him. I was not yet ready to give up, though. My hold on her was strong, and if there was some small chance I could still carry out my plan, then I would take it. I must wait. It wouldn't hurt to be ready to make a quick departure, though. So I made preparations to leave. Not two hours later I received another note, this one from Darcy. I knew before I read it that it was over.
I am sure you will be disappointed to learn that Miss Darcy has revealed everything to me. I have enlightened her as to your true nature, and she now sees you for what you are. She will not be going to Gretna Green or anywhere else with you, and she certainly will not marry you. Your friend, Mrs. Younge, has been discharged. I do not expect to ever hear from you again.
Oh, how I despised him! How enraged I was by the triumphant tone of his missive! I was defeated -- if only temporarily. I needed time and space to think of what I could do next. There was nothing I could do but leave the place immediately.
My design on Georgiana Darcy had been perfectly planned and perfectly executed, but Darcy ruined my prospects yet again. I will have my revenge on him; and, somehow, I will have the fortune I deserve.
2004 Copyright held by author.
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