On his calling at the rooms on the next morning after breakfast, Georgiana had been surprised but delighted to see him.

Mrs. Younge’s enthusiasm had been much more muted. 

Darcy soon found out why in private conversation with his sister. On questioning her as gently as he could, she had confirmed to him that the visitor she had been seeing was Mr. Wickham, whom she had recalled fondly from her childhood acquaintance. After a little further discourse with her brother, Georgiana had confessed that she thought that she was in love, and they were planning to elope together. A carriage to Scotland was already ordered by Wickham for the following morning.

Darcy lost no time. He was directed to where Wickham was staying, a few streets away, and found him making preparation for leaving the next day.

Wickham had always had, in Darcy’s recollection, the ability to turn any situation to his own advantage, and he sought to do so now.

“Why, Darcy,” he said, “this is a most pleasant surprise, for I did not know that you were planning a visit to Ramsgate. Is this a part of the country with which you are familiar? I had thought that you were away in the north just now.”

“So my sister tells me!” said Darcy, since he did not wish to prolong the interview.

Wickham had the grace to look a little discomforted, but said, “She has become a very charming young lady. I have been enjoying her company, as she may have told you.”

Darcy had to admire his confidence, but said only “Or is it her fortune that you seek to enjoy?”

“You always assume the worst of me, do you not, Darcy?”

“I have good reason to do so, and certainly on this occasion. Georgiana is but fifteen years’ old, and yet you were planning to marry her without the consent of either of her guardians!”

And Darcy told him to leave Ramsgate immediately, to cease all and every communication with Georgiana, and never to contact her again.

“And should you think of making any aspect of this affair public, I will ensure that the circumstances are known wherever in society you choose to impose yourself.”

He knew that even Wickham’s charm and ease of conversing would not preserve some remnant of his reputation in polite society if the truth were to become generally known. But that would also damage Georgiana, and therefore such public exposure was to be avoided if at all possible.

Wickham left the town that day, leaving Darcy to deal with Mrs. Younge.

The interview with that lady was painful but also of short duration, Darcy making it quite clear that she had betrayed his trust, and that she was immediately discharged from his service.

After she had left the house, Darcy went up to see Georgiana. He told her as little as he could about Wickham’s dissolute ways, but did explain that, whatever arts might have been used to gain her affections, the young man had been much more interested in his sister’s fortune of thirty thousand pounds than in any else that he might have suggested.

Georgiana took this news with great distress, being of a trusting nature. She was so ignorant of the ways of the world that it had never occurred to her that she had been grievously deceived, nor that her actions would have unwittingly angered her most beloved brother.

He and his sister left together for London the next day, where Darcy took steps to replace Mrs. Younge without delay. After consulting his cousin Fitzwilliam as joint guardian to Georgiana, Darcy was able to procure the services of Mrs. Annesley, a refined and pleasant woman who seemed to be well qualified to be a companion for his sister.

After a few days, her spirits began to revive, and she returned to her artistic pursuits, in drawing and her love of playing the piano-forte. The following week, Georgiana and Mrs. Annesley accompanied Darcy to Derbyshire, where his friend Charles Bingley joined them. He did not return to town until the early autumn when his sister’s spirits were fully recovered. Bingley took a different route south, whilst Georgiana travelled with her brother. 


The next week, Bingley arrived in town to stay with Darcy. He was full of a new enthusiasm for the counties north of London. On his journey, Bingley had been on a tour through Hertfordshire, and had been very taken by the country around the small town of Meryton.

Having found that a suitable property, Netherfield Park, was available, and after inspecting its situation and the principal rooms for half an hour, he had taken it on a short lease.

“So you see, Darcy,” he said, “you must join me there. I shall take possession before Michaelmas. The sport for game in the park at Netherfield is promising, so we gentlemen at least will be well suited. I have hired servants who are to be in the house by the end of next week. I shall return to London once everything is settled there, and you and my sisters with Mr. Hurst must come down and join me.”

“And I suppose,” said his friend, “that you will try to convince me that I shall enjoy country ways and local assemblies...”

“But of course, my dear fellow!” said Bingley heartily, clapping his friend on the back. “And will Georgiana like to come with us?”

Darcy knew that his sister was very shy of being in any kind of company after her disappointment in Ramsgate. He had heard that Wickham had lately gone into the militia, although he knew not where. The manner in which her involvement with that gentleman had been dealt with hopefully meant that the affair never need be mentioned to anyone, least of all Bingley’s sisters who delighted so in gossip.

Darcy had recently become aware that Georgiana did not find Miss Caroline Bingley very easy company, and did not welcome her staying with them at Pemberley. So he declined the pleasure of a visit to Hertfordshire on her behalf, using as the excuse that instruction with her music master would detain Georgiana in town with Mrs. Annesley.

Bingley was as good as his word, and some two weeks later was back in town to relate how his excursion into the country had gone.

He was able to report that his new neighbours had made him most welcome. Within a few days of his arrival in Hertfordshire, a number of gentlemen had waited on him.

One of the first of these had been a Mr. Bennet, a gentleman of limited fortune, who lived with his wife and five daughters in the largest house at Longbourn, a small place just outside Meryton. He had proved to be a man of sharp wits and literary conversation, aspects of character that were not Bingley’s greatest strengths. However, the call had passed pleasantly enough.

Bingley had engaged to return his courtesy within a few days, having learned from other local acquaintances that the two eldest daughters, the Misses Jane and Elizabeth, were considered to be beauties and amongst the fairest young ladies in the County. On the next Friday, therefore, Bingley had ridden the mile over to Longbourn to return the visit.

He reported that it was a pleasant property, well situated, with an extensive shrubbery to one side but with modest grounds, and surrounded by its own farmland. Bingley had spent ten minutes with Mr. Bennet in his library, and was sorry to leave without having the opportunity of seeing any of the young ladies, although he had been glad to learn that the Misses Bennet enjoyed dancing.

A Sir William Lucas had also called, who was father to a large family and also lived in the neighbourhood of Nether-field. Bingley had been encouraged by Sir William to take a party to the next assembly in Meryton after his return to Hertfordshire.

“Is that not a capital plan?” said Bingley to his friend.

Darcy regarded him with a quizzical eye.

“I cannot recall how many times I have tried to impress upon you that my knowledge of the exercise is not matched by any enthusiasm for dancing with young ladies unknown to me.”

“A ball is,” he went on, “a vastly over-rated pastime, calculated to satisfy the desires of mothers who wish to expose me to their daughters with a view to marriage. The only result is to require me to make conversation with

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