Can I make it plainer? Please do not read further if you do not want to know what will happen in my Tales of Less Pride & Prejudice.
One of the controversies, if I might be so bold as to claim the term, surrounding First Impression: A Tale of Less Pride & Prejudice and Second Glances: A Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice Continues concerns my treatment of Mr. Wickham. Most readers applauded my marrying him off to Caroline Bingley in First Impressions (a just fate for both), but in Second Glances, during which the loathed couple scheme to reinsert themselves into the Darcy's social circle and are actually awarded with some degree of success, a few people called foul. I think Holidays at Pemberley, or Third Encounters: A Tale of Less Pride & Prejudice Concludes goes someway towards rectifying the situation.
I shared the following snippet, meant to be tantalizing, on Facebook last week:
Mr. Bennet suppressed his mirth as such insincerity. “I was thinking that perhaps an invitation might be overlooked. Your wife was so kind as to invite me to stay here without consulting the owners of this fine house, so why might I not similarly impose upon my daughter?”
Mr. Wickham looked confused. “I am afraid I do not follow, sir.”
“What I am suggesting, Mr. Wickham, is that you and your wife take the Darcys by surprise.”
“You do know, Mr. Bennet, why I am not welcome at Pemberley, do you not?” An affirmative nod served to answer. “Then you must know that Darcy would instantly have us escorted from the grounds.”
“Not it you are traveling in my company,” he assured him. “I am very fond of descending upon Pemberley unannounced. It is great fun, I assure you!”
“Why would you be willing to incur the anger you are sure to invoke by such a stunt?” he asked suspiciously.
“Well, I am not willing to incur it for nothing,” Mr. Bennet confessed. “I am hoping there is something you might do for me.”Readers of Second Glances know why Mr. Bennet might be willing to ally himself with Wickham in such away, and while my Mr. Bennet is usually successful in his machinations (and yes, he is even willing to interfere in Miss Lucas' love life), this particular plan doesn't work out so well for his co-conspirators:
“You were known to the late Mr. Darcy?” he casually questioned.I should be able to announce the book's release any day. You can add it now on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18399315-holidays-at-pemberley-or-third-encounters
“Yes, but only in passing.”
“I thought so, for I cannot remember ever seeing you at Pemberley.”
David granted him a cocked smile. “I heard you grew up on the property,” Charlotte had related the entirety of the scene enacted at dinner the day the Wickhams had arrived to his receptive ears, “and your memory serves you well. I was never here until the living at Kympton became available, when I visited to assess the prospects.”
“I understand you have another living.”
“Yes; at Glendale, my brother’s estate, but for a variety of reasons Kympton appealed to me, not least of which is the unique geography of the area. You must be familiar with the local caves?”
He was, but Mr. Wickham had no interest in such topics. “Did you know it was to be mine?”
“The living at Kympton. Old Mr. Darcy intended it for me.”
“Then how comes it to me?”
Sir James, who with Mr. Brooks opposed Wickham and Westover, and was necessarily privy to this entire exchange, replied to the question: “He accepted a large sum of money in its exchange. Is that not so, Wickham?”
“I did not think myself suited for the church at the time,” was the terse reply.
“Have you had a change of heart?”
“I believe I was hasty in my youth to relinquishing the idea. Had Mr. Darcy lived, and had I still then the benefit of his mentorship, I’m sure I would have acted differently.”
David sincerely felt for him, knowing too well the trials of the orphan, but before he could offer any response, Mr. Bennet, who had made himself a part of the billiards party for the first and only time anyone ever could or would recount, left his own game to assert with a glimmering eye, “And how would you have liked making sermons, Mr. Wickham?”
“Very much, indeed,” he said comfortably.
“Then I have just the solution for you! Let me recommend you to Lady Catherine’s attention. She is sure to have other livings than that at Hunsford in her gift, which someday you might take over for Mr. Collins.”
This was not quite what Mr. Wickham had in mind, but he bowed and said, “My dear sir! You have already done far too much on my behalf. I could not so impose.”
“Nonsense! You know very well you can.”
“I am certain I’m not the sort of clergyman Lady Catherine prefers.”
“Come now, Mr. Wickham! Not everyone can be so eloquent as Mr. Collins. Do you have an interest in securing yourself a comfortable living, one that will go someway to freeing you from your relation’s hospitality, or is it only Kympton that interests you?”
“Of course I wish for independence beyond my wife’s income, but …”
“Very good! I will speak to Lady Catherine at once,” and abandoning Mr. Gardiner to the mercy of Mr. Bingley and Mr. Beaumont (none too hard a fate), he instantly sought out her ladyship and did just that. Lady Catherine, having found the humbled Mrs. Wickham a most accommodating companion, liked the idea very much. She extended an impossible to refuse invitation to be her indefinite guests at Rosings. Mr. Wickham was to spend his days learning from Mr. Collins’ example, and Mrs. Wickham performing all those little services at which Lady Catherine had found her so adept.