“Lydia was Lydia still; untamed, unabashed, wild, noisy and fearless.”
—quote by Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The loud clearing of a throat brought their attention to the frowning butler at the door.
Lydia smiled at the man. “I know you will miss me, Mr. Tims, but Wickham and I are getting married.”
The man blinked twice. “At this hour, miss?”
She laughed and nodded. “We are going to Gretna Green. I have left Harriet a note, so don’t say a word. I want her to be surprised by my letter.”
The butler seemed to recover from his shock. “Have you a carriage to take you?”
She grimaced. “No. We are going to do that now.”
“Allow me to handle the matter.”
“Thank you, Tims. You are a good man.”
Wickham feared the butler planned to alert Colonel Forster. “That is not necessary…”
The butler smiled. “Oh, but it is, sir. I would dearly love to send the young miss off…” After a brief pause, he added, “In style.”
When the butler left the room, Lydia turned to Wickham. “I now regret all the trouble I’ve caused the poor fellow. That was most obliging of him, do you not think?”
Wickham pulled her close so she would not see the rolling of his eyes. He could only hope the butler was indeed getting a carriage so Lydia would leave before the Forsters could bring her to her senses.
Five minutes later, a post chaise with four strong horses waited at the door.
“Is this the best you could do, Tims?” Lydia asked as she climbed in the large carriage with a forward and backward seat.
“At such a late hour, with no advance warning, we are lucky I found any carriage at all.” He then looked at Wickham. “I wish you the best of luck, sir.”
“The same to you.” Wickham could only imagine the hell the man would catch when they finally realized the butler had assisted Wickham in carrying away the supply funds.