In honour of Madame Gilflurt’s personal relationship (oh, that sounds cheeky!) with Mr. Wickham from the 1995 BBC A&E Pride and Prejudice, I offer the readers an outtake from the original epilogue for Letter from Ramsgate. The newlywed Darcys are having a conversation about Mr. Wickham in July 1813.
The History behind the Vignette
Enos Collins (1774-1871) and Liverpool Packet are part of Nova Scotia history. (The separate colony joined Canada on Confederation in 1867.)
The schooner had a reputation for speed and stealth and was used for mail and passenger transport during the first year Collins owned her. In October 1812, Collins obtained a marque which allowed her crew “to apprehend, seize and take any ship, vessel or goods belonging to the citizens of the United States or bearing the flag of said United States,” meaning Liverpool Packet was now a privateer. “The most dreaded Nova Scotian vessel to ply New England waters during the war [of 1812],” Liverpool Packet took 33 prizes under Captain Joseph Barss.
Mr. Wickham’s “disappearance” took place on June 10, 1813 while Liverpool Packet was trying to capture the American privateer schooner Thomas.
Darcy turned to gaze at Elizabeth. “You recall that George Wickham travelled to Nova Scotia and met the man who bought all his debts.”
She nodded. Mr. Wickham was required to work to repay his debts, but had boasted his expectation to easily gain a great fortune in the lower colonies. “I am amused that the Nova Scotian fellow’s name is Mr. Collins. I do not think he is much like my cousin, though.”
He smiled slightly as he glanced at her. “Not at all alike. Mr. Enos Collins is a millionaire in shipping.”
The word was unusual—did it mean what she thought? “Millionaire?”
“Yes, he has earned over a millions dollars, and founded a bank,” said Darcy. His gaze returned to the sea. “Wickham was keen to sail, and assumed he would travel as a gentleman passenger on a packet boat. But Mr. Enos Collins wanted him to learn a lesson, and tested Wickham by having him assigned all possible sorts of duties on the ship as he sailed from England to Nova Scotia. Instead, Wickham was insolent and haughty and expected to be treated like a gentleman.
“Wickham did not even step on land when he arrived at Halifax harbour. Rather than employ him in business, Enos Collins sent Wickham back to sea until he could learn to do any task well without complaint. Wickham was moved to his fastest boat, a successful privateer schooner called Liverpool Packet.”
Mr. Wickham would be employed on board a vessel assigned to capture American merchant ships and take their cargo as prizes on behalf of England. It amounted to legal piracy. “My! Mr. Wickham a war privateer. It suits!”
His glare chastised. Something was not right. If her husband was unhappy about Mr. Wickham’s occupation, the story was not ended.
Darcy’s accent had none of its usual sedateness. “In June, Liverpool Packet was attempting to overcome an American vessel, and shots were fired, killing three Americans. In the skirmish, the Americans were the victors and claimed Liverpool Packet and her crew. No one knows what happened to George Wickham.”
No wonder he was so concerned! Her husband hated the inability to solve this problem. He needed a reminder of how honour had not been enough to change Mr. Wickham. She touched his furrowed brow.
“Fitzwilliam, you must not take this upon yourself. Mr. Wickham’s actions set his course. You are wonderful for caring so much, but in spite of your help, he has continued to create his own problems.”
“You are right.” He huffed in frustration as he turned them back towards the house. “You know, I tried to give him another chance. I offered him work so he would not have to leave England. He laughed. He said I was small beer, and he associated with stronger brew now. Can you imagine my thoughts? Small beer! I am small beer!” The words were spat out in disgust.
He did not deserve to feel so upset at Wickham’s disparagement. When would Mr. Wickham cease tormenting her husband? But her anger would not help right now. It was important to encourage him to remove his sense of responsibility from the problem he had not created.
“If you must be small beer, then you are my small beer, and quite tasty. I can only add that it is a truth well known that there has never been such a handsome and kind beverage to be found.”
She gave his arm a light squeeze and was rewarded with a small smirk.
“Perhaps he does not deserve such a harsh fate, but it was his choice, as are all his previous problems. Heaven help me, Fitzwilliam, but I am grateful he is gone, because it is near impossible for him to trouble you any longer. It pains me when he disrespects you after all you have done for him. Let us resolve to never speak of him again.” It was a huge demand. Could he manage to do this?
Darcy sighed. “I do not know that I can. I will try.”
About the Book:
Sir, I am not known to you. I fear you may have concerns regarding some intelligence that recently came to me from your sister...
...a simple letter shatters illusions and turns the world upside down!
On holiday in Ramsgate, Elizabeth Bennet befriends shy, romantic Georgiana Darcy, who shares an adoring description of an ideal elder brother. When Georgiana discloses a secret infatuation with her brother’s “close friend” Mr. Wickham, Elizabeth’s altered perception of both men affects her actions and alliances.
The secret within an anonymous letter from Ramsgate ties Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth together but also separates them. A second missive unlocks the disguise, but Mr. Darcy realizes his true passions too late to assist Elizabeth in her darkest hour. Will the shocking disclosure of a forgotten letter transform his understanding of her heart and lead them to embrace their future?
Letter from Ramsgate is a Pride and Prejudice variation suitable for most audiences (youth and up).
About the Author:
A love for Jane Austen’s novels and Regency and Austenesque romance novels inspired Suzan Lauder to write her own variations, which led her to a passion for Regency era history and costuming, as well as social media book marketing. She cherishes the many friends she’s made as a result of these interests.
Suzan is a member of JASNA, VIRA, RWA (PAN and Beau Monde chapters), and is a registered professional engineer. She enjoys independent travel, design, Pilates, yoga, cycling, sustainability, upcycling, architecture, beta editing, and blogging. Most of the time, a Vancouver Island penthouse loft condominium with a view of the Salish Sea is home. For a few months each winter, Mr. Suze and their two rescue cats accompany her to their tiny Spanish colonial casita in Centro Historico of an industrial city in Mexico.
Letter from Ramsgate is Lauder’s second published novel and comes on the heels of her successful upcycled costuming blog series, the Thrift Shop Regency Costume Experiment. Her latest venture is blogging about her learning experiences while editing Letter from Ramsgate. Suzan’s first novel, Alias Thomas Bennet, is an Austen-inspired Regency romance with a mystery twist. She also contributed a short modern romance, Delivery Boy, to the holiday anthology Then Comes Winter. All Lauder’s published fiction is based on Pride and Prejudice and is available from Meryton Press.
Blog Tour Schedule:
10/17 Guest Post, Excerpt, GA; My Jane Austen Book Club
10/18 Excerpt, GA; Margie’s Must Reads
10/19 Vignette, GA; Just Jane 1813
10/20 Review; From Pemberley to Milton
10/21 Vignette, GA; Babblings of a Bookworm
10/22 Excerpt, GA; Liz’s Reading Life
10/23 Guest Post or Vignette, GA; From Pemberley to Milton
10/24 Review; Tomorrow is Another Day
10/25 Guest Post, Excerpt, GA; So little time…
10/26 Vignette, GA; Austenesque Reviews
10/27 Review, Excerpt; Half Agony, Half Hope
10/28 Review; Diary of an Eccentric
10/29 Guest Post; A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life
10/30 Guest Post or Vignette, GA; More Agreeably Engaged