The Spell on the Doll
Georgiana watched with curiosity as Mr George Wickham left her brother's study.
His eyes alighted upon her and she saw something in them that she could not grasp.
"Georgiana!" said he. Wickham took her hand and kissed it. His hands and lips lingered there for a while as he looked into her eyes. Then he parted and disappeared down the hall.
Georgiana watched after him. The past moment had happened so quickly, and yet seemed like eternity. With what did he look at her so? Interest? Affection? Love?
She shook herself out of her trance and knocked on her brother's door.
"Come in," she heard, then opened the door.
Her brother, Fitzwilliam Darcy, was leaning back in his chair, eyes closed. They opened at the sound of the door opening and then he smiled.
"Georgiana. What brings you here?"
"George was here a few minutes ago. What for?" she asked curiously.
"He does not want the living Father promised him," said Darcy sighing. "Instead he wanted the value of the living, three thousand pounds, in an intent of studying law. I gave it to him, on the condition he asks for no more and does not contact me again."
"Why don't you want any connection with him?" said Georgiana, alarmed at the thought of never seeing George again.
Darcy thought about whether he should tell her about Wickham's dissolute habits. He decided not to. After all, Georgiana was still a child to him and he did not think she should know about it.
"Will you be so very angry with me if I promise to tell you the reason at a later date?"
Georgiana did mind, but her brother must have his reasons, and they must be good ones. "No, I understand."
He smiled at her tiredly. "Good. Now why did you come here?"
Georgiana had forgotten the reason, in that brief moment with George out in the hall.
"Oh, it is of little consequence. I cannot remember."
"Well you are here, why don't you tell me how your studies are progressing?"
Wickham threw the letter down in a rage.
His funds had dwindled down to nothing in the three years since he had received it and he was getting desperate. On the decease of the of the incumbent of the living, he had decided to ask Darcy for the living which he had been promised by the elder Mr Darcy.
He had written his request to Mr Darcy three times. And three times he had received answers, all refusing his request.
"Damn you, Darcy!" he cried to the walls.
He lay back in his bed and gulped down another glass of wine. Wickham thought about all the misery he had suffered at the hands of his former friend (most of which were of his own making).
In his mind, he imagined all sorts of ways he could have his revenge on Darcy. He thought of ways to make his fortune.
His charms and handsome countenance were to his advantage, and he had used them often, whether to make friends he could borrow money from or find a bed partner for the night.
To turn his mind away from such thoughts, he opened up another letter, from Mrs Younge, who was living with Darcy's sister, Georgiana, in London.
My dear friend,
I understand that your circumstances are by no means profitable. Here I enclose a sum of one hundred pounds, that I have taken from Miss Darcy. She, when I told her of your position, was extremely eager to lend you fifty pounds. As she has a fortune of thirty thousand pounds, I doubt the extra fifty I have stolen will be missed.
When I relate to her all of the times you have told me about, your childhood together and such, she tells me that you are extremely kind and gentlemanly. I believe that your charms have again trapped another bird.
We are to go to Ramsgate this summer. Her brother is to join us a week after our arrival.
If you are in need of more, write to me and I will supply it.
Yours, Mrs Younge.
Wickham put the letter down and thought hard. Georgiana was a pretty thing. At fifteen, she was a bit young for his tastes, but still - thirty thousand pounds!
Ramsgate; he had just enough so that he could travel there.
Georgiana was sweet, childlike, innocent - she would be easy prey.
Georgiana sat at the instrument, watching as her fingers danced up and down the keys. A knock at the door of the house in Ramsgate broke the spell the music had woven and she looked up.
Mrs Younge stood in the door.
"Excuse me, but you have a visitor."
She moved aside to reveal - Mr George Wickham.
Georgiana smiled, ran up to him and gave him a hug. She missed the look that passed between Mr Wickham and Mrs Younge. Mrs Younge left the room and locked the door behind her.
"George! This is a pleasant surprise! What brings you here?"
Wickham moved away from her and said softly, "The winds of fate."
Georgiana laughed and bade him to be seated.
"A cryptic answer," said she. Georgiana quieted when Wickham took at seat beside her.
"Would you like me to be more specific?" he asked her. "In truth, I wanted to see you."
Georgiana made no answer. She looked at him and gasped as she saw the look in his eyes.
Wickham looked right back, then shook his head.
"Shall we take a turn outside, my dear?"
He grasped her hand and led her away.
Outside, the spray from the sea cooled Georgiana down a little.
"Do you remember how I used to play with you when you were younger?" he asked her.
"Yes. I especially remember when you dressed me up like an enormous doll and showed father." She giggled at the memory. "I pretended to be a doll under a spell, moving only at your command. Then Fitzwilliam came in, pretended break the spell and bring me to life and back to my senses."
"Yes, that was rather delightful."
"Do you remember when I lost my favorite doll, and you and William looked everywhere, and it took so long it became a game, and I promised a kiss to the one who found my doll?" Georgiana thought hard. "Who found my doll? I cannot remember."
"I did." Wickham looked away. In actual fact, Darcy had found his sister's doll.
"Yes, I think that is right."
"And you kissed me, very nicely I remember."
Four days passed in this way. Wickham wove his spell on his young companion, and in the absence of her brother, who was to join them in three days, Georgiana turned to Wickham, for advice, permission, everything that she usually asked Fitzwilliam.
On the night of the fourth day, Georgiana lay awake trying to sort out her feelings towards George Wickham.
He was one of the best men she knew, only her brother surpassed him. What did she feel for him? She loved him like a brother - she had spent most of her childhood with Fitzwilliam and George, that it seemed that she had two brothers instead of one.
She thought about how George Wickham looked at her in the last few days. The fire in his eyes whenever he looked at her, was it . . . . love?
Yes! It could be nothing else! And she did love him, she realized. Why, the other day, he had said she was the most beautiful woman he had known! And when he had first come into the room, after three years, he had said that he wanted to see her!
With this happy thought, she finally fell asleep.
In the music room, Wickham propped his feet up on the piano and held up a large glass of Darcy's best wine. Mrs Younge, seated beside him did the same.
"A toast! To your success, Wickham!" she said.
Glasses clinked together and they drank.
Wickham put down his glass and looked at his companion.
"What does she feel for me?"
"I believe she thinks she is in love," grinned Mrs Younge. "When you are gone, she can speak of no one but you."
Wickham smiled at her. It was so easy, no challenge at all.
Mrs Younge looked at him, seriously now.
"The brother will never consent to a marriage between the two of you."
"I know. And worry not - I have an idea." He moved his feet off the piano. "Tomorrow I will ask her to elope to Scotland. And once we are married, I will have everything - a pretty and rich wife, fortune, and revenge." He cackled wickedly. "Imagine Darcy's face when he finds out that I am officially his brother, and that I have seduced his precious sister!"
"He arrives in three days."
"I know, so I will command her to elope tomorrow, make plans, then the next day we will take the carriage to Scotland."
"That is cutting it rather thin."
"But it will succeed."
Mrs Younge filled their glasses to the brim.
"Do not forget me when you are rich."
"Of course not, my dear. Another toast!"
On their daily walk on the beach, Wickham suddenly stopped and looked at Georgiana.
"Georgiana darling, I can go no longer without saying this," he began tenderly, "I love you. I cannot live without you."
Georgiana gasped at this acknowledgement. Before she could respond, he bent down and kissed her passionately.
The roaring of the waves was nothing to the roaring in her ears; the spray was nothing to the tears on her cheeks. She closed her eyes, enjoying it.
Through the haze, she heard his voice.
"Come away with me, love."
Without knowing what she was saying, she cried, "I will!"
That evening, plans were made, boxes packed. Money matters were settled. Drafts of notes were written, to Colonel Fitzwilliam, to her brother.
Georgiana lay awake in her bed, trying to sort out her conflicting thoughts.
"GO!" said her heart.
"NO!" said her mind.
She tossed and turned.
I will go! she thought. He loves me! He told me so!
But what will Fitzwilliam feel when he hears of this?
In her minds eye, she saw her brother, always there for her, loving, protecting. And she imagined his sadness and pain.
This memory broke the spell.
Am I a silly wench, ruled by my feelings? Or am I a lady, using my head?
But he loves you, whispered her heart.
So does Fitzwilliam, even more, said her mind.
Remember how you felt when he kissed you? cried her heart.
Why did Fitzwilliam never want to see Wickham again? said her mind coldly.
This thought brought her up sharp.
What did Wickham do?
Why does Fitzwilliam dislike him so now?
If Fitzwilliam dislikes him, he must have a good reason. My brother is always right, he is sensible and if Wickham has been banned from seeing him, then it must have been done with good reason!
I cannot do this!
But George loves you . . .
They were to leave tomorrow, before Darcy came to Ramsgate.
Torn between her brother and her lover, Georgiana was silent, in turmoil.
She stood on the rocks, looking over the sea. Mrs Younge stood a little ways off, on the landing above.
"I cannot. Fitzwilliam will be grieved, offended, unhappy, disappointed in me. I cannot give him such pain," she said to herself.
She sensed Wickham come up beside her, but did not turn.
"What is the matter, my love?"
Georgiana said softly, "I cannot do this."
Wickham was startled.
"Fitzwilliam will disapprove."
At the mention of Darcy, Wickham went into a rage.
"Forget your brother!" he snapped. "Who do you love more, him, or me?"
Georgiana was horrified and stared at him.
"How can you make me choose?"
She spun away from him and returned to staring over the waves.
Recovering himself, Wickham touched her arm. She slowly turned back to him.
"Georgiana . . . " he began.
A noise on the cliff above. Georgiana looked up . . . and saw Fitzwilliam.
She broke away from Wickham and ran up the stairs, into Darcy's embrace and poured out the entire story.
As Darcy listened, he restrained himself from stalking towards Wickham and toppling him off the cliff, but rather, remained with his sister and comforted her.
"I won't do it, I won't leave you," said Georgiana.
He kept his eyes on Mr Wickham, who was looking at them in shock. Wickham slowly walked up the stairs to stand beside Mrs Younge.
Darcy suddenly understood Wickham's reasons for the elopement.
"Georgiana," he said, "This will hurt, but you must know the truth. Wickham does not love you. He wants only your fortune."
His sister looked at him in shock. Seeing Wickham speaking to Mrs Younge, she cried out,
"Is this true, Mrs Younge?"
The lady showed little remorse - only fear of Georgiana's brother who was glaring at her.
Georgiana turned to Wickham, who was looking at her, laughing softly and shaking his head.
"Georgie, it was so easy to convince you."
Georgiana began to cry. Wickham laughed even harder, but shut up when Darcy shot him a look full of hate.
When Georgiana's sobs had quieted, Darcy pulled away, and gestured for her to wait.
He walked to the guilty pair and glared at them.
"Come. We will talk."
Georgiana, Wickham and Mrs Younge waited in the hall outside Darcy's study at the house. Darcy asked Mrs Younge to come in.
"Mrs Younge, is what Miss Darcy has told me true?"
The look in her master's eyes prevented any tale-spinning.
"Mrs Younge, I trusted you to care for Georgiana, and you betray that trust? I cannot believe this!"
The lady stood, downcast, and said nothing.
Darcy calmed himself.
"You are removed from your charge, and will leave immediately. Send Wickham in."
Grateful to be let off rather lightly, Mrs Younge hurried out of the room.
"Wickham, the master requests your presence."
Wickham entered the room and observed his former friend standing at the window. He stood there and did not react when Wickham stood in front of the desk.
Neither spoke for some time.
Surprisingly, Darcy spoke quite softly.
"How could you do this? After all my father did for you, after all I have done for you, you take advantage and try to seduce my sister?"
"All you have done for me?" hissed Wickham. "Your father promised me a living, and with his decease, you refused to acknowledge it!"
"We both know the reasons for that," said Darcy, not turning around. "You declared that you had no intention of taking orders, and so instead I gave you three thousand pounds. You said you intended to use it to study, it is your own fault you did not use the money wisely. And I know what my father did not - that behind that charming facade lurks a seducer, gambler, scoundrel, a man with habits as disgusting as the sewers of London." Darcy's voice began to rise, and he finally turned towards Wickham. "And with all of this, you have the audacity to ask for more money and seduce my sister!"
Wickham cowered under Darcy's glare.
"Consider yourself fortunate that I have decided not to make this affair public, though it is more for Georgiana's sake than for any regard for you," said Darcy coldly, "For if I did, then you would be prevented from reforming, for no one will ever trust you and no woman will ever let you take advantage of her. I will let you go, on the condition that you never try to contact Georgiana or myself again. And if you do, then you will not be so fortunate."
The steel in Darcy's voice ensured that Wickham did not doubt that the threat would be carried out.
"Get out of my sight."
Trying to retain some dignity, Wickham scurried out of the study. Observing Georgiana outside, he looked at her for one moment, then opened the door, walked out, then slammed it.
Darcy and Georgiana watched him leave. Georgiana, ashamed of what she had nearly done, was unable to look at her brother.
"Come," said Darcy quietly.
Georgiana went to her brother, lent on his shoulder and wept.
"I am disgraceful!" she sobbed. "I am a stupid fool. I was taken in by his declarations of love, by his manner . . . "
"Georgiana . . . . "
Nothing he said could comfort her. He just held her, thankful he had thwarted Wickham and Georgiana was safe in his arms.
Later, when she is in control of herself again, I will help her through this, thought he.
I just wish that I had someone who could comfort me from the shock of nearly losing Georgiana.
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