To Kitty, However...
To Kitty, however, it did not seem to come as such a surprise as to the rest of us.
Kitty closed the door on her mother's cries, and by the light of the candle, re-read each of Lydia's letters. The first was but a repetition of that which had been received by her mother. She had tried sea bathing and found it to her liking, the famous Mrs. Gunn was a quiz, and there was a new style of chip-straw to be seen on the elegant ladies walking on the Steyne. She had been to two card-parties, and one had been most entertaining, but at the other she had had little luck. An extra sheet, however, contained the news of Denny's engagement to a Miss Creedy, of Worthing, a pity, to be sure, but she would not let such news spoil her enjoyment of the place. The other officers had been very kind. Wickham, in particular, had been very attentive, and devised many small amusements to entertain her.
The next letter continued in similar vein. A red coat was the most becoming thing on a man. She had danced all night with no-one but officers- even Harriet could not boast of doing as well. Wickham was an angel, and by far the handsomest man in the regiment. He had hired a horse and was much admired on it. Colonel Forster had refused to let her ride behind him on the downs, and instead had arranged a picnic in a carriage, which she and Harriet had enjoyed immensely. Wickham had done this, for her, and that, almost anything she asked. She was prepared to think him the kindest man in the world, and since Lizzie no longer seemed to want him, was determined to try for him herself. Denny had returned, and the famous Miss Creedy-Amelia, it seemed, was pretty enough, but not very lively.
The third letter was then taken up again. It read:-
You must send me some money as fast as you can, for I have lent my last to my dear W., and he has yet to win it back, though he is sure to do so, at the party at Sir Francis G.'s in a few days. I could buy you one of the new bonnets to go with your yellow gown if you did, Kitty. Colonel Forster has rented a box at the Theatre Royal, and we are all to go and see a new play there. Lord! I forget the name of it, but W. says that it is most droll, and that I will enjoy it, when he explains it to me. Denny will not be bringing Miss Creedy because her father will not allow her to see such things. I am compelled to feel sorry for her, no wonder she is so dull!
And Kitty, I am to have an adventure! I am not to tell you yet, for it is to be such a surprise! You will laugh, and so will Mama, because it will be so exactly what she has always wished for me! Mary will be jealous, and so will Lizzy and Jane! And you may guess who will share the fun- I shall think you very stupid if you cannot! I am to be the happiest woman in the whole world! You will know all in a few days. But send the money quickly, wrapped up in a handkerchief, so that no-one guesses any thing!
And be careful to take it to the post yourself.
Your affectionate sister, Lydia.
Kitty, remembering the difficulty with which she had contrived to walk to the post alone, wondered whether any revelation of the last letter would stop the sounds still coming from the drawing-room. Yes- she would show all to Jane, and then Jane could explain to Mama - no, to tell Papa would be best! But her father's accusing gaze was still before her. She fled to the safety of her bed, and covered her ears.
Finis © 1997 Copyright held by the author.