Chapter Twenty-Two – Wickham, Alive and on Queer Street Once Again
Wait, Wickham’s back! Sweet, maybe we’ll actually get some hints of plot. I love Wickham. I mean, I hate him, because he’s a bastard, but at least Wickham tends to actually do things outside of screwing everything that moves. He does that as well, of course, but let’s face it, everything is about sex.
Berdoll relates what Wickham was up to during the Pride and Prejudice timeline, but through Wickham’s eyes. This would be interesting, except she already did it five or six times during the previous novel. Not to mention that none of it is very interesting. Berdoll has a truly incredible talent for taking an interesting event, turning it around and presenting it through the rose-tinted glasses of a brand-new character, and not bringing a single new thing to it. It’s almost as if she is incapable of having an original thought (that doesn’t have to do with sex).
Come to think of it, the only thing Berdoll has really contributed is the sex. But I have to say, she does have some creativity in that regard. Who would have thought of writing a sequel to Pride and Prejudice that included Mr. Darcy’s semen dripping down the inside of Elizabeth’s legs while she was dancing?
Anyway. Digressing a bit. Wickham empties a chamber pot. And then he hears a baby start to cry. So he goes over, picks it up tenderly, and starts rocking it.
The doctor stops by and proclaims Lady Catherine’s daughter more unhealthy than ever. Lady Catherine considers for a bit and realizes her daughter isn’t that fertile, and she’s pretty likely to die over the next few years. Clearly, she needs to get married and pop out a couple puppies before that happens.
The surgeon suggests they go to Bath. Healing waters and shit like that. Lady Catherin realizes that Bath is a place where a lot of people go looking for suitable matches. It’s perfect! A scheme hits her to unite the de Bourgh and Darcy fortunes. I have no idea what this scheme is. But apparently she has one.
Lady Anne de Bourgh enjoys romance novels. Also, she really wanted to fuck Darcy. Possibly marry him as well. Then she realized he liked Elizabeth Bennet instead, was sad for a bit, and got over it.
When Darcy wakes up he’s not sure whether he actually had sex with Elizabeth or whether it was all just a really good dream. He puzzles over this for a bit, and finally gets dressed and heads down to dinner. Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner are there. They converse for a couple pages about random things and a pocket-watch makes an appearance, but none of it is all that interesting, just boring filler.
Time passes, and suddenly Darcy happens to glance up at the same time Elizabeth does and they lock eyes and he immediately realizes that the sex was not a dream. Immediately he’s filled with desire and has to restrain himself and carefully eat the rest of dinner. He then flashes back to his time in France when he got himself rather soused and ended up in bed dreaming of fucking Elizabeth. He woke up and found a woman crawling into bed with him, but he immediately realized it wasn’t Elizabeth, even through his drunken daze, and ejected her firmly from his bedroom. Darcy, ladies. Firmly committed to just one woman, even in near-blackout drunk, dreaming he’s having sex with Elizabeth, with a woman who looks just like Elizabeth fondling him.
The Gardiners leave after supper. Darcy banishes the servants with a masterful flick of his head. He and Elizabeth exchange some coquettish dialogue to establish that both of them want each other. Sexually. So he sweeps her off her feet and carries her upstairs and tosses her onto the bed. They’re about to start when they hear a whine from beneath the bed. Darcy opens the door and ushers the dog out, and slams it behind her.
You know, considering Berdoll begins both books by bitching about (great alliteration there, isn’t it?) how Jane Austen leaves her readers with “an unfortunate case of literary coitus interruptus”, she does an awful lot of fading to black herself.
Berdoll tells us what happened in the previous chapter, except from Elizabeth’s point of view. We don’t learn anything new, although the scene progresses slightly past Cressida leaving the room:
She could also sense the lubricant of passion begin to form in the farthest reaches of her nether-regions (page 113).
Then it fades to black. Literally. Elizabeth has Darcy turn off the light because she doesn’t want him to see her naked.
They wake up. They’re happy. They begin to nuzzle and kiss and then Elizabeth realizes she’s stark naked and light is coming through the window and as Darcy begins to kiss his way down her body she realizes that he’s going to see the rest of her body – a fate worse than death. So she tries to stop him and it’s a bit awkward and Darcy is confused and wonders if she doesn’t want to have sex so soon after last night. Finally Elizabeth throws back the bedcovers, exposing her entire body. Darcy is immediately aroused. She realizes that he’s still attracted to her and thinks she’s still beautiful. So they immediately have glorious, sweaty, thumping, bed-shaking sex.
Then, after some more boring conversation, they hear a baby start to cry.
We now flash back to shortly after Lydia received the news of Wickham’s death. Still being a shameless whore, when officers came to pay their respects…well, things would happen. Lydia gets knocked up and she doesn’t even know who the father is.
Jane and Elizabeth both decide that Lydia needs supervision, which at this point seems overkill. Once you’re pregnant, it really doesn’t matter how much you sleep around. But neither Jane nor Elizabeth is willing to even ask their husbands to put up with Lydia. So instead, they ask the Gardiners to look after her. Wow. That’s more than a little selfish.
The Gardiners, being decent people, agree.
Lydia wants Kitty, who’s currently seeing a vicar, to come with her, and Kitty would like to, but Jane and Elizabeth forbid it. So Lydia heads off and is immediately sad and lonely and doesn’t get along well with the Gardiners and doesn’t get a lot of flirty attention, because pregnant widowers don’t get a lot of attention.
Also, Mrs. Bennet, who used to just be annoying and overbearing, has become an outright bitch, and her friends are starting to abandon her.
This would be more interesting, except it was all in the previous book.
We meet a woman named Countess Cesarine Thierry. She’s a courtesan, and even though she lives in Paris and has an accent that makes everyone think she’s from Russia, she was actually born Frances Gapp in London. Where, as a young woman, she met a handsome and dashing young man who introduced himself as Fitzwilliam Darcy. They got along famously and he left her knocked up before absconding. Her father went immediately to Cambridge and demanded recompense, but the provost there informs them that Darcy has spent the last six months in Greece. Yes, the all-knowing narrator informs us, Wickham was using Darcy’s name for some of his exploits. I wonder what sort of crazy hijinks this will lead us to later in the novel? Some more questionable parentage? Elizabeth being outraged at Darcy’s dallying?
Her father sends Frances off to live in a convent, but after awhile she decides to tell the mother superior to fuck off and heads to Paris to spread her legs for money. She does so, and quite well, and quickly becomes reasonably wealthy and a very high-class hooker. We learn that she was actually good friends with Juliette Clisson, which strikes me as just a little too coincidental to be realistic.
Cesarine is a gambler, so by the time she’s in her forties she’s made and lost several fortunes and hasn’t saved a franc. Also, she has consumption. And then one day, Wickham strolls into one of her soirees with a stolen suit and a stolen invitation.