Lydia and Wickham returned to London just in time to suffer the coldest winter yet recorded. Thus, when Wickham steals a painting worth twenty pounds and sells it to the wealthy man who controls the docks, claiming it to be a masterpiece, he gets shot in the chest.
Four days later, Lydia learns he’s dead. By the time his body is ready to be buried, the ground has frozen solid, so Lydia only has two choices: Buy a very expensive above ground tomb for her beloved Wickham, or place him in a large and much cheaper tomb where he can remain for many years before his bones are removed to make space for the newly dead.
Lydia decides Wickham would enjoy the company of others and bought him temporary space inside the large tomb.
By the late 18th century the London churchyards were becoming overcrowded and the situation continued to worsen as we moved into the early 19th century. New cemeteries were established as private speculations, generally offering slightly lower charges for burials than the churchyards, but they filled up fast.
Moving out old bodies to make room for new bodies became a standard procedure by the time Wickham is buried in 1817.
Thanks to David’s generosity and the death of Wickham, Lydia Bennet is now a wealthy, independent woman. When Lydia takes residence in the finest house in the West End, her brother-in-law, Darcy, is concerned that she is ‘over her head’.
Despite his concerns, Darcy retrieves his sister, Georgiana, from Pemberley and places her with Lydia. The two young ladies, both recently widowed, form a strong sisterly bond and once their mourning is over, they set out to find love again.
Unfortunately, the man Lydia wishes to marry, David, the Duke of Rochester, is already contracted to marry another. When Lydia discovers this woman plans to murder David and his sons, she rallies her servants and friends, determined to stop murderess at all costs. Will Lydia’s love of David and his boys triumph, or will the “Lady of Death” continue her path of destruction?
It sleeted the day of Wickham’s funeral. The ground was too hard to dig, so Lydia paid to have him interned in a large tomb. He would not be alone, nor would he stay forever. Darcy had explained that the grave keepers would remove the bones of the deceased to make room for the more recent dead far in the future.
Lydia considered paying for a private tomb, but when she learned of the outrageous cost, she concluded Wickham would be much happier in the tomb with company.
Still, she was disturbed by the paucity of mourners. Only she and Eliza wept for her charming Wickham. Darcy had accompanied them to the grave site, but he shed no tears. It upset her that a man so universally liked only five years ago had no friends left to mourn him but his wife and her angry sister. Darcy had placed a small notice in the paper stating the particulars of the funeral, but either people missed it, or Wickham was friendless.
She feared the latter, which made her cry more.
“I will always love you, sweet Wickham. Always!” She then dried her eyes with her finest lace handkerchief and placed it on his chest. A strip of linen covered his face. Darcy had explained it necessary since he had laid four days in the marshland and now two days in the morgue.
She shivered as she stepped back to give Eliza a chance to say goodbye to him as well.
Eliza spoke so softly, she couldn’t hear what her sister had said, but by the furrowed brow of Darcy, he had heard and didn’t like it.
Darcy did not speak to Wickham. He simply placed a half crown upon Lydia’s handkerchief and escorted both ladies back to the carriage. Given the sleet had intensified during the funeral, he held firm to each lady to prevent them from slipping.
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More About the Author
Liza O’Connor’s favorite books are Pride & Prejudice and Douglas Adams’ four book trilogy, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Go figure…
Raised in the southern mid-section of U.S., Liza escaped to the East Coast once out of college. She’s worked as a journalist, a radio DJ, a security guard, a stock broker, a strategist, and a business solutions consultant to name a few of her many occupations. Again…go figure.
She learned to fly planes, jump out of planes, hang-glide, kayak and scuba dive, to name of few of her ‘let’s kill Liza’ sports. However, her favorite activity is to hike with her dog Jess among the shaved mountains of NJ.
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After the death of her husband, she becomes a woman of the town in her own right and sets out to make things better for not only herself but others. However, love continues to elude her...but not for long.
Ms. O'Connor provides the many pitfalls and challenges along the way which allow Lydia to overcome as she searches for her own Happily Ever After. I love that Ms. O'Connor takes a secondary character in literary history and turns her into a viable and enterprising young woman, much as Margaret Atwood does for the women of Shakespeare.
If you are looking for a tale of perseverance and strength of character, The Duchess Lydia is a wonderful story for you. It will make you wish Ms. O'Connor could help other sad secondary and misunderstood women of literature... what's next? Giving humanity to the witches of MacBeth? Let's not tempt her!