Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Wickham Is Besotted...Don Jacobson

Mr. Wickham, during an interview by a reporter from The Times, opens up much more than I would have expected. I was pleasantly surprised by his frankness and his admissions. 

This character interview of Lieutenant George Percival Wickham has been composed in the form of a short vignette which, if it had been included in The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn, would have fallen within Chapter XXXIV of the book. © 2018 by Don Jacobson. Publication or other use of this work without the expressed written consent of the creator is prohibited. Published in the United States of America.

This is a re-post from Barbara Tiller Cole's blog, Darcyholic Diversions. Barbara was unable to post on her original date, February 24th, and it seems most people missed the later date, February 25th, as it was not on the schedule. Due to the subject and information revealed, this interview deserves a second chance at being seen. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and get to know the new and improved George Wickham. :)


This character interview of Lieutenant George Percival Wickham has been composed in the form of a short vignette which, if it had been included in The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn, would have fallen within Chapter XXXIV of the book. © 2018 by Don Jacobson. Publication or other use of this work without the expressed written consent of the creator is prohibited. Published in the United States of America.

March 24, 1815,
A café in Hietzinger Hauptstraße opposite Schöbrunn Palace, Vienna
The man stepped from the street into the café. His black suit, if one looked closely, betrayed considerable wear with fraying threads drooping from the cuffs of the jacket’s sleeves and his pant legs. Shiny spots and knees and elbows likewise suggested that his chosen trade paid little and irregularly at that. His deep-set eyes scanned the tables distributed around the cheerily decorated room, candlelit now even though the first day of spring had heralded longer days. Finding his desired target, he doffed his hat, ran his fingers through unkempt brown hair, and wove between guests and furniture toward a lone British officer seated by a window looking out onto the boulevard.
While the city was full of officers of all stripes given the Great Congress, this man, handsome to be sure, was one of the lowliest but, in his own way, one of the most important—at least to a reporter for The Times.  He was only a lieutenant in a city where colonels were often used to fill gaps on the lower end of countesses’ tables. However, his regimental facings were easily identified as being of the 33rd Infantry, Wellington’s Own. That and the silver cords of an aide de camp looping down from his left epaulet made him the object of the journalist’s desire.
Reaching his destination, the fellow unceremoniously dropped into the vacant chair opposite the lieutenant. Barely acknowledged by his quarry, the reporter dug into a pocket under his left lapel. Successfully removing a well-folded and somewhat grubby newspaper he dropped the publication next to the officer’s cup of chocolate. Using an ink-stained finger, he stabbed at a column-length article under a screaming header.
Without ceremony he addressed the Lieutenant, “What you gave me a few weeks ago was pure gold, Wickham. My editor is beside himself wondering what comes next. And if John Stoddart[i] is asking, that means that everybody from the Prince Regent to the charwoman at Carlton House wants to know.
“And that means, I need to know what the Duke plans to do now that the Emperor is back in Paris.”
George Wickham grinned back at the earnest newshound. Brigadier Fitzwilliam, his master, already had given him his remit: he was to feed Tomlinson exactly what the Duke was planning to do.
As his old playmate had put it, “Well, George, his Grace wants that bloody man to come to him. Rather than leave him to wonder, we will let him know exactly where to find us.
“So, tell the Times that the Coalition will defend the path to Antwerp somewhere outside of Brussels. We will feed his spies the same information, thus confirming one with the other. With luck, Napoleon will have to prove his claim to the throne by showing his followers that he can defeat our best and avenge Leipzig and Toulouse. That means he will want to take on Wellington.
“But he still has to raise his force and arm his men. So do we. That should take the better part of two months, time enough for us to scarper from Vienna up to Brussels with stops along the way to get our Allies committed to sending their troops to the Low Countries. Nothing should happen until sometime in early June.”
In several curt sentences delivered in low tones to convey the seriousness of the information, Wickham passed on the general outlines of Wellington’s plans. Tomlinson had fished out a pencil stub and took notes at a furious pace. In a few minutes, all was as the Duke wished it to be. Wickham signaled a waiter who bowed over the table before scuttling off with Tomlinson’s order.
While he had fulfilled his commission, Wickham still had something else he wanted to cover with the scribe. However, he did not know how to begin.
Tomlinson sensed his hesitation and employed his own interrogator’s skill.
“How long have we known one-another, Wickham? Four, five years? Certainly since before your marriage. When was that? The year ’11? So, at least five years. You crossed my path when you were still one of the ‘leading lights’ of the demimonde.
“But, since then, I have heard just that little tidbit about you and some elderly French Countess. After that, nothing,” Tomlinson quizzed.
Wickham sighed and leaned back into his seat. He tipped his head to the side and regarded the reporter much as a bull mastiff would consider a puppy intent upon disturbing his afternoon nap in the sun; he wondered how much energy he would expend explaining himself. Eventually he chose to offer some meat to cover the bones knowing that Tomlinson would be more inclined to fulfill Wickham’s request if he understood what rested behind it.
In the same low tone he had used before, thus, he hoped, placing the information on par with his earlier tip, Wickham related his thoughts, “I am not the man you first met. On the contrary, that young lady who married me has become quite dear. That tittle-tattle your gossipmonger printed back in December ’11 could have sorely hurt Mrs. Wickham’s trusting heart.
“You know she is nearly three-and-ten years my junior. I will own that my motives for marrying her were less than honorable, but shortly after we were wed, I began to reconsider the path down which the currents of life had been carrying me. I began to find that I wanted to comport myself in a manner that would give credit to my name and raise myself in her eyes.”
Tomlinson interjected, “So, poor fool that you are, you fell in love with your wife?”
Wickham chuckled, a relaxed smile easing his features, and replied, “There you have it. George Wickham, dissolute rake and gambler, had his locks shorn by a Delilah from Hertfordshire. Yes, I will own up to it; I have discovered that I love my wife. She has made me a better man, although, the Good Lord knows that anyone could have made me better given the state of my soul at the time.
“But, Mrs. Wickham made me think. And, then she captured me lock, stock, and barrel one chilly January eve early in ’12. After that, I really changed my ways.”
So saying, he raised his cup of chocolate in silent salute to a woman who waited for his return at her old family home, although she was in mourning for her father’s recent passing. They had rarely been together since the Second Battalion had posted to Portugal in the spring of 1812. Lieutenants were not colonels or majors. Unlike in the past years, leave had not been granted often to any officers as Wellesley pursued the French from Iberia across the Pyrrenes and into the Midi. However, there was a lively correspondence between himself and Lydia, augmented by another stream between his color sergeant, Henry Wilson, and his wife, the former Laura Jenkinson. Wickham read his letters from Lydia to an attentive Wilson while the blonde giant related his from Laura. Between the two of them, they managed to patch together a fairly clear picture of the goings-on in Meryton.
Then he continued, “I have truly come to treasure my wife. But, I am worried about what the future will bring. There are no guarantees in my business. The fight we are going into will be desperate indeed…and the infantry will take the worst of it. A voltagieur could easily place a ball between wind and water (his hand touched first his shoulder and then dropped to his stomach) and put paid to old George. Rather not think about what a 32 pounder from the Beast’s le Brutal would do to me.
“I have made sure she will be provided for. I’ve invested in a closed trust set up by some of those clever men from the City. But, money is not the sort of legacy I want to leave. I wasted too many years chasing gold. I have something else much more important to my posterity.
“No, t’is nothing anyone else would care about. But, I think Lydie would find comfort that her husband had grown to be more akin to her other brothers who are serious, thoughtful, and upright men.”
He reached underneath the table and pulled out a leather valise, its straps securely buckled. The thump it made when he dropped it to the table was noticeable, giving testament to the weight of what was contained inside.
Wickham added, “This is my journal. I have been writing in it since December of ’11. I am going to presume that you will read it, however, I beg of you to give me your word of honor that you will not publish a word of it, and that you will deliver it only to me if I survive or my wife if I do not. If the latter, make whatever arrangements with Mrs. Wickham you will.
“I would, however, remind you that those brothers I mentioned are Fitzwilliam Darcy and Charles Bingley. Her uncle is Edward Gardiner. Between the three of them, they could buy your great newspaper and use every copy they print to wrap fish from Wapping to the mouth of the Estuary.”
Having said his piece, he pushed the case across the table into Tomlinson’s waiting hands. The Lieutenant stood and shook hands with his messenger. He then shook the other’s hand, gave him a quick nod, and, wrapping his cloak around him against the Austrian chill, swiftly strode out the door into history.
The Bennet Wardrobe books are best read in the following order:

The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey
Henry Fitzwilliam’s War
The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque
Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess
The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn 

[i] Editor of The Times of London from 1812 to 1816

Contact Info:

Buy Links:  Paperback & Kindle

Blog Tour Schedule:

Feb. 14 Austenesque Reviews;  Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
Feb. 15 My Jane Austen Book Club;  Guest Post, GA
Feb. 17 My Love for Jane Austen; Character Interview, GA
Feb. 19 So little time…  Excerpt, GA
Feb. 20 Interests of a Jane Austen Girl;  Review, GA
Feb. 21 Babblings of a Bookworm; Guest Post, GA
Feb. 23 More Agreeably Engaged; Review, Excerpt, GA
Feb. 25 Darcyholic Diversions;  Character Interview, GA
Feb. 26 From Pemberley to Milton;  Excerpt
Feb. 27 More Agreeably Engaged; Character Interview, GA
Feb. 28 Just Jane 1813;  Review, GA
Mar. 2  Diary of an Eccentric;  Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
Mar. 3  My Vices and Weaknesses; Author Interview, GA
Mar. 5  Laughing With Lizzie; Guest Post, GA


What do you think of Wickham now? I like how Mr. Jacobson has revealed this new side of him. How about you? I would love to have your share in the conversation so please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

If you have not read my review of The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn, and would like to, click here. It is toward the bottom of the post. Thanks for stopping by.

If you want to enter for a chance to win one of ten eBooks or one of two Paperbacks, use the Rafflecopter below. By re-posting the Wickham interview, you get more chances to win! :) 
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. This is my first time reading this author’s work. It is well written and interests me enough to check out his others. I suppose if Elizabeth and Darcy can show such growth as they do in Austen’s original, Wickham can in this extension. That leaves the question in my mind about who the antagonist is in this book.

    1. Hi Anonymous. I'm glad you stopped and shared your thoughts. I hope you will check out all the books in this series. It is a brilliant series. Good question about the antagonist!

  2. Hi...The book on tour right now is the third novel in a series of six. There are also some intervening novellas. See other posts and reviews which offer more detail. You can also check out my blog on Goodreads which may offer more detail.

  3. I never imagined I would ever come across a story where George Wickham loved his wife. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Me either, Michele, but Don handles it wonderfully well.

  4. Ah...DB...wait until you read "The Countess Visits Longbourn!"

  5. Replies
    1. There is a redemption. Recall the Ballad of Wickham's Stand in THE KEEPER. Love will help him find a way.

    2. You need to read it, Mary! It is great! Good luck in the giveaway.

  6. I still have my doubts about Wickham's character. There would take much convincing me that he has been redeemed.

    1. Ooh, I hope you get the chance to be convinced! I never thought I could be convinced but I am! :)

  7. T'is a question of a force more powerful than his psycholoigical problems. His inner guide helps him understand...and love allows him to find a different way!

  8. Oh Don, I do love this vignette and works beautifully into the story. I will have to print it out and insert into the book! Thank you!

    1. I loved it too, Carole. It was neat. Good idea. I believe I will print it out too.

  9. A redeemed Wickham? Hmm... is it too good to be true?

    1. Even though he was not a Bennet, the Wardrobe may have reached out, in its way, to use his improvement to set the universe in the right direction for its purposes.