Currently writing a short story from the perspective of Mr. Wickham from Jane Austen’s “Pride And Prejudice”, the gimmick being that Wickham, while a cur in his own right, is a victim of Georgiana who happens to be a vampire. There have been lots of “Pride And Prejudice” riffs (including those such as “Death Comes To Pemberley” and even “Pride And Prejudice And Zombies”), but I am in love with Austen’s prose and aspired to write this in the ambition of doing justice to Miss Austen without being overly flowery and maintaining a certain lyricism throughout. It is more of a Gothic Horror story, admittedly, in premise and tone, and I know Miss Austen frowned upon Gothic pretenses, but sometimes you just have to indulge yourself and your inner Poe, or Bronte, even while in honor of Miss Austen. It is a rough draft and not at all wholly realized or revised:
How fairy fair she appears, and yet how like marble her touch— cold, firm, inhuman. A passion burned in me for her embrace, but no such flame stirred that icy blood to flow.
Sometimes I prefer the ebullient prattle and senseless chatter of Lydia to that of the crypt-like silence of Georgiana’s lips as she held me, ensorcelled, in the wicked arbor of her arms, my forehead cold against the still, breathless bosom of that swell wherein her heart resided; a lifeless organ of shrunken meat. The marble statues of Pemberley were warmer to the touch than her porcelain-flecked flesh. From an early age I had come to know that Georgiana was forbidden fruit. Her father, being the loving man that he was, sought to spare himself and my own father the tragedy of my seduction to Miss Darcy. She was dangerous to any man that might fall prey to her devilish wiles. Yet, when her father died, Georgiana assumed full reign of the manor, gleefully emerging from her cloistered isolation. Many servants were lost on the night of her ascendance, nor did her brother intercede. She went from one to the next like a debutante at a ball, and drank herself into Dionysian foolishness. When she had surfeited, she entered my bedchamber and took liberties with me. I will not defend myself with the pretense of disavowing my own complicity. I was quite complicit. Ardently so. Yet, I had not learned of the “midnight culling”, as it came to be known, until many days later. Fitzwilliam had mustered the remaining staff and, with severe admonishments, induced their diligence in the expurgation of all traces of the wretched souls so brutally taken that night.
Yet, I cannot claim complete ignorance. I must confess that I wondered at the metallic taste of Georgiana’s mouth. In my passion, I discounted it as a mere contrivance of my imagination, or perhaps a consequence of her ardent kisses which also bled my own lips. Later I confirmed the suspicion which I dared to deny, and later still regretted that I had not been among those who had been so quickly dispatched.
After our first night together she lay in my arms until just before sunrise, at which time she slipped away into her own bedchamber for her daylight slumber. In time, the doors of Pemberley were closed seemingly forever. The curtains were drawn and it became a place of perpetual shadows. I knew not when the doors opened, for Fitzwilliam plotted, in accordance to his sister’s wishes, that I should remain in her company, locked away with her as she had been locked away, out of love and fear, by her father.
At first, I delighted in indulging her. She drank but rarely, having cloyed herself upon the first night, and so she needed little from me. The first week passed, as things do, and with it her reservoir of plenitude. Then came a night unlike the others, and which would be mirrored in all proceeding nights. She invited me into her embrace, at sundown, and while in the throes of our congress she nearly drained me of my essence. I had no doubt that she regretted it afterwards, screaming for her brother and the servants who, subsequently, carried me away to recover. I lost consciousness and woke later. I knew not how long I was unconscious, for Pemberley was as dark as ever, and I was given bread to eat, fruit, and milk to drink. Gradually I recovered, feeling my strength return to me while attended by Fitzwilliam himself. He repeatedly proclaimed that Georgiana felt appalled about the “incident” and that she promised future restraint . Having been raised alongside Fitzwilliam, I was acutely sensitive to his deceptions, and what he said was a falsity to be sure. I vowed not to return to Georgiana that night, and, indeed, to escape Pemberley as soon as my strength returned. What a facile fool to think it would be so easy!
When I had recovered enough to stand and walk, I took a stroll around the manor, hoping to find a means of egress whereby my freedom might be obtained. Every door, however, was locked by key, and moreover, guarded by a member of the household. I could only imagine that Fitzwilliam had paid them handsomely to assume the additional role of gaoler, particularly after Georgiana’s recent liberties. Then again, I suppose they had always been acting in accordance to such a role insomuch as Georgiana was concerned. And now what concerned Georgiana was myself.
To my great consternation I found myself roaming without hope of escape. And to my greater consternation, I found myself walking, inexorably, toward Georgiana’s bedchamber.
What a strange ensorcellment which had me as its thrall! Compelled by some vague inclination, I opened her bedchamber and walked toward her as she lay, like a Siren in the foam of the sea, among her white sheets. She wore little but her fair hair spilling down her bosom, and invited me wordlessly into her lithe arms. Spenser himself— that foolish poet of virtue so spiteful of libertines and hedonists— would have surrendered to this pallid Acrasia. Her exultations provoked my own, and I lost myself in the frothy sea of our passions.
And yet, at the zenith of our passions, she once again drained me like a lusty Lilith. I remember little after that from my stay at Pemberlely. All is fractured looking glass. A shard depicts Georgiana here, in bestial congress, and a shard here depicts the stygian shades of Pemberley waiting upon me, as they did upon the river Styx, nursing me once again into steady health. I was adrift in my own mind, floating from flotsam to flotsam. Yet, she was the craggy coral island around which the wreckage of my mind endlessly returned. What was she but my Circe? My fair-haired Calypso? I was as Ulysses lost to the world in an eternal night within Pemberley manor, the curtains all drawn and the infrequent candles flickering scornfully at the penumbral decadence they faintly illumined from within that pall.
True! I was not unclean in my heart, having thence arrayed many scandalous affairs in my orbit like a peacock his eyed feathers. I admit I was a blackguard in many ways. Indeed, I had been freely availed of lowborn women while in pursuit of my ecclesiastical education, and even more during my years at Pemberley. Yet, my redoubled promiscuity was rather to spite my primary lust, hoping (in vain, forsooth) that a flock of women might dissuade my lesser nature from the lingering yearning of Georgiana’s diabolic embrace. Her lust had awakened in me a lust unmatched, unmet, and unwanted in most mortal women. What good is a cobblestone road made for slow-paced pack-mules when one’s passions are hammer-hoofed Clydesdales? All of them were most insufficient measures poorly meted out for that needful god, Amor.
Darcy knew what his sister was. His insistence on my residence in Pemberley was not in any kind originating in benevolence, but rather to spare himself the abomination of her temptations. For she lusted regardless of blood, and, of course, for blood.
I am still of a mind that Darcy interfered with my courtship of Miss Elizabeth Bennett due to spite. Personal spite, I should say, and not merely spite on behalf of his sister. He had witnessed how naturally Lizbeth and I acquainted ourselves and endeared our associations. While I was ingratiating myself with Lizbeth, he was often away at Pemberley, seeing to his sister’s needs. I had hoped he would remain away forever. Lizbeth seemed a young girl with the potential of a nymph’s amorous appetite, and I had aspired to provoke that nymph from out of her wild woods, for I am man like any other, and thus given to my own gamesome whims.
Silence was my salvation. To speak of Georgiana to anyone would have been to besmirch my own name and to condemn myself as a lunatic.
There existed in that succubus a contradictory sort of coquettish aloofness and I sensed in her perfection a betraying flaw in and of itself, for in such a tarnished world as our own any delight of such immeasurable exquisiteness must be forged by deceit for some malign purpose. What wise fox never stayed to the forest when a hen was bound in place, seemingly unguarded near the edge of protective shade and treacherous sunlight? The explosion of the blunderbuss was never needed to signal to a vigilant mind its own foolhardiness.
And yet it seems I am nonetheless ensnared, nor can I hope for freedom, however desperate my teeth upon my vulpine leg.
But all the while, and through every fitful night, I dreamt of Georgiana summoning me through the misty vale of sleep, calling unto me and my more bestial nature, the lapses of my character indulging in these somnolent ardors of vision and ecstacy. How, it must be asked, might a man contend his own nature when the compulsions of the Natural world sway season and star alike? How might a man contend his nature when the Supernatural world defies all virtue allotted in that scarcity of virtue known to the Natural world?