Christmas excerpts from “Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One”
The Darcy Saga novels detail roughly five years of Darcy and Elizabeth’s marriage. When writing a saga-type series recounting the day-by-day and month-by-month events of life, it is inevitable to include scenes from several Christmas celebrations. Additionally, my novella A Darcy Christmas is ALL about my favorite holiday. I suppose it is fair to say I’ve devoted a significant number of pages to the Christmas season.
As an adjunct to the topical blogs posting from now until Christmas, I will be sharing short snippets and longer excerpts from today until Christmas. How better to enhance the spirit of Christmas than by joining the Darcys and family?
These passages are from my first novel, the one that started it all, Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One. In this novel, the newly married couple celebrate their first Christmas at Pemberley with a intimate group of guests. The Bennets are content to stay in Hertfordshire with the newly married Charles and Jane Bingley rather than make the long, cold trip to Derbyshire. Instead, the holiday revelers from Lizzy’s family are Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, and from Darcy’s family are Lord and Lady Matlock, Georgiana, and Colonel Fitzwilliam. From the friends category, readers are introduced to two new characters who will become very important in the future: Stephen Lathrop, a longtime friend of Darcy, and his Scottish wife Amelia.
Christmas Eve dawned cold with ominous dark clouds threatening despite having dropped fresh snow in the night. All the guests were slow to rise, preferring to stay snuggled under warm blankets. As there were no particular plans for the morning hours, it mattered not. The Darcys, as host and hostess, strove to attend to their duties and so departed their chambers far earlier than they wished or had grown accustomed to. Darcy held Lizzy’s hand in the crook of his arm as they walked.
Abruptly Darcy stopped, causing Lizzy to collide with him, but prior to her uttering a sound, he propelled her backwards into an empty side corridor.
“What …” she began but he shushed her with a hiss and a finger to her lips.
“The Lathrops,” he whispered, pointing and cautiously sticking his head around the corner. Lizzy peered around his shoulder and stifled a laugh at the sight before her. At the bottom of the stairs, Mr. and Mrs. Lathrop had discovered one of the strategically positioned mistletoe balls and were dutifully obliging the custom.
“What shall we do now?” Lizzy asked her husband with a grin. At roughly the same moment they looked upward and noted that they too were precisely under another mistletoe ornament.
“How many of these baubles did the maids fabricate, anyway?”
“I believe they were considering all the places the footmen frequent,” Lizzy said with a chuckle.
“Whatever the motivation, it is a ritual with historic dictates that we would be severely remiss to not observe.” Darcy stated firmly, capturing his wife’s mouth equally as firmly in an ardent kiss.
It must have been the day for espying lovers beneath mistletoe for Col. Fitzwilliam’s chambers were down this very hallway and, with a chuckle, he ducked back into his room and busied himself until he deemed the corridor was clear.
“Ice skating, Elizabeth? You cannot be serious. Did you not satisfy your itch for outdoor activities earlier today? It is snowing outside!”
“Lightly snowing, William. The small pond is frozen solid, and I never tire of outdoor activities. Besides, I am not an accomplished ice skater, as I am informed you are, so the opportunities are ripe for you to clutch me tightly or perhaps even fall on top of me into a soft snowbank.” She said the last with a mischievous twinkle and he could not stop himself from laughing.
“You are incorrigible, Mrs. Darcy.” They stood in the hallway outside the parlor where their guests were lounging after lunch, except for Mr. Gardiner and Mr. Lathrop. The anglers had apparently lost all sense of time in their pursuit of the elusive fish, so a basket of food had been delivered to them.
She stepped closer to him, fingering the buttons of his coat. “You will arrange this for us, my love, will you not? And join us in our frivolous pastime as my savior if nothing else.” She looked up at him through her lashes.
He smiled, tenderly fingering her chin and cheeks. “My love, I shall likely chastise myself later for confessing this; however, I would doubtless grant you anything within my capacity to give, such is your power over me.”
In short order they were bundled snugly and laced into their skates. Mrs. Gardiner had opted to rest in her chambers, and Mr. Gardiner and Mr. Lathrop were still captivated by the trout pond, leaving Darcy and Col. Fitzwilliam to escort the ladies. Once Darcy relinquished his initial pique, the idea of ice skating actually sounded pleasant. He had not skated in several years and had almost forgotten how enjoyable the experience was. Georgiana had truthfully enlightened Lizzy on her brother’s abilities, which he displayed in a rare example of exhibitionism by effortless gliding onto the ice and rendering a dazzling figure eight with a spin on one foot before grinningly approaching his stunned wife.
“Braggart!” she declared, to which he bowed grandly before taking her hand. He tucked her in close to his side and set a measured pace. Lizzy was not truly as inept as she hinted but had decided to enjoy the deception for now, to the point of already eyeing the snowdrifts along the edge, thus saving the joy of seeing her husband’s surprise later when she smugly revealed her competence.
The small pond, as it was called, was indeed smaller than the other water bodies of Pemberley; it was roughly forty feet in diameter and shallow, allowing it to freeze quickly and easily. The purpose of the pond, Lizzy had been told by Darcy from the upper windows of the manor when he gave her the “tour” of the grounds, was primarily for winter skating and as a summer home for minnows, frogs and toads, and several species of ducks.
They passed a lovely two hours, twirling and floating, as the snow steadily fell in gentle flakes. Lizzy accidentally fell only once, picking a particularly cushy heap; however, her ploy failed. Darcy merely laughed and offered his hand. Once she was safely on her feet, he bussed her rosy pouting lips and slithered away, leaving her standing there with her mouth open.
“Come along, Mrs. Darcy; catch me up! I am wise to your charade.”
With extreme effort, Darcy had forced himself not to inundate Lizzy with gifts. He knew she retained a residual discomfort regarding his wealth, their wealth in fact, although she was hesitant to regard it so, and he sensitively acknowledged her delicacy. Therefore, he avoided jewelry or furs or anything else overly expensive, opting for personal items. He bought her books he knew she wanted, a stationery set with her new name printed on the letterhead, two gowns, a shawl of exquisite Chinese silk, and a letter seal with ‘E.D.’ entwined amid the Darcy crest. This latter gift brought tears to her eyes. The combination of her initials boldly and permanently displayed with the ancient family symbol touched her, lending a magnified reality to her station and the history involved. Unfortunately the setting was inappropriate for her to thank him as she wished, so she settled for a dazzling smile and fleeting caress to his hand.
For Darcy, Lizzy felt that luck had been on her side. Marguerite had directed her to a bookstore in Matlock and, after she introduced herself to the owner, he had diligently applied himself to obtaining whatever she wished. Then, while strolling randomly down the sidewalk, she had spied the perfect gift in a shop window. The remaining two purchases had been purposefully sought. Thus, Darcy was jubilant to unwrap three books he coveted: Admiral Horatio Nelson’s Letters and Dispatches, Walter Scott’s Tales of My Landlord, and a volume of poems by Thomas Gray.
“Elizabeth, how did you acquire Tales of My Landlord? It was published not a month ago!”
“I charmed Mr. Stevens. Promised him Mr. Darcy of Pemberley would inform all his friends how accommodating he was. Then I fluttered my lashes.”
Darcy laughed. “Well, however you managed it, I do thank you. This is wonderful.”
Lizzy handed him the smaller gifts: a new dressage horse whip and saddle blanket, and a waistcoat of pale blue to match his eyes, strangely enough the one color he did not already own. Her final gift rendered Darcy speechless. It was an eighteen-inch-tall, intricately carved ebony statue of a rearing stallion with a man mounted. The workmanship was unparalleled.
Darcy sat with mouth fallen open. Lord Matlock and Col. Fitzwilliam leapt from their chairs, converging on Darcy and the statue with combined enthusiasm and expressions of awe.
“Unbelievable!” exclaimed the Earl. “Wherever did you find this, Elizabeth?”
Richard was equally amazed and blurted before Lizzy could respond to Lord Matlock’s inquiry, “It is a Ferrier! You found a piece by Lambert Ferrier in Lambton?”
All eyes were on Lizzy, her husband’s breathtaking in the delight and love they showed. She blushed. “Matlock, actually, at that little shop on Second Street …”
“Landry’s establishment?” Richard interrupted in astonishment and Lizzy nodded. “I have never seen anything of this quality in there.” He whistled sharply. “Fortunate day for you, Darcy. Your wife possesses the luck of the Irish to stumble across a Ferrier in Matlock! Now I am truly jealous of you.” He smiled and winked at Lizzy. Lord Matlock was caressing the statue as if were made of gold, and Darcy continued to stare at her, his eyes teary.
Lizzy was flabbergasted by the response. All Landry had said was that it was a collector’s piece. Lizzy knew little of art, so even if he had told her it was a Ferrier, it would have meant nothing. She only recognized fine craftsmanship in a general way and had been struck mostly by the faint resemblance to Parsifal and her husband in the statue.
She smiled at Darcy. “It surely was blind luck, William, I confess. I merely thought you would appreciate the figure as it mirrors Parsifal and you. I may not particularly care for your horse, but he is an elegant and noble creature … as are you,” she finished in a whisper. Darcy was overwhelmed as the entire room faded from his consciousness. He leaned over, taking his wife’s chin in his fingers, and kissed her lightly. He met her eyes and was further lost. Only the abrupt sound of his uncle clearing his throat broke his concentration, and he blushed scarlet as he pulled away from Lizzy’s lips with effort.
“Yes, well, job well done, Elizabeth, well done,” declared the Earl as he resumed his seat, grinning broadly.
I hope everyone enjoyed these tasty bits. For more of their first few months of marriage, click the purchasing links below and grab your copy now!