Mr. Darcy hopes Christmastime will help him to forget the pair of fine eyes that he left behind in Hertfordshire. When Elizabeth Bennet appears unexpectedly in London, Darcy decides to keep his distance, resolved to withstand his attraction to her. But when he learns that Wickham is threatening to propose to Elizabeth, Darcy faces a crisis.
For her part, Elizabeth does not understand why the unpleasant master of Pemberley insists on dancing with her at the Christmas ball or how his eyes happen to seek her out so often. She enjoys Mr. Wickham’s company and is flattered when he makes her an offer of marriage. On the other hand, Mr. Darcy’s proposal is unexpected and unwelcome. But the more Elizabeth learns of Mr. Darcy, the more confused she becomes—as she prepares to make the most momentous decision of her life.
It’s a Yuletide season of love and passion as your favorite characters enjoy Christmas at Darcy House!
Today we think of the Christmas season as a time to share with family and enjoy seasonal traditions. Although during the Regency era they did celebrate with family, they also saw the Christmas season (which lasted most of the month of December and into January) as a time for visiting friends, socializing, and attending balls and parties. While we certainly enjoy Christmas visitors and parties today, they were a far more central part of the Regency celebration of the holiday. In one of her letters, Jane Austen even complains about how tired she is from having fed and entertained guests during the holiday season.
All of this visiting and partying also meant that Christmastime was also known at a time for courtships and marriages. Traditions like kissing under the mistletoe and games that partnered random men and women further encouraged courtship opportunities. In fact, Jane Austen’s one documented romantic liaison occurred during the Christmas season of 1795 when Tom LeFroy, a law student in London, came to visit relatives near the Steventon Rectory where Austen lived. Their mutual attraction was noted by both families, and Austen wrote to her sister Cassandra of her feelings for LeFroy. However, LeFroy was supported by his relatives who did not want him to marry the penniless daughter of a clergyman. LeFroy was sent away from Steventon, and they never met again.
Fortunately, the Christmastime courtship during Christmas at Darcy House has a much happier ending!
Mr. Darcy offered his arm, and they climbed the steps to the French doors that opened onto the terrace. At the first blast of cold air, Elizabeth was reminded that it was indeed December. But she had grown overheated from the dancing, and the fresh air was rather appealing after the ballroom’s stuffiness. Then she perused the garden, and the temperature was forgotten. “It is snowing!” she exclaimed.
Mr. Darcy squinted into the darkness. “So it is.”
Elizabeth hurried to the edge of the terrace, leaning against the balustrade to better view the Marlowes’ extensive garden. Naturally, nothing was in bloom at that time of year, but the bare tree branches and ornamental bushes were decorated with a delicate covering of new snow. Torches had been placed at intervals along the garden paths, providing a gentle golden illumination.
“How enchanting!” Elizabeth sighed. “A fresh layer of snow can make anything lovelier. Do you not think so?”
Mr. Darcy regarded her with a most peculiar expression on his face; his lips were slightly parted and his eyes wide. He appeared, for all the world, as if he gazed upon a most wondrous and unusual sight. But he was staring at Elizabeth, not the snow.
“Is the snow not beautiful?” she prompted again.
“Oh yes, yes!” His eyes shifted toward the snow-covered garden below them. “Yes, it is quite pretty.”
“Pretty” was a completely inadequate word to describe such a sight, but Elizabeth was not of a mind to quarrel with him. She turned her gaze back to the garden and the snowflakes illuminated in the torches’ glow. Fortunately, the terrace was protected from the elements by a roof of sorts, and she was only struck by an occasional wayward snowflake. “I wish I could have a painting of such a scene!” she exclaimed. “It is altogether charming.”
“Indeed,” he breathed. The wonder on his face would have been more appropriate if he had never before seen such a sight. “Do you know, Miss Bennet, I do not believe I fully appreciated the beauty of snow before this moment.”
At least he was finally gazing at the snow. Why was the man so vexing? Most of the time he seemed so distant, but occasionally he would demonstrate how he was not only attending to what Elizabeth said but also taking it to heart. And it was most frustrating. It complicated her propensity to dislike the man and caused her to rethink her opinion of him. As she grew better acquainted with him, the more he puzzled her.
Only when Elizabeth felt a chill did she recall why they were outside: Mr. Darcy had professed a desire to say something to her. What could it be? Customarily there was only one reason a single man would ask to speak privately with a single woman. Her momentary panic was quickly quelled. Mr. Darcy would no more think of marrying Elizabeth than he would consider marrying his cook.
Now she was quite curious about the topic of his desired conversation. And quite cold. “Mr. Darcy, you wished to speak with me about something?” she prompted, wrapping her arms around herself.
He started as if in a reverie and slowly focused his eyes on her. “Yes. Yes, I did. I…” His voice trailed off as his eyes fixed on her…lips? What an odd man.
Still, Elizabeth could not help noticing that he cut a fine figure in his well-tailored coat. And a wayward dark curl over his forehead gave him a completely undeserved rakish appearance. I could brush it away from his forehead. How would it feel beneath my fingers? Merciful heavens! How could she entertain such thoughts about Mr. Darcy of all people? Her eyes sought the safer sight of the garden.
“You—” Mr. Darcy cleared his throat and started again. “Your family enjoys some intimacy with Mr. Wickham, I believe.”
Elizabeth would not have phrased it so. “I suppose.”
“And you…?” Was he asking about the nature of her relationship with Mr. Wickham? The thought made Elizabeth bristle; she did not respond.
His hand, gripping the balustrade, shook noticeably. Why? The other hand ran through his hair, disordering his careful coiffure into a mass of curls. With eyes still fixed on the snow-coated garden, he shook his head sharply as if arguing with himself. “It will not do. I must tell you all,” he muttered.
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Thank you so much to Victoria for visiting us with a giveaway and Merry Christmas to you all!