Posted on: 2009-12-15
It was Just the Two of Us, Miss Bennet and the Frog, walking out beneath the English Night Sky.
"I Told You So, croaked the frog.
"What was that, sir, that you say you told me?"
"That we are the Perfect Pair."
"Oh, indeed," she said with a quirk of her eyebrow, "for you are the Fairest of Them All?
"I have no Regrets, and Resolutions are plentiful enough."
"You take Great Pleasure in the Power of Choice," my small friend.
"And this troubles you?" He raised his large eyes to hers, puzzled. "Between the Night and the Morrow," Miss Bennet, I promise to show you that Stardust resides in those who Take a Chance on Me."
"Good sir, forgive me, but I do not believe that I could live as part of such an Unfashionable Couple, as we would present. I could not be happy as one of those currently popular Mixed Matches.
"Perhaps I possess something that could persuade you?"
"Please, Elizabeth, lean down and let me whisper it in your ear. Just remember, Not Every Gentleman tells the Naked Truth.
"No, I suppose not." Carefully, fearful of a Bodyswap, Elizabeth lowered her ear to offer some Connections to her green companion.
"Closer, my dear," he said, his upper extremities fluttering just like those of the Butterfly she had seen in the garden earlier in the day.
Elizabeth swiveled her head to determine whether they were Seen and Unseen. Deciding that they alone were on the Edge of the Grey Enigma, and with an Endeavour at Civility," she acceded to his request. Her surprise at what she heard caused her to suffer a Most Affecting Ailment."
"Why, sir," she cried, "that you have received a Shocking Inheritance, are a Man of Means, and possess the ability to fulfill a Mother's Favorite Wish" (She turned her head aside, whispering to herself, My mother's favorite wish, that is. ) is not comforting. Alas, while you are not Harold the Horribly Hairy, you are, none-the-less, aligned with the worst Of Mice and Uncles."
A croak of frustration escaped the creature's lips. "I beg you, before you jump in and express An Unforgiving Temper, allow me one quick kiss. Loose Lips will serve the purpose, and you will discover that, in truth, I Am an Officer and an Honest Man.
"That is Too Much Information!" Her agitation apparent, she staunchly added, "I wish nothing from you beyond an Engaging Friendship."
"Perhaps you may consider the Benefits of Retrenching and take up residence for Four Evenings at Netherfield. Miss Martin, Amelia Bennet, Celia, Kitty and Thorn, and my Cousin Harry are all there, at present, Mare's Nest though it is. I fear that the Three Servants currently employed are rather harried by the crowd, but they shall be Excessively Attentive to your needs and to propriety.
So, rather than Burnt Bridges, Miss Bennet experienced a Moving Day of sorts, and wrote it off as The Price of a Good Education."
When she was shown to her room, she felt like she had walked into a place of mystery, a Case of Catastrophe. She busied herself with settling into her chamber and found Songs from the Heartland upon her lips and lines from the story her father had once read to her, Lizzy, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, flitting through her mind.
Was it possible that her host's short friend could turn out to be Mr. Popularity? She, herself, had always been the Girl Who Did Not Know Angst. But this was a Whole New World. If nothing else, it turned out that Colonel Fitzwilliam, a member of the Misogynist Club, was also in residence. If he could put aside his feelings toward women in general, perhaps he could recall for her that Untitled Story Charlotte Lucas had mentioned in her letter about the most recent and, she said she hoped, the Last Adventure her ridiculous husband would subject her to. Charlotte was definitely Paying the Price and really should have taken a Better Course of Action.
Letting out a sigh, Elizabeth hoped that the colonel might also enlighten her about What REALLY Happened at Waterloo. It was a topic she approached with Caprice and Instability; yet, she believed that it might well explain why the End is Where We Start From. She also thought, with Passion and Prudence, to ask questions because They Know Enough Who Know How To Learn, and she wished to be known for never asking, Can there be any other opinion on the subject?
Quickly, she looked about the room and, deciding that there was Nothing to Keep Them … um, her … From Their Appointed Rounds, she left her chamber and headed down to join the others. It was not long before she became lost in the Everingham wing of the great house. Finding Sir Walter and the Leprechaun strolling about the hallways for a bit of exercise, she begged his indulgence to direct her. He mumbled something, and it was not long until she discovered that another section of the building was referred to as Austen Place and, despite the fact that it was Another Day in May, there hung above the doorway Mistletoe in Austen Place. Thinking it a bit odd, she hurried in another direction, relieved that she hadn't allowed the friendly frog to talk her into staying, unbearably, for the Twelve Days of Persuasion. A shudder ran through her at the thought. No, she only need stay the promised four.
The next thing she knew, The Musgroves had joined the party, and Mary ran up to her in raptures. "Come, come, you must join in a game of Sardines and Diaries!" Elizabeth did not mind the Sardine part, but everyone knew that the Caroline Bingley Diaries left Nothing Wanting. She took a turn about the room and discovered her froggy friend standing in a corner and leaning over a massive tome he could not endeavor to hold, L'Histoire de la Rose Blanche, . To his right stood The Dairy Maid's Daughters, acting in their capacity as serving girls. Continuing around the room, she heard Kitty, the Fourth Sister in her family, and Thorn engaged in An A-muse-ing Dispute with the colonel over the Tale of Uncle Jackrabbit. Part by Part they dissected the story in order to analyze it.
A little laugh escaped Elizabeth's lips as the heated discussion moved on to Georgiana's Tale. It seemed that the girl had a number of Untimely Regrets over some of her youthful actions. It was a wonder that she had not suffered an Estrangement from her brother over the situation, but Elizabeth understood well that When Tragedy Strikes, the Family Circle tends to pull together. Eavesdropping on the conversation, it was not long before Elizabeth felt certain that Healing Hands in all Variations would result in No More Tears for the Cousin of Colonel Fitzwilliam.
Mary and Louisa Musgrove spoke animatedly, and loudly, of Babies and Bodies, to the chagrin of the gentlemen in the room. Those men looked as if they were ready to undertake Duels of Every Sort, rather than endure another moment, especially as the ladies moved on to discuss the Nanny's Story.
Thankfully, Bingley's butler announced the readiness of the meal, and they adjourned to the dining room. There, Bingley chuckled as he retold the story of Mrs. Bennet's reaction when she had heard that Netherfield Park is Let at Last. The gentleman's discussion moved on from that to the One Day in May when a friend of his discovered the results of her matchmaking skills. "Emma Experiments, With the Greatest of Expectations" scoffed Charles Musgrove in reply, "but the results are more like Take Two or Pride and Prejudice Meets Shrek. Bah!"
Biting into their Fudge cake, they all laughed heartily over that, except for the frog. His mind was otherwise engaged with Dreams Such As These, his head spinning like the Ferris Wheel, that had not yet been invented. He wished to be returned to his original form as Fitzwilliam Ebenezer Darcy. Then, perhaps, he'd be able to make up for Darcy's Rash Proposal last spring, in Kent. As he had left the parsonage that day, after being set down by his beloved Elizabeth, he had suddenly felt dizzy, like he had fallen into Darcy's Adventures Through the Looking Glass. The odd sensation caused him to swoon like a Regency Lady in New York City. When he had regained consciousness, his body had taken the odd form of a common pond frog.
His musings were interrupted when Caroline Bingley, tired of all the low conversation, bustled to the pianoforte to perform an Ode to Mr. Darcy. Being forced to hear it was much like being compelled to listen as Mary Bennet Reflects on Christmas. It was all he could do to offer her a compliment on her playing. This Piece of Civility made him wish for his cousin, Anne and the Gun. It was, at that moment, that the frog determined to depart. He needed some time to work through both the Love and Prejudice he held in regards to Miss Elizabeth Benent and his present physical dilemma. At his First Glimpse of Miss Bennet at the Assembly, he had instantly understood that there would be Changes in Families, his and hers. Reluctantly withdrawing from his reverie, he shook those thoughts from his head and excused himself to go to bed. While He Was Sleeping, his mind counseled, over and over: Darcy Changes Tactics, Darcy Changes Tactics, Darcy Changes Tactics. When he awoke, he realized, I am Better for Loving You," my dearest, loveliest Elizabeth. He would face All That This Entails in order to win her and, Live and Let Die, revert to his human form.
And, so, the next morning, Darcy, Upon Leaving Netherfield, promised to return from his trip to see Kinghorn of the Castle and Autumn Raye. It was not long, merely several months, before he managed to work through the Little Particulars of Circumstance and return to his All Too Handsome former appearance. Now that he looked himself, he would depart for Hertfordshire and make Elizabeth an Honourable Offer of marriage. He felt invigorated, as if he had come across A Lost Discovery combined with solving the Mystery of Colby Green, all in one fell swoop. An awareness of having bested both his Pride and Education came upon him and, as he settled back into the plush squabs in his carriage, a contented smile settled upon his features.
In a Perfect World, A More Amiable Woman, such as Elizabeth, might jump at the chance to marry a man of his stature. However, she more resembled Princesses, Peas, and Other Imponderables, and he could not take anything for granted. So, he repeatedly practiced what he would say to her. Quickly, he dropped the phrase "you are much like Somebody's Natural Daughter, instantly realizing that her response would not make for any Pleasant Days. Instead, he thought to speak of Jane and his distress over having separated her from Bingley, the love of her life. He had, of course, rectified that situation, but felt that it could do no harm to emulate his younger friend and behave like one should at the time of year when Sir Walter Sends a Valentine.
That settled, he turned his attention to reading the latest edition of The Hamilton Documents: Pemberley which covered the history of his grand estate in some detail. The trip passed slowly, but upon his arrival at Netherfield, he quickly set things in motion. More than an hour had not passed before he arrived upon Longbourn's threshold.
He quickly sought out the love of his life; and, despite the fact that the calendar now read December, he requested a brief and private moment of her time. She, surprised, acquiesced. He led her to the walled garden and, seeing her settled upon the pretty sort of little bench, grasped her hand within his own and fell to his knee.
"Miss Elizabeth," he gazed adoringly into her eyes, "You Were the First Mile I travelled to reach this place of happiness where you now find me." Well begun, but suddenly at a loss for how to continue, he turned his head and cursed, "Pride, Prejudice, and Prussians, why must this be so hard?" It did not, however, take him long to recover his confidence and proceed, beautifully so.
Elizabeth, heartily astonished at such an Unexpected Conversation, considered his offer for only the briefest of moments before accepting.
Quickly, before she could change her mind, he reached into his pocket and withdrew a small box. Within the velvet lining sat the Pendant his mother had worn All the Days of Her Life. "This shall be a token of our love and esteem. It holds special meaning to me because I never saw my mother without it. I wish you to enjoy it as well."
She blushed and then allowed him to place it about her neck. The feel of his fingers grazing her cheek as he did so electrified her, and when he pulled back to assess the jewel, she did not refuse the brief brush of his lips across her own.
Darcy swiftly returned her to the house and made his way to speak with her father. The men agreed that Elizabeth and Darcy should marry by special license at Longbourn on December 24. Mrs. Bennet's Thoughts Upon Hearing of Elizabeth's Engagement to Darcy were broadcast far and wide, embarrassing the eager couple amongst all of their acquaintance.
The weeks until the nuptials passed too quickly for some and too slowly for others. (Darcy, if he had had his way, would have abducted Elizabeth and Gone to Scotland, with, he believed, little protest from his lady, but the Content of Their Characters would not allow such a thing.) All assembled that blessed day enjoyed the vision of two happy young people joining their lives together. That night, Mr. Bennet made a Father's Resolution to release his beloved child to her new husband, and that resulted in Tears on Christmas Eve, just as one jolly, cheery soul, placing a finger to the side of his nose as he nodded in farewell, slipped away from the celebration and began the Midnight Ride of Santa Dear.
Darcy announced that it was past time for him and his bride to return to Netherfield for the night. Nodding, Mr. Bennet could be heard sending them off with the words, "I'm sure it won't be long until An Heir is Born."
Darcy chose to ignore his father-in-law's comment, for he intended to ensure that very outcome.
As the coach pulled away, and the clock struck midnight, the master of Longbourn recited the 2008 Christmas Poem, a tradition long practiced in his family, though he knew not why nor what it meant. Perhaps he required some ESL classes to help him figure it out, though he had little insight into exactly what they were.
The trip to Netherfield passed quickly for the newlyweds, with the couple involved in formerly prohibited pursuits. Upon arrival, they quickly removed to their separate chambers to prepare for the night ahead. Darcy waited the agreed upon time before knocking on his new wife's bedroom door. "May I come in, dearest?"
A small, shaky voice bid him enter. Without delay, he moved to engulf her within his arms. "Come, Mrs. Darcy, and let me show you just how much I love and adore you." Without resistance, she followed him to the bed, where he assisted her in settling herself. "We shall remember this night, always."
She nodded shyly, but joined in boldly when he kissed her. What happened next occurred in the dark with the scent of Lilacs wafting about the room. When all was said and done, Darcy leaned in for one last kiss and said, with a lilt of pleasure and ease in his voice, "Goodnight, Elizabeth, my own."
And now comes to an end this Project Pride and Prejudice. May sugar plums dance in your heads and, to quote Tiny Tim, may G-d bless us, every one.