Posted on Sunday, 24 December 2000
Authors' note: 'Tis the season and Tabbi and I couldn't resist writing a short Belle and Leigh Christmas story. We hope you all enjoy! Merry Christmas! :-D
On the morning of Christmas Eve, the door to the billiard room at Pemberley crashed open, revealing Belle Harmon and Leigh Caulder, formally known as the Ashton sisters. They stomped into the room and stopped just short of the table where their husbands were. The gentlemen looked up at the noise only to find their irate wives staring at them.
"Yes?" Edward Harmon said to the two.
"When are you going to get our Christmas tree?" Belle asked, shaking her finger at him. "You gentlemen promised us a couple of days ago that you would get it!"
"Yeah!" Leigh chimed in. "So are you going to get it or not?"
Ethan Caulder looked at his friend and brother-in-law before saying, "Ummm... Actually Harmon and I were just saying that we do not think it is a good idea to have a tree this year. If Darcy had wanted one, we think he would have gotten it by now and we didn't want to bother him about it with Elizabeth being sick."
Leigh stuck her tongue out at them. "Well fine then!" she exclaimed. "If you won't do it, THEN WE WILL!"
"YEAH!" shrieked Belle, "WE'LL BE THE MANLY MEN! COME ON LEIGH!"
And with that, the ladies turned and ran out of the room.
"Beeeeelllllllllllllleeeeeeee," Leigh whined, "Just pick a tree already! Sheesh!" The ladies had been wandering the countryside for the last three hours, trying to find the perfect tree. Or at least, Belle was. Leigh could have cared less-just as long as it was green, had needles, and wasn't too big. "What was wrong with that last one we passed?" she asked.
"It was too green," Belle replied. And so they wandered on for another quarter of an hour before Belle finally came to a halt. "THIS IS IT!" she yelled excitedly. "THE PERFECT TREE!" It was the perfect tree. Not too tall, not too short, not too fat, not too skinny, not too green... Well you get the idea.
"Finally!" Leigh sighed. "I've got the saw so let's get chopping!"
"Uh, you can't chop with a saw Leigh..."
"Whatever! Just get a move on!"
It took the girls over an hour to cut it down. That period was filled with much cursing, screaming, and swearing as they were poked by needles and received blisters from the saw. Anyhow, they finally got the sucker down and started dragging it back towards Pemberley. What they hadn't anticipated, however, was the rain. The sky had clouded over while they were working on the tree and were suddenly caught in a downpour on the way home.
"Well this is just wonderful!" Leigh growled sarcastically. "If you hadn't taken so long, we wouldn't be out here!" she shrieked at her sister. "Now the tree is gonna be all muddy! ARGH!"
Belle just looked sheepish and said nothing the rest of the way home.
"What on earth is that?" Darcy exclaimed as the two women dragged the tree through the door. He had just come down the stairs to have a quick dinner before joining Elizabeth up in her room again. The gentleman had not left her side ever since she had come down with a slight cold. Belle and Leigh thought it was ridiculous but it was his choice after all.
"Ummmmm..." Leigh peered at the wet, muddy, green lump. "It's a Christmas tree."
Darcy stared at his cousins. "You mean you went out to cut down a tree by yourself?" he asked incredulously.
"In the rain?"
He shook his head and walked away muttering, "I will never, ever understand those two."
Leigh shrugged and turned to her sister. "Well, where should we put it?"
Belle thought for a moment and then said, "How about the drawing room?"
Five minutes later, they had disappeared into the drawing room. Ten minutes later, Mrs. Reynolds walked out into the foyer and let out a shriek when she saw the wide trail of mud on the floor.
"Well how do we stand it up?" Leigh asked Belle. "There ain't no tree stand!"
"Let's call one of the servants in here to do it for us-they'd know how!" Belle replied. Indeed they did know how. Soon the sisters were standing in front of the tree, just staring at it. "Well what do we decorate it with?" Belle wondered.
"Ooooooooooh, I know!" Leigh said. "Give me your petticoat woman!"
Belle stared at her. "What the heck for?"
"Well we need a tree skirt!"
"Use your own then! It was your bright idea!"
"I can't! I have stains all over mine. Come on Belle! It's Christmas!"
"Fine, fine..." Belle grumbled as she took off her petticoat and handed it to Leigh.
Leigh spread it around the base of the tree and then stood back in satisfaction. "It's starting to look Christmassy all ready! Ok, let's raid the house to find what else we can use for decorations."
They rummaged through old boxes in the attic, their husbands' and Darcy's wardrobe, and of course the sewing baskets for anything that might be of use. Several yards of ribbon were cut to pieces and tied onto the boughs in pretty bows. Candles were secured to the tree with lots of string, and a garland was made out of several linen shirts. But the crowning glory was the "angel". It was actually one of Georgiana's old dolls. It was bald from when Georgiana tried styling its hair, paint covered its face, and there was a big brown stain on the front of the dress. In other words, it was perfect. With Leigh's help, Belle was able to climb to the top of the tree and jam a branch through the doll's behind so it would sit up. It was near dark as the ladies finally lit up the candles. They stood back and looked proudly at their creation.
"Wonderful job Belle!"
"Yes, excellent work Leigh!"
The ladies shook hands before running out of the room to inform everyone that the tree was ready for inspection. They were so excited that they managed to make it in the room before everyone else. And that's when it happened...
Belle and Leigh, being their usual stupid selves, began dancing around the tree, shrieking Christmas carols at the top of their lungs. One of them, they never could agree later on whom, brushed against the tree, knocking the garland loose. The linen fell onto a candle and started to smolder.
Belle stopped and sniffed. "What's that smell?" she asked.
Leigh shrugged. "I don't know... It smells like something burning..." She turned slowly and looked at the tree in horror. "THE TREE!" she screamed and Bell screamed also. They went tearing out of the room, heading towards their own. Each grabbed the pitcher of water on their nightstand and a blanket before charging back into the drawing room. Fortunately the tree was still a little soggy and half of it covered in dried mud, so the fire didn't spread far. Belle and Leigh doused the fire with the water and smothered the rest with the blankets. They were still coughing and choking from the smoke when Harmon, Caulder, Darcy, Elizabeth, and Georgiana all ran into the room.
Darcy stared in horror at the tree and then at the big black scorch mark on his wall before fainting dead away.
The others gaped at the monstrosity before them. The tree was now half burnt, and blackened. The other half was still encrusted with mud and the decorations were all soggy and black. And that poor angel atop the tree was now missing an arm and a leg.
Elizabeth took a deep breath and gazed dazedly at Belle and Leigh. "What... Why... What were... you... What is... My God..." she stammered.
The sisters grinned. "MERRY CHRISTMAS!" they shouted.
Authors' note again: We know that Christmas trees can be a serious fire hazard so we'd like to remind everyone to please be careful and have a safe holiday!