Darcy's Disaster-A Comedy
Not many years after Darcy's marriage, his lady planned a family Christmas party at Pemberley, with her husband's full blessing. Elizabeth Darcy, feeling a bit of playful holiday spirit, invited the Bennets, the Bingleys (including Miss Bingley and the Hursts), the Gardiners, Mrs. George Wickham (her husband was enjoying himself in Bath), Colonel Fitzwilliam, and even Lady Catherine de Bourgh and her daughter, Anne.
Unfortunately, the day before all were to arrive at Pemberley, Darcy came down with a severe head cold. Unwell as he was feeling, he could not bear the idea of leaving Elizabeth and his sister, Georgiana, to do the honors of the house alone. Increasing his anxieties was the fact that his aunt, Lady Catherine, had arrived early to ensure that Pemberley's mistress knew her station and had provided properly for her guests and wouldn't embarrass Darcy. Darcy sympathized with Elizabeth and didn't want her to bear the burden Lady Catherine by herself, so he exerted himself in spite of his indispositions.
Lady Catherine, in spite of her solicitude for her nephew, would not hear of the former Miss Eliza Bennet doing the honors of Pemberley without him. "No, no, Fitzwilliam, this will not do," and saying so, she promptly rang the bell and sent for the physician.
When the physician, Dr. Wilmot, arrived the next morning, Lady Catherine was astonished. "My word, you are rather young! I suppose you are not quite thirty!"
"Indeed," Dr. Wilmot replied smiling, "I am eight-and-twenty. Your Ladyship must be wondering how I came to be in my current position at my young age. Well, let me show you." At this point, the young man reached into his bag, pulled out a bottle, and puffed his chest out proudly. "I call this my fix-all-solution. I was famous for it in London."
Mrs. Darcy looked alarmed. "Sir, pardon my impertinence, but what is in it?"
Dr. Wilmot smirked. "Mrs. Darcy, I am not in my position because I have poisoned anyone. Rest assured, that with use of this worthy medicine, Mr. Darcy will be feeling vastly better in no time at all."
Lady Catherine frowned. "Well, it can't be soon enough. He has a party arriving this very evening. Go on, Fitzwilliam, take it."
Darcy and Elizabeth exchanged anxious looks, but the former finally gave into his aunt's wishes and drank a large tumbler full. When the physician left, Elizabeth went down to check on the arrangements, and Lady Catherine went with her. Soon after, the guests arrived, and after not many hours, the dinner bell was rung. All were anxious for refreshment, and were only being delayed by the arrival of Darcy.
"Lord, Lizzy, can't we start without him?" complained Mrs. George Wickham. Elizabeth exchanged looks with her aunt, Mrs. Gardiner, and ignored Lydia. Shortly, the door opened and Mr. Darcy appeared in his shooting outfit. The party was torn between confusion and astonishment.
"Cousin, did you not hear the dinner bell? Have you not had time to change?" queried the amused Colonel Fitzwilliam.
"I see no difficulty in eating like this, after all, did I not slaughter the fowl myself? By the way, Bingley, I must ask, have you killed ALL of Mr. Bennet's covies yet, since Mrs. Bennet does not wish me to do it?" As he concluded his speech, he walked past the head of the table, past the chair that was his, and instead seating himself on the sideboard. All were astonished.
"Lizzy, he is not himself, I fear he is ill," murmured Jane.
Mr. Bennet frowned. "I would not have thought Mr. Darcy partook excessively of spirits. However," he said, his countenance brightening, "I am sure I like him as much as Wickham now!"
Darcy suddenly jumped up and went into the sitting room. The party had no choice but to follow, since all were too shocked to make any decisions. Darcy sat down at Georgiana's piano and began to bang at it and sing "Greensleeves" in a most dissonant manner.
"You know, Lady Catherine, Henry the Eighth wrote that," he said, while leaning over to pull off a bead on Mrs. Hurst's dress that he found offensive.
"I was aware of that, Fitzwilliam. Hadn't you better retire now? I fear your cold is making you delirious," said the great lady, looking most displeased.
"Yes, not now, I'm not done talking. I am feeling most festive. Miss Bingley, did you know that Henry the Eighth also had to have his codpieces specially made, because..." but Darcy could not finish, because his wife quickly interrupted.
"IT SEEMS we have forgotten about dinner!", and taking an offended Miss Bingley and shocked Charles Bingley by the arms, she ushered them in the dining room, leaving the others to follow. Surprisingly, Darcy also quietly followed and sat down in his accustomed chair. Lady Catherine ordered him to drink another tumbler of medicine while they waited for the soup to be ladeled. Mrs. Bennet sniffed at hers.
"Lizzy, I am sure my soup is much better than this, I would speak to your cook immediately." Darcy rose, and stalked over to where Mrs. Bennet was shaking in her chair.
"Mrs. Bennet, I would beg that you would gratify my wife by making the soup disappear as quickly as possible. Allow me," and taking the bowl, he turned it over her head. Mrs. Bennet shrieked, Lizzy jumped up to assist, Mr. Bennet cried for laughing, and Darcy ran outside to chase his hounds and have a heart to heart chat with the Bingleys' coachman. After a time, the spills were cleaned, Elizabeth soothed feelings and attended to Mr. Darcy after Reynolds finally found him rearranging the dishes in the china cabinet. When he was safe in his bed sleeping and attended by his valet, Lizzy found a moment to come down and sing a duet with Georgiana to try to distract everyone. In the meantime, the Colonel went into the dining room and came out with Darcy's tumbler.
"What kind of a grand physician gives his patient whiskey? Fitzwilliam does not take whiskey!"
Bingley replied, "I do not know of anyone who can take many tumblers full!"
The mystery being solved, let it suffice to say that Mr. Darcy's mortifications on Christmas morning were great, and after ministering to his headache and issuing many apologies, all of which were affectionately accepted, he merely wondered to himself that his hounds were lazy creatures that would not budge from their kennel for their dinner, and joined his family for a Merry Christmas.
© 2001 Copyright held by author