Keeping the Old Calendar
"Do you know why it is called April Fools day?" Darcy asked, twisting his wedding ring about his ring finger, not entirely without nervousness. Elizabeth gave him a searing glance and fixed her eyes back on her book, but he was quite sure she was not reading. He had thought his April Fool's Day joke rather amusing himself, but Mrs. Darcy had not precisely taken to it with aplomb. Now he must redeem himself. Of course, an apology might have worked better than a history lesson, but such revelations are often slow to occur to a man.
"People," he said, "used to celebrate the New Year on April 1st, before the introduction of the Gregorian calendar in 1582." No improvement. Her eyes were still fixed on her book. He cleared his throat and shifted in the arm chair. He looked for a moment out the sitting room window, and then returned his gaze to her. With renewed effort, he said, "The French, as may be expected, were rather stubborn about adapting to the change. They insisted on continuing the celebration of the New Year on April 1st. A rather foolish insistence, and hence the nameč"
"The French are hardly the only fools," she said, interrupting him angrily.
Now, her meaning might have been obvious, but a man who has found himself trapped between the mythical rock and a hard place will cling to any chimera that gives him hope. So he interpreted her interjection as a scholar, not as a spouse. "Oh, indeed," he said. "The English resisted accepting the calendar for many years. In fact, they did not adopt it until 1751."
When he had concluded communicating this factual tidbit, Mrs. Darcy threw her book angrily upon the end table and departed the room with fury.
Mr. Darcy remained a moment longer, toying with the ring about his finger and staring in the general direction of her exit, a befuddled look about his face. He was well aware of the perilous position in which he had placed himself. What was not equally clear to him, however, was how he could manage to extract himself from this unfortunate circumstance. He considered his options, and decided, at length, that apology would be his best recourse, but he was by no means assured of his immediate success. He must, therefore, resolve upon a certain measure of patience and perseverance.
Having at last determined his course of action, he pursued it without further hesitation. He found her in her chamber packing a trunk. His rehearsed apology lodged somewhere in the midst of his throat, and he stared on at her with utter disbelief. "What are you doing?" he said at last.
"I am returning to Longbourn for the duration of the spring."
"I will return to Pemberley in July, if I see fit to do so."
"Perhaps by then you will have learned to respect me." She slammed the lid shut and headed for the closet, removing a bonnet from the shelves happily lodged therein.
She approached him with a look of intense vehemence in her face, and his own countenance held a mixture of anger, fear, and confusion. Though his complexion was livid his jaw was very slightly agape and showed no sign of closing. She brought her angry face very close to his and then, wholly without warning, kissed him firmly and warmly upon the mouth, "April Fool's!" she exclaimed, and laughed, tossing her bonnet casually upon the bed. "Did you really believe, sir, that I could not take a joke?" And with that, she walked merrily from the room.
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