~Story by Karen Wasylowski~
Elizabeth took a deep breath to calm her annoyance. Darcy had been bickering and complaining like a child all evening, he was worse than a child. “For the third time you are Henry II and I am Eleanor of Aquitaine. If you like give me a quill and I can jot that on parchment for you.” She turned and left the room before his mind registered the insult.
“I remembered! Don’t think I did not remember, Elizabeth! I just dislike Henry II; I should prefer to be Henry V.”
“But I want to be Eleanor!” She spoke with the finality of hostess of Pemberley then closed the door on him. Of course he had to give in to her; house parties were far removed from his area of expertise. He just wanted to hunt and play football.
Just then there was a banging on their dressing room doors. “Open up for the Lord of Misrule.”
“Go away you big ox.”
“Darcy, quit pouting, it’s unmanly. You’re behaving badly because I am Lord of Misrule again and you’re not.” Fitzwilliam could not keep the taunting tone from his voice. Truth was, he did not try overly hard.
Darcy opened the door and starred at his cousin’s ridiculous outfit. He was wearing a long brown woolen sackcloth robe with green garland around his neck and a wreath of holly about his head. “Gad, you look like a fat spruce. You better be wearing something under that hideous cloak.”
“Oh be quiet. You’re still not Lord of Misrule and I am. Besides I’m older than you, it is my right.” Fitzwilliam stuck out his foot to show his raggedy stockings.
“Put that away. You have eight children and I have only three, that’s why you are chosen each year, and the only reason. You breed like a stoat and then bribe your offspring in a most disgraceful manner to vote for you. You bribe your own children, Fitzwilliam. Have you no shame?” Darcy shook his head in disgust, making a tsking sound as he did so.
“No, what’s your point?”
Darcy groaned. “Well, what have you planned for this evening?”
“Nothing too strenuous for you, brat. Love the crown by the way. Who are you supposed to be this evening, Catherine of Aragon? Honest mistake – sorry. No need to get into a snit. All right, tonight we shall eat and dance and drink and dance, the usual Saturnalia celebration. Then at midnight I will sacrifice my body and take my good wife up to bed but you must remain and entertain your neighbors and town officials until they drop over. That is my decree.”
“That cannot be all, surely. No inappropriately bawdy play this year? No feats of strength? No embarrassing solo singing?”
“Darcy, my dear friend, I find it’s not as much fun to taunt you as it was when we were younger, strange as that may sound. I have mellowed in my old age, brat. I find it amazing but the older we are becoming the more I admire you Darcy – tremendously really, and have no need any longer for childish behavior.”
They stared quietly at each other for several moments.
“Your wife has forbidden you to humiliate me this year, hasn’t she?”
“Stopped all my plans cold, let go the men I hired to dress up as women and kiss you and removed the nails I had placed on your chair.”
“I grow to love that woman more and more each year.”
“As do I.” Grabbing a handful of cookies from a tray, Fitzwilliam resettled his crown of ivy. “Feeling better, cousin?”
“Infinitely. Merry Christmas, Fitz.”
“Merry Christmas yourself, Darcy. Now I’ve stolen some pepper from cook - let’s go down and have a go at Bingley’s hot wassail.”
Karen will be a guest Over Coffee on February 4, 2011 with her debut book and excerpts.
You can find out more about Karen and her writing on her website.