Posted on Tuesday, 6 September 2005
“It is an ugly sofa.”
“Oh, no, I cannot agree with you. I really have not seen a more wonderful sofa in all of my life.”
“You cannot be serious.”
“Indeed I am, just look at its fine shape!”
“Fitzwilliam, it is broken.”
“But you can still sit on it,” he replied with a gallant demonstration. The sofa responded with a loud creak.
“I’m afraid that if both of us sat down it would fall to pieces! No, I will not put up with it. It has to go,” his wife said with a nod of her head.
“Lizzy, I had thought you would be so pleased,” Darcy cried as he stood up to take her arm.
“Pleased?” she cried, stepping back, “Pleased with the gift of a sofa from your dear Aunt Catherine that is broken, worn and smelly, not to mention a very nasty color brown?”
Darcy raised his head defiantly. “I’ll have you know that I spent many a happy hour playing on this piece of furniture. Why, it was used by my cousin and myself as a barricade in a game of war, and was a comfortable resting point whenever we wanted to escape from Aunt Catherine. I’m sure that was what she was thinking of when she sent it.”
“As a second month wedding anniversary gift I would hardly deem this appropriate,” Lizzy said with a sniff. “And what possessed you to put it in my bedroom?”
“It matches the furniture,” pleaded the gentleman.
“It does not match the furniture. I do not like it, the sofa must go,” she said in a much less playful voice.
“Consider that it is the first gift that Lady Catherine has sent us,” Darcy began slowly.
“Do not try and convince me, sir! I do not like feeling put upon,” Lizzy said forcefully and took another step away from her husband and the wretched couch.
“I would think, madam, that you would have a bit more of an open mind. I will mend the sofa, and refurnish the fabric. It will be good as new, I promise.”
“How could you have such wonderful taste in all other aspects of our home, and yet be so blind the wretchedness of this piece of furniture,” Lizzy cried.
“My mother chose this couch for Aunt Catherine herself!”
“Aha, you see I am being put upon to like it!”
“I am doing no such thing,” cried Darcy, as he strode to the other side of the room. “You are being unreasonable!”
“I am not being unreasonable,” protested the lady.
“Perhaps the true reason that you do not like the sofa is because it was sent to us by my Aunt. Can you deny it?”
“I - cannot - well, really!”
“There you see, you cannot deny it. Lizzy, I had thought better of you.”
At this Lizzy became quite enraged, “You are quite determined to think the worst if me!”
“I only speak of what is laid out before me.,” he replied coolly.
“Oh, I see. Well then, since you are so set on keeping your Aunt’s precious sofa rather than trusting my judgment, perhaps you should just sleep there tonight instead of with me!” Lizzy cried, her cheeks enflamed.
“Well perhaps I should,“ Darcy cried, his eyes flashing, “It is a comfortable sofa!” But his last phrase quite escaped his lady’s ears, for with a stamp of her foot and a turn on her heels, she was already into the dressing room, slamming the door behind her.
Thus banished from his bed, the master of the house had no course of action but to drag the unforgivable object through the door and into his own room. He stood in front of it for several moments, at first fondly remembering his childhood, and then briefly wondering what he had done wrong. After some time passed he peeked into his wife’s room. The dressing room door was still firmly shut, and if he was not mistaken, he could hear the sound of her angrily brushing her hair. The realization that he was exiled from the room slowly dawned on him, and he angrily wondered why women were such unreasonable creatures. At length he lay down on the sofa, and rested there peacefully for what seemed like only a few seconds.
“So there you are!” Darcy awoke with a start at the sound of his wife’s voice.
“What?” he exclaimed, sitting up. She stood before him, her hair considerably well brushed, her eyes flashing in that adorable way of hers.
“You would rather sleep on that sofa than with me,” she accused bitterly.
“I thought -” he began, but could not finish.
“No, you did not,” she interrupted, and then stomped into her room, once again slamming the door behind her.
He sat for a few moments, pondering the situation at hand. If he went after her, she would undoubtedly scold him. If he stayed in his own quarters, she would unquestionably fume until the morning, and then scold him. Either way, there was no way to win. Darcy had no other recourse but to fall soundly asleep.
While her husband slept soundly in the other room, Lizzy lay in her large bed very much alone. She had forgotten how cold it was to sleep by oneself. To own the truth, since their marriage there had not been one night that they had spent apart. She had also forgotten how loud the noises outside her window could sound, and what long shadows the trees cast upon the walls. She tried turning from right to left, plumping the pillows and snuggling into the sheets, but to no avail. Sleep would not come. So the lady of the house rose and tiptoed across the room to the door adjoining her own quarters with that of her husbands. She supposed that he would be lying there awake, quite repentant, missing her as much as she missed him.
You can imagine her shock to find that he was not pining away into nothingness, but snoring loudly with his feet sticking off the end of the sofa. Lizzy was not impressed and returned to her room angrily, with a loud slam of the door. Darcy started in his sleep, opened his eyes sleepily and wondered what the noise was about. He rolled over to see that Lizzy was all right, but finding only the coarse fabric of the sofa, he returned to his sleeping position regretfully and soon fell back asleep.
If the poor man had known that his beloved wife was crying into her pillow, he would have rushed to her side, but alas he was unaware of her strife and Lizzy cried in vain. At length, after her tears had subsided, she decided that her struggle was for naught. She resolved to accept the gift of the sofa. It was such a silly thing, and not worth feeling miserable about. She recalled something being said about refurnishing the upholstery, and she was satisfied. After all, they would not always agree, and Fitzwilliam did seem so very attached to it. Having thus reasoned away her objections, she climbed out of her lofty bed and quickly crossed the room, heading straight for her husbands arms.
Imagine Darcy’s surprise and pleasure when he felt his wife climb onto the sofa next to him, or rather on top of him, and plant his face with kisses. He turned and gathered her into his arms, responding with like affection and they continued thus for several moments.
“Dearest,” he said softly, “I will return the sofa tomorrow, I do not wish to cause you grief.”
“No, please,” she replied, “I would love to keep it, provided that it is repaired and refinished as promised. You do seem so fond of it, and I would not deprive you of anything that you love!”
“You seemed intent upon it this evening,” he said between kisses, and he could feel her smile.
“That is a mistake I do not intend to make again,” she whispered back.
“I am glad to hear it,” he replied, and kissed her as though they had been separated for two years, not two hours.
Lizzy would have said more, but was quite overcome, and they did not speak in words the rest of the night, but in the language of love which only a husband and wife can share.
And so the worn sofa remained in the house of the Darcy’s. It was never refurnished, for after that night, Lizzy could not bear to change any part of it. Although it did not remain in their quarters, it was tucked away in a room that had at one time been used for playing. It was full of Darcy’s other childhood toys, a sea chest from years gone by, and several other odd treasures that had collected over the years. Over the next nine months, Lizzy visited the room often, gazing fondly at the sofa and the rocking horse which was soon to be brought out of seclusion and into the nursery.
Their first child was a son, the second a daughter. The sofa most certainly had not seen the last of it’s soldiering days. It was abused quite horribly by the first two Darcy children, and the four that eventually followed them. Even Lady Catherine herself one day laid eyes on it again, having been led into the room by her youngest great-niece to play a game a of hide and seek. She did not forget to mention it to her nephew’s wife later on that evening.
“Well, Miss Lizzy,” she began regally, “I see that the old sofa did not go to waste!”
“No indeed, madam,” replied the lady with a twinkle in her eye as she looked over at her oldest son, “It has served us very well.”