Posted on : Saturday, 23 October 2004
Elizabeth Anne Darcy yawned and stretched her 6 year old body as she lay in bed. Her thoughts of late had taken on a theme of wonder and contemplation. The center of her universe was the word "Why"? and her answers usually came in the form of outstanding knowledge given to her by her 7 year old brother James Fitzwilliam Darcy. It was he she would ask because "Jamie" knew everything.
"Jamie, wake up! I have something to show you!"
"Bethie, leave me alone, can't you see I am still asleep!"
"Please brother, it's real important!"
"You said that yesterday and all you showed me was your silly doll with her head on backwards. Look at the back of my head now and go away" as he turned his back to her.
"If you don't come with me I'll tell Papa that you went swimming in the pond without his permission again.
"Bethie!! you promised and now you would go back on your word?"
"Please Jamie, just come with me, I won't tell."
James knew he was a beaten man. He loved his sister dearly and gave in to her wishes as the Darcy men seemed wont to do in this house. He followed his sister down the hall towards their parents' bedroom and as they were about to enter, James stopped at the door and said "Wait, we are supposed to knock first."
"We can't knock because it would spoil everything," said his sister. "Just be real quiet."
The two children made their way to their parents' bed.
"See Jamie, I told you so."
They both stood gaping at the sight.
James Fitzwilliam Darcy was quick and smart for his age. He had a quick wit like his father and could intelligently reason on most any subject however here, he was at a loss for an explanation. His mother slept peacefully upon her back, her beautiful hair spread across her pillow. His eyes searched his parent's bed for the pillow that matched his mother's but he couldn't see one. His sister was right. His mother's bosom was his father's pillow. There, his father lay sleeping as soundly as their baby brother Edmond after nursing and, looking just as content.
"Do you think Papa fell asleep while nursing Edmond?" asked Beth.
"No!" James replied. "You have seen Papa when he takes his tea, he always says "no thank you" when Mama asks if he would like milk."
"Oh, that's right," said Beth.
James could only reason that his mother was perhaps softer than an ordinary pillow and that his tall strapping father preferred her to similar mounds of softness.
It wasn't just the fact that Mr. Darcy lay sleeping peacefully upon his wife's bosom that caused such reflection among the children. Their mother's arms were wrapped so securely around their father, it was as if she were afraid he would fall out of the huge bed which certainly was not possible. She held him in her arms like she was shielding him from all harm that might befall him.
As the children looked on, the dawn of understanding began to creep upon James. Once, he had fallen while climbing a tree and later came upon his father with his breeches torn and his knee bleeding. His father sat him upon his knee and spoke words of comfort and admonished him to be more careful. When his mother saw him however it was a different story entirely. His mother rushed to him, hugged him to her and kissed him. She spoke soothingly to him as she tended his knee while sitting in her lap. He felt the pleasure of being loved, cherished and fussed over while feeling the warmth of her skin and it's softness. He breathed in her fresh lilac scent and could find little to compare the feelings evoked in dwelling in such tenderness. As his father lay sleeping, James began to understand the love his parents had for one another. Papa did not have to skin his knee for Mama to hold him like that nor for his Papa to rest upon her bosom. He did wonder though if his mother used their father for a pillow sometimes though.
James knew his sister was waiting for an answer and he certainly would not disappoint her.
"Bethie, you know how Mama always takes care of us when we hurt ourselves?"
"Yes" Beth replied.
"Well Papa skinned his knee and Mama was most likely comforting Papa until he fell asleep."
"Oh my" replied Beth. I must tell Papa to be more careful, he is sleeping like this every morning when I come into their room."