Posted on Friday, 24 November 2000
It was a beautiful December afternoon, and a blanket of thick, sparkling snow was resting on the ground. The bare trees were covered with an inch of it, and the sky was pure white. And Elizabeth Bennet Darcy was drinking it all in. She smiled at the winter wonderland as she sat on the windowseat that overlooked the Pemberley grounds. She took a sip of her tea and wrapped her shawl more tightly around herself. Even though she loved the outdoors and this weather prohibited extended outdoor visits, she did love to see fresh snow on the ground. It was beautiful.
She heard a soft 'creak' as the door to her favorite room opened. She set her tea down and turned around to see her husband smiling at her, his head rested on the side of the doorway. He was amazed at how beautiful his wife looked illuminated by a white glow of snow. Her smile turned to a grin as he walked over to her to sit by her side. She took his hand and they both gazed out the window, content by watching the beautiful sight and merely being in each other's company. After a few long moments, Elizabeth broke the silence.
"My dear, whatever took you so long? I was afraid that in a few more minutes I would have to get the servants together and organize a search!"
Mr. Darcy laughed out loud at the thought of Mrs. Reynolds leading all the servants across the countryside, marching to find their master. "Mayhap I should have stayed a bit longer. It would definitely be worth seeing that search party trying to find my whereabouts!" They both laughed.
"But really, William, where were you? You said you would be back..." she checked the clock on the mantle, "half an hour ago! 'Tis not a gentlemanly thing to do!"
"Of course not, and I am sorry," Darcy said to her, obviously mad at himself for worrying his wife, "but I had a matter of...pressing business?" Lizzy chuckled.
"I think not, William. You have used that term before and you will NOT fool me again."
"Oh, really? Very well. I had...a possibly fatal problem that could not be delayed!" Lizzy shook her head.
"Tell me the truth, Will."
"I find I can never trick you from finding out about me." He sighed. "But at least it is not bad tidings." Lizzy urged him on. "Actually, I was going to be back at the time I had mentioned to you before I left. But then I discovered that a package I had ordered had just come in, and I found that it would not be a good thing to leave it. So I arranged for a better carriage to take it and myself as it was heavy and the original carriage could not have managed it."
Lizzy smiled at him." And what, pray tell, could this heavy package ever be?" He got up, and took her hand.
"Come, I will show you." She got up and took his arm, and they walked out of the room.
"I never knew a simple walk about the house could take so long!" Lizzy said, laughing.
"Oh, come, my dear, we have only been walking a few minutes! Besides, we are almost there." He said, laughing along with her.
"And I am glad of it." She replied. He finally led her into a separate hall in which she had only been a few times during their few weeks of marriage. And there, in the middle of the hall, glowing in a beam of sunlight, was the most enormous vase Elizabeth had ever seen! She gasped, Darcy smiled. They walked up to it. Upon closer view, the vase was beautiful. It had a pale blue background, with a border of pale green vines and blood red roses. The rest of the vase had angels painted on, singing underneath the sun and amongst clouds. "Beautiful!" she breathed. It was a full five feet above her head, and she looked up at the top. "And enormous!" Darcy laughed.
"It is magnificent, is it not?" he said admiringly.
"Indeed it is. I can imagine why you needed a special carriage!"
"It was no easy task, I assure you."
"Wherever did you purchase it from?"
"I heard about it in a letter from one of my businessmen from France. He described it for me, and I found that I absolutely had to see it for myself. And the only way to do that would be to purchase it."
"And exactly how much did this beautiful vase cost you?"
"Let us just say that it was not a little bit of money."
"I thought as much." She sighed, and looked at the vase again. "But it is exquisite." She took his hand. "Come, shall we go to the parlour for tea?" He shook his head.
"No, you go, and I will be there shortly." He said, still gazing at the vase. She released his hand. She paused, looking at him.
"Very well, William." She said, and waited for him to at least acknowledge this. He didn't. He just stared at the vase. She sighed, and walked off, alone.
Tea in the parlour was very nice. All the while, however, Lizzy waited for her husband to return to her and take tea. He never did. She grew a bit irritated, and set down her tea. She got up, and paced a bit. Then she walked off in the direction of the vase.
"William? William. Are you still here?"
"Yes, my love, I am here." Darcy replied. She turned a corner and there he was, polishing off the vase with a cloth on his knees!
"William! Whatever are you doing?" She demanded.
Darcy got up. "Simply cleaning off a smudge."
"It seemed this 'smudge' kept you from taking tea with me." She retorted, more than a little hurt. She turned slightly to look out a window. Darcy noticed that she was obviously not pleased.
"Oh, my love, I am so sorry." He spoke with genuine concern, striding over to her. "I had gotten preoccupied, please forgive me."
Lizzy paused. "Very well, William. I will forgive you." She looked out the window again. "I love you very much. Do not ever forget that." Darcy put his arms around her and kissed the top of her head, swaying from side to side a bit. "I will not."
A few days passed and Lizzy and her William spent much time together. However, to Lizzy it seemed that Mr. Darcy was paying a lot more attention to the vase than he was to her. Every day Lizzy grew more and more bothered. More than once she had come across him polishing off the vase, staring at it, ordering a servant how to clean it properly. It finally got to the point that when Lizzy wanted to find him she would go to the hall that had the vase and he was always there. One day she even found him dragging in a chair by the vase to sit in so he could stare at the object! It was that day that Lizzy decided he had gone too far.
She was walking about the house, when she noticed that her husband had been gone for quite a lot of, no, too much, time. She stomped off in the direction of the great vase. Of course, she found him there, sitting in a chair he had just dragged in!
"William!" she said loudly. Mr. Darcy started.
"What?!? Oh, hello, my dear." He said indifferently and again began to stare at the vase. Lizzy grew horribly mad.
"And just where were you when I was waiting in the library for you to come in and join me?" she said coldly.
"The library? I seem to have forgot." He said to her. Lizzy stomped over to him, grew up to her full height, put her hands on her hips, and glared at him. She lost control.
"Forgot? FORGOT?!? You mean to tell me that after I managed to gain your full attention and practically LECTURE you on meeting me in the library, you seem to have FORGOT?!? It seems you are forgetting your WIFE instead!" she shouted at him. He stared at her, then got up.
"Well, I am so very SORRY for forgetting about you!! After all, I ONLY spend about 10 hours with you every single DAY!!!!" he yelled back.
"It used to be the ENTIRE day, Mr. Darcy! Have I gotten too boring for you?!? Or is this thing," she pointed to the vase, "getting too INTERESTING?!?" She totally lost control. In a blind rage, her only feelings were that she was being abandoned by the one she loved dearest in the world: her husband. With all her strength, she pushed against that vase, and shoved it to the ground, where it landed in a million pieces with a sickening crash. She got cut from the sharp sections, but she didn't feel it. She looked at her husband, and saw that he was shocked. She looked at the vase, and burst into tears. She collapsed on the ground and cried all the feelings that she had built up out. Her husband stood shocked, first at the vase, then his wife, and finally at the realization that he did abandon her. He knelt next to her among the broken vase and hugged her and kissed all her tears away.
"My dearest, loveliest wife, I only loved it because I remembered it from my childhood...with my parents." He murmured. Lizzy cried harder. "Shh...but now I see that I missed out on the most important part of my life--yourself, Elizabeth. I will never make you suffer like this again." Soon hers and her husband's tears subsided, and they gathered up the remains of a material memory. It was that day that they both discovered that in a battle of love and material possessions, love will always triumph.