The Gaieties which that Season Brings

The Gaieties which that Season Brings

 

“I sincerely hope your Christmas in Hertfordshire may abound in the gaieties which that season generally brings …”

Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 21

How ironic that such a charitable quote must be attributed to such an uncharitable person as Miss Caroline Bingley.

As this is one of my favorite lines in Pride and Prejudice, I try not to think of Miss Bingley and her mean-spirited intentions and rather focus on Jane Austen’s beautiful prose instead.

Not only are the words beautiful, but they’re wonderfully inspiring as well and the source of my upcoming Christmas story’s title: Which that Season Brings.

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter One. Enjoy!

London, England – December 18xx

Fitzwilliam Darcy’s friend Charles Bingley paced the floor pleading his case. His own sentiments a mixture of consternation and concern, the former watched in silence. And waited.

Contrary to Darcy’s expectation, time and distance away from Miss Jane Bennet of Longbourn in Hertfordshire had done nothing to lessen his friend’s fascination with the angelic creature.

What a disappointment for as much as Bingley may have fancied himself in love, Darcy had witnessed no such evidence of the lady’s mutual esteem. In fact, he had gone out of his way to persuade himself that he was mistaken about Miss Bennet’s regard for his friend the last time they were all in company—the evening of the Netherfield ball.

True enough, the young lady had bestowed an abundance of lovely smiles upon his friend. Indeed, she listened to Bingley most attentively and nodded and smiled at all the right moments, but it was nothing that Darcy had not seen before. Charles was an amiable young man who made friends easily wherever he went.

What young woman in want of a husband would not behave as Miss Bennet had done when she found herself the recipient of the unabashed adoration of a single young man with a large fortune?

Having ceased his pacing in front of the blazing fireplace, Bingley ran his fingers through his untidy hair. “I know you contend that Miss Bennet does not care for me as I do her,” said Bingley, interrupting Darcy’s musings. “I do not believe it, but even if it were true, it does not matter. Nothing would bring me more joy than to be close to the woman I love at Christmastime—to bask in her warm smiles as she is wont to bestow.”

“At the risk of sounding hard-hearted, Charles, might I remind you that I have heard you speak similarly of other young ladies before?”

The younger man shook his head. “This time is different. I long for her. I have this feeling in the pit of my stomach that I ought to return to Netherfield just as I promised her that I would do once my business in town was concluded. I fear I shall never forgive myself if I do not keep my word. Can you not see how much this means to me?”

Darcy shrugged. “I am not sure what you want me to say. What would you have me do?”

“I want you to come with me—that is if you are not previously engaged. Then you might see for yourself how mistaken you are about Miss Bennet’s affections for me. She and I are designed for each other. I know it. Return with me to Netherfield Park, and you will know it too.”

Having prided himself on always taking such prodigious care of his young friend, Darcy did not relish the thought of denying him this one request. What was more, the thought of spending the season alone held little appeal to Darcy, what with his sister visiting a friend and her family in Bath and his aunt Lady Catherine de Bourgh and his cousin Miss Anne de Bourgh visiting their Fitzwilliam relations in Derbyshire.

Of course, he had been invited to visit the Matlock estate too. But between Lady Catherine’s insistence he must marry Anne, and his aunt Lady Ellen Fitzwilliam, the Countess of Matlock, insisting he choose a bride from among the prominent families of the ton, being in Matlock was the last thing in the world he wanted.

On the other hand, Bingley’s family members were not to be counted among his most desired companions for the Christmas season either, especially as he had recently spent the better part of Autumn in company with them as Bingley’s guest in Hertfordshire.

Darcy said, “I understand that families ought to be together at Christmas, and it is for that reason I cannot even consider accompanying you to Hertfordshire. No doubt your family will join you.”

“You are in luck, my friend. My sister Louisa and her husband, Hurst, have other plans and Caroline will not consider returning to Netherfield without her—I dare say even with the prospect of spending Christmas in company with you.”

Those particular words were inducement enough. Miss Bingley’s treatment of the Bennets was beyond the pale. In truth, his own behavior when in company with her left much to be desired. While true, his role in any disparagement of the Bennet family was mainly in keeping with his attempt to ward off the lady’s relentless teasing about his admiration for the second eldest Bennet daughter’s fine eyes, that was no excuse.

Miss Elizabeth Bennet. 

Darcy would be lying were he to pretend that he did not think of her just as much as his friend Bingley professed to missing Miss Jane Bennet—albeit for different reasons. While Bingley fancied himself in love with the young woman whom he had known less than a few months, Darcy’s preoccupation with Miss Elizabeth had nothing at all to do with love.

It has more to do with the bewildering effect the young woman has on my sensibilities.

Darcy had never been so bewitched by any woman as he was by her. How else was he to explain the fact that he had singled her out to dance during the Netherfield ball?

He was not pleased with the way the two of them had left things that evening—arguing over George Wickham, of all people, and her spirited defense of the scoundrel as though she was utterly oblivious of the honor he had bestowed her in singling her out for a dance at the ball.

On the other hand, my leave-taking has effectively left Miss Elizabeth vulnerable to that scoundrel. The least I might do is return to Hertfordshire to warn her of the perils that such a man of Wickham’s low character poses to her.

Thus resolved, Darcy said, “I shall happily accompany you to Netherfield, my friend.”

Bingley’s satisfaction with this response was all that might be expected and in no time at all the departure date was set.

Interestingly enough, Darcy suffered an odd sense of relief mixed with anticipation—as though a burden he did not even realize he had suffered had been lifted.

I do not think I would ever forgive myself were Miss Elizabeth to fall victim to Wickham’s charms.

 

Hertfordshire – Longbourn Village

 

Merriment and joy filled the halls of Longbourn House, and it had very little to do with the season. At the center of all the excitement was not the two younger Bennet daughters, Kitty and Lydia, who had rightfully earned their reputations as being the silliest girls in all of England, nor was it the older daughters, Jane, Elizabeth, or Mary, who were also deemed to be rather silly, and by their own father, no less. No, it was the lady of the house, Mrs. Fanny Bennet, whose jubilation could not be repressed. A woman of mean understanding who fancied herself discontented whenever it suited her purposes, she burst into the dining parlor where everyone else in the family sat around the heavily laden table enjoying their breakfast.

“Oh, Mr. Bennet,” said the lady to her husband of more than three and twenty years. “We are saved, I declare. We are saved!”

“Whatever do you mean, my dear?” Mr. Bennet asked with scarcely a glance above his morning paper.

“Have you not heard the news? Mr. Bingley is planning to return to Netherfield Park. He is said to be arriving any day and no later than Boxing Day, to be sure.” Having known her own share of beauty during her youth, Mrs. Bennet’s chief occupation of late was marrying off her five daughters, each of them in their turn. Her life’s solace was visiting and news. This combining of the two was a great cause for joy indeed.

She placed her hand on her bosom willing her racing heartbeat to still. “Oh, what a blessing this is for our eldest daughter! What a blessing this is for all of us.”

“A blessing you say? Since when does a man returning to his own home warrant such accolades? I daresay I have gone away and returned to Longbourn on any number of occasions with no such exaltations.”

“Oh, Mr. Bennet, how can you be so tiresome? You know very well that Mr. Bingley means to take Jane off our hands once and for all.”

Elizabeth, the second born daughter, placed her hand on her elder sister Jane’s arm. The latter smiled which was her wont to do on such an occasion as this, but it was hardly convincing for Elizabeth knew how much Mr. Charles Bingley’s departure from Netherfield with the explicit promise of a timely return had injured her dearest sister when the promise was broken.

To add insult to her injury, the gentleman’s sister, Miss Caroline Bingley, had written to Jane shortly after that stating that the gentleman had no plans to return at all. Elizabeth could not speak for her sister, but for her own part, Miss Bingley’s words were etched in her memory.

“When my brother left us yesterday, he imagined that the business which took him to London might be concluded in three or four days; but as we are certain it cannot be so, and at the same time convinced that when Charles gets to town he will be in no hurry to leave it again, we have determined on following him thither, that he may not be obliged to spend his vacant hours in a comfortless hotel. Many of my acquaintances are already there for the winter.

I wish that I could hear that you, my dearest friend, had any intention of making one of the crowd—but of that I despair. I sincerely hope your Christmas in Hertfordshire may abound in the gaieties which that season generally brings, and that your beaux will be so numerous as to prevent your feeling the loss of the three of whom we shall deprive you.”

Even if Jane had chosen to accept Miss Bingley’s testimony that Mr. Bingley did not intend to return for the winter, despite his having promised her otherwise, Elizabeth was not so easily persuaded of the gentleman’s indifference. However, as days absent turned into weeks, Elizabeth too had begun to give up hope.

“I have learned that his sisters will not accompany him,” Mrs. Bennet cried. “Oh, I shall be most delighted if Mr. Bingley would bring along some of his single gentlemen friends. That would be most fortunate for our other girls.”

“How so, my dear?”

“Why, so they may marry either of them of course!”

Here, Mr. Bennet looked up from his paper—directly at his second eldest. “Perhaps he shall bring his good friend Mr. Darcy with him.”

Elizabeth raised her cup to her lips—mostly to mask her bewilderment. No doubt Papa’s words were meant for me. But why? Does he know something I do not know? Why is Papa looking at me?

“Oh, bother, Mr. Darcy,” his lady exclaimed with energy. “I should hope we never have to lay eyes on that particular gentleman again!”

Elizabeth could not say with certainty that she disagreed with her mother. She could not say she agreed either. The time she was together with the gentleman had left her exceedingly puzzled. Even now, her heart skipped a beat with the mention of his name.

“I am surprised to hear you say such a thing, my dear. The gentleman did single my Lizzy out for a dance at the Netherfield ball, did he not? Is dancing not one of the most highly recommended means for encouraging affection?”

“I have often heard it said that poetry is the food of love,” Mary interjected somewhat tentatively.

“Poetry? Dancing? What difference does it make? Everyone who knows anything knows the tall, proud man fancies himself above all of our company,” cried Mrs. Bennet.

“And lest anyone forgets, he said Lizzy was not handsome enough to tempt him,” young Lydia exclaimed.

Elizabeth shifted a little in her chair, knowing she had no one to blame for this constant reminder of Mr. Darcy’s cruel words other than herself. After all, she had been the only person in Hertfordshire to overhear his remark to his friend Charles Bingley during the Meryton assembly all those weeks ago, and she had been the one to repeat the insulting sentiment to almost anyone who would listen as a means of assuaging her bruised ego.

“No, one must never forget what that haughty man said about our Lizzy,” said Mrs. Bennet.

As though not content to let the subject end there, her father said, “What say you, my Lizzy? How do you feel about the prospect of Mr. Darcy’s return?”

 


Giveaway Time!

Comment below for a chance to win a $10 Gift Card. One prize is up for grabs.  Because the gift card will be sent directly from Amazon.com, the winner must be able to redeem the gift card on Amazon.com. Alternatively, the winner may claim an ebook edition of an eligible P.O. Dixon story. Hurry! The giveaway contest ends on Tuesday, December 18th. Best of luck!

 

 

 

 

 


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112 Responses to The Gaieties which that Season Brings

  1. Thank you for your wonderful “Pride and Prejudice” variations. They are perfect for readers like me love reading other scenarios with Elizabeth and Darcy!

  2. Ok! I’m ready! Butterflies for Lizzy? Relief for Darcy? What has Wycombe been doing? I look forward to discovering all very soon!

  3. I can’t wait for all of P.O. Dixon’s works to be published. I buy them as soon as the email arrives and save them for when I need a good dose of Mr. Darcy. Thank you for these gems!

  4. I usually don’t enter giveaways because I already own the book. But, this giveaway has my name on it. I love the excerpt, but, then, I love all your stories…

  5. I love reading the variations of the original book and wonder how many there are and if there will ever be a different ending.

    • I love falling in love with D&E over and over again. As far as they are concerned, all of my stories will be either ‘happy for now’ or ‘happily ever after’. 🙂

  6. I’m just reading Impertinent Strangers (again), so I’m in dire need of another of your stories Pam ;). The first chapter sounds great, so I’d like to continue very much.

  7. I love the excerpt. Boy is the entire famiky, including Elizabeth in for a surprise, me thinks. I am looking forward to reading the entire story. Thank you for the generous give away.

  8. Thank you for sharing a lovely excerpt, Pam. When will the book be released? The premise is very intriguing too. It looks like Mr Bennet is quite perceptive of Darcy’s regard for his favourite daughter.

  9. What a wonderful excerpt! I love it when Charles thinks for himself. Such a delight to have the opportunity at a giveaway at Christmas!! Happy holidays everyone!!!?????

  10. Oh, what fun! Can’t wait to see how Darcy behaves around Lizzy this visit. And she in turn. I’m sure there will be several characters who will try to spoil the romances of both ODC and Bingley & Jane. Thank you for offering us the chance to add more of your books to our collection. Happy Christmas!

  11. Thanks so much for sharing! I love Christmas stories! One with Darcy & Elizabeth is even better! I can’t wait to read this one!

  12. I like this premise. Mr Darcy wanting to correct his error of leaving the residents of Hertfordshire open to Wickham’s machinations could certainly lead to some frank conversations with Elizabeth and perhaps her father as well. And Jane and Bingley should be deeply in love before the second day comes to a close. I look forward to reading this!

  13. What a wonderful excerpt! I am surprised at Mr. Bennett’s perspicacity! His family doesn’t often get that much consideration. Even his Lizzy. It sounds like it should a rather unusual take on P & P.
    Can’t wait to read it! Thank you for the chance to win the gift card so I can buy it!

  14. Oh-My-Goodness! That was a delightful excerpt. Way to go Bingley!! That was most excellent. I can see the ice beginning to crack around our ice princess. Perhaps, she will realize she doesn’t despise Darcy as much as she thought. I hope Wickham has been subdued someway. By now his bills and debts should be piling up. Thank you for the generous give-a-way. I’d be delighted to spend the gift card on one of your books. In fact, I have a few on my wish-list just waiting to be purchased and read. Blessings on the success of your upcoming launch. This time of the year is so exciting.

    • Thanks so much for letting me know how much you enjoyed the excerpt. Great points about Elizabeth. At times, she will not even recognize this ‘new and improved’ Mr. Darcy. 😉 I hope you’ll enjoy the story.

  15. Loved the excerpts! I can’t wait to see if Darcy does tell Elizabeth about all of his dealings with Wickham. Yay for Bingley deciding to return to Netherfield! Thanks for the nice giveaway!

  16. I like what I have read thus far. It is interesting that your inspirational statement does come from Caroline. Looking forward to more.

  17. I am also surprised the Caroline wouldn’t jump at the chance to join Charles and Darcy. I’m curious to see what Mr. Bennet knows or suspects.

  18. Sounds like Darcy, Bingley and Elizabeth are all doing some soul searching. Will Jane make Bingley work for it? Great excerpt. You captured the spirit of the Bennet family members very well. Thank you for sharing!

  19. Charles has a backbone at last! Will Cariliuchsnge her mind once she finds out Darcy is going to Netherfield. Thank you for the intriguing excerpt and giveaway.

  20. Yeah! Charles is finally thinking on his own! Very surprised that Caroline wouldn’t take advantage of being with Darcy and further discourage her brother. Probably can expect her and Lady Catherine to drop in to gum up things, not to mention Wickham. Already have ‘A Night’, will be waiting for ‘Together’ and especially your Christmas story. Thank you for the giveaway chance.
    Happy Holidays!

  21. Enjoyed the excerpt and I love that Charles has more of a backbone and has made the decision to go back on his own because of his feelings for Jane. I also like how Mr. Darcy uses Wickham as a good reason to go back as well. Thanks for the giveaway!

  22. Enjoyed the excerpt. Can’t wait to see what Elizabeth and Darcy will have to endure before they can be together Thanks for the giveaway. Seasons Blessings.

    • Thanks, Mary. I’m so glad you enjoyed the excerpt and you’re looking forward to the challenges E&D will face in this story. Here’s to a wonderful season and a happy new year. 🙂

  23. Such a timely excerpt, excited to know the rest of the story. Seems Lizzy and Mr Bennet have different thought about Mr D. Thank you for giving us this excerpt. and the chance to win. Happy Holidays

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