Welcome back to Austen Promises! Today, you’re getting another short little Regency tidbit, totally unrelated to the previous story. I hope you enjoy it! <3
Today’s story is a little longer than the last couple have been. It’s based on a true story, as well. I fell while going out to shovel snow the morning I wrote this, as I stepped down off the last step coming off the sidewalk up to my porch. Ouch! I’m ok, just had some aches for a day or two. I’m not looking forward to shoveling the almost-a-foot of snow that’s currently out there, though. LOL
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Fitzwilliam Darcy watched over the top of his book as his wife paced the drawing room. She was bored, he knew, because they had been stuck in the house for the last three days. A fierce winter storm had dumped feet of snow all around Pemberley. Everyone on the estate was huddled in their homes before their fires. If they had a need to go out, they made paths in the snow. Since none of the Darcys needed to leave, the snow around the entrances used by the family remained blocked with a pristine white carpet.
Darcy tried to turn his attention back to his tome, but the swish of her gown and the occasional scuff of her shoe on the carpet kept drawing his attention. Finally, he closed the book and addressed Elizabeth. “I am sorry you are unsettled, my love. Would you like to play chess?”
“We played yesterday. Four times.”
Elizabeth’s tone was even, but Darcy could hear the strain in her voice. She was attempting to retain her hold on her temper. He was silent for a full minute as he pondered his next move. Then, “I could teach you billiards. That is something we have not done.”
“What I would like is to walk the garden.” Elizabeth heaved a loud sigh.
Darcy rose and walked to his wife. Putting his arms around her, he pulled her close. I know you do. I am sorry. We can stroll the gallery again, if you like?”
Elizabeth rested her head on Darcy’s chest. He heard a sniffle, but before he could change his position to see if she was crying, she acquiesced. “Very well. That will do for now.”
A few days later, the temperature warmed a bit, and the snow began to melt. Darcy gave in to Elizabeth’s desire to go outside, although he did so reluctantly.
“Please be careful, Elizabeth,” he warned. Melting snow can be as slippery as ice.”
“I will,” his wife promised. She kissed him and stepped out the door.
“I will be right behind you,” Darcy called. He then turned, strode to his study, and sat behind the desk to address a problem his steward had approached him with, darting frequent glances out the door. After a quarter hour of discussion, Mr. Allman left with his orders, and Darcy hurriedly made his way to the entry hall. Accepting his greatcoat, hat, and gloves from the maid, he hastened outside and followed Elizabeth’s trail around the side of the house.
As he neared the far end of the garden, he saw his wife’s head and shoulders as she began her descent down the stone staircase to the lower level. He gasped, then sprinted to the top of the steps.
Elizabeth had relished her time outside. It was the first she had moved out of the house in over a week. She walked this way and that, delighting in the trails she had left in the snow and purposely making a pattern. Her gown was soaked to her knees, as were her stockings and petticoat. Recalling the maze that was below, she made her way to the steps and began descending them.
Elizabeth thought as she picked her way down of Darcy’s warning about the slipperiness of the snow. She stepped carefully, determined to avoid a fall. But, as she reached the bottom, she looked up and once her attention was off her feet, so was the rest of her.
By the time Elizabeth realized she was falling, it was too late to do anything about it. She bounced down the last two steps, landing on her right hip and arm. The spill took her breath away, and for a few seconds, just simply laid in the snow at the bottom of the staircase. When she had regained her ability to take in air, she gingerly arose.
Darcy had reached the top of the staircase in time to see Elizabeth slip. He froze for a minute, then gasped and cried, “Elizabeth!” He tried to hurry down, but kept in mind that he did not wish to land atop her and so was forced to slow. It concerned him that she did not move right away, but by the time he got to her, she had pushed herself up.
“Oh,” Elizabeth whispered. “That hurt.” She flexed her arm at the shoulder and elbow, happy to not feel any pain that might indicate a broken or dislocated bone. When Darcy dropped to his knees beside her, Elizabeth breathed a sigh of relief. Fitzwilliam will make everything be well, she thought.
“Are you hurt?” Darcy began to examine Elizabeth, feeling her limbs and head.
“I am sure I might be sore for a while, but I do not think anything is broken or permanently damaged. Will you help me up? I am getting wetter by the second.”
Silently, Darcy rose and stretched out his hands to Elizabeth. When she was upright, and he had checked her again for injury, he pulled her into his arms. His fear, which he had been holding in check for the last few minutes, was unleashed then as anger. “I told you to be careful,” he scolded her.
“I was. It was not until I looked out toward the maze that I slipped.” Elizabeth tried to reason with him, but he was clearly too upset. “I am well. I have not broken anything, I do not need a physician, and I am able to walk back to the house.”
Darcy held her for a few minutes longer, struggling to regain control of his feelings. When she reminded him, from the depths of his embrace, that she had only fallen two steps and that it could have been many more, he sighed and squeezed her tighter. Finally, he lifted his head. “You are correct, my love. It could have been much worse. I think, though, that we ought not to try to walk any longer today. Will you accompany me to the house?”
When Elizabeth took a step, she discovered that her hip was giving her pain; therefore, she and Darcy took their time going back up to the house. Once they entered, Darcy began giving orders: a bath was to be prepared in Mrs. Darcy’s dressing room, salts were to be added to it to alleviate her discomfort, dinner for two was to be served in their shared sitting room, and Miss Darcy was to be alerted that her brother and sister would be dining in their rooms. As the staff scurried to do his bidding, Darcy escorted Elizabeth slowly up the stairs.
What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment for me! <3