Thursday’s 300: The Shower-bath

Welcome back to Thursday’s 300!

This post is brought to you by Darcy’s Surprise Betrothal. (affiliate link: free to click on but may result in me earning a few pennies)

This vignette was inspired by my  one of my favorite activities: taking a hot shower. I remembered seeing an image in a blog post a few years ago and looked it up. You can find that post here at Jane Austen’s World.

Enjoy!

The Shower-Bath

“Good morning, Mrs. Darcy. Will you be wanting a bath today?”

Elizabeth brightened as a thought popped into her head. “I believe I will, but I think, instead of a bath in my dressing room, I should like to use the shower-bath in Mr. Darcy’s.” She bit her lip to keep from laughing at her maid’s horrified expression.

“M- M- M- Mr. Darcy’s room, ma’am?”

“Yes,” Elizabeth replied with a wide smile. “He is out on the estate for the day with Mr. Allman and will not return until just before we dine, I should imagine. He cannot object, since he is not here, and I will be able to enjoy the novelty of using his contraption quite without worry.” She paused for a moment but, seeing the large irises in Jenny’s eyes and the paleness of her features, decided to stop teasing. “He will not mind me using it, I assure you. The footmen are quite used to filling it, and we can have them do that before I get in. If I need more water, you can fill the pitcher from the extra bucket and add it to the top. All will be well, I promise.”

Jenny’s eyes went from wide to slightly narrow. She curtseyed and turned away, but Elizabeth could see that the maid was looking askance at her. All she said, though, was, “As you wish, ma’am,” as she went to ring the bell and call for hot water.

Elizabeth was indeed eager to use the shower-bath. Her husband had seen one in London and immediately ordered one for Pemberley. It had a pump, but Darcy disliked using it, because it simply recirculated the dirty water and that was too much for his fastidious nature to tolerate. Therefore, when he used it, his man and the footmen would pour additional water in the top of the device. Darcy also liked the water he used to shower in to be warmed. He had told Elizabeth once that, though it was popular to bathe in cold water, it was not something he enjoyed.

An hour later, after the footmen had filled the top of the shower-bath, Elizabeth entered her husband’s dressing room. She parted the curtain surrounding the contraption and stepped in, marveling once again at its construction. At its base was a small metal tub approximately two feet tall. There were four very tall legs and at the top, what looked like the bottom of a keg with a piece of metal attached to it. There were two cords, one on either side of the metal piece. Elizabeth knew one was for opening the flow of water and the other for shutting it off. She was about to open the flow when she remembered her hair. She stuck her head out between the sides of the curtain.

“Jenny, I forgot to cover my hair. Will you poke around and find the cap?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Elizabeth watched as her maid looked through the drawers and shelves. She shivered. Though there was a fire in the grate, it was not built up high and she was unclothed. She was about to tell Jenny to forget about the cap when the girl approached with it in her hand.

“Aha! Thank you.” Elizabeth took the proffered item and put it over her head. She laughed at her reflection in the glass across the room. The hat was too big, as it was made for Darcy’s larger head, and it was pointed. “This looks rather silly, but I would rather my hair not be soaked. It is much easier to wash long hair in a bathtub than in a shower-bath.”

With that, she drew her head back inside and pulled the cord to start the flow of water.

Much later, as Elizabeth and her husband relaxed in their sitting room after dinner, Darcy surprised her with an observation.

“My shower cap was damp today when I went to use it.” He lifted his brow at his wife.

“Was it?” Elizabeth pretended disinterest, pointedly ignoring his stare and keeping her eyes trained on the novel she had been reading.

“It was.” He turned the page of his book. “Smith swears he has no idea why it would be so.”

“Oh. Well, is that not his duty, to be aware of everything that goes on in your chambers?” She did her best to hide the twitch of her lips, but she found it very difficult to remain stoic when she was so highly amused.

“It is. He was practically distraught at the idea of my shower-bath being used without his knowledge.” Darcy closed his book and turned on the settee to face his wife. “Did you enjoy your shower, my love?”

Elizabeth could hold it in no longer. She laughed and grinned. “I did! All that lovely warm water falling down on me like a hard rain.” She hugged her book to her chest and sighed. “Where has that device been all my life?”

Darcy laughed and lifted his arm over her head, settling it on her shoulder and pulling her close. “It is quite delightful, is it not? Would you like one for your dressing room?”

Elizabeth’s head popped up off his shoulder. “Why would I want that when you have one in your room that I can use?”

Darcy laughed again. He kissed her temple and then settled her head against his shoulder once more. “Very well, then. I shall inform Smith to be aware that you may use it now and again.”

“Did he really not know?”

Darcy shrugged. “I am uncertain. I suspect he was aware but did not know if you wanted him to tell me.”

Elizabeth’s shoulders lifted and fell. “I would not have cared. I knew you would not object.”

“You know me too well.” Darcy pressed another kiss to her head. “Anything for you, my heart. Anything for you.”

The End

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