Today's final Frolic and Play excerpt is brought to us by the talented Regina Jeffers! If you have not read Christmas at Pemberley, I highly recommend it!
While at Pemberely, Jane Bingley, Kitty and Mary Bennet, and Georgiana Darcy are out gathering greenery for Christmas decorations with Mr. Bingley, Mr. Bennet, and Mr. Grange when mischievous Kitty get the idea to start launching snowballs at amiable Mr. Bingley. Soon war is declared. Enjoy!
Kitty mischievously scooped a handful of snow into a tight ball. She hid her icy creation under her cloak’s flap and waited for Mr. Bingley to step away from Jane. She had thought to hit Mr. Grange, but neither Mary nor the gentleman possessed a sense of humor. “Look,” Kitty whispered to Georgiana. “Let’s see if Mr. Bingley can protect himself. You make one also, and we shall attack together.”
Georgiana smiled easily. Gathering the evergreen branches and holly had gone well. “Do you suppose it would anger Mr. Bingley?” Without waiting for an answer, Georgiana formed a ball from the snowline sitting on the fence rail.
“Mr. Bingley?” Kitty chuckled. “As amiable as my sister’s husband is? Not likely.”
Georgiana giggled. “Then let’s have some enjoyment.”
Mr. Bingley bent to gather an armful of branches, but as he turned his back, two snowy spheres found his right shoulder. Plop! Splat!
Surprised, he turned to see Kitty and Georgiana hugging each other tightly while stifling bursts of laughter. “Ah!” he smiled largely. “So, that’s how it’s to be. A man labors to please a woman’s whims, and then she turns on him,” he taunted. As Bingley spoke, he dropped his stack of pine boughs on a horse blanket they had earlier spread on the ground, and then he armed himself. Playfully tossing the icy ball into the air, he teased, “You leave me no other choice, Sisters, but to defend myself.”
Jane Bingley stepped before her sister. “Kitty was just playing, Charles.”
“Oh, no, my Wife,” he continued his banter, “our sisters have declared war.”
Kitty peered around her eldest sister. “No war, Mr. Bingley. Just men against women.”
Bingley’s hands flitted in large circles above his head. “Oh, woe! We are beset upon! Come along, Grange; you’re with me, as are you Father Bennet.”
“Charles!” Jane warned.
“No reasoning permitted, Mrs. Bingley,” he mocked. “You’re now one of them.” To prove his point, Bingley lobed his snowball in his wife’s direction.
Laughing, Jane made an attempt of returning his attack, but her icy missile actually fell apart before it made contact.
Totally enjoying the play, Kitty and Georgiana hastily squeezed fist-sized snow sausages and flung them in the direction of the three men. Mary’s efforts were less stellar, but even she became caught up in the spontaneous fun.
“Sorry, Papa,” Kitty called as one of her efforts slid down her father’s neck and into his cravat.
“Careful with my wife,” Bingley cautioned the other men. “Remember she’s carrying my child.”
“Then my eldest shouldn’t put herself in the way of my best pitch.” Mr. Bennet purposely barreled a loosely packed snowball at Jane.
“Papa!” she protested, but returned a strong lob, landing a solid hit in his chest’s middle.
Laughter filled the frosty morning air. Soon, it was no longer men versus women. Each person fought everyone else, and snow drenched cloaks and great coats. Just as Mr. Bingley caught his wife and planned to dump her in a nearby snowdrift, a clearing of a deep voice brought them all up short.
“Yes, Thomas?” Georgiana fought to catch her breath.
“Pardon, Miss Darcy. Mr. Nathan asked me to fetch you. Your aunt, Lady Catherine, is waiting for you in the small drawing room.”
Georgiana gasped, “Lady Catherine?”
“Yes, Miss. She and Miss De Bourgh.”
Georgiana swayed in place. “Oh, Lord,” she murmured. “What could Her Ladyship mean with her visit?”
“Do you wish for me to accompany you, Miss Darcy?” Mrs. Bingley came to stand beside her.
Georgiana shook off the idea. “No, I should see my aunt alone.” She took off at a trot in the house’s direction.
Mrs. Bingley turned to her husband. “Charles, you and Mr. Grange should oversee bringing the greenery to the house. Papa, could you intercede with my mother until after Miss Darcy has the opportunity to address Lady Catherine’s needs.”
“I’m on my way, Jane.” Mr. Bennet followed Georgiana toward the side door.
“Kitty,” Jane continued. “I know Miss Darcy needs to tend to Her Ladyship alone, but you might be available to support her–even if she thinks she doesn’t need it.”
“Certainly.” Kitty rushed to catch up with her father.
“Caroline’s at the house,” Bingley assured his wife.
Jane glanced quickly to where Mary assisted Mr. Grange. Assured of some privacy, she said, “That’s what I fear. Lady Catherine knows nothing of Elizabeth’s problems in carrying to term. I would prefer that she didn’t learn of Lizzy’s anguish from either my mother or your sister. Neither would realize the pain such knowledge in Lady Catherine’s hands would give Mrs. Darcy.”
“Then you should speak to Caroline,” Bingley observed.
“It might be better coming from you, Charles. Caroline has no true affection for Elizabeth. She would disregard my pleas on Lizzy’s behalf.”
Bingley accepted the task immediately, as his wife gave orders to the waiting footmen. He certainly didn’t look forward to speaking to Caroline about such a private matter, but he would for Darcy. Although as a man, Darcy didn’t display his feeling, but Bingley knew his friend had suffered as much as Mrs. Darcy, but Darcy had felt compelled to protect Elizabeth–to be strong for her. Bingley would do whatever was necessary to divert Caroline’s spitefulness.
What a way to end such a good-natured snowball fight? Poor Georgiana has to deal with not only Lady Catherine but Caroline Bingley. Lucky her, right? ;)
I hope you enjoyed this excerpt and the other excerpts in the Frolic and Play series!
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