A very Jane Austen Christmas story; Part Five
A Very Jane Austen Christmas
PART FIVE- Pussycat, Pussycat
“Your kindness is only exceeded by your helpfulness,” Jane said, bowing prettily. “I would be very grateful for a ride, Mr. Godwin, thank you.”
Ewan Godwin smiled and visibly relaxed. “I am indeed glad to hear it. Having the pleasure of your company will surely make the trip too short.” Was he blushing or standing too close to the fire? “Mr. Wright and Mr. Atwell will be delighted to make your acquaintance, I dare say,” he added swiftly.
Jane stepped away from the sandwiches and toward the fire. “But you must promise I am not causing inconvenience to your schedule, or that of your friends. What, pray, is the object of your trip”?
“Pussy, pussycat, where have you been” Roderick slurred, swaying from the doorway, “I’ve been up to London to visit the Queen”.
Ewan flared. “Please shut your mouth, Sir. You are currently not fit to be around the ladies.”
“Pussycat, pussycat, what did you do there?”
“Shut your bone box or I’ll….”
“I frightened a little mouse under her chair,” Roderick concluded in a tiny squeak of a voice.
Ewan had turned as red as rouge and neither the heat of the fire nor any warmth of feeling could be blamed.
Daphne rose suddenly, “Mr. Godwin, would you like to retire early tonight? You seem rather under the weather.”
Jane froze. For a moment she was unsure as to whether Roderick’s unhinged countenance would turn to anger as he swung like a broken gate from the doorjamb. The moment passed when he grinned and made his way via an exaggerated zigzag to join his wife on the couch. Jane possessed very little experience with rogues and jolterheads. She also possessed very little patience for foolishness and bad behavior. She strode to piano forte as though she were a woman wearing a coronation robe rather than a bed robe.
“Shall I play you a charming new song?” Jane asked? She ignored Roderick complaining of a bad head and plunked down on the bench with great speed, if not grace.
‘The holly and the ivy
When they are both full grown
Of all the trees that are in the wood
The holly bears the crown.’
The Mrs. Godwins put down their handwork and turned toward Jane. Mr. Roderick Godwin exited the room like a dog that slinks away when it catches a whiff of a wolf. Mr. Ewan Godwin moved toward the piano forte with his head cocked curiously to one side and a look of amazement on his face. All he could think to say was…
‘O, the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing of the choir.”
When they sang together the room felt warmer. It made everyone notice the lacey pattern of frost on the window glass and the earthy smell of chestnuts and pecans in the silvered dish. The tone of their voices matched as well as the setting winter sun matched the flashes of firelight in the iron grate. But no one was looking at the fire.
That night Jane went to bed with a feeling of flurry. Her chest felt like a belltower; tailors withing ringing wildly. She kept telling herself it was on account of being in a different bed, and also on account of the trouble with Cousin Imogene, and also the upset luggage, and the borrowed clothes, and the anticipation of the morning’s journey. But as the snow began to fall again it quieted her thoughts and buried her worries in a snowbank shaped like a featherdown pillow. A rose-colored velvet drape served as a theatrical curtain as she lay watching the soft snowflakes. All became quiet and smooth.
Until she sprung up in bed. It really was snowing in earnest. She wondered if they might be stranded in the morning. The elder Mrs. Godwin shuffled past her door humming ‘The Holly and the Ivy’.
Jane settled back down—there was not a thing she could do one way or the other. She might as well enjoy nature’s theatrical and watch the snow fluttering down. Soon her eyelids fluttered down, and she missed the woods filling up with the weight of snow.
ELECT YOUR ENTANGLEMENT
There’s not a thing you can do tonight. You won’t be able to help Jane if indeed she is getting snowed in. Don’t worry about whether that letter she wrote to her mother and Cassandra will be dispatched. Don’t worry about Aunt Seymour and Cousin Imogene. There’s not a thing you can do tonight. You might as well go to sleep and check back in the morning. We will be able to ascertain the situation better in the morning.