Tedium sank in the drawing room.
Darcy was busy reading a mind-altering book about sheep.
Caroline Bingley was actively stiffing Elizabeth Bennett who wanted to play a rousing card game of Rum Daddy’s Fish.
Charles Bingley was writing a letter in a big, sloppy script and using up far too much ink for one letter to stand. Darcy had lectured him on it already. Charles had nodded his head agreeably and apologized and promptly went back to his messy penmanship. He was more than a little incorrigible that way.
Elizabeth gave up on Caroline and considered the atmosphere in the room. “It is certainly quite dull in here.”
Caroline honored her with a gimlet stare of death, which only made the other woman laugh. Caroline blanched at such a blatant display of merriment. “A lady of any worth knows better than to flash one’s teeth like a horse or a rabid dog.”
“Oh, I am frightfully sorry. I can’t help but laugh at ridiculous things.”
“Well. I can hardly see what you could find ridiculous in here.”
“Oh, a great many things, Miss Bingley. But I shan’t say what.”
Caroline let out an indignant breath. “Such insolence. Oh, Darcy! How will we ever punish her?”
Darcy came out of the sheep world and stared at Miss Bingley with a blank expression. “I do beg your pardon, but I see no need for punishment here.”
“Oh, I see you’re teaming up with her. I shouldn’t be surprised. After that comment you made the other day about—”
“Caroline! Not here.”
She settled in her seat and sulked.
Elizabeth strode over to Darcy.
He slowly looked up at her. “Miss Elizabeth Bennett.”
“Mr. Darcy. I think we need to liven up the room and possibly shock the petticoats off Miss Bingley.”
He looked appalled at such a notion. Yet, he said, “What, may I ask, did you have in mind?”
She curtsied. “Would you care to do me the honor of dancing a reel?”
“With…you, Miss Bennett?”
She laughed. “Unless you wish to do so with Mr. Bingley?”
She held out her hand in invitation.
It was a ludicrous request for so many reasons. Yet, he managed a slight smile and he took her hand. “Yes, Miss Bennett. I will dance a reel with you.”