Miss Darcy hopes you all will have a very merry Christmas and a safe and healthy New Year. She loves all the holiday traditions associated with Christmas, don’t you? In Regency times it was always exciting when the Kissing Bough was hung. It’s similar today to the hanging of mistletoe. Miss Darcy can remember in her younger days how her heart would pound with anticipation that she might earn a kiss and also pound with fear that no one would step forward to claim one. Ah pray forgive Miss Darcy for launching into a moment of nostalgia. In our home the kissing bough was suspended in the center of the hallway. Apples tied to red satin ribbons dangled from a circle of rosemary. Mistletoe was nestled in the heart of the greenery and the shiny apples swayed, caught in the errant draughts of the hallway. Such lovely memories.
Chad did come to the Christmas party and, despite the fact he was heir to the Earl of Elmore, he fit in well with the other guests. While the adults congregated in the drawing room, the children were permitted to play games in the kitchen and the back parlor, with occasional forays into the dining room for sustenance.
The party wore on, becoming less formal. Chad and Gillian, along with the other children, took turns hiding behind the draperies in the foyer to watch as the ladies were kissed beneath the mistletoe. When the squire’s wife took over the piano and began to pound out “Bernie Bough”, the adults returned to the drawing room, much to the children’s disappointment.
“Just when things were getting interesting,” Chad said.
“There’s still one apple left,” Gillian said, staring up at the kissing bough.
“Go on, Gilly!” someone shouted. “Stand under it and pay the forfeit.”
Gillian hesitated. It was not that she was reluctant. She’d had her eye on the apples all evening and felt one kiss was a small price to pay for her favorite fruit. However she’d never been kissed before and was not eager for the other children to discover her ignorance.
Stalling for time, she said, “There is no one who can reach the apple.”
There were giggles and a rustle of movement among the children. Gillian squirmed in embarrassment, wondering how she could get out of the awkward situation. Suddenly Chad stepped forward.
“I can reach the apple,” he said. His voice cracked on the words but he winked to indicate he was quite willing to save her as she had saved him a few days earlier.
Gillian relaxed, determined to enter into the spirit of the game. With exaggerated gestures, she sashayed across the hall, pantomiming the simpering young women she had watched earlier. She flipped her curls with one languid hand and fluttered her eyelashes outrageously in Chad’s direction.
He played along, acting the part of the amorous gallant. Reaching into his pocket he pulled out a snowy white handkerchief. He fluttered it under his nose then made an elegant leg, sweeping the hand holding the handkerchief close to the floor. He straightened up, leaned forward and kissed her with a resounding smack. On tiptoes he reached up and unfastened the apple which was presented to her with great ceremony, amid the cheers and applause of the other children and some of the adults who had come to investigate the cause of such hilarity.
Everyone said it was the greatest fun, almost like watching a play. Gillian laughed along with Chad and it was only later when she was tucked up in bed that she had time to think about the evening. Her first kiss had been much different than she had expected. She was surprised that Chad’s lips had been so warm and firm. More surprising yet was the funny, shivery feeling she had in the pit of her stomach when he kissed her. It was like falling, a curious but not unpleasant sensation.
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Your faithful correspondent,
Miss Karla Darcy
PS: There is much to be learned in the coming months as Miss Darcy sifts through the rumors and gossip. Surely you don’t want to be left in the dark!
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