I have never been so disappointed in all my life – all my dreams for a felicitous evening in Richard's company have come to nought! I dressed myself with great care and thought I looked very pretty with my gold earrings dangling in my ears and Mary’s brooch secured where I knew Capt. C could not fail to notice or admire its soft curves and pink petals against my skin.
Fortunately much of the snow had melted by the time the coaches made their slow but steady progress through the frozen lanes to Meryton. Half of Meryton and half of the militia were there but alas and alack, no Richard, who had sent word and apologies to my aunt to say that the affliction of a sore throat that he had had the misfortune to contract before Christmas, was giving him great discomfort and that he was therefore obliged to stay at home.
I cannot express my dismay, especially as I had only seen Capt. C. at church this morning, where to all intents and purposes he appeared to be in the bloom of health. Poor love, he must be ill indeed and with no one to comfort him. I almost felt inclined to run down the street to his lodgings so that I could nurse him but I decided he would be dull company if his voice is gone and I could not suffer to do all the entertaining myself.
My only comfort is that Diana could not flirt with him all night as it turned out she was unable to attend the party too, as following her revels in the snow last evening, her snuffles had developed into a sore throat which from all reports sounded worse than Captain Carter’s.
Despite my disappointment, we had a lot of fun. We played Snapdragon, which I love, although I always manage to burn my fingers snatching the raisins from the flaming brandy. Bullet Pudding, another old favourite made everybody laugh and choke by turns, not to mention turning our faces ghostly white from dipping our heads into the flour. Denny made himself sick when in his haste to grasp the bullet between his teeth, he ingested rather more of the flour pudding than he would have liked. We had Blind Man’s Buff and Charades, which I think is always more amusing when I have the answers!
At eleven we gathered to hear the singers who were at the door, but they were so full of Christmas good cheer, that their drunken voices were all out of tune and never together. Kitty and I were immensely diverted and could not help but laugh, as a poor unfortunate who was struggling to keep upright, cast about for support, missed the arm of his friend and fell headlong into the snow.
Afterwards, as we returned to start the dancing, I passed under the mistletoe, just as Mr Wickham did. He immediately begged for a kiss and I have to record that it was not the filial peck that I expected. It was far from being unpleasant and if I am truthful, I must add that were he to request another I would happily oblige!