The Treasure Chest
A Special Gift for You
By Robin Helm
I awakened Saturday, February 14, a little later than was normal for me. My husband and I had been rather late in returning from a social engagement on the previous evening, and we had been in no rush to fall asleep once we had finally gone to bed.
I turned my head and reached a hand for Fitzwilliam, only to find that he was fully dressed, lying propped against a pillow watching me.
Darcy smiled. “Good morning, my love. Have you finally decided to join me?”
My heart responded as it always did when he smiled at me. After all, I was sleepy, but I was not yet dead. “You are up early. I thought we would lie abed this morning.”
“You did lie abed. Now it is time to get up,” he said, leaning over to kiss me. “Breakfast is ready.”
I sat up and stretched, yawning and blinking the sleep from my eyes. I could feel his gaze upon me.
“I must look an absolute fright,” I said.
“No, I like you the way you are. Come,” he said, holding his hand out to me. “’Tis a special day.”
“Fitzwilliam, you must allow me to at least put on my robe and brush my hair. It would not do to frighten the servants,” I replied, taking his hand and tugging him to my side of the bed.
As I swung my legs over the edge of the bed, he surprised me, moving quickly to my side and off the bed. He stood before me, took both my hands in his, and pulled me to a standing position.
“You will not frighten the servants,” he said, drawing me to my dressing table and seating me before it as he stood behind me.
“I will not?” I asked, taking up my brush and looking at his face in the mirror, musing on the love that overwhelmed me each time I realized my good fortune in marrying a man whom I adored.
He leaned over to take the brush from my hands. “No, my love. First, because I will brush your hair for you, and, second, because I have dismissed the servants from our suite. We will call for them if we have need of them.”
After Fitzwilliam had tidied my hair and helped me don my robe, he crossed the room and opened the door to our sitting room, turning to me and gesturing for me to enter.
“You obviously have some game afoot, Mr. Darcy. What is so different about today?” I asked.
“Come and see for yourself,” he replied, smiling enigmatically.
As I entered the room, I was delighted by the sight of a small round table set for two holding all of my favorite breakfast foods. Roses from the conservatory made a beautiful centerpiece, while to the left of my plate sat a silver box designed to resemble a treasure chest.
My husband, ever the consummate gentleman, escorted me to the table and held my chair for me.
Instead of sitting across from me, he sat to my right, pulling his plate to his new position. I poured his morning coffee as he retrieved his utensils, and then he served our plates.
While we ate, I observed a spark of excitement in his eyes, and I noticed that he continually glanced at the box to my left. Eventually, as he knew it would, my curiosity got the better of me, and I reached for the small chest. He quickly removed my plate so that I could place the box in front of me.
I could not resist teasing him. “Fitzwilliam, this is a lovely little chest. Thank you, my love. It will hold all the letters you have written me like the treasures that they are.”
He pursed his lips, trying unsuccessfully to hold back his smile.
“Elizabeth, you well know that the box is only a vessel for the present, though of course you may use it however you wish to do so after you open it.” He moved his plate and put his elbow in its place, holding his chin in his hand and fixing his dark eyes upon me.
Who could resist the man? Certainly not I. “I will open the box if you will tell me why you are giving it to me. Why is today special?” I asked, kissing his cheek and backing away as he turned his head in an effort to kiss my lips.
His voice held a note of restrained patience that amused me greatly. “The chest contains the answer to your question. Indulge me, Elizabeth. Open the chest.”
Unable to resist any longer, though I thoroughly enjoyed bantering with my husband, I lifted the small latch and opened my gift. An envelope rested atop folded strips of paper that appeared to have writing on them. I looked at my husband with a silent question.
“Open the envelope, my love,” he said, obviously eager for my reaction.
His fingers were actually twitching toward the envelope when I picked it up myself.
Happy First Valentine’s Day of our marriage.
I love you more now than I did fifty-five days ago.
Fitzwilliam’s script was flowing and elegant.
He avidly watched my expression as I read the note, and he appeared vastly pleased by my reaction. However, he soon grew impatient for me to continue. Obviously, there were more surprises in the chest, and I was not exploring its contents quickly enough to suit him.
I selected one folded paper and opened it, reading aloud, “One foot massage given by FD.” I looked at him, his infectious smile warming my heart.
I set the first one aside, picked out another, and read, “One ten minute back rub by the hands of FD.” My eyebrows shot up of their own accord.
The fourth, “A moonlit walk to the lake with FD.”
The fifth, “A private picnic in the grove with FD.”
The sixth, “Your hair washed by FD.”
The seventh, “A night under the stars in the conservatory with FD.”
I could not stop myself from giggling a little, and I looked to see an impish smile playing across the lips of my usually serious husband. “How many of these ‘gifts’ are there, my husband?” I asked.
“Fifty-five – one for each day that we have been married. I ask only that you give me a few hours to plan some of them, such as the picnic. Most of them may be redeemed at any time of your choosing,” he replied, leaning in to kiss me soundly. As he kissed me, I thought of the wonderful, confusing, maddening, lovely, precious man I had married, and I wondered at his romantic nature which he had hidden so well.
As I pulled back a tiny bit to break the kiss, I said, “Fitzwilliam, I have not ever observed Valentine’s Day, and I do not have a present for you. What shall I give you?”
My husband appeared to be ready for the question, for his answer was well-prepared. “One of the papers has a row of hearts on it. If you will ask for that today, it will answer nicely. It is exactly what I want,” he whispered.
I quickly plundered through the box and readily found the paper with the hearts. As I opened it and read it, I could feel the blush creeping up my neck and infusing my face.
He tilted his head and looked at me with one brow raised in question. “Well?”
I lifted my eyes to his. “Most gladly, sir, for it is what I want as well.”
He scooped me up in his arms and strode back through our bedroom door. “Happy Valentine’s Day to me, then,” he said, kissing my ear as he kicked the door shut behind him.