“Charles, the apples have been simmering for ten minutes. Do you not think they are done?”
Charles Bingley mops his brow and sighs. “I cannot tell. Mary’s notes were not precisely clear on the subject.”
“The crust is nearly finished. Perhaps, you could try one of the apples. If they are tender, they should be ready.”
“Do you really think it was wise for us to give the servants their day off right when the Darcys were coming to visit?” Charles scoops an apple from the pot with a spoon and takes a bite. He cringes. “It is dreadfully sour, Jane.”
“Did you remember the sugar?”
Charles eyes widen and he glances back at the cook’s recipe. “How much sugar is ‘a little’ exactly?”
“Place the pasty in the dish, and I will see to the apples.”
Husband and wife trade places. Jane locates the sugar and adds a bit to the pot. She stirs and then takes a bite of apple. She smiles. Charles, meanwhile, manages to arrange the crust in its dish without incident. Coming back together, they begin to assemble the pie.
“You really should not worry so much about our visitors, Charles. Elizabeth will not care if things are a bit haphazard.”
“I do not think Darcy will feel the same way.”
“Susan needed to visit her sister in London, and Mary’s mother was ill. What else could we have done but given them the time they asked for?”
“You are right, of course. I just wish their holidays could have come at a more opportune time.”
“We are doing quite fine on our own. Just look at the pie we have made.”
Jane waves her hand over the finished pie. It looks rather normal considering it was made by two amateurs.
“Yes, well, it may look nice, but I am not entirely certain I will like to eat it. Perhaps the Youngs would not mind us borrowing their cook for an evening. Darcy enjoyed her cooking during their party last fall.”
Jane smiles and gives Charles a soft kiss on the cheek. “You should not worry about Darcy. Or about our cooking. I have every confidence in us.”
Charles worried look softens. “How can you always be so confident, my love?”
“Because I have you beside me.”
Charles leans down and kisses Jane on the lips. She wraps her arms around his shoulders and pulls herself close to her husband. For the moment, the pie, the Darcys, and the lack of help are completely forgotten.