Welcome back to Austen Promises!
Here’s another excerpt of my new Regency story. Mr. Gardiner was required to climb Oakham Mount just before this. While it’s undoubtedly a small hill, for a gentleman (or tradesman) unused to such activity, it’s a bit of a hike! 😉
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Elizabeth stared out over the view she loved so much with tears in her eyes. How could he say those things? Was I so wrong about him? I don’t want to live the rest of my life with a man who thinks so little of me and my family. These thoughts and others raced through her mind on a continuous loop, until she thought she might go mad. Lost in her reflections and the remnants of her anger, she didn’t hear her uncle as he walked up to her. She jumped when he touched her arm.
“Lizzy.” Gardiner was out of breath from the walk. He was not accustomed to such exercise.
“Oh, Uncle!” Elizabeth pressed her hand to her chest. “You startled me.”
“I am sorry,” Gardiner replied. “I was certain you would have heard my wheezing as I approached.” He gestured to the wide boulder. “Might I sit with you a while?”
“Certainly!” Elizabeth scooted over to make room and waited for her uncle to settle himself. Finally, when he seemed to be comfortable, she spoke again. “What brings you all the way up here?”
Sighing, Gardiner began. “I heard your argument with young Darcy, as did his father.”
“And you are here to speak to me about it. I assume Mr. Darcy is speaking to his son, as well?” Elizabeth could not help the tiny bit of bitterness in her question.
“He is, as a matter of fact.”
“Lizzy,” Gardiner sighed. He hated that he was the one tasked with this. His wife was much better in these sorts of situations. Still, it fell upon him and it was not in his nature to shrink back from unpleasant things. “I am not certain I know where to begin. You and Fitzwilliam had an argument. These things happen from time to time. Lord knows, Maddie and I have had our fair share. I heard what he said to you, and cringed when he did, knowing how … ugly his words were and how you would react. Which you did, by the way; you reacted exactly as I imagined you would.”
He paused for a moment as his niece let out a soft snort and trained her gaze once more on the landscape spread before them. “I am going to say something here, and I want you to listen to all of it before you speak. Will you do that for me?”
Flattening her lips into a displeased line for just a moment, Elizabeth reluctantly gave her assent. “Yes.”
Nodding once, Gardiner continued. “Young Darcy should not have spoken as he did, but he was not incorrect in his observations. You know this. If you look into your heart, you will see that he spoke the truth. Your mother and younger sisters are largely unchecked. As much as I liked your father, I have never agreed with his indolence in regards to the raising of his children. I suppose that had he a son, he might have done differently, but I have my doubts about it. However, that is neither here nor there. The issue at hand is your argument with your betrothed.
“He was wrong to say what he did, in the manner he did, but you were wrong, as well. You responded in an intemperate manner that bordered on vicious. You let your anger get away from you.”
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