Thursday’s 300: To Save Elizabeth (Formerly Untitled), Part 4

Hi everyone!

I have finally named this story! It only took me almost 5,000 words , but I did it! 🙂 I plan to go back and rename the previous posts.

Last week, I reused a post, and I fear no one realized I had, because I got no comments. So, if you skipped the blog last week, fearing that I had not posted a new excerpt, feel free to go back and read last week’s post. I promise it’s brand new.

Today’s excerpt is a part of what I wrote last week. Aunt and Uncle Gardiner are trying to help Elizabeth get over her fear of carriages.

Did you know that for a monthly pledge of as little as $1 at Patreon, you can have early access to all my blog posts, including my Thursday ones? And, that the Thursday posts are expanded for my patrons, who usually get a whole chapter?

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Elizabeth had endured several carriage rides of varying lengths in the fortnight since the trip to Hatchard’s. Her aunt had insisted upon them, saying that the more Elizabeth practiced riding in a carriage, the easier it would become. Though Elizabeth had begged and pleaded with her relatives, both insisted she comply. Her only consolation had been having her beloved pet with her.

Brutus loved riding in the carriage, almost as much as he loved his mistress. Always, he sat on the seat beside her, though sometimes he liked to stretch out across her lap. The latter he did most often at first, but after a couple weeks, when Elizabeth seemed more calm, Brutus began to sit up more often.

Elizabeth could not explain the comfort she found in her dog. Even to her, it was strange. Elizabeth could find peace no other way than by stroking the dog’s massive head, or holding him close, or burying her face in his fur. She had stopped trying to rationalize it. Brutus helped her hold the fear at bay, she was going to cling to him, and that was that.

Now, here they were, about to explore Kensington Gardens. Brutus sat beside her, his head on her shoulder and his paw clutched in her hand. Across from her sat her aunt and uncle, surreptitiously keeping an eye on her. Though Elizabeth’s terror had diminished a bit, getting her into the carriage took time, and sudden stops and the sounds of neighing horses often sent her into a panic. She sat still and erect, but also stiff and alert to an unhealthy degree.

Mr. Gardiner peeked out the window, seeing the fence that surrounded the gardens and knowing the hack would soon come to a halt.

“Lizzy, the carriage is going to slow soon.”

Elizabeth nodded, gulping in a huge breath and letting it out. “Thank you, Uncle.”

“You have done very well today, Lizzy.” Maddie Gardiner was impressed with the difference those two short weeks had made. After the first trip to Hatchard’s, when Elizabeth had gone deathly quiet and pale and practically comatose, Maddie had sworn to never deal with that again. Though she feared it sounded heartless, Maddie knew that if Elizabeth continued to be terrified of carriages, she would be unable to live a full and productive life.

“Thank you, Aunt,’ Elizabeth whispered. She did not let go of Brutus until the equipage had come to a complete stop and it was her turn to descend. Then, turning to her faithful companion, she wrapper her arms around his neck and momentarily buried her face in his fur. She pulled back and spoke quietly but firmly to Brutus, instructing him to stay. He took a quick swipe at her cheek before meekly lying down on his belly.

Without thought, Elizabeth wiped her face with her hand, but then pulled her handkerchief out of her pocket and wiped both hand and face.

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