Welcome back to Austen Promises!
Today’s post is a few hundred words from chapter seven. Darcy and Bingley are visiting Longbourn, and he and Elizabeth are discussing a conversation she had with her father. 🙂
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Several hours later, when Darcy and Bingley arrived at Longbourn, Elizabeth was waiting with Jane in the garden. The ladies had heard the gentlemen coming up the road, and positioned themselves out of sight of the drawing room but near to the paddock. They waved when the carriage stopped and Bingley descended.
Darcy stepped down from the equipage to see his friend looking toward the side of the house. Peering around Bingley, he saw Elizabeth and Jane gesturing to them. He looked at Bingley, who looked back at him. They both shrugged and strode to the ladies.
“What is this? A picnic?” Bingley’s tease made Jane giggle and Elizabeth grin.
“No, indeed; rather, it is an opportunity for us to speak without the presence of my mother. Mary will be out shortly to chaperone, though.” Elizabeth moved to Darcy’s side as she spoke. “She will probably sit on a bench in the center and allow us to walk and talk.”
Darcy caressed Elizabeth with his eyes. He could do no more with their understanding being secret for now. “How did you arrange this?”
Jane answered. “Mama is unwell today and has remained in her rooms. She requested that we not entertain, except for Mr. Bingley.”
“And I assured her that I would not encourage you, Mr. Darcy.” Elizabeth rolled her eyes as she spoke, causing both Darcy and Bingley to chuckle. “Oh, here is Mary.” She waited for her sister to approach before thanking her for coming outside with them.
“You are welcome,” Mary replied. “It is a nice day, and I should like to spend some time in the gardens anyway, before it gets too cold.”
Elizabeth smiled, and, along with Jane, Bingley, and Darcy, watched as her sister made her way to the bench and settled down with her book. Then, the four of them separated into couples, with Jane and Bingley walking one direction and Elizabeth and Darcy the other.
Elizabeth waited until they were deep into the garden on that side of the house before she spoke. “I was able to breach Papa’s book room today, and I inquired about Mama. He says he knows nothing, but that he promised long ago to allow her to raise us, and if she suddenly wishes for Lydia and Kitty to stay home, it is none of his concern.”
Darcy tilted his head and examined Elizabeth’s expression. “You are displeased with this.”
“I am,” Elizabeth affirmed with a huff. “He rarely bestirs himself from his chair. We are his children, too. Why can he not take a more active role in our upbringing?”
“I do not know. I suspect he is following the path his own father took. It is not unusual among the gentry for parents to leave the rearing of children to servants.” Darcy had looked away from Elizabeth as he spoke, not wanting to run them into anything or trip and fall. He rather enjoyed having Elizabeth’s hand on his arm and wished to do nothing that would remove it.
Elizabeth shrugged. “I suppose you are correct. I am still left feeling frustrated, however.”
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