Welcome back to Austen Promises!
Today I have part of chapter 12 for you. Lord and Lady Matlock have arrived in Meryton and are at Netherfield, preparing to visit the Bennets. They’re talking with Mr. Finch, who is, in Mrs. Bennet’s mind, a better option for Lizzy than Darcy is.
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By the time they arrived, Mr. Finch had returned from whatever had kept him out of the house and was seated with Caroline and Louisa in the drawing room. Darcy made the introductions, as Bingley and Hurst had yet to arrive.
“My son tells me your mother was a Cavendish.” Lord Matlock began to grill Finch before they were even seated.
“A Cavendish? Which one?” Lady Matlock’s interest was immediately piqued.
Thereafter followed a brief conversation of Finch’s parentage and connections.
“How did you come to be in Hertfordshire?” Lady Matlock was interested in everyone’s story. Her husband often called her nosy, but her curiosity was frequently useful, so she felt free to allow it to run amuck.
“Bingley invited me to his ball and I stayed.” Finch threw his hands up and laughed. “The ladies in this area are uncommonly pretty, and I have taken a fancy to one. Her mother is very welcoming and I believe that when I make my offer, it will be accepted.”
Matlock’s brows rose. “You are offering for the mother?”
Finch turned dark red. “No, no. I meant the mother will surely support my suit and encourage her daughter to accept me.”
“Do you think you cannot convince the girl on your own merits?” The earl’s voice turned sharp. “How can you expect to make her happy if she is forced to wed you?”
Finch shifted uncomfortably. “I will be happy and that is really all that matters. The girl will be relieved, I am sure. She has but a tiny portion, if rumours are true. She may never receive another proposal.” With a sudden burst of confidence, he finished. “I am certain she will accept me.”
Matlock opened his mouth to say more, but Darcy cleared his throat and shook his head just a tiny bit, so the earl subsided.
“So, you have stayed and courted this young lady? Is she of good family, despite her small portion?” Lady Matlock examined Finch’s expression closely.
Finch did not relax, but he did reply readily enough. “Her family is one of the chief families in the area. I believe only Sir William Lucas ranks higher, and that is due to his knighthood alone. She is well-bred and everything a gentleman of my position would want in a wife.”
“I should like to meet her. Perhaps I can do that while we are here.” The countess turned to her husband, who sat nearby.
Lord Matlock nodded slowly. “Indeed, we can do that. Perhaps tomorrow-?”
The earl was interrupted by the housekeeper’s announcement of the meal.
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