Welcome back to Austen Promises!
Today I have part of chapter 13 for you. Lord and Lady Matlock are still at Longbourn, visiting the Bennets.
Remember that I’m only sharing excerpts of this story. I’ve received feedback from beta readers, and by the time this post goes live, I will have begun edits. I’ll start posting at DarcyandLizzy as each chapter is finished, then give the story a final read-through, and format it. I’m hoping to publish in four or five weeks, if everything goes according to plan. <3
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At that point, Mr. Finch called out a suggestion that the party take a turn about the gardens. “The sun is very warm today for so late in the year. It will do us all a world of good after being cooped up in the house for two days.”
“What an excellent idea!” Mrs. Bennet was eager for some way to keep Darcy away from Elizabeth, and hoped that if Finch got the girl alone, he would propose. At her words, the party all rose and sorted themselves out into couples. Mr. Hurst offered one arm to his wife and one to Caroline. Bingley offered his to Jane. The Matlocks paired up, and Colonel Fitzwilliam bowed to Mary, offering to escort her, which she accepted with a blush and a shy smile.
Finch got to Elizabeth before Darcy did, by grasping her hand, tucking it under his arm, and striding away. Mrs. Bennet saw the look her daughter cast over her shoulder at Darcy but could not decipher it. However, she saw the gentleman offer his arm to his sister and was pleased that he had not opportuned any of her daughters.
Mrs. Bennet trailed along behind the party, allowing them to talk amongst themselves whilst she watched, contemplating the Matlocks and their visit. She was uneasy about the whole thing, and was uncertain how to behave as a result.
On one hand, hearing that their children had not been angels was heartening. Is Lady Matlock as bad a mother as I am? That certainly makes me feel better, for it means she is no better than me, and she is a countess.
Mrs. Bennet’s contemplations were interrupted when the Matlocks came to take their leave.
“Thank you for your hospitality, Mrs. Bennet. It has been a delightful visit.”
Mrs. Bennet curtseyed. “You are very welcome. I am honoured you chose to visit me.” She smiled, then turned to farewell the rest of the group. It took some time to do so, due to the number of people and the profusion of compliments and suggestions she felt necessary to bestow on Bingley. Eventually, she was out of words and the carriages pulled away.
In the confusion of the leave-taking, Mrs. Bennet had lost track of not only the guests but also her daughters. She turned to go in, followed my Jane and Mary. They had just settled back into the parlour when the front door slammed and they heard footsteps running up the stairs.
Mrs. Bennet jumped up and looked into the hall to see the front door open again and Mr. Finch appear.
“What has happened?”
Finch bowed to her. “If I may, madam, I should like a moment of your time.”
Mrs. Bennet’s brows rose. “Certainly. Do come in.” She turned around and walked back to her sofa. “Mary, Jane, will you give me a few minutes alone with Mr. Finch? Perhaps you can go up and discover who ran up the steps? I suspect it was your sister; check her room first.”
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