Welcome back to Austen Promises!
Today, Darcy meets Charlotte Collins. I added a sentence to last week’s final paragraph, so I have copied the entire paragraph here. (This means you read the first couple sentences last week.)
This has not been proofread. I apologize for any mistakes.
I can’t wait to read your responses to this one! 😀
Post two is here.
Post three is here.
Post four is here.
Post five is here.
Post six is here.
Post seven is here.
Post eight is here.
Post nine is here.
Post ten is here.
Post eleven is here.
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Elizabeth rolled her eyes again but said nothing. Instead, she straightened her father’s bed, poured him a fresh glass of port, and wrapped an extra blanket around him. “I will be back shortly. I love you.” She kissed his head before strolling around the desk and taking Darcy’s offered arm. She smiled at Darcy. “Are you ready?”
Darcy smirked and waved his hand toward the door. “Lead on.”
Her smile widening to a grin, Elizabeth did as she was bid, leading Darcy into the entry hall, then out the door and into the garden. They wandered around the paths, for a quarter hour, before Darcy reluctantly led them to his carriage.
“I really must go. I have intruded on your time for far too long today.” Darcy faced Elizabeth, taking her hands in his. “I have very much enjoyed this visit.”
Elizabeth’s lips lifted as she rushed to reassure her guest. “I have had a wonderful time with you today. It has been no intrusion, I assure you.”
Darcy seemed to relax a little. “Good. May I call on you again?”
“You may. When?” Elizabeth’s small smile grew.
Darcy chuckled. “Tomorrow?”
Elizabeth’s growing smile became a brilliant grin. “Excellent! I will be here waiting for you.”
Darcy said nothing, his smile almost as large as his companion’s. He allowed his gaze to roam her features before settling on her sparkling eyes. Finally, he lifted both of her hands and kissed them. With a light squeeze, he let them go, turning and ascending into the waiting carriage.
Elizabeth waved as the large equipage began to move. She watched it pull out of the paddock, finally turning to go into the house when it reached the end of the drive and turned onto the roadway.
Darcy returned, as promised, the next day. The tea service had just been brought in when he and Elizabeth heard a knock on the door.
“I seem to be rather popular today.” Elizabeth laughed. “The new Mrs. Goulding left just before you arrived, now you are here, and I have more visitors.” She stood as the housekeeper opened the door.
“Mrs. Collins, ma’am.”
“Charlotte! How lovely to see you! Come in, come in.” Elizabeth looked past her friend to address Mrs. Cower. “We will need additional hot water and tea items.”
With a murmured, “Yes, ma’am,” the housekeeper curtseyed and backed out of the room, shutting the drawing room door behind her.
Elizabeth’s attention returned to her oldest friend. “How are you, Charlotte, and your family?”
“We are well. Maria and her husband and girls returned to Bromley yesterday, and John and Edith have returned their youngest grandson to Eton, so I am on my own for a few days. I thought I would make some visits to fill my days.” Charlotte looked curiously at Darcy.
“I am happy you did.” Elizabeth gestured to Darcy. “Did you meet Mr. Darcy at the assembly the other night? Mr. Darcy, this is my friend, Mrs. Collins. Charlotte, this is Mr. Darcy.”
Darcy bowed. “I believe we were introduced, but you were called away before we had a chance to converse.”
“Yes.” Charlotte smiled. “My niece required my assistance.”
Mrs. Cower returned just then with the required tea items, catching Elizabeth’s attention.
“Shall we sit?” Elizabeth and Darcy resumed their places on the settee, with Charlotte taking a chair nearer to Darcy’s end than her friend’s. Elizabeth busied herself with pouring the tea, leaving Darcy and Charlotte to fill in the conversational gap.
Charlotte Collins had been a widow for several years. Her late husband had been a rector and the heir to Longbourn. He had not been a poorly-favored gentleman, but his ridiculous, obsequious and conceited behavior had overshadowed the good in him, both in looks and personality. He had left her with little, just her small dowry and a small savings; no home or assurance of additional income.
Now here Charlotte sat in the same room with Mr. Darcy of Derbyshire, who she knew from her brother was not only single, but wealthy. I married without love before, surely I can do it again, she thought. Silently deciding to woo him towards her, Charlotte began to question Darcy. “How do you like it here in Hertfordshire, Mr. Darcy?”
What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment below, if you like.