Hello! Has another month passed already? I hope everyone is enjoying the remains of summer. Around here, kids have returned to school and we are starting to plan for next year’s travels. I just finished my first college class and am prepping for the next one. Though I feared not having as much time to write, I actually got more done than I thought. (It’s amazing how much you can write when you are avoiding your homework.) 😉
But now it is time for another excerpt from my current WIP. For those of you just joining or wanting to reread the prior posts, here are the links:
It is time for our hero to meet the relatives in trade. Let’s head for Cheapside and see how it goes.
Darcy checked his timepiece for the tenth time. They were frightfully early but could think of no other activity in which to engage. White’s had not disappointed, but neither of the gentlemen truly experienced the excellent cuisine as their minds were otherwise engaged. Anxious to reach Gracechurch Street, but not before normal visiting hours, both Darcy and Bingley finished their breakfast much faster than they normally might have. Even a brisk jaunt through Hyde Park had not filled the remaining time.
A sharp inhale from his friend drew Darcy from his thoughts. Bingley had stopped his horse in the middle of the street and was staring off to his left. Darcy followed his gaze and saw Miss Bennet walking toward them with a child on either side of her. His friend was already moving in her direction before Darcy could say a word, so he followed.
“Miss Bennet,” Bingley said in a voice filled with awe. He quickly dismounted and bowed before her. “How fortuitous. My friend and I were on our way to your uncle’s home.”
“Mr. Bingley.” The lady’s countenance had paled upon their approach, but her cheeks were rapidly colouring. “I had promised my cousins a walk yesterday, but the weather did not allow it. We are on our way to the nearest park before they must begin their lessons.”
When Bingley did not immediately respond, Darcy also dismounted and bowed to the lady. “Miss Bennet, it is good to see you again. May my friend and I join your party?”
Reluctantly, the lady pulled her gaze from Bingley and curtseyed to Darcy. In that moment, he wondered how he had previously missed the obvious affection in her countenance and recognized his foolishness more fully. The fear of his own feelings for her sister had completely blinded him to what must have been plain to everyone else. Indeed, Miss Bingley would not have been as determined to separate the couple if Miss Bennet had not been as enamoured as her brother. Though, in truth, her motivation may have been as much to remove Darcy from Hertfordshire as Bingley.
A gentle smile graced the lady’s lips. “Thank you for the suggestion, sir.” She turned to the children. “Shall we allow the gentlemen to join us?”
The girl blushed and lowered her head but nodded, while the boy’s response was more enthusiastic. “Oh, yes! Will the horses come as well?”
Finally finding his voice, Bingley smiled at the lad. “Miss Bennet, may we have the honour of an introduction?”
“Certainly.” She returned his smile. “These are my cousins, Master Thomas Gardiner and Miss Rose Gardiner. Cousins, these are my friends, Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley.”
The children bowed and curtseyed admirably, and the gentlemen responded in turn. “It is a pleasure to meet you both,” Bingley replied. “Do you ride, Master Gardiner?”
“Only a pony, but Papa says he shall buy me a horse once I can pick the fruit off the tree with my feet on the ground.” The boy blushed. “It doesn’t count if you climb the tree.”
A knowing smile was shared by the adults before Darcy crouched before the young man. “Would you like to ride with me while Mr. Bingley escorts the ladies?”
Though Thomas clearly wanted to say yes, he first looked to Miss Bennet for permission which was readily granted. Darcy lifted the boy onto his horse and swung up behind him. Miss Bennet gave him directions to the park, and they trotted away from the others.
Once young Thomas had satisfied his curiosity and seen all he desired, he glanced up at Darcy. “Is Mr. Bingley the man who made our Jane cry?”
Darcy stiffened. The eyes which studied him were eerily similar to the ones that had captured his attention in Hertfordshire. Taking a deep breath, he nodded. “Unintentionally so due to poor advice he received from those he believed he could trust.”
The boy frowned. “Is he going to do it again?”
“No, I do not believe he will.”
The boy turned away from him. “Good.” He pointed to a patch of greenery on the next street. “There is the park.” He turned a mischievous gaze back over his shoulder. “Can we go faster?”
Darcy laughed. “Is there a horse path in the park?”
The boy nodded excitedly and pointed to the far side of the green. After a quick glance back to where Bingley and Miss Bennet walked arm in arm with Miss Gardiner holding the lady’s hand, Darcy turned his mount towards the far side of the park and indulged the lad’s request.
Don’t you just love young Thomas? Want more of him? Well, you’re going to have to come back next month. 😉