Hello, again! So, I might have jinxed myself last month when I mentioned writing more due to avoiding homework. Unfortunately, I slowed down a bit this month, perhaps because I was getting accustomed to a new class/subject. But don’t worry, because I am determined to do better.

On another note, it struck me this week that I will not be able to publish this story under KindleUnlimited since I have shared so much of it here. Instead, I have decided that, once published, it will be for a very low price. Or it might be a freebie. (Have I mentioned that I’m terrible at marketing plans?)

Oh well, let’s get to it. Here is another excerpt from my current WIP. For those of you just joining or wanting to reread the prior posts, here are the links:

What if?What if? Part IIThe LetterElizabeth’s Perspective, A Walk at RosingsA Walk at Rosings Part IIWhat to Do About Wickham, Return to London, and Meet the Gardiners.

Last month we got to meet the younger Gardiners, so let’s meet their mother now.

Young Master Gardiner was a joy. He was a precocious five years of age, the eldest of the Gardiner children, and self-declared favourite of the Bennet sisters. In many ways, Darcy imagined him a male version of Elizabeth at such an age and his hope of a future with that lady now included a more complete vision of their children than he had previously imagined.

“Lizzy is coming to London soon. Will you come to see her?” the lad asked as they made their way towards the rest of the party.

“I will.”

“Can we ride again then?”

“It would make it difficult for Miss Elizabeth to accompany us.”

Thomas’s head lowered, but he quickly recovered. “She could walk with Mr. Bingley.”

“Or, perhaps, you could ride with Mr. Bingley, and I could walk with your cousin.”

The child looked at Darcy over his shoulder, his eyes narrowed. “Does Lizzy want to walk with you?”

Darcy started. That was the question, was it not? “I have walked with Miss Elizabeth many times during her visit to Kent.”

“Lizzy loves to walk. If she agrees to walk with you, I will ride with Mr. Bingley.”

“Thank you.” Darcy pinched his lips together in an attempt to suppress his grin.

“Jane!” Master Gardiner called as they approached the others. “Did you see me?”

Miss Bennet met Darcy’s gaze before she smiled at the lad. “I did. You and Mr. Darcy were riding quite fast.”

Darcy dismounted and lifted the lad down as well.

“Mr. Darcy said he will return when Lizzy comes, and I can ride with Mr. Bingley while he walks with her.”

Warmth covered Darcy’s countenance as Bingley and Miss Bennet looked at him with varying degrees of surprise suffusing their features. “Should she wish to do so,” he added.

Bingley’s smile grew as he began to nod. “Is it time to return to the Gardiners? I believe Darcy has some letters he is required to deliver.”

“Are they from Lizzy?” Master Gardiner asked. “Did she send one for me?”

“I am simply the messenger, sir,” Darcy said with a bow. “I know not what Miss Elizabeth has written.”

“Well, then we should return home and find out.” The lad started to run, but stopped when Miss Bennet called his name. “Sorry, Janie,” he said when they reached his side. With his head hung low, he murmured, “I promised not to run away, but I forgot.”

“True,” Miss Bennet replied as she placed a finger under his chin to lift his countenance, “but you remembered when I called you which was very good.”

Darcy held out his hand, and the boy took it with a ready smile. “Shall we lead the way?”

“On the horse?” Thomas asked excitedly.

“Would you not rather walk? There is much you can not see from so high a height, such as those flowers,” Miss Bennet pointed to a few spring flowers growing low to the ground, “or the squirrels which run from the horses.” This time she indicated a creature peaking out from behind a tree.

The boy’s eyes grew large, and he spent the short walk to Gracechurch Street pointing out to Darcy everything he saw.

Upon entering the Gardiners’ home, Miss Bennet instructed the children to tell their mother they had visitors. Once they were away, she turned a warm smile upon Darcy. “Thank you, sir, for your attention to my cousin. He can be high-spirited at times but seems to be quite taken with you.”

“Master Gardiner is an engaging child. I look forward to meeting him again.”

When the trio entered the parlour, Mrs. Gardiner was standing with a child on either side of her.

“See, Mamma,” Thomas cried. “This is Mister Darcy and Mister Bingley.” He leaned closer and whispered as only a child can, “He won’t make Janie cry again. Mr. Darcy said so.”

“Gentlemen,” Miss Bennet quickly stated, “my aunt, Mrs. Edward Gardiner.”

Bingley and Darcy bowed and greeted the lady who curtseyed before sending the children off to their studies. Before scurrying from the room, the lad stopped at Darcy’s side and looked up with hopeful eyes.

“You’ll return when Lizzy comes?”

“I shall. A gentleman always keeps his promise, Master Gardiner.”

With a giggle, the boy raced after his sister.

Darcy watched him go with a smile, turning back to find the others watching him. “You have a delightful son, Mrs. Gardiner.”

“Thank you, sir. Will you have a seat? My son says you have something for me.”

Darcy took the chair nearest their hostess, Bingley and Miss Bennet having settled on a sofa and already deep in conversation. “I had the pleasure of seeing Miss Elizabeth during my time in Kent and she asked me to deliver these letters for her.” He withdrew the missives from his pocket, removed the one addressed to Mr. Gardiner, and presented the others to her. “She also hoped I could meet with your husband in order to enlist his assistance in a personal matter.”

Mrs. Gardiner’s eyes widened. “My husband has already left for his warehouse, but if it is an urgent matter, I am certain he would see you there.”

“Your niece would like the matter seen to as soon as possible.”

She glanced at the couple who had forgotten their presence before meeting his gaze. “I shall order refreshments and summon a footman to escort you to my husband.”

Darcy nodded and looked about the room while waiting for her return. The room was fashionably decorated with handsome, comfortable, well-made furniture. Everything held a sense of understated wealth. The Gardiners were not what Darcy had expected.

“Mr. Darcy.”

He lifted his eyes to find their hostess had returned with a young man.

“Henrich will escort you to Mr. Gardiners’ office. I would offer you refreshments, but I am certain he will do the same and you said it was of some urgency.”

After bowing to her and thanking her for her assistance, he followed the footman from the room, anxious to speak with Elizabeth’s uncle.

Don’t you just want to squeeze Thomas? I imagine him with chubby cherub cheeks and an impish gleam in his eye. See you next month!

4 responses to “Meet the Gardiners Part II”

  1. Glynis Avatar

    Well Darcy appears to have impressed young Thomas so let’s hope he can do the same with Mr Gardiner! Hopefully between them they can manage to prevent Wickham from damaging the Bennet family? Debtors prison is looking good!

    1. Bronwen Chisholm Avatar

      I think you are correct. I cannot wait to share more – the next couple scenes were so much fun to write!

  2. cindie snyder Avatar
    cindie snyder

    I can not wait for more! I love it! I agree Thomas is so cute I picture him being a wide eyed curious boy with an impish grin!lol

    1. Bronwen Chisholm Avatar

      Oh, how I wish I could draw. I completely agree with your image of him.
      I’m so glad you are enjoying this story!

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