Welcome back to Austen Promises!
Here is another excerpt from Lady Catherine Impedes. It’s a little longer than the last couple have been. I was able to get more written last week than I have for several previous ones. I think I might be back on track with it! 😀
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Looking up with a nod, Lord Matlock agreed. “He was. He had seen how like your mother my niece was, and having gone through the pain of losing Lady Anne, he did not wish for you to follow in his footsteps. He wanted you to marry a strong and healthy woman who would have a good chance of surviving into old age alongside you. I supported him in this.” Matlock gestured to his sons. “My Audra gave me my heir and a spare, and more, and is healthy as a horse. I cannot imagine what it would have been like to guide them to adulthood without her.
“I have spoken to Catherine many times about Anne and this ‘engagement.’ She has brushed me off each time.” His voice trailed off as he added, “There is something…”
“Something is wrong in that household, Father. At Rosings, I mean,” Viscount Tansley spoke up. “I have not been able to put my finger on it, but each time I am there, I can feel something in the air.” He turned to his brother. “Have you felt it, Brother?”
“I have. It is almost…fear, or desperation. The servants tiptoe around and shrink away when someone near them moves unexpectedly.”
“I have noticed it, as well,” Darcy interjected. “I have not understood it; my aunt is fond of managing everyone around her, but she has never been violent or mean.”
“Well, regardless, I must speak to her about her behavior to Mrs. Darcy. My sister has been aware for years that you were not likely to marry her daughter; why she would come here now and stir up trouble is beyond my comprehension. Where might I find her?”
“She has stayed in her rooms for most of the time she has been here. She has claimed fatigue as her reason for doing so.”
Lord Matlock stood, his sons and nephew following suit. “Lead on, then. I assume there is a sitting room attached to her chambers that we can use for our meeting?”
“There is. Follow me.”
Five minutes later, the gentlemen were seating themselves in Lady Catherine’s sitting room. The lady herself was nervously smoothing her skirt in the face of her brother’s sternness. Realizing what she was doing, Lady Catherine sat up straight, her spine rigid and her hands clasped in her lap, every inch the proper and imperturbable daughter of an earl. She waited for Lord Matlock to speak.
“Sister, I have come here at Darcy’s request. He says that you arrived at this house, the house of his friend, and confronted his wife. He claims that you insulted her and offered her money to leave him.” The earl watched his sister as she tried not to squirm. The clasping and unclasping of her hands, in combination with the constant smoothing of her skirts just a few minutes ago, told him clearly that Lady Catherine was uncomfortable. As they had always been close, Lord Matlock was able to spot the signs with ease. “It is true, is it not?”
When Lady Catherine shook her head and began to open her mouth to protest, her brother raised his hand. “No, Cathy, no. I see the signs that you are anxious. It would be much easier for all of us if you are honest.”
Seeing in her brother’s expression that he would not be gainsaid, Lady Catherine conceded. “I did do as Darcy said.” She lifted her chin, firming her lips to keep from licking them and donning the haughty expression that worked so well to keep everyone else at bay.
“Why? We have spoken of this before, that Darcy’s parents did not want a marriage between them. I had thought you understood that your position on the matter was untenable. Was I wrong?”
“No, you were not wrong. I did understand what you told me. However, Anne is set on having Darcy as her husband.”
“So? What is your point? You are her mother and the mistress of Rosings; you set the tone and she must follow it. I know that she is of age, but she lives in your home and must abide by your decisions and rules.”
“You know how my daughter is, Brother. Surely you can see that it is better to appease her.”
“Appease her? What do you mean, appease her?”
The Viscount, his interest piqued and a suspicion floating around in his head, parroted his father. “Yes, Aunt, what do you mean ‘appease her’?”
“Anne is…used to getting her way. She is so…delicate, you know, and…”
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