Chapter 1: An unfortunate event

Elizabeth looked at herself in the mirror. She hardly remembered wearing black before. She did not imagine that the person so dear to her in her life would leave her so soon. Her father died the previous day in an unfortunate carriage accident.

Life in Longbourn had turned upside down after the news. Mrs Bennet went into a deep state of shock, and her sisters were all in a state of disbelief.

None of them had been close to her father like her. She felt a sense of emptiness walking into the library. She did not know how to live a life without him.

"Lizzy, it is time to leave." Jane called her.

Elizabeth prepared herself to see her father one last time. Once the service was over, her aunt spoke to her.

"It may not be an appropriate time for this conversation, but we need to prepare ourselves for what is to come."

"Do you think Mr Collins will want us out immediately?"

"I do not know. Your uncle plans to write to him. You may stay in Longbourn on a lease."

"How do we pay him, aunt?"

"I will discuss with your uncle."

Elizabeth knew that their funds were low. She hated the fact that she had to worry about other things than losing her father. Few months ago, she had met the man to whom Longbourn had been entailed. Mr Collins was the most greedy and obnoxious man she had ever met. Almost a few days after his arrival he had proposed to Elizabeth. Jane was in London. Elizabeth was sure that he would have proposed to Jane if she was present.

She rejected his proposal and earned the wrath of her mother. Her father had supported her decision.

To Mrs Bennet's irritation, Mr Collins had proposed to Charlotte who was Elizabeth's dearest friend. They were married soon and left for Kent. Mr Collins hoped Mr Bennet would not live for long. He harboured hate towards the Bennets ever since.

In her heart, Elizabeth knew that they did not have much time. She felt guilty for putting her family in that position. But she had always wanted to marry for true love. Jane understood her. But her mother never forgave her. Now, after her father's demise, she was reminded of her selfish actions constantly.

"It is because of you that we are in this position. Had you accepted Mr Collins' proposal, we would have still been the owners of Longbourn". Her mother said with spite.

Elizabeth never tried to defend her actions. She was silent.

Mr Gardiner had convinced Mr Collins to let the Bennets stay in Longbourn for a few months. Elizabeth and Jane thanked their uncle with gratitude.

But they understood from him that they had to move soon. Elizabeth told Jane that she was going to look for a position.

"Lizzy, do not be hasty."

"Jane, I cannot sit here and do nothing. Uncle Gardiner is not giving us the exact details. He must be having a hard time supporting our family as well as his."

Elizabeth and Jane often discussed their future. Mrs Bennet always hoped that Jane would marry well. A few months passed. Elizabeth spent time in the kitchen learning to bake. Along with Jane, she started supplying cakes to the shops in Meryton. They made some money out of it to help them run their lives.

One day Mrs Long came with some news.

"Dear, Mrs Bennet, I have heard some wonderful news. Netherfield is let out at last. To a single man with a large fortune. How wonderful for our girls."

"Oh! Dear! Just in time. We are just out of mourning. We will be able to attend dinners and gatherings. How wonderful."

They chatted away happily. Elizabeth found the talk disgraceful. Though they were out of their mourning attires, Elizabeth still grieved her father's loss. Jane knew that her sister was suffering.

"You have to accept that he is no more. I cannot see you suffer thus."

"Jane, I expected him to live long enough to tell stories to our children. It is not fair. And all I can hear around us is how he has left us without money. I do not think it is fair to forget how much he loved all of us."

"Mamma is worried for our future. It has been hard on her."

"I can find a position as a governess in London. We can keep it a secret. I will not spoil prospects coming your way."

"But it will spoil yours. I don't think you will get a decent offer for marriage if you employ yourself."

"I do not want to get married, Jane. If I can support our family some way, I can live my life without regret."

Day by day, Jane noticed that her sister was losing herself. She hardly laughed. She hardly joked. She wondered if she would see her old Lizzy ever again.

Mr Bennet seemed to have taken the happiness of his daughter along with him to the grave.