Chapter 1- Mr. Collins Proposes- Edited
Elizabeth had awoken quite late the morning after the Netherfield ball. As such, the family was already assembled in the dining room when she entered, blinking sleep from her eyes. She had opted to wear a simple pale green morning dress, with her hair lightly braided down her back. The maid, Abigail, had certainly done intricate enough work last night to last the week.
"Good morning" She murmured as she slipped into her seat.
"Ah, my dear Lizzy, late to rise this morning I see" Mr. Bennet commented fondly from his seat at the head of the table. Lizzy smiled at her father, before finally breaking her fast. A few minutes later, after Mr. Bennet and Lizzy had discussed his reading for the afternoon, Mr. Bennet left the table to his wife, children, and ridiculous nephew. Conversation came to a halt after that. Even Jane was too tired to speak.
After several terse minutes of silence, Mr. Collins finally spoke.
"May I hope, Madam, for your interest with your beautiful daughter Elizabeth, when I solicit for the honor of a private audience with her?''
Lizzy nearly dropped her teacup in surprise; he was not serious was he? The only reason for him to suggest a private audience would be, no, that was not possible, Lizzy thought.
"Oh dear! - Yes - certainly. - I am sure Lizzy will be very happy - I am sure she can have no objection. - Come, girls, upstairs, let Mr. Collins and Lizzy speak" Mrs. Bennet stated loudly, hustling the girls one by one out of their chairs. In vain, Lizzy held on to Jane's hand, but Mrs. Bennet easily separated the two. Lizzy, as a last effort, called out in vain to her mother.
"Mama, do not go. - I beg you will not go. - Mr. Collins must excuse me. - He can have nothing to say to me that any body need not hear. I am going away myself. I am most interested in walking this morning'' She begged.
"Ah, yes, I walk" Mr. Collins said with a smile. "We shall speak outside in the beautiful weather that the good lord has provided for us today, shall we?" He offered her his hand.
"I must insist on going alone. I always find walking in solitude much more conducive to ones well being" Lizzy stated quickly, spurting whatever she could think of.
"No, no, nonsense, Lizzy.'' Mrs. Bennet proclaimed. "The garden's look marvelous at this time of morning. Kitty, fetch her shawl from the closet"
To her credit, Kitty moved quicker then she ever had before. She was back in a moment with Lizzy's favorite dark green shawl and a bonnet. Mrs. Bennet quickly wrapped the shawl about her shoulders, tied the bonnet loosely in a bow, and then swatted her daughter and Mr. Collins out the door.
"Now, show him the marvelous roses and wildflowers, Lizzy, I insist" Mrs. Bennet called from the door.
Lizzy supposed it would be best to just get it over with. She walked quickly, so that Mr. Collins had to struggle to keep up. At least she reached a spot within distance of Longbourn, but far enough away that her mother would not be able to see them.
"My dear, beautiful, Elizabeth,"
"Mr. Collins, I have not given you such liberties as to call me by my given name" She scolded him. He simply smiled his idiotic grin and continued.
"My dear, your modesty, so far from doing you any disservice, rather adds to your other perfections. You would have been less amiable in my eyes had there not been this little unwillingness; but allow me to assure you that I have your respected mother's permission for this address. You can hardly doubt the purport of my discourse, however your natural delicacy may lead you to dissemble; my attentions have been too marked to be mistaken. Almost as soon as I entered the house I singled you out as the companion of my future life. But before I am run away with by my feeling, my feelings on this subject, perhaps it will be advisable for me to state my reasons for marrying - and moreover for coming into Hertfordshire with the design of selecting a wife, as I certainly did.''
The very essence of this speech made Lizzy so close to tears of laughter, that she completely missed his pause, and in turn, her chance to speak. She was startled when he started prattling on again.
"My reasons for marrying are, first, that I think it a right thing for every clergyman in easy circumstances, like myself, to set the example of matrimony in his parish. Secondly, that I am convinced it will add very greatly to my happiness; and thirdly - which perhaps I ought to have mentioned earlier, that it is the particular advice and recommendation of the very noble lady whom I have the honor of calling patroness. Twice has she condescended to give me her unasked opinion on this subject, which is quite an honor, let it be said. But the very Saturday night before I left Hunsford, she tells me "Mr. Collins, you must marry. A clergyman like you must marry. You must choose properly, choose a gentlewoman for my sake; and for your own, let her be an active, useful sort of person, not brought up high, but able to make a small income go a good way. This is my advice. Find such a woman as soon as you can, bring her to Hunsford, and I will visit her." At this point he went on to describe all the accomplishments and talents of this Lady Catherine, in great detail.
"Mr. Collins-" She tried to interrupt, but the man was incorrigible.
"Ah, but the fact is, that being, as I am, to inherit this estate after the death of your honored father, who is getting along in his years,"
"I could not satisfy myself without resolving to chose a wife from among his daughters, that the loss to them might be as little as possible, when the melancholy event takes place - which, however, as I have already said, may be quite soon. This has been my motive, my fair cousin, and I flatter myself it will not sink me in your esteem. And now nothing remains for me but to assure you in the most animated language of the violence of my affection. To fortune I am perfectly indifferent, and shall make no demand of that nature on your father, since I am well aware that it could not be complied with; and that one thousand pounds in the 4 percent, which will not be yours till after your mother's decease, is all that you may ever be entitled to. On that head, therefore, I shall be uniformly silent; and you may assure yourself that no ungenerous reproach shall ever pass my lips when we are married.''
It was absolutely necessary to interrupt him now.
"Mr. Collins!" She all but screamed at the idiotic parson. He quirked his brow and looked to her in confusion. "You are too hasty, Sir,'' she cried. "You forget that I have made no answer. Let me do it without delay, I decline you proposal, most adamantly"
"Ah, my esteemed patroness Lady de Bourgh has let me in on that little secret my dear. I know that it is usual amongst ladies to reject the addresses of a man whom they most ardently admire, and wish to accept. I believe it is to secure that man's affection. I shall not be discouraged by what you have said. I know that you admire me as much as I admire you Elizabeth"
"Mr. Collins, I assure you, I am not one of those ladies. I certain that you are the last man in the world to make me happy" In her annoyed state, she had started to walk away from the little man, hoping to put some space between them.
"Elizabeth, I will not tolerate such impertinent remarks from my betrothed" Mr. Collins snapped. Lizzy was shocked in silence at his sudden change in demeanor. They were further on the path to Netherfield then she imagined. Her in the forest, the path was narrow. He was blocking her way back. He stepped up closer to her. "You have no connections, no dowry worth taking, and an estate entailed to myself. You have no hopes of another marriage proposal my dear Elizabeth" He spit. "You have no other choice then to marry me, whether you agree to it or not" He grabbed her arm at this point, pulling her forward. She was caught odd balance and fell against him. She nearly gagged as his slimy hands pawed at her shawl. She twisted and turned in his arms, but he used his weight against her.
"One little kiss between two that are to be married is not so bad, now is it Elizabeth?"
"Mr. Collins, I beg you" She fought.
"Stop fidgeting, this is unbecoming of a gentlewoman," He scolded.
"Unhand me then" She retorted. He gripped her face in his palm, and twisted her face to look at him. She refused to meet his eye.
"Such a strong will, I shall enjoy that" He smirked. Lizzy spat in his face. He slapped her, hard. She spun, landing hard on the ground. He looked at her in shock, as if he did not believe what he had done. His expression quickly turned to anger though. She watched as his pudgy face turned purple. She got to her feet quickly and then took off onto the smaller, tree-lined path to her left. He heard him behind her, screaming phrases that would make a sailor blush.
She sprinted through the trees, her shawl and bonnet disappearing in the bracket. She splashed through mud, getting it on her dress and even onto her cheeks. She hastily smeared it off as she ran. She paid no mind to where she was running, just to the fact that she was getting away. Her heart was pounding in her chest, adrenaline pumping through her veins. She could no longer hear Mr. Collins, which made her worry, and yet made her hopeful that he had stopped running.
She heard something, and quickly turned her head to look behind her, before she ran into something solid. She screamed as hands reach out to grip her shoulders. Mr. Collins had found her.