Elizabeth is grateful to Charlotte for distracting Mr. Collins with conversation. He takes her interest in him seriously, throwing himself at her feet. Charlotte accepts him solely to have her own home. Lady Lucas begins to calculate how many more years Mr. Bennet was likely to live before Mr. Collins will inherit Longbourn estate. The younger Miss Lucas’ could now come out earlier and the boys were relieved from the apprehension of Charlotte dying an old maid. Practical Charlotte knows that her fiancé is irksome and his attachment must be imaginary. He was however, a pleasant preservative from want. Mr. Collins is asked not to publish his prosperous love. He leaves the next day for Kent wishing all of his fair cousins health and happiness, except Elizabeth. Charlotte tells Elizabeth of her engagement who finds it impossible to believe. Charlotte’s explanation is that she is not romantic and her chances at happiness with Mr. Collins are as fair as most. Elizabeth is amazed that Mr. Collins has made two offers of marriage within three days.
Sir William Lucas arrives at Longbourn and announces Charlotte’s engagement. Mrs. Bennet believes him mistaken since he wants to marry Lizzy. Privately she thinks Mr. Collins has been taken in by the scheming Lucas’. She has been barbarously used by all of them. Nothing could console her resentment. Mr. Bennet was gratified to realize that Charlotte was as foolish as his wife and more foolish than his daughter. Mrs. Lucas was triumphant in her engaged daughter to Mrs. Bennet. Mr. Collins return and Mr. Bingley’s absence agitates Mrs. Bennet. Jane and Elizabeth are also anxious for news of Bingley and his return. Mr. Collins returns to Longbourn but is not received so graciously. Happily he spent the chief of his day at Lucas Lodge. Mrs. Bennet looks on Charlotte as the usurper of her house ready to turn herself and her daughters out as soon as Mr. Bennet is dead. She does not understand why estates should be entailed away from her daughters.
Miss Bingley’s letter arrives putting an end to any doubt that Bingley was settled in London for the winter. She is joyful of the increasing intimacy between Bingley and Georgiana. Elizabeth is divided between concern for her sister and resentment of Miss Bingley. Mrs. Bennet insistent talk of Mr. Bingley pains Jane. Jane tries to assure Elizabeth that he is the most amiable man of her acquaintance but no more. Jane tries to see only the good in the situation. Elizabeth responds, “There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it.” Charlotte’s marriage and Mr. Bingley are two examples. Jane tells her sister that she does not “make allowances enough for difference of situation and temper.” She believes it a good match for Charlotte considering her large family and finances. Elizabeth thinks Charlotte has lost all principle and integrity. Elizabeth believes that Bingley’s two sister and his friends have influenced him away from Jane. Jane only thinks if he has attached himself to her, than no other woman can secure his affection. A day does not pass in which Mrs. Bennet does not repine Mr. Bingley’s absence. Mr. Bennet is not alarmed by Jane being crossed in love. He wants it to be Lizzy’s turn and Wickham be her man. Everyone in the Bennet family now know of Wickham’s ill treatment by Darcy. They all condemn Mr. Darcy as the worst of men.
Mr. Collins returns to Kent to prepare for his bride’s arrival. Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner arrive at Longbourn for the Christmas holidays. Mrs. Bennet laments that two of her daughters were on the point of marriage, than nothing came of it. Alone with Elizabeth, her aunt Gardiner agrees that it was a desirable match for Jane. Bingley is gone and these things happen. Elizabeth had never seen a more promising inclination. Mrs. Gardiner offers to take Jane back to London as a diversion, though it is unlikely that they will run into Bingley. They run in different circles. Elizabeth adds that he is in custody of his friend Mr. Darcy who would not call on Jane in that part of London. A month’s absolution would not cleanse him of it. Mrs. Gardiner observes Elizabeth and Wickham together and does not suppose them to be seriously in love, but is still uneasy and advises her on the imprudence of the attachment. Mrs. Gardiner had spent considerable time in the part of Derbyshire that Mr. Wickham was from and knew Pemberley and the late Mr. Darcy. Wickham shares his story of Darcy’s ill treatment of him with her which confirms her memory of Mr. Darcy being a very proud, ill-natured boy.
Mrs. Gardiner’s caution of Wickham is taken seriously by Elizabeth, his want of fortune making it imprudent. She is not in love with Wickham, but he is the most agreeable man she ever saw blaming Darcy for her not being able to seriously consider him. Love is seldom stopped from lack of fortune. She will do her best to resist. The Gardiners depart and Mr. Collins returns. His marriage is fast approaching. Charlotte depends on Elizabeth writing often and coming to visit her in March when her father and her sister Maria plan a trip. They do correspond but the comfort of intimacy was over. Jane has been a week in town without seeing or hearing from Caroline until she visits Caroline at her home on Grosvenor Street finding her out of spirits. Her brother and Mr. Darcy are inseparable. Four more week s passed and Jane saw nothing of Bingley. Miss Bingley finally makes a short visit and it was evident that Caroline had no pleasure in the visit. Her brother has no plans to return to Netherfield and may give it up. Jane’s letter pains Elizabeth, but at least Jane will never be duped again. All expectation from Mr. Bingley was over. Elizabeth tells her aunt that Mr. Wickham’s attentions to her had subsided and he was admired by another. He would have been her choice if fortune had permitted it. She sincerely wished him happy with his heiress. Her sisters Kitty and Lydia have taken his departure much more to heart. They are young and do not realize that a handsome man must have something to live on as well as the plain.
March will take Elizabeth to Hunsford. “Absence had increased her desire of seeing Charlotte again, and weakened her disgust of Mr. Collins.” She would travel with Sir William and Maria Lucas with an overnight in London with the Gardiners. She regretted leaving her father who would miss her. Mr. Wickham wished her adieu. He would always be her model of the amiable and pleasing. Elizabeth’s fellow travelers where listened to with about as much delight as the rattle of the chaise. Twenty-four miles brought them to Gracechurch Street. She was relieved to see Jane in good health. Her aunt tells her that Jane struggled to be cheerful and there were periods of dejection. She believed that Jane had given up her acquaintance with Caroline Bingley and commends Elizabeth for giving up Wickham who has moved on to an heiress with 10,000 pounds. She asks if he is mercenary. “Where does discretion end, and avarice begin?” asks Elizabeth. He paid her no attention until her grandfather’s death. A poor man does not have time for delicacy. If Miss King does not object to his attentions, why should we? Mrs. Gardiner does not wish to think ill of someone from Derbyshire. Elizabeth has very poor opinions of young men from there and his intimate friends from Hertfordshire. She is sick of them all. She is going tomorrow to stay with a man who does not have one agreeable quality. “Stupid men are the only ones worth knowing, after all.” Mrs. Gardiner invites her to travel with them to the Lakes in the summer. She is delighted. “Adieu to disappointment and spleen. What are men to rocks and mountains?”
Elizabeth, Sir William and Maria Lucas arrive at Hunsford Parsonage. Mrs. Collins affectionately receives her friend. Mr. Collins is as formal in his civility as ever welcoming them to his humble abode. Elizabeth thinks that he points out the features and furniture of the room elaborately so that she feels the loss of refusing him. Elizabeth observes Charlotte wisely does not hear her husband’s ostentatious mentions of their home’s details. He also offers a detailed tour of the garden, but nothing could compare to the prospect of Rosings. Lady Catherine is in residence. She is all affability and condescension. They dine at Rosings twice every week. The next day Elizabeth is called from her room with haste to come downstairs and see a phaeton at the garden gate carrying a young lady and her companion. It was Miss Anne de Bourgh. Elizabeth perplexed over all the commotion thought at least that the pigs had gotten into the garden. Miss de Bourgh looks small and thin and Elizabeth likes her appearance. She looks sickly and cross and will do for Darcy making him a proper wife. After the carriage departs, Mr. Collins congratulates them on their invitation to dine at Rosings the next day.
© 2010 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose