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The Bennets were engaged to dine with
the Lucases and again during the chief of the day was Miss Lucas so
kind as to
listen to Mr. Collins.
In as short a time as Mr. Collins's long speeches would allow, everything was settled between them to the satisfaction of both; and as they entered the house he earnestly entreated her to name the day that was to make him the happiest of men; and though such a solicitation must be waived for the present, the lady felt no inclination to trifle with his happiness. The stupidity with which he was favoured by nature must guard his courtship from any charm that could make a woman wish for its continuance; and Miss Lucas, who accepted him solely from the pure and disinterested desire of an establishment, cared not how soon that establishment were gained.
Sir William and Lady
Lucas were speedily
applied to for their consent; and it was bestowed with a most joyful
circumstances made it a most eligible match for their daughter, to whom
could give little fortune; and his prospects of future wealth were
fair. Lady Lucas
began directly to
calculate, with more interest than the matter had ever excited before,
years longer Mr. Bennet was likely to live; and Sir William gave it as
opinion, that whenever Mr. Collins should be in possession of the
estate, it would be highly expedient that both he and his wife should
their appearance at St. James's. The whole family, in short, were
overjoyed on the occasion. The
girls formed hopes of coming out a year or two sooner
than they might
have done; and the boys were relieved from their apprehension of
As he was to begin his journey too early on the morrow to see any of the family, the ceremony of leave-taking was performed when the ladies moved for the night; and Mrs. Bennet, with great politeness and cordiality, said how happy they should be to see him at Longbourn again, whenever his engagements might allow him to visit them.
"My dear madam," he replied, "this invitation is particularly gratifying, because it is what I have been hoping to receive; and you may be very certain that I shall avail myself of it as soon as possible."
They were all astonished; and Mr. Bennet, who could by no means wish for so speedy a return, immediately said:
"But is there not danger of Lady Catherine's disapprobation here, my good sir? You had better neglect your relations than run the risk of offending your patroness."
"My dear sir," replied Mr. Collins," I am particularly obliged to you for this friendly caution, and you may depend upon my not taking so material a step without her ladyship's concurrence."
"You cannot be too much upon your guard. Risk anything rather than her displeasure; and if you find it likely to be raised by your coming to us again, which I should think exceedingly probable, stay quietly at home, and be satisfied that we shall take no offence."
"Believe me, my dear sir, my gratitude is warmly excited, by such affectionate attention; and depend upon it, you will speedily receive from me a letter of thanks for this, and for every other mark of your regard during my stay in Hertfordshire. As for my fair cousins, though my absence may not be long enough to render it necessary, I shall now take the liberty of wishing them health and happiness, not excepting my cousin Elizabeth."
With proper civilities
the ladies then
withdrew; all of them equally surprised that he meditated a quick
return. Mrs. Bennet
wished to understand by it that
he thought of paying his addresses to one of her younger girls, and
have been prevailed on to accept him.
She rated his abilities much higher than any of the
others; there was a
solidity in his reflections which often struck her, and though by no
clever as herself, she thought that if encouraged to read and improve
by such an example as hers, he might become a very agreeable companion. But on the following
morning, every hope of
this kind was done away. Miss
called soon after breakfast, and in a private conference with
The possibility of Mr. Collins's fancying herself in love with her friend had once occurred to Elizabeth within the last day or two; but that Charlotte could encourage him seemed almost as far from possibility as she could encourage him herself, and her astonishment was consequently so great as to overcome at first the bounds of decorum, and she could not help crying out:
"Engaged to Mr. Collins! My dear
The steady countenance which Miss Lucas had commanded in telling her story, gave way to a momentary confusion here on receiving so direct a reproach; though, as it was no more than she expected, she soon regained her composure, and calmly replied:
"Why should you be surprised, my dear Eliza? Do you think it incredible that Mr. Collins should be able to procure any woman's good opinion, because he was not so happy as to succeed with you?"
"I see what you are