Reverend William Collins
The Reverend William Collins wiped his brow as he returned again from Rosings Park.
Lady Catherine was again pressing him to take a wife. When he told her that he knew no suitable young ladies she strongly suggested that he marry one of his Bennet cousins, since their home was entailed to him. She was sure she said that they would be more than happy to accept a man of his station and by marrying him the entailment would be of little matter since the mother could stay in her home forever within his and his wife's care. As she so condescendingly stated, this would give him a wife with some social standing but not too high for a reverend.
He himself had many times heard of the beauty of his estranged cousins and felt that this would raise him in the eyes of his parishoners and her Ladyship. He hoped very very much to find an answer to the letter which he had sent to his cousin Bennet in the post today. It seemed that it had been quite some time since he had posted his missive and he was beginning to fear that the estrangement might be too great for Mr. Bennet to allow any sort of reconciliation.
To his delight he found an answer in the post and hurried to his office to read it. "Glory to God'" the Bennet's would welcome him. In great excitement he summoned the servant to prepare his trunk for a long journey and hurried to Rosings to inform Lady DeBourgh of the success of his correspondence with his Hertfordshire relations.
As the hired carriage approached Longbourn, Mr. Collins took off his hat to wipe his brow and smooth what hair he had left. He knew he must look his best if he was to impress the Bennets and have any chance of taking one of them to Rosings Park as his wife.
As he stumbled out of the carriage in his haste and delight at being greeted by such a bevy of handsome young women, he was greeted cordially by Mr Bennet and then by his Mrs Bennet who proceeded to introduce the girls.
His heart leapt with joy. The eldest would be a perfect wife he thought. She had a sweet demeanor and would know her place with Lady DeBourgh and she was exceedingly beautiful as well.
"William, William, how happy her ladyship will be when she meets your wife Jane. How well that sounded Jane Collins, yes she will do very well and she will be most happy to receive an offer from such a man as you," he thought.
Mr. Collins was almost beside himself with joy. After a rest from the ordeals of his journey, he had come down to dine. To his great satisfaction he found himself seated directly across from his light of love.
After a discussion with Mr. Bennet about the fine art of complimenting young ladies, he had given Miss Jane his most charming smile and was rewarded by her own shy smile and dropped eyes as she in seemed confusion took a sip of water.
Oh, William, you were so right to practice your smiles in front of the mirror those long minutes. You, it would seem are indeed right, this is your most charming smile and she has responded as any proper young woman would who was anticipating courtship from a gentleman. Indeed, Lady Catherine will be delighted with such a charming young lady as mistress of Hunsford cottage.
Mr Collins could scarcely breathe for thinking of the reception he and his bride would receive and the rewards which her ladyship would bestow on him when presented with the results of his quest to Longbourn in obedience to her commands.
He wondered if it would be possible to get a special license so that the marriage could be made in time for his return to Kent. He would have to discuss the matter with the mother of the bride to be as soon as he could get a word with her alone.
When the meal was finished, and he had to admit that Mrs Bennet set a fine table, he made all haste to strike up a conversation with the lady so that he could subtly work up to his question and with well placed and discreet queries find out all that he could about Miss Bennet's likes and habits.
Before he could start however Mrs Bennet informed him that Miss Jane had a suitor and that an announcement was soon to be made of their marriage.
Mr. Collins was thrown for a loop for a small minute before he made a circle in his mind and decided that indeed Miss Elizabeth would be preferable as a wife, she had a delightful vivacity and would he was sure she would delight Lady DeBourgh with her wit and sense of humor. She equally as handsome as her older sister, he decided.
When his young cousins decided to walk into Meryton to visit their Aunt he was delighted to be urged to join them by Mrs. Bennet. This would be a perfect time to press his suit of Miss Elizabeth and with the long walk he could fill her young mind with the glories of Rosings Park and the great honor that was bestowed on anyone connected with that magnificent estate and it's esteemed mistress.
He was a bit disconcerted by Miss Elizabeth's seeming disinterest in either Rosings Park or it's mistress, but he was certain that in time she would come to appreciate both as he did.
They were not in town long before they met some young officers and stopped to chat with them. Mr Collins was shocked at the demeanor of the two younger Bennet girls and the way they flirted with the young men, and right there on the street. Well, no matter, he was sure that after the marriage of himself and Miss Elizabeth the two could be taught proper manners for young ladies with a few trips to Rosings and instruction from Lady Catherine DeBourgh. He, himself, would do all that he could to make them into proper young ladies, also and teach them the folly of chasing red coats and flirting, and get rid of that incessant giggling that went on between the two of them. He must do something too about the disgusting habit that Miss Lydia had of snorting. It would take a great deal of time and trouble on the part of himself and her ladyship but he was confident that they could succeed where the mother had failed.
Mr Collins smiled happily at himself in the mirror as he hummed softly. This had been a most productive and happy visit. He had found the woman of his dreams and tonight he was included in the invitation to the ball at Netherfield Hall. He had promised all his dear cousins at least one dance and given the honor of the first to his dear Elizabeth.
He had been touched indeed by her concern that perhaps he would find himself the victim of censure if he attended such a ball. He however had assured her that considering the host and the company that it would be permissible for him to attend such a gathering. Such concern on her part only affirmed to him her mothers assurances that she would find a proposal from him a great honor and be most happy to become the wife of such an esteemed clergyman as he. After all, how many came out of the seminary into the patronage of such a great lady as Lady Catherine DeBourgh.
As he went down the hall to descend the stairs to wait for the Bennets to be ready to leave he was shocked to meet a half naked Miss Lydia, who seemed not the least bit embarrassed by the encounter. Indeed, she seemed to find a great deal of humor in it and from the shout of laughter that followed her return to her room was certain that she had told her silly sister Kitty of their meeting and that Miss Catherine found it equally as humorous.
Those two would be a top priority when he and Miss Bennet were married, something must be done to curb their wild behavior and he was certain that he was the man for the task, great as it might be.
On arriving at the ball he tried to assure Miss Bingley that her home was almost as great as Rosings Park, but he was shoved along the line before he could even finish the compliment he had so carefully rehearsed. To make matter worse he had lost sight of his dear Elizabeth and must find her with all haste, in such a crowd it would be difficult but he was up to the task.
He saw her at last talking to a rather plain but pleasant looking young woman who Miss Bennet introduced as her friend Miss Charlotte Lucas. He barely had a chance to charm the young ladies with his carefully thought out words about so many lovely young ladies when the music started for the first dance.
He was so proud to be seen dancing the first dance with such a handsome partner and be came so enraptured with her and the music that he made a few minor mistakes but he was sure that she would understand.
He would have danced every dance with her but she reminded him of his promise to all her sisters and pointed out to him that it would indeed be rude of him not to take at least one turn with each of his hostesses. He also felt that it would be most kind of him to ask miss Lucas since he noticed she stood watching most of the time in want of a partner.
As he was looking diligently for Elizabeth, having fulfilled his duties to the other ladies he saw her take the floor with Mr Darcy.
What an honor. Miss Bingley had informed him that Mr Darcy was the favorite nephew of Lady DeBourgh, and indeed was the man her ladyship expected to marry Lady Anne DeBourgh. He knew he must make himself acquainted with the gentleman before the evening was over, but now he was contented just to watch his Elizabeth and Mr Darcy go down the line in the dance.
How honored he felt. MR DARCY, the nephew of his noble patroness, MR DARCY who had not taken the floor all evening was dancing with his intended. That she found favor with such a man only confirmed to him that she was worthy to become Mrs William Collins.
Soon after the guests sat down to a sumptuous meal. When it was over Mr Bingley asked for anyone to entertain them and Miss Mary Bennet obliged. Her father however stopped her from carrying on further and before he could give forth with a song Mrs Hurst sat down at the pianoforte and proceeded with the music.
This, he thought, was a good time to introduce himself to Mr. Darcy and assure him of his aunt's good health. Before he could proceed beyond that message the gentleman asked for his name and upon being told walked away without another word.
Mr. Collins stood there in confusion and high dudgeon until he saw that Mr. Darcy had joined Miss Bingley and the two were conversing animatedly whilst looking at something across the room, with great agitation. He could not see what it was however as his younger cousins were scampering about with a young officer.
Of course, Mr Darcy had not been rude to him. The lady must have given him a signal that she needed his assistance and being the nephew of her ladyship he had hurried to her side. How foolish of him to think that such a gentleman could and would do any less. How could he have felt that such a great man would be guilty of slighting him.
Mr Collins noticed as they moved around the table that Miss Bingley no longer limped as she had when she left the dance floor after their reel. He was happy to see that she was better, he could not ascertain for sure what it was that had happened while they were dancing, he had only trod on her toes two or three time and then very lightly. (He had been told he was very light on his feet by Lady Catherine.) He thought she must have turned her ankle at sometime whilst they were enjoying the music and the dance.
Mr Collins made turns both ways as he checked his appearance in the mirror. Brushing a few flakes from his shoulders he thought, "We can have none of those showing when we ask the most important question of our lives, William." Well maybe the second most important the first must be when he asked Lady DeBourgh if he had won the position as pastor of Rosings Park's church. She had of course given the same answer that he would soon be hearing from his lovely cousin Elizabeth. "Yes, Mr Collins."
Mr Collins was a bundle of nerves as he stumbled down the steps to the Morning Room where Mrs Bennet had assured him that she and Miss Elizabeth would be awaiting him. As he practiced his speech he took a little fall down the last two steps in his nervousness. Looking quickly around he was gratified to see that no one had witnessed his pratfall, bumping down those all too narrow steps. He made a note to tell his future father in law that the steps must be widened.
He stepped into the Morning Room giving those inside his most charming smile and was rewarded with Mrs Bennets joyous welcome and "Good morning." His beloved however was silent. In maidenly modesty in anticipation of what was to come, he thought.
As Mrs Bennet took her leave pushing Kitty our the door before her Miss Elizabeth begged her to stay. "How very sweet of her, he thought, to want her mother there when she became engaged."
Miss Elizabeth began to arrange some flowers in a vase as he started his carefully rehearsed proposal telling her of Lady Catherine's commands that he take a wife and of his ardent love for his dear Elizabeth from the first moment he laid eyes on her. Though she tried to say a few words he could not let her speak until he had finished, any interruption might stop the flow of thoughts and words he had so carefully prepared for two entire days and nights.
He could not believe what he was hearing, at first it sounded like she was refusing him, but that could not be.
Of course, young ladies liked to play the hard-to-get-game and often pretended to refuse an offer that they really intended to accept. He assured her that he was prepared to play the game as long as she wished, since her dear mother had already promised him her acceptance. She however proceeded to tell him that she indeed was playing no games and meant what she said. She spoke of the honor of his proposal but was not able to accept since she was sure that he could not make her happy and she was certain that she could not make him so.
As he reminded her of the how great his position was, the pastor for Lady Catherine DeBourgh, one of the most esteemed families in the nation and that her parents were expecting her to marry him, she left the room.
Mr Collins stood there wiping the sweat from his brow wondering how this could have happened. Well, her father would surely make her accept him, since Longbourn was to be his at Mr Bennets death and he would surely see that Mrs Bennet was well cared for.
Rushing to find Mrs. Bennet, he was much upset when she assured him that if Lizzie said no, she indeed meant no. With loud wails she asked him to have a seat while she consulted with Mr. Bennet and had him talk to their errant daughter and make her accept his generous offer.
From the wails that he heard as Mrs Bennet fled the study he knew that her husband had refused to interfere.
Well it was just as well, no man wanted a wife who had to be forced on him. Besides he was beginning to think that he had made a big mistake, Miss Elizabeth Bennet was far too willful and independent to make a good parsons wife. He needed a wife who would be subservient and that young lady was certainly not that. Yes he had been unfortunate to find this out before he made a huge mistake and married such as she.
What was he to do. He had already written to Lady Catherine assuring her that he would return to Rosings Park an engaged man. Her ladyship would be most displeased if he came back empty handed. His small mind ran in circles trying to decide what to do next.
He was interrupted from his confused thinking by the arrival of Miss Lucas. It seemed that she was a dear friend of his willful cousin and had come for a visit. After speaking to Elizabeth and Mrs Bennet for a short time she issued him an invitation to Lucas Lodge for supper and an overnight stay. As she said it might be best if he absented himself for a short time until things could calm down a bit in the Bennet house.
As he packed his bag he began to think that miss Lucas was indeed thoughtful and observant.
What joy he felt two days later when his offer of marriage was accepted by Miss Charlotte Lucas. Now he could return to her Ladyship with good news. He was sorry that his cousin Elizabeth had to be subjected to the the disappointment she must be feeling when she found that he had found Miss Lucas more suitable for a mate, but she would get over it in time. What a shame that such a lovely young woman should be left to spinsterhood but it was her own doing.
On his return to Rosings Park her hastened to tell Lady Catherine the good news at once. When she expressed surprise at his not proposing marriage to one of his cousins he assured her that Miss Lucas was much more suitable to be the wife of a pastor than any of his flighty and willful cousins.
In two weeks time he returned to Lucas Lodge to take Miss Charlotte as his wife. She told him that she had invited her father to visit them at Easter time and that her young sister Maria was to come too. He felt very proud that Sir William would be visiting his humble abode but he could well understand a fathers desire to see under what circumstances his daughter was living.
When she told him that she had also invited Elizabeth Bennet he was at first shocked and and inclined to be a little upset that she had done so without consulting him. On second thought he was pleased to think that Miss Bennet would be afforded the opportunity to see what she was missing by her refusal of his generous offer. Yes, let her come she must be taught a lesson.
Mr Collins proudly showed his guests around Hunsford Cottage. All the time extolling the virtues of his noble patroness who was responsible for their humble abode. As he expounded on her generous condescension, her Christian charity and her wisdom in all the advice she gave them daily. Elizabeth began to think that Charlotte had to put up with even more than she had imagined. Not only did she have to bear the stupidity of her husband, but the constant interference of their patroness and all too close neighbor the esteemed Lady Catherine DeBourgh.
Mr Collins was beside himself with joy at the reception his fair cousin seemed to receive from her ladyship. Lady Catherine seemed to enjoy the lively wit and intelligence of Miss Bennet. What a coup for him to have brought the young lady here to Rosings Park so that the great lady could see that his family was a worthy one.
Their guests had been there for only a few short days when they were informed of the arrival of Lady Catherine's two favorite nephews, Mr. Darcy and Col. Fitzwilliam.
Mr. Collins nearly had an attack when the gentlemen informed him that they would be visiting his humble abode so soon after their arrival. It was almost more than he could bear.
The Col. almost immediately engaged his cousin in conversation, while he was given the great honor of keeping Mr. Darcy entertained with his stories of the greatness of Mr. Darcy's aunt.
Mr. Darcy, who was to marry Lady Anne DeBourgh. Mr. Collins could hardly wait until the day that he would perform that illustrious ceremony. How his fellow pastors would envy him on that day -- Mr. William Collins uniting two of the most celebrated families in the country. I was almost too much to bear.
The days passed quickly and Mr Collins in time noticed how much time the Col and Miss Bennet seemed to be spending together. He wondered if he should warn his fail cousin of the danger of setting her sights on any union between herself and the Fitzwilliam family. Lady Catherine would surely not countenance such a marriage. In spite of her treatment of him, he told himself he would not like to see Miss Bennet get her hopes too high only to have them crushed in the end.
His Charlotte assured him that Mr. Darcy would not let things go too far between his cousin and the lady.
Of course, that was why Mr. Darcy seemed to be turning up more frequently and as he himself had seen, at times joined in her walks. He was reminding her of her station in life and that she would be unsuitable as a mate for such a great man.
He wondered why Charlotte gave him such a strange look and smiled to herself when he expressed these thoughts to her. He would never understand her, she seemed at times to be almost laughing at him, but that could not be, it was of course his fertile imagination.
The night before the two young men left they were invited again to Rosings Park but cousin Elizabeth had returned from her walk with a headache and begged them to excuse her from accompanying them so that she could get rid of her affliction in peace and quiet. To his dismay Charlotte volunteered to stay with Lizzie and incur the wrath of her ladyship. Cousin Elizabeth assured her kindly that that was not necessary and they left her to her own devices.
They had not been at Rosings long when Mr Darcy excused himself and left the party to his aunts chagrin. He was not gone long however and returned in a very agitated state and went immediately to his room to her ladyships dismay.
Four Months later
Charlotte gasped aloud as she read her mothers letter. Seeing her distress Mr. Collins took the letter from her and perusing it for himself saw that Miss Lydia Bennet had eloped with the son of Mr. Darcy's steward, Mr. Wickham.
Mr. Collins took the letter immediately to Lady Catherine. She must find out from him the folly of his relations. She would he was sure appreciate his telling her at once and asking for her advice. If she was to find out by the grapevine she would be angry indeed.
As he wended his way to Rosings Park he congratulated himself on his escape from marrying any of the Bennet girls. He had been wise indeed to marry Charlotte, sometimes his wisdom and insight amazed him.
Lady Catherine agreed that it was fortunate that he had not proposed to any of his cousins for as she said, "Who would want to associate with such a family after such a display of indiscretion and wildness. She advised him however to communicate his regrets to his cousins, it was the Christian thing to do, she agreed.
To his dismay the Bennets did not follow his wise counsel to wash their hands of their youngest daughter, but indeed had welcomed her and her unseemly husband to Longbourn before they went north. Well, he was through with them, he washed his hands of the entire family. If only he could convince his wife to do the same, but she insisted on keeping up her friendship with Miss Elizabeth in spite of his pleas and admonitions. *****************************************************************
Six weeks later Mr. Collins returned home from Rosings to find that his wife had gone to the village and seeing a letter from his mother-in-law in the tray he took it and settled himself in his favorite chair to read the news of Meryton.
Mr. Collins bounded out of his chair and proceeded to walk about the room in great agitation. The letter was most upsetting. Miss Jane Bennet was engaged to Mr. Bingley. Miss Jane, engaged to such a member of society after the actions of her younger sister, he could not believe such a thing.
To make matters even worse, Mr. Darcy had returned to Netherfield with Mr Bingley and was spending a great deal of time at Longbourn giving rise to speculation of his interest in Miss Elizabeth Bennet.
This could not be. The woman who had refused his hand must not be allowed to marry such an illustrious man as Mr. Darcy. He could not allow such a thing to happen, but what could he do?
Mr. Darcy had an agreement with the DeBourgh's to marry Lady Anne. He was certain that Miss Elizabeth was aware of this. What was she thinking. She certainly could not believe that Mr. Darcy would go against the wishes of his family and marry such as she. Especially when such a prize as Lady Ann was already promised to him.
Of course, that was the answer! He would take the letter and show it to Lady Catherine, she would know how to act.
Mr Collins scurried back to Hunsford cottage coat tails flying and brow wet with the sweat of a man in terror for his life. Glad to escape the wrath of Lady Catherine he stopped to collect himself before entering his house.
When he had presented the letter to her ladyship he had not believed that she could utter such words. Such words from a lady of her station. First she had turned white then red and then a terrible shade of purple. Next a stream of invectives spewed from her mouth that sent Mr Collins reeling. Then she screamed at him that this was his doing. If he had not let that creature come to his house for a visit this would have never happened.
Mr Collins sputtered out his explanation, that it was his wife who had issued the invitation and before their marriage. There was nothing he could have done about it, he could not rescind what he had not given.
"You are too lenient with that wife of yours, Mr Collins, her ladyship screamed. You need to be more firm, beat her if need be, but take a firm hand with her if you expect to remain as rector of Rosings," she continued.
Mr Collins felt that if he tried to beat his wife, he might not be the victor. Charlotte had a great deal of experience fighting with young men having two brothers. He however did not feel that this was the time to voice such fears to his noble patroness.
Lady Catherine ranted on, calling Elizabeth names that Mr Collins had never heard before. "Is this the way I am to be repaid for my kindness to your cousin, she raved. I knew that the girl was trouble from the first day I met her, too independent, too free thinking, not enough respect for her betters. Even though I had my misgivings I gave the girl the benefit of my wisdom and attention, and this is how I am repaid." The list of grievances went on and on.
"What are you going to do about this impertinent cousin of yours, her ladyship asked angrily, never mind I will take care of the matter myself, her ladyship continued," cutting off Mr Collins reply before he could voice it.
Mr Collins returned home feeling as if he had received a severe beating. He entered the door before he came to realize that he must explain to his wife what had happened to the letter from her mother, he feared that Lady Catherine still had it and he was not about to return to Rosings to ask for it.
Hoping to avoid Charlotte he tried to go quietly to his study but she caught him before he could find sanctuary and asked about the letter.
Mr Collins felt like a man condemned to the tower, he had no where to turn.
Giving his wife his most charming smile he tried to explain to her the contents of the letter and his subsequent actions. As he talked he could see that his Charlotte was becoming almost as angry as Lady DeBourgh.
Charlotte however was not one to shout, no she was almost as formidable as her ladyship , for she spoke in a quiet strained voice, eyes flashing in anger. She informed him that from this day on all correspondence addressed would be held by the housekeeper and delivered to her personally and only after she had read it would he be allowed to see it.
Mr Collins slunk away into his study happy to be away from the two women who held his life in their hands.
He had been there only an hour when the summons came from Lady DeBourgh demanding his return to Rosings.
Mr Collins felt quite ill as he made his way slowly back to the manor house. He was sure that this would be his doomsday, that Lady Catherine would dismiss him and send him away.
To his surprise her ladyship informed him that she had given the matter a great deal of thought and that she planned to leave the next day for Longbourn to set Miss Elizabeth straight. She herself would take care of the matter, he had only to wait here and keep an eye on things until her return.
With a great sigh of relief Mr Collins started his return to Hunsford cottage but decided to take a few minutes in the garden and perhaps spend some time with his bees before again facing his wife.
Mr Collins paced about his study in great agitation, sweating profusely. He was nearly beside himself with worry. Lady DeBourgh had said that she would be gone for only a day, but here it was the evening of the third day and there was no sign of her and Lady Anne. Charlotte seemed not to be the least bit concerned, which vexed him greatly. She was still angry with him for taking her letter to Lady Catherine. When he expressed his concerns that there must have been an accident of some kind, an overturned carriage or a highway robbery, she pooh-poohed the thought saying that if there had been an accident they would have heard about it. She seemed to think that perhaps her ladyship had taken this time to visit the Fitzwilliam's or perhaps Lady Margaret in town.
Mr Collins was sure however that his noble patroness would not do so without letting him know of her change of plans.
What could have happened to the DeBourgh ladies? What would happen to him if they were never to return? Who would inherit Rosings Park? Would they keep him on as pastor or would he have to look for another parish. How could he stand to go to another parish after Rosings, it was an unbearable thought. Mr Collins was almost in tears.
About noon the next day he was elated to see the DeBourgh barouche box come rolling swiftly down the road to Rosings Park. "Praise be to God," her ladyship and her daughter were returned.
He would have gone immediately to the the great house but Charlotte convinced him that it would be prudent of him to wait for a time before going to call on her ladyship.
An hour was all that he could stand before putting his hat on he rushed to Rosings Park.
He had barely entered the room when he knew that his wife was right, he should have waited until he was sent for.
Lady DeBourgh started shouting obscenities at him as soon as he opened his mouth to ask about the success of her mission.
Miss Bennet had been most uncooperative and had actually been most uncivil to her ladyship.
When she had not succeeded with Miss Bennet she had gone directly to her nephew, Mr Darcy. He too had been most uncivil, telling her that he had no intention of marrying Anne, that neither of his parents had ever expressed any desire for him to do so. His father, he said had only said that it was his greatest desire that his only son should find as good and loving a wife as he himself had.
She had then gone to her brother the Earl to ask his assistance in convincing Darcy that he must honor his mother's wishes and marry Lady Anne. Her brother it seemed had told her instead that he knew of no such promise. He had actually said that she was the only one who ever expresses any desire for such a union and that who Darcy married was Darcy's business. To make matters even worse he said that he and Lady Rebecca would support their nephew whomever he married. If he loved Miss Elizabeth Bennet and wished to marry her, then it was his decision. They would not interfere, especially since their own son had given such a glowing picture of the young lady in question.
As Mr. Collins limped back to the parsonage sporting a knot on his head and bruises on his body from her ladyship's walking stick he vowed to listen to his wife's council from this time on.
Mr. Collins felt exceedingly proud of himself. He had written to his cousin at Longbourn informing him of Lady DeBourgh's feeling on the possible engagement of his cousin Elizabeth and her nephew Fitzwilliam Darcy. It had been over a fortnight now and there had been no news of such an engagement.
My letter must have done its work well, he thought, but then my cousin was eager to take my advice on many matters on my visit to Longbourn last fall. Indeed he seemed to listen to all I had to say and esteemed me most highly.
Feeling that it was time to tell her ladyship that he he had succeeded where she had failed he told his wife he was going to Rosings to speak to his noble patroness and inform her of his success.
Charlotte cautioned him to wait until the post arrived, but feeling very full of himself Mr Collins proceeded on his way. As he approached the house he met the postman to whom he gave a cheerful good day.
He noticed that her ladyship did not seem to be feeling well and thought that the would pick up her spirits with his message. Proceeding to tell her of his good works with the Bennets he failed to see that Lady Catherine was getting more and more angry as he went on.
His words were stopped only by her ladyships loud, "Silence, fool. So you have succeeded in stopping the marriage between Darcy and Miss Bennet, have you."
"Yes, indeed your ladyship, it has been over three weeks since I sent the letter to my cousin and there has been no news of any engagement.That can only mean that he has heeded my advice and forbidden such an alliance.
"Then why is it that I have here a letter from my nephew informing me of his attachment to the girl and asking myself and Lady Anne to attend the wedding in a fortnight. It also informs me that the rest of my family plans to attend. Did you send them letters too, fool that you are." Flailing her waling stick about she screamed obscenities at the poor hapless clergyman.
Mr. Collins, coward that he was, fled in terror, escaping with only a knot on his head and again vowing to heed his wife's advice and never to return to the great house until he was summoned.
Arriving back at the parsonage he was met by Charlotte informing him that they too had an invitation to the wedding.
Noting the swelling on his head she said "I see that Lady Catherine has been informed of the marriage too. Perhaps we should go to visit my parents until her ladyship has a chance to cool down and think more clearly."
Mr Collins was in a quandary, he would like to get away from the wrath of Lady Catherine but if he went to Hertfordshire would she dismiss him. If he stayed he was a reminder of the girl she despised and she would recall that Lizzie had been invited to visit them at the same time that her nephews came to Rosings Park.
What should he do? In the post that same day was another letter from his cousin Mr Bennet which said, "If I were you I would support the nephew, he has more to offer."
What could he mean by this, what would Mr Darcy have to offer. Mr Collins felt a headache coming on, there was so much to think about.
Mr Collins thought and thought, alone there in his study.
Charlotte approached the subject again at tea time suggesting that perhaps he could ask pastor MacKay or his curate to do his sermons for him while they were at Lucas Lodge. "His parish is the only one that is really close enough to cover both flocks," she pointed out.
"But, Lady Catherine dislikes both Pastor MacKay, and his curate, Mr Collins replied, he disagrees with her and tries to tell her that she should be a more generous landlord, that her farmers are some of the poorest in the country."
"Then she will be happy to have you return," Charlotte pointed out.
The more he thought about it the more Mr Collins liked the idea of Mr MacKay serving Rosings parish. After a few weeks of his reprimands and arguments her ladyship would think twice about dismissing myself, he thought. "This is all that is needed to make her appreciate me he told himself. "Yes indeed, William, he said to himself, you have come up with another brilliant solution to a problem."
After making all the arrangement with Pastor MacKay, Mr Collins sent a note to Lady Catherine informing her of his planned to visit his in-laws and included the information about his arrangements for his flock.
The curt note from Lady DeBourgh to let him know that she approved of his arrangements was all that he need before setting off for Meryton.
As he sat sleepily contemplating the surroundings flashing by the carriage, his small mind returned to his cousins letter. What did it mean, what would Mr. Darcy have to offer him? Suddenly, he sat straight up in his seat. Of course, he had heard that the pastor at Kempton was to retire soon. That had to be it, Mr. Darcy wished for him to take Mr Dahl's place. Such an honor, Kempton was considered a prime parsonage and it was soon to be his.
He must wake Charlotte and tell her, but no, he would wait until the offer was made and accepted. How happy she would be, so near to her best friend. It would be very difficult for him to maintain his silence on the subject but he was sure that he could do it.
They would of course want him to perform the wedding ceremony too, since he was a cousin and such a dear friend. It was almost to much to think about.
Mr Collins was in a quandary. Three days after Mr MacKay's first sermon at Rosings Lady DeBourgh had sent Mr Collins a letter telling him that all was forgiven and that she much anticipated the return of him and his dear Charlotte.
What a wise decision he had made. One week with Pastor MacKay and her ladyship again appreciated what what she had in a man such as he.
Her letter had on the other hand left him wondering what he should do. He could not talk to his wife without revealing to her his anticipation of the offer of the parish at Kempton. Since neither Mr Darcy or Miss Eliza had made any mention of the possibility of offering him the post he thought it prudent to maintain his silence on the subject.
Lady DeBourgh had begged him to try to talk some sense into her errant nephew, he must be made to understand what this marriage would mean to his family, the humiliation was not to be borne.
Mr Collins feared that speaking directly to Mr Darcy might anger the young man to the point that he would never consider him for the pastorship he so wanted. Kempton was one of the most sought after parishes in England. The parsonage was one of the finest and certainly the most beautiful, with it's lovely gardens and lake within sight of the manse. He would be the envy of all those who had spurned him in his seminary days and he would certainly make sure that they all were made aware of his continued good fortune. Two such desirable parishes for the man they had scorned and called rat face. The generosity of it's patron was legendary. Lady DeBourgh was a most generous benefactress but her largess was nothing compared to that of her nephew.
Perhaps he could talk to the sister. Miss Georgiana Darcy seemed a pleasant, though shy young woman, who would want what was best for her brother. He was sure that she would prefer her cousin for a sister-in-law rather than a stranger such as his cousin.
The thought of Miss Elizabeth Bennet making such an advantageous marriage was as appalling to him as it was to Lady DeBourgh. The more he thought about it the more he thought that her ladyship was right. Miss Bennet had set her cap for Mr. Darcy as soon as he arrived at Netherfield and had used whatever wiles and artifices she had to attain her goals.
Why else would she have refused him, her own cousin, heir to Longbourn?
The more he thought about it the more he could see how she wormed her way into the gentleman's affections. She had danced with him at the Netherfield ball. As a matter of fact she was the only one he had danced with the entire evening.
She had flirted outrageously with him when he visited Rosings Park and he and Lady Catherine had been to trusting to see what she was about.
He must do something to prevent the marriage without damaging any chance he had of being offered Kempton. Perhaps it was not a good idea to approach the sister. The more he saw of Miss Georgiana and his cousin together the more esteem he saw that Miss Darcy held for Eliza, no he must approach someone else, someone whose advice Mr Darcy would listen to.
Lady Matlock, of course. Though the Earl and Countess were there for the nuptials he could not believe that they totally approve of the match.
As he approached Netherfield he practiced over and over what he would say to Lady Matlock, how he would make her see Lady Debourgh's dismay at the match. She must be made to realize what heartbreak this was for Lady Anne.
He laid all Lady Debourgh's reasons before her ladyship, the promise between herself and Darcy's mother. The humiliation for the family at the marriage of such a great man to a young woman of no social standing and no fortune.
He was considerably disconcerted by the way Lady Matlock looked at him all during his recital. At last she spoke.
"Mr Collins, I know of no promise between Lady Anne and Catherine DeBourgh. Lady Catherine is the only one who ever mentioned such an arrangement to us. Mrs Darcy wanted only that her son be happy in his choice of wife. From what I have seen Miss Elizabeth Bennet fulfills all that Fitzwilliam desires. She has no fortune, but what of that, he certainly needs no more than what he now has. As to her place in society this young woman can hold her head up in any social situation. Do you think Longbourn was purchased on the market, sir. No it was not, this estate has been handed down for as long as Pemberley from what I can learn. We are too quick to forget the younger sons and the daughters of the nobility and let them fade into obscurity.
As for Pemberley, what does Catherine mean the shades of Pemberley will be polluted by this marriage. Pemberley and Mr Darcy's fortune, are what Lady DeBourgh seeks. She has wanted them since she first met Darcy's father over 30 years ago. When he preferred Lady Anne, Catherine determined that one way or another she would have Pemberley and the Darcy name. It is she and not Miss Bennet who is the fortune hunter, Mr Collins, you can take my word for that.
Miss Bennet refused your own offer of marriage, did she not, Mr Collins. How much does that have to do with your eagerness to prevent this marriage. A great deal I would imagine, is that not true, pastor."
Mr Collins could not believe what he had just heard, it could not be. Lady DeBourgh a fortune hunter. How absurd. Lady Catherine had told him of Lady Rebecca's dislike of her, but this was too much, it was not to be borne.
How dare she say that he wished to prevent the marriage out of jealousy? He was doing what his patroness wished and nothing more.
As the lady walked away from him he felt a little ill. He didn't know where to turn to. He must return to Lucas Lodge and ponder the situation. How was he to prevent this marriage and maintain Mr. Darcy's respect and esteem so that he could go to Kempton?
If only he could talk to Charlotte. He was not so stupid as not to know how she felt about the upcoming nuptials. She would not be happy with him if she knew that he was trying to prevent them from happening. She might even leave a welt on his head as Lady Catherine had.
Mr Collins watched the marriage ceremony through slanted eyes. He felt his dear Charlotte's glances at him throughout. He hoped she was not jealous of the time he had taken to speak to his cousin Elizabeth. Wives did not like the thought of their husbands spending even such a short time with another woman especially if the other woman had once been thought to have been courted by him.
He had volunteered his services for the wedding ceremony but Miss Elizabeth had declined stating that she feared that Lady Catherine would be most vexed if it became known to her that he had taken such a part in the marriage of her nephew and the woman she considered an intruder.
Such consideration, such thoughtfulness, he was overwhelmed by it. Perhaps she had forgiven him at last for marrying Charlotte instead of herself. He had felt her jealousy and regret each time they had visited Rosings during her visit last spring. He felt sorry for her at the time, but it was her own doing.
She had made a most advantages marriage herself, he thought. Mr Darcy, the most sought gentleman in England.
He sincerely hoped she had not married this fine young man in order to make trouble between himself and Lady DeBourgh. The thought had occurred to him a couple of days ago that she might have done that very thing., After all what better way to extract her revenge for his wedding another woman than to steal the man to whom his benefactress's daughter had been promised to since her birth.
There had been no mention of the position at Kempton, but they could hardly make him an offer with the man still serving the parish. No, that would come later of that he was certain.
Mr Darcy had been most cordial and agreed with his bride that it would be best for the Collin's if the local pastor Mr Charles performed the ceremony. Mr Darcy was thoughtful of his position and would not in any way be the source of a rift between his aunt and her pastor.
His consideration in the matter could only mean that he too valued Mr Collins and would soon make him the offer of this much sought after parish, of that he was sure.
Mr Collins smiled contentedly to himself, yes it was a wonderful feeling to be so appreciated by two such great and noble families the DeBourgh's and the Darcy's.
Charlotte watched her silly husband wondering what it was that had him feeling so contented with himself. she knew that smile well.
It is 20 years later and Mr Collins sits at his desk at Longbourn He is much vexed,his wife is just returning from another visit to Pemberley. he himself did not wish to to to visit those people.
His mind went back over the years. There had been no offer for the parish at Kempton as he had thought. Instead it went to the third son of the Duke of Sefton who in due course married Miss Catherine Bennet.
Another Bennet daughter making a most advantageous marriage. Her Ladyship had been appalled again.
He had remained at Rosings Park in the service of Lady DeBourgh the death of his cousin Bennet. Though he regretted leaving her alone he had to take up his duties as a country gentleman as the master of Longbourn. Lady Anne however still kept in close contact with him and his family.
His family, he was father to five daughters just as his cousin Mr Bennet. How it galled him that Longbourn was entailed away from any female successor. I seemed now that the Darcy's would be in line to inherit as their son was the oldest boy in line. Elizabeth Bennet Darcy, the woman who had refused him so many years ago, her son was to inherit what should be rightfully his eldest daughters, it was not to be borne.
If only he could have a son, but it was all too late now, he thought as he opened the letter from a fellow pastor who had been at the seminary with him.
Mr Michals was in the same boat as he, stuck with four daughter to try to marry off and an estate that too was entailed away. Sadly Pastor Michals wife had passed away three years ago leaving him to raise the girls on his own.
It had been two years since Mr Collins had heard from his old classmate and her was curious to find out why he should be writing to him now.
He could scarce believe it, Mr Michals had remarried and his new young wife had borne him a son. A son, why should such a man as Richard Michals have a son when he, William Collins was denied one.
Mr Collins sat back in his chair listening to the sounds of his daughters.
"I would certainly not wish for anything to happen to my dear Charlotte, he thought, but if by chance it should perhaps he would be able to find a young wife too and finally have the son he so wanted and deserved. What a blow that would be to the Darcy's" he thought, as he was sure that they talked often of coming into ownership of Longbourne at his demise.
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