This Shall Not Be
Just a little short story about how Lady Cat. found about Darcy and Lizzie and some consequences.
Mr. Williams was aghast as he read the letter from his mother-in-law.
Mr. Darcy paying court to Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Miss Elizabeth Bennet who had scorned his proposal of marriage. This could not be. The woman who had refused him, William Collins, rector of Hunsford and protege of her worship Lady Catherine DeBourgh, could not be allowed to make such an advantage marriage.
Mr. Darcy, nephew of Lady Catherine, was to marry Lady Anne DeBourgh. Lady Catherine had been planning this wedding for 23 years, since her lovely daughters birth.
This must be stopped, he knew at once what he must do. Grabbing his hat he shouted to Charlotte that he was going to Rosings Park on urgent business.
Charlotte walked into her husbands study to ask what was so urgent that he should have to go back to the Manor when he had been home barely 15 minutes. Finding her mother's letter on the floor she knew immediately what was so pressing. "Oh, Mr. Collins, she sighed, what are you doing, do you think her ladyship will be grateful to you. I think she will be extremely angry and take out her wrath on you."
Mr. Collins rushed into the foyer at Rosings shouting to the servant, "I must see Lady deBourgh at once, it is a matter of extreme importance. Do not stand there gaping, tell your mistress at once that I am here to protect her interests and prevent a most unhappy event. Go, go, make all haste."
The maid returned to tell Mr. Collins that he would find Lady Catherine in the Dove Room.
Without even a thank you Mr. Collins rushed down the hall to the room where he found her ladyship looking extremely annoyed.
"Mr. Collins, what has brought you back to Rosings when you have left not half hour ago. This had better be of great importance or I shall be most annoyed. I was about to depart to call on Mrs. Marley to give her some advice on growing cabbages." "
Well Mr. Collins do not stand there gaping, tell me what has you in such a state."
"My Charlotte has received a letter from her family this day telling her that your dear nephew Darcy is back in Hertfordshire and courting my cousin Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Lady Lucas tells Mrs. Collins that Miss Jane Bennet is to be most advantageously married to Mr. Bingley, your nephews best friend. The engagement has been announced, and they are expecting an announcement at any moment of the engagement of you nephew and Miss Elizabeth Bennet.It would seem that Mr. Darcy has come to Herdforshire with Mr. Bingley and has been spending a great deal of time at the Bennets also."
Lady Catherine turned white, "This cannot be, Mr. Collins, you have not read the letter correctly, you have made a great error. Mr. Darcy is engaged to marry my Anne. Their marriage has been planned since she was in her cradle. It cannot be usurped by a country nobody with no money and no connections. Mr. Darcy would never marry such as she, he is too much aware of his duty to his family and friends, of his place in society. He would not chance being ridiculed by making such a woman his wife. No Mr. Collins, I demand that you go home and read the letter again. Miss Bennet may aspire to wed my nephew, but he would never allow himself to fall into her web."
"I an assure your ladyship that I read the letter four times and what I tell you is the absolute truth, I swear it. If her ladyship would like I can go home and get the letter and bring it to you that you might see for yourself."
Lady Catherine banged her stick on the floor, "This is your doing Mr. Collins, you are the one who has these Bennets as relations. Why did you not marry your cousin Elizabeth instead of Mrs. Collins. When I sent you to Longbourn I told you to propose to one of your cousins. If you had done as I instructed and married Miss Elizabeth Bennet this could never have taken place. My nephew might even now be married to my Anne."
"I did propose to Miss Elizabeth, but she refused me, Mr. Collins answered. Now I know why, she had her sights set on bigger game. She was setting her trap for Mr. Darcy even then."
"Why the night at the ball at Netherfield she was the only woman he danced with. Yes, I remember it now, she was out for him even then. How could I have not see that at the time. Her father must have been in on the scheme for when Mrs. Bennet tried to make him make Miss Elizabeth accept my hand, he refused. He too had his sights on a higher man than I. Why make your daughter wed a mere clergyman when one of the most esteemed men in the kingdom is ripe for the plucking."
"We both saw how outrageously she flirted with him here at Rosings Park. We were far too trusting, your ladyship, I should have sent her back to Hertfordshire as soon as Mr. Darcy arrived, but I never thought that she would betray both of us in such an infamous manner. This is an abomination."
"You say that the announcement is being awaited, Lady Catherine mused. I shall have to take matters into my own hands. My nephew evidently has not yet made a bid for her hand. I shall go to Hertfordshire and put this young woman in her proper place, I will not allow my nephew to make such a mistake. It would ruin his life. My Anne will be Mistress of Pemberley, not Miss Elizabeth Bennet."
"I thank you, Mr. Collins for being so prompt in letting me know of this. I shall leave for Hertfordshire at first light. This young woman will find out once and for all that I am not a woman to be trifled with."
Mr. Collins pranced down the path from Rosings to Hunsford. He had succeeded. Lady Catherine would put a stop to Miss Elizabeth's pretensions. The Young woman who had the audacity to refuse him would find that her aspirations would amount to nothing after a talk with her ladyship.
Miss Elizabeth Bennet would never be Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy in spite of all her plans. She would die an old maid if he had anything to say about it. Who did she think she was. Was it any wonder that his father hated the Bennets so much. They thought themselves far above their station. Well he, William Collins had brought them down to where they belonged. too good for him were they, they would see and very soon.
Now how was he to tell Charlotte what he had done. Perhaps it would be better to say nothing. Yes, that would be best he was sure.
Mr. Collins paced back and forth across his office.
Where was Lady DeBourgh? It had been four days since she had left for Hertfordshire to let his cousin Miss Elizabeth Bennet know that there would be no marriage between her and Lady Catherine's nephew Mr. Darcy. Miss Bennet would never become Mistress of Pemberley.
What could have happened. He had expected her ladyship to arrive back at Rosings Park in three days at the most. Now it was nearly sunset and she had not yet arrived on this the fourth day. She would return home immediately after leaving Longbourn he was certain. If not she would surely let him know. Could she have stopped in London to visit with Lady Margaret or her brother Lord Matlock.
"No William, he said to himself, her ladyship would never make a stay in town without letting you know and giving you full instructions on how he should handle matters whilst she was away.
Could her ladyship have been taken ill? Perhaps Lady Anne was unwell and they had to make a stop till she recovered. But why did she not inform him if this were so. Her ladyship always told him all and trusted him to assist her in every way. If either of them were ill she would surely need him.
Charlotte watched as her husband picked at his food and jumped at every sound from outside hoping it would be Lady Catherine returning. He usually ate with all the voracity of a pig at a trough but today he had eaten very little.
She noted the dark circles under his eyes, she knew that he had been unable to sleep the last two night with worrying over his patroness.
She wished Lady Catherine would return. It was very inconsiderate of her not to let Mr. Collins know if she were not returning to Rosings as planned.
Charlotte sighed. Mr. Collins had said nothing to her about what had occurred before her ladyship's hasty departure but she knew that he had informed her about the letter from her mother. She was sure that Lady Catherine was doing all she could to prevent Lizzie and Mr. Darcy from marrying. She wanted Mr. Darcy for her daughter Anne. More than Mr. Darcy, she thought, Lady Catherine wanted Pemberley.
She knew her husband well enough to know that he would do all he could to help to prevent the marriage. She knew Mr. Collins well enough to know that the thought of Elizabeth marrying a man of Mr. Darcy's stature would be appalling. She had certainly heard him say often enough that it was highly unlikely that Lizzie would ever ever receive another proposal of marriage. How he had pranced about gleefully when Lydia ran away with Mr. Wickham, taking great satisfaction in the troubles of the Bennet family. Reminding her again and again that no man would want to marry into such a family and that the rest of the girls would be relegated to spinsterhood.
"How would any of them even find positions as governesses or children's nurses with such a scandal hanging over their heads," he chortled.
The next morning Mr. Collins ran through the house snatching up his hat and shouting, "Mrs. Collins, Mrs. Collins, Lady Catherine and Lady Anne have returned, I must be off to Rosings Park immediately."
As he arrived at the manor in breathless anticipation he was told to go to the pheasant room to find Lady Catherine.
Scurrying into the room he was met by a most amiable Lady Catherine.
"I can see that you have been successful in your mission, your ladyship, he said happily, you found my cousin reasonable and willing to listen to your advice."
Lady Catherine scowled, "Indeed not, she snapped, the girl was most impertinent. When I tried to explain the circumstances to her she argued with me ."
Mr. Collins gasped, "She argued with you, with Lady Catherine DeBourgh, knowing who you are and your station in life."
"Indeed she did, but I finally got from her an admission that she was not engaged to my nephew. Even with all I said to her about Mr. Darcy's sense of family and Honor, and his obligation to my Anne she would give me no promise that if Mr. Darcy should ask for her hand she would refuse him."
"I cannot believe this, Mr. Collins whined, has the girl no shame. But you had such a happy countenance when you arrived your ladyship. I cannot believe that you have given in to such impertinence as this."
"Indeed I did not. I knew how to act. My nephew was not at Netherfield but in London, whence I went to inform him of the young woman's designs. The first day he was not at home but was away on business the entire day. I went to his townhouse as early as I deemed fit the next day and informed him of my conversation with Miss Bennet. I advised him to go to Hertfordshire as soon as possible and put this chit in her rightful place."
"What is he going to do, your ladyship," Mr. Collins breathed hopefully.
"He said he would go to Herdforshire at once and take care of this young woman once and for all time, he hoped. He thanked me for my help and called for his man to start packing at once."
"I think we can safely say that I have taken care of Miss Elizabeth Bennet in spite of her impertinent ways."
Charlotte watched her husband prance around with a self satisfied smirk on his face for six days. When she asked him what was responsible for the happy change in his mood his only reply was that he was glad to have her ladyship and Lady Anne back in Kent where they belonged.
Charlotte knew better but she held her tongue waiting for a letter from Lady Lucas.
It arrived on the seventh day informing them of the engagement of Miss Elizabeth Bennet to Mr. Darcy. The Bennet sisters were to be married on the same day and she hoped that Charlotte and Mr. Collins would attend the wedding, as she knew they would be getting and invitation.
Mr. Collins turned white and fell into a chair.
"How could this be, he wailed, Lady Catherine stopped in London to inform Mr. Darcy that cousin Elizabeth was laying a trap for him and he left next day for Herdforshire to let the Bennets know that he knew what they were about and he was going to marry his cousin Anne."
"It would seem that Lady DeBourgh was mistaken, Charlotte said, he seems to have hurried to Longbourn to ask for Elizabeth's hand as quickly as possible."
"What am I to do. When Lady Catherine finds out she will be most incensed. She will blame me for being related to the Bennet's and bringing Miss Elizabeth to Kent when Mr. Darcy was here and putting her before him. I am doomed, she will dismiss me as soon as she finds out."
"I think not, Mr. Collins, you are all that she requires in a clergyman, Charlotte said dryly, but perhaps this is the time to ask permission to go the Lucas Lodge to visit my parents. We must go soon or it will be too late to go before the child is come."
"Yes, yes, that is exactly what we must do, oh my dear Charlotte, I knew you would find a solution."
"I will go at once and ask her ladyship before she receives word. Let us hope that by the time we get back she will not be so angry."
"Mr. Collins, why are you calling at this time, I thought we had everything settled about what you are to preach about Sunday, Lady Catherine said, I am sure I forgot nothing."
"Of course not your ladyship. You have it all settled, but my dear Charlotte wishes to visit her parents before it is too late to travel in her condition and I am here to ask your permission to leave for Lucas Lodge as soon as church is over tomorrow."
"Of course Mr. Collins, go to visit your in laws. I suppose your wife wishes to console her old friend, By all means leave whenever you wish. I believe that I shall take my daughter Anne to Bath to partake of the waters. She must build up her health if she is to be married. I expect Mr. Darcy any time now and perhaps it would be better if you were not here when he arrives, since it is you cousin and Mrs. Collins best friend who he has had to disappoint."
On Sunday they went their separate ways. The Collins' in greater haste than Lady Catherine since they know what was to come.
© 2000 Copyright held by author