Republished with the author's permission
Extract from:CHAPTER 1
"...and considering Mr. Collins's character, connections, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state."
Poor Charlotte! -- it was melancholy to leave her to such society! -- But she had chosen it with her eyes open.
- Jane Austen
Down the staircase, quiet and composed, came Charlotte Collins, holding her youngest daughter, Eliza, by the hand.
"My dear Mr. Collins," she said. "Whatever can be the matter? Are the pigs in the garden yet again?"
Under her calm gaze, Mr. Collins stopped his fidgeting and tried to straighten his neck-bands. But he could not hold back his news without exploding.
"Mrs. Collins, the most delightful news. Longbourn is ours at last!"
There could be only one explanation.
"Oh, Mr. Collins," said Charlotte. "Has Mr. Bennet died? Dear me, so very sad for Mrs. Bennet and the family. And my poor Elizabeth, how she will be grieved."
Feeling her quiet reproof, Mr. Collins flushed. He endeavored to control his elation and put on a more respectful expression. It was his duty, after all, to mourn for his cousin, however much his instincts urged him to wave his arms and caper.
Thirteen years of marriage had changed them both. Mr. Collins was a pear-shaped man, with a tonsure of pink scalp surrounded by thinning hair. His figure, like his brain, was layered with suet, and his self- esteem had grown with his waistline. Lady Catherine de Bourgh's continued patronage until her death two years previously) had made him sufficiently prosperous; despite the arrival over the years of five children, the Collinses lived comfortably. But always at the back of his mind and the forefront of his dreams had been his prospects: he was heir to the estate of Longbourn. He would inherit on the death of Mr. Bennet, father of Charlotte's dear friend Elizabeth, married some twelve years to Mr. Darcy of Pemberley, nephew to Lady Catherine. As each year was added to Mr. Bennet's age, so did Mr. Collins's longing increase.
Now Mr. Bennet was dead.
Charlotte Collins, forty, and the mother of five living children, was also fuller in the figure than when she and Elizabeth Bennet sat out together at assemblies. The tight lacing that accompanied the present fashion for full-skirted gowns constricted her waist, and emphasized her matronly bust and hips. Under the muslin cap, the wings of sleek brown hair worn over her ears were lightly touched with silver. The hair was twisted into a large braided knot at the back of her head in a variation of a style becoming fashionable in imitation of the young Queen Victoria, newly come to the throne; Charlotte did not aspire to ringlets. The lines on her face showed that pain and worry had not been strangers; but it was a calm face, and a decided one. Her eyes showed patience, and her lips closed firmly together (as if there were much she did not say); her chin was tucked back with resolution. She had, in the words of the old saying, "made her bed" when she chose to marry Mr. Collins, and she had slept in it for thirteen uphill years. It had not been a bed of roses, but Charlotte was not one to repine. She endured her thorns as best she could, and cultivated her flowers. She governed her small kingdom efficiently and well, and found enjoyment still in many things. Her smile, as she tended her children and went about her housewifely duties, was infrequent but sweet. And her laugh, when she played with her smallest daughter, Eliza, was still young.
Extract from:CHAPTER 3
She now began to comprehend that he was exactly the man, who, in disposition and talents, would most suit her.
"But the wife of Mr. Darcy must have such extraordinary sources of happiness . . ."
- Jane Austen
At ten o'clock that night, Elizabeth joined her husband in his study. He had been out most of the day visiting his tenant-farmers with his steward, and at dinner seemed weary and preoccupied. There had been a rash of rick-burnings in the neighborhood, not Pemberley tenants but close by, and discontent was infectious. The unrest among the working-class was a source of anxiety. But now the house was quiet. Fitz was staying with cousins in Scotland, Juliet and Henry had retired to their rooms, Juliet to try on her latest evening ensemble and pester her maid, Henry to work on his `Ode to Eliza.'
Mr. Darcy was writing a letter. Elizabeth still enjoyed her moments alone with her husband. She made light conversation for a few minutes, circling round her subject. Mr. Darcy put down his pen.
"Dearest Elizabeth," he said. "Dare I say that you begin to remind me of Caroline Bingley? You are full to the brim with news. If you cannot let me finish my letter, pray tell me what is disturbing you."
"Poor Caroline. So sad she never married," said Elizabeth absently. Caroline Bingley still lived with her sister, Mrs. Hurst, now a widow. Her disposition had not improved. She paid regular visits to the Bingleys and, rather more often, descended on Georgiana Darcy, now married to Lord Charles Baluster.
Henry had arrived home late one night the previous week, and had poured out his world-shattering news at the breakfast table the following morning. Elizabeth had already discussed the problem with her husband.
Now she rose from her chair and took a quick invigorating turn about the room. Coming to rest at his side, she leaned over him, placing one hand on his shoulder and laying her cheek gently against the top of his head. His hair was still thick but silvered, at the sides quite noticeably, and with a sprinkling of white hairs intermingled with the dark beneath her cheek. He was fifty-three.
"It's poor Henry. Jane has had the most splendid idea. We are to give a ball, Mr. Darcy," she said. "To celebrate Juliet's birthday and Henry's entr,e into society. Ask all our young people. Then there will be nothing singular in inviting Eliza Collins. Who knows, seen among his friends, Henry may not find her out of the way. And if he still does, well, we will deal with that when we come to it. Charlotte has excellent sense. And Eliza may not care for Henry -- though how she could help it I really do not know," finished Elizabeth, with a touch of indignation in her tone. Fitz, the elder boy and the heir, bore a strong physical resemblance to his father; Henry, the younger son, with a shape of face and color of eye more like her own, strongly resembled his father in disposition; Elizabeth adored them both.
"We are plunged, it seems, into matchmaking," said Mr. Darcy with a tired smile. "It is likely Fitz will marry his cousin, and Amabel is handsome, good- natured and unaffected, very like her mother, yet with something of her father's lively enjoyment of life. They should do very well together. Juliet is young and heedless; she will need guidance, but she may well make a good match. But Henry," he paused. "I admit I cannot like the connection. I should prefer him to make an unexceptionable choice."
Elizabeth kissed his hair. "We shall see. I shall do all I can to turn his thoughts in a different direction. He is over young to think of marriage, after all. Dorothea Brandon is a delightful girl -- or perhaps a visit to France and Italy might distract him, the old Grand Tour?"
Mr. Darcy's hand went quickly up to brush her cheek. "I am sure, Mrs. Darcy, anything you do will be for the best. Shall we retire? I find I am somewhat weary from my long ride today. These rick burnings in the district are worrying. I hope they will not spread to our land."
Elizabeth looked a little conscious. "I would not have you tired for all the world," she said. "By all means, let us go up."
Extract from:CHAPTER 4
Whom Shall We Invite?
"I accordingly invited them this morning . . ."
The prospect of the . . . ball was extremely agreeable to every female of the family.
- Jane Austen
On his return to Pemberley from Longbourn, Henry Darcy, Oxford graduate, tried to analyze his feelings, this sudden overwhelming attraction he felt to Eliza Collins, the odd girl who liked cats and caterpillars, looked at him with a prim mouth and laughing eyes, and encouraged him to talk. He had known her just three days. Her father was pompous and dull, her mother calm and pleasant, her sisters unremarkable. Jonathan, Eliza's brother, he liked. The three of them had walked and talked, Henry telling of Oxford, Jonathan of Cambridge, Henry of Keats and Byron and Shelley, and Jonathan of South America and the South Sea Islands, stag beetles and stick insects, while Eliza danced along beside them and turned over logs and rocks, whereupon she and her brother pored over the skittering inhabitants. It was she who listened and, by some apt question and the deep interest she took in all they had to say, set them off again. She was nothing like his sister, or his sister's friends. She was not self-conscious or coy; she made no attempt to attract. Her voice was clear and musical. In the evenings she and Jonathan sometimes sang duets. But it was her face that caught his eye and held his thoughts. She was small and active, and treated him with a casual friendliness that had changed, he thought and hoped, to something very much warmer before he left. He remembered her shy, wondering gaze at him. Eliza. He let her name sing in his mind. Eliza. A poem showed up in his memory, one his tutor had introduced him to, saying he was becoming too serious in his approach to literature. "Try Sir John Suckling, young Darcy," Mr. Lydgate had said. "A little robust humor will be just the thing."
Out upon it! I have loved
Three whole days together;And am like to love three more,
If it prove fair weather.
Had it any been but she,
And that very face,There had been at least ere this
A dozen dozen in her place.
That very face, he thought. Eliza.
Copyright 1997, Elizabeth Newark
At present the author is self-publishing this novella. Contact information:
Consequence by Elizabeth Newark
148 Newman Street
San Francisco CA 94110
Paperback; $12.50 + 2.50 (shipping and handling)
Note from Pemberley: These excerpts have been republished on the Republic of Pemberley web site for the enjoyment of our citizens, and their presence here means nothing else: the author didn't pay us to do it; we get no cut of book sales; we won't promise to give the same treatment to other Austen sequels -- we may indeed never do it again (or maybe we will ).