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|Chapter 20 (Vol. I, Chap. XX)|
|(Vol. I, Chap. 19)
||Table of Contents
||(Vol. I, Chap. 21)|
|Chapter 20 (Vol. I, Chap. XX)
|Mr. Collins was not left long to the silent contemplation of
his successful love; for Mrs. Bennet, having dawdled about in
the vestibule to watch for the end of the conference, no sooner
saw Elizabeth open the door and with quick step pass her
towards the staircase, than she entered the breakfast room, and
congratulated both him and herself in warm terms on the happy
prospect of their nearer connection. Mr. Collins received and
returned these felicitations with equal pleasure, and then
proceeded to relate the particulars of their interview, with
the result of which he trusted he had every reason to be
satisfied, since the refusal which his cousin had steadfastly
given him would naturally flow from her bashful modesty and the
genuine delicacy of her character.
|This information, however, startled Mrs. Bennet; -- she would
have been glad to be equally satisfied that her daughter had
meant to encourage him by protesting against his proposals, but
she dared not to believe it, and could not help saying so.
|"But depend upon it, Mr. Collins," she added, "that Lizzy shall
be brought to reason. I will speak to her about it myself
directly. She is a very headstrong foolish girl, and does not
know her own interest; but I will make her know it."
|"Pardon me for interrupting you, Madam," cried Mr. Collins;
"but if she is really headstrong and foolish, I know not
whether she would altogether be a very desirable wife to a man
in my situation, who naturally looks for happiness in the
marriage state. If therefore she actually persists in
rejecting my suit, perhaps it were better not to force her into
accepting me, because if liable to such defects of temper, she
could not contribute much to my felicity."
|"Sir, you quite misunderstand me," said Mrs. Bennet, alarmed.
"Lizzy is only headstrong in such matters as these. In every
thing else she is as good natured a girl as ever lived. I will
go directly to Mr. Bennet, and we shall very soon settle it
with her, I am sure."
|She would not give him time to reply, but hurrying instantly to
her husband, called out as she entered the library,
|"Oh! Mr. Bennet, you are wanted immediately; we are all in an
uproar. You must come and make Lizzy marry Mr. Collins, for
she vows she will not have him, and if you do not make haste he
will change his mind and not have her."
|Mr. Bennet raised his eyes from his book as she entered, and
fixed them on her face with a calm unconcern which was not in
the least altered by her communication.
|"I have not the pleasure of understanding you," said he,
when she had finished her speech. "Of what are you talking?"
|"Of Mr. Collins and Lizzy. Lizzy declares she will not have
Mr. Collins, and Mr. Collins begins to say that he will not
|"And what am I to do on the occasion? -- It seems an hopeless
|"Speak to Lizzy about it yourself. Tell her that you insist
upon her marrying him."
|"Let her be called down. She shall hear my opinion."
|Mrs. Bennet rang the bell, and Miss Elizabeth was summoned to
|"Come here, child," cried her father as she appeared. "I have
sent for you on an affair of importance. I understand that Mr.
Collins has made you an offer of marriage. Is it true?"
Elizabeth replied that it was. "Very well -- and this offer of
marriage you have refused?"
|"I have, Sir."
|"Very well. We now come to the point. Your mother insists
upon your accepting it. Is not it so, Mrs. Bennet?"
|"Yes, or I will never see her again."
|"An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this
day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. -- Your
mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr.
Collins, and I will never see you again if you do."
|Elizabeth could not but smile at such a conclusion of such a
beginning; but Mrs. Bennet, who had persuaded herself that her
husband regarded the affair as she wished, was excessively
|"What do you mean, Mr. Bennet, by talking in this way?
You promised me to insist upon her marrying him."
|"My dear," replied her husband, "I have two small favours to
request. First, that you will allow me the free use of my
understanding on the present occasion; and secondly, of my
room. I shall be glad to have the library to myself as soon as
|Not yet, however, in spite of her disappointment in her
husband, did Mrs. Bennet give up the point. She talked to
Elizabeth again and again; coaxed and threatened her by turns.
She endeavoured to secure Jane in her interest but Jane with
all possible mildness declined interfering; -- and Elizabeth,
sometimes with real earnestness and sometimes with playful
gaiety, replied to her attacks. Though her manner varied,
however, her determination never did.
|Mr. Collins, meanwhile, was meditating in solitude on what had
passed. He thought too well of himself to comprehend on what
motive his cousin could refuse him; and though his pride was
hurt, he suffered in no other way. His regard for her was
quite imaginary; and the possibility of her deserving her
mother's reproach prevented his feeling any regret.
|While the family were in this confusion, Charlotte Lucas came
to spend the day with them. She was met in the vestibule by
Lydia, who, flying to her, cried in a half whisper, "I am glad
you are come, for there is such fun here! -- What do you think
has happened this morning? -- Mr. Collins has made an offer to
Lizzy, and she will not have him."
|Charlotte had hardly time to answer, before they were joined by
Kitty, who came to tell the same news, and no sooner had they
entered the breakfast-room, where Mrs. Bennet was alone, than
she likewise began on the subject, calling on Miss Lucas for
her compassion, and entreating her to persuade her friend Lizzy
to comply with the wishes of all her family. "Pray do, my dear
Miss Lucas," she added in a melancholy tone, "for nobody is on
my side, nobody takes part with me, I am cruelly used, nobody
feels for my poor nerves."
|Charlotte's reply was spared by the entrance of Jane and
|"Aye, there she comes," continued Mrs. Bennet, "looking as
unconcerned as may be, and caring no more for us than if we
were at York, provided she can have her own way. -- But I tell
you what, Miss Lizzy, if you take it into your head to go on
refusing every offer of marriage in this way, you will never
get a husband at all -- and I am sure I do not know who is to
maintain you when your father is dead. -- I shall not be able
to keep you -- and so I warn you. -- I have done with you from
this very day. -- I told you in the library, you know, that
I should never speak to you again, and you will find me as good
as my word. I have no pleasure in talking to undutiful
children, -- Not that I have much pleasure indeed in talking to
any body. People who suffer as I do from nervous complaints
can have no great inclination for talking. Nobody can tell
what I suffer! -- But it is always so. Those who do not
complain are never pitied."
|Her daughters listened in silence to this effusion, sensible
that any attempt to reason with or sooth her would only
increase the irritation. She talked on, therefore, without
interruption from any of them till they were joined by Mr.
Collins, who entered with an air more stately than usual, and
on perceiving whom, she said to the girls,
|"Now, I do insist upon it, that you, all of you, hold your
tongues, and let Mr. Collins and me have a little conversation
|Elizabeth passed quietly out of the room, Jane and Kitty
followed, but Lydia stood her ground, determined to hear all
she could; and Charlotte, detained first by the civility of
Mr. Collins, whose inquiries after herself and all her family
were very minute, and then by a little curiosity, satisfied
herself with walking to the window and pretending not to hear.
In a doleful voice Mrs. Bennet thus began the projected
conversation. -- "Oh! Mr. Collins!" --
|"My dear Madam," replied he, "let us be for ever silent on this
point. Far be it from me," he presently continued, in a voice
that marked his displeasure, "to resent the behaviour of your
daughter. Resignation to inevitable evils is the duty of us
all; the peculiar duty of a young man who has been so fortunate
as I have been in early preferment; and I trust I am resigned.
Perhaps not the less so from feeling a doubt of my positive
happiness had my fair cousin honoured me with her hand; for I
have often observed that resignation is never so perfect as
when the blessing denied begins to lose somewhat of its value
in our estimation. You will not, I hope, consider me as
showing any disrespect to your family, my dear Madam, by thus
withdrawing my pretensions to your daughter's favour, without
having paid yourself and Mr. Bennet the compliment of
requesting you to interpose your authority in my behalf. My
conduct may, I fear, be objectionable in having accepted my
dismission from your daughter's lips instead of your own. But
we are all liable to error. I have certainly meant well
through the whole affair. My object has been to secure an
amiable companion for myself, with due consideration for the
advantage of all your family, and if my manner has been at
all reprehensible, I here beg leave to apologise."
|(Vol. I, Chap. 19)
||Table of Contents
||(Vol. I, Chap. 21)|
Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in English and Chinese