Elizabeth Bennet was just coming back from a walk when she heard that an express had come from her. She started in the direction of the drawing room, but her mother interrupted her.
"Have you heard? Have you heard what blessings have come upon us?"
"No, Mama, I have not. What is it?"
"Your Great Aunt Mary has died!"
"Why, Mama, that is not nice at all!"
"Oh, but she has left your sister Kitty a great fortune! Do you not see how lucky we are?"
At that moment, Kitty came skipping into the room. "Oh!" she squealed. "Have you heard, Liz? I am rich, and we're going to hold a ball in my honor! And Lydia is jealous! Just because Great Aunt Mary likes me better than her, it doesn't mean she has to whine about it."
"Indeed, I have decided to hold a ball for Kitty. Perhaps she will find a husband there! I must go and find Hill."
Mrs. Bennet left, and so did Kitty. Elizabeth headed off in the direction of the drawing room. A little further down the hall, Elizabeth heard Kitty singing.
"La! I shall have a new dress!
As Elizabeth passed the stairs, she heard a muffled cry. She decided to go and see what it was, and look at her express later. As she walked up the stairs, the crying got louder. When she got upstairs, it was obvious that it was coming from Lydia's room. She walked in, and saw Lydia lying on her bed, sobbing.
"Lydia, whatever is the matter?"
"Everything! Can't you see? Nobody likes me. And Kitty is getting all the attention. And she's going to have her own ball!"
With this last statement, she buried her head in her pillows and cried even harder.
"Why Lydia! Are you upset because of Kitty's inheritance?"
Just then, Kitty skipped past the door singing again.
"I'm having a fancy ball, and marrying somebody handsome and tall!"
Kitty poked her head into the room. "Whatever is the matter? How can you be sad when there's going to be a ball?"
"I will leave you with your troubles, Lydia" said Elizabeth. "I must go and look at my express."
She started to walk away, when suddenly Lydia said "Are you sure it was addressed to you and not me? Perhaps Great Aunt Mary has changed her mind, and will give me the money after all!" Lydia brightened up at the thought.
"I do not think so, Lydia."
Lydia started to cry again. "Oh, I do hate Kitty. She gets all the attention!
Elizabeth opened up her express and read it. It was a rather short note, from her friend Charlotte Lucas:
Dear Elizabeth,Elizabeth wrote back immediately, saying she would be glad to come.
How do you find yourself and your relations? I am quite well myself, but wish for some company. Mr. Collins spends his time at Rosings Park, or gardening. I suggested gardening to him, for I though it would be good if he got some exercise. I would indeed be most grateful if you would come and visit me for two weeks time at my house. We visit Lady Catherine de Bourgh frequently, and perhaps you will meet her daughter, Lady Anne de Bourgh. I trust you will write back soon.
Charlotte Lucas Collins
"Elizabeth, you shall have a new dress for the ball," said Mrs. Bennet excitedly. "You must look your best, so that you can get a husband!"
"I am sorry Mama, but I will not be able to attend. Charlotte has invited me to stay with her for a fortnight."
"Oh! Charlotte Lucas! And that Mr. Collins. I shall not be able to bear it if you associate with them. They will turn us all out of our own home when your father dies. Can you imagine?"
Elizabeth could not imagine Mama letting Mr. Collins do anything without her permission.
"Mama, please be reasonable! Charlotte is my friend."
"Do you think it is reasonable to be calm when your own relations are going to turn you out of your house?! Oh, I can't bear the thought that Mr. Collins is related to us. Oh, my poor nerves! I must call for Hill, for I feel a faintness coming upon me. HILL!! HILL!!"
As Mrs. Bennet walked away, Elizabeth could hear her muttering to herself.
"And to think that dear Elizabeth could have been Mr. Collins's bride! Then I wouldn't have to worry about him throwing us out of the house!"
Elizabeth shuddered at the thought of being Mr. Collins bride. She started walking down the hall, and after a while, found herself outside the library. She decided to speak to her father about the matter, and see if he had a different opinion. She knocked on the door.
"I don't want to hear about your nerves!" shouted Mr. Bennet. "Leave me in peace!"
Elizabeth was startled, but then realized he assumed Mother was knocking on the door. "It is me, Papa," she said.
"Ah, you can come then. I was afraid it was your mother, or ever worse, one of your silly sisters."
Elizabeth opened the door to the library, and found her father at his desk.
"Now, what is it you have come for?" he asked.
Elizabeth sat down in a nearby chair, and explained her predicament.
"Well, I should think that you would want to get on their good side, so they don't throw you out of the house when I am dead."
"Oh Papa! Don't say such things. I am only going to visit Charlotte because she wishes for some company."
"So she has finally found out how excessively boring Mr. Collins is. Good for her!"
Lydia got up from her bed, where she had been sobbing for the better part of the day. She got up and sat at her dressing table.
"I look dreadful! No one will ever marry me if I am in this state."
She took up her brush and fiercely attacked her hair.
"I'll show Kitty. Putting on airs just because she got a few pounds. I won't let Denny get near her at the ball. He's mine!
She stormed out of her room in search of a maid to help dress her. She passed Mary along the way.
"My, my!" Mary exclaimed. "Is that the fashion nowadays?"
Lydia looked slightly bewildered.
"Whatever are you talking about?" she demanded.
She continued to march down the hall, and encountered her mother, who gasped.
"Hill, Hill come at once! I am seeing things, I feel faint, I need my smelling salts!"
"Whatever is the matter Mama? What has shocked you so that you feel faint?"
"Your hair Lydia! Your hair! You don't mean to go out like that, do you?"
Mrs. Bennet was almost screaming at this point.
"What on earth are you talking about?" Lydia was quite puzzled. Her hair was fine. Or so she thought...
"I cannot stand it! Fix it! Fix it!"
With this final statement, Mrs. Bennet disappeared into her room, with a scream.
"I am going back to my room. I don't see what all this fuss is about."
She started back in the direction of her room. Her father, who was walking up the stairs at the moment she passed, got quite a scare.
"Oh dear!" he said. Lydia heard him chuckling as he looked at her, and was quite angry.
"What is it that you find so amusing, Papa? Has my nose suddenly become purple? Do I have a tail? Do not laugh at me!"
She then stormed back into her room and sat down at her dressing table. Looking in the mirror and seeing her reflection, she burst into tears. Her furious brushing had caused her hair to become quite unruly, and she slightly resembled a porcupine.
"I'm a laughingstock!"
Mr. Bennet had finally convinced Mrs. Bennet that Elizabeth should be allowed to visit Charlotte. Mrs. Bennet had been very angry, but only gave Elizabeth a warning:
"Stay a fortnight, but no longer. Who knows what Mr. Collins will do. Poison you, no doubt. Him and his 'delicate compliments.' He shall most likely bore you to death with them!"
Elizabeth expected to arrive at Hunsford very soon. Meanwhile, she was thinking. Thinking of marriage, Charlotte, the weather, everything. She was so caught up in her thoughts, that she didn't hear when the driver told her they had gotten to Hunsford.
"Madam, we have arrived."
Elizabeth was looking out of the carriage window.
"Madam," he said, quite a bit louder this time.
Elizabeth turned from the window
"Hunsford," he shouted, pointing to the house.
"Oh!" Elizabeth stepped out of the carriage, and walked up the path leading to the front door. She was about to knock on the door, but it opened before she had a chance.
"Elizabeth! You're finally here," Charlotte exclaimed.
"Charlotte, I'm so glad to see you."
Charlotte led Elizabeth into the drawing room, and they both sat down.
"I am so glad you have come, Elizabeth. Tomorrow evening we shall dine at Lady Catherine de Bourgh's house, and I always find it so dreadfully --"
Before Charlotte could finish her sentence, Mr. Collins came into the room.
"Dreadfully what, my dear? Surely you were not speaking ill of Lady Catherine de Bourgh!" Mr. Collins looked shocked.
"Why of course not!" said Charlotte. "I was just telling Elizabeth how dreadfully... how dreadfully lovely it is at Rosings Park."
Mr. Collins sat down and began to praise Rosings Park, and its gardens and chimney pieces.
"You have never seen such glorious gardens! The roses, oh the roses. The roses in my garden are not half as beautiful as the roses in Lady Catherine de Bourgh's gardens. And, of course, you have seen how lovely the roses I grow are."
"I have not had the pleasure of seeing your garden, Mr. Collins," said Elizabeth.
"Oh! Well then I must show you. Come along, this way."
Mr. Collins then led them into the garden and straight to the rose bushes.
"Do you not see how beautiful they are?" exclaimed Mr. Collins. "And as I said, the roses at --"
Charlotte interrupted him before he could again praise Rosings Park.
"Perhaps Lizzy and I should go back to the house. I am sure you are quite fatigued from your journey, Lizzy."
"Oh, perhaps. I am sure we can continue our walk through the gardens, which I must mention, are not half so glorious as the ones at Rosings Park," Mr. Collins said confidentially.
Charlotte looked very bored.
"Indeed," she said.
Charlotte and Elizabeth went back to the house, and entered the drawing room.
"I am glad you have come. I do not think I could stand hearing about Rosings Park one more time."
They then talked about many things, except Rosings Park, of course. By the time Mr. Collins came back from gardening, it was supper time.
The day had passed quickly, for Charlotte and Elizabeth were not bothered by Mr. Collins, as he was in his library studying sermons. They were now in a carriage, on their way to Rosings Park. Elizabeth and Charlotte were talking, but Mr. Collins had dozed off. After a short time, they arrived at Rosings Park. Elizabeth remembered saying to Charlotte earlier on that day:
"I should think this place a castle, the way Mr. Collins describes it!"
That was exactly what Rosings Park looked like. A castle. It was so very large, and the gardens! Elizabeth was in awe. They walked up the long path up to the door, and were greeted by a butler. They followed him to the drawing room, where Lady Catherine de Bourgh was seated.
"Lady Catherine de Bourgh," said Mr. Collins. "This is my wife --"
"I know. Who is the other one?"
"My dear cousin, Elizabeth Bennet --"
"I assumed so," Lady Catherine remarked, eyeing Elizabeth warily.
"And this, dear cousin," Mr. Collins began with great state, "is my honorable patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who --"
"Yes, yes," Lady Catherine said, waving her hand at Mr. Collins.
"Pleased to make your acquaintance, Lady Catherine," Elizabeth said, curtsying.
They spoke for a while, Lady Catherine de Bourgh talking the most. Mr. Collins seemed to be the only one interested in her speeches. Finally, it was dinner time. The dining room was very large, as was the dining table, and Elizabeth could not imagine as many people as there were chairs in this room. Lady Anne de Bourgh joined them. She was very quiet, and looked quite sickly. She didn't speak throughout the entire meal. After supper, they returned to the drawing room, and continued their conversation. After a while, when Charlotte started to look as if she were going to fall asleep, Elizabeth suggested a walk around the grounds.
"I shall stay here with Mr. Collins. I do not wish to have a stroll at this hour," protested Lady Catherine.
"Indeed," said Mr. Collins. "I never though walking was a very ladylike sport, although admiring your wonderful gardens is such a treat, that I would -"
"Go, if you must," said Lady Catherine disdainfully.
They walked for a while, and Elizabeth and Charlotte found that Lady Anne was quite nice once you got to know her. Elizabeth assumed that it was Lady Catherine's presence that made Anne seem so shy.
When they headed home in the carriage, Mr. Collins was quite talkative, unlike their ride on the way to Rosings, where the only thing he added to Charlotte and Elizabeth's conversation was a snore every once and a while.
"Did you not see the chimney piece, my dear cousin Elizabeth?" he inquired.
"I have never seen such a chimney piece," Elizabeth admitted.
"Did you see a speck of dust about the place? So very grand. I am so blessed to have been acquainted with Lady Catherine de Bourgh. And to think that you have not had the pleasure of meeting her until today!"
Once Mr. Collins stopped talking (which took quite a while, as he felt he had to remark on every detail of Rosings Park), Charlotte spoke to Elizabeth about Lady Anne de Bourgh.
"I do think that you two will become great friends, Elizabeth," she said.
"Perhaps. She is very kind."
Back at Longbourn, Mrs. Phillips was visiting Mrs. Bennet, and giving her the details on the latest gossip.
"And did you hear, my dear sister, that there is a man in town who makes a habit of kidnapping young ladies of great fortune?" said Mrs. Phillips.
"I cannot imagine! What is he known as?"
Mrs. Bennet was very shocked that such a thing could happen in the town that she lived in.
"They call him 'The Fortune Hunter.' Do you know who he has kidnapped?"
"Do not leave me in suspense, dear sister! Who is the victim of this terrible crime?" shouted Mrs. Bennet.
"Lady Davis of Bath."
Mrs. Bennet looked as if she was about to faint. "Not the Lady Davis of Bath?"
"Is that not what I have just told you?"
"Are you sure it is true?"
"Would I tell you such a thing if it were a lie?" asked Mrs. Phillips, slightly annoyed.
"How did he do it?"
"They say," Mrs. Phillips leaned a little bit closer, "that he kidnapped her out of her own bedchamber!"
Mrs. Bennet looked appalled.
"How improper!" she exclaimed in shocked tones. "Do you not agree, my dear sister?"
Mrs. Phillips nodded her head in agreement.
"Indeed," she said solemnly. "I was most shocked when I heard the news."
"Let us hope that nobody that we are acquainted with falls victim to this crime."
Kitty Bennet was taking a stroll in the gardens. She was thinking of how nice it was to be rich.
"I shall have my own maid, and my own dressmaker, and Lydia can just -"
Kitty stopped, and turned her head to face the wood behind the garden. She had heard something. A sort of rustling.
"Hello?" Kitty looked around the garden, and in the wood. But she saw nothing. "Is anybody there?"
She thought nothing of it, and continued her walk. But she heard that noise again. The rustling. Almost like - she stopped thinking because she felt that someone was watching her. She quickly turned around. She was right. There was a man, all dressed in black, with a mask. She tried to scream, but it was too late. He had already put his gloved hand over her mouth.
"Don't try to scream," he said. "It will only make the consequences worse."
Meanwhile, Elizabeth was having a lovely time at Rosings Park. Mr. Collins insisted on going there at least every other day, and Elizabeth had spent most of that time with Anne and Charlotte. Today, Anne, Elizabeth, and Charlotte were taking a stroll in the gardens. Mr. Collins had come along, because Lady Catherine de Bourgh was out, and he thought it would be proper if he spoke with Lady Anne de Bourgh instead.
"If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?" asked Elizabeth.
Charlotte looked slightly alarmed.
"Why, I would stay right here!" she said. "If I went anywhere else -"
Before she could finish her sentence, Mr. Collins spoke. It was a surprise to most of them, as they had forgotten that he was there.
"If you went anywhere else, there would be no Rosings Park!" he said. "You see, we can read each others thoughts. I believe you would miss Rosings terribly, dear." Mr. Collins gave Charlotte a disgusting sort of smile, and turned back to look at the flowers.
"I would go somewhere out of the ordinary," said Anne, with a thoughtful look on her face. "Nothing like London, or Bath. Somewhere nobody else has been."
Mr. Collins looked shocked, and started to protest, but Charlotte gave him a look that silenced him right away.
"I do not know if I would like to stay here, or travel elsewhere." Elizabeth stepped out of range of Mr. Collins hearing, and motioned for Anne and Charlotte to come with her.
"If I did go anywhere," she whispered. "It would be far, far away from Lady Catherine de Bourgh!"
The girls giggled, but stopped when they saw Mr. Collins approaching. He walked up to Elizabeth, and spoke to her with a concerned look on his face.
"My dear, dear cousin Elizabeth! What words have you uttered to cause these young ladies to giggle in such an unladylike manner?"
Back at Longbourn, Mrs. Bennet was in need of someone to talk to.
"Kitty? Where is Kitty?" Mrs. Bennet stormed down the stairs. "How dare Kitty abandon me when I am suffering so? I do not think I can bear it. My nerves!"
Mrs. Bennet was just about to call for Hill, when she bumped into Lydia, who was also very much angered by the fact that Kitty was not to be found.
"Lydia, dear. Have you seen Kitty?"
"No Mama, I have not seen her since tea. I wanted to go to Meryton, but she has disappeared!"
Lydia looked miserable. To think she had to stay at home simply because Kitty wasn't to be found.
"Where could she be?" Mrs. Bennet looked shocked. Perhaps she had gone to Meryton without a chaperone!
"Probably off counting her fortune. I really don't care." Lydia ran up the stairs, and into her bedroom.
"Kitty gets all the attention!" she said, with a wail.
Mrs. Bennet went to find Hill, and bumped into Mary along the way.
"Mary, where is Kitty?"
"Do you not know where she is?"
Mrs. Bennet was on the verge of tears. Maybe she eloped!
"I have not seen her since tea!" she said.
"I believe she went for a walk. Perhaps you should check out in the garden."
Mrs. Bennet did just that. She looked around the garden, but it appeared that Kitty was not there. Just as she was about to go back to the house, something caught her eye. She walked towards the wood.
"Why, it is Kitty's necklace! What on earth could have happened!"
She ran back to the house in search of Hill, but bumped into her as she was running through the door.
"Whatever is the matter, Ma'am?" Hill had never seen Mrs. Bennet look so worried.
"I could not find dear Kitty, and when I looked for her out in the garden, I found her necklace!" Mrs. Bennet stopped to take a breath. "She never takes it off!"
"Perhaps it fell off when she was taking her walk."
Mrs. Bennet was appalled. How could Hill be so calm!
"We must search for her. Where is Mr. Bennet!"
Lydia came down the stairs in time to hear Mrs. Bennet's announcement.
"Search for whom?" she said.
"Your sister Kitty, my dear! She is nowhere to be found! Oh! I feel faint!"
Lydia burst into tears.
"What is all this ruckus?" Mr. Bennet had come out from the library to see what all the noise was.
"K-kitty is l-lost and it is all m-my f-fault!" Lydia started to wail even louder, while Mrs. Bennet was being led to a nearby chair, and asking for her smelling salts.
"Well," said Mr. Bennet. "Tell me when you find her." He then went back to the library.
"How can he be so unfeeling!"
"Who?" Mary had also come to see what the noise was about.
"Your sister Kitty had been lost, and we have found her necklace in the garden! It looks as if it has been torn off by a madman of some sort! I must go to my sister, Mrs. Phillips.
A few minutes later, Mrs. Phillips was at Longbourn.
"I daresay it is that Fortune Hunter. She did inherit a good amount of money, did she not?"
This made Mrs. Bennet cry even harder. "But what if it is? My Kitty, kidnapped by some infamous murderer!
"I have heard that the Fortune Hunter demands a rather large ransom," said Mrs. Phillips wisely.
Mrs. Bennet promptly fainted.
They had searched for Kitty for days, but to no avail. They just couldn't find her. Lydia spent most of her days weeping in her bedchamber. Except this time, she wasn't weeping because Kitty was rich, but because Kitty had been kidnapped. Mrs. Bennet now busied herself by writing expresses to Jane and Bingley, Mr. and Mrs. Gardener, and Elizabeth, who was still at Hunsford.
Elizabeth was taking a walk with Anne when Charlotte called her from the house.
"Elizabeth, there is an express for you!"
"I wonder who it could be from?" said Anne.
"I don't know," Elizabeth was puzzled. "Only my family knows where I am staying, and they would only send an express if it was an emergency!"
They rushed into the house, and Charlotte gave Elizabeth the express. As Elizabeth read, she turned pale. She sank down into one of the library chairs, hardly able to breathe.
"Lizzy?" asked Charlotte "Whatever is the matter?"
"Kitty -" Elizabeth had finally taken in what had happened.
"What? What about Kitty?"
"She has been kidnapped."
Charlotte and Anne both looked shocked.
"How can they be sure?" asked Anne.
Elizabeth showed her the note.
"It says here that they found her necklace in the garden. The clasp hadn't been undone - it had been torn off." Thoughts were racing through her mind. Is Kitty still alive? Where is she? Has she really been kidnapped?
"I will understand if you wish to return to Longbourn," said Charlotte, solemnly.
"Yes, I must leave at once."
Charlotte had the maid pack Elizabeth's things, while she and Anne talked to her.
"I'm sure that she will be found. I'm sure of it."
Elizabeth was crying now.
"When I think of all the cruel things that I have said to her - that she was childish, silly, ignorant - and to think that I may never be able to apologize..."
She was crying so hard now, she couldn't even speak. Anne and Charlotte tried to comfort her.
"It shall not be that way, Lizzy!" cried Anne. "She will be found. Do not think that she will not be."
Anne doubted what she said, but she could not tell Lizzy that.
"The maid has packed your things," said Charlotte "You will want to get to Longbourn as soon as possible. Send me an express when you arrive."
Elizabeth walked outside, after thanking Charlotte for her hospitality.
She turned around, and saw Anne run down the path towards her.
"I shall miss you terribly," she said. "There is nobody else at Rosings that I can really talk to."
Anne looked as if she were about to cry.
"I shall miss you too Anne."
Elizabeth then realized that she had no friends at Longbourn. Charlotte had moved, Mariah was not her age, and...
"You must come with me to Longbourn!"
Anne looked shocked, happy, and then sad.
"Mother would never let me come. She says that to much travel and fresh air will make me ill. Oh, how I wish I could go."
"You can at least ask her," said Elizabeth. "I'm sure she will say you can go."
Anne walked around the rooms of Rosings in search of her mother, but she was nowhere to be found.
"Excuse me, Lady Anne."
Anne turned around and found one of the maids, Sarah, standing in the doorway.
"Yes? What is it you have come for?" asked Anne.
"Your mother wishes to see you. She is in her room. The one in the East Wing," she added as an afterthought.
Lady Catherine often changed rooms, mostly in the summer. She would complain about the lighting, the heat, the drafts, the thickness of the curtains, and everything else under the sun. Fortunately, she had many spare rooms to choose from.
Anne rushed up the stairs, afraid that her mother was ill. She reached Lady Catherine's chamber, and knocked on the door.
"I am most seriously displeased! I will not allow you to enter unless it is the right temperature."
"Mother, it is Anne."
"Oh! I suppose you can come in then."
Anne walked into the room, and saw her mother sitting up in her bed, with a sour look on her face.
"All these maids are incompetent fools!" she complained. "They aren't even capable of getting a damp washcloth for my aching forehead without drenching me with freezing cold water!"
"Mama, I..." Anne stopped to gather up her courage.
"Yes, yes! What is it?"
"Well I... I came to ask you a question. I -"
Just as she was about to get it over with, Lady Catherine interrupted her.
"If it is about that man who has an appearance of a drowned rat... what is his name? Oh yes, Mr. Collins. As I was saying -"
"It is not that Mama."
"Well I should hope not," muttered Lady Catherine.
Anne was surprised that her mother had only said that, after she had actually interrupted her!
"Oh Anne, I have the most wonderful news! Sir Dennis has agreed to marry you!"
Anne was so shocked, she forgot what she was going to say.
"What were you saying just then?"
"I... I don't know, mother."
"You look ill - perhaps you should rest."
Anne ran out of the room, and prepared for the long journey to Longbourn. Mary, one of her favorite maids, packed her things for her.
"Where are you traveling to, Lady Anne?"
"If you promise not to tell anyone..."
"Is it a secret?" Mary was very interested. Anne never went anywhere without the whole house knowing. Perhaps she was running away, to find her true love... her thoughts were interrupted by the lady in question.
"Yes, it is."
"Then do tell!"
"Perhaps I shouldn't..."
"Whyever not? You can trust me."
"Mary, you are the worst gossip of all the maids. Well... Do you promise not to tell?"
"Yes, yes! I'll do anything! I just want to know!"
"Well - mother just told me that I must marry Sir Dennis..."
"You mean the fat one with the accent?"
"Yes, I suppose. As I was saying, I have decided to go to Longbourn with Elizabeth."
"Do not worry, Lady Anne. I shall not tell a soul."
Anne's things were packed, and the carriage was ready. She left Rosings, leaving behind a maid with a secret just waiting to be told.
Elizabeth was very surprised that Anne had come so quickly. She thought that it would take more than an hour to convince Lady Catherine, and then to collect all her things! Still Anne was with her in the carriage, and they were on their way to Longbourn.
"I still cannot believe that Lady Catherine agreed to this!"
Anne shifted uncomfortably in her seat.
"She... well she didn't exactly agree, Elizabeth."
"What do you mean?" Elizabeth was quite puzzled.
"Well, I tried to ask her - but she gave quite a shocking announcement..."
"What was it?"
"It seems that I am engaged to a Sir Dennis."
"Oh, Anne! Did you agree to this?"
"Well, mother mentioned him a couple of times, but I haven't even seen him."
Anne started to cry.
"Why Anne! What is it?"
"When I get back, mother will never let me see you again! She will think this is all your fault, and that you have a bad influence on me."
"Do not worry Anne. I'm sure everything will be all right. We are almost at Longbourn!"
When Elizabeth and Anne finally arrived, they were greeted by a very distraught Mrs. Bennet.
"Oh, my dear Elizabeth! You do not know what I suffer."
Mrs. Bennet was about to return to the drawing room when she noticed Anne.
"Who have you brought with you, Elizabeth?"
Further introductions were made, and then they started in the direction of the drawing room.
"There is nobody to comfort me in these times of trial. Your father has locked himself up in the library - I do think he grieves even more than Lydia."
As they walked, they heard an eruption of laughter coming from the direction of the library.
"As I was saying," said Mrs. Bennet, as she glared at the library door "Lydia lies in bed all day, crying. Some days she will not even eat!"
The moment they reached the drawing room, there was a knock on the door.
"Perhaps it is news of Kitty!" shouted Mrs. Bennet. "I must go and see. Do have a seat in the drawing room!"
They did as she said, and waited. Conversation seemed impossible for Elizabeth. What if it was news of Kitty? She could stand it no longer.
"I shall be right back, Anne. I must go and see who is at the door."
She walked out of the drawing room, only to bump into Mrs. Bennet.
"Is there news?"
"It is Jane and Bingley! And they have brought their relatives!"
Just as she said that, Jane, Bingley, and two other gentlemen walked towards the drawing room.
"Oh, do come in!"
"Cousin! Darce, look! Anne is here!"
A gentleman (the one in regimentals) had entered the room, and was walking towards Anne.
"Colonel Fitzwilliam! What a pleasant surprise.
Once they were all seated, Jane made the introductions.
"Elizabeth, these are Bingley's friends, Mr. Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam."
The man in regimentals, who Elizabeth assumed to be Colonel Fitzwilliam, stood up to greet her.
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Colonel," she said.
"I assure you, the pleasure is mine."
Elizabeth blushed, and tried to listen to the conversation. It was impossible with such handsome gentlemen in the room! Though Mr. Darcy seemed to have worse manners then her mother, he was still handsome.
They all laughed and talked except for Mr. Darcy, who stood in a corner looking at the chair beside him as if it were the most disgusting thing he had ever seen.
"Sorry to bring so many people," said Bingley "but when we got the news, we were all in my carriage on the way to the theater. I wanted to get here as fast as I could, so -"
"Oh, do not worry!" exclaimed Mrs. Bennet. "The more, the merrier! We shall have a grand time!"
Obviously, Mrs. Bennet had completely forgotten about Kitty, and her whereabouts. If Colonel Fitzwilliam was shocked by this, he did not show it.
There was much conversation, but Elizabeth could not listen. She was looking at the gentlemen in the room, and wondering how the two could be so different. The Colonel seemed to be telling some amusing story, while Mr. Darcy was staring at his shoe. Apparently it was more satisfactory than the chair.
Mr. Darcy noticed her staring. He rather liked her - she seemed kind enough, handsome - but he could not stand her mother. Babbling on like nothing had ever happened to Kitty. How he wished he was back at Pemberley!
Meanwhile, Elizabeth was still staring. She was wondering if Mr. Darcy would look well in regimentals. Dear heavens! These thoughts should inhabit Lydia's mind, not mine! This is the sort of thing she would be daydreaming about. Elizabeth could just imagine Lydia going on and on about tall, handsome gentlemen like Mr. Darcy -
"Here I go again!" Elizabeth hadn't meant to say it out loud, but evidently, she had.
"Why yes, that is exactly what Bingley said! How did you know?" exclaimed Colonel Fitzwilliam. Apparently she had interrupted his story.
"I am sorry, but I feel a headache coming on. I must go."
Elizabeth ran from the room, and into her chamber. How embarrassing! What will Mr. Darcy think of me? Why should I care? He has no manners, and does not deserve to have such things though of him. Besides, he isn't that handsome anyway...
She continued trying to convince herself that Mr. Darcy was ugly and had no manners, until she fell asleep. But it was no use - she dreamed of him, and all the bad things she had thought about him just flew away...