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A Congregation of Clerics - JaOctGoNo2022

October 31, 2022 02:10PM
Blurb: Mr. Collins hosts a retreat at Hunsford for the pastors mentioned in five other of Jane Austen’s novels

“That which walks in Betton Wood Knows why it walks or why it cries.”

The reverend William Collins of Hunsford parish was a narrow minded, pompous man who liked to brag about his prestigious position as the head of the parish under the patronage of the illustrious Lady Catherine de Bourgh. He liked to show off to others his great fortune of having such a rich and exalted patron. Consequently, he decided, with full approval from Lady Catherine, to host a retreat for his fellow clergymen. They were invited from far and wide across the land. The retreat would be held in Kent utilizing his church as the main meeting place. Lady Catherine had also agreed to host the gentlemen attending the retreat to a dinner or two and a few tea times at her estate, Rosings.

Reverend Collins sent out the invitations and the following clergymen accepted, Mr. Philip Elton of Highbury, Mr. Edward Ferras of Devonshire, Mr. Edmund Bertram of Northamptonshire, Mr. Edward Wentworth from Shropshire, and Mr. Henry Tilney who hailed from about thirty miles outside of Bath. The gentlemen all arrived on the appointed day and were treated to a day of pontifications from Mr. Collins. Fatigued from listening to the boring reverend for so many hours the group asked for a few hours off to tour the grounds around the Hunsford parish. They were given permission to walk about every day and to explore anywhere they wished, including the paths around Rosings. The only caveat was that they could not enter the Betton Wood. All the reverends agreed to the scheme and off they went.

One of the attendees, Mr. Philip Elton, however had an ulterior motive for coming to the retreat. His wife, Augusta Elton, was enamored with flowers. She had a very large collection of pressed flowers and was ever anxious to get her hands on an elusive species. Mr. Elton had heard through the grapevine that a very rare type of flower existed at Rosings, the tulip. It was from another land that was very far off, in fact this particular flower was native to the nether regions on the European continent. Mr. Elton was optimistic that he would be able to obtain a specimen for his beautiful wife Augusta in order for her to expand her collection. So, when the reverends were out for a stroll, he was ever watchful when walking and hopeful in procuring his desired goal.

Five days of walking along the many paths surrounding Rosings yielded Mr. Elton no luck in finding the sought-after prize. After the tea parties hosted by Lady Catherine, he even took particular walks around the flower gardens at Rosings, and Mr. Elton came up empty handed. He could not countenance himself to return to his lovely Augusta without the treasure that he had his heart set on. The only area around Rosings and Hunsford that he had not searched was the Betton Wood. He had given his solemn oath not to go into these woods but now he seriously considered breaking that promise. He pictured Augusta’s happy face at receiving the pressed tulip, after all he had brought his Bible along with him and he could not think of a better use for it than for pressing and preserving a plucked tulip. Mr. Elton weighed the happy picture, that he had in his mind, of his wife’s joy at receiving a tulip verses him coming home with only himself and an empty Bible. No, that would not do. He had to find out where the tulips were.

On the last day of the retreat, Mr. Elton decided to sneak out of his lodgings after dark. He could make his way down the path to the Betton Wood as there were lots of stars out and a full moon. Upon reaching the entrance to the woodlands he found that the woods themselves were very thick and full of trees and he had some difficulty seeing. He walked very carefully, hoping that in this dim light that he would be able to navigate his way through the Betton Wood and find the desired tulip. He was startled when heard a snap of a twig behind him but was ultimately relieved when he saw that it was only a deer walking by.

Now deep into the woods, he decided to sit down on a rock to think of what he could do to see better in the dim light amongst the dense crop of trees. As he was sitting there, he heard another snap of a twig. Instead of being alarmed he just sat there waiting for a deer to appear. But instead of a deer, two strong hands grabbed his back and shoved a sharp blade up against him. Mr. Elton gasped and whispered, “Who are you?” the voice answered back, “Stay still or this blade will do its duty.” Mr. Elton froze. The person behind him bound his hands together and covered his eyes with a blindfold. The voice asked, “What are you seeking?” Mr. Elton answered back, “Tulips.” The person with the voice, who was Anne de Bourgh the daughter of Lady Catherine, was so ever obliging. She moved to stand in front of Mr. Elton and planted her two lips on his mouth, and he received and returned a very amorous kiss. Then she tiptoed away after using her blade to free the bindings on his hands.

Anne had previously met Mr. Elton when her mother had hosted all of Mr. Collins’ guests for teas and dinner at Rosings. She thought him ever so handsome. She was quite delighted when he had answered her question by requesting, albeit in a clever way, a kiss. She just had to comply and enjoyed it immensely.

Anne frequented Betton Wood as an escape from Rosings and the constant harping of her mother. Her cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, had taught her how to handle a blade, how to disguise her voice, and how to cinch a rope with one hand. It was indeed quite useful having an amiable military minded man for a cousin. When in the woods Anne would carry her blade and a knotted rope in case she ran into a trespasser. She also worked daily on building up strength in her hands and forearms and as a result was quite strong. She had scared off many an intruder who wandered into the Betton Wood. However, she was loathe to scare off the attractive Mr. Elton. Hopefully he would return one day.

Mr. Elton sat still for several minutes. Hearing nothing and still being blindfolded, but having his hands now freed, Mr. Elton got up. He tore off his blindfold but saw no one. He escaped his capturer by walking briskly but he knew not in which direction he was heading. However, he knew why he was walking, it was to find a way out of the woods. A few tears fell from his eyes as he walked. He also knew why he was crying; he was to disappoint Augusta by not procuring the rare flower but ultimately that kiss from those two lips was the most wonderful kiss of his life and he knew it was never to be replicated again.

“That which walks in Betton Wood Knows why it walks or why it cries.”

A Congregation of Clerics - JaOctGoNo2022

JenOctober 31, 2022 02:10PM

Re: A Congregation of Clerics - JaOctGoNo2022

MichelleRWNovember 05, 2022 01:53AM

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UlrikeNovember 01, 2022 08:55AM

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NN SOctober 31, 2022 02:31PM

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Steph DNovember 03, 2022 01:55AM


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