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Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 26

October 01, 2020 02:38AM
My master document has reached 376 pages and contains over 150k words. I am amazed at how large the one-shot grew.


I believe there will be 5 more chapters, but knowing myself that number will increase.








Chapter 26


Longbourn, Hertfordshire
Monday, November 18, 1811



Reginald Hurst sat comfortably in a chair in the parlour of Longbourn. He caught Miss Bennet glancing at the grandfather clock again and smiled. It was now a quarter-hour past four o’clock and Mr. Collins had not arrived. The gentlemen were relieved while the ladies were still nervous.


“Miss Bennet,” he said gently, “it appears as though Mr. Collins heeded your father’s response and stayed in London. All is well. We were concerned over nothing.”


“It is possible he encountered an issue along the way and will be arriving shortly,” Miss Bennet replied with a worried look.


“Are you enjoying your tea?” he asked.


“My tea?” Miss Bennet asked, sounding confused.


“Yes, your tea. I noticed you have yet to refill your cup,” he told her.


“Jane does enjoy tea, but she prefers chocolate,” Miss Elizabeth told him with a grin.


He thought back to his previous life and said, “Louisa believed that the answer to everything was in a good cup of tea. She would have consumed an entire pot by now.”


“Louisa was your wife?” Miss Elizabeth asked tentatively.


He nodded, too embarrassed to speak. He had not meant to bring her up in front of Miss Bennet.


“Were...” Miss Bennet started to ask a question, stopped, and blushed furiously.


“If I was Jane, I would have been about to ask if you were happy together,” Miss Elizabeth said gently.


“That is a difficult question to answer,” he admitted honestly. “At first, yes we were very happy. Our personalities fit well together and we started to turn my townhouse into our home. After her siblings moved in with us, our affection for each other decreased exponentially the longer they were in residence. I was not jesting when I told Miss Bennet what I was like almost a year ago. I certainly would have drunk myself into an early grave trying to hide from what my life had turned into.”


“I understand,” Miss Bennet said kindly. “You would not have recognized my parents either, had you met us a year ago.”


“I find that hard to believe,” he said with a smile.


“It is true, sir,” Miss Elizabeth said with a sad smile. “Looking back, it happened so gradually, I cannot figure out exactly when it began. Mama caved to Lydia’s demands once, then, again. She started encouraging us take over the management of all household matters. My father started spending more time in his study reading books and letting Mr. Miller run Longbourn without his input. If Aunt Jane had not stopped here on her way home from London, I am sure you would have both left Meryton as fast as you could.”


“I doubt that,” William told her with a grin.


They continued the discussion, trading familial stories that got more outlandish as the time passed, until he saw Miss Bennet look at the clock again. He looked at William and nodded slightly at Jane.


“Miss Bennet, unless he has his own carriage, Mr. Collins travelled by stagecoach or post. Even if he purchased a ticket for the latest available departure time and walked to Longbourn from Meryton, he should be here by now. It is a quarter till five. I believe Mr. Hurst is correct, there is no need to worry about Mr. Collins,” William said for the benefit of both ladies.


“Do you really, truly believe that?” Miss Elizabeth asked.


“I do,” William answered softly while staring into her eyes.


Reginald looked at Miss Bennet and nodded at his friend and her sister, causing her to giggle quietly.


“Even if he does turn up, Mr. Phillips is here to help your father deal with the oafish ordained,” he told Miss Bennet with a comforting smile.


“Do not worry, Jane,” Sakville, who had recently joined their group, told his cousin. “I agree with Hurst and Darcy. It is unlikely he would show up almost an hour late.”


“Thank you, Edmund,” Miss Bennet replied. “How is Aunt Jane?”


Reginald listened to the conversation the cousins were having regarding their mothers’ shared condition as his mind wandered. It seemed odd to him that the sisters were old enough to be married with children of their own and were preparing for the birth of a sibling. Thinking about babes made him contemplate the future possibility of having children with Miss Bennet. He forced his mind to pay attention to the conversations around him before he completely embarrassed himself.


Aunt Phoebe, Lady Catherine, Mrs. Bennet, Mrs. Gardiner, and Mrs. Phillips were discussing the upcoming addition to the Bennet household and the preparations to the nursery. There had not been a new infant in residence in fifteen years and the room needed to be cleaned and updated with the modern amenities. Miss de Bough, Miss Darcy, and Misses Mary, Kitty, and Lydia were sitting together discussing music, the latest fashion plates, and their social plans for later in the week. Palmrich, Dobbs, Mr. Gardiner, Mr. Phillips, and Mr. Bennet were discussing several investment opportunities and trying to figure out which ones would be the most profitable.


He started admiring the tastefulness of the décor and realized there was not an empty seat in the parlour. He looked at Mrs. Bennet speculatively and wondered if the seating in the room was purposeful or accidental. Lady Catherine caught his eye and gave him an enormous grin. The other ladies stopped talking and stared at him with varying degrees of amusement on their faces. He used his hand to perform a bow whilst sitting down.


“I think Mr. Hurst just noticed the sitting arrangements,” he heard Miss Elizabeth tell her sister.


“What are you referring to, Lizzy?” Sakville asked, looking confused.


William looked around the room for a few seconds before he started chuckling. “Your mother is ingenious,” he said.


“She is, isn’t she?” Miss Elizabeth replied proudly.


“I do not understand what you are talking about,” Sakville said with an annoyed look on his face.


“Look at the room, Edmund. Does anything strike you as odd?” Miss Bennet asked her cousin.


“Now that you mention it, there is usually another settee over there, is there not?” Sakville asked with his eyes scrunched up as though he were trying to recall how the furniture was placed previously.


“Yes, and there are usually two chairs, you are currently sitting in one of them, that are near the fireplace this time of the year,” Miss Elizabeth responded.


“Why is that significant?” Sakville asked.


“If Mr. Collins were to arrive, where would he sit?” William asked.


“Where, indeed,” Sakville said while shaking his head. “Diabolical. I thought it odd that a footman had to bring another chair in when I arrived. We have had bigger groups in this parlour before and seating was never an issue.”


“I wonder...” Darcy started just as the door opened and Mrs. Hill walked in.


“I am sorry to interrupt. There is a Mr. Collins here, ma’am. He says he is expected,” Mrs. Hill told them.


“Show him in,” Mrs. Bennet said as she was trying to stand up.


“Stay seated, my dear. I do not want you to strain yourself greeting someone who was not invited,” Mr. Bennet ordered as he stood. “Bring him in, Hill.”


Reginald looked at Darcy and Sakville before standing up to greet the newcomer. This would not be a pleasant visit. Hopefully, their plan worked.


He walked in and Reginald was shocked. Mr. Collins was a tall young man. Miss Bennet had mentioned her cousin was five-and-twenty. His clothes hung off him in a way with which Reginald was intimately acquainted. This man had lost a significant amount of weight recently. His air was grave and stately. In short, he appeared to be everything they expected from his letter.


The most astonishing things about Mr. Collins, were that he seemed to be injured and he was absolutely filthy. It looked like the man had rolled around in a barn stall. There was a red, blotchy patch of skin on the left side of his neck that stretched all the way to his chin. His right pant leg was torn and stained, possibly with his blood. Also, for some reason, his hands and part of his face were covered in red scratches.


Mr. Collins seemed surprised to see the parlour was completely full. Reginald noticed his eyes stopped on Mrs. Bennet for a moment before he looked at Mr. Bennet as the housekeeper introduced them.


“Mr. Bennet, this is Mr. William Collins. He said you were expecting him,” Mrs. Hill said before leaving the room.


“Mr. Collins, I was not expecting you. When I responded to your missive, I specifically told you a visit would be impossible. What are you doing here, sir?” Mr. Bennet asked sternly.


“As I told you in my letter, I have no one else to turn to and I am destitute. Since I am the heir to your estate, you cannot possibly object to teaching me what I need to know. My late father always bemoaned the fact that you would not allow him to start making the necessary improvements which would see to increasing the annual income of my future estate,” Mr. Collins said.


Reginald groaned. He had been trying to make Miss Bennet smile previously, but he truly was an oafishly ordained man. How could anyone be so arrogant while asking a favour? This was going to be worse than they thought.


“I believe I will regret mentioning this, but introductions are in order before we can get to the crux of the matter,” Lady Catherine said.


“You are correct, My Lady,” Mr. Bennet said.


Reginald smiled when Mr. Collins’ head swivelled to look at Lady Catherine when she was addressed as ‘My Lady.’


“You will have to forgive my wife for not standing. You see, she is heavy with a child that should arrive near our Lord’s birthday. Mrs. Bennet is sitting right there,” Mr. Bennet said with a smirk while using an arm to indicate which woman was his wife.


He heard Sakville and Miss Elizabeth snicker quietly at the look on Mr. Collins’ face.


“But... But... No, I do not believe you. It is impossible. You have three daughters and I am the heir,” Mr. Collins said desperately with wild eyes. “I will live at Longbourn and you will teach me how to run the estate.”


“No, sir, I have five daughters and another babe on the way. It is understandable that your father did not know about the rest of my children because I have refused to communicate with him since the last time you were at Longbourn when he attempted to take over my estate. In order of age, my daughters are Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Catherine, and Lydia,” Mr. Bennet said as each daughter curtsied when their name was called. “Have you even read the legal document that was sent to your father?”


“No sir, he told me what I needed to know. It makes no difference, I am sure this child will be a girl too,” Mr. Collins said frantically. “There is no reason I cannot take my rightful place in the household.”


“The order of succession is quite clear, Mr. Collins,” Mr. Bennet said severely. “Longbourn would be inherited by my son first. If I do not have a son, the second in line to inherit would be the son of my younger sister, Jane. If neither of us have a son, then, and ONLY then, would it be inherited by your father. Since your father predeceased me, the document allows Longbourn to pass to you if my father does not have a grandson. My sister Jane is unable to be here because she is also heavy with child, but she sent a representative of her family. Allow me to introduce you to my nephew, Edmund Sakville.”


He was afraid Mr. Collins was going to have an apoplexy until the man turned green, started to sway, and fell flat on his face. His collapse shocked the entire room, except for the Earl of Palmrich, Mr. Bennet, William, and Miss Elizabeth.


The Earl of Palmrich, Miss Elizabeth, and William had started moving the second Mr. Collins swayed. Miss Elizabeth rang for a servant then walked towards the door of the parlour. The Earl of Palmrich was closer and reached Mr. Collins before William did. The earl immediately turned the prostrated man on his side and started checking his face for obvious injuries.


“I must remember to thank him for missing the rug,” Mr. Bennet said sardonically as he reached his cousin.


“Thomas, that is inappropriate,” Mr. Gardiner said disapprovingly as he moved to comfort his upset wife.


“It was a valid observation,” Dobbs said. “My mother recently took me to look at house furnishings. Rugs are expensive.”


Miss Elizabeth shot her father and Dobbs an annoyed look before she opened the parlour door and almost bowled over the housekeeper who was personally answering the call. “Mrs. Hill, Mr. Collins has fainted and hit his head on the floor. Please have Allan fetch Mr. Jones and have warm water and towels brought in right away.”


Reginald smiled when he heard footsteps rushing towards the back of the house and then saw Mrs. Hill turn her head and nod, followed by even more footsteps. It seemed the housekeeper was expecting the call for an entirely different reason and had brought reinforcements with her.


He turned and watched with the rest of the room as Palmrich used his handkerchief and then Mr. Darcy’s offered one to clean the blood off Mr. Collins’ face. The two men spent a few minutes attempting to revive the unconscious man.


“Miss Kitty, are you well?” he asked the pale young lady.


“Oh, Kitty, I am sorry for neglecting you at such a distressing time,” Miss Bennet said as she pulled her sister into a hug. “Would you like to leave the room and take a walk in the garden with me and Mr. Hurst? Miss Darcy could join us.”


It probably should not have, but hearing Miss Bennet offer his assistance without asking first, made him sigh in contentment. He revelled in the fact that she was comfortable enough with him to take his help as a given. Reginald felt the act signified that she was coming to rely on him the way a wife would on her husband.


Miss Kitty peaked around her sister and said, “I am fine now, Jane. It looks as though the earl has finished cleaning up the blood and Mr. Collins is waking up.”


Mrs. Hill walked in and announced, “Allan came across Mr. Jones on his way to Meryton. He rushed back through the fields to let us know that Mr. Jones should arrive via the roads soon. Is there anything I can get you, Lord Palmrich?”


“Just a moment, Mrs. Hill,” the earl responded. “Mr. Collins, when was the last time you ate, sir?”


“Yesterday,” that man responded weakly.


“Do you have anything baked with sugar, Mrs. Hill? Perhaps something that was served this morning?” The housekeeper nodded. “With some bread, meat, cheese, and a glass of milk please.”


“He has not eaten since yesterday?” Miss Kitty asked quietly.


“Unfortunately, that is all too common, Miss Kitty. It was something I came across many times when I was on the continent,” the earl replied gently. “Are you feeling better, Mr. Collins? Would you like us to help you sit?”


“Please,” was the weak reply.


The room was very quiet as Palmrich and William helped Mr. Collins stand and move to a chair. As they sat him down, Mrs. Hill walked in with the requested items.


“Eat this biscuit right away sir,” Mrs. Hill ordered.


“Thank you, Mrs. Hill,” Palmrich said. “Mr. Collins, when you are done with the biscuit, eat some bread, meat, and cheese. Be careful you do not eat too fast or you could make yourself sick.”


Everyone in the room watched quietly as Mr. Collins ate his light meal. When he was done, Mrs. Hill took his dishes and exited the parlour.


“Do you feel well enough to tell us what has brought you to Longbourn today?” Palmrich asked.


“Palmrich, I am sure the military man in you took over once Mr. Collins was in distress, but perhaps we should finish the introductions before asking the man to tell complete strangers his story,” William said dryly.


“Mr. Jones,” Mrs. Hill announced.


“Jones, thank you for coming so quickly,” Mr. Bennet said. “This is my distant cousin, Mr. Collins.”


“Nice to meet you, sir,” Mr. Jones stated as he approached Mr. Collins. “Lord Palmrich, given the bloody handkerchiefs in your hand, I assume you helped when he was injured. Can you tell me what happened?”


Mr. Jones nodded a few times as the story was told and then declared, “Well done, that is exactly what I would have suggested. Mr. Collins, do you feel better? Other than a lingering weakness?”


“Yes, I do. The earl condescended to help me when I fainted and bloodied my nose. I am well aware of the honour bestowed upon me by his notice of me in my time of need,” the man responded.


“Enough, sir!” Palmrich interrupted when Mr. Collins paused to take a breath. “By all that is holy, why do you use at least thirty words when three would do? Mr. Jones asked you a question about the state of your health. You should have answered him concisely and then waited for his next question. You do not need to waste his time by flattering me and offering meaningless platitudes.”


“Thank you, My Lord,” Mr. Jones said amusedly. “Mr. Collins, since the light meal seems to have taken care of your fainting spell, would you tell me, briefly, what caused this rash on your neck?”


When Mr. Collins did not speak, Mr. Bennet said, “Perhaps he should start with why he was late? His letter indicated he would be here over an hour ago.”


Mr. Bennet’s question had flustered that man’s cousin and Reginald had a flash of inspiration. “Mr. Collins, please do not be embarrassed about your answer. My good friend, Mr. Darcy, is courting your second eldest cousin and I am calling on Miss Bennet,” he said. He glanced at Jane and found her smiling beatifically at him. Saying he was calling on her was a slight exaggeration, but he felt the need to make his prior connection known. “Everyone in this room is related to the Bennet’s or has a close friendship. I promise, whatever you say, will be kept private, sir.”


“Introduce the poor man to everyone, Mr. Bennet, so he knows Mr. Hurst speaks the truth,” Lady Catherine all but commanded and that man complied.


“Now is the time, sir,” the earl ordered. “What happened on your way to Longbourn?”


Mr. Collins opened his mouth as though he was going to speak and then tears filled his eyes and he started crying softly.


Anne de Bourgh surprised everyone by giving the man her handkerchief to use. “Take your time, sir. Everyone needs to cry sometimes. You tell us when you are ready.”


The act of compassion seemed to break a dam inside Mr. Collins and his body was racked with heaving sobs of anguish.


Mr. Collins had almost finished crying when the door to the parlour opened and the Gardiner children ran to their parents.


“Mama,” young Philip said, “why is that man crying?”


“He is sad,” Mrs. Gardiner answered quietly with her arms around her sons.


Reginald watched in awe as the three-year-old he was introduced to earlier in the day walked over to Mr. Collins, patted his hand, and said, “You will get better. God can be your rock. He will help you.”


“Thank you, young man. I needed to hear that,” Mr. Collins stated.


Mrs. Hill walked in and announced that dinner was ready. “Shall I tell cook to hold it for a bit, ma’am?”


“Mr. Jones?” Mrs. Bennet asked.


“I think dinner would be more beneficial to this young man than anything else at this moment.”


“Would you like to join us? You could see to Mr. Collins’ other injuries afterwards? Unless you would prefer to eat the meal your cook left.”


“I appreciate and accept the offer, Mrs. Bennet. I never turn down the opportunity to have a well-cooked hot meal,” Mr. Jones replied.


“We will eat now, Mrs. Hill, and continue our discussion after dinner. Please add a spot for Mr. Jones,” Mrs. Bennet ordered. “I apologize, Mr. Collins. This was to be a family dinner. I invited the children to join us at the table. My brother returns to London tomorrow and I wanted to give him more time with his family.”


“Having children around is something I rarely get to experience. I am sure we shall have a pleasant dinner,” Mr. Collins responded with a slight smile.


“Mr. Collins, please follow Mrs. Hill. She will take you to a room where you may wash your face and hands before we eat,” Mrs. Bennet told her guest.


~*~



Longbourn, Hertfordshire
Monday, November 18, 1811



Fitzwilliam Darcy was torn. He expected to loathe Mr. Collins and he found himself feeling sorry for the man. He was obviously in dire straits and something must have happened on the man’s way to Longbourn.


He needed to speak with Palmrich privately after dinner. Their original plan was crafted to deal with an arrogant man who was trying to weasel his way into a comfortable situation and possibly compromise a young lady. The information they had learned since Mr. Collins’ arrival, meant he could no longer follow through. They would have to adjust their course of action.


William was unsure if it was the set down Palmrich had given him or that he had broken down and sobbed cathartic tears, but Mr. Collins seemed different now. Granted he had not known the man long, but there was less of the odd subservience and arrogance mix that he projected as a first impression. During the meal, his intelligence was showing through in subtle ways.


It was difficult to eat and not discuss what was on the mind of every adult at the table. Thankfully, the children helped. Little Philip requested that he be allowed to sit next to Mr. Collins and told him all about the games he plays with his siblings while Andrew, Sophia, and Emily kept their dinner companions entertained.


As soon as possible, Mrs. Bennet ended the meal. Mrs. Gardiner took her children upstairs to help prepare them for bed, Mr. Jones took Mr. Collins to the kitchen to clean his leg wound, Mrs. Bennet took the ladies to the parlour, and Mr. Bennet took the rest of the gentlemen to his study for a drink. William was able to pull Palmrich to the side of the study for a quiet discussion.


Once everyone was back in the parlour, he asked, “Mr. Collins, would you feel more comfortable telling your story only to your family? The residents of Haye Park will leave if you desire us to.”


“Thank you, Mr. Darcy, but I have come to realize Mr. Hurst was correct. You are all very close and I trust you will keep my affairs private,” Mr. Collins answered. He took a deep breath and continued. “Mr. Bennet, I owe you an apology for myself and my father. I do vaguely remember the previous visit I made to your estate. My father was very upset when the magistrate made us leave. I did love and honour my father, but I am realizing he was not all that a father should be.”


The ladies all gasped and Mr. Collins was quick to clarify.


“Please, I did not mean to insinuate my father ever physically abused me. He was not a violent man, neither was he warm. He would yell at and berate me, but he never laid a hand on me other than the times it was necessary as a means to correct my unacceptable behaviour. Father enjoyed the meaningless platitudes, as the earl called them, very much and encouraged my comments.”


“I know the type,” the earl said with a nod. “I served under a few of them. They use you to build up their own sense of worth, while breaking yours down.”


“What brought you to Longbourn and what happened on the trip?” Mr. Bennet asked.


“My father was not very good with his money. It is a good thing you sent him packing, Mr. Bennet, he most likely would have bankrupted the estate within a year,” Mr. Collins said dejectedly. “I was forced to sell his house when he died and barely had enough to pay off his debts. I had no money, no job, and no prospects for a job. It is hard to find work when you cannot afford paper or ink to write letters of inquiry, to pay for return post, or to travel to interviews.”


“Thank you for the explanation,” Mr. Bennet said. “I understand the frame of mind you were in when you wrote me that letter. Why did you ignore my refusal?”


“I had no choice, sir. Not unless I wanted to live on the streets. My room was only paid through last night and I only had enough money to feed myself one time a day. I was forced to sell all my books, my trunk, and most of my clothes to survive. Yesterday, I spent the last of my funds purchasing a stagecoach ticket, even though I could only afford to go as far as the stop before Meryton, and a modest morning meal. I literally do not have a single farthing to my name.”


“That explains why you have not eaten since yesterday and why you fainted when you arrived. Frankly, I am amazed you made it all the way to Longbourn,” the earl said. “What about your injuries?”


“Before you answer that question, how are you feeling, Mr. Collins?” Mr. Jones asked. “It is easy to overeat and make yourself sick when you go a full day without eating.”


“I feel better, sir,” Mr. Collins responded.


“Mr. Collins, I am so sorry for what you went through,” Miss Lydia said genuinely. “I have been fortunate enough to never truly experience hunger. The closest I came was earlier this year when my parents sent me to Scotland for a few months with a trusted servant to teach me how to behave properly. Mrs. Tucker made me walk alongside the carriage for part of one day and skip our mid-day meal. Other than a few times when I was ill, I have never been forced to go without food for an entire day. You have my sympathies, sir.”


“Thank you, Miss Lydia,” Mr. Collins said.


“Your injuries, sir?” Mr. Jones asked. “You told me what happened to your leg and I am sorry to be pushy about the rest, but the rash looks painful and I would like to start my drive home before it gets dark, if possible.”


“The only benefit to having few personal possessions, was that I did not have to drag a trunk almost five miles to Longbourn. Just outside of the town the coach dropped me off in, I came across three dogs fighting on the other side of the road. I tried to be as quiet as possible while passing, but one of them came after me and chased me up a tree.”


“Thankfully, he tore his pants and injured his leg on a tree branch,” Mr. Jones said with a grin. “Dog bites can be nasty wounds.”


“Do not forget that I slipped while getting down and fell into a mud puddle,” Mr. Collins offered depreciatingly. “Further down the road, a large bee started flying around my head. I tried to ignore it, but it started coming closer. I ran into the woods hoping to escape, but it stung my neck. I was disoriented and ran through a patch of thorn bushes.”


“Have you ever had an issue with bee stings before?” Mr. Jones asked. “It is a nasty rash, but it is not swollen.”


“No, sir. I cannot ever remember being stung before.”


“Good,” Mr. Jones responded. “None of the scratches seem bad enough to warrant a bandage.”


“Poor Mr. Collins,” his sister said with glistening eyes. “William, is there anything we can do to help him?”


“Georgiana, please let him finish,” he said gently.


“It took me a few minutes, but I managed to find my way back to the road. As you can imagine, I cheered when I finally saw the signs indicating I was almost to Longbourn,” Mr. Collins finished.


“Life is horrible sometimes,” Dobbs said quietly.


“Oh, you poor man,” Miss Bennet said with tears in her eyes. “Papa, Georgie is right. We must help him.”


“I agree, Georgie and Jane are both right,” Miss de Bourgh said. “Can we do anything, mother?”


“Perhaps, Anne, but let us not be too hasty,” Lady Catherine answered with a glance at him and the earl.


“Mr. Collins,” William said, “between the estate owners in this room, we have around twenty livings in our care.” He had to pause for a moment and smile at the look of astonishment on Mr. Collins’ face.


“Darcy is correct, although it might be closer to thirty. However, I believe all of us are leery to consider you for any of them,” Palmrich said bluntly.


“I can understand that, sirs,” Mr. Collins said dejectedly. “I made a fool of myself with the letter I wrote and then because I ignored Mr. Bennet’s refusal. I did not act the part of a prospective rector.”


William was starting to be impressed and could tell the former general was too.


“Father, please. There must be something we can do,” Elizabeth said. “Maybe he could stay here for a week and we could help him write letters to prospective employers?”


“I understand there are no available rooms,” Mr. Collins said. “I would be happy to sleep in the hay loft with a few blankets. Anything so I do not have to sleep outside in the cold overnight.”


William shared a look with Palmrich who hung his head slightly, sighed, and nodded his approval to proceed with their alternate idea.


“Mr. Collins, for the next few days, you are welcome to stay with us at Haye Park. My sister, Miss Darcy, and cousin, Miss de Bourgh, are staying at Longbourn to care for the children while Mrs. Gardiner helps Mrs. Bennet prepare for the babe,” he said, coming up with a valid reason on the spot. He was spending too much time with Mr. Bennet. It was not exactly a deceptive statement, Georgie had been excited to hear the children were expected and started planning what games they would play and outings she would offer to escort them on. Although, it was not the complete truth of admitting they were trying to fill rooms so they had a legitimate excuse to deny his request to visit.


“I am a retired general of the army, Mr. Collins. I have a set way of doing things and do not suffer fools or flattery from anyone,” the earl said with narrowed eyes. “That said, I feel obligated to inform you that the vicar of my primary estate’s church is getting older and recently suggested I start looking for a curate to assist him with the duties.”


Mr. Collins looked excited until the earl continued.


“I need to make it absolutely, without a doubt, crystal clear that there are no promises being made here. At all. If you pass Mr. Porter’s inspection, we will discuss the possibility of you becoming my curate. The living has not been promised to anyone after Mr. Porter retires, but again, whether it is eventually offered to you would depend on how the congregation responds to you. I will not have a vicar that the neighbourhood does not like or trust. I must be completely honest, from what I have seen so far, it would take nothing less than a complete about face for me to offer you the living. Assuming you become the curate, you would do well to pay attention to Mr. Porter and use his behaviour as an example of how a proper man of God acts.”


“I would welcome the chance, My Lord,” Mr. Collins said gratefully.


“I am engaged to a woman from Meryton and will be leaving for my estate first thing Friday morning. Presuming I do not change my mind before then, you may ride with me in my carriage,” the earl offered.


“Oh, thank you, My Lord. I cannot thank you enough for deigning to give someone as unworthy as me the opportunity to essentially interview for such an exalted position...” Mr. Collins stopped abruptly. “I apologize for my outburst and thank you for offering transportation.”


William saw his Aunt Catherine share a look with Lady Dobbs before she opened her mouth to speak. He could not wait to hear this.


“Mr. Collins,” Lady Catherine said, “you will spend some time with me and Lady Dobbs tomorrow discussing your religious dogma. You will also go riding with my nephew, Mr. Hurst, Mr. Dobbs, and the Earl of Palmrich. If you start falling into old habits, none of us will hesitate to tell you to be quiet.”


“I am sorry, My Lady, but I do not know how to ride a horse,” Mr. Collins said quietly while blushing.


William did not think it was possible, but he felt even worse for this young man and the environment he was raised in.


“We will give you horseback riding lessons this week, Mr. Collins,” he offered.


“Aye, believe it or not, a lot of the things we will probably end up teaching you, I learned this past June. I joined the navy when I was twelve years old. I was injured four months ago and found out my father bought me an estate,” Dobbs informed the man. “Palmrich, if you think it beneficial, I would be willing to join you when you return to your estate to help continue the lessons we started.”


Elizabeth started giggling.


“What is so funny, Lizzy,” her father asked.


“Lord Palmrich, if your vicar approves Mr. Collins becoming the curate, you may want to send him back to Haye Park for a few months before you make your final decision. It seems Mr. Darcy keeps finding people who need his help, strays if you will. Perhaps he should place an advertisement in all of the London papers. He could start his own finishing school for young men.”


He smiled at this vibrant woman that he was completely spellbound by. Life would certainly never be boring with Elizabeth around.
SubjectAuthorPosted

Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 26

LizzySOctober 01, 2020 02:38AM

Re: Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 26

EvelynJeanOctober 01, 2020 05:26PM

Re: Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 26

LizzySOctober 05, 2020 02:27AM

Re: Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 26

EvelynJeanOctober 05, 2020 03:35AM

Re: Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 26

EvelynJeanOctober 05, 2020 03:39AM

Re: Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 26

LizzySOctober 05, 2020 03:03PM



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