We’re in week 3 of our ‘Jane in January’ event and hope you are enjoying our special focus on “Pride and Prejudice.” The giveaways associated with this event will be distributed through RaffleCopter, so be sure to sign into it with your email to be entered. We will announce winners by Sunday afternoon of each week.
Christmas is over and the Bennet household has shrunk from a large, merry party to a small, subdued family group. The Gardiners have left Longbourn to return to London, taking Jane with them. And now Elizabeth has lost her other best friend in a particularly distasteful way: Charlotte Lucas has married the odious Mr. Collins. Even Lizzy, who “was not formed for ill-humour,” must have been tempted to feel a little melancholy with nothing more to look forward to than letters from Jane and the new Mrs. Collins. (reference: Pride and Prejudice, chapter 26)
When Elizabeth had said goodbye to the former Miss Lucas at the church door, it had been with a heavy heart. The previous years of unreserved friendship, of easy intimacy were over. The fact that one was now married and the other not, might have created somewhat of a barrier in any case. But the manner of Charlotte’s marrying – whom she had accepted and why – was an obstacle Elizabeth knew could never be completely overcome. Henceforth, the specter of Mr. Collins would always divide them.
Nevertheless, out of respect for what had been, she was determined to preserve at least a remnant of their past friendship. Charlotte had asked her to visit Hunsford in March, and Elizabeth had agreed, though she foresaw little pleasure in the scheme. In the meantime, there would be letters exchanged.
Elizabeth anticipated the first missive from Kent with a sort of morbid curiosity. Not that she wished her friend would be unhappy. Certainly not! It was simply impossible for her to imagine the situation as being otherwise, to envision Charlotte’s state of mind without her own feelings creeping in. “You were right all along, my dear Eliza!” she would surely say. “I have made the biggest mistake of my life in marrying Mr. Collins, and it is one from which I fear I will never recover. Why, oh, why did I not listen to your advice?”
But instead, Charlotte wrote the following:
My dearest friend,
I know you will have been wondering how we are getting on here in Kent. So I will jot down a few lines for you, while I have an half-hour’s leisure, to assure you that Mr. Collins and I are very well. We experienced no difficulty with our travel from Hertfordshire after the wedding, arriving in good time. And my impressions upon first setting eyes on Hunsford were most agreeable as well.
The parsonage, while not grand by any means, is as neat and tidy as any reasonable person could well hope for. I already feel quite at home and have been allowed to claim a pretty little parlor at the back of the house for my own particular use. I find the furnishings throughout exactly suited for a clergyman’s family. This should come as no surprise since Lady Catherine has done it all according to her own discriminating taste and judgment, as she informed me herself when she condescended to visit me the very day after my arrival. Was not that considerate? I anticipate that she will be just as generous with these civil attentions as my husband has always given her the credit of.
As for more about our distinguished neighbor, her daughter, and the splendors of Rosings Park, I must defer to another occasion the detailed descriptions Mr. Collins has encouraged me to make to you. I simply have not time or room on the page to do them justice now. In any case, you will see all these things for yourself when you come in March. For the present, be satisfied to know that everything here – house, furniture, gardens, neighborhood, etc. – is to my liking, and I am well satisfied with my situation.
Do write soon, Lizzy. I long to hear all the news from Meryton – all your little comings, goings, and doings – and none of my own family has yet proved to be a very satisfactory correspondent.
With loving regards from Hunsford,
P.S. – Mr. Collins sends his greetings to you and to your family as well. He asks that you would be so kind as to apologize to your father on his behalf, for his not having written more promptly himself. This is a circumstance he promises to remedy very soon, at which time he will beg Mr. Bennet’s pardon in proper form.
Oh, my. Well satisfied. It was precisely what she should have expected to hear from her friend – all cheerful practicality and no complaints. Elizabeth could accept that much. She could even respect such a statement, whereas she would never have believed a claim of Charlotte’s being deliriously happy with Mr. Collins. Impossible! Very well. Elizabeth supposed she must be satisfied too. She could not quite understand it, but she owed it to Charlotte to be glad for her, to be glad she could be content with the life she had chosen for herself. There was clearly nothing else to be done. Well, there was one more thing. Elizabeth drew two sheets of paper from the desk and took up her pen to write an answer.
My dear Charlotte,
Thank you for your letter. I was so pleased to hear that you are well, and that you find everything at Hunsford to be so consistent with your taste and expectations. Here at Longbourn, we continue on much as you left us…
Here are some of the prizes we are giving away in Jane in January:
Week Three Prizes:
From Maria Grace – 1 ‘Jane Austen said it best’ mousepad (US); 1 audio book (reader’s choice, US), 1 signed copy of “The Future Mrs. Darcy” (IUS), and 1 special gift for 2 international readers only, a short story that will not be freely available anywhere else.
From Monica Fairview – one e-book of “Mr. Darcy’s Pledge” UK, US or Canada only.
From Shannon Winslow – 1 signed paperback of “The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen” plus matching tote bag (US)
From Abigail Reynolds- 1 -autographed copy of “What Would Mr. Darcy Do” and 1 -“To Conquer Mr. Darcy” (US)
Please remember to click into RaffleCopter and log in with your email address, stating that you commented on the blog post or YOU WILL NOT be entered for the giveaway! There are also two other ways to increase your chances to win. The winners will be selected through RaffleCopter only. Please include whether you are US, UK, or International in your comment, and if you have a prize preference, please add that as well. We will do our best to honor requests. Good luck! The RaffleCopter has been set up for the whole month of January, but each time you enter increases your chances to win. If you click on the buttons below the First Week Prizes, you will see all the prizes for the whole month.