Engaged to Mr. Collins? Impossible!
Lizzy winced at the memory of her reaction to Charlotte’s engagement to her cousin. Without thinking highly of either men or matrimony, for Charlotte, marriage had always been her object. Once Lizzy accepted the fact of the engagement, she understood the reason: It was the only honorable option for a young woman of small fortune, and now here she was in Kent to observe in close quarters the union of these two dissimilar souls.
Weary from a day of traveling, Lizzy was eager for her bed, but before saying good night, the parson had extracted a promise that his cousin tour the gardens the next morning. After a hearty breakfast, Lizzy followed Charlotte and Mr. Collins into a large plot, handsomely fenced, adjacent to the parsonage. To Lizzy’s mind, it looked very much like the vegetable garden at Longbourn and Lucas Lodge and every other house in the Meryton neighborhood, but that was before Mr. Collins mentioned his cucumber.
“Have you ever seen a cucumber of such size, Cousin Elizabeth?” he asked, pointing to the lengthy gourd at her feet, and Lizzy admitted she had not.
“Her Ladyship has encouraged Mr. Collins to tend to his garden so that we might have sufficient vegetables for our table,” Charlotte explained.
Mr. Collins had happily accepted Her Ladyship’s decree. “Lady Catherine visits regularly. She has been as captivated by this plant as I have, watching it grow, inch by inch by inch, until reaching its current length. If stood erect, I am sure it would reach a length of nine inches.”
“Mr. Collins, I am speechless!” Lizzy said, trying to suppress the urge to laugh. She very nearly lost the fight when Charlotte mentioned the enormous oblong vegetable was planted next to her husband’s radishes, also of a goodly size.
After Mr. Collins retreated to his study, Lizzy asked her friend how she had kept a straight face throughout the exchange.
“Because he shows me his cucumber at least twice a week, usually on Wednesdays and Saturdays.”
And, finally, with Mr. Collins out of earshot, the two ladies had their laugh.