After the tea serving, everyone assembles into the salon for another reading. Mr Darcy's dear friend, Miss Charlotte Cavendish, introduces another special guest author who will be reading something inspired by Kitty Bennet...
by Alexa Adams
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On a brilliant April morning the entire Rosings party journeyed in two coaches to Hunsford, there to attend the Easter service. It was a weary Kitty that took her seat in the de Bourgh pew between Georgiana and Mrs. Jennings, having weathered three harrowing days of misery. For the good of the Darcys, she submitted to hearing Lady Catherine’s thoughts on her rejection of a baronet, hoping that she might stem the tide of her displeasure. Never had the great lady, except perhaps in her rector, found someone as totally compliant with her opinion in all things. Miss Bennet readily agreed that rejecting Sir James was a rash and foolhardy thing to do, that if she should ever be so fortunate as to receive a second proposal from him (which is just what she should not expect), she would certainly respond very differently, and that she would live to bitterly regret her ingratitude. Kitty had not known herself to be ungrateful, but so acute was her misery that she readily accepted the charge, adding it to her growing list of sorrows. Unfortunately, Kitty feeling the situation just as she ought did little to relieve Lady Catherine's chagrin. She would discuss it again and again, and when ready ears were not to be found at Rosings, she called those residing at the parsonage into service.
If Miss Bennet’s rejection of Sir James was a blow to Lady Catherine’s sensibilities, do feel for poor Mr. Collins, whose agony each time he reflected on the many livings Sir James might have in his gift threatened an apoplectic fit. Having few other avenues to vent his spleen, he carried it with him to the pulpit. The familiar themes of Easter were distorted into a lecture on submission and loyalty, particularly the responsibilities of daughters to their families.
Let us note in Kitty’s favor how well she maintained her countenance throughout the past few days. She would like to have spent a great deal more time crying into her pillow than she had allowed herself to do, only indulging in the luxury after performing her role in the evening’s activities and retiring for the night. But as Mr. Collins carried on, becoming more and more explicit in his meaning, she knew she could not endure any more. It was when he came to the following – through what convolutions of theology she knew not – that Kitty was driven to act: “So right the proverb: Man proposes, God disposes! May every daughter fulfill her duty by accepting any advantageous proposals God has been so benevolent as to place before her.”
Hurt, depressed, and plagued by her brother and hostess, the only means Kitty could devise for putting an end to such pointed sentiments was by removing herself – so clearly their object – from the audience. Rising with as much dignity as she could muster, she slid past Mrs. Jennings and out the pew, quickly making her way to the door. Mr. Collins last words - “Let every maiden clothe themselves in the mantle of gratitude and loyalty, for nothing else so well becomes her!” – echoed in her ears as she escaped to the fresh air.
The churchyard was deserted, and though the sun shone through the trees, Kitty thought she had never beheld a more dismal scene. Gazing up where the glittering rays danced with the leaves, the light pricked her eyes, summoning ready tears, and she submitted to all her feelings of hopelessness.
“My dear Kitty! Do not make such a spectacle of yourself!” came the voice of Mrs. Collins.
Kitty turned around to see her ever-stoic sister holding forth a handkerchief encouragingly. Though she had her own, Kitty accepted the offer and dried her eyes. “I do not know what can be the matter with me!” she lamented.
“Do you not? You seemed to feel Mr. Collins’ words just as you ought. I am afraid, dear sister, that this is only the beginning of your repentance. I hope you do not have cause to regret your actions all of your days, but if you do, know I am here to provide whatever solace you may find in the balm of sisterly consolation.”
Kitty stared at Mary in horror, at a complete loss for words to express the extent of her irritation at this little speech. Rather than respond, she dashed off in the direction of Rosings, running directly into the dazzling sunlight.
Guest post created by Alexa Adams, author of Second Glances: A Tale of Less Pride & Prejudice Continues
© 2013. All rights reserved.
by Alexa Adams
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* image source Kitty Bennet from Pride and Prejudice 2005 film