That Feeling When You Meet A Guy You Know You Shouldn't Like But You Do Anyway And He Tells You The Story Of His Life And You're Like, "Okay, when are we getting married??!!"
We've met (and we're about to meet) LOTS of new people...so I updated our chart!
Mr. Bennet is particularly loving the absurdity that is Mr. Collins. He wonders if he can stoke the fire of Collins' ridiculousness by mentioning a lady that seems to come up a lot with him--Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
COLLINS: "Ah yes! My patroness* Lady Catherine is quite the finest specimen of the female sex that I have ever encountered, in fact, just the other day I performed two of my sermons for her at her MAGNIFICENT estate, Rosings Park, and she approved of no less than BOTH of them, well, I was FLOORED, I can tell you, simply FLOORED that a Lady of HER esteem would love MY sermons, and if that wasn't enough, she then asked me to dine with her, not once but TWICE she has done me this honor, I tell you I was so pleased the first time I could have fainted, I did, in fact, faint, I believe, I have very little memory of it, but I would not be surprised, for ANYONE would certainly faint in the presence of SUCH a woman, OH and I almost forgot, she did in fact come to visit me, SHE came to visit ME, in my own humble parsonage, to think! that the walls of MY parsonage still glow with the air that SHE breathed upon them, certainly I am the luckiest man alive, for it was at that time that she also was the one to recommend I MARRY, and so of course I took her advice at once, which is *wink* why I am here, and I must say, you ladies DO remind me so of Ms. Anne de Bourgh, Lady Catherine de Bourgh's daughter, a SICKLY thing unfortunately, but TREMENDOUSLY beautiful of course, born to be a duchess, it is a SHAME that the British Court has been DEPRIVED of its BRIGHTEST ornament because of her illness, oh YES, it is, and I said this very thing to Lady Catherine de Bourgh, for I am QUITE talented at delivering little compliments to the ladies, as you ladies will no doubt soon see. *wink*"
And that, my friends, is Mr. Collins.
Elizabeth and Mr. Bennet spend the rest of the evening fueling the flames of Mr. Collins' absurdity, and exchanging sly smiles each time he is about to go on yet another rant.
*HISTORICAL INTERLUDE: Persons of great wealth and status, like Lady Catherine, had the right to appoint someone to clerical positions. In this case, Lady Catherine has appointed Mr. Collins as the rector (priest) of the parish on her estate....a decision that she almost certainly regrets now....So, Mr. Collins has plenty of good reasons to like (or obsess over, apparently) Lady Catherine.
The next morning* Mr. Collins wastes no time in telling Mrs. Bennet that his heart has settled on Jane Bennet, and would it be okay if I marry her pretty please? Mrs. Bennet tells him Jane is about to be engaged (to Bingley) and that maybe Elizabeth would make a suitable second-choice?
Mr. Collins checks out Elizabeth. "Yeah, I mean, she's a hot babe too. I'll go with her."
So when the Bennet girls announce that they're walking to Meryton, Mr. Collins quickly snuggles up next to Liz. Liz is (not) delighted.
The torture of Collins' presence is soon alleviated by the entrance of an absolutely beautiful young man, hubba hubba, holy fishsticks, who is that piece of gorgeousness??!!
The sun sparkled behind his beautiful blonde head, as if drawing energy from his radiant figure. The wind blew back his golden locks and he flashed his baby blues at the Bennet girls, who melted on the spot. He was clearly in the militia, and no one wore those tight trousers better than he. Those perfect lips parted, he was just about to speak, when---
"HELLOOO, ladies!" The arrival of Bingley and Darcy shakes everyone out of the dream. Leave it to the politeness of Bingley to ruin a perfectly good fantasy. Darcy is firmly deciding to NOT oggle at Elizabeth when he sees Wickham.
Wickham looks at Darcy. Darcy looks at Wickham. One turns white. The other red.
And Darcy speeds off on his horse.
"Um, so, I guess I'll see you next time--" says Bingley, as he races to catch up with his friend.
Elizabeth is all, WTF JUST HAPPENED!!!??
The Bennet party plus Wickham continue on to Mrs. Phillips' house, who is Mrs. Bennet's sister. They dine and agree to meet again the next day, making sure to invite the charming Mr. Wickham as well.
Mr. Collins declares that, except for Lady Catherine and her daughter, of course, he has never met with a more amiable, wonderful, lovely, incredible woman than Mrs. Phillips in the whole of his existence forever in the history of the universe.
But come on, Jane! What we really want to hear about is WHAT JUST HAPPENED WITH DARCY AND WICKHAM???!!!!
*HISTORICAL INTERLUDE: It was common for folks to visit for long periods of time, since it took so long to get there in the first place. Mr. Collins stays with the Bennets for two weeks, which was actually considered a "short" visit at that time....although it may be a long visit when it's someone like Mr. Collins...
Alright so the Bennet girls and Collins head back to the Phillips' the next day, they chat, blah, blah, blah, Collins is overexpressive as usual, and Wickham is also there, and he just so happens to sit next to Elizabeth while the rest of the group plays cards.
Elizabeth is trying to figure out a way to subtly get Wickham to talk about Darcy when he asks her--How long as Darcy been at Netherfield?
About a month, says Liz. Wickham says he's known Darcy since he was a baby.
Rrreeeaaallly???? says Liz
Yeah, I'm sure that's surprising given how we greeted each other yesterday, says Wickham.
Naaah, says Liz, I hadn't even thought about it.
"Well--"(and here is the question that Liz will look back on later and realize her mistake)--"do you know Mr. Darcy?" "As much as I ever need to," Liz says.
And Wickham's story begins. It's a long winded thing, beautifully constructed, but here's what you need to know:
Basically, Chapter 16 sets up the rest of the story.
On the way home from the Phillips' house, Elizabeth can't think about anything except Wickham:
She likes Wickham more than ever. Poor man! Can you imagine thinking that your whole life is set up for you, paid for, ready to go, and then to have it completely taken away from you, so that you are forced to join the militia to earn something?
She hates Darcy more than ever. HORRID man. How could you possibly go against your father's dying wishes and literally take EVERYTHING away from a young man you considered your best friend in youth???
She pities Caroline more than ever. She really doesn't have a blessed chance with Darcy. Ha, ha, ha.