You adopt a severe tone of voice. “An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. -- Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr Collins.” You pause and allow your eyes to twinkle, before adding, “And I will never see you again if you do!”
Elizabeth cannot help smiling at such a conclusion of such a beginning; but Mrs Bennet is distraught.
“What do you mean, Mr Bennet, by talking in this way? You promised me to insist upon her marrying him.”
“My dear,” you reply, “I have two small favours to request. First, that you will allow me the free use of my understanding on the present occasion; and secondly, of my room. I shall be glad to have the library to myself as soon as may be.”
Your dear wife drags Lizzy away, no doubt to apply a little maternal persuasion. But you know that nothing untoward can take place without your consent. You contemplate suggesting that Mr Collins turns his ardent gaze to your middle daughter; it would be a privilege to be the means of uniting two incomparable intellects, and their erudite conversation would astound many an unsuspecting listener. A happy prospect indeed! In the end, however, you cannot be bothered to rise from your chair, and Mr Collins confers his attentions elsewhere.
When you learn that Charlotte Lucas is the fortunate recipient, you declare that you are gratified to discover that a girl whom you have been used to think tolerably sensible, is as foolish as your wife and more foolish than your daughter.
The reaction of Mrs Bennet is everything you could have wished for: the sight of Miss Lucas is odious to her. Whenever Charlotte comes to visit, she concludes her to be anticipating the hour of possession. Whenever she speaks in a low voice to Mr Collins, Mrs Bennet is convinced that they are talking of the Longbourn estate, and resolving to turn herself and her daughters out of the house as soon as you are dead.
She complains bitterly of all this to you. “Indeed, Mr Bennet,” says she, "it is very hard to think that Charlotte Lucas should ever be mistress of this house, that I should be forced to make way for her, and live to see her take my place in it!"
"My dear, do not give way to such gloomy thoughts,” you say, with mock solicitude. “Let us hope for better things. Let us flatter ourselves that I may be the survivor."
This is not very consoling to Mrs. Bennet and, therefore, instead of making any answer, she goes on as before. "I cannot bear to think that they should have all this estate. If it was not for the entail I should not mind it."
"What should not you mind?"
"I should not mind any thing at all."
"Let us be thankful that you are preserved from a state of such insensibility."
"I never can be thankful, Mr Bennet, for any thing about the entail. How any one could have the conscience to entail away an estate from one's own daughters I cannot understand; and all for the sake of Mr Collins too! – Why should he have it more than anybody else?"
You answer this unanswerable question with a shrug. "I leave it to yourself to determine."
End of Chapter 6.
Congratulations, you are becoming Mr Bennet! Chapter 7 is here.