Oh, my friend, there has been such agitation at Rosings and Hunsford Rectory as you can never imagine! Due to Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s extreme vexation with you and Mr. Wickham (Heaven knows why she would still be upset, for you are now married), Mr. Collins has been at sixes and sevens, unable to concentrate or keep his mind on his sermons. One would think the INSULT, as he calls it, had been done upon his person. He cannot sit still without jumping up and lecturing Charlotte, of all people, about you, the Bennets, and all the ungrateful people upon this earth who do not know their place and who fail to behave with any sense of decency, propriety, and decorum. It is almost comical to see his tall form rush outside of the house every time he hears a carriage. Mr. Collins expects Lady Catherine to appear at any moment to discuss THE SITUATION, as he says repeatedly. Charlotte remains mute, by and large, expressing only her concern for the Bennet family, including YOU. La! One would think she would feel envy rather than concern, for your Mr. Wickham is ever so much more handsome than her Mr. Collins.
Lady Catherine did finally arrive this morning. She remained inside her barouche, all bundled in black and puce, and would not even condescend to open the carriage door more than a tiny crack so that she could be heard. Poor Mr. Collins stood in a drizzling rain for a full fifteen minutes with only his hat and coat for protection. From my station behind the curtain, I could hear Lady Catherine’s voice, but I could understand nary a word. When she left, Mr. Collins hastened inside the house, calling for Charlotte to meet him in private. It turns out, my dear friend, that Lady Catherine is on her way to Meryton to demand that Miss Elizabeth Bennet cease and desist in her intention to STEAL Mr. Darcy away from Lady Anne, her daughter. How on earth Lady Catherine got hold of this idea is beyond my understanding, since we both know that your sister DESPISES the very ground Mr. Darcy walks on and won’t have a thing to do with him.
This brings me to the reason for this letter. I am writing it in haste and am entrusting it to Mr. Collins's man, who promises to put on this afternoon's Mail Coach. If luck is with us, my letter will precede Lady Catherine’s arrival at Longbourn, (for she is an old lady and I suspect must make many stops). If you are still visiting your family, you must warn your sister that Lady Catherine is on a rampage and means to CONFRONT Lizzy and DEMAND obedience.
Oh, my dear friend, when my father sent me to stay with Charlotte, I fretted that my life in this backwater would be dreadfully dull and boring. It has been far from that, I assure you. Oh, Thomas has just come in to take the letter. Quick, I must stop writing. I shall await your reply most anxiously,
Your loving friend, Lucy.
Lord above, whatever will you write to me of next?!!! I have always imagined that at Hunsford Rectory, the Collinses had more than a button missing between them, but with this latest news, I know it to be true! Lady Catherine de Bourgh must be tuppence short of a shilling herself, if she thinks that Elizabeth would even look at Mr Darcy, let alone marry him!!! Between you and me, I've always suspected that she has been harbouring a passion for Colonel FitzWilliam, but I daresay that's another story. I have little time for writing to my sisters now I am a married lady - and, in any case, I feel sure your fears are unfounded.
As for myself, we are settled at last in lodgings at Newcastle, for the present. My darling Georgie assures me we shall not be here for long and that we shall soon be moving into a larger house on the upper slopes where the wealthy are settling. I have been shopping for some items of furniture, as it all desperately required updating and I have filled our sitting room with a new sofa and chairs, some small occasional tables and have green blinds at the window. Everyone who calls comments on my style and all say I have the most exquisite taste. Was it not always so, Lucy? My talent for trimming a new bonnet has held me in good stead for decorating a new home.
I have been received with great cordiality by the officers' wives and even more so by the officers themselves! Lucy, I am sure you are not surprised to hear that I have several favourites already; Mr Gascoigne is so attentive and so like dear Denny, whom I am sure I shall miss to the end of my days. Captain Welby is the most handsome man I ever set eyes on and Mr Lambert is so sweet, he blushes like a girl whenever I look his way. Needless to say, I could fill two sides just writing of these lovely fellows and their antics to present; so you see, I neither lack for company nor friendship!
The ladies certainly spend a lot of money on their appearance and are as fashionable as any I saw in Brighton, if not more so. I can almost understand what they are saying, for their way of talking takes getting used to and for the first week I thought I was in a foreign country and asked dear George what language they were speaking. Quite frankly, it is not unpleasant to the ear and I am sure I have picked it up in the few weeks I have been here. Certainly, if Mr Gascoigne spends any longer whispering in my ear, I shall be a true proficient! I expect to see the latter and all his comrades at the Assembly Ball this week. How you would love it here, Lucy! Rest assured that I am happy, hale and hearty and if in my next letter I do not write with 'increasing news', if you take my meaning, I assure you it will not be for want of trying; George and I are meticulous in that endeavour!
Painting by Jane Odiwe