The next day opened a new scene at Longbourn. Mr. Collins
made his declaration in form. Having resolved to do it without
loss of time, as his leave of absence extended only to the
following Saturday, and having no feelings of diffidence to make
it distressing to himself even at the moment, he set about it
in a very orderly manner, with all the observances, which
he supposed a regular part of the business. On finding Mrs.
Bennet, Elizabeth, and one of the younger girls together, soon
after breakfast, he addressed the mother in these words:
"May I hope, madam, for your interest with your fair daughter
Elizabeth, when I solicit for the honour of a private audience
with her in the course of this morning?"
Before Elizabeth had time for anything but a blush of surprise,
Mrs. Bennet answered instantly, "Oh dear!--yes--certainly. I
am sure Lizzy will be very happy--I am sure she can have no
objection. Come, Kitty, I want you upstairs." And, gathering
her work together, she was hastening away, when Elizabeth
"Dear madam, do not go. I beg you will not go. Mr. Collins
must excuse me. He can have nothing to say to me that anybody
need not hear. I am going away myself."