Lizzy winced at the memory of her reaction to Charlotte’s engagement to her cousin. She had known that, without thinking highly either of men or matrimony, marriage had always been Charlotte’s object. So why should she not marry Mr. Collins? Once Lizzy accepted the fact of the engagement, she understood the reason: It was the only honorable provision for a well educated young woman of small fortune, and now here she was in Kent to observe the union of these two dissimilar souls in close quarters.
Weary from a day of traveling, Lizzy looked forward to her bed, but before saying good night, the parson had extracted a promise that his cousin tour the gardens the next morning. After a hearty breakfast, Lizzy followed Charlotte and Mr. Collins into a large plot, handsomely fenced, adjacent to the parsonage. To Lizzy’s mind, it looked very much like the vegetable garden at Longbourn and Lucas Lodge and every other house in the Meryton neighborhood, but that was before Mr. Collins mentioned his cucumber.
“Have you ever seen a cucumber of such size, Cousin Elizabeth?” he asked, pointing to the lengthy gourd at her feet, and Lizzy admitted that she hadn’t.
“Her Ladyship has encouraged Mr. Collins to tend to his garden so that we might have sufficient vegetables for our table,” Charlotte explained.
Mr. Collins nodded in agreement with Her Ladyship’s decree. “Lady Catherine visits regularly. She has been as captivated by this plant as I have, watching it grow, inch by inch by inch, until it has reached its present length. If stood erect, I am sure it would reach a length of nine inches.”
“Mr. Collins, I am speechless,” Lizzy said, trying to suppress the urge to laugh. She very nearly lost the fight when Charlotte mentioned that the enormous oblong vegetable was planted next to her husband’s radishes, also of a goodly size.
After Mr. Collins retreated, Lizzy asked her friend how she had kept a straight face throughout the exchange. “Because he shows me his cucumber at least twice a week, usually on Wednesday and Saturday.” And, finally, with Mr. Collins out of earshot, the two ladies had their laugh.
Did this post leave you speechless? I hope not because I’d love to hear from you. Mary