Skep's Place


Chapter 29: Much Ado About Debuts

Mr. Collins is pleased as punch that he'll get to show off Lady Catherine's benevolence to the rest of the crew, and so early in their visit, too. He even tells Elizabeth not to worry that none of her clothes are fancy enough; just wear whatever is nicest, Lady Catherine definitely won't mind.

Everybody else is basically shitting their pants as they enter the grand, opulent estate; but Elizabeth figures, eh, it's just money, Lady Catherine isn't some infallible goddess or anything.

It turns out, Mr. Wickham was right on the money, and Mr. Collins has been full of shit this entire time. Lady Catherine dominates the entire evening's conversation, offering her very pointed views and opinions and speaking with authority on every subject, no matter how trifling. Meanwhile, Mr. Collins and Catherine's father do nothing but praise her excessively throughout the meal, which she just basks in the entire time.

an image of Lady Catherine

Lady Catherine de Bourgh

After dinner, when they've all sat down to play Uno, Lady Catherine starts getting nosy about Elizabeth's family, since the Bennets are entirely foreign to her. She is incredibly critical about the upbringing of the Bennet girls, particularly in their education, and is in utter disbelief that they're homeschooled.

This doesn't hold a candle to Lady Catherine's shock when she hears that all five of the Bennet girls are on the marriage market, which, I'm not even being cheeky with words here, used to be an actual thing; when a girl was old enough, you'd start bringing her to public events, which was basically a signal that she was "ripe" enough for men now (god that even felt gross to type out). But anyway, in Lady Catherine's mind, it would be more appropriate for the younger girls to wait their turn until a few of the older sisters were married off first. Elizabeth counters this by suggesting that a younger girl would feel cheated and resentful if she didn't get her fair turn in the societal spotlight just because her older sister ended up being a bottleneck.

Caught off-guard by the dissenting opinion, Lady Catherine asks how old Elizabeth is, implying that she is too young to offer her opnions so freely. Elizabeth jokes, come on now, I have three younger sisters who are marriage age, that should give you enough of a clue how old I am. Lady Catherine reacts with some astonishment to any amount of glibness being directed toward her; and to rub salt in the wound, when she assertively states that Elizabeth can't be older than twenty, Elizabeth has to correct her that she is, in fact, twenty-one.

As Lady Catherine scowls with disapproval, Elizabeth calls, "Uno!"

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