Should it ever be discovered by anyone other than myself and the parties involved I cannot think how the ramifications might bury us all, but I am getting ahead of myself. Let me begin with who I am.
I am Charlotte Collins, daughter of Sir William Lucas. I am wife of one Mr. William Collins current rector of the parish of Hunsford by gracious appointment of the Right Honourable Lady Catherine de Bourgh of Rosings Park. I had the good fortune to meet Mr. Collins when he was on a visit to his cousins the Bennets, who I count among them one of my few friends Elizabeth Bennet, now Mrs. Darcy. However, at the time neither the lady mentioned nor myself were attached, and both of us seemed to be facing the prospect of becoming spinsters.
Little did my friend Eliza realize that for me this was an altogether unfavorable prospect. I managed to procure the affections of Mr. Collins after he had made proposal of marriage to Eliza and had been thus rejected. I admit that my action may have been mercenary in the opinion of some, but as Eliza vowed not to have him I concluded that no real objection could be made to my having him. He required but little encouragement.
Given his character, connections, and situation in life I had surmised that my chance of happiness with him would be as fair as most people could boast on entering the marriage state. I was not greatly disappointed in this; however, I have had to call upon a great deal of patience and humility to tolerate those aspects of our life together that are not entirely pleasant regardless of the seeming favor that is often enough bestowed upon us.
In light of the joyous occasion that brought happiness to my dear friend Eliza, Lady Catherine had become rather less graciously condescending, which necessitated a visit to the home of my father so as to join in the celebration and allow her ladyship time to regain her composure. Our return has been difficult on Mr. Collins who cannot bear the displeasure of her ladyship.
I had truly begun to worry for my future happiness until I discovered a series of letters, three to be exact. One I happened upon while tidying up Mr. Collins’s study, our housekeeper being otherwise occupied. The second I chanced upon just beyond the gate after a visit from Miss Anne de Bourgh, daughter of her ladyship. The third had gotten mixed up with Mr. Collins’s sermon papers which he had given to Lady Catherine to review for her most wise suggestions for improvement. No doubt she did not intend for it to be found thus by me as I read through them having received them on Mr. Collins’s behalf.
These three letters have given me much to think of, but before I impart how I have elected to handle the situation I shall review them one each Friday this month. One should never rush when handling a delicate situation with such scandalous potential.
The first letter discovered in Mr. Collins’s study To Lady Catherine from Mr. Collins.