Mr Bennet raised his eyes from his book as she entered, and fixed them on her face with a calm unconcern which was not in the least altered by her communication.
"I have not the pleasure of understanding you,'' said he, when she had finished her speech. ``Of what are you talking?''
"Of Mr Collins and Lizzy. Lizzy declares she will not have Mr Collins, and Mr Collins begins to say that he will not have Lizzy.''
"And what am I to do on the occasion? -- It seems an hopeless business.''
"Speak to Lizzy about it yourself. Tell her that you insist upon her marrying him.''
"Let her be called down. She shall hear my opinion.''
Mrs Bennet rang the bell, and Miss Elizabeth was summoned to the library.
"Come here, child,'' cried her father as she appeared. "I have sent for you on an affair of importance. I understand that Mr Collins has made you an offer of marriage. Is it true?'' Elizabeth replied that it was. ``Very well -- and this offer of marriage you have refused?''
"I have, Sir.''
"Very well. We now come to the point. Your mother insists upon your accepting it. Is not it so, Mrs Bennet?''
"An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. -- Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.''
Elizabeth could not but smile at such a conclusion of such a beginning; but Mrs Bennet, who had persuaded herself that her husband regarded the affair as she wished, was excessively disappointed.
"What do you mean, Mr Bennet, by talking in this way? You promised me to insist upon her marrying him.''
"My dear,'' replied her husband, "I have two small favours to request. First, that you will allow me the free use of my understanding on the present occasion; and secondly, of my room. I shall be glad to have the library to myself as soon as may be.''