Chapters of Rush to the Altar

Chapter 2 – Rush to the Altar – Funny Pride and Prejudice Variation

Unedited, beta version.

The next evening, as the Bennet family walked to the front door of Lucas Lodge, preparing to attend the Lucas’ dinner party, Mrs. Bennet spoke up, “Now remember, my dears,” she began, “it is vital that you make an excellent impression on … those men we discussed earlier. They must see you as charming and accomplished young ladies.”
The sisters exchanged wary glances.
“Keep your voice down, Mama,” Elizabeth pleaded in embarrassment as her mother continued to dole out advice.
“Well, if you would listen to me, Lizzy. Make sure you catch his attention, just like I told you,” Mrs. Bennet insisted.
Elizabeth sighed, “Mama, I am not going to do that with Mr. Darcy. That’s not how I behave.”
Her mother retorted, “Do you want to catch this man or not? You must drop your handkerchief, and he must pick it up. And you will lean over—”
“Mama!” Elizabeth interrupted in exasperation.
Mrs. Bennet continued with her ridiculous suggestions, seemingly oblivious to the embarrassment she was causing. “You must also ensure that you share a dance with Mr. Darcy, my dear,” she instructed Elizabeth. “During your conversation, be sure to laugh at all his jokes and compliment his appealing features. Do so subtly, but make it apparent that you find him attractive.”
Rolling her eyes, Elizabeth shot a desperate look at her sisters while their mother rambled on. “And if all else fails, perhaps you could feign a fainting spell and force Mr. Darcy to come to your aid. Surely, that will evoke concern and endearment from him.”
Jane suppressed a giggle behind her hand, whereas Lydia openly guffawed at the outrageous propositions. Even Mary looked up from her book with an expression of amusement.
Elizabeth finally interjected, “Mama, please! I appreciate your enthusiasm in securing me a husband, but I will not resort to such ridiculous schemes to attract Mr. Darcy’s attention. If he is to take notice of me, it must be genuine and based on our mutual interests or affections.”
Mrs. Bennet sighed, rolling her eyes, but stopped pressing the matter, knowing that arguing with her stubborn daughter would get her nowhere.
Lydia chimed in mischievously, “Well, what if Mr. Darcy doesn’t like Lizzy, and he likes someone else better?”
Mrs. Bennet snapped, “I do not care who Mr. Darcy marries as long as he marries one of you before your father dies.”
Elizabeth’s face flushed a deep crimson at her mother’s stark and rather morbid mention of their father’s death. Her eyes were wide with apprehension, meeting her sisters’ startled gazes.
Mr. Bennet, who had been silently strolling behind his vocal wife and daughters, joined the conversation to ease the tension, “Perhaps you should advise Mr. Darcy on the art of fainting, my dear. With all these women chasing after him, the poor lad may need an escape plan.”
Elizabeth sighed heavily, looking up at the grand entrance in front of them with a resigned expression.
Upon entering Lucas Lodge, Elizabeth noticed Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy as
“Hurry, Jane, Elizabeth,” Mrs. Bennet urged her daughters as they entered the elegant Lucas Lodge, spotting Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy conversing with each other in the distance. “Go greet your gentlemen.”
“They’re not our men, Mama,” Elizabeth pointed out.
“Well, they will never be if you don’t do something about it,” Mrs. Bennet snapped back, her tone resolute. “Now go on, hurry! You must know that there are many other eligible young women here who do not have a greedy relative waiting to usurp their home upon your father’s passing.”
With these words, Mrs. Bennet firmly pushed her daughters toward the gentlemen. Elizabeth managed to shake off her mother’s hold, shooting her an exasperated look before turning away and instead made her way towards her dear friend Charlotte for some comfort.
“Elizabeth, my dear,” Mrs. Bennet called out breathlessly, catching the young lady by the elbow and pulling her to the side as she attempted to walk towards her dear friend Charlotte. “Just one more thing…”
“Mama, I-” Elizabeth tried to argue, but her mother was insistent.
“Remember, dear, flutter your lashes when he talks.” She said hurriedly, demonstrating the gesture in an exaggerated manner. “And be sure to giggle at his stories, even if they’re not particularly funny.”
“Enough, Mama!” Elizabeth finally freed herself from Mrs. Bennet’s grasp, rolling her eyes in exasperation as she gently pulled away. In need of some respite from her mother’s relentless matchmaking efforts, Elizabeth quickly sought refuge with Charlotte.>and Charlotte comments you know, you’re looking a bit peaked.
Elizabeth approached Charlotte with a hint of urgency. “Charlotte,” she began in a hushed tone, “you would not believe the latest fuss Mama has gotten herself into.”

She cast a quick glance at her mother, now busy chatting animatedly with the hostess. “I’ll have to fill you in another time,” Elizabeth hinted subtly, her eyes darting around the room to imply that it wasn’t exactly the time or place for such discussions.

Meanwhile, Charlotte turned to look over her shoulder, a quizzical expression on her face.
Elizabeth caught Charlotte’s peculiar gaze, misinterpreting it as some discomfort. “What is it?” she asked in concern. “Do you have something in your eye?”

Charlotte shook her head, managing to suppress a smirk. “No, it’s not that,” she responded, discreetly nodding towards Mrs. Bennet. “Your mother… she’s performing quite the pantomime.”
Hearing Charlotte’s statement, Elizabeth turned around slowly, her face filled with a mix of dread and resignation. What she saw did not disappoint.
There was her mother at the side of the room, executing an elaborate pantomime of what seemed to be her idea of successful flirting tactics. With a horrified gaze, Elizabeth watched as Mrs. Bennet shooed her hands in the direction of Mr. Darcy, then dropped an imaginary handkerchief, much to the amusement and confusion of those nearby.
Feeling the heat of embarrassment creep up her face, Elizabeth slowly turned back to Charlotte, pleading quietly, “Oh, Charlotte, save me.”

Meanwhile, Lydia’s restless energy added to the chaotic scene as she began complaining about the music. “Play us something lively for dancing! Not this boring stuff!” She hollered across the room, eliciting a few chuckles from the crowd.

Elizabeth sighed heavily, covering her face with her hand. “Oh God,” she groaned under her breath. “My mother’s absurd scheme… it will never work.”

Charlotte looked at her friend in surprise. “What scheme?” she asked, curiosity piqued.
Elizabeth glanced around before pulling Charlotte aside, finally sharing the family secret that had prompted such desperation from her mother. “Mama discovered something,” she whispered. “Longbourn will not go to Mr. Collins if one of us marries a man of substantial means.”

Eyes wide, Charlotte leaned closer instinctively and asked the obvious question, “Well, just how substantial are we talking?”

Wearing a wry smile, Elizabeth shrugged, “We do not really know. We’re going to contact the solicitor’s office to find out exactly what that phrase means. But Mama found it in an old religious book yesterday that Mary wanted to inspect. An unlikely source of hope, one might say.”

“Well, thank goodness for Mary,” Charlotte quipped, half relieved, half amused.

“Yes,” sighed Elizabeth, managing a chuckle. “For once her religious fervency has come to good use.”
Elizabeth broke off abruptly, noticing the disquieting presence of Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst nearby. The last thing she needed was for them to overhear this private conversation.

Charlotte, sensing Elizabeth’s rising anxiety, sought to offer a bit of consolation. “Your sister Jane seems to be making good headway with Mr. Bingley,” she gestured subtly to where Jane and Mr. Bingley were deep in conversation.

“Yes, thank goodness!” Elizabeth exhaled a shaky laugh. “At least that’s one less concern. You’ve no idea how Mama has been trying to push me towards Mr. Darcy.”
Charlotte stared at her friend, completely speechless. “She did what?” she finally asked, bewildered.

“Yes,” Elizabeth affirmed with a sigh, her eyes not quite meeting Charlotte’s.

Poor Charlotte could only offer her commiseration. “My deepest sympathies, Lizzy,” she said, placing a comforting hand on Elizabeth’s arm.

Elizabeth responded with a resigned nod, “Yes… And if you know of any other men of substantial means, please do direct them my way. It would be a refreshing change to have Mama push me at them instead of a man who clearly dislikes me.”
Elizabeth offered a small smile, quickly changing her demeanor as Mrs. Long approached nearby. From the corner of her eye, she caught Mr. Darcy’s glance upon her. She chose to ignore him, focusing her attention on the other guest.
However, Mrs. Bennet was relentless. She swooped by Elizabeth with urgency, chastising, “Elizabeth, you haven’t done as I instructed yet! Don’t you care about our future?”
To this, Elizabeth replied, exasperated yet calm, “Mama, Jane has been engaging Mr. Bingley all evening-“
“That doesn’t exempt you from doing your part,” Mrs. Bennet cut her off. “You need to fulfill your duty too, Elizabeth.”
With that, Mrs. Bennet gave her daughter an unexpected shove towards Mr. Darcy. Caught off guard, Elizabeth wobbled forward precariously on her feet and it was only due to Sir Lucas’ prompt action that she was saved from a disastrous fall.
Flustered and cheeks burning, Elizabeth turned to the gentleman with a weak smile. “Oh, thank you, Sir Lucas,” she stammered. “I don’t know what came over me. I must have tripped over my hem or something.”
When she glanced back at her mother, sure enough, Mrs. Bennet was continuing her exaggerated pantomime, oblivious to the near mishap her actions had caused.
Elizabeth hurriedly turned her back on Mrs. Bennet, vowing silently not to indulge her again in this absurd affair. However, curiosity compelled her to steal a glance at Mr. Darcy; had he noticed the embarrassing spectacle she’d almost made of herself?
As their eyes locked, it seemed that he indeed had been watching the whole event unfold. Heat pricked her cheeks afresh as he held her gaze with an unreadable expression.
“Oh god,” Elizabeth muttered under her breath, wishing desperately for the ground to open up and swallow her whole to spare her any further embarrassment.

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