“What rumours?” Elizabeth asked, her heart sinking once more.
She had hardly dared to go outside and leave her room in the days since the discussion with Mr. Darcy. And perhaps it was silly, but she had hoped that, by some miracle, the gossip would have remained at Pemberley. It was a disappointment to hear differently.
“Never mind it, Lizzy,” Jane said, shaking her head. “It does not matter.”
“It matters to me,” Elizabeth said. “Please, tell me what people are saying.”
“The content of the gossip is hardly the point,” Mrs. Bennet burst out, waving her handkerchief in Elizabeth’s direction. “It only matters that they are talking. Which is why you must marry Mr. Darcy. After all, the only alternative would be for your father to challenge him to a duel! And you know that your father would never best Mr. Darcy in a duel. He shall be killed, and Mr. Collins will turn us out of the house before your father is even in the ground! And then you will be ruined and we will have no home. Is that what you want, Lizzy? For your father to be killed and for us to be destitute?” Mrs. Bennet was sobbing now, her imagination causing her deep pain. Mr. Bennet patted his wife’s shoulder soothingly.