Lizzie's heart was beating so hard it felt like it would jump out of her. The hateful man! Lizzy had never disliked anyone so much in her entire life. The horrific marriage proposal, the constant annoyances while staying at Rosings where she had to watch her tongue, and now this! How was she ever to bear it? Lizzy could feel her face red and hot.
Her feet haltingly stumbled up to the pulpit until she was suddenly there, standing in front of the whole of Mr. Collin's congregation. Many strange wide-eyed faces looked up at her with apprehension, wondering what she was going to say. She wondered for a moment if she might faint. But then she saw the smug look of Mr. Collins sitting down among them in contemptful malice. Lizzy gritted her teeth and squared her shoulders. As she had told Mr. Darcy at dinner a few days ago, her courage rose with attempts to intimidate. Lizzy was a courageous woman, and would do whatever it took to show Mr. Collins that she would not be intimidated by him and his lack of propriety. Although, that did not necessarily mean that she wasn't terrified at the present.
Yes, perhaps she had failed propriety as well. She had unknowingly fallen asleep during his sermon. She had been up late at night reading a letter from Jane about her failed attempts to see Mr. Bingley. She had then written a reply letter, and had then stayed up until 3:00 or so...pondering the dire situation of her dear sister.
When she came to, after being nudged awake by the the person sitting next to her, Mr. Collins was pounding on the pulpit in anger, looking at her and speaking about etiquette and the proper respect owed to a clergyman of God. He then said that she was to come up and give a sermon, as it seemed that he wasn't giving an adequate one.
It simply wasn't fair! There had been 3 other men, who had been sleeping. But his spite for her, and her previous rejection of him, seemed to have singled her out from among them.
"Well, I, this is all so sudden, I" Lizzy began, grasping at straws. "I suppose the subject upon which I-I c-could discuss is..." She frantically thought of a religious topic she and her father had discussed. Why was nothing coming to her usually quick mind?! It felt like time was passing by so fast and she had still said nothing, although in reality it had only been a few seconds, making it incredibly awkward for her. She recognized the pity that was on the faces of those looking up at her. And wanted to laugh at the absurdity of her situation..only she couldn't. She pitied HERSELF as well!
At the same time that she finally spied Charlotte's anxious face, she recalled a topic she and Mary had argued about a month before, and of which her father and her had discussed quite often. As she studied the worried face of her beloved friend...she knew of what to speak of.
"I wish to speak today of Love." Elizabeth stated resolutely. Lizzy barely noticed the change of atmosphere and the curious murmurs from one or two people, her heart still beating adamantly. "T-There are three types of love that are known to man." Lizzy began, aware that her intellect and reading skills were seeping into the sermon, but in her nervous state she was powerless to stem the flow of knowledge, "Eros, Phileo, and Agape. Eros is the physical form of love, between a man and a woman." Embarrassed, she quickly moved on to the next, "Phileo is the brotherly love that one feels for a friend or comrade." She couldn't help but smile nervously at her friend. Charlotte positively beamed back at her, attempting to be encouraging, while audibly giving a shaky sigh of relief. "And finally, Agape love. Which is the version spoken of when referencing God. This is the kind of Charity that sacrifices itself for the sake of another person. And it is THIS love," Elizabeth glared down at her odious cousin, "that we are encouraged to have for everyone ."
Mr. Collins had the good grace to shift a little uncomfortably in his chair, but other than that he raised his eyebrows at her, showing he wasn't impressed.
"The bible teaches us that God is love. And...while I have not memorized many passages from the Bible, my favorite scripture is as follows "For God so loved the world... that He gave his only begotten son, that...that whosoever might believe in him should not perish... but have everlasting life.'"
Lizzy swallowed, and smiled apologetically, "I'm sorry. I don't remember what exact verse that is. My sister Mary would know." She cleared her throat. She wished she had some water.
"I really like that verse because it is a powerful reminder to us that true love requires sacrifice. It isn't some vague inclination. It's lasting. And true."
Elizabeth nervously looked around at the congregation to see their reaction to her words. She was thrown off-kilter by the dark, intense gaze of Mr. Darcy. He was leaning forward, eyes fixed completely and soley on her. His expression unreadable. Lizzy snapped her eyes off of his and tried to regain her thoughts. Well, of course HE didnt approve...but what else was new? "And I-I think that's... that's what makes Christ's sacrifice so powerful." What was it about Mr. Darcy that made her lose her composure so?
Everyone else seemed to be okay with what she was saying so far. She even had the little kids' full attention. Lizzy decided to resolutely ignored the two men in the room who didn't care for her.
"My sister Mary, says that God is a very strict and harsh ruler, but I dont believe so" Elizabeth shook her head, talking a little to herself, "Othewise he wouldn't encourage us to be charitable. I've found him to be a merciful and benevolent being who, while not taking away our burdens or trials, does help us carry them." She noticed Mr. Collins had stood up and was beginning to make hid way through the pew to climb up to the pulpit. Her time was short, and she felt that she had not said anything of great import. She decided that she must say what was in her heart, and hope that it would be enough.
"I just want to say that I know that God loves us. All of us. And although we all make mistakes and are imperfect...God's perfect love and mercy can strengthen us to love others. And when we fall short..." Elizabeth turned and looked Mr. Collins in the eye, "We are to repent and begin again."
"Thank you cousin Elizabeth for humoring us, allow me to reprieve you." Mr Collins said as he came up beside her, and brushed her to the side. Lizzy was mortified. Hateful man!
"The pleasure was all mine, I assure you." Lizzy attempted nonchalance, but was unable to keep some of the coldness out of her voice.
"While you are not learned in the church or on how to properly give the word of God, it was adequate. "
Mr. Collins smiled condecendingly at Elizabeth, and then back at the congregation as if implying their support in the matter.
Elizabeth tightened her lips as she bobbed a curtsy, too much a nobleman's daughter to upbraid him in front of his own parish. She made her way off and out of the pulpit. She began to feel a knot form in her throat and felt her eyes begin to tingle. So instead of returning to her seat, she held her head high, didn't make eye contact , and walked down the aisle to the exit. She didn't even look at Charlotte. She wished she had never come to Rosings.
Once the door was firmly closed behind her, and Mr. Collin's voice was muted, there was a moment of peace where she leaned her back against the door.
And then she was off... like a cannon ball in war. Running. As fast as she could. She didn't realize it had been and was still raining until she noticed her shoes and petticoat getting wet and muddy. But this was simply a passing thought. It was immediately replaced with other more pressing thoughts, such as "I have to get away..." and "I'm such a hypocrite for telling these people to love when I feel no such love for that horrible Mr. COLLINS!" and finally "I was horrible. I am a horrible public speaker."
So consumed was she in her thoughts (incorrect thoughts, I must add. The congregation had indeed liked it.) and of running to nowhere in particular, that she didn't realize there was a man running in the rain after her...