Well, this is what it's about:
I am astounded at his audacity. Mightily provoked, too. So, I heatedly retort, “He has been so unlucky as to lose your friendship―and in a manner which he is likely to suffer from all his life.”
Mr. Darcy makes to speak, as do I. I have a great deal more to say. But I am denied the opportunity thanks to my infernal cousin, who has been stumbling along the dance nearby, hand in hand with Mary.
“The other way, Mr. Collins!” I hear my sister urge him but to no avail. The buffoon does not heed her. He careers into me and his clumsy foot lands heavily on mine.
I try to not yelp in pain―and fail abysmally.
I dart my eyes heavenward. Some wretched neighbour, whom I cannot detest enough, must have informed my cousin of Mr. Darcy’s connection to Mr. Collins’s revered patroness, and he is now paying more assiduous court to Lady Catherine’s nephew than to Mary.
“Pray allow me, sir,” my cousin pleads, seeking to spare Mr. Darcy the tedious task of supporting me as I hobble ignominiously from the set.
“I would say you have done enough,” Mr. Darcy verily growls, refusing to be supplanted, and for once I am almost glad. I would rather lean on his arm than my cousin’s. Mr. Collins would be so concerned with gaining Mr. Darcy’s pardon that he might steer me into the potted plants or forget about me altogether. “Return to the set, sir, and your partner,” Mr. Darcy orders him, not deigning to acknowledge Mary’s look of gratitude at that suggestion. Nor does he acknowledge Mr. Collins’s fifth apology―or was it the sixth?―as he guides me towards the nearest armchair. He turns it at a better angle, and I lower myself into it―ungainly, I fear, but most gratefully.
I glance up at Mr. Darcy and thank him for his assistance, but he cuts me off with a perfunctory, “Not at all,” then asks, “How badly are you hurt?”
He does not wait for my reply but drops down on one knee for a closer look. I gape. The man has lost his senses! But my discomfort flares into utter horror when he reaches out, as if aiming to raise the hem of my dress and see the damage for himself―along with half the ballroom.
“Stand, sir!” I hiss as I tuck my injured foot under the chair, which only serves to send worse pain shooting through it. I bite my lip and hiss again, “Pray stand and leave be. You are making a scene. Desist, for goodness’ sake!”
“I rather thought that the blame for making a scene lies with Mr. Collins,” he resentfully shoots back.
“And do you imagine this is helping matters?” I fulminate in a fierce whisper with a gesture of anger and frustration towards his unchanged posture.
“Forgive me for thinking of your welfare and not the impertinent curiosity of busybodies,” he says testily, then asks, “Is there anything you wish me to do? Fetch your mother, perhaps?”
“Heavens, no!” I reply without thinking. If Mr. Collins’s blunder and Mr. Darcy kneeling at my feet had not quite managed to attract everyone’s attention, Mama’s ill-judged effusions would surely do the trick.
I look around, hoping against hope that the incident escaped her notice, but a familiar cry of “Oh, Lizzy!” puts paid to such foolish notions.
I cringe, waiting for the onslaught, and make no reply to Mr. Darcy as he takes his leave.
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