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|Chapter 28 (Vol. II, Chap. V)|
|(Vol. II, Chap. 4)
||Table of Contents
||(Vol. II, Chap. 6)|
|Chapter 28 (Vol. II, Chap. V)
|Every object in the next day's journey was new and interesting
to Elizabeth; and her spirits were in a state for enjoyment;
for she had seen her sister looking so well as to banish all
fear for her health, and the prospect of her northern tour was
a constant source of delight.
|When they left the high-road for the lane to Hunsford, every
eye was in search of the Parsonage, and every turning expected
to bring it in view. The palings of Rosings Park was their
boundary on one side. Elizabeth smiled at the recollection of
all that she had heard of its inhabitants.
|At length the Parsonage was discernable. The garden sloping to
the road, the house standing in it, the green pales and the
laurel hedge, everything declared that they were arriving.
Mr. Collins and Charlotte appeared at the door, and the
carriage stopped at a small gate, which led by a short gravel
walk to the house, amidst the nods and smiles of the whole
party. In a moment they were all out of the chaise, rejoicing
at the sight of each other. Mrs. Collins welcomed her friend
with the liveliest pleasure, and Elizabeth was more and more
satisfied with coming, when she found herself so affectionately
received. She saw instantly that her cousin's manners were not
altered by his marriage; his formal civility was just what it
had been, and he detained her some minutes at the gate to hear
and satisfy his enquiries after all her family. They were
then, with no other delay than his pointing out the neatness of
the entrance, taken into the house; and as soon as they were in
the parlour, he welcomed them a second time with ostentatious
formality to his humble abode, and punctually repeated all his
wife's offers of refreshment.
|Elizabeth was prepared to see him in his glory; and she could
not help fancying that in displaying the good proportion of the
room, its aspect and its furniture, he addressed himself
particularly to her, as if wishing to make her feel what she
had lost in refusing him. But though every thing seemed neat
and comfortable, she was not able to gratify him by any sigh of
repentance; and rather looked with wonder at her friend that
she could have so cheerful an air, with such a companion. When
Mr. Collins said any thing of which his wife might reasonably
be ashamed, which certainly was not unseldom, she involuntarily
turned her eye on Charlotte. Once or twice she could discern a
faint blush; but in general Charlotte wisely did not hear.
After sitting long enough to admire every article of furniture
in the room, from the sideboard to the fender, to give an
account of their journey, and of all that had happened in
London, Mr. Collins invited them to take a stroll in the
garden, which was large and well laid out, and to the
cultivation of which he attended himself. To work in his
garden was one of his most respectable pleasures; and Elizabeth
admired the command of countenance with which Charlotte talked
of the healthfulness of the exercise, and owned she encouraged
it as much as possible. Here, leading the way through every
walk and cross walk, and scarcely allowing them an interval to
utter the praises he asked for, every view was pointed out with
a minuteness which left beauty entirely behind. He could
number the fields in every direction, and could tell how many
trees there were in the most distant clump. But of all the
views which his garden, or which the country, or the kingdom
could boast, none were to be compared with the prospect of
Rosings, afforded by an opening in the trees that bordered the
park nearly opposite the front of his house. It was a handsome
modern building, well situated on rising ground.
|From his garden, Mr. Collins would have led them round his two
meadows, but the ladies, not having shoes to encounter the
remains of a white frost, turned back; and while Sir William
accompanied him, Charlotte took her sister and friend over the
house, extremely well pleased, probably, to have the
opportunity of showing it without her husband's help. It was
rather small, but well built and convenient; and everything was
fitted up and arranged with a neatness and consistency of which
Elizabeth gave Charlotte all the credit. When Mr. Collins
could be forgotten, there was really a great air of comfort
throughout, and by Charlotte's evident enjoyment of it,
Elizabeth supposed he must be often forgotten. She had already
learnt that Lady Catherine was still in the country. It was
spoken of again while they were at dinner, when Mr. Collins
joining in, observed,
|"Yes, Miss Elizabeth, you will have the honour of seeing Lady
Catherine de Bourgh on the ensuing Sunday at church, and I need
not say you will be delighted with her. She is all affability
and condescension, and I doubt not but you will be honoured
with some portion of her notice when service is over. I have
scarcely any hesitation in saying that she will include you and
my sister Maria in every invitation with which she honours us
during your stay here. Her behaviour to my dear Charlotte is
charming. We dine at Rosings twice every week, and are never
allowed to walk home. Her ladyship's carriage is regularly
ordered for us. I should say, one of her ladyship's
carriages, for she has several."
|"Lady Catherine is a very respectable, sensible woman indeed,"
added Charlotte, "and a most attentive neighbour."
|"Very true, my dear, that is exactly what I say. She is the
sort of woman whom one cannot regard with too much deference."
|The evening was spent chiefly in talking over Hertfordshire
news, and telling again what had been already written; and when
it closed, Elizabeth, in the solitude of her chamber, had to
meditate upon Charlotte's degree of contentment, to understand
her address in guiding, and composure in bearing with her
husband, and to acknowledge that it was all done very well.
She had also to anticipate how her visit would pass, the quiet
tenor of their usual employments, the vexatious interruptions
of Mr. Collins, and the gaieties of their intercourse with
Rosings. A lively imagination soon settled it all.
middle of the next day, as she was in her room getting ready
for a walk, a sudden noise below seemed to speak the whole
house in confusion; and after listening a moment, she heard
somebody running up stairs in a violent hurry, and calling
loudly after her. She opened the door, and met Maria in the
landing place, who, breathless with agitation, cried out,
|"Oh, my dear Eliza! pray make haste and come into the
dining-room, for there is such a sight to be seen! I will not
tell you what it is. Make haste, and come down this moment."
|Elizabeth asked questions in vain; Maria would tell her nothing
more, and down they ran into the dining-room, which fronted the
lane, in quest of this wonder; it was two ladies stopping in a
low phaeton at the garden gate.
|"And is this all?" cried Elizabeth. "I expected at least that
the pigs were got into the garden, and here is nothing but Lady
Catherine and her daughter!"
|"La! my dear," said Maria quite shocked at the mistake, "it is
not Lady Catherine. The old lady is Mrs. Jenkinson, who lives
with them. The other is Miss De Bourgh. Only look at her.
She is quite a little creature. Who would have thought she
could be so thin and small!"
|"She is abominably rude to keep Charlotte out of doors in all
this wind. Why does she not come in?"
|"Oh! Charlotte says, she hardly ever does. It is the greatest
of favours when Miss De Bourgh comes in."
|"I like her appearance," said Elizabeth, struck with other
ideas. "She looks sickly and cross. -- Yes, she will do for
him very well. She will make him a very proper wife."
|Mr. Collins and Charlotte were both standing at the gate in
conversation with the ladies; and Sir William, to Elizabeth's
high diversion, was stationed in the doorway, in earnest
contemplation of the greatness before him, and constantly
bowing whenever Miss De Bourgh looked that way.
|At length there was nothing more to be said; the ladies drove
on, and the others returned into the house. Mr. Collins no
sooner saw the two girls than he began to congratulate them on
their good fortune, which Charlotte explained by letting them
know that the whole party was asked to dine at Rosings the next
|(Vol. II, Chap. 4)
||Table of Contents
||(Vol. II, Chap. 6)|
Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in English and Chinese