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|Chapter 32 (Vol. II, Chap. IX)|
|(Vol. II, Chap. 8)
||Table of Contents
||(Vol. II, Chap. 10)|
|Chapter 32 (Vol. II, Chap. IX)
|Elizabeth was sitting by herself the next morning, and writing
to Jane, while Mrs. Collins and Maria were gone on business
into the village, when she was startled by a ring at the door,
the certain signal of a visitor. As she had heard no carriage,
she thought it not unlikely to be Lady Catherine, and under
that apprehension was putting away her half-finished letter
that she might escape all impertinent questions, when the door
opened, and to her very great surprise, Mr. Darcy, and
Mr. Darcy only, entered the room.
|He seemed astonished too on finding her alone, and apologised
for his intrusion by letting her know that he had understood
all the ladies to be within.
|They then sat down, and when her enquiries after Rosings were
made, seemed in danger of sinking into total silence. It was
absolutely necessary, therefore, to think of something, and in
this emergency recollecting when she had seen him last in
Hertfordshire, and feeling curious to know what he would say on
the subject of their hasty departure, she observed,
|"How very suddenly you all quitted Netherfield last November,
Mr. Darcy! It must have been a most agreeable surprise to Mr.
Bingley to see you all after him so soon; for, if I recollect
right, he went but the day before. He and his sisters were
well, I hope, when you left London."
|"Perfectly so -- I thank you."
|She found that she was to receive no other answer -- and, after
a short pause, added,
|"I think I have understood that Mr. Bingley has not much idea
of ever returning to Netherfield again?"
|"I have never heard him say so; but it is probable that he may
spend very little of his time there in future. He has many
friends, and he is at a time of life when friends and
engagements are continually increasing."
|"If he means to be but little at Netherfield, it would be
better for the neighbourhood that he should give up the place
entirely, for then we might possibly get a settled family
there. But perhaps Mr. Bingley did not take the house so much
for the convenience of the neighbourhood as for his own, and we
must expect him to keep or quit it on the same principle."
|"I should not be surprised," said Darcy, "if he were to give it
up, as soon as any eligible purchase offers."
|Elizabeth made no answer. She was afraid of talking longer of
his friend; and, having nothing else to say, was now determined
to leave the trouble of finding a subject to him.
|He took the hint, and soon began with, "This seems a very
comfortable house. Lady Catherine, I believe, did a great deal
to it when Mr. Collins first came to Hunsford."
|"I believe she did -- and I am sure she could not have bestowed
her kindness on a more grateful object."
|"Mr. Collins appears very fortunate in his choice of a wife."
|"Yes, indeed; his friends may well rejoice in his having met
with one of the very few sensible women who would have accepted
him, or have made him happy if they had. My friend has an
excellent understanding -- though I am not certain that I
consider her marrying Mr. Collins as the wisest thing she ever
did. She seems perfectly happy, however, and in a prudential
light, it is certainly a very good match for her."
|"It must be very agreeable to her to be settled within so easy
a distance of her own family and friends."
|"An easy distance do you call it? It is nearly fifty miles."
|"And what is fifty miles of good road? Little more than half a
day's journey. Yes, I call it a very easy distance."
|"I should never have considered the distance as one of the
advantages of the match," cried Elizabeth. "I should never
have said Mrs. Collins was settled near her family."
|"It is a proof of your own attachment to Hertfordshire.
Any thing beyond the very neighbourhood of Longbourn,
I suppose, would appear far."
|As he spoke there was a sort of smile, which Elizabeth fancied
she understood; he must be supposing her to be thinking of Jane
and Netherfield, and she blushed as she answered,
|"I do not mean to say that a woman may not be settled too near
her family. The far and the near must be relative, and depend
on many varying circumstances. Where there is fortune to make
the expence of travelling unimportant, distance becomes no
evil. But that is not the case here. Mr. and Mrs. Collins
have a comfortable income, but not such a one as will allow of
frequent journeys -- and I am persuaded my friend would not
call herself near her family under less than half the
|Mr. Darcy drew his chair a little towards her, and said,
"You cannot have a right to such very strong local
attachment. You cannot have been always at Longbourn."
|Elizabeth looked surprised. The gentleman experienced some
change of feeling; he drew back his chair, took a newspaper
from the table, and, glancing over it, said, in a colder voice,
|"Are you pleased with Kent?"
|A short dialogue on the subject of the country ensued, on
either side calm and concise -- and soon put an end to by the
entrance of Charlotte and her sister, just returned from their
walk. The tete-a-tete surprised them. Mr. Darcy related
the mistake which had occasioned his intruding on Miss Bennet,
and after sitting a few minutes longer without saying much to
any body, went away.
|"What can be the meaning of this!" said Charlotte, as soon
as he was gone. "My dear Eliza he must be in love with you,
or he would never have called on us in this familiar way."
|But when Elizabeth told of his silence, it did not seem very
likely, even to Charlotte's wishes, to be the case; and after
various conjectures, they could at last only suppose his visit
to proceed from the difficulty of finding any thing to do,
which was the more probable from the time of year. All field
sports were over. Within doors there was Lady Catherine,
books, and a billiard table, but gentlemen cannot be always
within doors; and in the nearness of the Parsonage, or the
pleasantness of the walk to it, or of the people who lived in
it, the two cousins found a temptation from this period of
walking thither almost every day. They called at various times
of the morning, sometimes separately, sometimes together, and
now and then accompanied by their aunt. It was plain to them
all that Colonel Fitzwilliam came because he had pleasure in
their society, a persuasion which of course recommended him
still more; and Elizabeth was reminded by her own satisfaction
in being with him, as well as by his evident admiration of her,
of her former favourite George Wickham; and though, in
comparing them, she saw there was less captivating softness in
Colonel Fitzwilliam's manners, she believed he might have the
best informed mind.
|But why Mr. Darcy came so often to the Parsonage, it was more
difficult to understand. It could not be for society, as he
frequently sat there ten minutes together without opening his
lips; and when he did speak, it seemed the effect of necessity
rather than of choice -- a sacrifice to propriety, not a
pleasure to himself. He seldom appeared really animated.
Mrs. Collins knew not what to make of him. Colonel
Fitzwilliam's occasionally laughing at his stupidity, proved
that he was generally different, which her own knowledge of him
could not have told her; and as she would have liked to believe
this change the effect of love, and the object of that love,
her friend Eliza, she sat herself seriously to work to find it
out. -- She watched him whenever they were at Rosings, and
whenever he came to Hunsford; but without much success. He
certainly looked at her friend a great deal, but the expression
of that look was disputable. It was an earnest, steadfast
gaze, but she often doubted whether there were much admiration
in it, and sometimes it seemed nothing but absence of mind.
|She had once or twice suggested to Elizabeth the possibility of
his being partial to her, but Elizabeth always laughed at the
idea; and Mrs. Collins did not think it right to press the
subject, from the danger of raising expectations which might
only end in disappointment; for in her opinion it admitted not
of a doubt, that all her friend's dislike would vanish, if she
could suppose him to be in her power.
|In her kind schemes for Elizabeth, she sometimes planned her
marrying Colonel Fitzwilliam. He was beyond comparison the
pleasantest man; he certainly admired her, and his situation in
life was most eligible; but, to counterbalance these
advantages, Mr. Darcy had considerable patronage in the church,
and his cousin could have none at all.
|(Vol. II, Chap. 8)
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||(Vol. II, Chap. 10)|
Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in English and Chinese