Read & Download Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen ebook, pdf, epub txt

Read & Download Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen ebook, pdf, epub txt

Chapter 30

Sir William stayed only a week at Hunsford, but his visit was
long enough to convince him of his daughter’s being most
comfortably settled, and of her possessing such a husband and
such a neighbour as were not often met with. While Sir William
was with them, Mr. Collins devoted his morning to driving him
out in his gig, and showing him the country; but when he went
away, the whole family returned to their usual employments, and
Elizabeth was thankful to find that they did not see more of
her cousin by the alteration, for the chief of the time between
breakfast and dinner was now passed by him either at work in
the garden or in reading and writing, and looking out of the
window in his own book-room, which fronted the road. The
room in which the ladies sat was backwards. Elizabeth had at
first rather wondered that Charlotte should not prefer the
dining-parlour for common use; it was a better sized room, and
had a more pleasant aspect; but she soon saw that her friend
had an excellent reason for what she did, for Mr. Collins would
undoubtedly have been much less in his own apartment, had they
sat in one equally lively; and she gave Charlotte credit for
the arrangement.

From the drawing-room they could distinguish nothing in the
lane, and were indebted to Mr. Collins for the knowledge of
what carriages went along, and how often especially Miss de
Bourgh drove by in her phaeton, which he never failed coming
to inform them of, though it happened almost every day. She
not unfrequently stopped at the Parsonage, and had a few
minutes’ conversation with Charlotte, but was scarcely ever
prevailed upon to get out.

Very few days passed in which Mr. Collins did not walk to
Rosings, and not many in which his wife did not think it
necessary to go likewise; and till Elizabeth recollected that
there might be other family livings to be disposed of, she could
not understand the sacrifice of so many hours. Now and then
they were honoured with a call from her ladyship, and nothing
escaped her observation that was passing in the room during
these visits. She examined into their employments, looked at
their work, and advised them to do it differently; found fault
with the arrangement of the furniture; or detected the housemaid
in negligence; and if she accepted any refreshment, seemed to do
it only for the sake of finding out that Mrs. Collins’s joints of
meat were too large for her family.

Elizabeth soon perceived, that though this great lady was not in
commission of the peace of the county, she was a most active
magistrate in her own parish, the minutest concerns of which
were carried to her by Mr. Collins; and whenever any of the
cottagers were disposed to be quarrelsome, discontented, or
too poor, she sallied forth into the village to settle their
differences, silence their complaints, and scold them into
harmony and plenty.

The entertainment of dining at Rosings was repeated about twice
a week; and, allowing for the loss of Sir William, and there being
only one card-table in the evening, every such entertainment was
the counterpart of the first. Their other engagements were few,
as the style of living in the neighbourhood in general was beyond
Mr. Collins’s reach. This, however, was no evil to Elizabeth,
and upon the whole she spent her time comfortably enough;
there were half-hours of pleasant conversation with Charlotte,
and the weather was so fine for the time of year that she had
often great enjoyment out of doors. Her favourite walk, and
where she frequently went while the others were calling on Lady
Catherine, was along the open grove which edged that side of
the park, where there was a nice sheltered path, which no one
seemed to value but herself, and where she felt beyond the reach
of Lady Catherine’s curiosity.

In this quiet way, the first fortnight of her visit soon passed
away. Easter was approaching, and the week preceding it was
to bring an addition to the family at Rosings, which in so small
a circle must be important. Elizabeth had heard soon after her
arrival that Mr. Darcy was expected there in the course of a few
weeks, and though there were not many of her acquaintances whom
she did not prefer, his coming would furnish one comparatively
new to look at in their Rosings parties, and she might be amused
in seeing how hopeless Miss Bingley’s designs on him were, by
his behaviour to his cousin, for whom he was evidently destined
by Lady Catherine, who talked of his coming with the greatest
satisfaction, spoke of him in terms of the highest admiration,
and seemed almost angry to find that he had already been
frequently seen by Miss Lucas and herself.

His arrival was soon known at the Parsonage; for Mr. Collins
was walking the whole morning within view of the lodges
opening into Hunsford Lane, in order to have the earliest
assurance of it, and after making his bow as the carriage turned
into the Park, hurried home with the great intelligence. On the
following morning he hastened to Rosings to pay his respects.
There were two nephews of Lady Catherine to require them, for
Mr. Darcy had brought with him a Colonel Fitzwilliam, the
younger son of his uncle Lord —-, and, to the great surprise
of all the party, when Mr. Collins returned, the gentleman
accompanied him. Charlotte had seen them from her husband’s
room, crossing the road, and immediately running into the other,
told the girls what an honour they might expect, adding:

“I may thank you, Eliza, for this piece of civility. Mr. Darcy
would never have come so soon to wait upon me.”

Elizabeth had scarcely time to disclaim all right to the
compliment, before their approach was announced by the
door-bell, and shortly afterwards the three gentlemen entered
the room. Colonel Fitzwilliam, who led the way, was about
thirty, not handsome, but in person and address most truly the
gentleman. Mr. Darcy looked just as he had been used to look
in Hertfordshire–paid his compliments, with his usual reserve,
to Mrs. Collins, and whatever might be his feelings toward her
friend, met her with every appearance of composure. Elizabeth
merely curtseyed to him without saying a word.

Colonel Fitzwilliam entered into conversation directly with
the readiness and ease of a well-bred man, and talked very
pleasantly; but his cousin, after having addressed a slight
observation on the house and garden to Mrs. Collins, sat for
some time without speaking to anybody. At length, however,
his civility was so far awakened as to inquire of Elizabeth after
the health of her family. She answered him in the usual way,
and after a moment’s pause, added:

“My eldest sister has been in town these three months. Have
you never happened to see her there?”

She was perfectly sensible that he never had; but she wished
to see whether he would betray any consciousness of what had
passed between the Bingleys and Jane, and she thought he
looked a little confused as he answered that he had never been
so fortunate as to meet Miss Bennet. The subject was pursued
no farther, and the gentlemen soon afterwards went away.

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