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 38

On Saturday morning Elizabeth and Mr. Collins met for breakfast
a few minutes before the others appeared; and he took the
opportunity of paying the parting civilities which he deemed
indispensably necessary.

“I know not, Miss Elizabeth,” said he, “whether Mrs. Collins has
yet expressed her sense of your kindness in coming to us; but I
am very certain you will not leave the house without receiving
her thanks for it. The favor of your company has been much
felt, I assure you. We know how little there is to tempt anyone
to our humble abode. Our plain manner of living, our small
rooms and few domestics, and the little we see of the world,
must make Hunsford extremely dull to a young lady like
yourself; but I hope you will believe us grateful for the
condescension, and that we have done everything in our power
to prevent your spending your time unpleasantly.”

Elizabeth was eager with her thanks and assurances of happiness.
She had spent six weeks with great enjoyment; and the pleasure
of being with Charlotte, and the kind attentions she had received,
must make _her_ feel the obliged. Mr. Collins was gratified, and
with a more smiling solemnity replied:

“It gives me great pleasure to hear that you have passed your
time not disagreeably. We have certainly done our best; and
most fortunately having it in our power to introduce you to very
superior society, and, from our connection with Rosings, the
frequent means of varying the humble home scene, I think we
may flatter ourselves that your Hunsford visit cannot have been
entirely irksome. Our situation with regard to Lady Catherine’s
family is indeed the sort of extraordinary advantage and blessing
which few can boast. You see on what a footing we are. You
see how continually we are engaged there. In truth I must
acknowledge that, with all the disadvantages of this humble
parsonage, I should not think anyone abiding in it an object of
compassion, while they are sharers of our intimacy at Rosings.”

Words were insufficient for the elevation of his feelings; and
he was obliged to walk about the room, while Elizabeth tried to
unite civility and truth in a few short sentences.

“You may, in fact, carry a very favourable report of us into
Hertfordshire, my dear cousin. I flatter myself at least that you
will be able to do so. Lady Catherine’s great attentions to Mrs.
Collins you have been a daily witness of; and altogether I trust
it does not appear that your friend has drawn an unfortunate–but
on this point it will be as well to be silent. Only let me
assure you, my dear Miss Elizabeth, that I can from my heart most
cordially wish you equal felicity in marriage. My dear Charlotte
and I have but one mind and one way of thinking. There is in
everything a most remarkable resemblance of character and ideas
between us. We seem to have been designed for each other.”

Elizabeth could safely say that it was a great happiness where
that was the case, and with equal sincerity could add, that she
firmly believed and rejoiced in his domestic comforts. She was
not sorry, however, to have the recital of them interrupted by
the lady from whom they sprang. Poor Charlotte! it was
melancholy to leave her to such society! But she had chosen it
with her eyes open; and though evidently regretting that her
visitors were to go, she did not seem to ask for compassion.
Her home and her housekeeping, her parish and her poultry, and
all their dependent concerns, had not yet lost their charms.

At length the chaise arrived, the trunks were fastened on, the
parcels placed within, and it was pronounced to be ready. After
an affectionate parting between the friends, Elizabeth was
attended to the carriage by Mr. Collins, and as they walked
down the garden he was commissioning her with his best
respects to all her family, not forgetting his thanks for the
kindness he had received at Longbourn in the winter, and his
compliments to Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, though unknown. He
then handed her in, Maria followed, and the door was on the
point of being closed, when he suddenly reminded them, with
some consternation, that they had hitherto forgotten to leave
any message for the ladies at Rosings.

“But,” he added, “you will of course wish to have your humble
respects delivered to them, with your grateful thanks for their
kindness to you while you have been here.”

Elizabeth made no objection; the door was then allowed to be
shut, and the carriage drove off.

“Good gracious!” cried Maria, after a few minutes’ silence, “it
seems but a day or two since we first came! and yet how many
things have happened!”

“A great many indeed,” said her companion with a sigh.

“We have dined nine times at Rosings, besides drinking tea there
twice! How much I shall have to tell!”

Elizabeth added privately, “And how much I shall have to conceal!”

Their journey was performed without much conversation, or any
alarm; and within four hours of their leaving Hunsford they
reached Mr. Gardiner’s house, where they were to remain a few

Jane looked well, and Elizabeth had little opportunity of
studying her spirits, amidst the various engagements which the
kindness of her aunt had reserved for them. But Jane was to go
home with her, and at Longbourn there would be leisure enough
for observation.

It was not without an effort, meanwhile, that she could wait
even for Longbourn, before she told her sister of Mr. Darcy’s
proposals. To know that she had the power of revealing what
would so exceedingly astonish Jane, and must, at the same time,
so highly gratify whatever of her own vanity she had not yet
been able to reason away, was such a temptation to openness
as nothing could have conquered but the state of indecision
in which she remained as to the extent of what she should
communicate; and her fear, if she once entered on the subject,
of being hurried into repeating something of Bingley which
might only grieve her sister further.

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