FictionForest

Chapter 30

Jane AustenAug 15, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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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 gentlemen 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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