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Chapter 37

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

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The two gentlemen left Rosings the
next morning, and Mr. Collins having been in waiting
near the lodges, to make them his parting obeisance,
was able to bring home the pleasing intelligence,
of their appearing in very good health, and in as
tolerable spirits as could be expected, after the
melancholy scene so lately gone through at Rosings. 
To Rosings he then hastened, to console Lady Catherine
and her daughter; and on his return brought back,
with great satisfaction, a message from her ladyship,
importing that she felt herself so dull as to make
her very desirous of having them all to dine with
her.

Elizabeth could not see Lady Catherine
without recollecting that, had she chosen it, she
might by this time have been presented to her as her
future niece; nor could she think, without a smile,
of what her ladyship’s indignation would have
been.  “What would she have said? how would
she have behaved?” were questions with which
she amused herself.

Their first subject was the diminution
of the Rosings party.  “I assure you, I
feel it exceedingly,” said Lady Catherine; “I
believe no one feels the loss of friends so much as
I do.  But I am particularly attached to these
young men, and know them to be so much attached to
me!  They were excessively sorry to go!  But
so they always are.  The dear Colonel rallied
his spirits tolerably till just at last; but Darcy
seemed to feel it most acutely, more, I think, than
last year.  His attachment to Rosings certainly
increases.”

Mr. Collins had a compliment, and
an allusion to throw in here, which were kindly smiled
on by the mother and daughter.

Lady Catherine observed, after dinner,
that Miss Bennet seemed out of spirits, and immediately
accounting for it by herself, by supposing that she
did not like to go home again so soon, she added: 

“But if that is the case, you
must write to your mother and beg that you may stay
a little longer.  Mrs. Collins will be very glad
of your company, I am sure.”

“I am much obliged to your ladyship
for your kind invitation,” replied Elizabeth,
“but it is not in my power to accept it. 
I must be in town next Saturday.”

“Why, at that rate, you will
have been here only six weeks.  I expected you
to stay two months.  I told Mrs. Collins so before
you came.  There can be no occasion for your going
so soon.  Mrs. Bennet could certainly spare you
for another fortnight.”

“But my father cannot. 
He wrote last week to hurry my return.”

“Oh! your father of course may
spare you, if your mother can.  Daughters are
never of so much consequence to a father.  And
if you will stay another month complete, it
will be in my power to take one of you as far as London,
for I am going there early in June, for a week; and
as Dawson does not object to the barouche-box, there
will be very good room for one of you ­and
indeed, if the weather should happen to be cool, I
should not object to taking you both, as you are neither
of you large.”

“You are all kindness, madam;
but I believe we must abide by our original plan.”

Lady Catherine seemed resigned. 
“Mrs. Collins, you must send a servant with
them.  You know I always speak my mind, and I cannot
bear the idea of two young women travelling post by
themselves.  It is highly improper.  You must
contrive to send somebody.  I have the greatest
dislike in the world to that sort of thing.  Young
women should always be properly guarded and attended,
according to their situation in life.  When my
niece Georgiana went to Ramsgate last summer, I made
a point of her having two men-servants go with her. 
Miss Darcy, the daughter of Mr. Darcy, of Pemberley,
and Lady Anne, could not have appeared with propriety
in a different manner.  I am excessively attentive
to all those things.  You must send John with
the young ladies, Mrs. Collins.  I am glad it
occurred to me to mention it; for it would really be
discreditable to you to let them go alone.”

“My uncle is to send a servant for us.”

“Oh!  Your uncle!  He
keeps a man-servant, does he?  I am very glad you
have somebody who thinks of these things.  Where
shall you change horses?  Oh!  Bromley, of
course.  If you mention my name at the Bell, you
will be attended to.”

Lady Catherine had many other questions
to ask respecting their journey, and as she did not
answer them all herself, attention was necessary,
which Elizabeth believed to be lucky for her; or, with
a mind so occupied, she might have forgotten where
she was.  Reflection must be reserved for solitary
hours; whenever she was alone, she gave way to it
as the greatest relief; and not a day went by without
a solitary walk, in which she might indulge in all
the delight of unpleasant recollections.

Mr. Darcy’s letter she was in
a fair way of soon knowing by heart.  She studied
every sentence; and her feelings towards its writer
were at times widely different.  When she remembered
the style of his address, she was still full of indignation;
but when she considered how unjustly she had condemned
and upbraided him, her anger was turned against herself;
and his disappointed feelings became the object of
compassion.  His attachment excited gratitude,
his general character respect; but she could not approve
him; nor could she for a moment repent her refusal,
or feel the slightest inclination ever to see him again. 
In her own past behaviour, there was a constant source
of vexation and regret; and in the unhappy defects
of her family, a subject of yet heavier chagrin. 
They were hopeless of remedy.  Her father, contented
with laughing at them, would never exert himself to
restrain the wild giddiness of his youngest daughters;
and her mother, with manners so far from right herself,
was entirely insensible of the evil.  Elizabeth
had frequently united with Jane in an endeavour to
check the imprudence of Catherine and Lydia; but while
they were supported by their mother’s indulgence,
what chance could there be of improvement?  Catherine,
weak-spirited, irritable, and completely under Lydia’s
guidance, had been always affronted by their advice;
and Lydia, self-willed and careless, would scarcely
give them a hearing.  They were ignorant, idle,
and vain.  While there was an officer in Meryton,
they would flirt with him; and while Meryton was within
a walk of Longbourn, they would be going there forever.

Anxiety on Jane’s behalf was
another prevailing concern; and Mr. Darcy’s
explanation, by restoring Bingley to all her former
good opinion, heightened the sense of what Jane had
lost.  His affection was proved to have been sincere,
and his conduct cleared of all blame, unless any could
attach to the implicitness of his confidence in his
friend.  How grievous then was the thought that,
of a situation so desirable in every respect, so replete
with advantage, so promising for happiness, Jane had
been deprived, by the folly and indecorum of her own
family!

When to these recollections was added
the development of Wickham’s character, it may
be easily believed that the happy spirits which had
seldom been depressed before, were now so much affected
as to make it almost impossible for her to appear
tolerably cheerful.

Their engagements at Rosings were
as frequent during the last week of her stay as they
had been at first.  The very last evening was spent
there; and her ladyship again inquired minutely into
the particulars of their journey, gave them directions
as to the best method of packing, and was so urgent
on the necessity of placing gowns in the only right
way, that Maria thought herself obliged, on her return,
to undo all the work of the morning, and pack her
trunk afresh.

When they parted, Lady Catherine,
with great condescension, wished them a good journey,
and invited them to come to Hunsford again next year;
and Miss de Bourgh exerted herself so far as to curtsey
and hold out her hand to both.

 

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