FictionForest

Chapter 38

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

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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 days.

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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