<SPAN name="link2HCH0028" id="link2HCH0028">
<!-- H2 anchor --> </SPAN>
<div style="height: 4em;">
<br /><br /><br /><br />
Every object in the next day's journey was new and interesting to
Elizabeth; and her spirits were in a state of enjoyment; for she had seen
her sister looking so well as to banish all fear for her health, and the
prospect of her northern tour was a constant source of delight.
When they left the high road for the lane to Hunsford, every eye was in
search of the Parsonage, and every turning expected to bring it in view.
The palings of Rosings Park was their boundary on one side. Elizabeth
smiled at the recollection of all that she had heard of its inhabitants.
At length the Parsonage was discernible. The garden sloping to the road,
the house standing in it, the green pales, and the laurel hedge,
everything declared they were arriving. Mr. Collins and Charlotte appeared
at the door, and the carriage stopped at the small gate which led by a
short gravel walk to the house, amidst the nods and smiles of the whole
party. In a moment they were all out of the chaise, rejoicing at the sight
of each other. Mrs. Collins welcomed her friend with the liveliest
pleasure, and Elizabeth was more and more satisfied with coming when she
found herself so affectionately received. She saw instantly that her
cousin's manners were not altered by his marriage; his formal civility was
just what it had been, and he detained her some minutes at the gate to
hear and satisfy his inquiries after all her family. They were then, with
no other delay than his pointing out the neatness of the entrance, taken
into the house; and as soon as they were in the parlour, he welcomed them
a second time, with ostentatious formality to his humble abode, and
punctually repeated all his wife's offers of refreshment.
Elizabeth was prepared to see him in his glory; and she could not help in
fancying that in displaying the good proportion of the room, its aspect
and its furniture, he addressed himself particularly to her, as if wishing
to make her feel what she had lost in refusing him. But though everything
seemed neat and comfortable, she was not able to gratify him by any sigh
of repentance, and rather looked with wonder at her friend that she could
have so cheerful an air with such a companion. When Mr. Collins said
anything of which his wife might reasonably be ashamed, which certainly
was not unseldom, she involuntarily turned her eye on Charlotte. Once or
twice she could discern a faint blush; but in general Charlotte wisely did
not hear. After sitting long enough to admire every article of furniture
in the room, from the sideboard to the fender, to give an account of their
journey, and of all that had happened in London, Mr. Collins invited them
to take a stroll in the garden, which was large and well laid out, and to
the cultivation of which he attended himself. To work in this garden was
one of his most respectable pleasures; and Elizabeth admired the command
of countenance with which Charlotte talked of the healthfulness of the
exercise, and owned she encouraged it as much as possible. Here, leading
the way through every walk and cross walk, and scarcely allowing them an
interval to utter the praises he asked for, every view was pointed out
with a minuteness which left beauty entirely behind. He could number the
fields in every direction, and could tell how many trees there were in the
most distant clump. But of all the views which his garden, or which the
country or kingdom could boast, none were to be compared with the prospect
of Rosings, afforded by an opening in the trees that bordered the park
nearly opposite the front of his house. It was a handsome modern building,
well situated on rising ground.
From his garden, Mr. Collins would have led them round his two meadows;
but the ladies, not having shoes to encounter the remains of a white
frost, turned back; and while Sir William accompanied him, Charlotte took
her sister and friend over the house, extremely well pleased, probably, to
have the opportunity of showing it without her husband's help. It was
rather small, but well built and convenient; and everything was fitted up
and arranged with a neatness and consistency of which Elizabeth gave
Charlotte all the credit. When Mr. Collins could be forgotten, there was
really an air of great comfort throughout, and by Charlotte's evident
enjoyment of it, Elizabeth supposed he must be often forgotten.
She had already learnt that Lady Catherine was still in the country. It
was spoken of again while they were at dinner, when Mr. Collins joining
"Yes, Miss Elizabeth, you will have the honour of seeing Lady Catherine de
Bourgh on the ensuing Sunday at church, and I need not say you will be
delighted with her. She is all affability and condescension, and I doubt
not but you will be honoured with some portion of her notice when service
is over. I have scarcely any hesitation in saying she will include you and
my sister Maria in every invitation with which she honours us during your
stay here. Her behaviour to my dear Charlotte is charming. We dine at
Rosings twice every week, and are never allowed to walk home. Her
ladyship's carriage is regularly ordered for us. I <i>should</i> say, one
of her ladyship's carriages, for she has several."
"Lady Catherine is a very respectable, sensible woman indeed," added
Charlotte, "and a most attentive neighbour."
"Very true, my dear, that is exactly what I say. She is the sort of woman
whom one cannot regard with too much deference."
The evening was spent chiefly in talking over Hertfordshire news, and
telling again what had already been written; and when it closed,
Elizabeth, in the solitude of her chamber, had to meditate upon
Charlotte's degree of contentment, to understand her address in guiding,
and composure in bearing with, her husband, and to acknowledge that it was
all done very well. She had also to anticipate how her visit would pass,
the quiet tenor of their usual employments, the vexatious interruptions of
Mr. Collins, and the gaieties of their intercourse with Rosings. A lively
imagination soon settled it all.
About the middle of the next day, as she was in her room getting ready for
a walk, a sudden noise below seemed to speak the whole house in confusion;
and, after listening a moment, she heard somebody running up stairs in a
violent hurry, and calling loudly after her. She opened the door and met
Maria in the landing place, who, breathless with agitation, cried out—
"Oh, my dear Eliza! pray make haste and come into the dining-room, for
there is such a sight to be seen! I will not tell you what it is. Make
haste, and come down this moment."
Elizabeth asked questions in vain; Maria would tell her nothing more, and
down they ran into the dining-room, which fronted the lane, in quest of
this wonder; It was two ladies stopping in a low phaeton at the garden
"And is this all?" cried Elizabeth. "I expected at least that the pigs
were got into the garden, and here is nothing but Lady Catherine and her
"La! my dear," said Maria, quite shocked at the mistake, "it is not Lady
Catherine. The old lady is Mrs. Jenkinson, who lives with them; the other
is Miss de Bourgh. Only look at her. She is quite a little creature. Who
would have thought that she could be so thin and small?"
"She is abominably rude to keep Charlotte out of doors in all this wind.
Why does she not come in?"
"Oh, Charlotte says she hardly ever does. It is the greatest of favours
when Miss de Bourgh comes in."
"I like her appearance," said Elizabeth, struck with other ideas. "She
looks sickly and cross. Yes, she will do for him very well. She will make
him a very proper wife."
Mr. Collins and Charlotte were both standing at the gate in conversation
with the ladies; and Sir William, to Elizabeth's high diversion, was
stationed in the doorway, in earnest contemplation of the greatness before
him, and constantly bowing whenever Miss de Bourgh looked that way.
At length there was nothing more to be said; the ladies drove on, and the
others returned into the house. Mr. Collins no sooner saw the two girls
than he began to congratulate them on their good fortune, which Charlotte
explained by letting them know that the whole party was asked to dine at
Rosings the next day.