It was a journey of only twenty-four miles, and they began it so early as to
be in Gracechurch-street by noon. As they drove to Mr. Gardiner's door, Jane was
at a drawing-room window watching their arrival; when they entered the passage she
was there to welcome them, and Elizabeth, looking earnestly in her face, was pleased
to see it healthful and lovely as ever. On the stairs were a troop of little boys
and girls, whose eagerness for their cousin's appearance would not allow them to
wait in the drawing-room, and whose shyness, as they had not seen her for a twelvemonth,
prevented their coming lower. All was joy and kindness. The day passed most pleasantly
away; the morning in bustle and shopping, and the evening at one of the theatres.
Elizabeth then contrived to sit by her aunt. Their first subject was her sister;
and she was more grieved than astonished to hear, in reply to her minute enquiries,
that though Jane always struggled to support her spirits, there were periods of
dejection. It was reasonable, however, to hope, that they would not continue long.
Mrs. Gardiner gave her the particulars also of Miss Bingley's visit in Gracechurch-street,
and repeated conversations occurring at different times between Jane and herself,
which proved that the former had, from her heart, given up the acquaintance.
Mrs. Gardiner then rallied her niece on Wickham's desertion, and complimented
her on bearing it so well.
"But, my dear Elizabeth," she added, "what sort of girl is Miss King? I should
be sorry to think our friend mercenary."
"Pray, my dear aunt, what is the difference in matrimonial affairs, between the
mercenary and the prudent motive? Where does discretion end, and avarice begin?
Last Christmas you were afraid of his marrying me, because it would be imprudent;
and now, because he is trying to get a girl with only ten thousand pounds, you want
to find out that he is mercenary."
"If you will only tell me what sort of girl Miss King is, I shall know what to
"She is a very good kind of girl, I believe. I know no harm of her."
"But he paid her not the smallest attention, till her grandfather's death made
her mistress of this fortune."
"No -- why should he? If it was not allowable for him to gain my affections,
because I had no money, what occasion could there be for making love to a girl whom
he did not care about, and who was equally poor?"
"But there seems indelicacy in directing his attentions towards her, so soon
after this event."
"A man in distressed circumstances has not time for all those elegant decorums
which other people may observe. If she does not object to it, why should we?"
"Her not objecting, does not justify him. It only shews her being deficient
in something herself -- sense or feeling."
"Well," cried Elizabeth, "have it as you choose. He shall be mercenary, and
she shall be foolish."
"No, Lizzy, that is what I do not choose. I should be sorry, you know, to think
ill of a young man who has lived so long in Derbyshire."
"Oh! if that is all, I have a very poor opinion of young men who live in Derbyshire;
and their intimate friends who live in Hertfordshire are not much better. I am sick
of them all.
Thank Heaven! I am going to-morrow where I shall find a man who has not one agreeable
quality, who has neither manner nor sense to recommend him. Stupid men are the only
ones worth knowing, after all."
"Take care, Lizzy; that speech savours strongly of disappointment."
Before they were separated by the conclusion of the play, she had the unexpected
happiness of an invitation to accompany her uncle and aunt in a tour of pleasure
which they proposed taking in the summer.
"We have not quite determined how far it shall carry us," said Mrs. Gardiner,
"but perhaps to the Lakes."
No scheme could have been more agreeable to Elizabeth, and her acceptance of
the invitation was most ready and grateful. "My dear, dear aunt," she rapturously
cried, "what delight! what felicity! You give me fresh life and vigour. Adieu to
disappointment and spleen. What are men to rocks and mountains? Oh! what hours of
transport we shall spend! And when we do return, it shall not be like other travellers,
without being able to give one accurate idea of any thing. We will know where
we have gone -- we will recollect what we have seen. Lakes, mountains, and rivers,
shall not be jumbled together in our imaginations; nor, when we attempt to describe
any particular scene, will we begin quarrelling about its relative situation. Let
our first effusions be less insupportable than those of the generality of travellers."
<CHAPTER V (28)>
EVERY object in the next day's journey was new and interesting to Elizabeth;
and her spirits were in a state for 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 discernable. The garden sloping to the road, the
house standing in it, the green pales and the laurel hedge, everything declared
that they were arriving.
Mr. Collins and Charlotte appeared at the door, and the carriage stopped at a
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 enquiries 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 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 every thing 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 any thing 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
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 his garden was one of his most respectable pleasures; and Elizabeth admired
the command of countenance with which Charlotte talked of the healthfulnes of the
excercise, 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 the 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 shewing
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 a great air of 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 in, observed, "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 that 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 should say, one of her ladyship's carriages, for she has several."