But when Elizabeth told of his silence, it did not seem very likely, even to
Charlotte's wishes, to be the case; and after various conjectures, they could at
last only suppose his visit to proceed from the difficulty of finding any thing
to do, which was the more probable from the time of year. All field sports were
over. Within doors there was Lady Catherine, books, and a billiard table, but gentlemen
cannot be always within doors; and in the nearness of the Parsonage, or the pleasantness
of the walk to it, or of the people who lived in it, the two cousins found a temptation
from this period of walking thither almost every day. They called at various times
of the morning, sometimes separately, sometimes together, and now and then accompanied
by their aunt. It was plain to them all that Colonel Fitzwilliam came because he
had pleasure in their society, a persuasion which of course recommended him still
more; and Elizabeth was reminded by her own satisfaction in being with him, as well
as by his evident admiration of her, of her former favourite George Wickham; and
though, in comparing them, she saw there was less captivating softness in Colonel
Fitzwilliam's manners, she believed he might have the best informed mind.
But why Mr. Darcy came so often to the Parsonage, it was more difficult to understand.
It could not be for society, as he frequently sat there ten minutes together without
opening his lips; and when he did speak, it seemed the effect of necessity rather
than of choice -- a sacrifice to propriety, not a pleasure to himself. He seldom
appeared really animated.
Mrs. Collins knew not what to make of him. Colonel Fitzwilliam's occasionally
laughing at his stupidity, proved that he was generally different, which her own
knowledge of him could not have told her; and as she would have liked to believe
this change the effect of love, and the object of that love, her friend Eliza, she
sat herself seriously to work to find it out. -- She watched him whenever they were
at Rosings, and whenever he came to Hunsford; but without much success. He certainly
looked at her friend a great deal, but the expression of that look was disputable.
It was an earnest, steadfast gaze, but she often doubted whether there were much
admiration in it, and sometimes it seemed nothing but absence of mind.
She had once or twice suggested to Elizabeth the possibility of his being partial
to her, but Elizabeth always laughed at the idea; and Mrs. Collins did not think
it right to press the subject, from the danger of raising expectations which might
only end in disappointment; for in her opinion it admitted not of a doubt, that
all her friend's dislike would vanish, if she could suppose him to be in her power.
In her kind schemes for Elizabeth, she sometimes planned her marrying Colonel
Fitzwilliam. He was beyond comparison the pleasantest man; he certainly admired
her, and his situation in life was most eligible; but, to counterbalance these advantages,
Mr. Darcy had considerable patronage in the church, and his cousin could have none
<CHAPTER X (33)>
MORE than once did Elizabeth in her ramble within the Park, unexpectedly meet
Mr. Darcy. -- She felt all the perverseness of the mischance that should bring him
where no one else was brought; and to prevent its ever happening again, took care
to inform him at first that it was a favourite haunt of hers. -- How it could occur
a second time, therefore, was very odd! -- Yet it did, and even a third. It seemed
like wilful ill-nature, or a voluntary penance, for on these occasions it was not
merely a few formal enquiries and an awkward pause and then away, but he actually
thought it necessary to turn back and walk with her. He never said a great deal,
nor did she give herself the trouble of talking or of listening much; but it struck
her in the course of their third rencontre that he was asking some odd unconnected
questions -- about her pleasure in being at Hunsford, her love of solitary walks,
and her opinion of Mr. and Mrs. Collins's happiness; and that in speaking of Rosings,
and her not perfectly understanding the house, he seemed to expect that whenever
she came into Kent again she would be staying there too. His words seemed to imply
it. Could he have Colonel Fitzwilliam in his thoughts?
She supposed, if he meant any thing, he must mean an allusion to what might arise
in that quarter. It distressed her a little, and she was quite glad to find herself
at the gate in the pales opposite the Parsonage.
She was engaged one day, as she walked, in re-perusing Jane's last letter, and
dwelling on some passages which proved that Jane had not written in spirits, when,
instead of being again surprised by Mr. Darcy, she saw on looking up, that Colonel
Fitzwilliam was meeting her. Putting away the letter immediately and forcing a smile,
she said, "I did not know before that you ever walked this way."
"I have been making the tour of the Park," he replied, "as I generally do every
year, and intend to close it with a call at the Parsonage. Are you going much farther?"
"No, I should have turned in a moment."
And accordingly she did turn, and they walked towards the Parsonage together.
"Do you certainly leave Kent on Saturday?" said she.
"Yes -- if Darcy does not put it off again. But I am at his disposal. He arranges
the business just as he pleases."
"And if not able to please himself in the arrangement, he has at least great
pleasure in the power of choice. I do not know any body who seems more to enjoy
the power of doing what he likes than Mr. Darcy."
"He likes to have his own way very well," replied Colonel Fitzwilliam. "But so
we all do. It is only that he has better means of having it than many others, because
he is rich, and many others are poor. I speak feelingly. A younger son, you know,
must be inured to self-denial and dependence."
"In my opinion, the younger son of an Earl can know very little of either. Now,
seriously, what have you ever known of self-denial and dependence? When have you
been prevented by want of money from going wherever you chose, or procuring any
thing you had a fancy for?"
"These are home questions -- and perhaps I cannot say that I have experienced
many hardships of that nature. But in matters of greater weight, I may suffer from
the want of money.
Younger sons cannot marry where they like."
"Unless where they like women of fortune, which I think they very often do."
"Our habits of expence make us too dependant, and there are not many in my rank
of life who can afford to marry without some attention to money."
"Is this," thought Elizabeth, "meant for me?" and she coloured at the idea; but,
recovering herself, said in a lively tone, "And pray, what is the usual price of
an Earl's younger son?
Unless the elder brother is very sickly, I suppose you would not ask above fifty
He answered her in the same style, and the subject dropped.
To interrupt a silence which might make him fancy her affected with what had
passed, she soon afterwards said, "I imagine your cousin brought you down with him
chiefly for the sake of having somebody at his disposal. I wonder he does not marry,
to secure a lasting convenience of that kind. But, perhaps his sister does as well
for the present, and, as she is under his sole care, he may do what he likes with
"No," said Colonel Fitzwilliam, "that is an advantage which he must divide with
me. I am joined with him in the guardianship of Miss Darcy."
"Are you, indeed? And pray what sort of guardians do you make?
Does your charge give you much trouble? Young ladies of her age are sometimes
a little difficult to manage, and if she has the true Darcy spirit, she may like
to have her own way."
As she spoke, she observed him looking at her earnestly, and the manner in which
he immediately asked her why she supposed Miss Darcy likely to give them any uneasiness,
convinced her that she had somehow or other got pretty near the truth. She directly
replied, "You need not be frightened. I never heard any harm of her; and I dare
say she is one of the most tractable creatures in the world. She is a very great
favourite with some ladies of my acquaintance, Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley. I think
I have heard you say that you know them."
"I know them a little. Their brother is a pleasant gentleman-like man -- he is
a great friend of Darcy's."
"Oh! yes," said Elizabeth drily -- "Mr. Darcy is uncommonly kind to Mr. Bingley,
and takes a prodigious deal of care of him."
"Care of him! -- Yes, I really believe Darcy does take care of him in those
points where he most wants care. From something that he told me in our journey hither,
I have reason to think Bingley very much indebted to him. But I ought to beg his
pardon, for I have no right to suppose that Bingley was the person meant. It was
"What is it you mean?"
"It is a circumstance which Darcy, of course, would not wish to be generally
known, because if it were to get round to the lady's family, it would be an unpleasant
"You may depend upon my not mentioning it."
"And remember that I have not much reason for supposing it to be Bingley. What
he told me was merely this; that he congratulated himself on having lately saved
a friend from the inconveniences of a most imprudent marriage, but without mentioning
names or any other particulars, and I only suspected it to be Bingley from believing
him the kind of young man to get into a scrape of that sort, and from knowing them
to have been together the whole of last summer."