Chapter Six: A Visit to Rosings

Chapter Six: A Visit to Rosings

Chapter Six: A Visit to Rosings

The following week the Gardiners, Mrs Bennet’s brother and his wife, came to stay at Longbourn. Mr Gardiner was an intelligent, gentleman-like man, more educated and with a better character than his sister. Mrs Gardiner was an agreeable, intelligent, elegant woman, and a great favourite with all her nieces. Her first business on her arrival, was to give out her presents and tell them about the newest fashions.

When this was done she had to listen to Mrs Bennet who said that life had been most unkind to them all since she last saw her. Two of her girls had almost been married, but it had all come to nothing. It was not Jane’s fault, she said, but Lizzy could have been Mr Collins’s wife by this time. It was very hard that Lady Lucas would have a daughter married before she did.
When alone with Elizabeth afterwards, Mrs Gardiner asked if she thought Jane would like to come back with them to London. Jane accepted her aunt’s invitation with pleasure. Her only thought of the Bingleys was to hope that, as Caroline did not live with her brother, she might see her without any danger of meeting him.

The Gardiners stayed a week at Longbourn. Every day they dined with the Philipses, the Lucases or the officers. Mr Wickham was always invited. Elizabeth spoke so warmly about him that Mrs Gardiner was suspicious and observed them both. From what she saw she did not think them much in love, but their attraction to each other was clear enough to make her caution 告诫 Elizabeth.

‘You are an intelligent girl, Lizzy. I am not afraid of speaking openly,’ she began. ‘Do not continue or let him continue in an affection which could not make you happy. I have nothing to say against him. He is a most interesting young man, and if he had a fortune I think you could not do better. But as it is, you must be cautious.’

‘I am not in love with Mr Wickham,’ Elizabeth answered, ‘but he is the most agreeable man I ever saw – if he does fall in love with me – Better that he does not. It would not be wise. – Oh that detestable 可恶的 Mr Darcy! My dear aunt, I would be sorry to make any of you unhappy, but we see every day that where there is affection, young people do get married without fortune. How can I promise to be wiser than so many others? All I can promise you is not to be in a hurry. I will try to do what I think wisest. I hope you are satisfied. ‘

Soon after the Gardiners and Jane had left, Mr Collins returned for the wedding. Charlotte came to Longbourn before leaving and asked Elizabeth to write and to come and visit with Charlotte’s father and sister Maria in March.

Elizabeth soon heard from her friend in Kent. She was happy with the house and neighbourhood, and Lady Catherine’s behaviour was most friendly. Jane too, soon wrote to her sister. She had been a week in London, without seeing or hearing from Caroline. She thought perhaps her last letter had got lost. She was going to visit her the next day. In her next letter she wrote that Caroline had been very glad to see her. She had asked after her brother. He was well, but always with Mr Darcy. They never saw him. Miss Darcy was expected to dinner.
Elizabeth did not believe that Mr Bingley’s sisters would ever tell him that Jane was in London.
Four weeks passed and Jane saw nothing of him. After Jane had waited at home every morning for two weeks, Miss Bingley did at last appear, but her visit was so short and her manner so changed that Jane at last understood.

‘Caroline did not return my visit till yesterday,’ she wrote. ‘When she came it was clear that she had no pleasure in it. She said not a word of wishing to see me again and had changed so much that when she went away I decided not to see her again. I am sorry for her, because she must feel that she has been doing wrong, and I am sure that anxiety for her brother is the cause.’
Elizabeth was unhappy to read this, but thought it good that at least her sister now understood Miss Bingley’s real character. She wished Bingley would marry Miss Darcy. From what Mr Wickham said about that lady, he would soon be sorry he had lost Jane.

Mrs Gardiner wrote to ask about her promise about Mr Wickham. Her answer gave more pleasure to her aunt than herself. Mr Wickham was now the admirer of another lady. Elizabeth could see it and write of it without much unhappiness. She had not been really in love. Her vanity was satisfied with believing that if she had had a fortune, she would have been his choice.

March neared and with it Elizabeth’s visit to Charlotte. The change was not unwelcome. Elizabeth, Sir William and Maria Lucas stopped in London one night with the Gardiners where Elizabeth could see Jane. When they arrived, Elizabeth was pleased to see Jane looking well, though her aunt told her that she was not always happy. Before they left, Mrs Gardiner invited Elizabeth, to her great pleasure, on a journey that summer with herself and her uncle to the Lakes.

Everything was new and interesting on the next day’s journey. Mr Collins and Charlotte welcomed them with pleasure. After they had seen the house, Mr Collins invited them to walk in the garden where he showed them all the views. But the most beautiful view of all from his garden, no, from England, was the view of Rosings.

At dinner Mr Collins said, ‘Miss Elizabeth, you will have the honour of seeing Lady Catherine in church on Sunday. You will be most pleased with her. She is all kindness. I am sure she will not forget you in her invitations to us. We dine at Rosings twice a week.’

The next day Elizabeth was in her room when she heard someone running and calling her loudly. She opened the door and met Maria who cried out, ‘Oh my dear Eliza! Please hurry and come down this moment. There is such a sight to be seen!’

When she came down all Elizabeth could see was two ladies in a carriage. ‘And this is all?’ she asked. ‘I don’t know what I expected, and here is nothing but Lady Catherine and her daughter.’
‘But my dear.’ Maria was shocked. ‘Only look at Miss de Bourgh. Who would have thought she could be such a little thing!’

‘She is most impolite to keep Charlotte out in this cold. Why does she not come in?’
‘Oh! Charlotte says it is the greatest honour when Miss de Bourgh comes in.’

‘I like her appearance,’ said Elizabeth. ‘She looks sickly 病弱的 and nervous. Yes, she will make Darcy a very good wife.’

Mr Collins had no sooner returned into the house than he began to compliment the two girls on their good fortune. The whole party was asked to dine at Rosings the next day.
‘Who could have expected such an attention,’ said he, ‘so soon after your arrival!’
The whole next day he told them what they could expect at Rosings, so that the sight of such rooms, so many servants, so large a dinner would not be too much for them.

At Rosings they followed the servants to the drawing-room. Her Ladyship got up to receive them. Lady Catherine was a tall, large woman. She was very proud and spoke a great deal. Miss de Bourgh was little and sickly and quiet.

The dinner was handsome and there were all the servants Mr Collins had promised. There was not much conversation. Charlotte listened to Lady Catherine. Maria thought speaking out of the question and the gentlemen did nothing but eat and admire. Lady Catherine seemed to enjoy this flattery and smiled at them all.

When the ladies returned to the drawing-room there was little to do but to hear Lady Catherine talk, which she did without stopping till coffee came in, giving her opinion on every subject in so decisive a manner it was clear she did not often meet with disagreement. She asked Elizabeth how many sisters she had, how old they were, if they were likely to be married, if they were handsome, what carriage her father kept and what had been he mother’s name before marriage. Elizabeth felt all the impoliteness her questions, but answered them quietly.
When the gentlemen joined them they played cards until Lady Catherine and her daughter decided to stop. Then the carriage was immediately ordered.

The pleasure of dining at Rosings was repeated twice a week. There was little other society, but Elizabeth spent her time agreeably enough in conversation with Charlotte or walking in the garden. The first week soon passed. The next was to bring a visitor to Rosings. Mr Darcy was expected. It would be amusing, Elizabeth thought, to see how hopeless Miss Bingley’s plans to marry him were and to observe his behaviour to his cousin. Lady Catherine talked of his coming with the greatest satisfaction and clearly had her own plans for his future.

On the day after Mr Darcy’s arrival, Mr Collins hurried to pay his respects at Rosings where he met a Colonel Fitzwilliam, cousin of Mr Darcy’s. To everybody’s surprise he returned with both men. Colonel Fitzwilliam was about thirty, not handsome, but a gentleman. He started a conversation immediately and talked very pleasantly, but after paying his compliments to the ladies, his cousin sat without speaking. At last he asked Elizabeth about her family. She answered that they were well, and then said, ‘My oldest sister has been in town these three months. Have you never seen her there?’ She thought he looked a little embarrassed as he answered that he had never been so fortunate.

After the gentlemen had left, the ladies admired Colonel Fitzwilliam’s manners. His presence at Rosings must make it more pleasant to visit there, they felt. It was some days, however, before they received an invitation. While there were visitors in the house, they could not be necessary.
At Rosings, Colonel Fitzwilliam seemed really glad to see them. He talked so agreeably of Kent, of journeys, of new books and music, that Elizabeth had never spent an evening so pleasantly in that room. Their conversation was so lively they attracted the attention of Lady Catherine as well as that of Mr Darcy. He looked at them repeatedly.

After coffee, Colonel Fitzwilliam asked Elizabeth to play. Lady Catherine listened to half a song, and then said to Darcy, ‘Miss Bennet would not play badly, if she played more often and could have the advantage of a London teacher. Anne would have played better if she could have learned, but she was such a sickly girl.’

Elizabeth looked at Darcy to see how warmly he looked at hearing his cousin’s name, but she could see no love in his expression.

Elizabeth was home alone the next morning when she heard someone at the door. To her very great surprise Mr Darcy entered alone.

He apologised, saying that he had understood all the ladies to be at home. Then he sat down and was silent. It was necessary to think of something to say.

‘How very suddenly you all left Netherfield, Mr Darcy,’ Elizabeth observed. ‘It must have been a surprise to Mr Bingley to see you all after him so soon. If I remember he went only the day before. He and his sisters were well, I hope, when you left London?’

‘Very well. I thank you.’

‘I think that Mr Bingley has little idea of returning to Netherfield?’ ‘I would not be surprised if he gave it up.’

A short conversation on the subject of the country followed and was soon ended by the return of the others.

‘What can this mean?’ asked Charlotte as soon as he was gone. ‘My dear Eliza, he must be in love with you.’ But when Elizabeth told of his silence it did not seem even to Charlotte to be probable.

The two cousins visited almost every day, sometimes together, sometimes alone. It was clear that Colonel Fitzwilliam had pleasure in their society. Why Mr Darcy visited was more difficult to understand as he frequently sat there without speaking. When he did speak, it seemed to be from necessity, not pleasure. Mrs Collins would have liked him to be in love with her friend, but though she observed him, she could see little admiration in his look.

More than once Elizabeth met Mr Darcy walking in the gardens. She had told him the first time that this was a favourite walk of hers. How he could be there a second time, she could not understand, but he was, and a third time too. He never said much, but always thought it necessary to walk back with her.

She was walking one day reading again Jane’s last letter and thinking that she did not sound happy, when she looked up to see Colonel Fitzwilliam. She put away the letter and tried to smile.

‘Do you leave Kent on Saturday?’ Elizabeth asked.
‘Yes, if Darcy does not change his plans again. But he does as he pleases.’ ‘I do not know anybody who seems more to enjoy doing what he likes than Mr Darcy.’

‘It is only that he can do so better because he is rich and others are poor,’ answered Colonel Fitzwilliam. ‘I know. I am a younger son and have no fortune. In matters of importance I suffer from this. Younger sons cannot marry where they like.’

‘Unless they like women of fortune, which I think they very often do,’ Elizabeth said, asking herself if this was meant for her. To change the subject she asked him about Miss Darcy.
‘She is a favourite with some ladies I know, Mrs Hurst and Miss Bingley. Do you know them?’

‘A little. Their brother is a pleasant, gentleman-like man; he is a great friend of Darcy.’

‘Oh yes,’ said Elizabeth coldly. ‘Mr Darcy is most kind to Mr Bingley and takes great care of him.’
‘Yes, I really believe he does. From something that Darcy told me on our journey, I believe Bingley must be very thankful to him. But I may be wrong. Bingley may not be the person meant.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘Darcy would not wish it to be generally known. If the lady’s family were to hear of it, that would be unpleasant.’

‘I shall not speak of it.’

‘He told me that he had recently saved a friend from making a very unfortunate marriage. He did not name the friend.’

‘What were his reasons?’

‘I understood that there were some very strong objections against the lady.’

Elizabeth walked on silently. After watching her a little, Fitzwilliam asked what she was thinking.
‘That I do not like your cousin’s behaviour.’ ‘You think it was not his business?’

‘How could Mr Darcy decide if his friend’s affection was mistaken, or in what manner he should be happy? But I expect that there was not much feeling.’

‘That is possible, but it is lessening the honour of my cousin’s triumph.’ Fitzwilliam was smiling, but this seemed to Elizabeth so true a picture of Darcy that she could not speak and talked on other matters till they got back. There, in her own room, she could think of all that she had heard. She was sure Darcy had spoken of Bingley. She had always believed Miss Bingley to be at fault for Jane’s unhappiness. Now it seemed Darcy was the cause of all that Jane had suffered. He had taken every hope of happiness from the most affectionate, generous heart in the world, no one could say for how long. At that Elizabeth cried until she felt quite ill.

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