Sir William stayed only a week at Hunsford, but his visit was long enough t_onvince him of his daughter's being most comfortably settled, and of he_ossessing such a husband and such a neighbour as were not often met with.
While Sir William was with them, Mr. Collins devoted his morning to drivin_im out in his gig, and showing him the country; but when he went away, th_hole family returned to their usual employments, and Elizabeth was thankfu_o find that they did not see more of her cousin by the alteration, for th_hief of the time between breakfast and dinner was now passed by him either a_ork in the garden or in reading and writing, and looking out of the window i_is own book-room, which fronted the road. The room in which the ladies sa_as backwards. Elizabeth had at first rather wondered that Charlotte shoul_ot prefer the dining-parlour for common use; it was a better sized room, an_ad a more pleasant aspect; but she soon saw that her friend had an excellen_eason for what she did, for Mr. Collins would undoubtedly have been much les_n his own apartment, had they sat in one equally lively; and she gav_harlotte credit for the arrangement.
From the drawing-room they could distinguish nothing in the lane, and wer_ndebted to Mr. Collins for the knowledge of what carriages went along, an_ow often especially Miss de Bourgh drove by in her phaeton, which he neve_ailed coming to inform them of, though it happened almost every day. She no_nfrequently stopped at the Parsonage, and had a few minutes' conversatio_ith Charlotte, but was scarcely ever prevailed upon to get out.
Very few days passed in which Mr. Collins did not walk to Rosings, and no_any in which his wife did not think it necessary to go likewise; and til_lizabeth recollected that there might be other family livings to be dispose_f, she could not understand the sacrifice of so many hours. Now and then the_ere honoured with a call from her ladyship, and nothing escaped he_bservation that was passing in the room during these visits. She examine_nto their employments, looked at their work, and advised them to do i_ifferently; found fault with the arrangement of the furniture; or detecte_he housemaid in negligence; and if she accepted any refreshment, seemed to d_t only for the sake of finding out that Mrs. Collins's joints of meat wer_oo large for her family.
Elizabeth soon perceived, that though this great lady was not in commission o_he peace of the county, she was a most active magistrate in her own parish,
the minutest concerns of which were carried to her by Mr. Collins; an_henever any of the cottagers were disposed to be quarrelsome, discontented,
or too poor, she sallied forth into the village to settle their differences,
silence their complaints, and scold them into harmony and plenty.
The entertainment of dining at Rosings was repeated about twice a week; and,
allowing for the loss of Sir William, and there being only one card-table i_he evening, every such entertainment was the counterpart of the first. Thei_ther engagements were few, as the style of living in the neighbourhood i_eneral was beyond Mr. Collins's reach. This, however, was no evil t_lizabeth, and upon the whole she spent her time comfortably enough; ther_ere half-hours of pleasant conversation with Charlotte, and the weather wa_o fine for the time of year that she had often great enjoyment out of doors.
Her favourite walk, and where she frequently went while the others wer_alling on Lady Catherine, was along the open grove which edged that side o_he park, where there was a nice sheltered path, which no one seemed to valu_ut herself, and where she felt beyond the reach of Lady Catherine'_uriosity.
In this quiet way, the first fortnight of her visit soon passed away. Easte_as approaching, and the week preceding it was to bring an addition to th_amily at Rosings, which in so small a circle must be important. Elizabeth ha_eard soon after her arrival that Mr. Darcy was expected there in the cours_f a few weeks, and though there were not many of her acquaintances whom sh_id not prefer, his coming would furnish one comparatively new to look at i_heir Rosings parties, and she might be amused in seeing how hopeless Mis_ingley's designs on him were, by his behaviour to his cousin, for whom he wa_vidently destined by Lady Catherine, who talked of his coming with th_reatest satisfaction, spoke of him in terms of the highest admiration, an_eemed almost angry to find that he had already been frequently seen by Mis_ucas and herself.
His arrival was soon known at the Parsonage; for Mr. Collins was walking th_hole morning within view of the lodges opening into Hunsford Lane, in orde_o have the earliest assurance of it, and after making his bow as the carriag_urned into the Park, hurried home with the great intelligence. On th_ollowing morning he hastened to Rosings to pay his respects. There were tw_ephews of Lady Catherine to require them, for Mr. Darcy had brought with hi_ Colonel Fitzwilliam, the younger son of his uncle Lord ——, and, to the grea_urprise of all the party, when Mr. Collins returned, the gentleme_ccompanied him. Charlotte had seen them from her husband's room, crossing th_oad, and immediately running into the other, told the girls what an honou_hey might expect, adding:
"I may thank you, Eliza, for this piece of civility. Mr. Darcy would neve_ave come so soon to wait upon me."
Elizabeth had scarcely time to disclaim all right to the compliment, befor_heir approach was announced by the door-bell, and shortly afterwards th_hree gentlemen entered the room. Colonel Fitzwilliam, who led the way, wa_bout thirty, not handsome, but in person and address most truly th_entleman. Mr. Darcy looked just as he had been used to look i_ertfordshire—paid his compliments, with his usual reserve, to Mrs. Collins,
and whatever might be his feelings toward her friend, met her with ever_ppearance of composure. Elizabeth merely curtseyed to him without saying _ord.
Colonel Fitzwilliam entered into conversation directly with the readiness an_ase of a well-bred man, and talked very pleasantly; but his cousin, afte_aving addressed a slight observation on the house and garden to Mrs. Collins,
sat for some time without speaking to anybody. At length, however, hi_ivility was so far awakened as to inquire of Elizabeth after the health o_er family. She answered him in the usual way, and after a moment's pause,
"My eldest sister has been in town these three months. Have you never happene_o see her there?"
She was perfectly sensible that he never had; but she wished to see whether h_ould betray any consciousness of what had passed between the Bingleys an_ane, and she thought he looked a little confused as he answered that he ha_ever been so fortunate as to meet Miss Bennet. The subject was pursued n_arther, and the gentlemen soon afterwards went away.