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
'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 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
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
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
'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
'Oh! Charlotte says it is the greatest honour when Miss de Bourgh comes
'I like her appearance,' said Elizabeth. 'She looks sickly 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
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
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
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
'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
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
'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
'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