Mr. Collins primes them on what to expect when they dine at Rosings. Lady Catherine likes to have the distinction of rank preserved. Sir William is awed by the grandeur, Maria Lucas almost frightened out of her senses and Elizabeth equal to the scene. Lady Catherine’s air was authoritative and self-important. Miss de Bourgh was pale, sickly and spoke little. Mr. Collins excessive admiration gratified Lady Catherine. Lady Catherine talked non-stop, her manner so decisive that it was doubtful if her judgment was ever controverted. She gave Charlotte advice on the minutest domestic concerns. Nothing was beneath her attention. She questions Elizabeth on her family and her own accomplishments. She thinks it odd that she and her sisters did not have a governess. “I always say that nothing is to be done in education without steady and regular instruction, and nobody but a governess can give it.” She is shocked to learn that all five of the Bennet daughters are “out” at once. Elizabeth explains that it would not be fair to keep younger sisters from their share of society if the older have no inclination to marry. Lady Catherine tells her she gives her opinion very decidedly for being so young and asks her age. Coyly Elizabeth will not own it. Lady Catherine is astonished at anyone answering her with dignified impertinence. .
Sir William departs for home pleased with his daughter’s situation. Thankfully, Mr. Collins spends most of his time in the garden, reading, writing and informing them of the carriage movements on the lane in front of the parsonage. Mr. Collins & Charlotte spend many hours at Rosings and Elizabeth wonders about the other neglected families in his parish. Lady Catherine occasionally visits to examine, correct and advise them. Nothing was beneath her notice and when the cottagers were quarrelsome she would sallie forth to settle their differences scolding them into harmony and plenty. Elizabeth has her favorite walk in the Park beyond the reach of Lady Catherine’s curiosity. A fortnight passes away and Easter approaches. Mr. Darcy and his cousin Col Fitzwilliam arrive and call on the parsonage. Mr. Darcy appears the same meeting Elizabeth with composure. Col Fitzwilliam talked, but Darcy was mostly silent. Col Fitzwilliam’s manners were much admired.
The Parsonage residents dine at Rosings. Lady Catherine’s attention was all on Darcy. Elizabeth had caught Col Fitzwilliam’s fancy and they talk intently of books and music which drew Lady Catherine and Darcy curious attention. She must know what they are speaking of. She must have her share of the conversation. She advised Miss Bennet several times that she must practice the pianoforte. She would have been a proficient if she had ever learned. Elizabeth plays at Col Fitzwilliam bequest. Mr. Darcy approaches and Elizabeth teases him about trying to frighten her while she plays. “My courage always rises with every attempt to intimidate me.” She shares with Col Fitzwilliam how Darcy acted while in Hertfordshire . “He danced only four dances though gentlemen were scarce.” He claims to be ill qualified to recommend himself to strangers. Elizabeth asks why an educated man of the world is ill qualified to recommend himself to strangers? He replies that he does not have the talent of talking with those he has not met before. Elizabeth retorts that she does not play the pianoforte as well as others because she does not apply herself and practice. Darcy agrees. “We neither of us perform to strangers.”
Elizabeth is alone at the Parsonage and receives a visit from Mr. Darcy. She broaches the subject of his hasty departure from Hertfordshire last Fall, understanding that Mr. Bingley has no notion of returning again. They talk about Mr. Collins’ fortune choice of a wife. Darcy thinks settling near her family is good, only fifty miles of good road apart. Elizabeth disagrees. The far and the near must be relative. “Where there is fortune to make the expence of traveling unimportant, distance becomes no evil.” Darcy asks her if she would always want to be at Longbourn. Elizabeth is surprised by this question, and Darcy is embarrassed. He quickly changes the subject to her opinion of Kent. Charlotte and Maria return and are surprised to see him there. He leaves shortly after. Charlotte thinks he is in love with Elizabeth. She disagrees. Mr. Darcy and Col Fitzwilliam call at the Parsonage almost every day. Elizabeth is attracted to Col Fitzwilliam, but why Mr. Darcy came to the Parsonage to be silent she did not understand. Charlotte observes that Darcy looked at her friend a great deal. Elizabeth laughs at the idea. Col Fitzwilliam would do for her friend too, though Darcy was richer.
Elizabeth encounters Darcy on her favorite walk in the Park. The second time was more than a coincidence. A third time seemed willful ill-nature. Their conversations are brief and filled with disjointed questions on his part. She also encounters Col Fitwilliam who she is happy to talk with. He and Darcy will depart on Saturday if he does not put it off again. He is at his disposal. Elizabeth replies “I do not know anybody who seems more to enjoy the power of doing what he likes than Mr. Darcy.” Col Fitzwilliam believes that is because Mr. Darcy is rich. He is only the younger son of an earl and cannot marry where he chooses. Elizabeth wonders if this fact is meant for her. He reveals that he and Darcy are co-guardians of Georgiana Darcy. Elizabeth asks if she has given them any trouble? His reaction looks like she hit the truth and reassures him that she has heard nothing but praise from Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley whose brother is Mr. Darcy’s friend. Col Fitzwilliam explains that Darcy takes prodigious care of Bingley. He recently saved Bingley from an imprudent marriage where there were some very strong objections to the lady. Elizabeth questions why Darcy can judge? She returns to the Parsonage and reflects on the conversation. She is convinced that the situation mentioned involved Jane and Bingley, even though no names were mentioned. Darcy’s own vanity, pride and caprice were the cause of Jane’s suffering. Jane is all loveliness. Her father is respectable. But when she thought of her mother, her confidence dipped. She had a headache from crying which prevented her from going to Rosings. Mr. Collins could not conceal his apprehension of her ladyship being displeased by her staying at home.
Mr. Darcy’s shameless boast about saving Mr. Bingley gave her a keener sense of her sisters suffering. She was glad that Darcy was leaving in two days, but would miss his cousin. Mr. Darcy un-expectantly arrives at the Parsonage inquiring after her health. He was agitated and moved about the room until he professes “In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” Elizabeth is astonished. This is followed by his avowal including his sense of her inferiority and it be a degradation to him. Elizabeth thinks that even though she dislikes him, she was sensible to what pain her refusal would cause him. Darcy continues that in spite of his endeavors he found the strength of the attachment impossible to conquer. Elizabeth has never desired his good opinion and is sorry to cause any pain. Darcy became pale with anger, struggling for composure. Is this all the reply she is giving? Why with so little endeavour at civility was he been rejected? She asks why did he offend and insult her by saying he liked her against his will, reason and character? “do you think that any consideration would tempt me to accept the man who has been the means of ruining, perhaps for ever, the happiness of a most beloved sister?” She has every reason in the world to think ill of him. Without remorse Darcy cannot deny his part in dividing them. Toward Bingley he has been kinder than to himself. She adds that her dislike of him was founded on his character after hearing Mr. Wickham’s story of Darcy reducing him to poverty. Darcy asks if this is her estimation of him? His faults are very heavy but might not have been so if he had not offended her pride. “But disguise of every sort is my abhorrence.” He is not ashamed of his honest feelings. Did she expect him to “rejoice in the inferiority of her relations who were so decidedly beneath his own?” He is mistaken if she would have accepted him if he had presented in a more gentlemanlike manner. From the moment she met him his “pride, conceit and selfish disdain for others convinced her that he was the last man in the world that she would marry.” He is ashamed of what his feelings have been and leaves wishing her health and happiness. She cries for half an hour. In review she is astonished by his proposal and that he had been in love with her for so many months. Pity was soon overcome with resentment.
The next morning in the Park Darcy hands Elizabeth a letter. “Be not alarmed, madam, on receiving this letter, by apprehension of its contain any repetition of those sentiments or renewal of those offers which were last night so disgusting to you.” She has accused him of two offences. Detaching Bingley and Jane, and ruining Mr. Wickham’s prospects. He did notice Bingley’s preference for her sister which changed to concern at the general expectation of their marriage. Bingley was partial to Jane, but she seemed to not return it. If he has been mistaken in his judgment and caused pain, her resentment is justified. His objection to the marriage was the un-proprietous behavior of her family. At the ball his inducement was heightened to save his friend from a most unhappy connection joined by Bingley’s sisters. He pointed out the evils of such a choice, Jane’s indifference to his friend and convinced him that he had been deceived in her regard. He also concealed his knowing that Jane was in town. If he has wounded her sister it was unknowingly done and he owns it. Regarding Wickham he will refute the accusation by telling her the entire story. Wickham was his father’s godson and favorite. He supported him at school and Cambridge and wanted him to take orders. Darcy was doubtful of this choice of profession for Wickham whose want of principle was hidden from his father. His father’s will recommended that Darcy take care of Wickham and promote his advancement. If he took orders he would have the family living. Wickham wanted instead to go into the law asking for compensation which Darcy paid him 3,000 pounds for. He then lived a life of idleness and dissipation. Three years pass and the incumbent of the parish dies and Wickham informs Darcy that he does want to take orders and have the living that his father had promised. Darcy refuses and Wickham pressed by his grave financial circumstances abuses Darcy to others to win his suit. How he lived he knew not until a scheme to elope with his fifteen year-old sister Georgiana was uncovered. Mr. Wickham’s chief object was unquestionably his sister’s fortune of 30,000 pounds and his revenge on Darcy. This was his faithful narrative of every event between them. Col Fitzwilliam can corroborate the story. He concluded by adding, “God bless you.”
© 2010 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose