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Mr. Collins was not a sensible man, and the deficiency of nature had been but little
assisted by education or society; the greatest part of his life having been spent
under the guidance of an illiterate and
miserly father; and though he belonged to one of the universities, he had merely kept
the necessary terms, without forming at it any useful acquaintance.
The subjection in which his father had brought him up had given him originally
great humility of manner; but it was now a good deal counteracted by the self-conceit
of a weak head, living in retirement, and
the consequential feelings of early and unexpected prosperity.
A fortunate chance had recommended him to Lady Catherine de Bourgh when the living of
Hunsford was vacant; and the respect which he felt for her high rank, and his
veneration for her as his patroness,
mingling with a very good opinion of himself, of his authority as a clergyman,
and his right as a rector, made him altogether a mixture of pride and
obsequiousness, self-importance and humility.
Having now a good house and a very sufficient income, he intended to marry;
and in seeking a reconciliation with the Longbourn family he had a wife in view, as
he meant to choose one of the daughters, if
he found them as handsome and amiable as they were represented by common report.
This was his plan of amends--of atonement-- for inheriting their father's estate; and
he thought it an excellent one, full of eligibility and suitableness, and
excessively generous and disinterested on his own part.
His plan did not vary on seeing them.
Miss Bennet's lovely face confirmed his views, and established all his strictest
notions of what was due to seniority; and for the first evening she was his settled
The next morning, however, made an alteration; for in a quarter of an hour's
tete-a-tete with Mrs. Bennet before breakfast, a conversation beginning with
his parsonage-house, and leading naturally
to the avowal of his hopes, that a mistress might be found for it at Longbourn,
produced from her, amid very complaisant smiles and general encouragement, a caution
against the very Jane he had fixed on.
"As to her younger daughters, she could not take upon her to say--she could not
positively answer--but she did not know of any prepossession; her eldest daughter, she
must just mention--she felt it incumbent on
her to hint, was likely to be very soon engaged."
Mr. Collins had only to change from Jane to Elizabeth--and it was soon done--done while
Mrs. Bennet was stirring the fire.
Elizabeth, equally next to Jane in birth and beauty, succeeded her of course.
Mrs. Bennet treasured up the hint, and trusted that she might soon have two
daughters married; and the man whom she could not bear to speak of the day before
was now high in her good graces.
Lydia's intention of walking to Meryton was not forgotten; every sister except Mary
agreed to go with her; and Mr. Collins was to attend them, at the request of Mr.
Bennet, who was most anxious to get rid of
him, and have his library to himself; for thither Mr. Collins had followed him after
breakfast; and there he would continue, nominally engaged with one of the largest
folios in the collection, but really
talking to Mr. Bennet, with little cessation, of his house and garden at
Hunsford. Such doings discomposed Mr. Bennet
In his library he had been always sure of leisure and tranquillity; and though
prepared, as he told Elizabeth, to meet with folly and conceit in every other room
of the house, he was used to be free from
them there; his civility, therefore, was most prompt in inviting Mr. Collins to join
his daughters in their walk; and Mr. Collins, being in fact much better fitted
for a walker than a reader, was extremely pleased to close his large book, and go.
In pompous nothings on his side, and civil assents on that of his cousins, their time
passed till they entered Meryton.
The attention of the younger ones was then no longer to be gained by him.
Their eyes were immediately wandering up in the street in quest of the officers, and
nothing less than a very smart bonnet indeed, or a really new muslin in a shop
window, could recall them.
But the attention of every lady was soon caught by a young man, whom they had never
seen before, of most gentlemanlike appearance, walking with another officer on
the other side of the way.
The officer was the very Mr. Denny concerning whose return from London Lydia
came to inquire, and he bowed as they passed.
All were struck with the stranger's air, all wondered who he could be; and Kitty and
Lydia, determined if possible to find out, led the way across the street, under
pretense of wanting something in an
opposite shop, and fortunately had just gained the pavement when the two gentlemen,
turning back, had reached the same spot.
Mr. Denny addressed them directly, and entreated permission to introduce his
friend, Mr. Wickham, who had returned with him the day before from town, and he was
happy to say had accepted a commission in their corps.
This was exactly as it should be; for the young man wanted only regimentals to make
him completely charming.
His appearance was greatly in his favour; he had all the best part of beauty, a fine
countenance, a good figure, and very pleasing address.
The introduction was followed up on his side by a happy readiness of conversation--
a readiness at the same time perfectly correct and unassuming; and the whole party
were still standing and talking together
very agreeably, when the sound of horses drew their notice, and Darcy and Bingley
were seen riding down the street.
On distinguishing the ladies of the group, the two gentlemen came directly towards
them, and began the usual civilities. Bingley was the principal spokesman, and
Miss Bennet the principal object.
He was then, he said, on his way to Longbourn on purpose to inquire after her.
Mr. Darcy corroborated it with a bow, and was beginning to determine not to fix his
eyes on Elizabeth, when they were suddenly arrested by the sight of the stranger, and
Elizabeth happening to see the countenance
of both as they looked at each other, was all astonishment at the effect of the
meeting. Both changed colour, one looked white, the
other red.
Mr. Wickham, after a few moments, touched his hat--a salutation which Mr. Darcy just
deigned to return. What could be the meaning of it?
It was impossible to imagine; it was impossible not to long to know.
In another minute, Mr. Bingley, but without seeming to have noticed what passed, took
leave and rode on with his friend.
Mr. Denny and Mr. Wickham walked with the young ladies to the door of Mr. Phillip's
house, and then made their bows, in spite of Miss Lydia's pressing entreaties that
they should come in, and even in spite of
Mrs. Phillips's throwing up the parlour window and loudly seconding the invitation.
Mrs. Phillips was always glad to see her nieces; and the two eldest, from their
recent absence, were particularly welcome, and she was eagerly expressing her surprise
at their sudden return home, which, as
their own carriage had not fetched them, she should have known nothing about, if she
had not happened to see Mr. Jones's shop- boy in the street, who had told her that
they were not to send any more draughts to
Netherfield because the Miss Bennets were come away, when her civility was claimed
towards Mr. Collins by Jane's introduction of him.
She received him with her very best politeness, which he returned with as much
more, apologising for his intrusion, without any previous acquaintance with her,
which he could not help flattering himself,
however, might be justified by his relationship to the young ladies who
introduced him to her notice.
Mrs. Phillips was quite awed by such an excess of good breeding; but her
contemplation of one stranger was soon put to an end by exclamations and inquiries
about the other; of whom, however, she
could only tell her nieces what they already knew, that Mr. Denny had brought
him from London, and that he was to have a lieutenant's commission in the ----shire.
She had been watching him the last hour, she said, as he walked up and down the
street, and had Mr. Wickham appeared, Kitty and Lydia would certainly have continued
the occupation, but unluckily no one passed
windows now except a few of the officers, who, in comparison with the stranger, were
become "stupid, disagreeable fellows."
Some of them were to dine with the Phillipses the next day, and their aunt
promised to make her husband call on Mr. Wickham, and give him an invitation also,
if the family from Longbourn would come in the evening.
This was agreed to, and Mrs. Phillips protested that they would have a nice
comfortable noisy game of lottery tickets, and a little bit of hot supper afterwards.
The prospect of such delights was very cheering, and they parted in mutual good
Mr. Collins repeated his apologies in quitting the room, and was assured with
unwearying civility that they were perfectly needless.
As they walked home, Elizabeth related to Jane what she had seen pass between the two
gentlemen; but though Jane would have defended either or both, had they appeared
to be in the wrong, she could no more explain such behaviour than her sister.
Mr. Collins on his return highly gratified Mrs. Bennet by admiring Mrs. Phillips's
manners and politeness.
He protested that, except Lady Catherine and her daughter, he had never seen a more
elegant woman; for she had not only received him with the utmost civility, but
even pointedly included him in her
invitation for the next evening, although utterly unknown to her before.
Something, he supposed, might be attributed to his connection with them, but yet he had
never met with so much attention in the whole course of his life.
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Chapter 15 - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

2509 Folder Collection
羅致 published on June 3, 2014
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