DURING dinner, Mr. Bennet scarcely spoke at all; but when the servants were withdrawn
, he thought it time to have some conversation with his guest, and therefore started a subject in which he expected him to shine, by observing that he seemed very fortunate in his patroness. Lady Catherine de Bourgh's attention to his wishes, and consideration for his comfort, appeared very remarkable. Mr. Bennet could not have chosen better. Mr. Collins was eloquent
in her praise. The subject elevated him to more than usual solemnity
of manner, and with a most important aspect he protested that he had never in his life witnessed such behaviour in a person of rank -- such affability
, as he had himself experienced from Lady Catherine. She had been graciously
pleased to approve of both the discourses which he had already had the honour of preaching
before her. She had also asked him twice to dine at Rosings, and had sent for him only the Saturday before, to make up her pool of quadrille
in the evening. Lady Catherine was reckoned
proud by many people he knew, but he had never seen any thing but affability in her. She had always spoken to him as she would to any other gentleman; she made not the smallest objection to his joining in the society of the neighbourhood, nor to his leaving his parish
occasionally for a week or two, to visit his relations. She had even condescended to advise him to marry as soon as he could, provided he chose with discretion
; and had once paid him a visit in his humble parsonage; where she had perfectly approved all the alterations he had been making, and had even vouchsafed
to suggest some herself, -- some shelves in the closets up stairs.
"That is all very proper and civil I am sure," said Mrs. Bennet, "and I dare say she is a very agreeable woman. It is a pity that great ladies in general are not more like her. Does she live near you, sir?"
"The garden in which stands my humble abode is separated only by a lane from Rosings Park, her ladyship's residence."
"I think you said she was a widow, sir? has she any family?"
"She has one only daughter, the heiress
of Rosings, and of very extensive property."
"Ah!" cried Mrs. Bennet, shaking her head, "then she is better off than many girls. And what sort of young lady is she? is she handsome?"
"She is a most charming young lady indeed. Lady Catherine herself says that in point of true beauty, Miss De Bourgh is far superior to the handsomest of her sex; because there is that in her features which marks the young woman of distinguished birth. She is unfortunately of a sickly constitution, which has prevented her making that progress in many accomplishments which she could not otherwise have failed of; as I am informed by the lady who superintended
her education, and who still resides
with them. But she is perfectly amiable
, and often condescends to drive by my humble abode
in her little phaeton
"Has she been presented? I do not remember her name among the ladies at court."