Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 56
She entered the room with an air more than usually ungracious, made no other reply to Elizabeth's salutation than a slight inclination of the head, and sat down without saying a word. Elizabeth had mentioned her name to her mother on her ladyship's entrance, though no request of introduction had been made.Mrs. Bennet, all amazement, though flattered by having a guest of such high importance, received her with the utmost politeness. After sitting for a moment in silence, she said very stiffly to Elizabeth,
``I hope you are well, Miss Bennet. That lady, I suppose, is your mother.''
Elizabeth replied very concisely that she was.
``And that I suppose is one of your sisters.''
``Yes, madam,'' said Mrs. Bennet, delighted to speak to a Lady Catherine. ``She is my youngest girl but one. My youngest of all is lately married, and my eldest is somewhere about the grounds, walking with a young man who, I believe, will soon become a part of the family.''
``You have a very small park here,'' returned Lady Catherine after a short silence.
``It is nothing in comparison of Rosings, my lady, I dare say; but I assure you it is much larger than Sir William Lucas's.''
``This must be a most inconvenient sitting room for the evening, in summer; the windows are full west.''
Mrs. Bennet assured her that they never sat there after dinner, and then added,
``May I take the liberty of asking your ladyship whether you left Mr. and Mrs. Collins well.''
``Yes, very well. I saw them the night before last.''
Elizabeth now expected that she would produce a letter for her from Charlotte, as it seemed the only probable motive for her calling. But no letter appeared, and she was completely puzzled.
Mrs. Bennet, with great civility, begged her ladyship to take some refreshment; but Lady Catherine very resolutely, and not very politely, declined eating any thing; and then, rising up, said toElizabeth,
``Miss Bennet, there seemed to be a prettyish kind of a little wilderness on one side of your lawn. I should be glad to take a turn in it, if you will favour me with your company.''
``Go, my dear,'' cried her mother, ``and shew her ladyship about the different walks. I think she will be pleased with the hermitage.''
Elizabeth obeyed, and running into her own room for her parasol, attended her noble guest down stairs. As they passed through the hall, Lady Catherine opened the doors into the dining-parlour anddrawing-room, and pronouncing them, after a short survey, to be decent looking rooms, walked on...