Mr. Rushworth was at the door to receive his fair lady; and the whole party were
welcomed by him with due attention. In the drawing-room they were met with
equal cordiality by the mother, and Miss Bertram had all the distinction with each
that she could wish. After the business of arriving was over, it was first necessary
to eat, and the doors were thrown open to admit them through one or two
intermediate rooms into the appointed dining-parlour, where a collation was
prepared with abundance and elegance. Much was said, and much was ate, and
all went well. The particular object of the day was then considered. How would
Mr. Crawford like, in what manner would he choose, to take a survey of the
grounds? Mr. Rushworth mentioned his curricle. Mr. Crawford suggested the
greater desirableness of some carriage which might convey more than two. "To
be depriving themselves of the advantage of other eyes and other judgments,
might be an evil even beyond the loss of present pleasure."
Mrs. Rushworth proposed that the chaise should be taken also; but this was
scarcely received as an amendment: the young ladies neither smiled nor spoke.
Her next proposition, of showing the house to such of them as had not been
there before, was more acceptable, for Miss Bertram was pleased to have its
size displayed, and all were glad to be doing something.
The whole party rose accordingly, and under Mrs. Rushworth's guidance were
shown through a number of rooms, all lofty, and many large, and amply furnished
in the taste of fifty years back, with shining floors, solid mahogany, rich damask,
marble, gilding, and carving, each handsome in its way. Of pictures there were
abundance, and some few good, but the larger part were family portraits, no
longer anything to anybody but Mrs. Rushworth, who had been at great pains to
learn all that the housekeeper could teach, and was now almost equally well
qualified to show the house. On the present occasion she addressed herself
chiefly to Miss Crawford and Fanny, but there was no comparison in the
willingness of their attention; for Miss Crawford, who had seen scores of great
houses, and cared for none of them, had only the appearance of civilly listening,
while Fanny, to whom everything was almost as interesting as it was new,
attended with unaffected earnestness to all that Mrs. Rushworth could relate of
the family in former times, its rise and grandeur, regal visits and loyal efforts,
delighted to connect anything with history already known, or warm her
imagination with scenes of the past.
The situation of the house excluded the possibility of much prospect from any of
the rooms; and while Fanny and some of the others were attending Mrs.
Rushworth, Henry Crawford was looking grave and shaking his head at the
windows. Every room on the west front looked across a lawn to the beginning of
the avenue immediately beyond tall iron palisades and gates.
Having visited many more rooms than could be supposed to be of any other use
than to contribute to the window-tax, and find employment for housemaids,
"Now," said Mrs. Rushworth, "we are coming to the chapel, which properly we