That evening, Anne, Catherine, and their parents put on their second bests and walked less than a mile to Rosings Park itself. As they entered the enormous hall, Anne and Catherine, though they had been dining there since they were 8, were awed. The contrast between their parsonage and this mansion always struck them.
Eventually they reached the parlor, the only one used by Lady Catherine, and were greeted by the grand Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
"Ah, Mr.Collins, I see you have come, and brought your wife and daughters with you. Sit down. Shall I call for refreshments?" As she spoke, she motioned a servant standing behind her large cushioned chair to come nearer.
Mr.Collins immediately responded. " Ah, uh, no madam, we are quite, quite, content. As you know it is only a short walk-"
"Perhaps your wife and daughters would have some tea and cake, though you require none." She looked closely at him.
" Whatever you would prefer, my lady. I and my humble family only-"
"Rupert, bring tea and cake for the ladies", she said, interrupting Mr.Collins again, and turning toward the servant.
"Yes ma'am", the servant replied, as he exited the room with a bow.
"Mrs.Collins, I hear you are feeling unwell. Is this true?". Lady Catherine inquired, turning towards Mrs.Collins, who was seated across from her on a couch next to her daughters.
" Yes, my lady. I fear the weather here has not been good for my constitution."
"Then I hope this news will please you. You have heard of my nephew, Mr.Darcy, of Pemberly, have you not?"
"Yes, ma'am, I know of whom you speak."
"He has informed me that he and his family, and some others, are going to London shortly. My niece, Georgianna, is to be married, and they are going to London to arrange her trousseau. My nephew attends church, at least that is my presumption, and he has informed me that the preacher of the church in London has been called elsewhere." She now turned to Mr.Collins, who opened his mouth to speak. Ignoring him, she continued.
"He inquired whether you, Mr.Collins, would be willing to leave this parish for a time and replace Mr.Lowett, the preacher, you see. He says his wife, Elizabeth, has been wanting to see her old friend, your wife. Are you aware and do you understand the circumstances I am relating to you?"
Mr.Collins looked at his wife, looked back at Lady Catherine, and made a deep bow.
"Very well. You have a fortnight to consider my nephew's proposition. If you decide to accept, you will stay in an inn, suitable to your needs, close to the church. Now,young lady," she began, and turning to Anne, looked at her from top to bottom.
"Yes, madam?", Anne replied, in almost a whisper. Already stunned from the news just related to her and her family, she could not imagine what this lady had to say to her.
"How old are you?"
"I am not yet 20, madam."
"It is about time you came out. London is the best place to do so. Have you enough ball gowns, evening dresses, and slippers?"
"Uh, no madam. I have no such articles of clothing. I am the daughter of a Reverand- it is unlikely I would attend such affairs, my lady."
"You will. I happen to know that your father himself attended several balls and evening parties.Is this not true, Mr.Collins?" She turned to that gentleman, who seemed a little bafffled, but instantly responded.
"Ah, yes, my lady. It was my great fortune to meet your nephew, Mr.Darcy, on one such occasion. Indeed, I did not enjoy these things a little." He smiled and nodded slowly.
"Then your daughter must come out in London. As you do not have the means to provide all she needs, I will provide you with 100 pounds for each of your daughters, as I see your other one will also need clothing."
"Madam, I cannot more humbly accept such an offer,and I assure you, your orders will be obeyed with the utmost-"
"Mr.Collins, I must retire, and your family should do so as well. Rupert (who had returned at one point), show Mr.Collins and his family out. I hope you enjoyed your visit, you always do. Remember, one fortnight. The church in London cannot wait forever."