``I have heard much of your master's fine person,'' said Mrs. Gardiner, looking at the picture; ``it is a handsome face. But, Lizzy, you can tell us whether it is like or not.''
Mrs. Reynolds's respect for Elizabeth seemed to increase on this intimation of her knowing her master.
``Does that young lady know Mr. Darcy?''
Elizabeth coloured, and said -- ``A little.''
``And do not you think him a very handsome gentleman, Ma'am?''
``Yes, very handsome.''
``I am sure I know none so handsome; but in the gallery up stairs you will see a finer, larger picture of him than this. This room was my late master's favourite room, and these miniatures are just as they used to be then. He was very fond of them.''
This accounted to Elizabeth for Mr. Wickham's being among them.
Mrs. Reynolds then directed their attention to one of Miss Darcy, drawn when she was only eight years old.
``And is Miss Darcy as handsome as her brother?'' said Mr. Gardiner.
``Oh! yes -- the handsomest young lady that ever was seen; and so accomplished! -- She plays and sings all day long. In the next room is a new instrument just come down for her -- a present from my master; she comes here to-morrow with him.''
Mr. Gardiner, whose manners were easy and pleasant, encouraged her communicativeness by his questions and remarks; Mrs. Reynolds, either from pride or attachment, had evidently great pleasure in talking of her master and his sister.
``Is your master much at Pemberley in the course of the year?''
``Not so much as I could wish, Sir; but I dare say he may spend half his time here; and Miss Darcy is always down for the summer months.''
``Except,'' thought Elizabeth, ``when she goes to Ramsgate.''
``If your master would marry, you might see more of him.''
``Yes, Sir; but I do not know when that will be. I do not know who is good enough for him.''
Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner smiled. Elizabeth could not help saying, ``It is very much to his credit, I am sure, that you should think so.''
``I say no more than the truth, and what every body will say that knows him,'' replied the other. Elizabeth thought this was going pretty far; and she listened with increasing astonishment as the housekeeper added, ``I have never had a cross word from him in my life, and I have known him ever since he was four years old.''
This was praise, of all others most extraordinary, most opposite to her ideas. That he was not a good tempered man had been her firmest opinion. Her keenest attention was awakened; she longed to hear more, and was grateful to her uncle for saying,
``There are very few people of whom so much can be said. You are lucky in having such a master.''
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