From the drawing-room they could distinguish nothing in the lane, and were indebted to Mr. Collins for the knowledge of what carriages went along, and how often especially Miss de Bourgh drove by in her phaeton, which he never failed coming to inform them of, though it happened almost every day. She not unfrequently stopped at the Parsonage and had a few minutes' conversation with Charlotte, but was scarcely ever prevailed upon to get out.
Now and then they were honoured with a call from her ladyship, and nothing escaped her observation during these visits. She examined into their employments, looked at their work, and advised them to do it differently, found fault with the arrangement of the furniture, detected the housemaid in negligence; and if she accepted any refreshment, seemed to do it only for the sake of finding out that Mrs. Collins's joints of meat were too large for her family.
Lizzy soon perceived, that though this great lady was not in commission of the peace of the county, she was a most active magistrate in her own parish, the minutest concerns of which were carried to her by Mr. Collins. Whenever any of the cottagers were disposed to be quarrelsome, discontented, or too poor, she sallied forth into the village to settle their differences, silence their complaints, and scold them into harmony and plenty.
With the dream still clinging to her, Lizzy was glad to hear that Mr. Collins and Charlotte were to visit Lady Catherine. Maria opted to stay at the parsonage and tend to her embroidery, leaving Lizzy the option to go for a walk for as long as needed, and she expected she would require a very lengthy stroll to dispel the disquiet in her body.
The weather, being uncommonly warm for early spring, complied. Lizzy took her favourite walk along an open grove that edged that side of the park where there was a nice sheltered path, which no one seemed to value but herself, and where she felt beyond the reach of Lady Catherine's curiosity.
She had walked a good two hours, at a brisk pace so as to discourage her from dwelling upon unwanted thoughts, and found herself on the far side of the parish before contemplating that she ought to head back. The path she had taken wound through a small woodland and down a rocky knoll, concluding at a dirt road. A hill rose on the other side of the road, and, desiring to see what sort of vista could be availed from its crown, she decided to make her way down the knoll toward the road. Her slippers, comfortable but worn, made for a precarious descent. One foot slipped along a level rock, causing her to lose her balance and tumble the rest of the way to the road. Though jarred, she picked herself up and was grateful that she had sustained no serious injury, only a few scrapes against her arms and legs, and a bruise upon her buttock where she had struck a rock.