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Driving through the extensive Pemberley grounds to the handsome house, Elizabeth finds everything beautiful. She reflects that she might now have been mistress of all this. But then she remembers that her beloved uncle and aunt could not have been with her here. Darcy would consider them "inferior."
As was the custom at great houses in England, the travelers are welcomed, and the housekeeper gives them a tour of the house. Elizabeth hears with relief that Darcy is not expected until the following day. Relaxing, she looks at the fine rooms, the views, the furniture, and the pleasing decorations.
On learning that Elizabeth knows Darcy "a little," the housekeeper begins to praise him-his handsomeness, his good temper, his goodness to his sister, his generosity to his servants and tenants. She has known him, she says, since he was four years old and has never heard a cross word from him.
Elizabeth is shaken by this. She stands before his portrait in the family picture gallery. His face in the painting wears a smile that she has seen only sometimes when he was looking at her. Elizabeth's feelings toward him are changing. She is forgetting her anger at him and remembering only his love for her. She feels, for the first time, grateful for that love.
The mood of this chapter has been suspenseful, and now suddenly the suspense comes to a head. The visitors have left the house and are about to be shown through the grounds when Darcy suddenly appears around the corner of the house from the stables, where he has evidently just dismounted from his horse.
He and Elizabeth both stop, startled at this unexpected meeting. He astonishes her by coming to greet her. He asks after her family and speaks with a gentleness she has never heard from him before.
He leaves her, and she and the Gardiners begin their walk. But in a few minutes Darcy again appears. He asks to be introduced to the Gardiners, whom Elizabeth had expected him to scorn. He joins her uncle in conversation, invites him to fish in the Pemberley trout stream while he is in the neighborhood, and even offers to supply him with fishing tackle.
To Elizabeth, who is still embarrassed at his finding her there, he explains that he has indeed come home a day before he was expected. He tells her that the Bingleys will be coming the next day and that his sister will be with them. He asks Elizabeth's permission to introduce his sister to her, an extraordinary compliment. The walk, uneasy for them both, comes to an end. Darcy helps the ladies into their carriage and then departs with utmost politeness.
On the way back to their inn, her uncle and aunt comment on their pleasant impression of Darcy, whom Elizabeth had formerly described as so disagreeable. She answers that she has never seen him so pleasant before. She also hints that she has reliable information about his treatment of Wickham, different from what she had before. Inwardly, Elizabeth is amazed. Darcy clearly holds no grudge from their last meeting. She can think of nothing but his changed behavior to her, and she wonders what it means.