Miss Bingley's letter arrived,
and put an end to doubt.
The very first sentence conveyed the assurance of their being all settled in London for the winter,
and concluded with her brother's regret at not having had time to pay his respects to his friends in Hertfordshire before he left the country.
Hope was over,
and when Jane could attend to the rest of the letter,
she found little,
except the professed affection of the writer,
that could give her any comfort.
Miss Darcy's praise occupied the chief of it.
Her many attractions were again dwelt on,
and Caroline boasted joyfully of their increasing intimacy,
and ventured to predict the accomplishment of the wishes which had been unfolded in her former letter.
She wrote also with great pleasure of her brother's being an inmate of Mr. Darcy's house,
and mentioned with raptures,
some plans of the latter with regard to new furniture.
to whom Jane very soon communicated the chief of all this,
heard it in silent indignation.
Her heart was divided between concern for her sister,
and resentment against all the others.
To Caroline's assertion of her brother's being partial to Miss Darcy she paid no credit.
That he was really fond of Jane,
she doubted no more than she had ever done;
and much as she had always been disposed to like him,
she could not think without anger,
hardly without contempt,
on that easiness of temper,
that want of proper resolution which now made him the slave of his designing friends,
and led him to sacrifice his own happiness to the caprice of their inclinations.
Had his own happiness,
been the only sacrifice,
he might have been allowed to sport with it in what ever manner he thought best;
but her sister's was involved in it,
as she thought he must be sensible himself.
It was a subject,
on which reflection would be long indulged,
and must be unavailing.
She could think of nothing else,
and yet whether Bingley's regard had really died away,
or were suppressed by his friends' interference;
whether he had been aware of Jane's attachment,
or whether it had escaped his observation;
whichever were the case,
though her opinion of him must be materially affected by the difference,
her sister's situation remained the same,
her peace equally wounded.
A day or two passed before Jane had courage to speak of her feelings to Elizabeth;
but at last on Mrs. Bennet's leaving them together,
after a longer irritation than usual about Netherfield and its master,
she could not help saying,
that my dear mother had more command over herself;
she can have no idea of the pain she gives me by her continual reflections on him.
But I will not repine.
It cannot last long.
He will be forgot,
and we shall all be as we were before."
Elizabeth looked at her sister with incredulous solicitude,
but said nothing.
"You doubt me,"
"indeed you have no reason.
He may live in my memory as the most amiable man of my acquaintance,
but that is all.
I have nothing either to hope or fear,
and nothing to reproach him with.
I have not _that_ pain.
A little time therefore.
--I shall certainly try to get the better."
With a stronger voice she soon added,
"I have this comfort immediately,
that it has not been more than an error of fancy on my side,
and that it has done no harm to any one but myself."
"My dear Jane!"
"you are too good.
Your sweetness and disinterestedness are really angelic;
I do not know what to say to you.
I feel as if I had never done you justice,
or loved you as you deserve."
Miss Bennet eagerly disclaimed all extraordinary merit,
and threw back the praise on her sister's warm affection.
"this is not fair.
_You_ wish to think all the world respectable,
and are hurt if I speak ill of any body.
_I_ only want to think _you_ perfect,
and you set yourself against it.
Do not be afraid of my running into any excess,
of my encroaching on your privilege of universal good will.
You need not.
There are few people whom I really love,
and still fewer of whom I think well.
The more I see of the world,
the more am I dissatisfied with it;
and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters,
and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of either merit or sense.
I have met with two instances lately;
one I will not mention;
the other is Charlotte's marriage.
It is unaccountable!
in every view it is unaccountable!"
"My dear Lizzy,
do not give way to such feelings as these.
They will ruin your happiness.
You do not make allowance enough for difference of situation and temper.
Consider Mr. Collins's respectability,
and Charlotte's prudent,
Remember that she is one of a large family;
that as to fortune,
it is a most eligible match;
and be ready to believe,
for every body's sake,
that she may feel something like regard and esteem for our cousin."
"To oblige you,
I would try to believe almost any thing,
but no one else could be benefited by such a belief as this;
for were I persuaded that Charlotte had any regard for him,
I should only think worse of her understanding,
than I now do of her heart.
My dear Jane,
Mr. Collins is a conceited,
you know he is,
as well as I do;
and you must feel,
as well as I do,
that the woman who marries him,
cannot have a proper way of thinking.
You shall not defend her,
though it is Charlotte Lucas.
You shall not,
for the sake of one individual,
change the meaning of principle and integrity,
nor endeavour to persuade yourself or me,
that selfishness is prudence,
and insensibility of danger,
security for happiness."
"I must think your language too strong in speaking of both,"
"and I hope you will be convinced of it,
by seeing them happy together.
But enough of this.
You alluded to something else.
You mentioned _two_ instances.
I cannot misunderstand you,
but I intreat you,
not to pain me by thinking _that person_ to blame,
and saying your opinion of him is sunk.
We must not be so ready to fancy ourselves intentionally injured.
We must not expect a lively young man to be always so guarded and circumspect.
It is very often nothing but our own vanity that deceives us.
Women fancy admiration means more than it does."
"And men take care that they should."
"If it is designedly done,
they cannot be justified;
but I have no idea of there being so much design in the world as some persons imagine."
"I am far from attributing any part of Mr. Bingley's conduct to design,"
"but without scheming to do wrong,
or to make others unhappy,
there may be error,
and there may be misery.
want of attention to other people's feelings,
and want of resolution,
will do the business."
"And do you impute it to either of those?"
to the last.
But if I go on,
I shall displease you by saying what I think of persons you esteem.
Stop me whilst you can."
in supposing his sisters influence him."
in conjunction with his friend."
"I cannot believe it.
Why should they try to influence him?
They can only wish his happiness,
and if he is attached to me,
no other woman can secure it."
"Your first position is false.
They may wish many things besides his happiness;
they may wish his increase of wealth and consequence;
they may wish him to marry a girl who has all the importance of money,
"Beyond a doubt,
they _do_ wish him to chuse Miss Darcy,"
"but this may be from better feelings than you are supposing.
They have known her much longer than they have known me;
no wonder if they love her better.
whatever may be their own wishes,
it is very unlikely they should have opposed their brother's.
What sister would think herself at liberty to do it,
unless there were something very objectionable?
If they believed him attached to me,
they would not try to part us;
if he were so,
they could not succeed.
By supposing such an affection,
you make every body acting unnaturally and wrong,
and me most unhappy.
Do not distress me by the idea.
I am not ashamed of having been mistaken --or,
it is slight,
it is nothing in comparison of what I should feel in thinking ill of him or his sisters.
Let me take it in the best light,
in the light in which it may be understood."
Elizabeth could not oppose such a wish;
and from this time Mr. Bingley's name was scarcely ever mentioned between them.
Mrs. Bennet still continued to wonder and repine at his returning no more,
and though a day seldom passed in which Elizabeth did not account for it clearly,
there seemed little chance of her ever considering it with less perplexity.
Her daughter endeavoured to convince her of what she did not believe herself,
that his attentions to Jane had been merely the effect of a common and transient liking,
which ceased when he saw her no more;
but though the probability of the statement was admitted at the time,
she had the same story to repeat every day.
Mrs. Bennet's best comfort was,
that Mr. Bingley must be down again in the summer.
Mr. Bennet treated the matter differently.
said he one day,
"your sister is crossed in love I find.
I congratulate her.
Next to being married,
a girl likes to be crossed in love a little now and then.
It is something to think of,
and gives her a sort of distinction among her companions.
When is your turn to come?
You will hardly bear to be long outdone by Jane.
Now is your time.
Here are officers enough at Meryton to disappoint all the young ladies in the country.
Let Wickham be _your_ man.
He is a pleasant fellow,
and would jilt you creditably."
but a less agreeable man would satisfy me.
We must not all expect Jane's good fortune."
said Mr. Bennet,
"but it is a comfort to think that,
whatever of that kind may befal you,
you have an affectionate mother who will always make the most of it."
Mr. Wickham's society was of material service in dispelling the gloom,
which the late perverse occurrences had thrown on many of the Longbourn family.
They saw him often,
and to his other recommendations was now added that of general unreserve.
The whole of what Elizabeth had already heard,
his claims on Mr. Darcy,
and all that he had suffered from him,
was now openly acknowledged and publicly canvassed;
and every body was pleased to think how much they had always disliked Mr. Darcy before they had known any thing of the matter.
Miss Bennet was the only creature who could suppose there might be any extenuating circumstances in the case,
unknown to the society of Hertfordshire;
her mild and steady candour always pleaded for allowances,
and urged the possibility of mistakes --but by everybody else Mr. Darcy was condemned as the worst of men.
After a week spent in professions of love and schemes of felicity,
Mr. Collins was called from his amiable Charlotte by the arrival of Saturday.
The pain of separation,
might be alleviated on his side,
by preparations for the reception of his bride,
as he had reason to hope,
that shortly after his next return into Hertfordshire,
the day would be fixed that was to make him the happiest of men.
He took leave of his relations at Longbourn with as much solemnity as before;
wished his fair cousins health and happiness again,
and promised their father another letter of thanks.
On the following Monday,
Mrs. Bennet had the pleasure of receiving her brother and his wife,
who came as usual to spend the Christmas at Longbourn.
Mr. Gardiner was a sensible,
greatly superior to his sister,
as well by nature as education.
The Netherfield ladies would have had difficulty in believing that a man who lived by trade,
and within view of his own warehouses,
could have been so well bred and agreeable.
who was several years younger than Mrs. Bennet and Mrs. Philips,
was an amiable,
and a great favourite with all her Longbourn nieces.
Between the two eldest and herself especially,
there subsisted a very particular regard.
They had frequently been staying with her in town.
The first part of Mrs. Gardiner's business on her arrival,
was to distribute her presents and describe the newest fashions.
When this was done,
she had a less active part to play.
It became her turn to listen.
Mrs. Bennet had many grievances to relate,
and much to complain of.
They had all been very ill-used since she last saw her sister.
Two of her girls had been on the point of marriage,
and after all there was nothing in it.
"I do not blame Jane,"
"for Jane would have got Mr. Bingley,
if she could.
it is very hard to think that she might have been Mr. Collins's wife by this time,
had not it been for her own perverseness.
He made her an offer in this very room,
and she refused him.
The consequence of it is,
that Lady Lucas will have a daughter married before I have,
and that Longbourn estate is just as much entailed as ever.
The Lucases are very artful people indeed,
They are all for what they can get.
I am sorry to say it of them,
but so it is.
It makes me very nervous and poorly,
to be thwarted so in my own family,
and to have neighbours who think of themselves before anybody else.
your coming just at this time is the greatest of comforts,
and I am very glad to hear what you tell us,
of long sleeves."
to whom the chief of this news had been given before,
in the course of Jane and Elizabeth's correspondence with her,
made her sister a slight answer,
and in compassion to her nieces turned the conversation.
When alone with Elizabeth afterwards,
she spoke more on the subject.
"It seems likely to have been a desirable match for Jane,"
"I am sorry it went off.
But these things happen so often!
A young man,
such as you describe Mr. Bingley,
so easily falls in love with a pretty girl for a few weeks,
and when accident separates them,
so easily forgets her,
that these sort of inconstancies are very frequent."
"An excellent consolation in its way,"
"but it will not do for _us_.
We do not suffer by _accident_.
It does not often happen that the interference of friends will persuade a young man of independent fortune to think no more of a girl,
whom he was violently in love with only a few days before."
"But that expression of
'violently in love' is so hackneyed,
that it gives me very little idea.
It is as often applied to feelings which arise from an half-hour's acquaintance,
as to a real,
how _violent was_ Mr. Bingley's love?"
"I never saw a more promising inclination.
He was growing quite inattentive to other people,
and wholly engrossed by her.
Every time they met,
it was more decided and remarkable.
At his own ball he offended two or three young ladies,
by not asking them to dance,
and I spoke to him twice myself,
without receiving an answer.
Could there be finer symptoms?
Is not general incivility the very essence of love?"
--of that kind of love which I suppose him to have felt.
I am sorry for her,
with her disposition,
she may not get over it immediately.
It had better have happened to _you_,
you would have laughed yourself out of it sooner.
But do you think she would be prevailed on to go back with us?
Change of scene might be of service --and perhaps a little relief from home,
may be as useful as anything."
Elizabeth was exceedingly pleased with this proposal,
and felt persuaded of her sister's ready acquiescence.
added Mrs. Gardiner,
"that no consideration with regard to this young man will influence her.
We live in so different a part of town,
all our connections are so different,
as you well know,
we go out so little,
that it is very improbable they should meet at all,
unless he really comes to see her."
"And _that_ is quite impossible;
for he is now in the custody of his friend,
and Mr. Darcy would no more suffer him to call on Jane in such a part of London!
My dear aunt,
how could you think of it?
Mr. Darcy may perhaps have _heard_ of such a place as Gracechurch Street,
but he would hardly think a month's ablution enough to cleanse him from its impurities,
were he once to enter it;
and depend upon it,
Mr. Bingley never stirs without him."
"So much the better.
I hope they will not meet at all.
But does not Jane correspond with the sister?
_She_ will not be able to help calling."
"She will drop the acquaintance entirely."
But in spite of the certainty in which Elizabeth affected to place this point,
as well as the still more interesting one of Bingley's being withheld from seeing Jane,
she felt a solicitude on the subject which convinced her,
that she did not consider it entirely hopeless.
It was possible,
and sometimes she thought it probable,
that his affection might be re-animated,
and the influence of his friends successfully combated by the more natural influence of Jane's attractions.
Miss Bennet accepted her aunt's invitation with pleasure;
and the Bingleys were no otherwise in her thoughts at the time,
than as she hoped that,
by Caroline's not living in the same house with her brother,
she might occasionally spend a morning with her,
without any danger of seeing him.
The Gardiners staid a week at Longbourn;
and what with the Philipses,
and the officers,
there was not a day without its engagement.
Mrs. Bennet had so carefully provided for the entertainment of her brother and sister,
that they did not once sit down to a family dinner.
When the engagement was for home,
some of the officers always made part of it,
of which officers Mr. Wickham was sure to be one;
and on these occasions,
rendered suspicious by Elizabeth's warm commendation of him,
narrowly observed them both.
Without supposing them,
from what she saw,
to be very seriously in love,
their preference of each other was plain enough to make her a little uneasy;
and she resolved to speak to Elizabeth on the subject before she left Hertfordshire,
and represent to her the imprudence of encouraging such an attachment.
To Mrs. Gardiner,
Wickham had one means of affording pleasure,
unconnected with his general powers.
About ten or a dozen years ago,
before her marriage,
she had spent a considerable time in that very part of Derbyshire,
to which he belonged.
many acquaintance in common;
though Wickham had been little there since the death of Darcy's father,
five years before,
it was yet in his power to give her fresher intelligence of her former friends,
than she had been in the way of procuring.
Mrs. Gardiner had seen Pemberley,
and known the late Mr. Darcy by character perfectly well.
Here consequently was an inexhaustible subject of discourse.
In comparing her recollection of Pemberley,
with the minute description which Wickham could give,
and in bestowing her tribute of praise on the character of its late possessor,
she was delighting both him and herself.
On being made acquainted with the present Mr. Darcy's treatment of him,
she tried to remember something of that gentleman's reputed disposition when quite a lad,
which might agree with it,
and was confident at last,
that she recollected having heard Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy formerly spoken of as a very proud,
Mrs. Gardiner's caution to Elizabeth was punctually and kindly given on the first favourable opportunity of speaking to her alone;
after honestly telling her what she thought,
she thus went on:
"You are too sensible a girl,
to fall in love merely because you are warned against it;
I am not afraid of speaking openly.
I would have you be on your guard.
Do not involve yourself,
or endeavour to involve him in an affection which the want of fortune would make so very imprudent.
I have nothing to say against _him_;
he is a most interesting young man;
and if he had the fortune he ought to have,
I should think you could not do better.
But as it is --you must not let your fancy run away with you.
You have sense,
and we all expect you to use it.
Your father would depend on _your_ resolution and good conduct,
I am sure.
You must not disappoint your father."
"My dear aunt,
this is being serious indeed."
and I hope to engage you to be serious likewise."
you need not be under any alarm.
I will take care of myself,
and of Mr. Wickham too.
He shall not be in love with me,
if I can prevent it."
you are not serious now."
"I beg your pardon.
I will try again.
At present I am not in love with Mr. Wickham;
I certainly am not.
But he is,
beyond all comparison,
the most agreeable man I ever saw --and if he becomes really attached to me --I believe it will be better that he should not.
I see the imprudence of it.
_that_ abominable Mr. Darcy!
--My father's opinion of me does me the greatest honour;
and I should be miserable to forfeit it.
is partial to Mr. Wickham.
my dear aunt,
I should be very sorry to be the means of making any of you unhappy;
but since we see every day that where there is affection,
young people are seldom withheld by immediate want of fortune,
from entering into engagements with each other,
how can I promise to be wiser than so many of my fellow creatures if I am tempted,
or how am I even to know that it would be wisdom to resist?
All that I can promise you,
is not to be in a hurry.
I will not be in a hurry to believe myself his first object.
When I am in company with him,
I will not be wishing.
I will do my best."
"Perhaps it will be as well,
if you discourage his coming here so very often.
you should not _remind_ your Mother of inviting him."
"As I did the other day,"
with a conscious smile;
it will be wise in me to refrain from _that_.
But do not imagine that he is always here so often.
It is on your account that he has been so frequently invited this week.
You know my mother's ideas as to the necessity of constant company for her friends.
and upon my honour,
I will try to do what I think to be wisest;
I hope you are satisfied."
Her aunt assured her that she was;
and Elizabeth having thanked her for the kindness of her hints,
a wonderful instance of advice being given on such a point,
without being resented.
Mr. Collins returned into Hertfordshire soon after it had been quitted by the Gardiners and Jane;
but as he took up his abode with the Lucases,
his arrival was no great inconvenience to Mrs. Bennet.
His marriage was now fast approaching,
and she was at length so far resigned as to think it inevitable,
and even repeatedly to say in an ill-natured tone that she "_wished_ they might be happy."
Thursday was to be the wedding day,
and on Wednesday Miss Lucas paid her farewell visit;
and when she rose to take leave,
ashamed of her mother's ungracious and reluctant good wishes,
and sincerely affected herself,
accompanied her out of the room.
As they went down stairs together,
"I shall depend on hearing from you very often,
"_That_ you certainly shall."
"And I have another favour to ask.
Will you come and see me?"
"We shall often meet,
"I am not likely to leave Kent for some time.
to come to Hunsford."
Elizabeth could not refuse,
though she foresaw little pleasure in the visit.
"My father and Maria are to come to me in March,"
"and I hope you will consent to be of the party.
you will be as welcome to me as either of them."
The wedding took place;
the bride and bridegroom set off for Kent from the church door,
and every body had as much to say or to hear on the subject as usual.
Elizabeth soon heard from her friend;
and their correspondence was as regular and frequent as it had ever been;
that it should be equally unreserved was impossible.
Elizabeth could never address her without feeling that all the comfort of intimacy was over,
though determined not to slacken as a correspondent,
it was for the sake of what had been,
rather than what was.
Charlotte's first letters were received with a good deal of eagerness;
there could not but be curiosity to know how she would speak of her new home,
how she would like Lady Catherine,
and how happy she would dare pronounce herself to be;
when the letters were read,
Elizabeth felt that Charlotte expressed herself on every point exactly as she might have foreseen.
She wrote cheerfully,
seemed surrounded with comforts,
and mentioned nothing which she could not praise.
were all to her taste,
and Lady Catherine's behaviour was most friendly and obliging.
It was Mr. Collins's picture of Hunsford and Rosings rationally softened;
and Elizabeth perceived that she must wait for her own visit there,
to know the rest.
Jane had already written a few lines to her sister to announce their safe arrival in London;
and when she wrote again,
Elizabeth hoped it would be in her power to say something of the Bingleys.
Her impatience for this second letter was as well rewarded as impatience generally is.
Jane had been a week in town,
without either seeing or hearing from Caroline.
She accounted for it,
by supposing that her last letter to her friend from Longbourn,
had by some accident been lost.
"is going to-morrow into that part of the town,
and I shall take the opportunity of calling in Grosvenor-street."
She wrote again when the visit was paid,
and she had seen Miss Bingley.
"I did not think Caroline in spirits,"
were her words,
"but she was very glad to see me,
and reproached me for giving her no notice of my coming to London.
I was right,
my last letter had never reached her.
I enquired after their brother,
He was well,
but so much engaged with Mr. Darcy,
that they scarcely ever saw him.
I found that Miss Darcy was expected to dinner.
I wish I could see her.
My visit was not long,
as Caroline and Mrs. Hurst were going out.
I dare say I shall soon see them here."
Elizabeth shook her head over this letter.
It convinced her,
that accident only could discover to Mr. Bingley her sister's being in town.
Four weeks passed away,
and Jane saw nothing of him.
She endeavoured to persuade herself that she did not regret it;
but she could no longer be blind to Miss Bingley's inattention.
After waiting at home every morning for a fortnight,
and inventing every evening a fresh excuse for her,
the visitor did at last appear;
but the shortness of her stay,
and yet more,
the alteration of her manner,
would allow Jane to deceive herself no longer.
The letter which she wrote on this occasion to her sister,
will prove what she felt.
"My dearest Lizzy will,
I am sure,
be incapable of triumphing in her better judgment,
at my expence,
when I confess myself to have been entirely deceived in Miss Bingley's regard for me.
my dear sister,
though the event has proved you right,
do not think me obstinate if I still assert,
considering what her behaviour was,
my confidence was as natural as your suspicion.
I do not at all comprehend her reason for wishing to be intimate with me,
but if the same circumstances were to happen again,
I am sure I should be deceived again.
Caroline did not return my visit till yesterday;
and not a note,
not a line,
did I receive in the mean time.
When she did come,
it was very evident that she had no pleasure in it;
she made a slight,
for not calling before,
said not a word of wishing to see me again,
and was in every respect so altered a creature,
that when she went away,
I was perfectly resolved to continue the acquaintance no longer.
though I cannot help blaming her.
She was very wrong in singling me out as she did;
I can safely say,
that every advance to intimacy began on her side.
But I pity her,
because she must feel that she has been acting wrong,
and because I am very sure that anxiety for her brother is the cause of it.
I need not explain myself farther;
and though _we_ know this anxiety to be quite needless,
yet if she feels it,
it will easily account for her behaviour to me;
and so deservedly dear as he is to his sister,
whatever anxiety she may feel on his behalf,
is natural and amiable.
I cannot but wonder,
at her having any such fears now,
if he had at all cared about me,
we must have met long,
He knows of my being in town,
I am certain,
from something she said herself;
and yet it should seem by her manner of talking,
as if she wanted to persuade herself that he is really partial to Miss Darcy.
I cannot understand it.
If I were not afraid of judging harshly,
I should be almost tempted to say,
that there is a strong appearance of duplicity in all this.
But I will endeavour to banish every painful thought,
and think only of what will make me happy,
and the invariable kindness of my dear uncle and aunt.
Let me hear from you very soon.
Miss Bingley said something of his never returning to Netherfield again,
of giving up the house,
but not with any certainty.
We had better not mention it.
I am extremely glad that you have such pleasant accounts from our friends at Hunsford.
Pray go to see them,
with Sir William and Maria.
I am sure you will be very comfortable there.
This letter gave Elizabeth some pain;
but her spirits returned as she considered that Jane would no longer be duped,
by the sister at least.
All expectation from the brother was now absolutely over.
She would not even wish for any renewal of his attentions.
His character sunk on every review of it;
and as a punishment for him,
as well as a possible advantage to Jane,
she seriously hoped he might really soon marry Mr. Darcy's sister,
by Wickham's account,
she would make him abundantly regret what he had thrown away.
Mrs. Gardiner about this time reminded Elizabeth of her promise concerning that gentleman,
and required information;
and Elizabeth had such to send as might rather give contentment to her aunt than to herself.
His apparent partiality had subsided,
his attentions were over,
he was the admirer of some one else.
Elizabeth was watchful enough to see it all,
but she could see it and write of it without material pain.
Her heart had been but slightly touched,
and her vanity was satisfied with believing that _she_ would have been his only choice,
had fortune permitted it.
The sudden acquisition of ten thousand pounds was the most remarkable charm of the young lady,
to whom he was now rendering himself agreeable;
less clear-sighted perhaps in his case than in Charlotte's,
did not quarrel with him for his wish of independence.
on the contrary,
could be more natural;
and while able to suppose that it cost him a few struggles to relinquish her,
she was ready to allow it a wise and desirable measure for both,
and could very sincerely wish him happy.
All this was acknowledged to Mrs. Gardiner;
and after relating the circumstances,
she thus went on: --"I am now convinced,
my dear aunt,
that I have never been much in love;
for had I really experienced that pure and elevating passion,
I should at present detest his very name,
and wish him all manner of evil.
But my feelings are not only cordial towards _him_;
they are even impartial towards Miss King.
I cannot find out that I hate her at all,
or that I am in the least unwilling to think her a very good sort of girl.
There can be no love in all this.
My watchfulness has been effectual;
and though I should certainly be a more interesting object to all my acquaintance,
were I distractedly in love with him,
I cannot say that I regret my comparative insignificance.
Importance may sometimes be purchased too dearly.
Kitty and Lydia take his defection much more to heart than I do.
They are young in the ways of the world,
and not yet open to the mortifying conviction that handsome young men must have something to live on,
as well as the plain."
With no greater events than these in the Longbourn family,
and otherwise diversified by little beyond the walks to Meryton,
sometimes dirty and sometimes cold,
did January and February pass away.
March was to take Elizabeth to Hunsford.
She had not at first thought very seriously of going thither;
she soon found,
was depending on the plan,
and she gradually learned to consider it herself with greater pleasure as well as greater certainty.
Absence had increased her desire of seeing Charlotte again,
and weakened her disgust of Mr. Collins.
There was novelty in the scheme,
with such a mother and such uncompanionable sisters,
home could not be faultless,
a little change was not unwelcome for its own sake.
The journey would moreover give her a peep at Jane;
as the time drew near,
she would have been very sorry for any delay.
went on smoothly,
and was finally settled according to Charlotte's first sketch.
She was to accompany Sir William and his second daughter.
The improvement of spending a night in London was added in time,
and the plan became perfect as plan could be.
The only pain was in leaving her father,
who would certainly miss her,
when it came to the point,
so little liked her going,
that he told her to write to him,
and almost promised to answer her letter.
The farewell between herself and Mr. Wickham was perfectly friendly;
on his side even more.
His present pursuit could not make him forget that Elizabeth had been the first to excite and to deserve his attention,
the first to listen and to pity,
the first to be admired;
and in his manner of bidding her adieu,
wishing her every enjoyment,
reminding her of what she was to expect in Lady Catherine de Bourgh,
and trusting their opinion of her --their opinion of every body --would always coincide,
there was a solicitude,
an interest which she felt must ever attach her to him with a most sincere regard;
and she parted from him convinced,
that whether married or single,
he must always be her model of the amiable and pleasing.
Her fellow-travellers the next day,
were not of a kind to make her think him less agreeable.
Sir William Lucas,
and his daughter Maria,
a good humoured girl,
but as empty-headed as himself,
had nothing to say that could be worth hearing,
and were listened to with about as much delight as the rattle of the chaise.
Elizabeth loved absurdities,
but she had known Sir William's too long.
He could tell her nothing new of the wonders of his presentation and knighthood;
and his civilities were worn out like his information.
It was a journey of only twenty-four miles,
and they began it so early as to be in Gracechurch-street by noon.
As they drove to Mr. Gardiner's door,
Jane was at a drawing-room window watching their arrival;
when they entered the passage she was there to welcome them,
looking earnestly in her face,
was pleased to see it healthful and lovely as ever.
On the stairs were a troop of little boys and girls,
whose eagerness for their cousin's appearance would not allow them to wait in the drawing-room,
and whose shyness,
as they had not seen her for a twelvemonth,
prevented their coming lower.
All was joy and kindness.
The day passed most pleasantly away;
the morning in bustle and shopping,
and the evening at one of the theatres.
Elizabeth then contrived to sit by her aunt.
Their first subject was her sister;
and she was more grieved than astonished to hear,
in reply to her minute enquiries,
that though Jane always struggled to support her spirits,
there were periods of dejection.
It was reasonable,
that they would not continue long.
Mrs. Gardiner gave her the particulars also of Miss Bingley's visit in Gracechurch-street,
and repeated conversations occurring at different times between Jane and herself,
which proved that the former had,
from her heart,
given up the acquaintance.
Mrs. Gardiner then rallied her niece on Wickham's desertion,
and complimented her on bearing it so well.
my dear Elizabeth,"
"what sort of girl is Miss King?
I should be sorry to think our friend mercenary."
my dear aunt,
what is the difference in matrimonial affairs,
between the mercenary and the prudent motive?
Where does discretion end,
and avarice begin?
Last Christmas you were afraid of his marrying me,
because it would be imprudent;
because he is trying to get a girl with only ten thousand pounds,
you want to find out that he is mercenary."
"If you will only tell me what sort of girl Miss King is,
I shall know what to think."
"She is a very good kind of girl,
I know no harm of her."
"But he paid her not the smallest attention,
till her grandfather's death made her mistress of this fortune."
"No --why should he?
If it was not allowable for him to gain _my_ affections,
because I had no money,
what occasion could there be for making love to a girl whom he did not care about,
and who was equally poor?"
"But there seems indelicacy in directing his attentions towards her,
so soon after this event."
"A man in distressed circumstances has not time for all those elegant decorums which other people may observe.
If _she_ does not object to it,
why should _we_?"
"_Her_ not objecting,
does not justify _him_.
It only shews her being deficient in something herself --sense or feeling."
"have it as you choose.
_He_ shall be mercenary,
and _she_ shall be foolish."
that is what I do _not_ choose.
I should be sorry,
to think ill of a young man who has lived so long in Derbyshire."
if that is all,
I have a very poor opinion of young men who live in Derbyshire;
and their intimate friends who live in Hertfordshire are not much better.
I am sick of them all.
I am going to-morrow where I shall find a man who has not one agreeable quality,
who has neither manner nor sense to recommend him.
Stupid men are the only ones worth knowing,
that speech savours strongly of disappointment."
Before they were separated by the conclusion of the play,
she had the unexpected happiness of an invitation to accompany her uncle and aunt in a tour of pleasure which they proposed taking in the summer.
"We have not quite determined how far it shall carry us,"
said Mrs. Gardiner,
"but perhaps to the Lakes."
No scheme could have been more agreeable to Elizabeth,
and her acceptance of the invitation was most ready and grateful.
she rapturously cried,
You give me fresh life and vigour.
Adieu to disappointment and spleen.
What are men to rocks and mountains?
what hours of transport we shall spend!
And when we _do_ return,
it shall not be like other travellers,
without being able to give one accurate idea of any thing.
We _will_ know where we have gone --we _will_ recollect what we have seen.
shall not be jumbled together in our imaginations;
when we attempt to describe any particular scene,
will we begin quarrelling about its relative situation.
Let _our_ first effusions be less insupportable than those of the generality of travellers."
CHAPTER V. Every object in the next day's journey was new and interesting to Elizabeth;
and her spirits were in a state for enjoyment;
for she had seen her sister looking so well as to banish all fear for her health,
and the prospect of her northern tour was a constant source of delight.
When they left the high road for the lane to Hunsford,
every eye was in search of the Parsonage,
and every turning expected to bring it in view.
The paling of Rosings Park was their boundary on one side.
Elizabeth smiled at the recollection of all that she had heard of its inhabitants.
At length the Parsonage was discernible.
The garden sloping to the road,
the house standing in it,
the green pales and the laurel hedge,
every thing declared they were arriving.
Mr. Collins and Charlotte appeared at the door,
and the carriage stopped at the small gate,
which led by a short gravel walk to the house,
amidst the nods and smiles of the whole party.
In a moment they were all out of the chaise,
rejoicing at the sight of each other.
Mrs. Collins welcomed her friend with the liveliest pleasure,
and Elizabeth was more and more satisfied with coming,
when she found herself so affectionately received.
She saw instantly that her cousin's manners were not altered by his marriage;
his formal civility was just what it had been,
and he detained her some minutes at the gate to hear and satisfy his enquiries after all her family.
They were then,
with no other delay than his pointing out the neatness of the entrance,
taken into the house;
and as soon as they were in the parlour,
he welcomed them a second time with ostentatious formality to his humble abode,
and punctually repeated all his wife's offers of refreshment.
Elizabeth was prepared to see him in his glory;
and she could not help fancying that in displaying the good proportion of the room,
its aspect and its furniture,
he addressed himself particularly to her,
as if wishing to make her feel what she had lost in refusing him.
But though every thing seemed neat and comfortable,
she was not able to gratify him by any sigh of repentance;
and rather looked with wonder at her friend that she could have so cheerful an air,
with such a companion.
When Mr. Collins said any thing of which his wife might reasonably be ashamed,
which certainly was not unseldom,
she involuntarily turned her eye on Charlotte.
Once or twice she could discern a faint blush;
but in general Charlotte wisely did not hear.
After sitting long enough to admire every article of furniture in the room,
from the sideboard to the fender,
to give an account of their journey and of all that had happened in London,
Mr. Collins invited them to take a stroll in the garden,
which was large and well laid out,
and to the cultivation of which he attended himself.
To work in his garden was one of his most respectable pleasures;
and Elizabeth admired the command of countenance with which Charlotte talked of the healthfulness of the exercise,
and owned she encouraged it as much as possible.
leading the way through every walk and cross walk,
and scarcely allowing them an interval to utter the praises he asked for,
every view was pointed out with a minuteness which left beauty entirely behind.
He could number the fields in every direction,
and could tell how many trees there were in the most distant clump.
But of all the views which his garden,
or which the country,
or the kingdom could boast,
none were to be compared with the prospect of Rosings,
afforded by an opening in the trees that bordered the park nearly opposite the front of his house.
It was a handsome modern building,
well situated on rising ground.
From his garden,
Mr. Collins would have led them round his two meadows,
but the ladies not having shoes to encounter the remains of a white frost,
and while Sir William accompanied him,
Charlotte took her sister and friend over the house,
extremely well pleased,
to have the opportunity of shewing it without her husband's help.
It was rather small,
but well built and convenient;
and every thing was fitted up and arranged with a neatness and consistency of which Elizabeth gave Charlotte all the credit.
When Mr. Collins could be forgotten,
there was really a great air of comfort throughout,
and by Charlotte's evident enjoyment of it,
Elizabeth supposed he must be often forgotten.
She had already learnt that Lady Catherine was still in the country.
It was spoken of again while they were at dinner,
when Mr. Collins joining in,
you will have the honour of seeing Lady Catherine de Bourgh on the ensuing Sunday at church,
and I need not say you will be delighted with her.
She is all affability and condescension,
and I doubt not but you will be honoured with some portion of her notice when service is over.
I have scarcely any hesitation in saying that she will include you and my sister Maria in every invitation with which she honours us during your stay here.
Her behaviour to my dear Charlotte is charming.
We dine at Rosings twice every week,
and are never allowed to walk home.
Her ladyship's carriage is regularly ordered for us.
I _should_ say,
one of her ladyship's carriages,
for she has several."
"Lady Catherine is a very respectable,
sensible woman indeed,"
"and a most attentive neighbour."
that is exactly what I say.
She is the sort of woman whom one cannot regard with too much deference."
The evening was spent chiefly in talking over Hertfordshire news,
and telling again what had been already written;
and when it closed,
Elizabeth in the solitude of her chamber had to meditate upon Charlotte's degree of contentment,
to understand her address in guiding,
and composure in bearing with her husband,
and to acknowledge that it was all done very well.
She had also to anticipate how her visit would pass,
the quiet tenor of their usual employments,
the vexatious interruptions of Mr. Collins,
and the gaieties of their intercourse with Rosings.
A lively imagination soon settled it all.
About the middle of the next day,
as she was in her room getting ready for a walk,
a sudden noise below seemed to speak the whole house in confusion;
and after listening a moment,
she heard somebody running up stairs in a violent hurry,
and calling loudly after her.
She opened the door,
and met Maria in the landing place,
breathless with agitation,
my dear Eliza!
pray make haste and come into the dining-room,
for there is such a sight to be seen!
I will not tell you what it is.
and come down this moment."
Elizabeth asked questions in vain;
Maria would tell her nothing more,
and down they ran into the dining-room,
which fronted the lane,
in quest of this wonder;
it was two ladies stopping in a low phaeton at the garden gate.
"And is this all?"
"I expected at least that the pigs were got into the garden,
and here is nothing but Lady Catherine and her daughter!"
said Maria quite shocked at the mistake,
"it is not Lady Catherine.
The old lady is Mrs. Jenkinson,
who lives with them.
The other is Miss De Bourgh.
Only look at her.
She is quite a little creature.
Who would have thought she could be so thin and small!"
"She is abominably rude to keep Charlotte out of doors in all this wind.
Why does she not come in?"
she hardly ever does.
It is the greatest of favours when Miss De Bourgh comes in."
"I like her appearance,"
struck with other ideas.
"She looks sickly and cross.
she will do for him very well.
She will make him a very proper wife."
Mr. Collins and Charlotte were both standing at the gate in conversation with the ladies;
and Sir William,
to Elizabeth's high diversion,
was stationed in the doorway,
in earnest contemplation of the greatness before him,
and constantly bowing whenever Miss De Bourgh looked that way.
At length there was nothing more to be said;
the ladies drove on,
and the others returned into the house.
Mr. Collins no sooner saw the two girls than he began to congratulate them on their good fortune,
which Charlotte explained by letting them know that the whole party was asked to dine at Rosings the next day.
Mr. Collins's triumph in consequence of this invitation was complete.
The power of displaying the grandeur of his patroness to his wondering visitors,
and of letting them see her civility towards himself and his wife,
was exactly what he had wished for;
and that an opportunity of doing it should be given so soon,
was such an instance of Lady Catherine's condescension as he knew not how to admire enough.
"that I should not have been at all surprised by her Ladyship's asking us on Sunday to drink tea and spend the evening at Rosings.
I rather expected,
from my knowledge of her affability,
that it would happen.
But who could have foreseen such an attention as this?
Who could have imagined that we should receive an invitation to dine there (an invitation moreover including the whole party) so immediately after your arrival!"
"I am the less surprised at what has happened,"
replied Sir William,
"from that knowledge of what the manners of the great really are,
which my situation in life has allowed me to acquire.
About the Court,
such instances of elegant breeding are not uncommon."
Scarcely any thing was talked of the whole day or next morning,
but their visit to Rosings.
Mr. Collins was carefully instructing them in what they were to expect,
that the sight of such rooms,
so many servants,
and so splendid a dinner might not wholly overpower them.
When the ladies were separating for the toilette,
he said to Elizabeth,
"Do not make yourself uneasy,
my dear cousin,
about your apparel.
Lady Catherine is far from requiring that elegance of dress in us,
which becomes herself and daughter.
I would advise you merely to put on whatever of your clothes is superior to the rest,
there is no occasion for any thing more.
Lady Catherine will not think the worse of you for being simply dressed.
She likes to have the distinction of rank preserved."
While they were dressing,
he came two or three times to their different doors,
to recommend their being quick,
as Lady Catherine very much objected to be kept waiting for her dinner.
--Such formidable accounts of her Ladyship,
and her manner of living,
quite frightened Maria Lucas,
who had been little used to company,
and she looked forward to her introduction at Rosings,
with as much apprehension,
as her father had done to his presentation at St. James's.
As the weather was fine,
they had a pleasant walk of about half a mile across the park.
--Every park has its beauty and its prospects;
and Elizabeth saw much to be pleased with,
though she could not be in such raptures as Mr. Collins expected the scene to inspire,
and was but slightly affected by his enumeration of the windows in front of the house,
and his relation of what the glazing altogether had originally cost Sir Lewis De Bourgh.
When they ascended the steps to the hall,
Maria's alarm was every moment increasing,
and even Sir William did not look perfectly calm.
--Elizabeth's courage did not fail her.
She had heard nothing of Lady Catherine that spoke her awful from any extraordinary talents or miraculous virtue,
and the mere stateliness of money and rank,
she thought she could witness without trepidation.
From the entrance hall,
of which Mr. Collins pointed out,
with a rapturous air,
the fine proportion and finished ornaments,
they followed the servants through an anti-chamber,
to the room where Lady Catherine,
and Mrs. Jenkinson were sitting.
with great condescension,
arose to receive them;
and as Mrs. Collins had settled it with her husband that the office of introduction should be her's,
it was performed in a proper manner,
without any of those apologies and thanks which he would have thought necessary.
In spite of having been at St. James's,
Sir William was so completely awed,
by the grandeur surrounding him,
that he had but just courage enough to make a very low bow,
and take his seat without saying a word;
and his daughter,
frightened almost out of her senses,
sat on the edge of her chair,
not knowing which way to look.
Elizabeth found herself quite equal to the scene,
and could observe the three ladies before her composedly.
--Lady Catherine was a tall,
with strongly-marked features,
which might once have been handsome.
Her air was not conciliating,
nor was her manner of receiving them,
such as to make her visitors forget their inferior rank.
She was not rendered formidable by silence;
but whatever she said,
was spoken in so authoritative a tone,
as marked her self-importance,
and brought Mr. Wickham immediately to Elizabeth's mind;
and from the observation of the day altogether,
she believed Lady Catherine to be exactly what he had represented.
after examining the mother,
in whose countenance and deportment she soon found some resemblance of Mr. Darcy,
she turned her eyes on the daughter,
she could almost have joined in Maria's astonishment,
at her being so thin,
and so small.
There was neither in figure nor face,
any likeness between the ladies.
Miss De Bourgh was pale and sickly;
though not plain,
and she spoke very little,
except in a low voice,
to Mrs. Jenkinson,
in whose appearance there was nothing remarkable,
and who was entirely engaged in listening to what she said,
and placing a screen in the proper direction before her eyes.
After sitting a few minutes,
they were all sent to one of the windows,
to admire the view,
Mr. Collins attending them to point out its beauties,
and Lady Catherine kindly informing them that it was much better worth looking at in the summer.
The dinner was exceedingly handsome,
and there were all the servants,
and all the articles of plate which Mr. Collins had promised;
as he had likewise foretold,
he took his seat at the bottom of the table,
by her ladyship's desire,
and looked as if he felt that life could furnish nothing greater.
and praised with delighted alacrity;
and every dish was commended,
first by him,
and then by Sir William,
who was now enough recovered to echo whatever his son in law said,
in a manner which Elizabeth wondered Lady Catherine could bear.
But Lady Catherine seemed gratified by their excessive admiration,
and gave most gracious smiles,
especially when any dish on the table proved a novelty to them.
The party did not supply much conversation.
Elizabeth was ready to speak whenever there was an opening,
but she was seated between Charlotte and Miss De Bourgh --the former of whom was engaged in listening to Lady Catherine,
and the latter said not a word to her all dinner time.
Mrs. Jenkinson was chiefly employed in watching how little Miss De Bourgh ate,
pressing her to try some other dish,
and fearing she were indisposed.
Maria thought speaking out of the question,
and the gentlemen did nothing but eat and admire.
When the ladies returned to the drawing-room,
there was little to be done but to hear Lady Catherine talk,
which she did without any intermission till coffee came in,
delivering her opinion on every subject in so decisive a manner as proved that she was not used to have her judgment controverted.
She enquired into Charlotte's domestic concerns familiarly and minutely,
and gave her a great deal of advice,
as to the management of them all;
told her how every thing ought to be regulated in so small a family as her's,
and instructed her as to the care of her cows and her poultry.
Elizabeth found that nothing was beneath this great Lady's attention,
which could furnish her with an occasion of dictating to others.
In the intervals of her discourse with Mrs. Collins,
she addressed a variety of questions to Maria and Elizabeth,
but especially to the latter,
of whose connections she knew the least,
and who she observed to Mrs. Collins,
was a very genteel,
pretty kind of girl.
She asked her at different times,
how many sisters she had,
whether they were older or younger than herself,
whether any of them were likely to be married,
whether they were handsome,
where they had been educated,
what carriage her father kept,
and what had been her mother's maiden name?
--Elizabeth felt all the impertinence of her questions,
but answered them very composedly.
--Lady Catherine then observed,
"Your father's estate is entailed on Mr. Collins,
For your sake,"
turning to Charlotte,
"I am glad of it;
but otherwise I see no occasion for entailing estates from the female line.
--It was not thought necessary in Sir Lewis de Bourgh's family.
--Do you play and sing,
then --some time or other we shall be happy to hear you.
Our instrument is a capital one,
probably superior to -- --You shall try it some day.
--Do your sisters play and sing?"
"One of them does."
"Why did not you all learn?
--You ought all to have learned.
The Miss Webbs all play,
and their father has not so good an income as your's.
--Do you draw?"
not at all."
none of you?"
"That is very strange.
But I suppose you had no opportunity.
Your mother should have taken you to town every spring for the benefit of masters."
"My mother would have had no objection,
but my father hates London."
"Has your governess left you?"
"We never had any governess."
How was that possible?
Five daughters brought up at home without a governess!
--I never heard of such a thing.
Your mother must have been quite a slave to your education."
Elizabeth could hardly help smiling,
as she assured her that had not been the case.
who taught you?
who attended to you?
Without a governess you must have been neglected."
"Compared with some families,
I believe we were;
but such of us as wished to learn,
never wanted the means.
We were always encouraged to read,
and had all the masters that were necessary.
Those who chose to be idle,
but that is what a governess will prevent,
and if I had known your mother,
I should have advised her most strenuously to engage one.
I always say that nothing is to be done in education without steady and regular instruction,
and nobody but a governess can give it.
It is wonderful how many families I have been the means of supplying in that way.
I am always glad to get a young person well placed out.
Four nieces of Mrs. Jenkinson are most delightfully situated through my means;
and it was but the other day,
that I recommended another young person,
who was merely accidentally mentioned to me,
and the family are quite delighted with her.
did I tell you of Lady Metcalfe's calling yesterday to thank me?
She finds Miss Pope a treasure.
'you have given me a treasure.'
Are any of your younger sisters out,
all five out at once?
--And you only the second.
--The younger ones out before the elder are married!
--Your younger sisters must be very young?"
my youngest is not sixteen.
Perhaps _she_ is full young to be much in company.
I think it would be very hard upon younger sisters,
that they should not have their share of society and amusement because the elder may not have the means or inclination to marry early.
--The last born has as good a right to the pleasures of youth,
as the first.
And to be kept back on _such_ a motive!
--I think it would not be very likely to promote sisterly affection or delicacy of mind."
"Upon my word,"
said her Ladyship,
"you give your opinion very decidedly for so young a person.
what is your age?"
"With three younger sisters grown up,"
replied Elizabeth smiling,
"your Ladyship can hardly expect me to own it."
Lady Catherine seemed quite astonished at not receiving a direct answer;
and Elizabeth suspected herself to be the first creature who had ever dared to trifle with so much dignified impertinence.
"You cannot be more than twenty,
I am sure,
--therefore you need not conceal your age."
"I am not one and twenty."
When the gentlemen had joined them,
and tea was over,
the card tables were placed.
and Mr. and Mrs. Collins sat down to quadrille;
and as Miss De Bourgh chose to play at cassino,
the two girls had the honour of assisting Mrs. Jenkinson to make up her party.
Their table was superlatively stupid.
Scarcely a syllable was uttered that did not relate to the game,
except when Mrs. Jenkinson expressed her fears of Miss De Bourgh's being too hot or too cold,
or having too much or too little light.
A great deal more passed at the other table.
Lady Catherine was generally speaking --stating the mistakes of the three others,
or relating some anecdote of herself.
Mr. Collins was employed in agreeing to every thing her Ladyship said,
thanking her for every fish he won,
and apologising if he thought he won too many.
Sir William did not say much.
He was storing his memory with anecdotes and noble names.
When Lady Catherine and her daughter had played as long as they chose,
the tables were broke up,
the carriage was offered to Mrs. Collins,
and immediately ordered.
The party then gathered round the fire to hear Lady Catherine determine what weather they were to have on the morrow.
From these instructions they were summoned by the arrival of the coach,
and with many speeches of thankfulness on Mr. Collins's side,
and as many bows on Sir William's,
As soon as they had driven from the door,
Elizabeth was called on by her cousin,
to give her opinion of all that she had seen at Rosings,
for Charlotte's sake,
she made more favourable than it really was.
But her commendation,
though costing her some trouble,
could by no means satisfy Mr. Collins,
and he was very soon obliged to take her Ladyship's praise into his own hands.
Sir William staid only a week at Hunsford;
but his visit was long enough to convince him of his daughter's being most comfortably settled,
and of her possessing such a husband and such a neighbour as were not often met with.
While Sir William was with them,
Mr. Collins devoted his mornings to driving him out in his gig,
and shewing him the country;
but when he went away,
the whole family returned to their usual employments,
and Elizabeth was thankful to find that they did not see more of her cousin by the alteration,
for the chief of the time between breakfast and dinner was now passed by him either at work in the garden,
or in reading and writing,
and looking out of window in his own book room,
which fronted the road.
The room in which the ladies sat was backwards.
Elizabeth at first had rather wondered that Charlotte should not prefer the dining-parlour for common use;
it was a better sized room,
and had a pleasanter aspect;
but she soon saw that her friend had an excellent reason for what she did,
for Mr. Collins would undoubtedly have been much less in his own apartment,
had they sat in one equally lively;
and she gave Charlotte credit for the arrangement.
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 on to get out.
Very few days passed in which Mr. Collins did not walk to Rosings,
and not many in which his wife did not think it necessary to go likewise;
and till Elizabeth recollected that there might be other family livings to be disposed of,
she could not understand the sacrifice of so many hours.
Now and then,
they were honoured with a call from her Ladyship,
and nothing escaped her observation that was passing in the room 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,
or 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.
Elizabeth soon perceived that though this great lady was not in the commission of the peace for the county,
she was a most active magistrate in her own parish,
the minutest concerns of which were carried to her by Mr. Collins;
and 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.
The entertainment of dining at Rosings was repeated about twice a week;
allowing for the loss of Sir William,
and there being only one card table in the evening,
every such entertainment was the counterpart of the first.
Their other engagements were few;
as the style of living of the neighbourhood in general,
was beyond the Collinses' reach.
This however was no evil to Elizabeth,
and upon the whole she spent her time comfortably enough;
there were half hours of pleasant conversation with Charlotte,
and the weather was so fine for the time of year,
that she had often great enjoyment out of doors.
Her favourite walk,
and where she frequently went while the others were calling on Lady Catherine,
was along the open grove which 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.
In this quiet way,
the first fortnight of her visit soon passed away.
Easter was approaching,
and the week preceding it,
was to bring an addition to the family at Rosings,
which in so small a circle must be important.
Elizabeth had heard soon after her arrival,
that Mr. Darcy was expected there in the course of a few weeks,
and though there were not many of her acquaintance whom she did not prefer,
his coming would furnish one comparatively new to look at in their Rosings parties,
and she might be amused in seeing how hopeless Miss Bingley's designs on him were,
by his behaviour to his cousin,
for whom he was evidently destined by Lady Catherine;
who talked of his coming with the greatest satisfaction,
spoke of him in terms of the highest admiration,
and seemed almost angry to find that he had already been frequently seen by Miss Lucas and herself.
His arrival was soon known at the Parsonage,
for Mr. Collins was walking the whole morning within view of the lodges opening into Hunsford Lane,
in order to have the earliest assurance of it;
and after making his bow as the carriage turned into the Park,
hurried home with the great intelligence.
On the following morning he hastened to Rosings to pay his respects.
There were two nephews of Lady Catherine to require them,
for Mr. Darcy had brought with him a Colonel Fitzwilliam,
the younger son of his uncle,
Lord -- -- and to the great surprise of all the party,
when Mr. Collins returned the gentlemen accompanied him.
Charlotte had seen them from her husband's room,
crossing the road,
and immediately running into the other,
told the girls what an honour they might expect,
"I may thank you,
for this piece of civility.
Mr. Darcy would never have come so soon to wait upon me."
Elizabeth had scarcely time to disclaim all right to the compliment,
before their approach was announced by the door-bell,
and shortly afterwards the three gentlemen entered the room.
who led the way,
was about thirty,
but in person and address most truly the gentleman.
Mr. Darcy looked just as he had been used to look in Hertfordshire,
paid his compliments,
with his usual reserve,
to Mrs. Collins;
and whatever might be his feelings towards her friend,
met her with every appearance of composure.
Elizabeth merely curtseyed to him,
without saying a word.
Colonel Fitzwilliam entered into conversation directly with the readiness and ease of a well-bred man,
and talked very pleasantly;
but his cousin,
after having addressed a slight observation on the house and garden to Mrs. Collins,
sat for some time without speaking to any body.
his civility was so far awakened as to enquire of Elizabeth after the health of her family.
She answered him in the usual way,
and after a moment's pause,
"My eldest sister has been in town these three months.
Have you never happened to see her there?"
She was perfectly sensible that he never had;
but she wished to see whether he would betray any consciousness of what had passed between the Bingleys and Jane;
and she thought he looked a little confused as he answered that he had never been so fortunate as to meet Miss Bennet.
The subject was pursued no farther,
and the gentlemen soon afterwards went away.
Colonel Fitzwilliam's manners were very much admired at the parsonage,
and the ladies all felt that he must add considerably to the pleasure of their engagements at Rosings.
It was some days,
before they received any invitation thither,
for while there were visitors in the house,
they could not be necessary;
and it was not till Easter-day,
almost a week after the gentlemen's arrival,
that they were honoured by such an attention,
and then they were merely asked on leaving church to come there in the evening.
For the last week they had seen very little of either Lady Catherine or her daughter.
Colonel Fitzwilliam had called at the parsonage more than once during the time,
but Mr. Darcy they had only seen at church.
The invitation was accepted of course,
and at a proper hour they joined the party in Lady Catherine's drawing-room.
Her ladyship received them civilly,
but it was plain that their company was by no means so acceptable as when she could get nobody else;
and she was,
almost engrossed by her nephews,
speaking to them,
especially to Darcy,
much more than to any other person in the room.
Colonel Fitzwilliam seemed really glad to see them;
any thing was a welcome relief to him at Rosings;
and Mrs. Collins's pretty friend had moreover caught his fancy very much.
He now seated himself by her,
and talked so agreeably of Kent and Hertfordshire,
of travelling and staying at home,
of new books and music,
that Elizabeth had never been half so well entertained in that room before;
and they conversed with so much spirit and flow,
as to draw the attention of Lady Catherine herself,
as well as of Mr. Darcy.
_His_ eyes had been soon and repeatedly turned towards them with a look of curiosity;
and that her ladyship after a while shared the feeling,
was more openly acknowledged,
for she did not scruple to call out,
"What is that you are saying,
What is it you are talking of?
What are you telling Miss Bennet?
Let me hear what it is."
"We are speaking of music,
when no longer able to avoid a reply.
Then pray speak aloud.
It is of all subjects my delight.
I must have my share in the conversation,
if you are speaking of music.
There are few people in England,
who have more true enjoyment of music than myself,
or a better natural taste.
If I had ever learnt,
I should have been a great proficient.
And so would Anne,
if her health had allowed her to apply.
I am confident that she would have performed delightfully.
How does Georgiana get on,
Mr. Darcy spoke with affectionate praise of his sister's proficiency.
"I am very glad to hear such a good account of her,"
said Lady Catherine;
"and pray tell her from me,
that she cannot expect to excel,
if she does not practise a great deal."
"I assure you,
"that she does not need such advice.
She practises very constantly."
"So much the better.
It cannot be done too much;
and when I next write to her,
I shall charge her not to neglect it on any account.
I often tell young ladies,
that no excellence in music is to be acquired,
without constant practice.
I have told Miss Bennet several times,
that she will never play really well,
unless she practises more;
and though Mrs. Collins has no instrument,
she is very welcome,
as I have often told her,
to come to Rosings every day,
and play on the piano-forte in Mrs. Jenkinson's room.
She would be in nobody's way,
in that part of the house."
Mr. Darcy looked a little ashamed of his aunt's ill breeding,
and made no answer.
When coffee was over,
Colonel Fitzwilliam reminded Elizabeth of having promised to play to him;
and she sat down directly to the instrument.
He drew a chair near her.
Lady Catherine listened to half a song,
and then talked,
to her other nephew;
till the latter walked away from her,
and moving with his usual deliberation towards the piano-forte,
stationed himself so as to command a full view of the fair performer's countenance.
Elizabeth saw what he was doing,
and at the first convenient pause,
turned to him with an arch smile,
"You mean to frighten me,
by coming in all this state to hear me?
But I will not be alarmed though your sister _does_ play so well.
There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others.
My courage always rises with every attempt to intimidate me."
"I shall not say that you are mistaken,"
"because you could not really believe me to entertain any design of alarming you;
and I have had the pleasure of your acquaintance long enough to know,
that you find great enjoyment in occasionally professing opinions which in fact are not your own."
Elizabeth laughed heartily at this picture of herself,
and said to Colonel Fitzwilliam,
"Your cousin will give you a very pretty notion of me,
and teach you not to believe a word I say.
I am particularly unlucky in meeting with a person so well able to expose my real character,
in a part of the world,
where I had hoped to pass myself off with some degree of credit.
it is very ungenerous in you to mention all that you knew to my disadvantage in Hertfordshire --and,
give me leave to say,
very impolitic too --for it is provoking me to retaliate,
and such things may come out,
as will shock your relations to hear."
"I am not afraid of you,"
"Pray let me hear what you have to accuse him of,"
cried Colonel Fitzwilliam.
"I should like to know how he behaves among strangers."
"You shall hear then --but prepare yourself for something very dreadful.
The first time of my ever seeing him in Hertfordshire,
you must know,
was at a ball --and at this ball,
what do you think he did?
He danced only four dances!
I am sorry to pain you --but so it was.
He danced only four dances,
though gentlemen were scarce;
to my certain knowledge,
more than one young lady was sitting down in want of a partner.
you cannot deny the fact."
"I had not at that time the honour of knowing any lady in the assembly beyond my own party."
and nobody can ever be introduced in a ball room.
what do I play next?
My fingers wait your orders."
"I should have judged better,
had I sought an introduction,
but I am ill qualified to recommend myself to strangers."
"Shall we ask your cousin the reason of this?"
still addressing Colonel Fitzwilliam.
"Shall we ask him why a man of sense and education,
and who has lived in the world,
is ill qualified to recommend himself to strangers?"
"I can answer your question,"
"without applying to him.
It is because he will not give himself the trouble."
"I certainly have not the talent which some people possess,"
"of conversing easily with those I have never seen before.
I cannot catch their tone of conversation,
or appear interested in their concerns,
as I often see done."
"do not move over this instrument in the masterly manner which I see so many women's do.
They have not the same force or rapidity,
and do not produce the same expression.
But then I have always supposed it to be my own fault --because I would not take the trouble of practising.
It is not that I do not believe _my_ fingers as capable as any other woman's of superior execution."
Darcy smiled and said,
"You are perfectly right.
You have employed your time much better.
No one admitted to the privilege of hearing you,
can think any thing wanting.
We neither of us perform to strangers."
Here they were interrupted by Lady Catherine,
who called out to know what they were talking of.
Elizabeth immediately began playing again.
Lady Catherine approached,
after listening for a few minutes,
said to Darcy,
"Miss Bennet would not play at all amiss,
if she practised more,
and could have the advantage of a London master.
She has a very good notion of fingering,
though her taste is not equal to Anne's.
Anne would have been a delightful performer,
had her health allowed her to learn."
Elizabeth looked at Darcy to see how cordially he assented to his cousin's praise;
but neither at that moment nor at any other could she discern any symptom of love;
and from the whole of his behaviour to Miss De Bourgh she derived this comfort for Miss Bingley,
that he might have been just as likely to marry _her_,
had she been his relation.
Lady Catherine continued her remarks on Elizabeth's performance,
mixing with them many instructions on execution and taste.
Elizabeth received them with all the forbearance of civility;
and at the request of the gentlemen remained at the instrument till her Ladyship's carriage was ready to take them all home.
Elizabeth was sitting by herself the next morning,
and writing to Jane,
while Mrs. Collins and Maria were gone on business into the village,
when she was startled by a ring at the door,
the certain signal of a visitor.
As she had heard no carriage,
she thought it not unlikely to be Lady Catherine,
and under that apprehension was putting away her half-finished letter that she might escape all impertinent questions,
when the door opened,
and to her very great surprise,
and Mr. Darcy only,
entered the room.
He seemed astonished too on finding her alone,
and apologised for his intrusion,
by letting her know that he had understood all the ladies to be within.
They then sat down,
and when her enquiries after Rosings were made,
seemed in danger of sinking into total silence.
It was absolutely necessary,
to think of something,
and in this emergence recollecting _when_ she had seen him last in Hertfordshire,
and feeling curious to know what he would say on the subject of their hasty departure,
"How very suddenly you all quitted Netherfield last November,
It must have been a most agreeable surprise to Mr. Bingley to see you all after him so soon;
if I recollect right,
he went but the day before.
He and his sisters were well,
when you left London."
"Perfectly so --I thank you."
She found that she was to receive no other answer --and,
after a short pause,
"I think I have understood that Mr. Bingley has not much idea of ever returning to Netherfield again?"
"I have never heard him say so;
but it is probable that he may spend very little of his time there in future.
He has many friends,
and he is at a time of life when friends and engagements are continually increasing."
"If he means to be but little at Netherfield,
it would be better for the neighbourhood that he should give up the place entirely,
for then we might possibly get a settled family there.
But perhaps Mr. Bingley did not take the house so much for the convenience of the neighbourhood as for his own,
and we must expect him to keep or quit it on the same principle."
"I should not be surprised,"
"if he were to give it up,
as soon as any eligible purchase offers."
Elizabeth made no answer.
She was afraid of talking longer of his friend;
having nothing else to say,
was now determined to leave the trouble of finding a subject to him.
He took the hint,
and soon began with,
"This seems a very comfortable house.
did a great deal to it when Mr. Collins first came to Hunsford."
"I believe she did --and I am sure she could not have bestowed her kindness on a more grateful object."
"Mr. Collins appears very fortunate in his choice of a wife."
his friends may well rejoice in his having met with one of the very few sensible women who would have accepted him,
or have made him happy if they had.
My friend has an excellent understanding --though I am not certain that I consider her marrying Mr. Collins as the wisest thing she ever did.
She seems perfectly happy,
and in a prudential light,
it is certainly a very good match for her."
"It must be very agreeable to her to be settled within so easy a distance of her own family and friends."
"An easy distance do you call it?
It is nearly fifty miles."
"And what is fifty miles of good road?
Little more than half a day's journey.
I call it a _very_ easy distance."
"I should never have considered the distance as one of the _advantages_ of the match,"
"I should never have said Mrs. Collins was settled _near_ her family."
"It is a proof of your own attachment to Hertfordshire.
Any thing beyond the very neighbourhood of Longbourn,
would appear far."
As he spoke there was a sort of smile,
which Elizabeth fancied she understood;
he must be supposing her to be thinking of Jane and Netherfield,
and she blushed as she answered,
"I do not mean to say that a woman may not be settled too near her family.
The far and the near must be relative,
and depend on many varying circumstances.
Where there is fortune to make the expence of travelling unimportant,
distance becomes no evil.
But that is not the case _here_.
Mr. and Mrs. Collins have a comfortable income,
but not such a one as will allow of frequent journeys --and I am persuaded my friend would not call herself _near_ her family under less than _half_ the present distance."
Mr. Darcy drew his chair a little towards her,
"_You_ cannot have a right to such very strong local attachment.
_You_ cannot have been always at Longbourn."
Elizabeth looked surprised.
The gentleman experienced some change of feeling;
he drew back his chair,
took a newspaper from the table,
glancing over it,
in a colder voice,
"Are you pleased with Kent?"
A short dialogue on the subject of the country ensued,
on either side calm and concise --and soon put an end to by the entrance of Charlotte and her sister,
just returned from their walk.
The tête-à-tête surprised them.
Mr. Darcy related the mistake which had occasioned his intruding on Miss Bennet,
and after sitting a few minutes longer without saying much to any body,
"What can be the meaning of this!"
as soon as he was gone.
"My dear Eliza he must be in love with you,
or he would never have called on us in this familiar way."
But when Elizabeth told of his silence,
it did not seem very likely,
even to Charlotte's wishes,
to be the case;
and after various conjectures,
they could at last only suppose his visit to proceed from the difficulty of finding any thing to do,
which was the more probable from the time of year.
All field sports were over.
Within doors there was Lady Catherine,
and a billiard table,
but gentlemen cannot be always within doors;
and in the nearness of the Parsonage,
or the pleasantness of the walk to it,
or of the people who lived in it,
the two cousins found a temptation from this period of walking thither almost every day.
They called at various times of the morning,
and now and then accompanied by their aunt.
It was plain to them all that Colonel Fitzwilliam came because he had pleasure in their society,
a persuasion which of course recommended him still more;
and Elizabeth was reminded by her own satisfaction in being with him,
as well as by his evident admiration of her,
of her former favourite George Wickham;
in comparing them,
she saw there was less captivating softness in Colonel Fitzwilliam's manners,
she believed he might have the best informed mind.
But why Mr. Darcy came so often to the Parsonage,
it was more difficult to understand.
It could not be for society,
as he frequently sat there ten minutes together without opening his lips;
and when he did speak,
it seemed the effect of necessity rather than of choice --a sacrifice to propriety,
not a pleasure to himself.
He seldom appeared really animated.
Mrs. Collins knew not what to make of him.
Colonel Fitzwilliam's occasionally laughing at his stupidity,
proved that he was generally different,
which her own knowledge of him could not have told her;
and as she would have liked to believe this change the effect of love,
and the object of that love,
her friend Eliza,
she sat herself seriously to work to find it out.
--She watched him whenever they were at Rosings,
and whenever he came to Hunsford;
but without much success.
He certainly looked at her friend a great deal,
but the expression of that look was disputable.
It was an earnest,
but she often doubted whether there were much admiration in it,
and sometimes it seemed nothing but absence of mind.
She had once or twice suggested to Elizabeth the possibility of his being partial to her,
but Elizabeth always laughed at the idea;
and Mrs. Collins did not think it right to press the subject,
from the danger of raising expectations which might only end in disappointment;
for in her opinion it admitted not of a doubt,
that all her friend's dislike would vanish,
if she could suppose him to be in her power.
In her kind schemes for Elizabeth,
she sometimes planned her marrying Colonel Fitzwilliam.
He was beyond comparison the pleasantest man;
he certainly admired her,
and his situation in life was most eligible;
to counterbalance these advantages,
Mr. Darcy had considerable patronage in the church,
and his cousin could have none at all.
CHAPTER X. More than once did Elizabeth in her ramble within the Park,
unexpectedly meet Mr. Darcy.
--She felt all the perverseness of the mischance that should bring him where no one else was brought;
and to prevent its ever happening again,
took care to inform him at first,
that it was a favourite haunt of hers.
--How it could occur a second time therefore was very odd!
--Yet it did,
and even a third.
It seemed like wilful ill-nature,
or a voluntary penance,
for on these occasions it was not merely a few formal enquiries and an awkward pause and then away,
but he actually thought it necessary to turn back and walk with her.
He never said a great deal,
nor did she give herself the trouble of talking or of listening much;
but it struck her in the course of their third rencontre that he was asking some odd unconnected questions --about her pleasure in being at Hunsford,
her love of solitary walks,
and her opinion of Mr. and Mrs. Collins's happiness;
and that in speaking of Rosings and her not perfectly understanding the house,
he seemed to expect that whenever she came into Kent again she would be staying _there_ too.
His words seemed to imply it.
Could he have Colonel Fitzwilliam in his thoughts?
if he meant any thing,
he must mean an allusion to what might arise in that quarter.
It distressed her a little,
and she was quite glad to find herself at the gate in the pales opposite the Parsonage.
She was engaged one day as she walked,
in re-perusing Jane's last letter,
and dwelling on some passages which proved that Jane had not written in spirits,
instead of being again surprised by Mr. Darcy,
she saw on looking up that Colonel Fitzwilliam was meeting her.
Putting away the letter immediately and forcing a smile,
"I did not know before that you ever walked this way."
"I have been making the tour of the Park,"
"as I generally do every year,
and intend to close it with a call at the Parsonage.
Are you going much farther?"
I should have turned in a moment."
And accordingly she did turn,
and they walked towards the Parsonage together.
"Do you certainly leave Kent on Saturday?"
"Yes --if Darcy does not put it off again.
But I am at his disposal.
He arranges the business just as he pleases."
"And if not able to please himself in the arrangement,
he has at least great pleasure in the power of choice.
I do not know any body who seems more to enjoy the power of doing what he likes than Mr. Darcy."
"He likes to have his own way very well,"
replied Colonel Fitzwilliam.
"But so we all do.
It is only that he has better means of having it than many others,
because he is rich,
and many others are poor.
I speak feelingly.
A younger son,
must be inured to self-denial and dependence."
"In my opinion,
the younger son of an Earl can know very little of either.
what have you ever known of self-denial and dependence?
When have you been prevented by want of money from going wherever you chose,
or procuring any thing you had a fancy for?"
"These are home questions --and perhaps I cannot say that I have experienced many hardships of that nature.
But in matters of greater weight,
I may suffer from the want of money.
Younger sons cannot marry where they like."
"Unless where they like women of fortune,
which I think they very often do."
"Our habits of expence make us too dependant,
and there are not many in my rank of life who can afford to marry without some attention to money."
"meant for me?"
and she coloured at the idea;
said in a lively tone,
what is the usual price of an Earl's younger son?
Unless the elder brother is very sickly,
I suppose you would not ask above fifty thousand pounds."
He answered her in the same style,
and the subject dropped.
To interrupt a silence which might make him fancy her affected with what had passed,
she soon afterwards said,
"I imagine your cousin brought you down with him chiefly for the sake of having somebody at his disposal.
I wonder he does not marry,
to secure a lasting convenience of that kind.
perhaps his sister does as well for the present,
as she is under his sole care,
he may do what he likes with her."
said Colonel Fitzwilliam,
"that is an advantage which he must divide with me.
I am joined with him in the guardianship of Miss Darcy."
And pray what sort of guardians do you make?
Does your charge give you much trouble?
Young ladies of her age,
are sometimes a little difficult to manage,
and if she has the true Darcy spirit,
she may like to have her own way."
As she spoke,
she observed him looking at her earnestly,
and the manner in which he immediately asked her why she supposed Miss Darcy likely to give them any uneasiness,
convinced her that she had somehow or other got pretty near the truth.
She directly replied,
"You need not be frightened.
I never heard any harm of her;
and I dare say she is one of the most tractable creatures in the world.
She is a very great favourite with some ladies of my acquaintance,
Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley.
I think I have heard you say that you know them."
"I know them a little.
Their brother is a pleasant gentleman-like man --he is a great friend of Darcy's."
said Elizabeth drily --"Mr. Darcy is uncommonly kind to Mr. Bingley,
and takes a prodigious deal of care of him."
"Care of him!
I really believe Darcy _does_ take care of him in those points where he most wants care.
From something that he told me in our journey hither,
I have reason to think Bingley very much indebted to him.
But I ought to beg his pardon,
for I have no right to suppose that Bingley was the person meant.
It was all conjecture."
"What is it you mean?"
"It is a circumstance which Darcy of course would not wish to be generally known,
because if it were to get round to the lady's family,
it would be an unpleasant thing."
"You may depend upon my not mentioning it."
"And remember that I have not much reason for supposing it to be Bingley.
What he told me was merely this;
that he congratulated himself on having lately saved a friend from the inconveniences of a most imprudent marriage,
but without mentioning names or any other particulars,
and I only suspected it to be Bingley from believing him the kind of young man to get into a scrape of that sort,
and from knowing them to have been together the whole of last summer."
"Did Mr. Darcy give you his reasons for this interference?"
"I understood that there were some very strong objections against the lady."
"And what arts did he use to separate them?"
"He did not talk to me of his own arts,"
said Fitzwilliam smiling.
"He only told me,
what I have now told you."
Elizabeth made no answer,
and walked on,
her heart swelling with indignation.
After watching her a little,
Fitzwilliam asked her why she was so thoughtful.
"I am thinking of what you have been telling me,"
"Your cousin's conduct does not suit my feelings.
Why was he to be the judge?"
"You are rather disposed to call his interference officious?"
"I do not see what right Mr. Darcy had to decide on the propriety of his friend's inclination,
upon his own judgment alone,
he was to determine and direct in what manner that friend was to be happy."
"as we know none of the particulars,
it is not fair to condemn him.
It is not to be supposed that there was much affection in the case."
"That is not an unnatural surmise,"
"but it is lessening the honour of my cousin's triumph very sadly."
This was spoken jestingly,
but it appeared to her so just a picture of Mr. Darcy,
that she would not trust herself with an answer;
abruptly changing the conversation,
talked on indifferent matters till they reached the parsonage.
shut into her own room,
as soon as their visitor left them,
she could think without interruption of all that she had heard.
It was not to be supposed that any other people could be meant than those with whom she was connected.
There could not exist in the world _two_ men,
over whom Mr. Darcy could have such boundless influence.
That he had been concerned in the measures taken to separate Mr. Bingley and Jane,
she had never doubted;
but she had always attributed to Miss Bingley the principal design and arrangement of them.
If his own vanity,
did not mislead him,
_he_ was the cause,
his pride and caprice were the cause of all that Jane had suffered,
and still continued to suffer.
He had ruined for a while every hope of happiness for the most affectionate,
generous heart in the world;
and no one could say how lasting an evil he might have inflicted.
"There were some very strong objections against the lady,"
were Colonel Fitzwilliam's words,
and these strong objections probably were,
her having one uncle who was a country attorney,
and another who was in business in London.
"To Jane herself,"
"there could be no possibility of objection.
All loveliness and goodness as she is!
Her understanding excellent,
her mind improved,
and her manners captivating.
Neither could any thing be urged against my father,
though with some peculiarities,
has abilities which Mr. Darcy himself need not disdain,
and respectability which he will probably never reach."
When she thought of her mother indeed,
her confidence gave way a little,
but she would not allow that any objections _there_ had material weight with Mr. Darcy,
she was convinced,
would receive a deeper wound from the want of importance in his friend's connections,
than from their want of sense;
and she was quite decided at last,
that he had been partly governed by this worst kind of pride,
and partly by the wish of retaining Mr. Bingley for his sister.
The agitation and tears which the subject occasioned,
brought on a headache;
and it grew so much worse towards the evening that,
added to her unwillingness to see Mr. Darcy,
it determined her not to attend her cousins to Rosings,
where they were engaged to drink tea.
seeing that she was really unwell,
did not press her to go,
and as much as possible prevented her husband from pressing her,
but Mr. Collins could not conceal his apprehension of Lady Catherine's being rather displeased by her staying at home.
When they were gone,
as if intending to exasperate herself as much as possible against Mr. Darcy,
chose for her employment the examination of all the letters which Jane had written to her since her being in Kent.
They contained no actual complaint,
nor was there any revival of past occurrences,
or any communication of present suffering.
But in all,
and in almost every line of each,
there was a want of that cheerfulness which had been used to characterize her style,
proceeding from the serenity of a mind at ease with itself,
and kindly disposed towards every one,
had been scarcely ever clouded.
Elizabeth noticed every sentence conveying the idea of uneasiness,
with an attention which it had hardly received on the first perusal.
Mr. Darcy's shameful boast of what misery he had been able to inflict,
gave her a keener sense of her sister's sufferings.
It was some consolation to think that his visit to Rosings was to end on the day after the next,
and a still greater,
that in less than a fortnight she should herself be with Jane again,
and enabled to contribute to the recovery of her spirits,
by all that affection could do.
She could not think of Darcy's leaving Kent,
without remembering that his cousin was to go with him;
but Colonel Fitzwilliam had made it clear that he had no intentions at all,
and agreeable as he was,
she did not mean to be unhappy about him.
While settling this point,
she was suddenly roused by the sound of the door bell,
and her spirits were a little fluttered by the idea of its being Colonel Fitzwilliam himself,
who had once before called late in the evening,
and might now come to enquire particularly after her.
But this idea was soon banished,
and her spirits were very differently affected,
to her utter amazement,
she saw Mr. Darcy walk into the room.
In an hurried manner he immediately began an enquiry after her health,
imputing his visit to a wish of hearing that she were better.
She answered him with cold civility.
He sat down for a few moments,
and then getting up walked about the room.
Elizabeth was surprised,
but said not a word.
After a silence of several minutes he came towards her in an agitated manner,
and thus began,
"In vain have I struggled.
It will not do.
My feelings will not be repressed.
You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you."
Elizabeth's astonishment was beyond expression.
and was silent.
This he considered sufficient encouragement,
and the avowal of all that he felt and had long felt for her,
He spoke well,
but there were feelings besides those of the heart to be detailed,
and he was not more eloquent on the subject of tenderness than of pride.
His sense of her inferiority --of its being a degradation --of the family obstacles which judgment had always opposed to inclination,
were dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding,
but was very unlikely to recommend his suit.
In spite of her deeply-rooted dislike,
she could not be insensible to the compliment of such a man's affection,
and though her intentions did not vary for an instant,
she was at first sorry for the pain he was to receive;
roused to resentment by his subsequent language,
she lost all compassion in anger.
to compose herself to answer him with patience,
when he should have done.
He concluded with representing to her the strength of that attachment which,
in spite of all his endeavours,
he had found impossible to conquer;
and with expressing his hope that it would now be rewarded by her acceptance of his hand.
As he said this,
she could easily see that he had no doubt of a favourable answer.
He _spoke_ of apprehension and anxiety,
but his countenance expressed real security.
Such a circumstance could only exasperate farther,
and when he ceased,
the colour rose into her cheeks,
and she said,
"In such cases as this,
the established mode to express a sense of obligation for the sentiments avowed,
however unequally they may be returned.
It is natural that obligation should be felt,
and if I could _feel_ gratitude,
I would now thank you.
But I cannot --I have never desired your good opinion,
and you have certainly bestowed it most unwillingly.
I am sorry to have occasioned pain to any one.
It has been most unconsciously done,
and I hope will be of short duration.
The feelings which,
you tell me,
have long prevented the acknowledgment of your regard,
can have little difficulty in overcoming it after this explanation."
who was leaning against the mantle-piece with his eyes fixed on her face,
seemed to catch her words with no less resentment than surprise.
His complexion became pale with anger,
and the disturbance of his mind was visible in every feature.
He was struggling for the appearance of composure,
and would not open his lips,
till he believed himself to have attained it.
The pause was to Elizabeth's feelings dreadful.
in a voice of forced calmness,
"And this is all the reply which I am to have the honour of expecting!
wish to be informed why,
with so little _endeavour_ at civility,
I am thus rejected.
But it is of small importance."
"I might as well enquire,"
"why with so evident a design of offending and insulting me,
you chose to tell me that you liked me against your will,
against your reason,
and even against your character?
Was not this some excuse for incivility,
if I _was_ uncivil?
But I have other provocations.
You know I have.
Had not my own feelings decided against you,
had they been indifferent,
or had they even been favourable,
do you think that any consideration would tempt me to accept the man,
who has been the means of ruining,
perhaps for ever,
the happiness of a most beloved sister?"
As she pronounced these words,
Mr. Darcy changed colour;
but the emotion was short,
and he listened without attempting to interrupt her while she continued.
"I have every reason in the world to think ill of you.
No motive can excuse the unjust and ungenerous part you acted _there_.
You dare not,
you cannot deny that you have been the principal,
if not the only means of dividing them from each other,
of exposing one to the censure of the world for caprice and instability,
the other to its derision for disappointed hopes,
and involving them both in misery of the acutest kind."
and saw with no slight indignation that he was listening with an air which proved him wholly unmoved by any feeling of remorse.
He even looked at her with a smile of affected incredulity.
"Can you deny that you have done it?"
With assumed tranquillity he then replied,
"I have no wish of denying that I did every thing in my power to separate my friend from your sister,
or that I rejoice in my success.
Towards _him_ I have been kinder than towards myself."
Elizabeth disdained the appearance of noticing this civil reflection,
but its meaning did not escape,
nor was it likely to conciliate her.
"But it is not merely this affair,"
"on which my dislike is founded.
Long before it had taken place,
my opinion of you was decided.
Your character was unfolded in the recital which I received many months ago from Mr. Wickham.
On this subject,
what can you have to say?
In what imaginary act of friendship can you here defend yourself?
or under what misrepresentation,
can you here impose upon others?"
"You take an eager interest in that gentleman's concerns,"
said Darcy in a less tranquil tone,
and with a heightened colour.
"Who that knows what his misfortunes have been,
can help feeling an interest in him?"
repeated Darcy contemptuously;
his misfortunes have been great indeed."
"And of your infliction,"
cried Elizabeth with energy.
"You have reduced him to his present state of poverty,
You have withheld the advantages,
which you must know to have been designed for him.
You have deprived the best years of his life,
of that independence which was no less his due than his desert.
You have done all this!
and yet you can treat the mention of his misfortunes with contempt and ridicule."
as he walked with quick steps across the room,
"is your opinion of me!
This is the estimation in which you hold me!
I thank you for explaining it so fully.
according to this calculation,
are heavy indeed!
stopping in his walk,
and turning towards her,
"these offences might have been overlooked,
had not your pride been hurt by my honest confession of the scruples that had long prevented my forming any serious design.
These bitter accusations might have been suppressed,
had I with greater policy concealed my struggles,
and flattered you into the belief of my being impelled by unqualified,
by every thing.
But disguise of every sort is my abhorrence.
Nor am I ashamed of the feelings I related.
They were natural and just.
Could you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your connections?
To congratulate myself on the hope of relations,
whose condition in life is so decidedly beneath my own?"
Elizabeth felt herself growing more angry every moment;
yet she tried to the utmost to speak with composure when she said,
"You are mistaken,
if you suppose that the mode of your declaration affected me in any other way,
than as it spared me the concern which I might have felt in refusing you,
had you behaved in a more gentleman-like manner."
She saw him start at this,
but he said nothing,
and she continued,
"You could not have made me the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it."
Again his astonishment was obvious;
and he looked at her with an expression of mingled incredulity and mortification.
She went on.
"From the very beginning,
from the first moment I may almost say,
of my acquaintance with you,
your manners impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance,
and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others,
were such as to form that ground-work of disapprobation,
on which succeeding events have built so immoveable a dislike;
and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry."
"You have said quite enough,
I perfectly comprehend your feelings,
and have now only to be ashamed of what my own have been.
Forgive me for having taken up so much of your time,
and accept my best wishes for your health and happiness."
And with these words he hastily left the room,
and Elizabeth heard him the next moment open the front door and quit the house.
The tumult of her mind was now painfully great.
She knew not how to support herself,
and from actual weakness sat down and cried for half an hour.
as she reflected on what had passed,
was increased by every review of it.
That she should receive an offer of marriage from Mr. Darcy!
that he should have been in love with her for so many months!
so much in love as to wish to marry her in spite of all the objections which had made him prevent his friend's marrying her sister,
and which must appear at least with equal force in his own case,
was almost incredible!
it was gratifying to have inspired unconsciously so strong an affection.
But his pride,
his abominable pride,
his shameless avowal of what he had done with respect to Jane,
his unpardonable assurance in acknowledging,
though he could not justify it,
and the unfeeling manner in which he had mentioned Mr. Wickham,
his cruelty towards whom he had not attempted to deny,
soon overcame the pity which the consideration of his attachment had for a moment excited.
She continued in very agitating reflections till the sound of Lady Catherine's carriage made her feel how unequal she was to encounter Charlotte's observation,
and hurried her away to her room.
Elizabeth awoke the next morning to the same thoughts and meditations which had at length closed her eyes.
She could not yet recover from the surprise of what had happened;
it was impossible to think of any thing else,
and totally indisposed for employment,
she resolved soon after breakfast to indulge herself in air and exercise.
She was proceeding directly to her favourite walk,
when the recollection of Mr. Darcy's sometimes coming there stopped her,
and instead of entering the park,
she turned up the lane,
which led her farther from the turnpike road.
The park paling was still the boundary on one side,
and she soon passed one of the gates into the ground.
After walking two or three times along that part of the lane,
she was tempted,
by the pleasantness of the morning,
to stop at the gates and look into the park.
The five weeks which she had now passed in Kent,
had made a great difference in the country,
and every day was adding to the verdure of the early trees.
She was on the point of continuing her walk,
when she caught a glimpse of a gentleman within the sort of grove which edged the park;
he was moving that way;
and fearful of its being Mr. Darcy,
she was directly retreating.
But the person who advanced,
was now near enough to see her,
and stepping forward with eagerness,
pronounced her name.
She had turned away,
but on hearing herself called,
though in a voice which proved it to be Mr. Darcy,
she moved again towards the gate.
He had by that time reached it also,
and holding out a letter,
which she instinctively took,
said with a look of haughty composure,
"I have been walking in the grove some time in the hope of meeting you.
Will you do me the honour of reading that letter?"
with a slight bow,
turned again into the plantation,
and was soon out of sight.
With no expectation of pleasure,
but with the strongest curiosity,
Elizabeth opened the letter,
and to her still increasing wonder,
perceived an envelope containing two sheets of letter paper,
written quite through,
in a very close hand.
--The envelope itself was likewise full.
--Pursuing her way along the lane,
she then began it.
It was dated from Rosings,
at eight o'clock in the morning,
and was as follows: --
"Be not alarmed,
on receiving this letter,
by the apprehension of its containing any repetition of those sentiments,
or renewal of those offers,
which were last night so disgusting to you.
I write without any intention of paining you,
or humbling myself,
by dwelling on wishes,
for the happiness of both,
cannot be too soon forgotten;
and the effort which the formation,
and the perusal of this letter must occasion,
should have been spared,
had not my character required it to be written and read.
pardon the freedom with which I demand your attention;
will bestow it unwillingly,
but I demand it of your justice.
"Two offences of a very different nature,
and by no means of equal magnitude,
you last night laid to my charge.
The first mentioned was,
regardless of the sentiments of either,
I had detached Mr. Bingley from your sister,
--and the other,
that I had,
in defiance of various claims,
in defiance of honour and humanity,
ruined the immediate prosperity,
and blasted the prospects of Mr. Wickham.
--Wilfully and wantonly to have thrown off the companion of my youth,
the acknowledged favourite of my father,
a young man who had scarcely any other dependence than on our patronage,
and who had been brought up to expect its exertion,
would be a depravity,
to which the separation of two young persons,
whose affection could be the growth of only a few weeks,
could bear no comparison.
--But from the severity of that blame which was last night so liberally bestowed,
respecting each circumstance,
I shall hope to be in future secured,
when the following account of my actions and their motives has been read.
in the explanation of them which is due to myself,
I am under the necessity of relating feelings which may be offensive to your's,
I can only say that I am sorry.
--The necessity must be obeyed --and farther apology would be absurd.
--I had not been long in Hertfordshire,
before I saw,
in common with others,
that Bingley preferred your eldest sister,
to any other young woman in the country.
--But it was not till the evening of the dance at Netherfield that I had any apprehension of his feeling a serious attachment.
--I had often seen him in love before.
--At that ball,
while I had the honour of dancing with you,
I was first made acquainted,
by Sir William Lucas's accidental information,
that Bingley's attentions to your sister had given rise to a general expectation of their marriage.
He spoke of it as a certain event,
of which the time alone could be undecided.
From that moment I observed my friend's behaviour attentively;
and I could then perceive that his partiality for Miss Bennet was beyond what I had ever witnessed in him.
Your sister I also watched.
--Her look and manners were open,
cheerful and engaging as ever,
but without any symptom of peculiar regard,
and I remained convinced from the evening's scrutiny,
that though she received his attentions with pleasure,
she did not invite them by any participation of sentiment.
--If _you_ have not been mistaken here,
_I_ must have been in an error.
Your superior knowledge of your sister must make the latter probable.
--If it be so,
if I have been misled by such error,
to inflict pain on her,
your resentment has not been unreasonable.
But I shall not scruple to assert,
that the serenity of your sister's countenance and air was such,
as might have given the most acute observer,
a conviction that,
however amiable her temper,
her heart was not likely to be easily touched.
--That I was desirous of believing her indifferent is certain,
--but I will venture to say that my investigations and decisions are not usually influenced by my hopes or fears.
--I did not believe her to be indifferent because I wished it;
--I believed it on impartial conviction,
as truly as I wished it in reason.
--My objections to the marriage were not merely those,
which I last night acknowledged to have required the utmost force of passion to put aside,
in my own case;
the want of connection could not be so great an evil to my friend as to me.
--But there were other causes of repugnance;
though still existing,
and existing to an equal degree in both instances,
I had myself endeavoured to forget,
because they were not immediately before me.
--These causes must be stated,
--The situation of your mother's family,
was nothing in comparison of that total want of propriety so frequently,
so almost uniformly betrayed by herself,
by your three younger sisters,
and occasionally even by your father.
--It pains me to offend you.
But amidst your concern for the defects of your nearest relations,
and your displeasure at this representation of them,
let it give you consolation to consider that,
to have conducted yourselves so as to avoid any share of the like censure,
is praise no less generally bestowed on you and your eldest sister,
than it is honourable to the sense and disposition of both.
--I will only say farther,
that from what passed that evening,
my opinion of all parties was confirmed,
and every inducement heightened,
which could have led me before,
to preserve my friend from what I esteemed a most unhappy connection.
--He left Netherfield for London,
on the day following,
I am certain,
with the design of soon returning.
--The part which I acted,
is now to be explained.
--His sisters' uneasiness had been equally excited with my own;
our coincidence of feeling was soon discovered;
alike sensible that no time was to be lost in detaching their brother,
we shortly resolved on joining him directly in London.
--We accordingly went --and there I readily engaged in the office of pointing out to my friend,
the certain evils of such a choice.
and enforced them earnestly.
however this remonstrance might have staggered or delayed his determination,
I do not suppose that it would ultimately have prevented the marriage,
had it not been seconded by the assurance which I hesitated not in giving,
of your sister's indifference.
He had before believed her to return his affection with sincere,
if not with equal regard.
--But Bingley has great natural modesty,
with a stronger dependence on my judgment than on his own.
--To convince him,
that he had deceived himself,
was no very difficult point.
To persuade him against returning into Hertfordshire,
when that conviction had been given,
was scarcely the work of a moment.
--I cannot blame myself for having done thus much.
There is but one part of my conduct in the whole affair,
on which I do not reflect with satisfaction;
it is that I condescended to adopt the measures of art so far as to conceal from him your sister's being in town.
I knew it myself,
as it was known to Miss Bingley,
but her brother is even yet ignorant of it.
--That they might have met without ill consequence,
is perhaps probable;
--but his regard did not appear to me enough extinguished for him to see her without some danger.
--Perhaps this concealment,
was beneath me.
--It is done,
and it was done for the best.
--On this subject I have nothing more to say,
no other apology to offer.
If I have wounded your sister's feelings,
it was unknowingly done;
and though the motives which governed me may to you very naturally appear insufficient,
I have not yet learnt to condemn them.
--With respect to that other,
more weighty accusation,
of having injured Mr. Wickham,
I can only refute it by laying before you the whole of his connection with my family.
Of what he has _particularly_ accused me I am ignorant;
but of the truth of what I shall relate,
I can summon more than one witness of undoubted veracity.
Mr. Wickham is the son of a very respectable man,
who had for many years the management of all the Pemberley estates;
and whose good conduct in the discharge of his trust,
naturally inclined my father to be of service to him,
and on George Wickham,
who was his god-son,
his kindness was therefore liberally bestowed.
My father supported him at school,
and afterwards at Cambridge;
--most important assistance,
as his own father,
always poor from the extravagance of his wife,
would have been unable to give him a gentleman's education.
My father was not only fond of this young man's society,
whose manners were always engaging;
he had also the highest opinion of him,
and hoping the church would be his profession,
intended to provide for him in it.
As for myself,
it is many,
many years since I first began to think of him in a very different manner.
The vicious propensities --the want of principle which he was careful to guard from the knowledge of his best friend,
could not escape the observation of a young man of nearly the same age with himself,
and who had opportunities of seeing him in unguarded moments,
which Mr. Darcy could not have.
Here again I shall give you pain --to what degree you only can tell.
But whatever may be the sentiments which Mr. Wickham has created,
a suspicion of their nature shall not prevent me from unfolding his real character.
It adds even another motive.
My excellent father died about five years ago;
and his attachment to Mr. Wickham was to the last so steady,
that in his will he particularly recommended it to me,
to promote his advancement in the best manner that his profession might allow,
and if he took orders,
desired that a valuable family living might be his as soon as soon as it became vacant.
There was also a legacy of one thousand pounds.
His own father did not long survive mine,
and within half a year from these events,
Mr. Wickham wrote to inform me that,
having finally resolved against taking orders,
he hoped I should not think it unreasonable for him to expect some more immediate pecuniary advantage,
in lieu of the preferment,
by which he could not be benefited.
He had some intention,
of studying the law,
and I must be aware that the interest of one thousand pounds would be a very insufficient support therein.
I rather wished,
than believed him to be sincere;
but at any rate,
was perfectly ready to accede to his proposal.
I knew that Mr. Wickham ought not to be a clergyman.
The business was therefore soon settled.
He resigned all claim to assistance in the church,
were it possible that he could ever be in a situation to receive it,
and accepted in return three thousand pounds.
All connection between us seemed now dissolved.
I thought too ill of him,
to invite him to Pemberley,
or admit his society in town.
In town I believe he chiefly lived,
but his studying the law was a mere pretence,
and being now free from all restraint,
his life was a life of idleness and dissipation.
For about three years I heard little of him;
but on the decease of the incumbent of the living which had been designed for him,
he applied to me again by letter for the presentation.
he assured me,
and I had no difficulty in believing it,
were exceedingly bad.
He had found the law a most unprofitable study,
and was now absolutely resolved on being ordained,
if I would present him to the living in question --of which he trusted there could be little doubt,
as he was well assured that I had no other person to provide for,
and I could not have forgotten my revered father's intentions.
You will hardly blame me for refusing to comply with this entreaty,
or for resisting every repetition of it.
His resentment was in proportion to the distress of his circumstances --and he was doubtless as violent in his abuse of me to others,
as in his reproaches to myself.
After this period,
every appearance of acquaintance was dropt.
How he lived I know not.
But last summer he was again most painfully obtruded on my notice.
I must now mention a circumstance which I would wish to forget myself,
and which no obligation less than the present should induce me to unfold to any human being.
Having said thus much,
I feel no doubt of your secrecy.
who is more than ten years my junior,
was left to the guardianship of my mother's nephew,
About a year ago,
she was taken from school,
and an establishment formed for her in London;
and last summer she went with the lady who presided over it,
and thither also went Mr. Wickham,
undoubtedly by design;
for there proved to have been a prior acquaintance between him and Mrs. Younge,
in whose character we were most unhappily deceived;
and by her connivance and aid,
he so far recommended himself to Georgiana,
whose affectionate heart retained a strong impression of his kindness to her as a child,
that she was persuaded to believe herself in love,
and to consent to an elopement.
She was then but fifteen,
which must be her excuse;
and after stating her imprudence,
I am happy to add,
that I owed the knowledge of it to herself.
I joined them unexpectedly a day or two before the intended elopement,
and then Georgiana,
unable to support the idea of grieving and offending a brother whom she almost looked up to as a father,
acknowledged the whole to me.
You may imagine what I felt and how I acted.
Regard for my sister's credit and feelings prevented any public exposure,
but I wrote to Mr. Wickham,
who left the place immediately,
and Mrs. Younge was of course removed from her charge.
Mr. Wickham's chief object was unquestionably my sister's fortune,
which is thirty thousand pounds;
but I cannot help supposing that the hope of revenging himself on me,
was a strong inducement.
His revenge would have been complete indeed.
is a faithful narrative of every event in which we have been concerned together;
and if you do not absolutely reject it as false,
acquit me henceforth of cruelty towards Mr. Wickham.
I know not in what manner,
under what form of falsehood he has imposed on you;
but his success is not perhaps to be wondered at.
Ignorant as you previously were of every thing concerning either,
detection could not be in your power,
and suspicion certainly not in your inclination.
You may possibly wonder why all this was not told you last night.
But I was not then master enough of myself to know what could or ought to be revealed.
For the truth of every thing here related,
I can appeal more particularly to the testimony of Colonel Fitzwilliam,
who from our near relationship and constant intimacy,
and still more as one of the executors of my father's will,
has been unavoidably acquainted with every particular of these transactions.
If your abhorrence of _me_ should make _my_ assertions valueless,
you cannot be prevented by the same cause from confiding in my cousin;
and that there may be the possibility of consulting him,
I shall endeavour to find some opportunity of putting this letter in your hands in the course of the morning.
I will only add,
God bless you.
when Mr. Darcy gave her the letter,
did not expect it to contain a renewal of his offers,
she had formed no expectation at all of its contents.
But such as they were,
it may be well supposed how eagerly she went through them,
and what a contrariety of emotion they excited.
Her feelings as she read were scarcely to be defined.
With amazement did she first understand that he believed any apology to be in his power;
and steadfastly was she persuaded that he could have no explanation to give,
which a just sense of shame would not conceal.
With a strong prejudice against every thing he might say,
she began his account of what had happened at Netherfield.
with an eagerness which hardly left her power of comprehension,
and from impatience of knowing what the next sentence might bring,
was incapable of attending to the sense of the one before her eyes.
His belief of her sister's insensibility,
she instantly resolved to be false,
and his account of the real,
the worst objections to the match,
made her too angry to have any wish of doing him justice.
He expressed no regret for what he had done which satisfied her;
his style was not penitent,
It was all pride and insolence.
But when this subject was succeeded by his account of Mr. Wickham,
when she read with somewhat clearer attention,
a relation of events,
must overthrow every cherished opinion of his worth,
and which bore so alarming an affinity to his own history of himself,
her feelings were yet more acutely painful and more difficult of definition.
and even horror,
She wished to discredit it entirely,
"This must be false!
This cannot be!
This must be the grossest falsehood!"
--and when she had gone through the whole letter,
though scarcely knowing any thing of the last page or two,
put it hastily away,
protesting that she would not regard it,
that she would never look in it again.
In this perturbed state of mind,
with thoughts that could rest on nothing,
she walked on;
but it would not do;
in half a minute the letter was unfolded again,
and collecting herself as well as she could,
she again began the mortifying perusal of all that related to Wickham,
and commanded herself so far as to examine the meaning of every sentence.
The account of his connection with the Pemberley family,
was exactly what he had related himself;
and the kindness of the late Mr. Darcy,
though she had not before known its extent,
agreed equally well with his own words.
So far each recital confirmed the other: but when she came to the will,
the difference was great.
What Wickham had said of the living was fresh in her memory,
and as she recalled his very words,
it was impossible not to feel that there was gross duplicity on one side or the other;
for a few moments,
she flattered herself that her wishes did not err.
But when she read,
and re-read with the closest attention,
the particulars immediately following of Wickham's resigning all pretensions to the living,
of his receiving in lieu,
so considerable a sum as three thousand pounds,
again was she forced to hesitate.
She put down the letter,
weighed every circumstance with what she meant to be impartiality --deliberated on the probability of each statement --but with little success.
On both sides it was only assertion.
Again she read on.
But every line proved more clearly that the affair,
which she had believed it impossible that any contrivance could so represent,
as to render Mr. Darcy's conduct in it less than infamous,
was capable of a turn which must make him entirely blameless throughout the whole.
The extravagance and general profligacy which he scrupled not to lay to Mr. Wickham's charge,
exceedingly shocked her;
the more so,
as she could bring no proof of its injustice.
She had never heard of him before his entrance into the -- --shire Militia,
in which he had engaged at the persuasion of the young man,
on meeting him accidentally in town,
had there renewed a slight acquaintance.
Of his former way of life,
nothing had been known in Hertfordshire but what he told himself.
As to his real character,
had information been in her power,
she had never felt a wish of enquiring.
had established him at once in the possession of every virtue.
She tried to recollect some instance of goodness,
some distinguished trait of integrity or benevolence,
that might rescue him from the attacks of Mr. Darcy;
or at least,
by the predominance of virtue,
atone for those casual errors,
under which she would endeavour to class,
what Mr. Darcy had described as the idleness and vice of many years continuance.
But no such recollection befriended her.
She could see him instantly before her,
in every charm of air and address;
but she could remember no more substantial good than the general approbation of the neighbourhood,
and the regard which his social powers had gained him in the mess.
After pausing on this point a considerable while,
she once more continued to read.
the story which followed of his designs on Miss Darcy,
received some confirmation from what had passed between Colonel Fitzwilliam and herself only the morning before;
and at last she was referred for the truth of every particular to Colonel Fitzwilliam himself --from whom she had previously received the information of his near concern in all his cousin's affairs,
and whose character she had no reason to question.
At one time she had almost resolved on applying to him,
but the idea was checked by the awkwardness of the application,
and at length wholly banished by the conviction that Mr. Darcy would never have hazarded such a proposal,
if he had not been well assured of his cousin's corroboration.
She perfectly remembered every thing that had passed in conversation between Wickham and herself,
in their first evening at Mr. Philips's.
Many of his expressions were still fresh in her memory.
She was _now_ struck with the impropriety of such communications to a stranger,
and wondered it had escaped her before.
She saw the indelicacy of putting himself forward as he had done,
and the inconsistency of his professions with his conduct.
She remembered that he had boasted of having no fear of seeing Mr. Darcy --that Mr. Darcy might leave the country,
but that _he_ should stand his ground;
yet he had avoided the Netherfield ball the very next week.
She remembered also,
that till the Netherfield family had quitted the country,
he had told his story to no one but herself;
but that after their removal,
it had been every where discussed;
that he had then no reserves,
no scruples in sinking Mr. Darcy's character,
though he had assured her that respect for the father,
would always prevent his exposing the son.
How differently did every thing now appear in which he was concerned!
His attentions to Miss King were now the consequence of views solely and hatefully mercenary;
and the mediocrity of her fortune proved no longer the moderation of his wishes,
but his eagerness to grasp at any thing.
His behaviour to herself could now have had no tolerable motive;
he had either been deceived with regard to her fortune,
or had been gratifying his vanity by encouraging the preference which she believed she had most incautiously shewn.
Every lingering struggle in his favour grew fainter and fainter;
and in farther justification of Mr. Darcy,
she could not but allow that Mr. Bingley,
when questioned by Jane,
had long ago asserted his blamelessness in the affair;
that proud and repulsive as were his manners,
she had never,
in the whole course of their acquaintance,
an acquaintance which had latterly brought them much together,
and given her a sort of intimacy with his ways,
seen any thing that betrayed him to be unprincipled or unjust --any thing that spoke him of irreligious or immoral habits.
That among his own connections he was esteemed and valued --that even Wickham had allowed him merit as a brother,
and that she had often heard him speak so affectionately of his sister as to prove him capable of _some_ amiable feeling.
That had his actions been what Wickham represented them,
so gross a violation of every thing right could hardly have been concealed from the world;
and that friendship between a person capable of it,
and such an amiable man as Mr. Bingley,
She grew absolutely ashamed of herself.
--Of neither Darcy nor Wickham could she think,
without feeling that she had been blind,
"How despicably have I acted!"
who have prided myself on my discernment!
who have valued myself on my abilities!
who have often disdained the generous candour of my sister,
and gratified my vanity,
in useless or blameable distrust.
--How humiliating is this discovery!
how just a humiliation!
--Had I been in love,
I could not have been more wretchedly blind.
has been my folly.
--Pleased with the preference of one,
and offended by the neglect of the other,
on the very beginning of our acquaintance,
I have courted prepossession and ignorance,
and driven reason away,
where either were concerned.
Till this moment,
I never knew myself."
From herself to Jane --from Jane to Bingley,
her thoughts were in a line which soon brought to her recollection that Mr. Darcy's explanation _there_,
had appeared very insufficient;
and she read it again.
Widely different was the effect of a second perusal.
--How could she deny that credit to his assertions,
in one instance,
which she had been obliged to give in the other?
--He declared himself to have been totally unsuspicious of her sister's attachment;
--and she could not help remembering what Charlotte's opinion had always been.
--Neither could she deny the justice of his description of Jane.
--She felt that Jane's feelings,
were little displayed,
and that there was a constant complacency in her air and manner,
not often united with great sensibility.
When she came to that part of the letter in which her family were mentioned,
in terms of such mortifying,
yet merited reproach,
her sense of shame was severe.
The justice of the charge struck her too forcibly for denial,
and the circumstances to which he particularly alluded,
as having passed at the Netherfield ball,
and as confirming all his first disapprobation,
could not have made a stronger impression on his mind than on hers.
The compliment to herself and her sister,
was not unfelt.
but it could not console her for the contempt which had been thus self-attracted by the rest of her family;
--and as she considered that Jane's disappointment had in fact been the work of her nearest relations,
and reflected how materially the credit of both must be hurt by such impropriety of conduct,
she felt depressed beyond any thing she had ever known before.
After wandering along the lane for two hours,
giving way to every variety of thought;
and reconciling herself as well as she could,
to a change so sudden and so important,
and a recollection of her long absence,
made her at length return home;
and she entered the house with the wish of appearing cheerful as usual,
and the resolution of repressing such reflections as must make her unfit for conversation.
She was immediately told,
that the two gentlemen from Rosings had each called during her absence;
only for a few minutes to take leave,
but that Colonel Fitzwilliam had been sitting with them at least an hour,
hoping for her return,
and almost resolving to walk after her till she could be found.
--Elizabeth could but just _affect_ concern in missing him;
she really rejoiced at it.
Colonel Fitzwilliam was no longer an object.
She could think only of her letter.
The two gentlemen left Rosings the next morning;
and Mr. Collins having been in waiting near the lodges,
to make them his parting obeisance,
was able to bring home the pleasing intelligence,
of their appearing in very good health,
and in as tolerable spirits as could be expected,
after the melancholy scene so lately gone through at Rosings.
To Rosings he then hastened to console Lady Catherine,
and her daughter;
and on his return,
with great satisfaction,
a message from her Ladyship,
importing that she felt herself so dull as to make her very desirous of having them all to dine with her.
Elizabeth could not see Lady Catherine without recollecting,
that had she chosen it,
she might by this time have been presented to her,
as her future niece;
nor could she think,
without a smile,
of what her ladyship's indignation would have been.
"What would she have said?
--how would she have behaved?"
were questions with which she amused herself.
Their first subject was the diminution of the Rosings party.
--"I assure you,
I feel it exceedingly,"
said Lady Catherine;
"I believe nobody feels the loss of friends so much as I do.
But I am particularly attached to these young men;
and know them to be so much attached to me!
--They were excessively sorry to go!
But so they always are.
The dear colonel rallied his spirits tolerably till just at last;
but Darcy seemed to feel it most acutely,
more I think than last year.
His attachment to Rosings,
Mr. Collins had a compliment,
and an allusion to throw in here,
which were kindly smiled on by the mother and daughter.
Lady Catherine observed,
that Miss Bennet seemed out of spirits,
and immediately accounting for it herself,
by supposing that she did not like to go home again so soon,
"But if that is the case,
you must write to your mother to beg that you may stay a little longer.
Mrs. Collins will be very glad of your company,
I am sure."
"I am much obliged to your ladyship for your kind invitation,"
"but it is not in my power to accept it.
--I must be in town next Saturday."
at that rate,
you will have been here only six weeks.
I expected you to stay two months.
I told Mrs. Collins so before you came.
There can be no occasion for your going so soon.
Mrs. Bennet could certainly spare you for another fortnight."
"But my father cannot.
--He wrote last week to hurry my return."
your father of course may spare you,
if your mother can.
--Daughters are never of so much consequence to a father.
And if you will stay another _month_ complete,
it will be in my power to take one of you as far as London,
for I am going there early in June,
for a week;
and as Dawson does not object to the Barouche box,
there will be very good room for one of you --and indeed,
if the weather should happen to be cool,
I should not object to taking you both,
as you are neither of you large."
"You are all kindness,
but I believe we must abide by our original plan."
Lady Catherine seemed resigned.
you must send a servant with them.
You know I always speak my mind,
and I cannot bear the idea of two young women travelling post by themselves.
It is highly improper.
You must contrive to send somebody.
I have the greatest dislike in the world to that sort of thing.
--Young women should always be properly guarded and attended,
according to their situation in life.
When my niece Georgiana went to Ramsgate last summer,
I made a point of her having two men servants go with her.
the daughter of Mr. Darcy,
and Lady Anne,
could not have appeared with propriety in a different manner.
--I am excessively attentive to all those things.
You must send John with the young ladies,
I am glad it occurred to me to mention it;
for it would really be discreditable to _you_ to let them go alone."
"My uncle is to send a servant for us."
--He keeps a man-servant,
--I am very glad you have somebody who thinks of those things.
Where shall you change horses?
--If you mention my name at the Bell,
you will be attended to."
Lady Catherine had many other questions to ask respecting their journey,
and as she did not answer them all herself,
attention was necessary,
which Elizabeth believed to be lucky for her;
with a mind so occupied,
she might have forgotten where she was.
Reflection must be reserved for solitary hours;
whenever she was alone,
she gave way to it as the greatest relief;
and not a day went by without a solitary walk,
in which she might indulge in all the delight of unpleasant recollections.
Mr. Darcy's letter,
she was in a fair way of soon knowing by heart.
She studied every sentence: and her feelings towards its writer were at times widely different.
When she remembered the style of his address,
she was still full of indignation;
but when she considered how unjustly she had condemned and upbraided him,
her anger was turned against herself;
and his disappointed feelings became the object of compassion.
His attachment excited gratitude,
his general character respect;
but she could not approve him;
nor could she for a moment repent her refusal,
or feel the slightest inclination ever to see him again.
In her own past behaviour,
there was a constant source of vexation and regret;
and in the unhappy defects of her family a subject of yet heavier chagrin.
They were hopeless of remedy.
contented with laughing at them,
would never exert himself to restrain the wild giddiness of his youngest daughters;
and her mother,
with manners so far from right herself,
was entirely insensible of the evil.
Elizabeth had frequently united with Jane in an endeavour to check the imprudence of Catherine and Lydia;
but while they were supported by their mother's indulgence,
what chance could there be of improvement?
and completely under Lydia's guidance,
had been always affronted by their advice;
self-willed and careless,
would scarcely give them a hearing.
They were ignorant,
While there was an officer in Meryton,
they would flirt with him;
and while Meryton was within a walk of Longbourn,
they would be going there for ever.
Anxiety on Jane's behalf,
was another prevailing concern,
and Mr. Darcy's explanation,
by restoring Bingley to all her former good opinion,
heightened the sense of what Jane had lost.
His affection was proved to have been sincere,
and his conduct cleared of all blame,
unless any could attach to the implicitness of his confidence in his friend.
How grievous then was the thought that,
of a situation so desirable in every respect,
so replete with advantage,
so promising for happiness,
Jane had been deprived,
by the folly and indecorum of her own family!
When to these recollections was added the developement of Wickham's character,
it may be easily believed that the happy spirits which had seldom been depressed before,
were now so much affected as to make it almost impossible for her to appear tolerably cheerful.
Their engagements at Rosings were as frequent during the last week of her stay,
as they had been at first.
The very last evening was spent there;
and her Ladyship again enquired minutely into the particulars of their journey,
gave them directions as to the best method of packing,
and was so urgent on the necessity of placing gowns in the only right way,
that Maria thought herself obliged,
on her return,
to undo all the work of the morning,
and pack her trunk afresh.
When they parted,
with great condescension,
wished them a good journey,
and invited them to come to Hunsford again next year;
and Miss De Bourgh exerted herself so far as to curtsey and hold out her hand to both.
On Saturday morning Elizabeth and Mr. Collins met for breakfast a few minutes before the others appeared;
and he took the opportunity of paying the parting civilities which he deemed indispensably necessary.
"I know not,
"whether Mrs. Collins has yet expressed her sense of your kindness in coming to us,
but I am very certain you will not leave the house without receiving her thanks for it.
The favour of your company has been much felt,
I assure you.
We know how little there is to tempt any one to our humble abode.
Our plain manner of living,
our small rooms,
and few domestics,
and the little we see of the world,
must make Hunsford extremely dull to a young lady like yourself;
but I hope you will believe us grateful for the condescension,
and that we have done every thing in our power to prevent your spending your time unpleasantly."
Elizabeth was eager with her thanks and assurances of happiness.
She had spent six weeks with great enjoyment;
and the pleasure of being with Charlotte,
and the kind attentions she had received,
must make _her_ feel the obliged.
Mr. Collins was gratified;
and with a more smiling solemnity replied,
"It gives me the greatest pleasure to hear that you have passed your time not disagreeably.
We have certainly done our best;
and most fortunately having it in our power to introduce you to very superior society,
and from our connection with Rosings,
the frequent means of varying the humble home scene,
I think we may flatter ourselves that your Hunsford visit cannot have been entirely irksome.
Our situation with regard to Lady Catherine's family is indeed the sort of extraordinary advantage and blessing which few can boast.
You see on what a footing we are.
You see how continually we are engaged there.
In truth I must acknowledge that,
with all the disadvantages of this humble parsonage,
I should not think any one abiding in it an object of compassion,
while they are sharers of our intimacy at Rosings."
Words were insufficient for the elevation of his feelings;
and he was obliged to walk about the room,
while Elizabeth tried to unite civility and truth in a few short sentences.
carry a very favourable report of us into Hertfordshire,
my dear cousin.
I flatter myself at least that you will be able to do so.
Lady Catherine's great attentions to Mrs. Collins you have been a daily witness of;
and altogether I trust it does not appear that your friend has drawn an unfortunate --but on this point it will be as well to be silent.
Only let me assure you,
my dear Miss Elizabeth,
that I can from my heart most cordially wish you equal felicity in marriage.
My dear Charlotte and I have but one mind and one way of thinking.
There is in every thing a most remarkable resemblance of character and ideas between us.
We seem to have been designed for each other."
Elizabeth could safely say that it was a great happiness where that was the case,
and with equal sincerity could add that she firmly believed and rejoiced in his domestic comforts.
She was not sorry,
to have the recital of them interrupted by the entrance of the lady from whom they sprung.
--it was melancholy to leave her to such society!
--But she had chosen it with her eyes open;
and though evidently regretting that her visitors were to go,
she did not seem to ask for compassion.
Her home and her housekeeping,
her parish and her poultry,
and all their dependent concerns,
had not yet lost their charms.
At length the chaise arrived,
the trunks were fastened on,
the parcels placed within,
and it was pronounced to be ready.
After an affectionate parting between the friends,
Elizabeth was attended to the carriage by Mr. Collins,
and as they walked down the garden,
he was commissioning her with his best respects to all her family,
not forgetting his thanks for the kindness he had received at Longbourn in the winter,
and his compliments to Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner,
He then handed her in,
and the door was on the point of being closed,
when he suddenly reminded them,
with some consternation,
that they had hitherto forgotten to leave any message for the ladies of Rosings.
"you will of course wish to have your humble respects delivered to them,
with your grateful thanks for their kindness to you while you have been here."
Elizabeth made no objection;
--the door was then allowed to be shut,
and the carriage drove off.
after a few minutes silence,
"it seems but a day or two since we first came!
--and yet how many things have happened!"
"A great many indeed,"
said her companion with a sigh.
"We have dined nine times at Rosings,
besides drinking tea there twice!
--How much I shall have to tell!"
Elizabeth privately added,
"And how much I shall have to conceal."
Their journey was performed without much conversation,
or any alarm;
and within four hours of their leaving Hunsford,
they reached Mr. Gardiner's house,
where they were to remain a few days.
Jane looked well,
and Elizabeth had little opportunity of studying her spirits,
amidst the various engagements which the kindness of her aunt had reserved for them.
But Jane was to go home with her,
and at Longbourn there would be leisure enough for observation.
It was not without an effort meanwhile that she could wait even for Longbourn,
before she told her sister of Mr. Darcy's proposals.
To know that she had the power of revealing what would so exceedingly astonish Jane,
at the same time,
so highly gratify whatever of her own vanity she had not yet been able to reason away,
was such a temptation to openness as nothing could have conquered,
but the state of indecision in which she remained,
as to the extent of what she should communicate;
and her fear,
if she once entered on the subject,
of being hurried into repeating something of Bingley,
which might only grieve her sister farther.
It was the second week in May,
in which the three young ladies set out together from Gracechurch-street,
for the town of -- -- in Hertfordshire;
as they drew near the appointed inn where Mr. Bennet's carriage was to meet them,
they quickly perceived,
in token of the coachman's punctuality,
both Kitty and Lydia looking out of a dining-room up stairs.
These two girls had been above an hour in the place,
happily employed in visiting an opposite milliner,
watching the sentinel on guard,
and dressing a sallad and cucumber.
After welcoming their sisters,
they triumphantly displayed a table set out with such cold meat as an inn larder usually affords,
"Is not this nice?
is not this an agreeable surprise?"
"And we mean to treat you all,"
"but you must lend us the money,
for we have just spent ours at the shop out there."
Then shewing her purchases:
I have bought this bonnet.
I do not think it is very pretty;
but I thought I might as well buy it as not.
I shall pull it to pieces as soon as I get home,
and see if I can make it up any better."
And when her sisters abused it as ugly,
with perfect unconcern,
but there were two or three much uglier in the shop;
and when I have bought some prettier-coloured satin to trim it with fresh,
I think it will be very tolerable.
it will not much signify what one wears this summer,
after the -- --shire have left Meryton,
and they are going in a fortnight."
"Are they indeed?"
with the greatest satisfaction.
"They are going to be encamped near Brighton;
and I do so want papa to take us all there for the summer!
It would be such a delicious scheme,
and I dare say would hardly cost any thing at all.
Mamma would like to go too of all things!
Only think what a miserable summer else we shall have!"
"_that_ would be a delightful scheme,
and completely do for us at once.
and a whole campful of soldiers,
who have been overset already by one poor regiment of militia,
and the monthly balls of Meryton."
"Now I have got some news for you,"
as they sat down to table.
"What do you think?
It is excellent news,
and about a certain person that we all like."
Jane and Elizabeth looked at each other,
and the waiter was told that he need not stay.
that is just like your formality and discretion.
You thought the waiter must not hear,
as if he cared!
I dare say he often hears worse things said than I am going to say.
But he is an ugly fellow!
I am glad he is gone.
I never saw such a long chin in my life.
but now for my news: it is about dear Wickham;
too good for the waiter,
is not it?
There is no danger of Wickham's marrying Mary King.
There's for you!
She is gone down to her uncle at Liverpool;
gone to stay.
Wickham is safe."
"And Mary King is safe!"
"safe from a connection imprudent as to fortune."
"She is a great fool for going away,
if she liked him."
"But I hope there is no strong attachment on either side,"
"I am sure there is not on _his_.
I will answer for it he never cared three straws about her.
Who _could_ about such a nasty little freckled thing?"
Elizabeth was shocked to think that,
however incapable of such coarseness of _expression_ herself,
the coarseness of the _sentiment_ was little other than her own breast had formerly harboured and fancied liberal!
As soon as all had ate,
and the elder ones paid,
the carriage was ordered;
and after some contrivance,
the whole party,
with all their boxes,
and the unwelcome addition of Kitty's and Lydia's purchases,
were seated in it.
"How nicely we are crammed in!"
"I am glad I bought my bonnet,
if it is only for the fun of having another bandbox!
now let us be quite comfortable and snug,
and talk and laugh all the way home.
And in the first place,
let us hear what has happened to you all,
since you went away.
Have you seen any pleasant men?
Have you had any flirting?
I was in great hopes that one of you would have got a husband before you came back.
Jane will be quite an old maid soon,
She is almost three and twenty!
how ashamed I should be of not being married before three and twenty!
My aunt Philips wants you so to get husbands,
you can't think.
She says Lizzy had better have taken Mr. Collins;
but _I_ do not think there would have been any fun in it.
how I should like to be married before any of you;
and then I would chaperon you about to all the balls.
we had such a good piece of fun the other day at Colonel Forster's.
Kitty and me were to spend the day there,
and Mrs. Forster promised to have a little dance in the evening;
(by the bye,
Mrs. Forster and me are _such_ friends!) and so she asked the two Harringtons to come,
but Harriet was ill,
and so Pen was forced to come by herself;
what do you think we did?
We dressed up Chamberlayne in woman's clothes,
on purpose to pass for a lady,
--only think what fun!
Not a soul knew of it,
but Col. and Mrs. Forster,
and Kitty and me,
except my aunt,
for we were forced to borrow one of her gowns;
and you cannot imagine how well he looked!
and two or three more of the men came in,
they did not know him in the least.
how I laughed!
and so did Mrs. Forster.
I thought I should have died.
And _that_ made the men suspect something,
and then they soon found out what was the matter."
With such kind of histories of their parties and good jokes,
assisted by Kitty's hints and additions,
endeavour to amuse her companions all the way to Longbourn.
Elizabeth listened as little as she could,
but there was no escaping the frequent mention of Wickham's name.
Their reception at home was most kind.
Mrs. Bennet rejoiced to see Jane in undiminished beauty;
and more than once during dinner did Mr. Bennet say voluntarily to Elizabeth,
"I am glad you are come back,
Their party in the dining-room was large,
for almost all the Lucases came to meet Maria and hear the news: and various were the subjects which occupied them;
lady Lucas was enquiring of Maria across the table,
after the welfare and poultry of her eldest daughter;
Mrs. Bennet was doubly engaged,
on one hand collecting an account of the present fashions from Jane,
who sat some way below her,
and on the other,
retailing them all to the younger Miss Lucases;
in a voice rather louder than any other person's,
was enumerating the various pleasures of the morning to any body who would hear her.
"I wish you had gone with us,
for we had such fun!
as we went along,
Kitty and me drew up all the blinds,
and pretended there was nobody in the coach;
and I should have gone so all the way,
if Kitty had not been sick;
and when we got to the George,
I do think we behaved very handsomely,
for we treated the other three with the nicest cold luncheon in the world,
and if you would have gone,
we would have treated you too.
And then when we came away it was such fun!
I thought we never should have got into the coach.
I was ready to die of laughter.
And then we were so merry all the way home!
we talked and laughed so loud,
that any body might have heard us ten miles off!"
Mary very gravely replied,
"Far be it from me,
my dear sister,
to depreciate such pleasures.
They would doubtless be congenial with the generality of female minds.
But I confess they would have no charms for _me_.
I should infinitely prefer a book."
But of this answer Lydia heard not a word.
She seldom listened to any body for more than half a minute,
and never attended to Mary at all.
In the afternoon Lydia was urgent with the rest of the girls to walk to Meryton and see how every body went on;
but Elizabeth steadily opposed the scheme.
It should not be said,
that the Miss Bennets could not be at home half a day before they were in pursuit of the officers.
There was another reason too for her opposition.
She dreaded seeing Wickham again,
and was resolved to avoid it as long as possible.
The comfort to _her_,
of the regiment's approaching removal,
was indeed beyond expression.
In a fortnight they were to go,
and once gone,
she hoped there could be nothing more to plague her on his account.
She had not been many hours at home,
before she found that the Brighton scheme,
of which Lydia had given them a hint at the inn,
was under frequent discussion between her parents.
Elizabeth saw directly that her father had not the smallest intention of yielding;
but his answers were at the same time so vague and equivocal,
that her mother,
though often disheartened,
had never yet despaired of succeeding at last.
Elizabeth's impatience to acquaint Jane with what had happened could no longer be overcome;
and at length resolving to suppress every particular in which her sister was concerned,
and preparing her to be surprised,
she related to her the next morning the chief of the scene between Mr. Darcy and herself.
Miss Bennet's astonishment was soon lessened by the strong sisterly partiality which made any admiration of Elizabeth appear perfectly natural;
and all surprise was shortly lost in other feelings.
She was sorry that Mr. Darcy should have delivered his sentiments in a manner so little suited to recommend them;
but still more was she grieved for the unhappiness which her sister's refusal must have given him.
"His being so sure of succeeding,
"and certainly ought not to have appeared;
but consider how much it must increase his disappointment."
"I am heartily sorry for him;
but he has other feelings which will probably soon drive away his regard for me.
You do not blame me,
for refusing him?"
"But you blame me for having spoken so warmly of Wickham."
"No --I do not know that you were wrong in saying what you did."
"But you _will_ know it,
when I have told you what happened the very next day."
She then spoke of the letter,
repeating the whole of its contents as far as they concerned George Wickham.
What a stroke was this for poor Jane!
who would willingly have gone through the world without believing that so much wickedness existed in the whole race of mankind,
as was here collected in one individual.
Nor was Darcy's vindication,
though grateful to her feelings,
capable of consoling her for such discovery.
Most earnestly did she labour to prove the probability of error,
and seek to clear one,
without involving the other.
"This will not do,"
"You never will be able to make both of them good for any thing.
Take your choice,
but you must be satisfied with only one.
There is but such a quantity of merit between them;
just enough to make one good sort of man;
and of late it has been shifting about pretty much.
For my part,
I am inclined to believe it all Mr. Darcy's,
but you shall do as you chuse."
It was some time,
before a smile could be extorted from Jane.
"I do not know when I have been more shocked,"
"Wickham so very bad!
It is almost past belief.
And poor Mr. Darcy!
only consider what he must have suffered.
Such a disappointment!
and with the knowledge of your ill opinion too!
and having to relate such a thing of his sister!
It is really too distressing.
I am sure you must feel it so."
my regret and compassion are all done away by seeing you so full of both.
I know you will do him such ample justice,
that I am growing every moment more unconcerned and indifferent.
Your profusion makes me saving;
and if you lament over him much longer,
my heart will be as light as a feather."
there is such an expression of goodness in his countenance!
such an openness and gentleness in his manner."
"There certainly was some great mismanagement in the education of those two young men.
One has got all the goodness,
and the other all the appearance of it."
"I never thought Mr. Darcy so deficient in the _appearance_ of it as you used to do."
"And yet I meant to be uncommonly clever in taking so decided a dislike to him,
without any reason.
It is such a spur to one's genius,
such an opening for wit to have a dislike of that kind.
One may be continually abusive without saying any thing just;
but one cannot be always laughing at a man without now and then stumbling on something witty."
when you first read that letter,
I am sure you could not treat the matter as you do now."
"Indeed I could not.
I was uncomfortable enough.
I was very uncomfortable,
I may say unhappy.
And with no one to speak to,
of what I felt,
no Jane to comfort me and say that I had not been so very weak and vain and nonsensical as I knew I had!
how I wanted you!"
"How unfortunate that you should have used such very strong expressions in speaking of Wickham to Mr. Darcy,
for now they _do_ appear wholly undeserved."
But the misfortune of speaking with bitterness,
is a most natural consequence of the prejudices I had been encouraging.
There is one point,
on which I want your advice.
I want to be told whether I ought,
or ought not to make our acquaintance in general understand Wickham's character."
Miss Bennet paused a little and then replied,
"Surely there can be no occasion for exposing him so dreadfully.
What is your own opinion?"
"That it ought not to be attempted.
Mr. Darcy has not authorised me to make his communication public.
On the contrary every particular relative to his sister,
was meant to be kept as much as possible to myself;
and if I endeavour to undeceive people as to the rest of his conduct,
who will believe me?
The general prejudice against Mr. Darcy is so violent,
that it would be the death of half the good people in Meryton,
to attempt to place him in an amiable light.
I am not equal to it.
Wickham will soon be gone;
and therefore it will not signify to anybody here,
what he really is.
Sometime hence it will be all found out,
and then we may laugh at their stupidity in not knowing it before.
At present I will say nothing about it."
"You are quite right.
To have his errors made public might ruin him for ever.
He is now perhaps sorry for what he has done,
and anxious to re-establish a character.
We must not make him desperate."
The tumult of Elizabeth's mind was allayed by this conversation.
She had got rid of two of the secrets which had weighed on her for a fortnight,
and was certain of a willing listener in Jane,
whenever she might wish to talk again of either.
But there was still something lurking behind,
of which prudence forbad the disclosure.
She dared not relate the other half of Mr. Darcy's letter,
nor explain to her sister how sincerely she had been valued by his friend.
Here was knowledge in which no one could partake;
and she was sensible that nothing less than a perfect understanding between the parties could justify her in throwing off this last incumbrance of mystery.
"if that very improbable event should ever take place,
I shall merely be able to tell what Bingley may tell in a much more agreeable manner himself.
The liberty of communication cannot be mine till it has lost all its value!"
She was now,
on being settled at home,
at leisure to observe the real state of her sister's spirits.
Jane was not happy.
She still cherished a very tender affection for Bingley.
Having never even fancied herself in love before,
her regard had all the warmth of first attachment,
and from her age and disposition,
greater steadiness than first attachments often boast;
and so fervently did she value his remembrance,
and prefer him to every other man,
that all her good sense,
and all her attention to the feelings of her friends,
were requisite to check the indulgence of those regrets,
which must have been injurious to her own health and their tranquillity.
said Mrs. Bennet one day,
"what is your opinion _now_ of this sad business of Jane's?
For my part,
I am determined never to speak of it again to anybody.
I told my sister Philips so the other day.
But I cannot find out that Jane saw any thing of him in London.
he is a very undeserving young man --and I do not suppose there is the least chance in the world of her ever getting him now.
There is no talk of his coming to Netherfield again in the summer;
and I have enquired of every body too,
who is likely to know."
"I do not believe that he will ever live at Netherfield any more."
it is just as he chooses.
Nobody wants him to come.
Though I shall always say that he used my daughter extremely ill;
and if I was her,
I would not have put up with it.
my comfort is,
I am sure Jane will die of a broken heart,
and then he will be sorry for what he has done."
But as Elizabeth could not receive comfort from any such expectation,
she made no answer.
continued her mother soon afterwards,
"and so the Collinses live very comfortable,
I only hope it will last.
And what sort of table do they keep?
Charlotte is an excellent manager,
I dare say.
If she is half as sharp as her mother,
she is saving enough.
There is nothing extravagant in _their_ housekeeping,
I dare say."
nothing at all."
"A great deal of good management,
depend upon it.
_They_ will take care not to outrun their income.
_They_ will never be distressed for money.
much good may it do them!
they often talk of having Longbourn when your father is dead.
They look upon it quite as their own,
I dare say,
whenever that happens."
"It was a subject which they could not mention before me."
"No. It would have been strange if they had.
But I make no doubt,
they often talk of it between themselves.
if they can be easy with an estate that is not lawfully their own,
so much the better.
_I_ should be ashamed of having one that was only entailed on me."
The first week of their return was soon gone.
The second began.
It was the last of the regiment's stay in Meryton,
and all the young ladies in the neighbourhood were drooping apace.
The dejection was almost universal.
The elder Miss Bennets alone were still able to eat,
and pursue the usual course of their employments.
Very frequently were they reproached for this insensibility by Kitty and Lydia,
whose own misery was extreme,
and who could not comprehend such hard-heartedness in any of the family.
What is to become of us!
What are we to do!"
would they often exclaim in the bitterness of woe.
"How can you be smiling so,
Their affectionate mother shared all their grief;
she remembered what she had herself endured on a similar occasion,
five and twenty years ago.
"I am sure,"
"I cried for two days together when Colonel Millar's regiment went away.
I thought I should have broke my heart."
"I am sure I shall break _mine_,"
"If one could but go to Brighton!"
observed Mrs. Bennet.
--if one could but go to Brighton!
But papa is so disagreeable."
"A little sea-bathing would set me up for ever."
"And my aunt Philips is sure it would do _me_ a great deal of good,"
Such were the kind of lamentations resounding perpetually through Longbourn-house.
Elizabeth tried to be diverted by them;
but all sense of pleasure was lost in shame.
She felt anew the justice of Mr. Darcy's objections;
and never had she before been so much disposed to pardon his interference in the views of his friend.
But the gloom of Lydia's prospect was shortly cleared away;
for she received an invitation from Mrs. Forster,
the wife of the Colonel of the regiment,
to accompany her to Brighton.
This invaluable friend was a very young woman,
and very lately married.
A resemblance in good humour and good spirits had recommended her and Lydia to each other,
and out of their _three_ months' acquaintance they had been intimate _two_.
The rapture of Lydia on this occasion,
her adoration of Mrs. Forster,
the delight of Mrs. Bennet,
and the mortification of Kitty,
are scarcely to be described.
Wholly inattentive to her sister's feelings,
Lydia flew about the house in restless ecstacy,
calling for every one's congratulations,
and laughing and talking with more violence than ever;
whilst the luckless Kitty continued in the parlour repining at her fate in terms as unreasonable as her accent was peevish.
"I cannot see why Mrs. Forster should not ask _me_ as well as Lydia,"
"though I am _not_ her particular friend.
I have just as much right to be asked as she has,
and more too,
for I am two years older."
In vain did Elizabeth attempt to make her reasonable,
and Jane to make her resigned.
As for Elizabeth herself,
this invitation was so far from exciting in her the same feelings as in her mother and Lydia,
that she considered it as the death-warrant of all possibility of common sense for the latter;
and detestable as such a step must make her were it known,
she could not help secretly advising her father not to let her go.
She represented to him all the improprieties of Lydia's general behaviour,
the little advantage she could derive from the friendship of such a woman as Mrs. Forster,
and the probability of her being yet more imprudent with such a companion at Brighton,
where the temptations must be greater than at home.
He heard her attentively,
and then said,
"Lydia will never be easy till she has exposed herself in some public place or other,
and we can never expect her to do it with so little expense or inconvenience to her family as under the present circumstances."
"If you were aware,"
"of the very great disadvantage to us all,
which must arise from the public notice of Lydia's unguarded and imprudent manner;
which has already arisen from it,
I am sure you would judge differently in the affair."
repeated Mr. Bennet.
has she frightened away some of your lovers?
Poor little Lizzy!
But do not be cast down.
Such squeamish youths as cannot bear to be connected with a little absurdity,
are not worth a regret.
let me see the list of the pitiful fellows who have been kept aloof by Lydia's folly."
"Indeed you are mistaken.
I have no such injuries to resent.
It is not of peculiar,
but of general evils,
which I am now complaining.
our respectability in the world,
must be affected by the wild volatility,
the assurance and disdain of all restraint which mark Lydia's character.
Excuse me --for I must speak plainly.
my dear father,
will not take the trouble of checking her exuberant spirits,
and of teaching her that her present pursuits are not to be the business of her life,
she will soon be beyond the reach of amendment.
Her character will be fixed,
and she will,
be the most determined flirt that ever made herself and her family ridiculous.
A flirt too,
in the worst and meanest degree of flirtation;
without any attraction beyond youth and a tolerable person;
and from the ignorance and emptiness of her mind,
wholly unable to ward off any portion of that universal contempt which her rage for admiration will excite.
In this danger Kitty is also comprehended.
She will follow wherever Lydia leads.
and absolutely uncontrouled!
my dear father,
can you suppose it possible that they will not be censured and despised wherever they are known,
and that their sisters will not be often involved in the disgrace?"
Mr. Bennet saw that her whole heart was in the subject;
and affectionately taking her hand,
said in reply,
"Do not make yourself uneasy,
Wherever you and Jane are known,
you must be respected and valued;
and you will not appear to less advantage for having a couple of --or I may say,
three very silly sisters.
We shall have no peace at Longbourn if Lydia does not go to Brighton.
Let her go then.
Colonel Forster is a sensible man,
and will keep her out of any real mischief;
and she is luckily too poor to be an object of prey to any body.
At Brighton she will be of less importance even as a common flirt than she has been here.
The officers will find women better worth their notice.
Let us hope,
that her being there may teach her her own insignificance.
At any rate,
she cannot grow many degrees worse,
without authorizing us to lock her up for the rest of her life."
With this answer Elizabeth was forced to be content;
but her own opinion continued the same,
and she left him disappointed and sorry.
It was not in her nature,
to increase her vexations,
by dwelling on them.
She was confident of having performed her duty,
and to fret over unavoidable evils,
or augment them by anxiety,
was no part of her disposition.
Had Lydia and her mother known the substance of her conference with her father,
their indignation would hardly have found expression in their united volubility.
In Lydia's imagination,
a visit to Brighton comprised every possibility of earthly happiness.
She saw with the creative eye of fancy,
the streets of that gay bathing place covered with officers.
She saw herself the object of attention,
to tens and to scores of them at present unknown.
She saw all the glories of the camp;
its tents stretched forth in beauteous uniformity of lines,
crowded with the young and the gay,
and dazzling with scarlet;
and to complete the view,
she saw herself seated beneath a tent,
tenderly flirting with at least six officers at once.
Had she known that her sister sought to tear her from such prospects and such realities as these,
what would have been her sensations?
They could have been understood only by her mother,
who might have felt nearly the same.
Lydia's going to Brighton was all that consoled her for the melancholy conviction of her husband's never intending to go there himself.
But they were entirely ignorant of what had passed;
and their raptures continued with little intermission to the very day of Lydia's leaving home.
Elizabeth was now to see Mr. Wickham for the last time.
Having been frequently in company with him since her return,
agitation was pretty well over;
the agitations of former partiality entirely so.
She had even learnt to detect,
in the very gentleness which had first delighted her,
an affectation and a sameness to disgust and weary.
In his present behaviour to herself,
she had a fresh source of displeasure,
for the inclination he soon testified of renewing those attentions which had marked the early part of their acquaintance,
could only serve,
after what had since passed,
to provoke her.
She lost all concern for him in finding herself thus selected as the object of such idle and frivolous gallantry;
and while she steadily repressed it,
could not but feel the reproof contained in his believing,
that however long,
and for whatever cause,
his attentions had been withdrawn,
her vanity would be gratified and her preference secured at any time by their renewal.
On the very last day of the regiment's remaining in Meryton,
he dined with others of the officers at Longbourn;
and so little was Elizabeth disposed to part from him in good humour,
that on his making some enquiry as to the manner in which her time had passed at Hunsford,
she mentioned Colonel Fitzwilliam's and Mr. Darcy's having both spent three weeks at Rosings,
and asked him if he were acquainted with the former.
He looked surprised,
but with a moment's recollection and a returning smile,
that he had formerly seen him often;
and after observing that he was a very gentleman-like man,
asked her how she had liked him.
Her answer was warmly in his favour.
With an air of indifference he soon afterwards added,
"How long did you say that he was at Rosings?"
"Nearly three weeks."
"And you saw him frequently?"
almost every day."
"His manners are very different from his cousin's."
But I think Mr. Darcy improves on acquaintance."
cried Wickham with a look which did not escape her.
"And pray may I ask?"
but checking himself,
he added in a gayer tone,
"Is it in address that he improves?
Has he deigned to add ought of civility to his ordinary style?
for I dare not hope,"
he continued in a lower and more serious tone,
"that he is improved in essentials."
he is very much what he ever was."
While she spoke,
Wickham looked as if scarcely knowing whether to rejoice over her words,
or to distrust their meaning.
There was a something in her countenance which made him listen with an apprehensive and anxious attention,
while she added,
"When I said that he improved on acquaintance,
I did not mean that either his mind or manners were in a state of improvement,
but that from knowing him better,
his disposition was better understood."
Wickham's alarm now appeared in a heightened complexion and agitated look;
for a few minutes he was silent;
shaking off his embarrassment,
he turned to her again,
and said in the gentlest of accents,
who so well know my feelings towards Mr. Darcy,
will readily comprehend how sincerely I must rejoice that he is wise enough to assume even the _appearance_ of what is right.
in that direction,
may be of service,
if not to himself,
to many others,
for it must deter him from such foul misconduct as I have suffered by.
I only fear that the sort of cautiousness,
to which you,
have been alluding,
is merely adopted on his visits to his aunt,
of whose good opinion and judgment he stands much in awe.
His fear of her,
has always operated,
when they were together;
and a good deal is to be imputed to his wish of forwarding the match with Miss De Bourgh,
which I am certain he has very much at heart."
Elizabeth could not repress a smile at this,
but she answered only by a slight inclination of the head.
She saw that he wanted to engage her on the old subject of his grievances,
and she was in no humour to indulge him.
The rest of the evening passed with the _appearance_,
on his side,
of usual cheerfulness,
but with no farther attempt to distinguish Elizabeth;
and they parted at last with mutual civility,
and possibly a mutual desire of never meeting again.
When the party broke up,
Lydia returned with Mrs. Forster to Meryton,
from whence they were to set out early the next morning.
The separation between her and her family was rather noisy than pathetic.
Kitty was the only one who shed tears;
but she did weep from vexation and envy.
Mrs. Bennet was diffuse in her good wishes for the felicity of her daughter,
and impressive in her injunctions that she would not miss the opportunity of enjoying herself as much as possible;
which there was every reason to believe would be attended to;
and in the clamorous happiness of Lydia herself in bidding farewell,
the more gentle adieus of her sisters were uttered without being heard.
Had Elizabeth's opinion been all drawn from her own family,
she could not have formed a very pleasing picture of conjugal felicity or domestic comfort.
Her father captivated by youth and beauty,
and that appearance of good humour,
which youth and beauty generally give,
had married a woman whose weak understanding and illiberal mind,
had very early in their marriage put an end to all real affection for her.
had vanished for ever;
and all his views of domestic happiness were overthrown.
But Mr. Bennet was not of a disposition to seek comfort for the disappointment which his own imprudence had brought on,
in any of those pleasures which too often console the unfortunate for their folly or their vice.
He was fond of the country and of books;
and from these tastes had arisen his principal enjoyments.
To his wife he was very little otherwise indebted,
than as her ignorance and folly had contributed to his amusement.
This is not the sort of happiness which a man would in general wish to owe to his wife;
but where other powers of entertainment are wanting,
the true philosopher will derive benefit from such as are given.
had never been blind to the impropriety of her father's behaviour as a husband.
She had always seen it with pain;
but respecting his abilities,
and grateful for his affectionate treatment of herself,
she endeavoured to forget what she could not overlook,
and to banish from her thoughts that continual breach of conjugal obligation and decorum which,
in exposing his wife to the contempt of her own children,
was so highly reprehensible.
But she had never felt so strongly as now,
the disadvantages which must attend the children of so unsuitable a marriage,
nor ever been so fully aware of the evils arising from so ill-judged a direction of talents;
talents which rightly used,
might at least have preserved the respectability of his daughters,
even if incapable of enlarging the mind of his wife.
When Elizabeth had rejoiced over Wickham's departure,
she found little other cause for satisfaction in the loss of the regiment.
Their parties abroad were less varied than before;
and at home she had a mother and sister whose constant repinings at the dulness of every thing around them,
threw a real gloom over their domestic circle;
though Kitty might in time regain her natural degree of sense,
since the disturbers of her brain were removed,
her other sister,
from whose disposition greater evil might be apprehended,
was likely to be hardened in all her folly and assurance,
by a situation of such double danger as a watering place and a camp.
Upon the whole,
what has been sometimes found before,
that an event to which she had looked forward with impatient desire,
did not in taking place,
bring all the satisfaction she had promised herself.
It was consequently necessary to name some other period for the commencement of actual felicity;
to have some other point on which her wishes and hopes might be fixed,
and by again enjoying the pleasure of anticipation,
console herself for the present,
and prepare for another disappointment.
Her tour to the Lakes was now the object of her happiest thoughts;
it was her best consolation for all the uncomfortable hours,
which the discontentedness of her mother and Kitty made inevitable;
and could she have included Jane in the scheme,
every part of it would have been perfect.
"But it is fortunate,"
"that I have something to wish for.
Were the whole arrangement complete,
my disappointment would be certain.
by carrying with me one ceaseless source of regret in my sister's absence,
I may reasonably hope to have all my expectations of pleasure realized.
A scheme of which every part promises delight,
can never be successful;
and general disappointment is only warded off by the defence of some little peculiar vexation."
When Lydia went away,
she promised to write very often and very minutely to her mother and Kitty;
but her letters were always long expected,
and always very short.
Those to her mother,
contained little else,
than that they were just returned from the library,
where such and such officers had attended them,
and where she had seen such beautiful ornaments as made her quite wild;
that she had a new gown,
or a new parasol,
which she would have described more fully,
but was obliged to leave off in a violent hurry,
as Mrs. Forster called her,
and they were going to the camp;
--and from her correspondence with her sister,
there was still less to be learnt --for her letters to Kitty,
though rather longer,
were much too full of lines under the words to be made public.
After the first fortnight or three weeks of her absence,
good humour and cheerfulness began to re-appear at Longbourn.
Everything wore a happier aspect.
The families who had been in town for the winter came back again,
and summer finery and summer engagements arose.
Mrs. Bennet was restored to her usual querulous serenity,
and by the middle of June Kitty was so much recovered as to be able to enter Meryton without tears;
an event of such happy promise as to make Elizabeth hope,
that by the following Christmas,
she might be so tolerably reasonable as not to mention an officer above once a day,
unless by some cruel and malicious arrangement at the war-office,
another regiment should be quartered in Meryton.
The time fixed for the beginning of their Northern tour was now fast approaching;
and a fortnight only was wanting of it,
when a letter arrived from Mrs. Gardiner,
which at once delayed its commencement and curtailed its extent.
Mr. Gardiner would be prevented by business from setting out till a fortnight later in July,
and must be in London again within a month;
and as that left too short a period for them to go so far,
and see so much as they had proposed,
or at least to see it with the leisure and comfort they had built on,
they were obliged to give up the Lakes,
and substitute a more contracted tour;
according to the present plan,
were to go no farther northward than Derbyshire.
In that county,
there was enough to be seen,
to occupy the chief of their three weeks;
and to Mrs. Gardiner it had a peculiarly strong attraction.
The town where she had formerly passed some years of her life,
and where they were now to spend a few days,
was probably as great an object of her curiosity,
as all the celebrated beauties of Matlock,
or the Peak.
Elizabeth was excessively disappointed;
she had set her heart on seeing the Lakes;
and still thought there might have been time enough.
But it was her business to be satisfied --and certainly her temper to be happy;
and all was soon right again.
With the mention of Derbyshire,
there were many ideas connected.
It was impossible for her to see the word without thinking of Pemberley and its owner.
"I may enter his county with impunity,
and rob it of a few petrified spars without his perceiving me."
The period of expectation was now doubled.
Four weeks were to pass away before her uncle and aunt's arrival.
But they did pass away,
and Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner,
with their four children,
did at length appear at Longbourn.
two girls of six and eight years old,
and two younger boys,
were to be left under the particular care of their cousin Jane,
who was the general favourite,
and whose steady sense and sweetness of temper exactly adapted her for attending to them in every way --teaching them,
playing with them,
and loving them.
The Gardiners staid only one night at Longbourn,
and set off the next morning with Elizabeth in pursuit of novelty and amusement.
One enjoyment was certain --that of suitableness as companions;
a suitableness which comprehended health and temper to bear inconveniences --cheerfulness to enhance every pleasure --and affection and intelligence,
which might supply it among themselves if there were disappointments abroad.
It is not the object of this work to give a description of Derbyshire,
nor of any of the remarkable places through which their route thither lay;
are sufficiently known.
A small part of Derbyshire is all the present concern.
To the little town of Lambton,
the scene of Mrs. Gardiner's former residence,
and where she had lately learned that some acquaintance still remained,
they bent their steps,
after having seen all the principal wonders of the country;
and within five miles of Lambton,
Elizabeth found from her aunt,
that Pemberley was situated.
It was not in their direct road,
nor more than a mile or two out of it.
In talking over their route the evening before,
Mrs. Gardiner expressed an inclination to see the place again.
Mr. Gardiner declared his willingness,
and Elizabeth was applied to for her approbation.
should not you like to see a place of which you have heard so much?"
said her aunt.
"A place too,
with which so many of your acquaintance are connected.
Wickham passed all his youth there,
Elizabeth was distressed.
She felt that she had no business at Pemberley,
and was obliged to assume a disinclination for seeing it.
She must own that she was tired of great houses;
after going over so many,
she really had no pleasure in fine carpets or satin curtains.
Mrs. Gardiner abused her stupidity.
"If it were merely a fine house richly furnished,"
"I should not care about it myself;
but the grounds are delightful.
They have some of the finest woods in the country."
Elizabeth said no more --but her mind could not acquiesce.
The possibility of meeting Mr. Darcy,
while viewing the place,
It would be dreadful!
She blushed at the very idea;
and thought it would be better to speak openly to her aunt,
than to run such a risk.
But against this,
there were objections;
and she finally resolved that it could be the last resource,
if her private enquiries as to the absence of the family,
were unfavourably answered.
when she retired at night,
she asked the chambermaid whether Pemberley were not a very fine place,
what was the name of its proprietor,
and with no little alarm,
whether the family were down for the summer.
A most welcome negative followed the last question --and her alarms being now removed,
she was at leisure to feel a great deal of curiosity to see the house herself;
and when the subject was revived the next morning,
and she was again applied to,
could readily answer,
and with a proper air of indifference,
that she had not really any dislike to the scheme.
they were to go.
END OF THE SECOND VOLUME.