lizabeth had the satisfaction of receiving an answer
to her letter as soon as she possibly could. She was
no sooner in possession of it than, hurrying into the
little copse, where she was least likely to be interrupted,
she sat down on one of the benches and prepared to
be happy; for the length of the letter convinced her that it
did not contain a denial.
УGracechurch-street, Sept. 6.
My Dear Niece,
I have just received your letter, and shall devote this whole morning to answering it, as I foresee that a little writing will
not comprise what I have to tell you. I must confess myself surprised by your application; I did not expect it from you. DonТt think me angry, however, for I only mean to let you know that I had not imagined such enquiries to be necessary on your side. If you do not choose to understand me, forgive
my impertinence. Your uncle is as much surprised as I am Ч and nothing but the belief of your being a party concerned would have allowed him to act as he has done. But if you are really innocent and ignorant, I must be more explicit. On the very day of my coming home from Longbourn, your uncle had
a most unexpected visitor. Mr. Darcy called, and was shut up with him several hours. It was all over before I arrived; so my curiosity was not so dreadfully racked as yourТs seems to have been. He came to tell Mr. Gardiner that he had found out where your sister and Mr. Wickham were, and that he had
seen and talked with them both; Wickham repeatedly, Lydia once. From what I can collect, he left Derbyshire only one day after ourselves, and came to town with the resolution of hunting for them. The motive professed was his conviction of its being owing to himself that WickhamТs worthlessness had
not been so well known as to make it impossible for any young woman of character to love or confide in him. He generously imputed the whole to his mistaken pride, and confessed that he had before thought it beneath him to lay his private actions open to the world. His character was to speak for itself. He
called it, therefore, his duty to step forward, and endeavour to remedy an evil which had been brought on by himself. If he had another motive, I am sure it would never disgrace him. He had been some days in town, before he was able to discover them; but he had something to direct his search, which was
more than we had; and the consciousness of this was another reason for his resolving to follow us. There is a lady, it seems, a Mrs. Younge, who was some time ago governess to Miss Darcy, and was dismissed from her charge on some cause of disapprobation, though he did not say what. She then took a
large house in Edward-street, and has since maintained herself by letting lodgings. This Mrs. Younge was, he knew, intimately acquainted with Wickham; and he went to her for intelligence of him as soon as he got to town. But it was two or three days before he could get from her what he wanted.
She would not betray her trust, I suppose, without bribery and corruption, for she really did know where her friend was to be found. Wickham indeed had gone to her on their first arrival in London, and had she been able to receive them into her house, they would have taken up their abode with her. At
length, however, our kind friend procured the wished-for direction. They were in Ч street. He saw Wickham, and afterwards insisted on seeing Lydia. His first object with her, he acknowledged, had been to persuade her to quit her present disgraceful situation, and return to her friends as soon as they
could be prevailed on to receive her, offering his assistance, as far as it would go. But he found Lydia absolutely resolved on remaining where she was. She cared for none of her friends; she wanted no help of his; she would not hear of leaving Wickham. She was sure they should be married some time or
other, and it did not much signify when. Since such were her feelings, it only remained, he thought, to secure and expedite a marriage, which, in his very first conversation with Wickham, he easily learnt had never been his design. He confessed himself obliged to leave the regiment, on account of
some debts of honour, which were very pressing; and scrupled not to lay all the ill-conse quences of LydiaТs flight on her own folly alone. He meant to resign his commission immediately; and as to his future situation, he could conjecture very little about it. He must go somewhere, but he did not know where,
and he knew he should have nothing to live on. Mr. Darcy asked him why he had not married your sister at once. Though Mr. Bennet was not imagined to be very rich, he would have been able to do something for him, and his situation must have been benefited by marriage. But he found,
in reply to this question, that Wickham still cherished the hope of more effectually making his fortune by marriage in
some other country. Under such circumstances, however, he was not likely to be proof against the temptation of immediate relief. They met several times, for there was much to be discussed. Wickham of course wanted more than he could get; but at length was reduced to be reasonable. Every thing being
settled between them, Mr. DarcyТs next step was to make your uncle acquainted with it, and he first called in Gracechurchstreet the evening before I came home. But Mr. Gardiner could not be seen, and Mr. Darcy found, on further enquiry, that your father was still with him, but would quit town the
next morning. He did not judge your father to be a person whom he could so properly consult as your uncle, and therefore readily postponed seeing him till after the departure of the former. He did not leave his name, and till the next day it was only known that a gentleman had called on business. On
Saturday he came again. Your father was gone, your uncle at home, and, as I said before, they had a great deal of talk together. They met again on Sunday, and then I saw him too. It was not all settled before Monday: as soon as it was, the express was sent off to Longbourn. But our visitor was very
obstinate. I fancy, Lizzy, that obstinacy is the real defect of his character, after all. He has been accused of many faults at different times, but this is the true one. Nothing was to be done that he did not do himself; though I am sure (and I do not speak it to be thanked, therefore say nothing about it),
your uncle would most readily have settled the whole. They battled it together for a long time, which was more than either the gentleman or lady concerned in it deserved. But at last your uncle was forced to yield, and instead of being allowed to be of use to his niece, was forced to put up with
only having the probable credit of it, which went sorely against the grain; and I really believe your letter this morning gave him great pleasure, because it required an explanation that would rob him of his borrowed feathers, and give the praise where it was due. But, Lizzy, this must go no farther
than yourself, or Jane at most. You know pretty well, I suppose, what has been done for the young people. His debts are to be paid, amounting, I believe, to considerably more than a thousand pounds, another thousand in addition to her own settled upon her, and his commission purchased. The
reason why all this was to be done by him alone, was such as I have given above. It was owing to him, to his reserve and want of proper consideration, that WickhamТs character had been so misunderstood, and consequently that he had been received and noticed as he was. Perhaps there was some truth
in this; though I doubt whether his reserve, or anybodyТs reserve, can be answerable for the event. But in spite of all this fine talking, my dear Lizzy, you may rest perfectly assured that your uncle would never have yielded, if we had not given him credit for another interest in the affair. When all this
was resolved on, he returned again to his friends, who were still staying at Pemberley; but it was agreed that he should be in London once more when the wedding took place, and all money matters were then to receive the last finish. I believe I have now told you every thing. It is a relation which you tell
me is to give you great surprise; I hope at least it will not afford you any displeasure. Lydia came to us; and Wickham had constant admission to the house. He was exactly what he had been when I knew him in Hertfordshire; but I would not tell you how little I was satisfied with her behaviour while she
staid with us, if I had not perceived, by JaneТs letter last Wednesday, that her conduct on coming home was exactly of a piece with it, and therefore what I now tell you can give you no fresh pain. I talked to her repeatedly in the most serious manner, representing to her all the wickedness of what she
had done, and all the unhappiness she had brought on her family. If she heard me, it was by good luck, for I am sure she did not listen. I was sometimes quite provoked, but then I recollected my dear Elizabeth and Jane, and for their sakes had patience with her. Mr. Darcy was punctual in his return,
and as Lydia informed you, attended the wedding. He dined with us the next day, and was to leave town again on Wednesday or Thursday. Will you be very angry with me, my dear Lizzy, if I take this opportunity of saying (what I was never bold enough to say before) how much I like him. His
behaviour to us has, in every respect, been as pleasing as when we were in Derbyshire. His understanding and opinions all please me; he wants nothing but a little more liveliness, and that, if he marry prudently, his wife may teach him. I thought him very sly;Ч he hardly ever mentioned your name. But
slyness seems the fashion. Pray forgive me if I have been very presuming, or at least do not punish me so far as to exclude me from P. I shall never be quite happy till I have been all round the park. A low phaeton, with a nice little pair of ponies, would be the very thing. But I must write no more.
The children have been wanting me this half hour. YourТs, very sincerely,
The contents of this letter threw Elizabeth into a flutter
of spirits, in which it was difficult to determine whether pleasure or pain bore the greatest share. The vague and unsettled suspicions which uncertainty had produced of what Mr. Darcy might have been doing to forward her sisterТs match, which she had feared to encourage as an exertion
of goodness too great to be probable, and at the same time dreaded to be just, from the pain of obligation, were proved beyond their greatest extent to be true! He had followed them purposely to town, he had taken on himself all the trouble and mortification attendant on such a research; in
which supplication had been necessary to a woman whom he must abominate and despise, and where he was reduced to meet, frequently meet, reason with, persuade, and finally bribe, the man whom he always most wished to avoid, and whose very name it was punishment to him to pronounce.
He had done all this for a girl whom he could neither regard nor esteem. Her heart did whisper that he had done it for her. But it was a hope shortly checked by other considerations, and she soon felt that even her vanity was insufficient, when required to depend on his affection for her Ч for a woman
who had already refused him Ч as able to overcome a sentiment so natural as abhorrence against relationship with Wickham. Brother-in-law of Wickham! Every kind of pride must revolt from the connection. He had, to be sure, done much. She was ashamed to think how much. But he had
given a reason for his interference, which asked no extraordinary stretch of belief. It was reasonable that he should feel he had been wrong; he had liberality, and he had the means of exercising it; and though she would not place herself as his principal inducement, she could, perhaps, believe that
remaining partiality for her might assist his endeavours in a cause where her peace of mind must be materially concerned. It was painful, exceedingly painful, to know that they were under obligations to a person who could never receive a return. They owed the restoration of Lydia, her character,
every thing, to him. Oh! how heartily did she grieve over every ungracious sensation she had ever encouraged, every saucy speech she had ever directed towards him. For herself she was humbled; but she was proud of him. Proud that in a cause of compassion and honour, he had been able to get the better of himself. She read over her auntТs commendation of him again and again. It was hardly enough; but it pleased her. She was even sensible of some pleasure,
though mixed with regret, on finding how steadfastly both she and her uncle had been persuaded that affection and confidence subsisted between Mr. Darcy and herself.
She was roused from her seat, and her reflections, by
some oneТs approach; and before she could strike into another
path, she was overtaken by Wickham.
УI am afraid I interrupt your solitary ramble, my dear
sister?Ф said he, as he joined her.
УYou certainly do,Ф she replied with a smile; Уbut it does
not follow that the interruption must be unwelcome.Ф
УI should be sorry indeed, if it were. We were always
good friends; and now we are better.Ф
УTrue. Are the others coming out?Ф
УI do not know. Mrs. Bennet and Lydia are going in the
carriage to Meryton. And so, my dear sister, I find, from our
uncle and aunt, that you have actually seen Pemberley.Ф
She replied in the affirmative.
УI almost envy you the pleasure, and yet I believe it
would be too much for me, or else I could take it in my
way to Newcastle. And you saw the old housekeeper, I suppose?
Poor Reynolds, she was always very fond of me. But
of course she did not mention my name to you.Ф
УYes, she did.Ф
УAnd what did she say?Ф
УThat you were gone into the army, and she was afraid
had Ч not turned out well. At such a distance as that, you
know, things are strangely misrepresented.Ф
УCertainly,Ф he replied, biting his lips. Elizabeth hoped
she had silenced him; but he soon afterwards said,
УI was surprised to see Darcy in town last month. We
passed each other several times. I wonder what he can be
УPerhaps preparing for his marriage with Miss de
Bourgh,Ф said Elizabeth. УIt must be something particular,
to take him there at this time of year.Ф
УUndoubtedly. Did you see him while you were at
Lambton? I thought I understood from the Gardiners that
УYes; he introduced us to his sister.Ф
УAnd do you like her?Ф
УI have heard, indeed, that she is uncommonly improved
within this year or two. When I last saw her, she was not
very promising. I am very glad you liked her. I hope she will
turn out well.Ф
УI dare say she will; she has got over the most trying
УDid you go by the village of Kympton?Ф
УI do not recollect that we did.Ф
УI mention it, because it is the living which I ought to
have had. A most delightful place!ЧExcellent Parsonage
House! It would have suited me in every respect.Ф
УHow should you have liked making sermons?Ф
УExceedingly well. I should have considered it as part of
my duty, and the exertion would soon have been nothing.
One ought not to repine;Ч but, to be sure, it would have
been such a thing for me! The quiet, the retirement of such
a life would have answered all my ideas of happiness! But
it was not to be. Did you ever hear Darcy mention the circumstance,
when you were in Kent?Ф
УI have heard from authority, which I thought as good,
that it was left you conditionally only, and at the will of the
УYou have. Yes, there was something in that; I told you
so from the first, you may remember.Ф
УI did hear, too, that there was a time, when sermonmaking
was not so palatable to you as it seems to be at
present; that you actually declared your resolution of never
taking orders, and that the business had been compromised
УYou did! and it was not wholly without foundation.
You may remember what I told you on that point, when
first we talked of it.Ф
They were now almost at the door of the house, for she
had walked fast to get rid of him; and unwilling, for her
sisterТs sake, to provoke him, she only said in reply, with a
УCome, Mr. Wickham, we are brother and sister, you
know. Do not let us quarrel about the past. In future, I
hope we shall be always of one mind.Ф
She held out her hand; he kissed it with affectionate
gallantry, though he hardly knew how to look, and they
entered the house.
r. Wickham was so perfectly satis-fied with this conversation that he never again distressed himself, or
provoked his dear sister Elizabeth,
by introducing the subject of it; and she was pleased to find that she had said enough to keep him quiet.
The day of his and LydiaТs departure soon came, and
Mrs. Bennet was forced to submit to a separation, which,
as her husband by no means entered into her scheme of
their all going to Newcastle, was likely to continue at least
УOh! my dear Lydia,Ф she cried, Уwhen shall we meet
УOh, lord! I donТt know. Not these two or three years,
УWrite to me very often, my dear.Ф
УAs often as I can. But you know married women have
never much time for writing. My sisters may write to me.
They will have nothing else to do.Ф
Mr. WickhamТs adieus were much more affectionate
than his wifeТs. He smiled, looked handsome, and said
many pretty things.
УHe is as fine a fellow,Ф said Mr. Bennet, as soon as
they were out of the house, Уas ever I saw. He simpers, and
smirks, and makes love to us all. I am prodigiously proud
of him. I defy even Sir William Lucas himself to produce a
more valuable son-in-law.Ф
The loss of her daughter made Mrs. Bennet very dull
for several days.
УI often think,Ф said she, Уthat there is nothing so bad
as parting with oneТs friends. One seems so forlorn without
УThis is the consequence, you see, Madam, of marrying
a daughter,Ф said Elizabeth. УIt must make you better satis-fied that your other four are single.Ф
УIt is no such thing. Lydia does not leave me because she
is married, but only because her husbandТs regiment happens
to be so far off. If that had been nearer, she would not
have gone so soon.Ф
But the spiritless condition which this event threw her
into was shortly relieved, and her mind opened again to the
agitation of hope, by an article of news which then began
to be in circulation. The housekeeper at Netherfield had
received orders to prepare for the arrival of her master, who
was coming down in a day or two, to shoot there for several
weeks. Mrs. Bennet was quite in the fidgets. She looked at
Jane, and smiled and shook her head by turns.
УWell, well, and so Mr. Bingley is coming down, sister,Ф
(for Mrs. Phillips first brought her the news). УWell,
so much the better. Not that I care about it, though. He
is nothing to us, you know, and I am sure I never want to
see him again. But, however, he is very welcome to come to
Netherfield, if he likes it. And who knows what may happen?
But that is nothing to us. You know, sister, we agreed
long ago never to mention a word about it. And so, is it
quite certain he is coming?Ф
УYou may depend on it,Ф replied the other, Уfor Mrs.
Nicholls was in Meryton last night; I saw her passing by,
and went out myself on purpose to know the truth of it;
and she told me that it was certain true. He comes down on
Thursday at the latest, very likely on Wednesday. She was
going to the butcherТs, she told me, on purpose to order in
some meat on Wednesday, and she has got three couple of
ducks just fit to be killed.Ф
Miss Bennet had not been able to hear of his coming
without changing colour. It was many months since she had
mentioned his name to Elizabeth; but now, as soon as they
were alone together, she said,
УI saw you look at me to-day, Lizzy, when my aunt told
us of the present report; and I know I appeared distressed.
But donТt imagine it was from any silly cause. I was only
confused for the moment, because I felt that I should be
looked at. I do assure you that the news does not affect me
either with pleasure or pain. I am glad of one thing, that he
comes alone; because we shall see the less of him. Not that I
am afraid of myself, but I dread other peopleТs remarks.Ф
Elizabeth did not know what to make of it. Had she
not seen him in Derbyshire, she might have supposed him
capable of coming there with no other view than what was
acknowledged; but she still thought him partial to Jane,
and she wavered as to the greater probability of his coming
there with his friendТs permission, or being bold enough to
come without it.
УYet it is hard,Ф she sometimes thought, Уthat this poor
man cannot come to a house which he has legally hired,
without raising all this speculation! I will leave him to himself.Ф
In spite of what her sister declared, and really believed
to be her feelings in the expectation of his arrival, Elizabeth could easily perceive that her spirits were affected by it. They were more disturbed, more unequal, than she had often
The subject which had been so warmly canvassed between
their parents, about a twelvemonth ago, was now
brought forward again.
УAs soon as ever Mr. Bingley comes, my dear,Ф said Mrs.
Bennet, Уyou will wait on him of course.Ф
УNo, no. You forced me into visiting him last year, and
promised, if I went to see him, he should marry one of my
daughters. But it ended in nothing, and I will not be sent
on a foolТs errand again.Ф
His wife represented to him how absolutely necessary
such an attention would be from all the neighbouring gentlemen,
on his returning to Netherfield.
УТTis an etiquette I despise,Ф said he. УIf he wants our
society, let him seek it. He knows where we live. I will not
spend my hours in running after my neighbours every time
they go away and come back again.Ф
УWell, all I know is, that it will be abominably rude if
you do not wait on him. But, however, that shanТt prevent
my asking him to dine here, I am determined. We must have Mrs. Long and the Gouldings soon. That will make thirteen with ourselves, so there will be just room at table
Consoled by this resolution, she was the better able to
bear her husbandТs incivility; though it was very mortifying to know that her neighbours might all see Mr. Bingley, in
consequence of it, before they did. As the day of his arrival drew near,
УI begin to be sorry that he comes at all,Ф said Jane to her
sister. УIt would be nothing; I could see him with perfect indifference,
but I can hardly bear to hear it thus perpetually
talked of. My mother means well; but she does not know,
no one can know, how much I suffer from what she says.
Happy shall I be, when his stay at Netherfield is over!Ф
УI wish I could say any thing to comfort you,Ф replied
Elizabeth; Уbut it is wholly out of my power. You must feel
it; and the usual satisfaction of preaching patience to a sufferer
is denied me, because you have always so much.Ф
Mr. Bingley arrived. Mrs. Bennet, through the assistance
of servants, contrived to have the earliest tidings of
it, that the period of anxiety and fretfulness on her side
might be as long as it could. She counted the days that must
intervene before their invitation could be sent; hopeless of
seeing him before. But on the third morning after his arrival
in Hertfordshire, she saw him, from her dressing-room
window, enter the paddock and ride towards the house.
Her daughters were eagerly called to partake of her joy.
Jane resolutely kept her place at the table; but Elizabeth, to
satisfy her mother, went to the windowЧshe looked,Чshe
saw Mr. Darcy with him, and sat down again by her sister.
УThere is a gentleman with him, mamma,Ф said Kitty;
Уwho can it be?Ф
УSome acquaintance or other, my dear, I suppose; I am
sure I do not know.Ф
УLa!Ф replied Kitty, Уit looks just like that man that
used to be with him before. Mr. whatТs-his-name. That tall,
УGood gracious! Mr. Darcy!Чand so it does, I vow.
Well, any friend of Mr. BingleyТs will always be welcome
here, to be sure; but else I must say that I hate the very sight
Jane looked at Elizabeth with surprise and concern. She
knew but little of their meeting in Derbyshire, and therefore
felt for the awkwardness which must attend her sister,
in seeing him almost for the first time after receiving his
explanatory letter. Both sisters were uncomfortable enough.
Each felt for the other, and of course for themselves; and
their mother talked on, of her dislike of Mr. Darcy, and her
resolution to be civil to him only as Mr. BingleyТs friend,
without being heard by either of them. But Elizabeth had
sources of uneasiness which could not be suspected by
Jane, to whom she had never yet had courage to shew Mrs.
GardinerТs letter, or to relate her own change of sentiment
towards him. To Jane, he could be only a man whose proposals
she had refused, and whose merit she had undervalued;
but to her own more extensive information, he was the
person to whom the whole family were indebted for the first
of benefits, and whom she regarded herself with an interest,
if not quite so tender, at least as reasonable and just as what
Jane felt for Bingley. Her astonishment at his coming Ч at
his coming to Netherfield, to Longbourn, and voluntarily
seeking her again, was almost equal to what she had known
on first witnessing his altered behaviour in Derbyshire.
The colour which had been driven from her face, returned for half a minute with an additional glow, and a
smile of delight added lustre to her eyes, as she thought for
that space of time that his affection and wishes must still be
unshaken. But she would not be secure.
УLet me first see how he behaves,Ф said she; Уit will then
be early enough for expectation.Ф
She sat intently at work, striving to be composed, and
without daring to lift up her eyes, till anxious curiosity carried
them to the face of her sister as the servant was approaching
the door. Jane looked a little paler than usual,
but more sedate than Elizabeth had expected. On the gentlemenТs
appearing, her colour increased; yet she received
them with tolerable ease, and with a propriety of behaviour
equally free from any symptom of resentment or any unnecessary
Elizabeth said as little to either as civility would allow,
and sat down again to her work, with an eagerness which it
did not often command. She had ventured only one glance
at Darcy. He looked serious, as usual; and, she thought,
more as he had been used to look in Hertfordshire, than as
she had seen him at Pemberley. But, perhaps he could not in
her motherТs presence be what he was before her uncle and
aunt. It was a painful, but not an improbable, conjecture.
Bingley, she had likewise seen for an instant, and in
that short period saw him looking both pleased and embarrassed.
He was received by Mrs. Bennet with a degree of
civility which made her two daughters ashamed, especially
when contrasted with the cold and ceremonious politeness
of her curtsey and address to his friend.
Elizabeth, particularly, who knew that her mother
owed to the latter the preservation of her favourite daughter
from irremediable infamy, was hurt and distressed to a most
painful degree by a distinction so ill applied.
Darcy, after enquiring of her how Mr. and Mrs.
Gardiner did, a question which she could not answer without
confusion, said scarcely any thing. He was not seated
by her; perhaps that was the reason of his silence; but it
had not been so in Derbyshire. There he had talked to her
friends, when he could not to herself. But now several minutes elapsed without bringing the sound of his voice; and
when occasionally, unable to resist the impulse of curiosity,
she raised he eyes to his face, she as often found him looking
at Jane as at herself, and frequently on no object but
the ground. More thoughtfulness and less anxiety to please,
than when they last met, were plainly expressed. She was
disappointed, and angry with herself for being so.
УCould I expect it to be otherwise!Ф said she. УYet why
did he come?Ф
She was in no humour for conversation with any one
but himself; and to him she had hardly courage to speak.
She enquired after his sister, but could do no more.
УIt is a long time, Mr. Bingley, since you went away,Ф
said Mrs. Bennet.
He readily agreed to it.
УI began to be afraid you would never come back
again. People did say you meant to quit the place entirely
at Michaelmas; but, however, I hope it is not true. A great
many changes have happened in the neighbourhood, since
you went away. Miss Lucas is married and settled. And one
of my own daughters. I suppose you have heard of it; indeed,
you must have seen it in the papers. It was in the
Times and the Courier, I know; though it was not put in as
it ought to be. It was only said, УLately, George Wickham,
Esq. to Miss Lydia Bennet,ТТ without there being a syllable
said of her father, or the place where she lived, or any thing.
It was my brother GardinerТs drawing up too, and I wonder
how he came to make such an awkward business of it. Did
you see it?Ф
Bingley replied that he did, and made his congratulations.
Elizabeth dared not lift up her eyes. How Mr. Darcy
looked, therefore, she could not tell.
УIt is a delightful thing, to be sure, to have a daughter
well married,Ф continued her mother, Уbut at the same time,
Mr. Bingley, it is very hard to have her taken such a way
from me. They are gone down to Newcastle, a place quite
northward, it seems, and there they are to stay I do not
know how long. His regiment is there; for I suppose you
have heard of his leaving the Ч shire, and of his being
gone into the regulars. Thank Heaven! he has some friends,
though perhaps not so many as he deserves.Ф
Elizabeth, who knew this to be levelled at Mr. Darcy,
was in such misery of shame, that she could hardly keep her
seat. It drew from her, however, the exertion of speaking,
which nothing else had so effectually done before; and she
asked Bingley whether he meant to make any stay in the
country at present. A few weeks, he believed.
УWhen you have killed all your own birds, Mr. Bingley,Ф
said her mother, УI beg you will come here, and shoot as
many as you please on Mr. BennetТs manor. I am sure he
will be vastly happy to oblige you, and will save all the best
of the covies for you.Ф
ElizabethТs misery increased, at such unnecessary, such
officious attention! Were the same fair prospect to arise at
present as had flattered them a year ago, every thing, she
was persuaded, would be hastening to the same vexatious
conclusion. At that instant, she felt that years of happiness
could not make Jane or herself amends for moments of such
УThe first wish of my heart,Ф said she to herself, Уis never
more to be in company with either of them. Their society
can afford no pleasure that will atone for such wretchedness
as this! Let me never see either one or the other again!Ф
Yet the misery, for which years of happiness were to
offer no compensation, received soon afterwards material
relief, from observing how much the beauty of her sister
re-kindled the admiration of her former lover. When first
he came in, he had spoken to her but little; but every five
minutes seemed to be giving her more of his attention. He
found her as handsome as she had been last year; as good
natured, and as unaffected, though not quite so chatty. Jane
was anxious that no difference should be perceived in her at
all, and was really persuaded that she talked as much as ever.
But her mind was so busily engaged, that she did not always
know when she was silent.
When the gentlemen rose to go away, Mrs. Bennet was
mindful of her intended civility, and they were invited and
engaged to dine at Longbourn in a few days time.
УYou are quite a visit in my debt, Mr. Bingley,Ф she added,
Уfor when you went to town last winter, you promised
to take a family dinner with us, as soon as you returned. I
have not forgot, you see; and I assure you, I was very much
disappointed that you did not come back and keep your
Bingley looked a little silly at this reflection, and said
something of his concern at having been prevented by business.
They then went away.
Mrs. Bennet had been strongly inclined to ask them to
stay and dine there that day; but, though she always kept a
very good table, she did not think any thing less than two
courses could be good enough for a man on whom she had
such anxious designs, or satisfy the appetite and pride of
one who had ten thousand a year.
s soon as they were gone, Elizabeth
walked out to recover her spirits; or in
other words, to dwell without interruption
on those subjects that must
deaden them more. Mr. DarcyТs behaviour astonished and
УWhy, if he came only to be silent, grave, and indifferent,Ф
said she, Уdid he come at all?Ф
She could settle it in no way that gave her pleasure.
УHe could be still amiable, still pleasing, to my uncle
and aunt, when he was in town; and why not to me? If he
fears me, why come hither? If he no longer cares for me,
why silent? Teazing, teazing, man! I will think no more
Her resolution was for a short time involuntarily kept
by the approach of her sister, who joined her with a cheerful
look, which shewed her better satisfied with their visitors,
УNow,Ф said she, Уthat this first meeting is over, I feel
perfectly easy. I know my own strength, and I shall never be
embarrassed again by his coming. I am glad he dines here
on Tuesday. It will then be publicly seen that, on both sides,
we meet only as common and indifferent acquaintance.Ф
УYes, very indifferent indeed,Ф said Elizabeth, laughingly. УOh, Jane, take care.Ф
УMy dear Lizzy, you cannot think me so weak, as to be
in danger now?Ф
УI think you are in very great danger of making him as
much in love with you as ever.Ф
THEY DID NOT SEE the gentlemen again till Tuesday; and
Mrs. Bennet, in the meanwhile, was giving way to all the
happy schemes, which the good humour and common politeness
of Bingley, in half an hourТs visit, had revived.
On Tuesday there was a large party assembled at
Longbourn; and the two who were most anxiously expected,
to the credit of their punctuality as sportsmen, were in
very good time. When they repaired to the dining-room,
Elizabeth eagerly watched to see whether Bingley would
take the place, which, in all their former parties, had belonged
to him, by her sister. Her prudent mother, occupied
by the same ideas, forbore to invite him to sit by herself.
On entering the room, he seemed to hesitate; but Jane happened
to look round, and happened to smile: it was decided.
He placed himself by her.
Elizabeth, with a triumphant sensation, looked towards
his friend. He bore it with noble indifference, and she would
have imagined that Bingley had received his sanction to be
happy, had she not seen his eyes likewise turned towards
Mr. Darcy, with an expression of half-laughing alarm.
His behaviour to her sister was such, during dinner
time, as shewed an admiration of her, which, though more
guarded than formerly, persuaded Elizabeth, that if left
wholly to himself, JaneТs happiness, and his own, would
be speedily secured. Though she dared not depend upon
the consequence, she yet received pleasure from observing
his behaviour. It gave her all the animation that her spirits
could boast; for she was in no cheerful humour. Mr. Darcy
was almost as far from her as the table could divide them.
He was on one side of her mother. She knew how little such
a situation would give pleasure to either, or make either appear
to advantage. She was not near enough to hear any of
their discourse, but she could see how seldom they spoke
to each other, and how formal and cold was their manner
whenever they did. Her motherТs ungraciousness, made the
sense of what they owed him more painful to ElizabethТs
mind; and she would, at times, have given any thing to
be privileged to tell him that his kindness was neither unknown
nor unfelt by the whole of the family.
She was in hopes that the evening would afford some
opportunity of bringing them together; that the whole of
the visit would not pass away without enabling them to
enter into something more of conversation than the mere
ceremonious salutation attending his entrance. Anxious
and uneasy, the period which passed in the drawing-room,
before the gentlemen came, was wearisome and dull to a
degree that almost made her uncivil. She looked forward
to their entrance as the point on which all her chance of
pleasure for the evening must depend.
УIf he does not come to me, then,Ф said she, УI shall give
him up for ever.Ф
The gentlemen came; and she thought he looked as if
he would have answered her hopes; but, alas! the ladies had
crowded round the table, where Miss Bennet was making
tea, and Elizabeth pouring out the coffee, in so close a confederacy
that there was not a single vacancy near her which
would admit of a chair. And on the gentlemenТs approaching,
one of the girls moved closer to her than ever, and said,
in a whisper,
УThe men shanТt come and part us, I am determined.
We want none of them; do we?Ф
Darcy had walked away to another part of the room.
She followed him with her eyes, envied every one to whom
he spoke, had scarcely patience enough to help anybody to
coffee; and then was enraged against herself for being so
УA man who has once been refused! How could I ever
be foolish enough to expect a renewal of his love? Is there
one among the sex, who would not protest against such a
weakness as a second proposal to the same woman? There is
no indignity so abhorrent to their feelings!Ф
She was a little revived, however, by his bringing back
his coffee cup himself; and she seized the opportunity of
УIs your sister at Pemberley still?Ф
УYes, she will remain there till Christmas.Ф
УAnd quite alone? Have all her friends left her?Ф
УMrs. Annesley is with her. The others have been gone
on to Scarborough, these three weeks.Ф
She could think of nothing more to say; but if he
wished to converse with her, he might have better success.
He stood by her, however, for some minutes, in silence; and,
at last, on the young ladyТs whispering to Elizabeth again,
he walked away.
When the tea-things were removed, and the card tables placed, the ladies all rose, and Elizabeth was then hoping to be soon joined by him, when all her views were overthrown
by seeing him fall a victim to her motherТs rapacity for whist players, and in a few moments after seated with the rest of
the party. She now lost every expectation of pleasure. They were confined for the evening at different tables, and she had nothing to hope, but that his eyes were so often turned
towards her side of the room, as to make him play as unsuccessfully as herself.
Mrs. Bennet had designed to keep the two Netherfield gentlemen to supper; but their carriage was unluckily ordered
before any of the others, and she had no opportunity of detaining them.
УWell girls,Ф said she, as soon as they were left to themselves, УWhat say you to the day? I think every thing has passed off uncommonly well, I assure you. The dinner was
as well dressed as any I ever saw. The venison was roasted to a turn Ч and everybody said they never saw so fat a haunch. The soup was fifty times better than what we had at the LucasesТ last week; and even Mr. Darcy acknowledged, that
the partridges were remarkably well done; and I suppose he has two or three French cooks at least. And, my dear Jane, I
never saw you look in greater beauty. Mrs. Long said so too, for I asked her whether you did not. And what do you think
she said besides? УAh! Mrs. Bennet, we shall have her at Netherfield at last.ТТ She did indeed. I do think Mrs. Long
is as good a creature as ever lived Ч and her nieces are very pretty behaved girls, and not at all handsome: I like them
Mrs. Bennet, in short, was in very great spirits; she had
seen enough of BingleyТs behaviour to Jane, to be convinced
that she would get him at last; and her expectations of advantage
to her family, when in a happy humour, were so far beyond reason, that she was quite disappointed at not seeing
him there again the next day, to make his proposals.
УIt has been a very agreeable day,Ф said Miss Bennet to Elizabeth. УThe party seemed so well selected, so suitable
one with the other. I hope we may often meet again.Ф
УLizzy, you must not do so. You must not suspect me. It mortifies me. I assure you that I have now learnt to enjoy
his conversation as an agreeable and sensible young man, without having a wish beyond it. I am perfectly satisfied, from what his manners now are, that he never had any design of engaging my affection. It is only that he is blessed with greater sweetness of address, and a stronger desire of
generally pleasing, than any other man.Ф
УYou are very cruel,Ф said her sister, Уyou will not let me smile, and are provoking me to it every moment.Ф
УHow hard it is in some cases to be believed!Ф
УAnd how impossible in others!Ф
УBut why should you wish to persuade me that I feel more than I acknowledge?Ф
УThat is a question which I hardly know how to answer. We all love to instruct, though we can teach only what is
not worth knowing. Forgive me; and if you persist in indifference, do not make me your confidante.Ф