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and 1816, she completed “Mansfield Park,” “Emma,” and “Persuasion.” The last of these and “Northanger Abbey” were published posthumously.




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Pride and PrejudiceJane AustenThe Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction, Vol. III, Part by Charles William EliotCopyright 2001 , RecordContentsBiographical NoteCriticisms and InterpretationsI. By Sir Walter ScottII. By Lord MacaulayIII. By W. F. PollockIV. By Anne Thackeray RitchieV. By Goldwin SmithVI. By F. W. CornishList of CharactersChapter IChapter IIChapter IIIChapter IVChapter VChapter VIChapter VIIChapter VIIIChapter IXChapter XChapter XIChapter XIIChapter XIIIChapter XIVChapter XVChapter XVIChapter XVIIChapter XVIIIChapter XIXChapter XXChapter XXIChapter XXIIChapter XXIIIChapter XXIVChapter XXVChapter XXVIChapter XXVIIChapter XXVIIIChapter XXIXChapter XXXChapter XXXIChapter XXXIIChapter XXXIIIChapter XXXIVChapter XXXVChapter XXXVIChapter XXXVIIChapter XXXVIIIChapter XXXIXChapter XLChapter XLIChapter XLIIChapter XLIIIChapter XLIVChapter XLVChapter XLVIChapter XLVIIChapter XLVIIChapter XLIXChapter LChapter LIChapter LIIChapter LIIIChapter LIVChapter LVChapter LVIChapter LVIIChapter LVIIIChapter LIXChapter LXChapter LXIBiographical NoteTHE IMPRESSION of the condition of the Church of England in the eighteenth century which isconveyed by the character and writings of Laurence Sterne receives some necessary modification from astudy of the life and works of Jane Austen. Her father, the Reverend George Austen, held the tworectories of Deane and Steventon in Hampshire, having been appointed to them by the favor of a cousinand an uncle. He thus belonged to the gentry, and it seems likely that he entered the church more as aprofession than a vocation. He considered that he fulfilled his functions by preaching once a week andadministering the sacraments; and though he does not seem to have been a man of spiritual gifts, thedecent and dignified performance of these formal duties earned him the reputation of a model pastor. Hisabundant leisure he occupied in farming the rectory acres, educating his children, and sharing the sociallife of his class. The environment of refined worldliness and good breeding thus indicated was that inwhich his daughter lived, and which she pictured in her books. Jane Austen was born at Steventon on December 16, 1775, the youngest of seven children. She receivedher education scanty enough, by modern standards at home. Besides the usual elementary subjects,she learned French and some Italian, sang a little, and became an expert needle-woman. Her readingextended little beyond the literature of the eighteenth century, and within that period she seems to havecared most for the novels of Richardson and Miss Burney, and the poems of Cowper and Crabbe. , too, she admired, and later was delighted with both the poetry and prose of Scott. The firsttwenty-five years of her life she spent at Steventon; in 1801 she moved with her family to Bath, then agreat center of fashion; after the death of her father in 1805, she lived with her mother and sister, first atSouthampton and then at Chawton; finally she took lodgings at Winchester to be near a doctor, and thereshe died on July 18, 1817, and was buried in the cathedral. Apart from a few visits to friends in Londonand elsewhere, and the vague report of a love affair with a gentleman who died suddenly, there is littleelse to chronicle in this quiet and uneventful life. But quiet and uneventful though her life was, it yet supplied her with material for half a dozen novels asperfect of their kind as any in the language. While still a young girl she had experimented with variousstyles of writing, and when she completed Pride and Prejudice at the age of twenty-two, it was clearthat she had found her appropriate form. This novel, which in many respects she never surpassed, wasfollowed a year later by Northanger Abbey, a satire on the Gothic romances then in vogue; and in1809 she finished Sense and Sensibility, begun a dozen years before. So far she had not succeeded inhaving any of her works printed; but in 1811 Sense and Sensibility appeared in London and wonenough recognition to make easy the publication of the others. Success gave stimulus, and between 1811and 1816, she completed Mansfield Park, Emma, and Persuasion. The last of these and Northanger Abbey were published posthumously. The most remarkable characteristic of Jane Austen as a novelist is her recognition of the limits of herknowledge of life and her determination never to go beyond these limits in her books. She describes herown class, in the part of the country with which she was acquainted; and both the types of character andthe events are such as she knew from first-hand observation and experience. But to the portrayal of theseshe brought an extraordinary power of delicate and subtle delineation, a gift of lively dialogue, and apeculiar detachment. She abounds in humor, but it is always quiet and controlled; and though one feelsthat she sees through the affectations and petty hypocrisies of her circle, she seldom becomes openlysatirical. The fineness of her workmanship, unexcelled in the English novel, makes possible thediscrimination of characters who have outwardly little or nothing to distinguish them; and the analysis ofthe states of mind and feeling of ordinary people is done so faithfully and vividly as to compensate forthe lack of passion and adventure. She herself speaks of the little bit (two inches wide) of ivory onwhich I work, and, in contrast with the broad canvases of Fielding or Scott, her stories have theexquisiteness of a fine and InterpretationsI. By Sir Walter ScottREAD again, and for the third time at least, Miss Austen s very finely written novel of Pride andPrejudice. That young lady has a talent for describing the involvements and feelings and characters ofordinary life which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with. The big bow-wow strain I can do myselflike any now going; but the exquisite touch, which renders ordinary commonplace things and charactersinteresting, from the truth of the description and the sentiment, is denied to me. From The Journal ofSir Walter Scott, March, 1826. We bestow no mean compliment upon the author of Emma when we say that keeping close tocommon incidents, and to such characters as occupy the ordinary walks of life, she has producedsketches of such spirit and originality that we never miss the excitation which depends upon a narrativeof uncommon events, arising from the consideration of minds, manners, and sentiments, greatly aboveour own. In this class she stands almost alone; for the scenes of Miss Edgeworth are laid in higher life,varied by more romantic incident, and by her remarkable power of embodying and illustrating nationalcharacter. But the author of Emma confines herself chiefly to the middling classes of society; her mostdistinguished characters do not rise greatly above well-bred country gentlemen and ladies; and thosewhich are sketched with most originality and precision, belong to a class rather below that standard. Thenarrative of all her novels is composed of such common occurrences as may have fallen under theobservation of most folks; and her dramatis person conduct themselves upon the motives and principleswhich the readers may recognize as ruling their own, and that of most of their ownacquaintances. From The Quarterly Review, October, and InterpretationsII. By Lord MacaulaySHAKESPEARE has had neither equal nor second. But among the writers who, in the point which wehave noticed, have approached nearest to the manner of the great master we have no hesitation in placingJane Austen, a woman of whom England is justly proud. She has given us a multitude of characters, all,in a certain sense, commonplace, all such as we meet every day. Yet they are all as perfectlydiscriminated from each other as if they were the most eccentric of human beings. There are, forexample, four clergymen, none of whom we should be surprised to find in any parsonage in thekingdom Mr. Edward Ferrars, Mr. Henry Tilney, Mr. Edmund Bertram, and Mr. Elton. They are allspecimens of the upper part of the middle class. They have all been liberally educated. They all lie underthe restraints of the same sacred profession. They are all young. They are all in love. Not one of them hasany hobby-horse, to use the phrase of Sterne. Not one has a ruling passion, such as we read of in would not have expected them to be insipid likenesses of each other? No such thing. Harpagon isnot more unlike to Jourdain, Joseph Surface is not more unlike to Sir Lucius O Trigger, than every one ofMiss Austen s young divines to all his reverend brethren. And almost all this is done by touches sodelicate that they elude analysis, that they defy the powers of description, and that we know them to existonly by the general effect to which they have contributed. From essay on Madame D Arblay, and InterpretationsIII. By W. F. PollockMISS AUSTEN never attempts to describe a scene or a class of society with which she was not herselfthoroughly acquainted. The conversations of ladies with ladies, or of ladies and gentlemen together, aregiven, but no instance occurs of a scene in which men only are present. The uniform quality of her workis one most remarkable point to be observed in it. Let a volume be opened at any place: there is the samegood English, the same refined style, the same simplicity and truth. There is never any deviation into theunnatural or exaggerated; and how worthy of all love and respect is the finely disciplined genius whichrejects the forcible but transient modes of stimulating interest which can so easily be employed whendesired, and which knows how to trust to the never-failing principles of human nature! This very trusthas sometimes been made an objection to Miss Austen, and she has been accused of writing dull storiesabout ordinary people. But her supposed ordinary people are really not such very ordinary people. Letanyone who is inclined to criticise on this score endeavor to construct one character from among theordinary people of his own acquaintance that shall be capable of interesting any reader for ten minutes. Itwill then be found how great has been the discrimination of Miss Austen in the selection of hercharacters, and how skillful is her treatment in the management of them. It is true that the events are forthe most part those of daily life, and the feelings are those connected with the usual joys and griefs offamiliar existence; but these are the very events and feelings upon which the happiness or misery of mostof us depends; and the field which embraces them, to the exclusion of the wonderful, the sentimental, andthe historical, is surely large enough, as it certainly admits of the most profitable cultivation. In the end,too, the novel of daily real life is that of which we are least apt to weary: a round of fancy balls wouldtire the most vigorous admirers of variety in costume, and the return to plain clothes would be hailedwith greater delight than their occasional relinquishment ever gives. Miss Austen s personages arealways in plain clothes, but no two suits are alike: all are worn with their appropriate differences, andunder all human thoughts and feelings are at work. From Fraser s Magazine, January, and InterpretationsIV. By Anne Thackeray RitchieNOTWITHSTANDING a certain reticence and self control which seems to belong to their age, and withall their quaint dresses, and ceremonies, and manners, the ladies and gentlemen in Pride and Prejudice and its companion novels seem like living people out of our own acquaintance transported bodily into abygone age, represented in the half-dozen books that contain Jane Austen s works. Dear books! bright,sparkling with wit and animation, in which the homely heroines charm, the dull hours fly, and the verybores are She has a gift of telling a story in a way that has never been surpassed. She rules her places, times,characters, and marshals them with unerring precision. Her machinery is simple but complete; eventsgroup themselves so vividly and naturally in her mind that, in describing imaginary scenes, we seem notonly to read them but to live them, to see the people coming and going the gentlemen courteous and intop-boots, the ladies demure and piquant; we can almost hear them talking to one another. Noretrospects; no abrupt flights, as in real life: days and events follow one another Last Tuesday does notsuddenly start into existence all out of place; nor does 1790 appear upon the scene when we are well onin 21. Countries and continents do not fly from hero to hero, nor do long and divergent adventureshappen to unimportant members of the company. With Miss Austen, days, hours, minutes, succeed eachother like clockwork; one central figure is always present on the scene; that figure is always prepared Some books and people are delightful, we can scarce tell why; they are not so clever as others thatweary and fatigue us. It is a certain effort to read a story, however touching, that is disconnected andbadly related. It is like an ill-drawn picture, of which the coloring is good. Jane Austen possessed bothgifts of color and drawing. She could see human nature as it was with near-sighted eyes, it is true; buthaving seen, she could combine her picture by her art, and color it from It is difficult, reading the novels of succeeding generations, to determine how much each book reflectsof the time in which it was written; how much of its character depends upon the mind and mood of thewriter. The greatest minds, the most original, have the least stamp of the age, the most of that dominantnatural reality which belongs to all great minds. We know how a landscape changes as the day goes on,and how the scene brightens and gains in beauty as the shadows begin to lengthen. The clearest eyesmust see by the light of their own hour. Jane Austen s hour must have been a midday hour bright,unsuggestive, with objects standing clear without relief or shadow. She did not write of herself, but of themanners of her age. This age is essentially an age of men and women of strained emotion, little remainsof starch, or powder, or courtly reserve. What we have lost in calm, in happiness, in tranquillity, we havegained in intensity. Our danger is now, not of expressing and feeling too little, but of expressing morethan we Miss Austen s heroines have a stamp of their own. They have a certain gentle self-respect and humorand hardness of heart in which modern heroines are a little wanting. Whatever happens they can for themost part speak of gayly and without bitterness. Love with them does not mean a passion so much as aninterest deep, silent, not quite incompatible with a secondary flirtation. Marianne Dashwood s tears areevidently meant to be dried. Jane Bennet smiles, sighs, and makes excuses for Bingley s neglect. Emmapasses one disagreeable morning making up her mind to the unnatural alliance between Mr. Knightleyand Harriet Smith. It was the spirit of the age, and perhaps one not to be unenvied. It was not that JaneAusten herself was incapable of understanding a deeper feeling. In the last written page of her lastwritten book there is an expression of the deepest and truest experience. Anne Elliot s talk with CaptainHarville is the touching utterance of a good woman s feelings. They are speaking of men and women saffections. You are always laboring and toiling, she says, exposed to every risk and hardship. Yourhome, country, friends, all united; neither time nor life to call your own. It would be hard indeed (with afaltering voice) if a woman s feelings were to be added to all this. Farther on she says eagerly: I hope I do justice to all that is felt by you, and by those who resembleyou. God forbid that I should undervalue the warm and faithful feelings of any of my fellow-creatures. Ishould deserve utter contempt if I dared to suppose that true attachment and constancy were known onlyby woman. No! I believe you capable of everything great and good in your married lives. I believe youequal to every important exertion, and to every domestic forbearance, so long as if I may be allowedthe expression so long as you have an object; I mean while the woman you love lives, and lives foryou. All the privilege I claim for my own (it is not a very enviable one, you need not court it) is that ofloving longest when existence or when hope is gone. She could not immediately have uttered another sentence her heart was too full, her breath too muchoppressed. Dear Anne Elliot! sweet, impulsive, womanly, tender-hearted! one can almost hear her voice pleadingthe cause of all true women. In those days, when perhaps people s nerves were stronger than they arenow, sentiment may have existed in a less degree, or have been more ruled by judgment; it may havebeen calmer and more matter-of-fact; and yet Jane Austen, at the very end of her life, wrote thus. Herwords seem to ring in our ears after they have been spoken. Anne Elliot must have been Jane Austenherself, speaking for the last time. There is something so true, so womanly about her, that it is impossiblenot to love her. She is the bright-eyed heroine of the earlier novels matured, chastened, cultivated, towhom fidelity has brought only greater depth and sweetness instead of bitterness and pain. From TheCornhill Magazine, August, and InterpretationsV. By Goldwin SmithAS we should expect from such a life, Jane Austen s view of the world is genial, kindly, and, we repeat,free from anything like cynicism. It is that of a clear-sighted and somewhat satirical onlooker, lovingwhat deserves love, and amusing herself with the foibles, the self-deceptions, the affectations ofhumanity. Refined almost to fastidiousness, she is hard upon vulgarity; not, however, on good-naturedvulgarity, such as that of Mrs. Jennings in Sense and Sensibility, but on vulgarity like that of MissSteele, in the same novel, combined at once with effrontery and with meanness of To sentimentality Jane Austen was a foe. Antipathy to it runs through her works. She had encountered itin the romances of the day, such as the works of Mrs. Radcliffe and in people who had fed on she would have said if she had encountered it in the form of Rousseauism we can only guess. Thesolid foundation of her own character was good sense, and her type of excellence as displayed in herheroines is a woman full of feeling, but with her feelings thoroughly under control. Genuine sensibility,however, even when too little under control, she can regard as lovable. Marianne in Sense andSensibility is an object of sympathy, because her emotions, though they are ungoverned and lead herinto folly, are genuine, and are matched in intensity by her sisterly affection. But affected sentiment getsno Jane Austen had, as she was sure to have, a feeling for the beauties of nature. She paints in glowinglanguage the scenery of Lyme. She speaks almost with rapture of a view which she calls thoroughlyEnglish, though never having been out of England she could hardly judge of its scenery by contrast. Shewas deeply impressed by the sea, on which, she says, all must linger and gaze, on their first return to it,who ever deserves to look on it at all. But admiration of the picturesque had become a mere jargon, from which Jane Austen recoiled. One of her characters is made to say that he likes a fine prospect, butnot on picturesque principles; that he prefers tall and flourishing trees to those which are crooked andblasted; neat to ruined cottages, snug farmhouses to watchtowers, and a troop of tidy, happy villagers tothe finest banditti in the Jane Austen held the mirror up to her time, or at least to a certain class of the people of her time; andher time was two generations and more before ours. We are reminded of this as we read her works by anumber of little touches of manners and customs belonging to the early part of the century, and anteriorto the rush of discovery and development which the century has brought with it. There are no railroads,and no lucifer matches. It takes you two days and a half, even when you are flying on the wings of loveor remorse, to get from Somersetshire to London. A young lady who has snuffed her candle out has to goto bed in the dark. The watchman calls the hours of the night. Magnates go about in chariots and fourwith outriders, their coachmen wearing wigs. People dine at five, and instead of spending the evening inbrilliant conversation as we do they spend it in an unintellectual rubber of whist, or a round game. Life isunelectric, untelegraphic; it is spent more quietly and it is spent at home. If you are capable of enjoyingtranquillity, at least by way of occasional contrast to the stir and stress of the present age, you will find inthese tales the tranquillity of a rural neighborhood and a little country town in England a century That Jane Austen held up the mirror to her time must be remembered when she is charged with want ofdelicacy in dealing with the relations between the sexes, and especially in speaking of the views ofwomen with regard to matrimony. Women in those days evidently did consider a happy marriage as thebest thing that destiny could have in store for them. They desired it for themselves and they sought it fortheir daughters. Other views had not opened out to them; they had not thought of professions or publiclife, nor had it entered into the mind of any of them that maternity was not the highest duty and the crownof womanhood. Apparently they also confessed their aims to themselves and to each other with afrankness which would be deemed indelicate in our time. The more worldly and ambitious of themsought in marriage rank and money, and avowed that they did, whereas they would not avow it at thepresent day. Gossip and speculation on these subjects were common and more unrefined than they arenow, and they naturally formed a large part of the amusement of the opulent and idle class from whichJane Austen s characters were drawn. Often, too, she is ironical; the love of irony is a feature of hermind, and for this also allowance must be made. She does not approve or reward matchmaking orhusband-hunting. Mrs. Jennings, the great matchmaker in Sense and Sensibilty, is also a paragon ofvulgarity. Mrs. Norris s matchmaking in Mansfield Park leads to the most calamitous results. CharlotteLucas in Pride and Prejudice, who unblushingly avows that her object is a husband with a goodincome, gets what she sought, but you are made to see that she has bought it The life which Jane Austen painted retains its leading features, and is recognized by the reader at thepresent day with little effort of the imagination. It is a life of opulent quiet and rather dull enjoyment,physically and morally healthy compared with that of a French aristocracy, though without much of thesalt of duty; a life uneventful, exempt from arduous struggles and devoid of heroism, a life presenting nomaterials for tragedy and hardly an element of pathos, a life of which matrimony is the chief incident,and the most interesting objects are the hereditary estate and the heir. Such a life could evidently furnish no material for romance. It could furnish materials only for that classof novel which corresponds to sentimental comedy. To that class all Jane Austen s novels belong. From Life of Jane Austen, in Great Writers, and InterpretationsVI. By F. W. CornishJANE AUSTEN needs no testimonials; her position is at this moment established on a firmer basis thanthat of any of her contemporaries. She has completely distanced Miss Edgeworth, Miss Ferrier, FannyBurney, and Hannah More, writers who eclipsed her modest reputation in her own day. The readers of Evelina, Ormond, Marriage, or Caelebs are few; but hundreds know intimately every characterand every scene in Pride and Prejudice. She has survived Trollope and Mrs. Gaskell: one may almostsay that she is less out of date than Currer Bell and George Eliot. It was not always so. In 1859 a writer in Blackwood s Magazine spoke of her as being still unfamiliar in men s mouths and not even now ahousehold word. The reason for this comparative obscurity in her own time, compared with her fame at the present day,may in some measure be that in writing, as in other arts, finish is now more highly prized than conception as well as finish is in it. The miracle in Jane Austen s writing is not only that herpresentment of each character is complete and consistent, but also that every fact and particular situationis viewed in comprehensive proportion and relation to the rest. Some facts and expressions which passalmost unnoticed by the reader, and quite unnoticed by the other actors in the story, turn up later to taketheir proper place. She never drops a stitch. The reason is not so much that she took infinite trouble,though no doubt she did, as that everything was actual to her, as in his larger historical mannereverything was actual to Macaulay. It is easier to feel than to estimate a genius which has no parallel. Jane Austen s faults are obvious. Shehas no remarkable distinction of style. Her plots, though worked out with microscopic delicacy, areneither original nor striking; incident is almost absent; she repeats situations, and to some extent evencharacters. She cared for story and situation only as they threw light on character. She has little idealism,little romance, tenderness. Poetry, or religion. All this may be conceded, and yet she stands by the side ofMoliere, unsurpassed among writers of prose and poetry, within the limits which she imposed on herself,for clear and sympathetic vision of human character. She sees everything in clear outline and perspective. She does not care to analyze by logic what sheknows by intuition; she does not search out the grounds of motive like George Eliot, nor illumine themlike Meredith by search-light flashes of insight, nor like Hardy display them by irony sardonic or pitying,nor like Henry James thread a labyrinth of indications and intimations, repulsions and attractions rightand left, all pointing to the central temple, where sits the problem. She has no need to construct hercharacters, for there they are before her, like Mozart s music, only waiting to be written down. From Jane Austen in English Men of Letters. List of CharactersMR BENNET, a gentleman in moderate circumstances living in a small town in BENNET, his , ELIZABETH, MARY, CATHERINE, & LYDIA, daughters of Mr. and Mrs. WILLIAM LUCAS, an affable knight, formerly in LUCAS, his , MARIA, & MASTER LUCAS, children of Sir William and Lady CHARLES BINGLEY a rich and amiable young man of HURST, brother-in-law of Mr. HURST & MISS CAROLINE BINGLEY sisters of Mr. DARCY, a friend of Mr. Bingley and a young man of wealth and high DARCY, younger sister of Mr. FORSTER, of the shire FORSTER, his PHILIPS, successor to Mrs. Bennet s father in PHILIPS, his wife, sister to Mrs. GARDINER, in business in London, a brother of Mrs. GARDINER, his young children of the WILLIAM COLLINS, a pompous and obsequious clergyman, cousin to the CATHERINE DE BOURGH, a domineering, rich old lady, aunt of Mr. DE BOURGH, invalid daughter of Lady WICKHAM, a worthless young officer in the shire KING, courted by JENKINSONCOLONEL FITZWILLIAM, a cousin of Mr. Darcy and nephew of Lady Catherine de RYENOLDS, Darcy s IIT is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in wantof a wife. However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood,this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered as the rightfulproperty of some one or other of their daughters. My dear Mr. Bennet, said his lady to him one day, have you heard that Netherfield Park is let at last? Mr. Bennet replied that he had not. But it is, returned she; for Mrs. Long has just been here, and she told me all about it. Mr. Bennet made no answer. Do not you want to know who has taken it? cried his wife, impatiently. You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it. This was invitation enough. Why, my dear, you must know, Mrs. Long says that Netherfield is taken by a young man of largefortune from the north of England; that he came down on Monday in a chaise and four to see the place,and was so much delighted with it that he agreed with Mr. Morris immediately; that he is to takepossession before Michaelmas, and some of his servants are to be in the house by the end of next week. What is his name? Bingley. Is he married or single? Oh, single, my dear, to be sure! A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year. What a finething for our girls! How so? how can it affect them? My dear Mr. Bennet, replied his wife, how can you be so tiresome? You must know that I amthinking of his marrying one of them. Is that his design in settling here? Design? nonsense, how can you talk so! But it is very likely that he may fall in love with one of them,and therefore you must visit him as soon as he comes. I see no occasion for that. You and the girls may go, or you may send them by themselves, whichperhaps will be still better, for, as you are as handsome as any of them, Mr. Bingley might like you thebest of the party. My dear, you flatter me. I certainly have had my share of beauty, but I do not pretend to be anythingextraordinary now. When a woman has five grown-up daughters, she ought to give over thinking of herown beauty. In such cases, a woman has not often much beauty to think of. But, my dear, you must indeed go and see Mr. Bingley when he comes into the neighbourhood. It is more than I engage for, I assure you. But consider your daughters. Only think what an establishment it would be for one of them. SirWilliam and Lady Lucas are determined to go, merely on that account; for in general, you know, theyvisit no newcomers. Indeed you must go, for it will be impossible for us to visit him, if you do not. You are over scrupulous, surely. I daresay Mr. Bingley will be very glad to see you; and I will send afew lines by you to assure him of my hearty consent to his marrying whichever he chooses of the girls;though I must throw in a good word for my little Lizzy. I desire you will do no such thing. Lizzy is not a bit better than the others: and I am sure she is not halfso handsome as Jane, nor half so good-humoured as Lydia. But you are always giving her thepreference. They have none of them much to recommend them, replied he: they are all silly and ignorant likeother girls; but Lizzy has something more of quickness than her sisters. Mr. Bennet, how can you abuse your own children in such a way? You take delight in vexing me. Youhave no compassion on my poor nerves. You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends. I have heardyou mention them with consideration these twenty years at least. Ah, you do not know what I suffer. But I hope you will get over it, and live to see many young men of four thousand a year come into theneighbourhood. It will be no use to us, if twenty such should come, since you will not visit them. Depend upon it, my dear, that when there are twenty, I will visit them all. Mr. Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve, and caprice, that theexperience of three-and-twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his mind was less difficult to develop. She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, anduncertain temper. When she was discontented, she fancied herself nervous. The business of her life wasto get her daughters married: its solace was visiting and IIMR. BENNET was among the earliest of those who waited on Mr. Bingley. He had always intended tovisit him, though to the last always assuring his wife that he should not go; and till the evening after thevisit was paid she had no knowledge of it. It was then disclosed in the following manner. Observing hissecond daughter employed in trimming a hat, he suddenly addressed her with, I hope Mr. Bingley will like it, Lizzy. We are not in a way to know what Mr. Bingley likes, said her mother, resentfully, since we are not tovisit. But you forget, mamma, said Elizabeth, that we shall meet him at the assemblies, and that Mrs. Longhas promised to introduce him. I do not believe Mrs. Long will do any such thing. She has two nieces of her own. She is a selfish,hypocritical woman, and I have no opinion of her. No more have I, said Mr. Bennet; and I am glad to find that you do not depend on her serving you. Mrs. Bennet deigned not to make any reply; but, unable to contain herself, began scolding one of herdaughters. Don t keep coughing so, Kitty, for heaven s sake! Have a little compassion on my nerves. You tearthem to pieces. Kitty has no discretion in her coughs, said her father; she times them ill. I do not cough for my own amusement, replied Kitty, fretfully. When is your next ball to be, Lizzy? To-morrow fortnight. Ay, so it is, cried her mother, and Mrs. Long does not come back till the day before; so, it will beimpossible for her to introduce him, for she will not know him herself. Then, my dear, you may have the advantage of your friend, and introduce Mr. Bingley to her? Impossible, Mr. Bennet, impossible, when I am not acquainted with him myself; how can you be soteasing? I honour your circumspection. A fortnight s acquaintance is certainly very little. One cannot knowwhat a man really is by the end of a fortnight. But if we do not venture, somebody else will; and after all,Mrs. Long and her nieces must stand their chance; and, therefore, as she will think it an act of kindness,if you decline the office, I will take it on myself. The girls stared at their father. Mrs. Bennet said only, Nonsense, nonsense! What can be the meaning of that emphatic exclamation? # cried he. Do you consider the forms ofintroduction, and the stress that is laid on them, as nonsense? I cannot quite agree with you there. Whatsay you, Mary? for you are a young lady of deep reflection, I know, and read great books, and makeextracts. Mary wished to say something very sensible, but knew not how. While Mary is adjusting her ideas, he continued, let us return to Mr. Bingley. I am sick of Mr. Bingley, cried his wife. I am sorry to hear that; but why did not you tell me so before? If I had known as much this morning, Icertainly would not have called on him. It is very unlucky; but as I have actually paid the visit, we cannotescape the acquaintance now. The astonishment of the ladies was just what he wished; that of Mrs. Bennet perhaps surpassing the rest;though when the first tumult of joy was over, she began to declare that it was what she had expected allthe while. How good it was in you, my dear Mr. Bennet. But I knew I should persuade you at last. I was sure youloved your girls too well to neglect such an acquaintance. Well, how pleased I am! and it is such a goodjoke, too, that you should have gone this morning, and never said a word about it till now. Now, Kitty, you may cough as much as you choose, said Mr. Bennet; and as he spoke, he left theroom, fatigued with the raptures of his wife. What an excellent father you have, girls, said she, when the door was shut. I do not know how youwill ever make him amends for his kindness; or me either, for that matter. At our time of life, it is not sopleasant, I can tell you, to be making new acquaintance every day; but for your sakes we would doanything. Lydia, my love, though you are the youngest, I daresay Mr. Bingley will dance with you at thenext ball. Oh, said Lydia, stoutly, I am not afraid; for though I am the youngest, I m the tallest. The rest of the evening was spent in conjecturing how soon he would return Mr. Bennet s visit, anddetermining when they should ask him to IIINOT all that Mrs. Bennet, however, with the assistance of her five daughters, could ask on the subject,was sufficient to draw from her husband any satisfactory description of Mr. Bingley. They attacked himin various ways; with barefaced questions, ingenious suppositions, and distant surmises; but he eludedthe skill of them all; and they were at last obliged to accept the second-hand intelligence of theirneighbour, Lady Lucas. Her report was highly favourable. Sir William had been delighted with him. Hewas quite young, wonderfully handsome, extremely agreeable, and, to crown the whole, he meant to beat the next assembly with a large party. Nothing could be more delightful! To be fond of dancing was acertain step towards falling in love; and very lively hopes of Mr. Bingley s heart were entertained. If I can but see one of my daughters happily settled at Netherfield, said Mrs. Bennet to her husband, and all the others equally well married, I shall have nothing to wish for. In a few days Mr. Bingley returned Mr. Bennet s visit, and sat about ten minutes with him in his had entertained hopes of being admitted to a sight of the young ladies, of whose beauty he had heardmuch; but he saw only the father. The ladies were somewhat more fortunate, for they had the advantageof ascertaining, from an upper window, that he wore a blue coat and rode a black horse. An invitation to dinner was soon afterwards despatched; and already had Mrs. Bennet planned thecourses that were to do credit to her housekeeping, when an answer arrived which deferred it all. was obliged to be in town the following day, and consequently unable to accept the honour oftheir invitation, etc. Mrs. Bennet was quite disconcerted. She could not imagine what business he couldhave in town so soon after his arrival in Hertfordshire; and she began to fear that he might always beflying about from one place to another, and never settled at Netherfield as he ought to be. Lady Lucasquieted her fears a little by starting the idea of his being gone to London only to get a large party for theball; and a report soon followed that Mr. Bingley was to bring twelve ladies and seven gentlemen withhim to the assembly. The girls grieved over such a number of ladies; but were comforted the day beforethe ball by hearing that, instead of twelve, he had brought only six with him from London, his five sistersand a cousin. And when the party entered the assembly-room, it consisted of only five altogether: , his two sisters, the husband of the eldest, and another young man. Mr. Bingley was good-looking and gentlemanlike: he had a pleasant countenance, and easy, unaffectedmanners. His sisters were fine women, with an air of decided fashion. His brother-in-law, Mr. Hurst,merely looked the gentleman; but his friend Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine,tall person, handsome features, noble mien, and the report, which was in general circulation within fiveminutes after his entrance, of his having ten thousand a year. The gentlemen pronounced him to be a finefigure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley, and he was looked at withgreat admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of hispopularity; for he was discovered to be proud, to be above his company, and above being pleased; andnot all his large estate in Derbyshire could then save him from having a most forbidding, disagreeablecountenance, and being unworthy to be compared with his friend. Mr. Bingley had soon made himself acquainted with all the principal people in the room: he was livelyand unreserved, danced every dance, was angry that the ball closed so early, and talked of giving onehimself at Netherfield. Such amiable qualities must speak for themselves. What a contrast between himand his friend! Mr. Darcy danced only once with Mrs. Hurst and once with Miss Bingley, declined beingintroduced to any other lady, and spent the rest of the evening in walking about the room, speakingoccasionally to one of his own party. His character was decided. He was the proudest, most disagreeableman in the world, and everybody hoped that he would never come there again. Amongst the most violentagainst him was Mrs. Bennet, whose dislike of his general behaviour was sharpened into particularresentment by his having slighted one of her daughters. Elizabeth Bennet had been obliged, by the scarcity of gentlemen, to sit down for two dances; and duringpart of that time, Mr. Darcy had been standing near enough for her to overhear a conversation betweenhim and Mr. Bingley, who came from the dance for a few minutes to press his friend to join it. Come, Darcy, said he, I must have you dance. I hate to see you standing about by yourself in thisstupid manner. You had much better dance. I certainly shall not. You know how I detest it, unless I am particularly acquainted with my partner. Atsuch an assembly as this, it would be insupportable. Your sisters are engaged, and there is not anotherwoman in the room whom it would not be a punishment to me to stand up with. I would not be so fastidious as you are, cried Bingley, for a kingdom! Upon my honour, I never metwith so many pleasant girls in my life as I have this evening; and there are several of them, you see,uncommonly pretty. You are dancing with the only handsome girl in the room, # said Mr. Darcy, looking at the eldest MissBennet. Oh, she is the most beautiful creature I ever beheld! But there is one of her sisters sitting down justbehind you, who is very pretty, and I daresay very agreeable. Do let me ask my partner to introduce you. Which do you mean? and turning round, he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till, catching her eye, hewithdrew his own, and coldly said, She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am inno humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had betterreturn to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me. Mr. Bingley followed his advice. Mr. Darcy walked off; and Elizabeth remained with no very cordialfeelings towards him. She told the story, however, with great spirit among her friends; for she had alively, playful disposition, which delighted in anything ridiculous. The evening altogether passed off pleasantly to the whole family. Mrs. Bennet had seen her eldestdaughter much admired by the Netherfield party. Mr. Bingley had danced with her twice, and she hadbeen distinguished by his sisters. Jane was as much gratified by this as her mother could be, though in aquieter way. Elizabeth felt Jane s pleasure. Mary had heard herself mentioned to Miss Bingley as themost accomplished girl in the neighbourhood; and Catherine and Lydia had been fortunate enough to benever without partners, which was all that they had yet learned to care for at a ball. They returned, therefore, in good spirits to Longbourn, the village where they lived, and of which theywere the principal inhabitants. They found Mr. Bennet still up. With a book, he was regardless of time;and on the present occasion he had a good deal of curiosity as to the event of an evening which hadraised such splendid expectations. He had rather hoped that all his wife s views on the stranger would bedisappointed; but he soon found that he had a very different story to hear. Oh, my dear Mr. Bennet, as she entered the room, we have had a most delightful evening, a mostexcellent ball. I wish you had been there. Jane was so admired, nothing could be like it. Everybody saidhow well she looked; and Mr. Bingley thought her quite beautiful, and danced with her twice. Only thinkof that, my dear; he actually danced with her twice; and she was the only creature in the room that heasked a second time. First of all, he asked Miss Lucas. I was so vexed to see him stand up with her; but,however, he did not admire her at all; indeed, nobody can, you know; and he seemed quite struck withJane as she was going down the dance. So he inquired who she was, and got introduced, and asked herfor the two next. Then, the two third he danced with Miss King, and the two fourth with Maria Lucas,and the two fifth with Jane again, and the two sixth with Lizzy, and the Boulanger If he had had any compassion for me, cried her husband impatiently, he would not have danced halfso much! For God s sake, say no more of his partners. Oh that he had sprained his ankle in the firstdance! Oh, my dear, continued Mrs. Bennet, I am quite delighted with him. He is so excessively handsome!and his sisters are charming women. I never in my life saw anything more elegant than their dresses. Idaresay the lace upon Mrs. Hurst s gown Here she was interrupted again. Mr. Bennet protested against any description of finery. She wastherefore obliged to seek another branch of the subject, and related, with much bitterness of spirit, andsome exaggeration, the shocking rudeness of Mr. Darcy. But I can assure you, she added, that Lizzy does not lose much by not suiting his fancy; for he is amost disagreeable, horrid man, not at all worth pleasing. So high and so conceited, that there was noenduring him! He walked here, and he walked there, fancying himself so very great! Not handsomeenough to dance with! I wish you had been there, my dear, to have given him one of your set-downs. Iquite detest the man. Chapter IVWHEN Jane and Elizabeth were alone, the former, who had been cautious in her praise of Mr. Bingleybefore, expressed to her sister how very much she admired him. He is just what a young man ought to be, said she, sensible, good-humoured, lively; and I never sawsuch happy manners! so much ease, with such perfect good breeding! He is also handsome, replied Elizabeth, which a young man ought likewise to be if he possibly character is thereby complete. I was very much flattered by his asking me to dance a second time. I did not expect such acompliment. Did not you? I did for you. But that is one great difference between us. Compliments always take youby surprise, and me never. What could be more natural than his asking you again? He could not helpseeing that you were about five times as pretty as every other woman in the room. No thanks to hisgallantry for that. Well, he certainly is very agreeable, and I give you leave to like him. You have likedmany a stupider person. Dear Lizzy! Oh, you are a great deal too apt, you know, to like people in general. You never see a fault in the world are good and agreeable in your eyes. I never heard you speak ill of a human being in mylife. I would wish not to be hasty in censuring any one; but I always speak what I think. I know you do; and it is that which makes the wonder. With your good sense, to be so honestly blind tothe follies and nonsense of others! Affectation of candour is common enough; one meets with iteverywhere. But to be candid without ostentation or design, to take the good of everybody s characterand make it still better, and say nothing of the bad, belongs to you alone. And so, you like this man ssisters, too, do you? Their manners are not equal to his. Certainly not, at first; but they are very pleasing women when you converse with them. Miss Bingley isto live with her brother, and keep his house; and I am much mistaken if we shall not find a very charmingneighbour in her. Elizabeth listened in silence, but was not convinced: their behaviour at the assembly had not beencalculated to please in general; and with more quickness of observation and less pliancy of temper thanher sister, and with a judgment, too, unassailed by any attention to herself, she was very little disposed toapprove them. They were, in fact, very fine ladies; not deficient in good-humour when they were pleased,nor in the power of being agreeable where they chose it; but proud and conceited. They were ratherhandsome; had been educated in one of the first private seminaries in town; had a fortune of twentythousand pounds; were in the habit of spending more than they ought, and of associating with people ofrank; and were, therefore, in every respect entitled to think well of themselves and meanly of were of a respectable family in the north of England; a circumstance more deeply impressed ontheir memories than that their brother s fortune and their own had been acquired by trade. Mr. Bingley inherited property to the amount of nearly a hundred thousand pounds from his father, whohad intended to purchase an estate, but did not live to do it. Mr. Bingley intended it likewise, andsometimes made choice of his county; but, as he was now provided with a good house and the liberty ofa manor, it was doubtful to many of those who best knew the easiness of his temper, whether he mightnot spend the remainder of his days at Netherfield, and leave the next generation to purchase. His sisters were very anxious for his having an estate of his own; but though he was now establishedonly as a tenant, Miss Bingley was by no means unwilling to preside at his table; nor was Mrs. Hurst,who had married a man of more fashion than fortune, less disposed to consider his house as her homewhen it suited her. Mr. Bingley had not been of age two years when he was tempted, by an accidentalrecommendation, to look at Netherfield House. He did look at it, and into it, for half an hour; was pleasedwith the situation and the principal rooms, satisfied with what the owner said in its praise, and took itimmediately. Between him and Darcy there was a very steady friendship, in spite of a great opposition of was endeared to Darcy by the easiness, openness, and ductility of his temper, though nodisposition could offer a greater contrast to his own, and though with his own he never appeareddissatisfied. On the strength of Darcy s regard Bingley had the firmest reliance, and of his judgment thehighest opinion. In understanding, Darcy was the superior. Bingley was by no means deficient; but Darcywas clever. He was at the same time haughty, reserved, and fastidious; and his manners, though wellbred, were not inviting. In that respect his friend had greatly the advantage. Bingley was sure of beingliked wherever he appeared; Darcy was continually giving offence. The manner in which they spoke of the Meryton assembly was sufficiently characteristic. Bingley hadnever met with pleasanter people or prettier girls in his life; everybody had been most kind and attentiveto him; there had been no formality, no stiffness; he had soon felt acquainted with all the room; and as toMiss Bennet, he could not conceive an angel more beautiful. Darcy, on the contrary, had seen acollection of people in whom there was little beauty and no fashion, for none of whom he had felt thesmallest interest, and from none received either attention or pleasure. Miss Bennet he acknowledged tobe pretty; but she smiled too much. Mrs. Hurst and her sister allowed it to be so; but still they admired her and liked her, and pronouncedher to be a sweet girl, and one whom they should not object to know more of. Miss Bennet was thereforeestablished as a sweet girl; and their brother felt authorised by such commendation to think of her as VWITHIN a short walk of Longbourn lived a family with whom the Bennets were particularly William Lucas had been formerly in trade in Meryton, where he had made a tolerable fortune, andrisen to the honour of knighthood by an address to the king during his mayoralty. The distinction had,perhaps, been felt too strongly. It had given him a disgust to his business and to his residence in a smallmarket town; and, quitting them both, he had removed with his family to a house about a mile fromMeryton, denominated from that period Lucas Lodge; where he could think with pleasure of his ownimportance and, unshackled by business, occupy himself solely in being civil to all the world. For,though elated by his rank, it did not render him supercilious; on the contrary, he was all attention toeverybody. By nature inoffensive, friendly, and obliging, his presentation at St. James s had made himcourteous. Lady Lucas was a very good kind of woman, not too clever to be a valuable neighbour to Mrs. had several children. The eldest of them, a sensible, intelligent young woman, about twenty-seven,was Elizabeth s intimate friend. That the Miss Lucases and the Miss Bennets should meet to talk over a ball was absolutely necessary;and the morning after the assembly brought the former to Longbourn to hear and to communicate. You began the evening well, Charlotte, said Mrs. Bennet, with civil self-command, to Miss Lucas. You were Mr. Bingley s first choice. Yes; but he seemed to like his second better. Oh, you mean Jane, I suppose, because he danced with her twice. To be sure that did seem as if headmired her indeed, I rather believe he did I heard something about it but I hardly knowwhat something about Mr. Robinson. Perhaps you mean what I overheard between him and Mr. Robinson: did not I mention it to you? s asking him how he liked our Meryton assemblies, and whether he did not think there were agreat many pretty women in the room, and which he thought the prettiest? and his answeringimmediately to the last question, Oh, the eldest Miss Bennet, beyond a doubt: there cannot be twoopinions on that point. Upon my word! Well, that was very decided, indeed that does seem as if but, however, it may allcome to nothing, you know. My overhearings were more to the purpose than yours, Eliza, said Charlotte. Mr. Darcy is not so wellworth listening to as his friend, is he? Poor Eliza! to be only just tolerable. I beg you will not put it into Lizzy s head to be vexed by his ill-treatment, for he is such a disagreeableman that it would be quite a misfortune to be liked by him. Mrs. Long told me last night that he sat closeto her for half an hour without once opening his lips. Are you quite sure ma am? Is not there a little mistake? said Jane. I certainly saw Mr. Darcy speakingto her. Ay, because she asked him at last how he liked Netherfield, and he could not help answering her; butshe said he seemed very angry at being spoken to. Miss Bingley told me, said Jane, that he never speaks much unless among his intimate them he is remarkably agreeable. I do not believe a word of it, my dear. If he had been so very agreeable, he would have talked to But I can guess how it was; everybody says that he is eat up with pride, and I daresay he had heardsomehow that Mrs. Long does not keep a carriage, and had to come to the ball in a hack chaise. I do not mind his not talking to Mrs. Long, said Miss Lucas, but I wish he had danced with Eliza. Another time, Lizzy, said her mother, I would not dance with him, if I were you. I believe, ma am, I may safely promise you never to dance with him. His pride, said Miss Lucas, does not offend me so much as pride often does, because there is anexcuse for it. One cannot wonder that so very fine a young man, with family, fortune, everything in hisfavour, should think highly of himself. If I may so express it, he has a right to be proud. That is very true, replied Elizabeth, and I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine. Pride, observed Mary, who piqued herself upon the solidity of her reflections, is a very commonfailing, I believe. By all that I have ever read, I am convinced that it is very common indeed; that humannature is particularly prone to it, and that there are very few of us who do not cherish a feeling ofself-complacency on the score of some quality or other, real or imaginary. Vanity and pride are differentthings, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Priderelates more to our opinion of ourselves; vanity to what we would have others think of us. If I were as rich as Mr. Darcy, cried a young Lucas, who came with his sisters, I should not care howproud I was. I would keep a pack of foxhounds, and drink a bottle of wine every day. Then you would drink a great deal more than you ought, said Mrs. Bennet; and if I were to see you atit, I should take away your bottle directly. The boy protested that she should not; she continued to declare that she would; and the argument endedonly with the VITHE LADIES of Longbourn soon waited on those of Netherfield. The visit was returned in due Bennet s pleasing manners grew on the goodwill of Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley; and though themother was found to be intolerable, and the younger sisters not worth speaking to, a wish of being betteracquainted with them was expressed towards the two eldest. By Jane this attention was received with thegreatest pleasure; but Elizabeth still saw superciliousness in their treatment of everybody, hardlyexcepting even her sister, and could not like them; though their kindness to Jane, such as it was, had avalue, as arising, in all probability, from the influence of their brother s admiration. It was generallyevident, whenever they met, that he did admire her; and to her it was equally evident that Jane wasyielding to the preference which she had begun to entertain for him from the first, and was in a way to bevery much in love; but she considered with pleasure that it was not likely to be discovered by the worldin general, since Jane united with great strength of feelings, a composure of temper and a uniformcheerfulness of manner which would guard her from the suspicions of the impertinent. She mentionedthis to her friend Miss Lucas. It may, perhaps, be pleasant, replied Charlotte, to be able to impose on the public in such a case; butit is sometimes a disadvantage to be so very guarded. If a woman conceals her affection with the sameskill from the object of it, she may lose the opportunity of fixing him; and it will then be but poorconsolation to believe the world equally in the dark. There is so much of gratitude or vanity in almostevery attachment, that it is not safe to leave any to itself. We can all begin freely a slight preference isnatural enough; but there are very few of us who have heart enough to be really in love withoutencouragement. In nine cases out of ten, a woman had better show more affection than she feels. Bingley likes yoursister undoubtedly; but he may never do more than like her, if she does not help him on. But she does help him on, as much as her nature will allow. If I can perceive her regard for him, hemust be a simpleton indeed not to discover it too. Remember, Eliza, that he does not know Jane s disposition as you do. But if a woman is partial to a man, and does not endeavour to conceal it, he must find it out. Perhaps he must, if he sees enough of her. But though Bingley and Jane meet tolerably often, it is neverin for many hours together; and as they always see each other in large mixed parties, it is impossible thatevery moment should be employed in conversing together. Jane should therefore make the most of everyhalf-hour in which she can command his attention. When she is secure of him, there will be leisure forfalling in love as much as she chooses. Your plan is a good one, replied Elizabeth, where nothing is in question but the desire of being wellmarried; and if I were determined to get a rich husband, or any husband, I daresay I should adopt it. Butthese are not Jane s feelings; she is not acting by design. As yet she cannot even be certain of the degreeof her own regard, nor of its reasonableness. She has known him only a fortnight. She danced fourdances with him at Meryton; she saw him one morning at his own house, and has since dined in companywith him four times. This is not quite enough to make her understand his character. Not as you represent it. Had she merely dined with him, she might only have discovered whether hehad a good appetite; but you must remember that four evenings have been also spent together and fourevenings may do a great deal. Yes: these four evenings have enabled them to ascertain that they both like Vingt-un better thanCommerce, but with respect to any other leading characteristic, I do not imagine that much has beenunfolded. Well, said Charlotte, I wish Jane success with all my heart; and if she were married to himto-morrow, I should think she had as good a chance of happiness as if she were to be studying hischaracter for a twelvemonth. Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions ofthe parties are ever so well known to each other, or ever so similar beforehand, it does not advance theirfelicity in the least. They always continue to grow sufficiently unlike afterwards to have their share ofvexation; and it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are topass your life. You make me laugh, Charlotte; but it is not sound. You know it is not sound, and that you would neveract in this way yourself. Occupied in observing Mr. Bingley s attentions to her sister, Elizabeth was far from suspecting that shewas herself becoming an object of some interest in the eyes of his friend. Mr. Darcy had at first scarcelyallowed her to be pretty: he had looked at her without admiration at the ball; and when they next met, helooked at her only to criticise. But no sooner had he made it clear to himself and his friends that she hadhardly a good feature in her face, than he began to find it was rendered uncommonly intelligent by thebeautiful expression of her dark eyes. To this discovery succeeded some others equally he had detected with a critical eye more than one failure of perfect symmetry in her form, he wasforced to acknowledge her figure to be light and pleasing; and in spite of his asserting that her mannerswere not those of the fashionable world, he was caught by their easy playfulness. Of this she wasperfectly unaware: to her he was only the man who made himself agreeable nowhere, and who had notthought her handsome enough to dance with. He began to wish to know more of her; and, as a step towards conversing with her himself, attended toher conversation with others. His doing so drew her notice. It was at Sir William Lucas s, where a largeparty were assembled. What does Mr. Darcy mean, said she to Charlotte, # by listening to my conversation with ColonelForster? That is a question which Mr. Darcy only can answer. But if he does it any more, I shall certainly let him know that I see what he is about. He has a verysatirical eye, and if I do not begin by being impertinent myself, I shall soon grow afraid of him. On his approaching them soon afterwards, though without seeming to have any intention of speaking,Miss Lucas defied her friend to mention such a subject to him, which immediately provoking Elizabethto do it, she turned to him and said, Did not you think, Mr. Darcy, that I expressed myself uncommonly well just now, when I was teasingColonel Forster to give us a ball at Meryton? With great energy; but it is a subject which always makes a lady energetic. You are severe on us. It will be her turn soon to be teased, said Miss Lucas. I am going to open the instrument, Eliza, and you know what follows. You are a very strange creature by way of a friend! always wanting me to play and sing beforeanybody and everybody! If my vanity had taken a musical turn, you would have been invaluable; but asit is, I would really rather not sit down before those who must be in the habit of hearing the very bestperformers. On Miss Lucas s persevering, however, she added, Very well; if it must be so, it must. And gravely glancing at Mr. Darcy, There is a very fine old saying, which everybody here is of coursefamiliar with Keep your breath to cool your porridge, and I shall keep mine to swell my song. Her performance was pleasing, though by no means capital. After a song or two, and before she couldreply to the entreaties of several that she would sing again, she was eagerly succeeded at the instrumentby her sister Marry, who having, in consequence of being the only plain one in the family, worked hardfor knowledge and accomplishments, was always impatient for display. Mary had neither genius nor taste; and though vanity had given her application, it had given herlikewise a pedantic air and conceited manner, which would have injured a higher degree of excellencethan she had reached. Elizabeth, easy and unaffected, had been listened to with much more pleasure,though not playing half so well; and Mary, at the end of a long concerto, was glad to purchase praise andgratitude by Scotch and Irish airs, at the request of her younger sisters, who with some of the Lucases,and two or three officers, joined eagerly in dancing at one end of the room. Mr. Darcy stood near them in silent indignation at such a mode of passing the evening, to the exclusionof all conversation, and was too much engrossed by his own thoughts to perceive that Sir William Lucaswas his neighbour, till Sir William thus began: What a charming amusement for young people this is, Mr. Darcy! There is nothing like dancing, afterall. I consider it as one of the first refinements of polished societies. Certainly, sir; and it has the advantage also of being in vogue amongst the less polished societies of theworld; every savage can dance. Sir William only smiled. Your friend performs delightfully, he continued, after a pause, on seeingBingley join the group; and I doubt not that you are an adept in the science yourself, Mr. Darcy. You saw me dance at Meryton, I believe, sir. Yes, indeed, and received no inconsiderable pleasure from the sight. Do you often dance at s? Never, sir. Do you not think it would be a proper compliment to the place? It is a compliment which I never pay to any place if I can avoid it. You have a house in town, I conclude. Mr. Darcy bowed. I had once some thoughts of fixing in town myself, for I am fond of superior society; but I did not feelquite certain that the air of London would agree with Lady Lucas. He paused in hopes of an answer; but his companion was not disposed to make any; and Elizabeth atthat instant moving towards them, he was struck with the notion of doing a very gallant thing, and calledout to her, My dear Miss Eliza, why are not you dancing? Mr. Darcy, you must allow me to present this younglady to you as a very desirable partner. You cannot refuse to dance, I am sure, when so much beauty isbefore you. And, taking her hand, he would have given it to Mr. Darcy, who, though extremelysurprised, was not unwilling to receive it, when she instantly drew back, and said with somediscomposure to Sir William, Indeed, sir, I have not the least intention of dancing. I entreat you not to suppose that I moved this wayin order to beg for a partner. Mr. Darcy, with grave propriety, requested to be allowed the honour of her hand, but in vain. Elizabethwas determined; nor did Sir William at all shake her purpose by his attempt at persuasion. You excel so much in the dance, Miss Eliza, that it is cruel to deny me the happiness of seeing you;and though this gentleman dislikes the amusement in general, he can have no objection, I am sure, tooblige us for one halfhour. Mr. Darcy is all politeness, said Elizabeth, smiling. He is, indeed: but considering the inducement, my dear Miss Eliza, we cannot wonder at hiscomplaisance; for who would object to such a partner? Elizabeth looked archly, and turned away. Her resistance had not injured her with the gentleman, and hewas thinking of her with some complacency, when thus accosted by Miss Bingley, I can guess the subject of your reverie. I should imagine not. You are considering how insupportable it would be to pass many evenings in this manner, in suchsociety; and, indeed, I am quite of your opinion. I was never more annoyed! The insipidity, and yet thenoise the nothingness, and yet the self-importance, of all these people! What would I give to hear yourstrictures on them! Your conjecture is totally wrong, I assure you. My mind was more agreeably engaged. I have beenmeditating on the very great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can bestow. Miss Bingley immediately fixed her eyes on his face, and desired he would tell her what lady had thecredit of inspiring such reflections. Mr. Darcy replied, with great intrepidity, Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Miss Elizabeth Bennet! repeated Miss Bingley. I am all astonishment. How long has she been such afavourite? and pray when am I to wish you joy? That is exactly the question which I expected you to ask. A lady s imagination is very rapid; it jumpsfrom admiration to love, from love to matrimony, in a moment. I knew you would be wishing me joy. Nay, if you are so serious about it, I shall consider the matter as absolutely settled. You will have acharming mother-in-law, indeed, and of course she will be always at Pemberley with you. He listened to her with perfect indifference, while she chose to entertain herself in this manner; and ashis composure convinced her that all was safe, her wit flowed VIIMR. BENNET S property consisted almost entirely in an estate of two thousand a year, whichunfortunately for his daughters, was entailed, in default of heirs-male, on a distant relation; and theirmother s fortune, though ample for her situation in life, could but ill supply the deficiency of his. Herfather had been an attorney in Meryton, and had left her four thousand pounds. She had a sister married to a Mr. Philips, who had been a clerk to their father, and succeeded him in thebusiness, and a brother settled in London, in a respectable line of trade. The village of Longbourn was only one mile from f Meryton; a most convenient distance for the youngladies, who were usually tempted thither three or four times a week, to pay their duty to their aunt, and toa milliner s shop just over the way. The two youngest of the family, Catherine and Lydia, wereparticularly frequent in these attentions: their minds were more vacant than their sister; and when nothingbetter offered, a walk to Meryton was necessary to amuse their morning hours and furnish conversationfor the evening; and, however bare of news the country in general might be, they always contrived tolearn some from their aunt. At present, indeed, they were well supplied both with news and happiness bythe recent arrival of a militia regiment in the neighbourhood; it was to remain the whole winter, andMeryton was the headquarters. Their visits to Mrs. Philips were now productive of the most interesting intelligence. Every day addedsomething to their knowledge of the officers names and connections. Their lodgings were not long asecret, and at length they began to know the officers themselves. Mr. Philips visited them all, and thisopened to his nieces a source of felicity unknown before. They could talk of nothing but officers; and s large fortune, the mention of which gave animation to their mother, was worthless in their eyeswhen opposed to the regimentals of an ensign. After listening one morning to their effusions on this subject, Mr. Bennet coolly observed, From all that I can collect by your manner of talking, you must be two of the silliest girls in thecountry. I have suspected it some time, but I am now convinced. Catherine was disconcerted, and made no answer; but Lydia, with perfect indifference, continued toexpress her admiration of Captain Carter, and her hope of seeing him in the course of the day, as he wasgoing the next morning to London. I am astonished, my dear, said Mrs. Bennet, that you should be so ready to think your own childrensilly. If I wished to think slightingly of anybody s children, it should not be of my own, however. If my children are silly, I must hope to be always sensible of it. Yes; but as it happens, they are all of them very clever. This is the only point, I flatter myself, on which we do not agree. I had hoped that our sentimentscoincided in every particular, but I must so far differ from you as to think our two youngest daughtersuncommonly foolish. My dear Mr. Bennet, you must not expect such girls to have the sense of their father and mother. Whenthey get to our age, I daresay they will not think about officers any more than we do. I remember the timewhen I liked a red coat myself very well and, indeed, so I do still at my heart; and if a smart youngcolonel, with five or six thousand a year, should want one of my girls, I shall not say nay to him; and Ithought Colonel Forster looked very becoming the other night at Sir William s in his regimentals. Mamma, cried Lydia, my aunt says that Colonel Forster and Captain Carter do not go so often toMiss Watson s as they did when they first came; she sees them now very often standing in Clarke slibrary. Mrs. Bennet was prevented replying by the entrance of the footman with a note for Miss Bennet; itcame from Netherfield, and the servant waited for an answer. Mrs. Bennet s eyes sparkled with pleasure,and she was eagerly calling out, while her daughter read, Well, Jane, who is it from? What is it about? What does he say? Well, Jane, make haste and tell us;make haste, my love. It is from Miss Bingley, said Jane, and then read it aloud. MY DEAR FRIEND If you are not so compassionate as to dine to-day with Louisa andme, we shall be in danger of hating each other for the rest of our lives; for a whole day st te- -t te between two women can never end without a quarrel. Come as soon as you canon the receipt of this. My brother and the gentlemen are to dine with the ever, CAROLINE BINGLEY With the officers! cried Lydia: I wonder my aunt did not tell us of that. Dining out, said Mrs. Bennet; that is very unlucky. Can I have the carriage? said Jane. No, my dear, you had better go on horseback, because it seems likely to rain; and then you must stayall night. That would be a good scheme, said Elizabeth, if you were sure that they would not offer to send herhome. Oh, but the gentlemen will have Mr. Bingley s chaise to go to Meryton; and the Hursts have no horsesto theirs. I had much rather go in the coach. But, my dear, your father cannot spare the horses, I am sure. They are wanted in the farm, Mr. Bennet,are not they? They are wanted in the farm much oftener than I can get them. But if you have got them to-day, said Elizabeth, my mother s purpose will be answered. She did at last extort from her father an acknowledgment that the horses were engaged; Jane wastherefore obliged to go on horseback, and her mother attended her to the door with many cheerfulprognostics of a bad day. Her hopes were answered; Jane had not been gone long before it rained sisters were uneasy for her, but her mother was delighted. The rain continued the whole eveningwithout intermission; Jane certainly could not come back. This was a lucky idea of mine, indeed! said Mrs. Bennet, more than once, as if the credit of making itrain were all her own. Till the next morning, however, she was not aware of all the felicity of hercontrivance. Breakfast was scarcely over when a servant from Netherfield brought the following note forElizabeth: MY DEAREST LIZZY I find myself very unwell this morning, which, I suppose, is tobe imputed to my getting wet through yesterday. My kind friends will not hear of myreturning home till I am better. They insist also on my seeing Mr. Jones therefore do notbe alarmed if you should hear of his having been to me and, excepting a sore throat and aheadache, there is not much the matter with me. Yours, etc. Well, my dear, said Mr. Bennet, when Elizabeth had read the note aloud, if your daughter shouldhave a dangerous fit of illness if she should die it would be a comfort to know that it was all inpursuit of Mr. Bingley, and under your orders. Oh, I am not at all afraid of her dying. People do not die of little trifling colds. She will be taken goodcare of. As long as she stays there, it is all very well. I would go and see her if I could have the carriage. Elizabeth, feeling really anxious, determined to go to her though the carriage was not to be had: and asshe was no horsewoman, walking was her only alternative. She declared her resolution. How can you be so silly, cried her mother, as to think of such a thing, in all this dirt! You will not befit to be seen when you get there. I shall be very fit to see Jane which is all I want. Is this a hint to me, Lizzy, said her father, to send for the horses? No, indeed. I do not wish to avoid the walk. The distance is nothing, when one has a motive; only threemiles. I shall be back by dinner. I admire the activity of your benevolence, observed Mary, but every impulse of feeling should beguided by reason; and, in my opinion, exertion should always be in proportion to what is required. We will go as far as Meryton with you, said Catherine and Lydia. Elizabeth accepted their company,and the three young ladies set off together. If we make haste, said Lydia, as they walked along, # perhaps we may see something of CaptainCarter, before he goes. In Meryton they parted: the two youngest repaired to the lodgings of one of the officers wives, andElizabeth continued her walk alone, crossing field after field at a quick pace, jumping over stiles andspringing over puddles, with impatient activity, and finding herself at last within view of the house, withweary ankles, dirty stockings, and a face glowing with the warmth of exercise. She was shown into the breakfast parlour, where all but Jane were assembled, and where her appearancecreated a great deal of surprise. That she should have walked three miles so early in the day in such dirtyweather, and by herself, was almost incredible to Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley; and Elizabeth wasconvinced that they held her in contempt for it. She was received, however, very politely by them; and intheir brother s manners there was something better than politeness there was good-humour andkindness. Mr. Darcy said very little, and Mr. Hurst nothing at all. The former was divided betweenadmiration of the brilliancy which exercise had given to her complexion and doubt as to the occasion sjustifying her coming so far alone. The latter was thinking only of his breakfast. Her inquiries after her sister were not very favourably answered. Miss Bennet had slept ill, and, thoughup, was very feverish, and not well enough to leave her room. Elizabeth was glad to be taken to herimmediately; and Jane, who had only been withheld by the fear of giving alarm or inconvenience, fromexpressing in her note how much she longed for such a visit, was delighted at her entrance. She was notequal, however, to much conversation; and when Miss Bingley left them together, could attempt littlebeside expressions of gratitude for the extraordinary kindness she was treated with. Elizabeth silentlyattended her. When breakfast was over, they were joined by the sisters; and Elizabeth began to like them herself,when she saw how much affection and solicitude they showed for Jane. The apothecary came; andhaving examined his patient, said, as might be supposed, that she had caught a violent cold, and that theymust endeavour to get the better of it; advised her to return to bed, and promised her some draughts. Theadvice was followed readily, for the feverish symptoms increased, and her head ached acutely. Elizabethdid not quit her room for a moment, nor were the other ladies often absent; the gentlemen being out, theyhad in fact nothing to do elsewhere. When the clock struck three, Elizabeth felt that she must go, and very unwillingly said so. Miss Bingleyoffered her the carriage, and she only wanted a little pressing to accept it, when Jane testified suchconcern at parting with her that Miss Bingley was obliged to convert the offer of the chaise into aninvitation to remain at Netherfield for the present. Elizabeth most thankfully consented, and a servantwas despatched to Longbourn, to acquaint the family with her stay, and bring back a supply of VIIIAT five o clock the two ladies retired to dress, and at half-past six Elizabeth was summoned to the civil inquiries which then poured in, and amongst which she had the pleasure of distinguishing themuch superior solicitude of Mr. Bingley, she could not make a very favourable answer. Jane was by nomeans better. The sisters, on hearing this, repeated three or four times how much they were grieved, howshocking it was to have a bad cold, and how excessively they disliked being ill themselves; and thenthought no more of the matter: and their indifference towards Jane, when not immediately before them,restored Elizabeth to the enjoyment of all her original dislike. Their brother, indeed, was the only one of the party whom she could regard with any complacency. Hisanxiety for Jane was evident, and his attentions to herself most pleasing; and they prevented her feelingherself so much an intruder as she believed she was considered by the others. She had very little noticefrom any but him. Miss Bingley was engrossed by Mr. Darcy, her sister scarcely less so; and as for , by whom Elizabeth sat, he was an indolent man, who lived only to eat, drink, and play at cards,who, when he found her prefer a plain dish to a ragout, had nothing to say to her. When dinner was over, she returned directly to Jane, and Miss Bingley began abusing her as soon as shewas out of the room. Her manners were pronounced to be very bad indeed, a mixture of pride andimpertinence: she had no conversation, no style, no taste, no beauty. Mrs. Hurst thought the same, andadded, She has nothing, in short, to recommend her, but being an excellent walker. I shall never forget herappearance this morning. She really looked almost wild. She did, indeed, Louisa. I could hardly keep my countenance. Very nonsensical to come at all! Whymust she be scampering about the country, because her sister had a cold? Her hair so untidy, so blowsy! Yes, and her petticoat; I hope you saw her petticoat, six inches deep in mud, I am absolutely certain,and the gown which had been let down to hide it not doing its office. Your picture may be very exact, Louisa, said Bingley; # but this was all lost upon me. I thought MissElizabeth Bennet looked remarkably well when she came into the room this morning. Her dirty petticoatquite escaped my notice. You observed it, Mr. Darcy, I am sure, said Miss Bingley; and I am inclined to think that you wouldnot wish to see your sister make such an exhibition. Certainly not. To walk three miles, or four miles, or five miles, or whatever it is, above her ankles in dirt, and alone,quite alone! what could she mean by it? It seems to me to show an abominable sort of conceitedindependence, a most countrytown indifference to decorum. It shows an affection for her sister that is very pleasing, said Bingley. I am afraid, Mr. Darcy, observed Miss Bingley, in a half whisper, that this adventure has ratheraffected your admiration of her fine eyes. Not at all, he replied: they were brightened by the exercise. A short pause followed this speech, andMrs. Hurst began again, I have an excessive regard for Jane Bennet, she is really a very sweet girl, and I wish with all myheart she were well settled. But with such a father and mother, and such low connections, I am afraidthere is no chance of it. I think I have heard you say that their uncle is an attorney in Meryton? Yes; and they have another, who lives somewhere near Cheapside. That is capital, added her sister; and they both laughed heartily. If they had uncles enough to fill all Cheapside, cried Bingley, it would not make them one jot lessagreeable. But it must very materially lessen their chance of marrying men of any consideration in the world, replied Darcy. To this speech Bingley made no answer; but his sisters gave it their hearty assent, and indulged theirmirth for some time at the expense of their dear friend s vulgar relations. With a renewal of tenderness, however, they repaired to her room on leaving the dining-parlour, and satwith her till summoned to coffee. She was still very poorly, and Elizabeth would not quit her at all, tilllate in the evening, when she had the comfort of seeing her asleep, and when it appeared to her ratherright than pleasant that she should go downstairs herself. On entering the drawing-room, she found thewhole party at loo, and was immediately invited to join them; but suspecting them to be playing high, shedeclined it, and making her sister the excuse, said she would amuse herself, for the short time she couldstay below, with a book. Mr. Hurst looked at her with astonishment. Do you prefer reading to cards? said he; that is rather singular. Miss Eliza Bennet, said Miss Bingley, despises cards. She is a great reader, and has no pleasure inanything else. I deserve neither such praise nor such censure, cried Elizabeth; I am not a great reader, and I havepleasure in many things. In nursing your sister I am sure you have pleasure, said Bingley; and I hope it will soon be increasedby seeing her quite well. Elizabeth thanked him from her heart, and then walked towards a table where a few books were immediately offered to fetch her others; all that his library afforded. And I wish my collection were larger for your benefit and my own credit; but I am an idle fellow; andthough I have not many, I have more than I ever looked into. Elizabeth assured him that she could suit herself perfectly with those in the room. I am astonished, said Miss Bingley, that my father should have left so small a collection of a delightful library you have at Pemberley, Mr. Darcy! It ought to be good, he replied: it has been the work of many generations. And then you have added so much to it yourself you are always buying books. I cannot comprehend the neglect of a family library in such days as these. Neglect! I am sure you neglect nothing that can add to the beauties of that noble place. Charles, whenyou build your house, I wish it may be half as delightful as Pemberley. I wish it may. But I would really advise you to make your purchase in that neighbourhood, and take Pemberley for akind of model. There is not a finer county in England than Derbyshire. With all my heart: I will buy Pemberley itself, if Darcy will sell it. I am talking of possibilities, Charles. Upon my word, Caroline, I should think it more possible to get Pemberley by purchase than byimitation. Elizabeth was so much caught by what passed as to leave her very little attention for her book; and soonlaying it wholly aside, she drew near the card-table, and stationed herself between Mr. Bingley and hiseldest sister, to observe the game. Is Miss Darcy much grown since the spring? said Miss Bingley: will she be as tall as I am? I think she will. She is now about Miss Elizabeth Bennet s height, or rather taller. How I long to see her again! I never met with anybody who delighted me so much. Such acountenance, such manners, and so extremely accomplished for her age. Her performance on thepianoforte is exquisite. It is amazing to me, said Bingley, how young ladies can have patience to be so very accomplished asthey all are. All young ladies accomplished! My dear Charles, what do you mean? Yes, all of them, I think. They all paint tables, cover screens, and net purses. I scarcely know any onewho cannot do all this; and I am sure I never heard a young lady spoken of for the first time, withoutbeing informed that she was very accomplished. Your list of the common extent of accomplishments, said Darcy, has too much truth. The word isapplied to many a woman who deserves it no otherwise than by netting a purse or covering a screen; but Iam very far from agreeing with you in your estimation of ladies in general. I cannot boast of knowingmore than half a dozen in the whole range of my acquaintance that are really accomplished. Nor I, I am sure, said Miss Bingley. Then, observed Elizabeth, you must comprehend a great deal in your idea of an accomplishedwoman. Yes; I do comprehend a great deal in it. Oh, certainly, cried his faithful assistant, no one can be really esteemed accomplished who does notgreatly surpass what is usually met with. A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing,drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and, besides all this, she must possessa certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions,or the word will be but half deserved. All this she must possess, added Darcy; and to all she must yet add something more substantial in theimprovement of her mind by extensive reading. I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women. I rather wonder now at yourknowing any. Are you so severe upon your own sex as to doubt the possibility of all this? I never saw such a woman. I never saw such capacity, and taste, and application, and elegance, as youdescribe, united. Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley both cried out against the injustice of her implied doubt, and were bothprotesting that they knew many women who answered this description, when Mr. Hurst called them toorder, with bitter complaints of their inattention to what was going forward. As all conversation wasthereby at an end, Elizabeth soon afterwards left the room. Eliza Bennet, said Miss Bingley, when the door was closed on her, is one of those young ladies whoseek to recommend themselves to the other sex by undervaluing their own; and with many men, Idaresay, it succeeds; but, in my opinion, it is a paltry device, a very mean art. Undoubtedly, replied Darcy, to whom this remark was chiefly addressed, there is meanness in all thearts which ladies sometimes condescend to employ for captivation. Whatever bears affinity to cunning isdespicable. Miss Bingley was not so entirely satisfied with this reply as to continue the subject. Elizabeth joined them again only to say that her sister was worse, and that she could not leave urged Mr. Jones s being sent for immediately; while his sisters, convinced that no countryadvice could be of any service, recommended an express to town for one of the most eminent she would not hear of; but she was not so unwilling to comply with their brother s proposal; and itwas settled that Mr. Jones should be sent for early in the morning, if Miss Bennet were not decidedlybetter. Bingley was quite uncomfortable; his sisters declared that they were miserable. They solaced theirwretchedness, however, by duets after supper, while he could find no better relief to his feelings than bygiving his housekeeper directions that every possible attention might be paid to the sick lady and IXELIZABETH passed the chief of the night in her sister s room, and in the morning had the pleasure ofbeing able to send a tolerable answer to the inquiries which she very early received from Mr. Bingley bya housemaid, and some time afterwards from the two elegant ladies who waited on his sisters. In spite ofthis amendment, however, she requested to have a note sent to Longbourn, desiring her mother to visitJane, and form her own judgment of her situation. The note was immediately despatched, and its contentsas quickly complied with. Mrs. Bennet, accompanied by her two youngest girls, reached Netherfield soonafter the family breakfast. Had she found Jane in any apparent danger, Mrs. Bennet would have been very miserable; but beingsatisfied on seeing her that her illness was not alarming, she had no wish of her recovering immediately,as her restoration to health would probably remove her from Netherfield. She would not listen, therefore,to her daughter s proposal of being carried home; neither did the apothecary, who arrived about the sametime, think it at all advisable. After sitting a little while with Jane, on Miss Bingley s appearance andinvitation, the mother and three daughters all attended her into the breakfast parlour. Bingley met themwith hopes that Mrs. Bennet had not found Miss Bennet worse than she expected. Indeed I have, sir, was her answer. She is a great deal too ill to be moved. Mr. Jones says we must notthink of moving her. We must trespass a little longer on your kindness. Removed! cried Bingley. It must not be thought of My sister, I am sure, will not hear of her removal. You may depend upon it, madam, said Miss Bingley, with cold civility, that Miss Bennet shallreceive every possible attention while she remains with us. Mrs. Bennet was profuse in her acknowledgments. I am sure, she added, if it was not for such good friends, I do not know what would become of her,for she is very ill indeed, and suffers a vast deal, though with the greatest patience in the world, which isalways the way with her, for she has, without exception, the sweetest temper I ever met with. I often tellmy other girls they are nothing to her. You have a sweet room here, Mr. Bingley, and a charmingprospect over that gravel walk. I do not know a place in the country that is equal to Netherfield. You willnot think of quitting it in a hurry, I hope, though you have but a short lease. Whatever I do is done in a hurry, replied he; and therefore if I should resolve to quit Netherfield, Ishould probably be off in five minutes. At present, however, I consider myself as quite fixed here. That is exactly what I should have supposed of you, said Elizabeth. You begin to comprehend me, do you? cried he, turning towards her. Oh yes I understand you perfectly. I wish I might take this for a compliment; but to be so easily seen through, I am afraid, is pitiful. That is as it happens. It does not necessarily follow that a deep, intricate character is more or lessestimable than such a one as yours. Lizzy, cried her mother, remember where you are, and do not run on in the wild manner that you aresuffered to do at home. I did not know before, continued Bingley, immediately, # that you were a studier of character. It mustbe an amusing study. Yes; but intricate characters are the most amusing. They have at least that advantage. The country, said Darcy, can in general supply but few subjects for such a study. In a countryneighbourhood you move in a very confined and unvarying society. But people themselves alter so much, that there is something new to be observed in them for ever. Yes, indeed, cried Mrs. Bennet, offended by his manner of mentioning a country neighbourhood. Iassure you there is quite as much of that going on in the country as in town. Everybody was surprised; and Darcy, after looking at her for a moment, turned silently away. , who fancied she had gained a complete victory over him, continued her triumph, I cannot see that London has any great advantage over the country, for my part, except the shops andpublic places. The country is a vast deal pleasanter, is not it, Mr. Bingley? When I am in the country, he replied, I never wish to leave it; and when I am in town, it is prettymuch the same. They have each their advantages, and I can be equally happy in either. Ay, that is because you have the right disposition. But that gentleman, looking at Darcy, seemed tothink the country was nothing at all. Indeed, mamma, you are mistaken, said Elizabeth, blushing for her mother. You quite mistook He only meant that there was not such a variety of people to be met with in the country as intown, which you must acknowledge to be true. Certainly, my dear, nobody said there were; but as to not meeting with many people in thisneighbourhood, I believe there are few neighbourhoods larger. I know we dine with four-and-twentyfamilies. Nothing but concern for Elizabeth could enable Bingley to keep his countenance. His sister was lessdelicate, and directed her eye towards Mr. Darcy with a very expressive smile. Elizabeth, for the sake ofsaying something that might turn her mother s thoughts, now asked her if Charlotte Lucas had been atLongbourn since her coming away. Yes, she called yesterday with her father. What an agreeable man Sir William is, Mr. Bingley is nothe? so much the man of fashion! so genteel and so easy! He has always something to say to is my idea of good-breeding; and those persons who fancy themselves very important and neveropen their mouths quite mistake the matter. Did Charlotte dine with you? No, she would go home. I fancy she was wanted about the mince-pies. For my part, Mr. Bingley, Ialways keep servants that can do their own work; my daughters are brought up differently. But everybodyis to judge for themselves, and the Lucases are a very good sort of girls, I assure you. It is a pity they arenot handsome! Not that I think Charlotte so very plain; but then she is our particular friend. She seems a very pleasant young woman, said Bingley. Oh dear, yes; but you must own she is very plain. Lady Lucas herself has often said so, and envied meJane s beauty. I do not like to boast of my own child, but to be sure, Jane one does not often seeanybody better looking. It is what everybody says. I do not trust my own partiality. When she was onlyfifteen there was a gentleman at my brother Gardiner s in town so much in love with her, that mysister-in-law was sure he would make her an offer before we came away. But, however, he did he thought her too young. However, he wrote some verses on her, and very pretty they were. And so ended his affection, said Elizabeth, impatiently. # There has been many a one, I fancy,overcome in the same way. I wonder who first discovered the efficacy of poetry in driving away love! I have been used to consider poetry as the food of love, said Darcy. Of a fine, stout, healthy love it may. Everything nourishes what is strong already. But if it be only aslight, thin sort of inclination, I am convinced that one good sonnet will starve it entirely away. Darcy only smiled; and the general pause which ensued made Elizabeth tremble lest her mother shouldbe exposing herself again. She longed to speak, but could think of nothing to say; and after a shortsilence Mrs. Bennet began repeating her thanks to Mr. Bingley for his kindness to Jane, with an apologyfor troubling him also with Lizzy. Mr. Bingley was unaffectedly civil in his answer, and forced hisyounger sister to be civil also, and say what the occasion required. She performed her part, indeed,without much graciousness, but Mrs. Bennet was satisfied, and soon after wards ordered her this signal, the youngest of her daughters put herself forward. The two girls had been whispering toeach other during the whole visit; and the result of it was, that the youngest should tax Mr. Bingley withhaving promised on his first coming into the country to give a ball at Netherfield. Lydia was a stout, well-grown girl of fifteen, with a fine complexion and good-humoured countenance;a favourite with her mother, whose affection had brought her into public at an early age. She had highanimal spirits, and a sort of natural self-consequence, which the attentions of the officers, to whom heruncle s good dinners and her own easy manners recommended her, had increased into assurance. Shewas very equal, therefore, to address Mr. Bingley on the subject of the ball, and abruptly reminded himof his promise; adding, that it would be the most shameful thing in the world if he did not keep it. Hisanswer to this sudden attack was delightful to her mother s ear. I am perfectly ready, I assure you, to keep my engagement; and, when your sister is recovered, youshall, if you please, name the very day of the ball. But you would not wish to be dancing while she is ill? Lydia declared herself satisfied. Oh yes it would be much better to wait till Jane was well; and bythat time, most likely, Captain Carter would be at Meryton again. And when you have given your ball, she added, I shall insist on their giving one also. I shall tell Colonel Forster it will be quite a shame if hedoes not. Mrs. Bennet and her daughters then departed, and Elizabeth returned instantly to Jane, leaving her ownand her relations behaviour to the remarks of the two ladies and Mr. Darcy; the letter of whom,however, could not be prevailed on to join in their censure of her, in spite of all Miss Bingley switticisms on fine XTHE DAY passed much as the day before had done. Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley had spent some hoursof the morning with the invalid, who continued, though slowly, to mend; and in the evening, Elizabethjoined their party in the drawing-room. The loo table, however, did not appear. Mr. Darcy was writing,and Miss Bingley, seated near him, was watching the progress of his letter, and repeatedly calling off hisattention by messages to his sister. Mr. Hurst and Mr. Bingley were at piquet, and Mrs. Hurst wasobserving their game. Elizabeth took up some needlework, and was sufficiently amused in attending to what passed betweenDarcy and his companion. The perpetual commendations of the lady either on his handwriting, or on theevenness of his lines, or on the length of his letter, with the perfect unconcern with which her praiseswere received, formed a curious dialogue, and were exactly in unison with her opinion of each. How delighted Miss Darcy will be to receive such a letter! He made no answer. You write uncommonly fast. You are mistaken. I write rather slowly. How many letters you must have occasion to write in the course of a year! Letters of business, too!How odious I should think them! It is fortunate, then, that they fall to my lot instead of to yours. Pray tell your sister that I long to see her. I have already told her so once, by your desire. I am afraid you do not like your pen. Let me mend it for you. I mend pens remarkably well. Thank you but I always mend my own. How can you contrive to write so even? He was silent. Tell your sister I am delighted to hear of her improvement on the harp, and pray let her know that I amquite in raptures with her beautiful little design for a table, and I think it infinitely superior to MissGrantley s. Will you give me leave to defer your raptures till I write again? At present I have not room to do themjustice. Oh, it is of no consequence. I shall see her in January. But do you always write such charming longletters to her, Mr. Darcy? They are generally long; but whether always charming, it is not for me to determine. It is a rule with me, that a person who can write a long letter with ease cannot write ill. That will not do for a compliment to Darcy, Caroline, cried her brother, because he does not writewith ease. He studies too much for words of four syllables. Do not you, Darcy? My style of writing is very different from yours. Oh, cried Miss Bingley, Charles writes in the most careless way imaginable. He leaves out half hiswords, and blots the rest. My ideas flow so rapidly that I have not time to express them; by which means my letters sometimesconvey no ideas at all to my correspondents. Your humility, Mr. Bringley, said Elizabeth, must disarm reproof. Nothing is more deceitful, said Darcy, than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessnessof opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast. And which of the two do you call my little recent piece of modesty? The indirect boast; for you are really proud of your defects in writing, because you consider them asproceeding from a rapidity of thought and carelessness of execution, which, if not estimable, you think atleast highly interesting. The power of doing anything with quickness is always much prized by thepossessor, and often without any attention to the imperfection of the performance. When you told this morning, that if you ever resolved on quitting Netherfield you should be gone in fiveminutes, you meant it to be a sort of panegyric, of compliment to yourself; and yet what is there so verylaudable in a precipitance which must leave very necessary business undone, and can be of no realadvantage to yourself or any one else? Nay, cried Bingley, this is too much, to remember at night all the foolish things that were said in themorning. And yet, upon my honour, I believed what I said of myself to be true, and I believe it at thismoment. At least, therefore, I did not assume the character of needless precipitance merely to show offbefore the ladies. I daresay you believed it; but I am by no means convinced that you would be gone with such conduct would be quite as dependent on chance as that of any man I know; and if, as you weremounting your horse, a friend were to say, Bingley, you had better stay till next week, you wouldprobably do it you would probably not go and, at another word, might stay a month. You have only proved by this, cried Elizabeth, that Mr. Bingley did not do justice to his owndisposition. You have shown him off now much more than he did himself. I am exceedingly gratified, said Bingley, by your converting what my friend says into a complimenton the sweetness of my temper. But I am afraid you are giving it a turn which that gentleman did by nomeans intend; for he would certainly think the better of me if, under such a circumstance, I were to give aflat denial, and ride off as fast as I could. Would Mr. Darcy then consider the rashness of your original intention as atoned for by your obstinacyin adhering to it? Upon my word, I cannot exactly explain the matter Darcy must speak for himself. You expect me to account for opinions which you choose to call mine, but which I have neveracknowledged. Allowing the case, however, to stand according to your representation, you mustremember, Miss Bennet, that the friend who is supposed to desire his return to the house, and the delay ofhis plan, has merely desired it, asked it without offering one argument in favour of its propriety. To yield readily easily to the persuasion of a friend is no merit with you. To yield without conviction is no compliment to the understanding of either. You appear to me, Mr. Darcy, to allow nothing for the influence to friendship and affection. A regardfor the requester would often make one readily yield to a request, without waiting for arguments toreason one into it. I am not particularly speaking of such a case as you have supposed about Mr. may as well wait, perhaps, till the circumstance occurs, before we discuss the discretion of hisbehaviour thereupon. But in general and ordinary cases, between friend and friend, where one of them isdesired by the other to change a resolution of no very great moment, should you think ill of that personfor complying with the desire, without waiting to be argued into it? Will it not be advisable, before we proceed on this subject, to arrange with rather more precision thedegree of importance which is to appertain to this request, as well as the degree of intimacy subsistingbetween the parties? By all means, cried Bingley; let us hear all the particulars, not forgetting their comparative height andsize for that will have more weight in the argument, Miss Bennet, than you may be aware of. I assure youthat if Darcy were not such a great tall fellow, in comparison with myself, I should not pay him half somuch deference. I declare I do not know a more awful object than Darcy on particular occasions, and inparticular places; at his own house especially, and of a Sunday evening, when he has nothing to do. Mr. Darcy smiled; but Elizabeth thought she could perceive that he was rather offended, and thereforechecked her laugh. Miss Bingley warmly resented the indignity he had received, in an expostulation withher brother for talking such nonsense. I see your design, Bingley, said his friend. You dislike an argument, and want to silence this. Perhaps I do. Arguments are too much like disputes. If you and Miss Bennet will defer yours till I amout of the room, I shall be very thankful; and then you may say whatever you like of me. What you ask, said Elizabeth, is no sacrifice on my side; and Mr. Darcy had much better finish hisletter. Mr. Darcy took her advice, and did finish his letter. When that business was over, he applied to Miss Bingley and Elizabeth for the indulgence of somemusic. Miss Bingley moved with alacrity to the pianoforte, and after a polite request that Elizabeth wouldlead the way, which the other as politely and more earnestly negatived, she seated herself. Mrs. Hurst sang with her sister; and while they were thus employed, Elizabeth could not help observing,as she turned over some music-books that lay on the instrument, how frequently Mr. Darcy s eyes werefixed on her. She hardly knew how to suppose that she could be an object of admiration to so great aman, and yet that he should look at her because he disliked her was still more strange. She could onlyimagine, however, at last, that she drew his notice because there was a something about her more wrongand reprehensible, according to his ideas of right, than in any other person present. The supposition didnot pain her. She liked him too little to care for his approbation. After playing some Italian songs, Miss Bingley varied the charm by a lively Scotch air; and soonafterwards Mr. Darcy, drawing near Elizabeth, said to her, Do not you feel a great inclination, Miss Bennet, to seize such an opportunity of dancing a reel? She smiled, but made no answer. He repeated the question, with some surprise at her silence. Oh, said she, I heard you before; but I could not immediately determine what to say in reply. Youwanted me, I know, to say Yes, that you might have the pleasure of despising my taste; but I alwaysdelight in overthrowing those kind of schemes, and cheating a person of their premeditated contempt. Ihave, therefore, made up my mind to tell you that I do not want to dance a reel at all; and now despise meif you dare. Indeed I do not dare. Elizabeth, having rather expected to affront him, was amazed at his gallantry; but there was a mixture ofsweetness and archness in her manner which made it difficult for her to affront anybody, and Darcy hadnever been so bewitched by any woman as he was by her. He really believed that, were it not for theinferiority of her connections, he should be in some danger. Miss Bingley saw, or suspected, enough to be jealous; and her great anxiety for the recovery of her dearfriend Jane received some assistance from her desire of getting rid of Elizabeth. She often tried to provoke Darcy into disliking her guest, by talking of their supposed marriage, andplanning his happiness in such an alliance. I hope, said she, as they were walking together in the shrubbery the next day, you will give yourmother-in-law a few hints, when this desirable event takes place, as to the advantage of holding hertongue; and if you can compass it, to cure the younger girls of running after the officers. And, if I maymention so delicate a subject, endeavour to check that little something, bordering on conceit andimpertinence, which your lady possesses. Have you anything else to propose for my domestic felicity? Oh yes. Do let the portraits of your uncle and aunt Philips be placed in the gallery at Pemberley. Putthem next to your great uncle the judge. They are in the same profession, you know, only in differentlines. As for your Elizabeth s picture, you must not attempt to have it taken, for what painter could dojustice to those beautiful eyes? It would not be easy, indeed, to catch their expression; but their colour and shape, and the eyelashes, soremarkably fine, might be copied. At that moment they were met from another walk by Mrs. Hurst and Elizabeth herself. I did not know that you intended to walk, said Miss Bingley, in some confusion lest they had beenoverheard. You used us abominably ill, answered Mrs. Hurst running away without telling us that you werecoming out. Then taking the disengaged arm of Mr. Darcy, she left Elizabeth to walk by herself. The path justadmitted three. Mr. Darcy felt their rudeness, and immediately said, This walk is not wide enough for our party. We had better go into the avenue. But Elizabeth, who had not the least inclination to remain with them, laughingly answered, No, no; stay where you are. You are charmingly grouped, and appear to uncommon advantage. Thepicturesque would be spoilt by admitting a fourth. Good-bye. She then ran gaily off, rejoicing, as she rambled about, in the hope of being at home again in a day ortwo. Jane was already so much recovered as to intend leaving her room for a couple of hours XIWHEN the ladies removed after dinner Elizabeth ran up to her sister, and seeing her well guarded fromcold, attended her into the drawing-room, where she was welcomed by her two friends with manyprofessions of pleasure; and Elizabeth had never seen them so agreeable as they were during the hourwhich passed before the gentlemen appeared. Their powers of conversation were considerable. Theycould describe an entertainment with accuracy, relate an anecdote with humour, and laugh at theiracquaintance with spirit. But when the gentlemen entered, Jane was no longer the first object; Miss Bingley s eyes were instantlyturned towards Darcy, and she had something to say to him before he had advanced many steps. Headdressed himself directly to Miss Bennet with a polite congratulation; Mr. Hurst also made her a slightbow, and said he was very glad ; but diffuseness and warmth remained for Bingley s salutation. He wasfull of joy and attention. The first half-hour was spent in piling up the fire, lest she should suffer from thechange of room; and she removed, at his desire, to the other side of the fireplace, that she might befarther from the door. He then sat down by her, and talked scarcely to any one else. Elizabeth, at work inthe opposite corner, saw it all with great delight. When tea was over Mr. Hurst reminded his sister-in-law of the card-table but in vain. She hadobtained private intelligence that Mr. Darcy did not wish for cards, and Mr. Hurst soon found even hisopen petition rejected. She assured him that no one intended to play, and the silence of the whole partyon the subject seemed to justify her. Mr. Hurst had, therefore, nothing to do but to stretch himself on oneof the sofas and go to sleep. Darcy took up a book. Miss Bingley did the same; and Mrs. Hurst,principally occupied in playing with her bracelets and rings, joined now and then in her brother sconversation with Miss Bennet. Miss Bingley s attention was quite as much engaged in watching Mr. Darcy s progress through hisbook, as in reading her own; and she was perpetually either making some inquiry, or looking at his could not win him, however, to any conversation; he merely answered her question and read on. Atlength, quite exhausted by the attempt to be amused with her own book, which she had only chosenbecause it was the second volume of his, she gave a great yawn and said, How pleasant it is to spend anevening in this way! I declare, after all, there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires ofanything than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellentlibrary! No one made any reply. She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and cast her eyes round the roomin quest of some amusement; when, hearing her brother mentioning a ball to Miss Bennet, she turnedsuddenly towards him and said, By the bye, Charles, are you really serious in meditating a dance at Netherfield? I would advise you,before you determine on it, to consult the wishes of the present party; I am much mistaken if there are notsome among us to whom a ball would be rather a punishment than a pleasure. If you mean Darcy, cried her brother, he may go to bed, if he chooses, before it begins; but as for theball, it is quite a settled thing, and as soon as Nicholls has made white soup enough I shall send round mycards. I should like balls infinitely better, she replied, if they were carried on in a different manner; but thereis something insufferably tedious in the usual process of such a meeting. It would surely be much morerational if conversation instead of dancing made the order of the day. Much more rational, my dear Caroline, I daresay; but it would not be near so much like a ball. Miss Bingley made no answer, and soon afterwards got up and walked about the room. Her figure waselegant, and the walked well; but Darcy, at whom it was all aimed, was still inflexibly studious. In thedesperation of her feelings she resolved on one effort more; and, turning to Elizabeth, said, Miss Eliza Bennet, let me persuade you to follow my example, and take a turn about the room. I assureyou it is very refreshing after sitting so long in one attitude. Elizabeth was surprised, but agreed to it immediately. Miss Bingley succeeded no less in the real objectof her civility: Mr. Darcy looked up. He was as much awake to the novelty of attention in that quarter asElizabeth herself could be, and unconsciously closed his book. He was directly invited to join their party,but he declined it, observing that he could imagine but two motives for their choosing to walk up anddown the room together, with either of which motives his joining them would interfere. What could hemean? She was dying to know what could be his meaning and asked Elizabeth whether she could at allunderstand him. Now at all, was her answer; but, depend upon it, he means to be severe on us, and our surest way ofdisappointing him will be to ask nothing about it. Miss Bingley, however, was incapable of disappointing Mr. Darcy in anything, and persevered,therefore, in requiring an explanation of his two motives. I have not the smallest objection to explaining them, said he, as soon as she allowed him to speak. You either choose this method of passing the evening because you are in each other s confidence, andhave secret affairs to discuss, or because you are conscious that your figures appear to the greatestadvantage in walking: if the first, I should be completely in your way; and if the second, I can admire youmuch better as I sit by the fire. Oh, shocking! cried Miss Bingley. I never heard anything so abominable. How shall we punish himfor such a speech? Nothing so easy, if you have but the inclination, said Elizabeth. We can all plague and punish oneanother. Tease him laugh at him. Intimate as you are, you must know how it is to be done. But upon my honour I do not. I do assure you that my intimacy has not yet taught me that. Teasecalmness of temper and presence of mind! No, no; I feel he may defy us there. And as to laughter, wewill not expose ourselves, if you please, by attempting to laugh without a subject. Mr. Darcy may hughimself. Mr. Darcy is not to be laughed at! cried Elizabeth. # That is an uncommon advantage, and uncommonI hope it will continue, for it would be a great loss to me to have many such acquaintance. I dearly love alaugh. Miss Bingley, said he, has given me credit for more than can be. The wisest and best of men, nay,the wisest and best of their actions, may be rendered ridiculous by a person whose first object in life isa joke. Certainly, replied Elizabeth, there are such people, but I hope I am not one of them. I hope I neverridicule what is wise or good. Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies, do divert me, I own, andI laugh at them whenever I can. But these, I suppose, are precisely what you are without. Perhaps that is not possible for any one. But it has been the study of my life to avoid those weaknesseswhich often expose a strong understanding to ridicule. Such as vanity and pride. Yes, vanity is a weakness indeed. But pride where there is a real superiority of mind pride will bealways under good regulation. Elizabeth turned away to hide a smile. Your examination of Mr. Darcy is over, I presume, said Miss Bingley; and pray what is the result? I am perfectly convinced by it that Mr. Darcy has no defect. He owns it himself without disguise. No, said Darcy, I have made no such pretension. I have faults enough, but they are not, I hope, ofunderstanding. My temper I dare not vouch for. It is, I believe, too little yielding; certainly too little forthe convenience of the world. I cannot forget the follies and vices of others so soon as I ought, nor theiroffences against myself. My feelings are not puffed about with every attempt to move them. My temperwould perhaps be called resentful. My good opinion once lost is lost for ever. That is a failing, indeed! cried Elizabeth. Implacable resentment is a shade in a character. But youhave chosen your fault well. I really cannot laugh at it. You are safe from me. There is, I believe, in every disposition a tendency to some particular evil, a natural defect, which noteven the best education can overcome. And your defect is a propensity to hate everybody. And yours, he replied, with a smile, is wilfully to misunderstand them. Do let us have a little music, cried Miss Bingley, tired of a conversation in which she had no share. Louisa, you will not mind my waking Mr. Hurst. Her sister made not the smallest objection, and the pianoforte was opened; and Darcy, after a fewmoments recollection, was not sorry for it. He began to feel the danger of paying Elizabeth too XIIIN consequence of an agreement between the sisters, Elizabeth wrote the next morning to her mother, tobeg that the carriage might be sent for them in the course of the day. But Mrs. Bennet, who hadcalculated on her daughters remaining at Netherfield till the following Tuesday, which would exactlyfinish Jane s week, could not bring herself to receive them with pleasure before. Her answer, therefore,was not propitious, at least not to Elizabeth s wishes, for she was impatient to get home. Mrs. Bennetsent them word that they could not possibly have the carriage before Tuesday; and in her postscript it wasadded, that if Mr. Bingley and his sister pressed them to stay longer, she could spare them very staying longer, however, Elizabeth was positively resolved nor did she much expect it wouldbe asked; and fearful, on the contrary, of being considered as intruding themselves needlessly long, sheurged Jane to borrow Mr. Bingley s carriage immediately, and at length it was settled that their originaldesign of leaving Netherfield that morning should be mentioned, and the request made. The communication excited many professions of concern; and enough was said of wishing them to stayat least till the following day to work on Jane; and till the morrow their going was deferred. Miss Bingleywas then sorry that she had proposed the delay; for her jealousy and dislike of one sister much exceededher affection for the other. The master of the house heard with real sorrow that they were to go so soon, and repeatedly tried topersuade Miss Bennet that it would not be safe for her that she was not enough recovered; but Jane wasfirm where she felt herself to be right. To Mr. Darcy it was welcome intelligence: Elizabeth had been at Netherfield long enough. She attractedhim more than he liked; and Miss Bingley was uncivil to her, and more teasing than usual to himself. Hewisely resolved, to be particularly careful that no sign of admiration should now escape him nothingthat could elevate her with the hope of influencing his felicity; sensible that, if such an idea had beensuggested, his behaviour during the last day must have material weight in confirming or crushing to his purpose, he scarcely spoke ten words to her through the whole of Saturday; and though theywere at one time left by themselves for half an hour, he adhered most conscientiously to his book andwould not even look at her. On Sunday, after morning service, the separation, so agreeable to almost all, took place. Miss Bingley scivility to Elizabeth increased at last very rapidly, as well as her affection for Jane; and when they parted,after assuring the latter of the pleasure it would always give her to see her either at Longbourn orNetherfield, and embracing her most tenderly, she even shook hands with the former. Elizabeth tookleave of the whole party in the liveliest spirits. They were not welcomed home very cordially by their mother. Mrs. Bennet wondered at their coming,and thought them very wrong to give so much trouble, and was sure Jane would have caught cold their father, though very laconic in his expressions of pleasure, was really glad to see them; he hadfelt their importance in the family circle. The evening conversation, when they were all assembled, hadlost much of its animation, and almost all its sense, by the absence of Jane and Elizabeth. They found Mary, as usual, deep in the study of thorough bass and human nature; and had some newextracts to admire, and some new observations of threadbare morality to listen to. Catherine and Lydiahad information for them of a different sort. Much had been done, and much had been said in theregiment since the preceding Wednesday; several of the officers had dined lately with their uncle; aprivate had been flogged, and it had actually been hinted that Colonel Forster was going to be XIII I HOPE, my dear, said Mr. Bennet to his wife, as they were at breakfast the next morning, that youhave ordered a good dinner to-day, because I have reason to expect an addition to our family party. Who do you mean, my dear? I know of nobody that is coming, I am sure, unless Charlotte Lucasshould happen to call in; and I hope my dinners are good enough for her. I do not believe she often seessuch at home. The person of whom I speak is a gentleman and a stranger. Mrs. Bennet s eyes sparkled. A gentlemanand a stranger! It is Mr. Bingley, I am sure. Why, Jane you never dropped a word of this you slything! Well, I am sure I shall be extremely glad to see Mr. Bingley. But good Lord! how unlucky! thereis not a bit of fish to be got to-day. Lydia, my love, ring the bell. I must speak to Hill this moment. It is not Mr. Bingley, said her husband; it is a person whom I never saw in the whole course of mylife. This roused a general astonishment; and he had the pleasure of being eagerly questioned by his wife andfive daughters at once. After amusing himself some time with their curiosity, he thus explained: About a month ago Ireceived this letter, and about a fortnight ago I answered it; for I thought it a case of some delicacy, andrequiring early attention. It is from my cousin, Mr. Collins, who, when I am dead, may turn you all out ofthis house as soon as he pleases. Oh, my dear, cried his wife, I cannot bear to hear that mentioned. Pray do not talk of that odious do think it is the hardest thing in the world that your estate should be entailed away from your ownchildren; and I am sure, if I had been you, I should have tried long ago to do something or other about it. Jane and Elizabeth attempted to explain to her the nature of an entail. They had often attempted itbefore: but it was a subject on which Mrs. Bennet was beyond the reach of reason; and she continued torail bitterly against the cruelty of settling an estate away from a family of five daughters, in favour of aman whom nobody cared anything about. It certainly is a most iniquitous affair, said Mr. Bennet; and nothing can clear Mr. Collins from theguilt of inheriting Longbourn. But if you will listen to his letter, you may, perhaps, be a little softened byhis manner of expressing himself. No, that I am sure I shall not; and I think it was very impertinent of him to write to you at all, and veryhypocritical. I hate such false friends. Why could not he keep on quarrelling with you, as his father didbefore him? Why, indeed, he does seem to have had some filial scruples on that head, as you will hear: Hunsford, near Westerham, Kent, 15th October. DEAR SIR The disagreement subsisting between yourself and my late honoured fatheralways gave me much uneasiness; and, since I have had the misfortune to lose him, I havefrequently wished to heal the breach: but, for some time, I was kept back by my own doubts,fearing lest it might seem disrespectful to his memory for me to be on good terms with anyone with whom it had always pleased him to be at variance. There, Mrs. Bennet. Mymind, however, is now made up on the subject; for, having received ordination at Easter, Ihave been so fortunate as to be distinguished by the patronage of the Right Honourable LadyCatherine De Bourgh, widow of Sir Lewis De Bourgh, whose bounty and beneficence haspreferred me to the valuable rectory of this parish, where it shall be my earnest endeavour todemean myself with grateful respect towards her Ladyship, and be ever ready to performthose rites and ceremonies which are instituted by the Church of England. As a clergyman,moreover, I feel it my duty to promote and establish the blessing of peace in all familieswithin the reach of my influence; and on these grounds I flatter myself that my presentovertures of goodwill are highly commendable, and that the circumstance of my being nextin the entail of Longbourn estate will be kindly overlooked on your side, and not lead you toreject the offered olive branch. I cannot be otherwise than concerned at being the means ofinjuring your amiable daughters, and beg leave to apologise for it, as well as to assure you ofmy readiness to make them every possible amends; but of this hereafter. If you should haveno objection to receive me into your house, I propose myself the satisfaction of waiting onyou and your family, Monday, November 18th, by four o clock, and shall probably trespasson your hospitality till the Saturday se nnight following, which I can do without anyinconvenience, as Lady Catherine is far from objecting to my occasional absence on aSunday, provided that some other clergyman is engaged to do the duty of the day. I remain,dear sir, with respectful compliments to your lady and daughters, your well-wisher andfriend, WILLIAM COLLINS. At four o clock, therefore, we may expect this peacemaking gentleman, said Mr. Bennet, as he foldedup the letter. # He seems to be a most conscientious and polite young man, upon my word; and, I doubtnot, will prove a valuable acquaintance, especially if Lady Catherine should be so indulgent as to let himcome to us again. There is some sense in what he says about the girls, however; and, if he is disposed to make them anyamends, I shall not be the person to discourage him. Though it is difficult, said Jane, to guess in what way he can mean to make us the atonement hethinks our due, the wish is certainly to his credit. Elizabeth was chiefly struck with his extraordinary deference for Lady Catherine, and his kind intentionof christening, marrying, and burying his parishioners whenever it were required. He must be an oddity, I think, said she. I cannot make him out. There is something very pompous inhis style. And what can he mean by apologising for being next in the entail? We cannot suppose hewould help it, if he could. Can he be a sensible man, sir? No, my dear; I think not. I have great hopes of finding him quite the reverse. There is a mixture ofservility and self-importance in his letter which promises well. I am impatient to see him. In point of composition, said Mary, his letter does not seem defective. The idea of the olive branchperhaps is not wholly new, yet I think it is well expressed. To Catherine and Lydia neither the letter nor its writer was in any degree interesting. It was next toimpossible that their cousin should come in a scarlet coat, and it was now some weeks since they hadreceived pleasure from the society of a man in any other colour. As for their mother, Mr. Collins s letterhad done away much of her ill-will, and she was preparing to see him with a degree of composure whichastonished her husband and daughters. Mr. Collins was punctual to his time, and was received with great politeness by the whole family. indeed said little; but the ladies were ready enough to talk, and Mr. Collins seemed neither inneed of encouragement, nor inclined to be silent himself. He was a tall, heavy-looking young man offive-and-twenty. His air was grave and stately, and his manners were very formal. He had not been longseated before he complimented Mrs. Bennet on having so fine a family of daughters, said he had heardmuch of their beauty, but that, in this instance, fame had fallen short of the truth; and added, that he didnot doubt her seeing them all in due time well disposed of in marriage. This gallantry was not much tothe taste of some of his hearers; but Mrs. Bennet, who quarrelled with no compliments, answered mostreadily, You are very kind, sir, I am sure; and I wish with all my heart it may prove so; for else they will bedestitute enough. Things are settled so oddly. You allude, perhaps, to the entail of this estate. Ah, sir I do indeed. It is a grievous affair to my poor girls, you must confess. Not that I mean to findfault with you, for such things I know are all chance in this world. There is no knowing how estates willgo when once they come to be entailed. I am very sensible, madam, of the hardship to my fair cousins, and could say much on the subject, butthat I am cautions of appearing forward and precipitate. But I can assure the young ladies that I comeprepared to admire them. At present I will not say more, but, perhaps, when we are better acquainted He was interrupted by a summons to dinner; and the girls smiled on each other. They were not the onlyobjects of Mr. Collins s admiration. The hall, the dining-room, and all its furniture, were examined andpraised; and his commendation of everything would have touched Mrs. Bennet s heart, but for themortifying supposition of his viewing it all as his own future property. The dinner, too, in its turn, washighly admired; and he begged to know to which of his fair cousins the excellence of its cookery wasowing. But here he was set right by Mrs. Bennet, who assured him, with some asperity, that they werevery well able to keep a good cook, and that her daughters had nothing to do in the kitchen. He beggedpardon for having displeased her. In a softened tone she declared herself not at all offended; but hecontinued to apologise for about a quarter of an XIVDURING dinner, Mr. Bennet scarcely spoke at all; but when the servants were withdrawn, he thought ittime to have some conversation with his guest, and therefore started a subject in which he expected himto shine, by observing that he seemed very fortunate in his patroness. Lady Catherine De Bourgh sattention to his wishes, and consideration for his comfort, appeared very remarkable. Mr. Bennet couldnot have chosen better. Mr. Collins was eloquent in her praise. The subject elevated him to more thanusual solemnity of manner; and with a most important aspect he protested that he had never in his lifewitnessed such behaviour in a person of rank such affability and condescension, as he had himselfexperienced from Lady Catherine. She had been graciously pleased to approve of both the discourseswhich he had already had the honour of preaching before her. She had also asked him twice to dine atRosings, and had sent for him only the Saturday before, to make up her pool of quadrille in the Catherine was reckoned proud by many people, he knew, but he had never seen anything butaffability in her. She had always spoken to him as she would to any other gentleman; she made not thesmallest objection to his joining in the society of the neighbourhood, nor to his leaving his parishoccasionally for a week or two to visit his relations. She had even condescended to advise him to marryas soon as he could, provided he chose with discretion; and had once paid him a visit in his humbleparsonage, where she had perfectly approved all the alterations; he had been making, and had evenvouchsafed to suggest some herself, some shelves in the closets upstairs. That is all very proper and civil, I am sure, said Mrs. Bennet, and I daresay she is a very agreeablewoman. It is a pity that great ladies in general are not more like her. Does she live near you, sir? The garden in which stands my humble abode is separated only by a lane from Rosings Park, herLadyship s residence. I think you said she was a widow, sir? has she any family? She has one only daughter, the heiress of Rosings, and of very extensive property. Ah, cried Mrs. Bennet, shaking her head, then she is better off than many girls. And what sort ofyoung lady is she? Is she handsome? She is a most charming young lady, indeed. Lady Catherine herself says that, in point of true beauty,Miss De Bourgh is far superior to the handsomest of her sex; because there is that in her features whichmarks the young woman of distinguished birth. She is unfortunately of a sickly constitution, which hasprevented her making that progress in many accomplishments which she could not otherwise have failedof, as I am informed by the lady who superintended her education, and who still resides with them. Butshe is perfectly amiable, and often condescends to drive by my humble abode in her little phaeton andponies. Has she been presented? I do not remember her name among the ladies at court. Her indifferent state of health unhappily prevents her being in town; and by that means, as I told LadyCatherine myself one day, has deprived the British Court of its brightest ornament. Her Ladyship seemedpleased with the idea; and you may imagine that I am happy on every occasion to offer those littledelicate compliments which are always acceptable to ladies. I have more than once observed to LadyCatherine, that her charming daughter seemed born to be a duchess; and that the most elevated rank,instead of giving her consequence, would be adorned by her. These are the kind of little things whichplease her Ladyship, and it is a sort of attention which I conceive myself peculiarly bound to pay. You judge very properly, said Mr. Bennet; and it is happy for you that you possess the talent offlattering with delicacy. May I ask whether these pleasing attentions proceed from the impulse of themoment, or are the result of previous study? They arise chiefly form what is passing at the time; and though I sometimes amuse myself withsuggestions and arranging such little elegant compliments as my be adapted to ordinary occasions, Ialways wish to give them as unstudied an air as possible. Mr. Bennet s expectations were fully answered. His cousin was a absurd as he had hoped; and helistened to him with the keenest enjoyment, maintaining at the same time the most resolute composure ofcountenance, and, except in an occasional glance at Elizabeth, requiring no partner in his pleasure. By tea-time, however, the dose had been enough, and Mr. Bennet was glad to take his guest into thedrawing-room again, and when tea was over, glad to invite him to read aloud to the ladies. Mr. Collinsreadily assented, and a book was produced; but on beholding it (for everything announced it to be from acirculating library) he started back, and, begging pardon, protested that he never read novels. Kittystarted at him, and Lydia exclaimed. Other books were produced, and after some deliberation he choseFordyce s Sermons. Lydia gaped as he opened the volume; and before he had, with very monotonoussolemnity, read three pages, she interrupted him with, Do you know, mamma, that my uncle Philips talks of turning away Richard? and if he does, ColonelForster will hire him. My aunt told me so herself on Saturday. I shall walk to Meryton to-morrow to hearmore about it, and to ask when Mr. Denny comes back from town. Lydia was bid by two eldest sisters to hold her tongue; but Mr. Collins, much offended, laid aside hisbook, and said, I have often observed how little young ladies are interested by books of a serious stamp, though writtensolely for their benefit. It amazes me, I confess; for certainly there can be nothing so advantageous tothem as instruction. But I will no longer importune my young cousin. Then turning to Mr. Bennet, he offered himself as his antagonist at backgammon. Mr. Bennet acceptedthe challenge, observing that he acted very wisely in leaving the girls to their own trifling Bennet and her daughters apologised most civilly for Lydia s interruption, and promised that itshould not occur again, if he would resume his book; but Mr. Collins, after assuring them that he bore hisyoung cousin no ill-will, and should never resent her behaviour as any affront, seated himself at anothertable with Mr. Bennet, and prepared for XVMR. COLLINS was not a sensible man, and the deficiency of nature had been but little assisted byeducation or society; the greatest part of his life having been spent under the guidance of an illiterate andmiserly father; and though he belonged to one of the universities, he had merely kept the necessary termswithout forming at it any useful acquaintance. The subjection in which his father had brought him up hadgiven him originally great humility of manner; but it was now a good deal counteracted by theself-conceit of a week head, living in retirement, and the consequential feelings of early and unexpectedprosperity. A fortunate chance had recommended him to Lady Catherine De Bourgh when the living ofHunsford was vacant; and the respect which he felt for her high rank, and his veneration for her as hispatroness, mingling with a very good opinion of himself, of his authority as a clergyman, and his right asa rector, made him altogether a mixture of pride and obsequiousness, self-importance and humility. Having now a good house and a very sufficient income, he intended to marry; and in seeking areconciliation with the Longbourn family he had a wife in view, as he meant to choose one of thedaughters, if he found them as handsome and amiable as they were represented by common report. Thiswas his plan of amends of atonement for inheriting their father s estate; and he thought it an excellentone, full of eligibility and suitableness, and excessively generous and disinterested on his own part. His plan did not vary on seeing them. Miss Bennet s lovely face confirmed his views, and establishedall his strictest notions of what was due to seniority; and for the first evening she was his settled next morning, however, made an alteration; for in a quarter of an hour s t te- -t te with Mrs. Bennetbefore breakfast, a conversation beginning with his parsonage-house, and leading naturally to the avowalof his hopes that a mistress for it might be found at Longbourn, produced from her, amid verycomplaisant smiles and general encouragement, a caution against the very Jane he had fixed on. As toher younger daughters, she could not take upon her to say she could not positively answer but she didnot know of any prepossession; her eldest daughter she must just mention she felt it incumbent on herto hint, was likely to be very soon engaged. Mr. Collins had only to change from Jane to Elizabeth and it was soon done done while Mrs. Bennetwas stirring the fire. Elizabeth, equally next to Jane in birth and beauty, succeeded her of course. Mrs. Bennet treasured up the hint, and trusted that she might soon have two daughters married; and theman whom she could not bear to speak of the day before was now high in her good graces. Lydia s intention of walking to Meryton was not forgotten: every sister except Mary agreed to go withher; and Mr. Collins was to attend them, at the request of Mr. Bennet, who was most anxious to get rid ofhim and have his library to himself; for thither Mr. Collins had followed him after breakfast, and there hewould continue, nominally engaged with one of the largest folios in the collection, but really talking toMr. Bennet, with little cessation, of his house and garden at Hunsford. Such doings discomposed exceedingly. In his library he had been always sure of leisure and tranquillity; and thoughprepared, as he told Elizabeth, to meet with folly and conceit in every other room in the house, he wasused to be free from them there: his civility, therefore, was most prompt in inviting Mr. Collins to joinhis daughters in their walk; and Mr. Collins, being in fact much better fitted for a walker than a reader,was extremely well pleased to close his large book, and go. In pompous nothings on his side, and civil assents on that of his cousins, their time passed till enteredMeryton. The attention of the younger ones was then no longer to be gained by him. Their eyes wereimmediately wandering up the street in quest of the officers, and nothing less than a very smart bonnetindeed, or a really new muslin in a shop window could recall them. But the attention of every lady was soon caught by a young man, whom they had never seen before, ofmost gentlemanlike appearance, walking with an offer on the other side of the way. The officer was thevery Mr. Denny concerning whose return from London Lydia came to inquire, and he bowed as theypassed. All were struck with the stranger s air, all wondered who he could be; and Kitty and Lydia,determined if possible to find out, led the way across the street, under pretence of wanting something inan opposite shop, and fortunately had just gained the pavement, when the two gentlemen turning back,had reached the same spot. Mr. Denny addressed them directly, and entreated permission to introduce hisfriend, Mr. Wickham, who had returned with him the day before from town, and, he was happy to say,had accepted a commission in their corps. This was exactly as it should be; for the young man wantedonly regimentals to make him completely charming. His appearance was greatly in his favour; he had allthe best parts of beauty, a fine countenance, a good figure, and very pleasing address. The introductionwas followed up on his side by a happy readiness of conversation a readiness at the same time perfectlycorrect and unassuming; and the whole party were still standing and talking together very agreeably,when the sound of horses drew their notice, and Darcy and Bingley were seen riding down the street. Ondistinguishing the ladies of the group the two gentlemen came directly towards them, and began the usualcivilities. Bingley was the principal spokesman, and Miss Bennet the principal object. He was then, hesaid, on his way to Longbourn on purpose to inquire after her. Mr. Darcy corroborated it with a bow, andwas beginning to determine not to fix his eyes on Elizabeth, when they were suddenly arrested by thesight of the stranger, and Elizabeth happening to see the countenance of both as they looked at eachother, was all astonishment at the effect of the meeting. Both changed colour, one looked white, the otherred. Mr. Wickham, after a few moments, touched his hat a salutation which Mr. Darcy just deigned toreturn. What could be the meaning of it? It was impossible to imagine; it was impossible not to long toknow. In another minute Mr. Bingley, but without seeming to have noticed what passed, took leave and rodeon with his friend. Mr. Denny and Mr. Wickham walked with the young ladies to the door Mr. Philips s house, and thenmade their bows, in spite of Miss Lydia s pressing entreaties that they would come in, and even in spiteof Mrs. Philips s throwing up the parlour window, and loudly seconding the invitation. Mrs. Philips was always glad to see her nieces; and the two eldest, from their recent absence, wereparticularly welcome; and she was eagerly expressing her surprise at their sudden return home, which, astheir own carriage had not fetched them, she should have known nothing about if she had not happenedto see Mr. Jones s shop-boy in the street, who had told her that they were not to send any more draughtsto Netherfield, because the Miss Bennets were come away, when her civility was claimed towards by Jane s introduction of him. She received him with her very best politeness, which he returnedwith as much more, apologising for his intrusion without any previous acquaintance with her, which hecould not help flattering himself however might be justified by his relationship to the young ladies whointroduced him to her notice. Mrs. Philips was quite awed by such an excess of good breeding; but hercontemplation of one stranger was soon put to an end to by exclamations and inquiries about the other, ofwhom, however, she could only tell her nieces what they already knew, that Mr. Denny had brought himfrom London, and that he was to have a lieutenant s commission in the shire. She had beenwatching him the last hour, she said, as he walked up and down the street, and had Mr. Wickhamappeared, Kitty and Lydia would certainly have continued the occupation; but unluckily no one passedthe windows now except a few of the officers, who, in comparison with the stranger, were become stupid, disagreeable fellows. Some of them were to dine with the Philipses the next day, and their auntpromised to make her husband call on Mr. Wickham, and give him an invitation also, if the family fromLongbourn would come in the evening. This was agreed to; and Mrs. Philips protested that they wouldhave a nice comfortable noisy game of lottery tickets, and a little bit of hot supper afterwards. Theprospect of such delights was very cheering, and they parted in mutual good spirits. Mr. Collins repeatedhis apologies in quitting the room, and assured, with unwearying civility, that they were pertectlyneedless. As they walked home, Elizabeth related to Jane what she had seen pass between the two gentlemen; butthough Jane would have defended either or both, had they appeared to be wrong, she could no moreexplain such behaviour than her sister. Mr. Collins on his return highly gratified Mrs. Bennet by admiring Mrs. Philips s manners andpoliteness. He protested that, except Lady Catherine and her daughter, he had never seen a more elegantwoman; for she had not only received him with the utmost civility, but had even pointedly included himin her invitation for the next evening, although utterly unknown to her before. Something, he supposedmight be attributed to his connection with them, but yet he had never met with so much attention in thewhole course of his XVIAS no objection was made the young people s engagement with their aunt, and all Mr. Collins s scruplesof leaving Mr. and Mrs. Bennet for a single evening during his visit were most steadily resisted, thecoach conveyed him and his five cousins at a suitable hour to Meryton; and the girls had the pleasure ofhearing, as they entered the drawing-room, that Mr. Wickham had accepted their uncle s invitation, andwas then in the house. When this information was given, and they had all taken their seats, Mr. Collins was at leisure to lookaround him and admire, and he was so much struck with the size and furniture of the apartment, that hedeclared he might almost have supposed himself in the small summer breakfast parlour at Rosings; acomparison that did not at first convey much gratification; but when Mrs. Philips understood from himwhat Rosings was, and who was its proprietor, when she had listened to the description of only one ofLady Catherine s drawing-rooms, and found that the chimney-piece alone had cost eight hundredpounds, she felt all the force of the compliment, and would hardly have resented a comparison with thehousekeeper s room. In describing to her all grandeur of Lady Catherine and her mansion, with occasional digressions inpraise of his own humble abode, and the improvements it was receiving, he was happily employed untilthe gentlemen joined them; and he found in Mrs. Philips a very attentive listener. whose opinion of hisconsequence increased with what she heard, and who was resolving to retail it all among her neighboursas soon as she could. To the girls, who could not listen to their cousin, and who had nothing to do but towish for an instrument, and examine their own indifferent imitations of china on the mantelpiece, theinterval of waiting appeared very long. It was over at last, however. The gentlemen did approach: andwhen Mr. Wickham walked into the room, Elizabeth felt that she had neither been seeing him before, northinking of him since, with the smallest degree of unreasonable admiration. The officers of the shirewere in general a very creditable, gentlemanlike set, and the best of them were of the present party; butMr. Wickham was as far beyond them all in person, countenance, air, and walk, as they were superior tothe broad-faced stuffy uncle Philips, breathing port wine, who followed them into the room. Mr. Wickham was the happy man towards whom almost every female eye was turned, and Elizabethwas the happy woman by whom he finally seated himself; and the agreeable manner in which heimmediately fell into conversation, though it was only on its being a wet night, and on the probability ofrainy season, made her feel that the commonest, dullest, most threadbare topic might be renderedinteresting by the skill of the speaker. With such rivals for the notice of the fair as Mr. Wickham and the officers, Mr. Collins seemed to sinkinto insignificance; to the young ladies he certainly was nothing; but he had still at intervals a kindlistener in Mrs. Philips, and was, by her watchfulness, most abundantly supplied with coffee and muffin. When the card tables were placed, he had an opportunity of obliging her, in return, by sitting down towhist. I know little of the game at present, said he, but I shall be glad to improve myself; for in my situationof life Mrs. Philips was very thankful for his compliance but could not wait for his reason. Mr. Wickham did not play at whist, and with ready delight was he received at the other table betweenElizabeth and Lydia. At first there seemed danger of Lydia s engrossing him entirely, for she was a mostdetermined talker; but being likewise extremely fond of lottery tickets, she soon grew too muchinterested in the game, too eager in making bets and exclaiming after prizes, to have attention for any onein particular. Allowing for the common demands of the game, Mr. Wickham was therefore at leisure totalk to Elizabeth, and she was very willing to hear him, though what she chiefly wished to hear she couldnot hope to be told, the history of his acquaintance with Mr. Darcy. She dared not even mention thatgentleman. Her curiosity, however, was unexpectedly relieved. Mr. Wickham began the subject required how far Netherfield was from Meryton; and , after receiving her answer, asked in ahesitating manner how long Mr. Darcy had been staying there. About a month, said Elizabeth; and then, unwilling to let the subject drop, added, he is a man of verylarge property in Derbyshire, I understand. Yes, replied Wickham; his estate there is a noble one. A clear ten thousand per annum. You could nothave met with a person more capable of giving you certain information on that head than myself for Ihave been connected with his family, in a particular manner, from my infancy. Elizabeth could not but look surprised. You may well be surprised, Miss Bennet, at such an assertion, after seeing, as you probably might, thevery cold manner of our meeting yesterday. Are you much acquainted with Mr. Darcy? As much as I ever wish to be, cried Elizabeth, warmly. I have spent four days in the same house withhim, and I think him very disagreeable. I have no right to give my opinion, said Wickham, as to his being agreeable or otherwise. I am notqualified to form one. I have known him too long and too well to be a fair judge. It is impossible for meto be impartial. But I believe your opinion of him would in general astonish and, perhaps, you wouldnot express it quite so strongly anywhere else. Here you are in your own family. Upon my word I say no more here I might say in any house in the neighbourhood, except is not at all liked in Hertfordshire. Everybody is disgusted with his pride. You will not find him morefavourably spoken of by any one. I cannot pretend to be sorry, said Wickham, after a short interruption, that he or that any man shouldnot be estimated beyond their deserts; but with him I believe it does not often happen. The world isblinded by his fortune and consequence, or frightened by his high and imposing manners, and sees himonly as he chooses to be seen. I should take him, even on my slight acquaintance, to be an ill-tempered man. Wickham only shookhis head. I wonder, said he, at the next opportunity of speaking, whether he is likely to be in this country muchlonger. I do not at all know; but I heard nothing of his going away when I was at Netherfield. I hope yourplans in favour of the shire will not be affected by his being in the neighbourhood. Oh no it is not for me to be driven away by Mr. Darcy. If he wishes to avoid seeing me, he must are not on friendly terms, and it always gives me pain to meet him, but I have no reason for avoidinghim but what I might proclaim to all the world a sense of very great ill usage, and most painful regretsat his being what he is. His father, Miss Bennet, the late Mr. Darcy, was one of the best men that everbreathed, and the truest friend I ever had; and I can never be in company with this Mr. Darcy withoutbeing grieved to the soul by a thousand tender recollections. His behaviour to myself has beenscandalous; but I verily believe I could forgive him anything and everything, rather than hisdisappointing the hopes and disgracing the memory of his father. Elizabeth found the interest of the subject increase, and listened with all her heart; but the delicacy of itprevented further inquiry. Mr. Wickham began to speak on more general topics, Meryton, the neighbourhood, the society,appearing highly pleased with all that he had yet seen, and speaking of the latter, especially, with gentlebut very intelligible gallantry. It was the prospect of constant society, and good society, # he added, which was my chiefinducement to enter the shire. I know it to be a most respectable, agreeable corps; and my friendDenny tempted me further by his account of their present quarters, and the very great attentions andexcellent acquaintance Meryton had procured them. Society, I own, is necessary to me. I have been adisappointed man, and my spirits will not bear solitude. I must have employment and society. A militarylife is not what I was intended for, but circumstances have now made it eligible. The church ought tohave been my profession I was brought up for the church; and I should at this time have been inpossession of a most valuable living, had it pleased the gentleman we were speaking of just now. Indeed! Yes the late Mr. Darcy bequeathed me the next presentation of the best living in his gift. He was mygodfather, and excessively attached to me. I cannot do justice to his kindness. He meant to provide forme amply, and thought he had done it; but when the living fell, it was given elsewhere. Good heavens! cried Elizabeth; but how could that be? How could his will be disregarded? Why didnot you seek legal redress? There was just such an informality in the terms of the bequest as to give me no hope from law. A manof honour could not have doubted the intention, but Mr. Darcy chose to doubt it or to treat it as amerely conditional recommendation, and to assert that I had forfeited all claim to it by extravagance,imprudence, in short, anything or nothing. Certain it is that the living became vacant two years ago,exactly as I was of an age to hold it, and that it was given to another man; and no less certain is it, that Icannot accuse myself of having really done anything to deserve to lose it. I have a warm unguardedtemper, and I may perhaps have sometimes spoken my opinion of him, and to him, too freely. I can recallnothing worse. But the fact is, that we are very different sort of men, and that he hates me. This is quite shocking! He deserves to be publicly disgraced. Some time or other he will be but it shall not be by me. Till I can forget his father, I can never defy orexpose him. Elizabeth honoured him for such feelings, and thought him handsomer than ever as he expressed them. But what, said she, after a pause, can have been his motive? what can have induced him to behave socruelly? A thorough, determined dislike of me a dislike which I cannot but attribute in some measure tojealousy. Had the late Mr. Darcy liked me less, his son might have borne with me better; but his father suncommon attachment to me irritated him, I believe, very early in life. He had not a temper to bear thesort of competition in which we stood the sort of preference which was often given me. I had not thought Mr. Darcy so bad as this though I have never liked him, I had not thought so veryill of him I had supposed him to be despising his fellow-creatures in general, but did not suspect him ofdescending to such malicious revenge, such injustice, such inhumanity as this! After a few minutes reflection, however, she continued, # I do remember his boasting one day, atNetherfield, of the implacability of his resentments; of his having an unforgiving temper. His dispositionmust be dreadful. I will not trust myself on the subject, replied Wickham: I can hardly be just to him. Elizabeth was again deep in thought, and after a time exclaimed, To treat in such a manner the godson,the friend, the favourite of his father! She could have added, A young man, too, like you, whose verycountenance may vouch for your being amiable. But she contented herself with And one, too, whohad probably been his own companion from childhood, connected together, as I think you said, in theclosest manner. We were born in the same parish, within the same park; the greatest part of our youth was passedtogether: inmates of the same house, sharing the same amusements, objects of the same parental care. Myfather began life in the profession which your uncle, Mr. Philips, appears to do so much credit to: but hegave up everything to be of use to the late Mr. Darcy, and devoted all his time to the care of thePemberley property. He was most highly esteemed by Mr. Darcy, a most intimate, confidential Darcy often acknowledged himself to be under the greatest obligations to my father s activesuperintendence; and when, immediately before my father s death, Mr. Darcy gave him a voluntarypromise of providing for me, I am convinced that he felt it to be as much a debt of gratitude to him as ofaffection to myself. How strange! cried Elizabeth. How abominable! I wonder that the very pride of this Mr. Darcy hasnot made him just to you. If from no better motive, that he should not have been proud to bedishonest, for dishonesty I must call it. It is wonderful, replied Wickham; for almost all his actions may be traced to pride; and pride hasoften been his best friend. It has connected him nearer with virtue than any other feeling. But we arenone of us consistent; and in his behaviour to me there were stronger impulses even than pride. Can such abominable pride as his have ever done him good? Yes; it has often led him to be liberal and generous; to give his money freely, to display hospitality, toassist his tenants, and relieve the poor. Family pride, and filial pride, for he is very proud of what hisfather was, have done this. Not to appear to disgrace his family, to degenerate from the popular qualities,or lose the influence of the Pemberley House, is a powerful motive. He has also brotherly pride, which,with some brotherly affection, makes him a very kind and careful guardian of his sister; and you will hearhim generally cried up as the most attentive and best of brothers. What sort of a girl is Miss Darcy? He shook his head. I wish I could call her amiable. It gives me pain to speak ill of a Darcy; but she istoo much like her brother, very, very proud. As a child, she was affectionate and pleasing, andextremely fond of me; and I have devoted hours and hours to her amusement. But she is nothing to menow. She is a handsome girl, about fifteen or sixteen, and, I understand, highly accomplished. Since herfather s death her home has been London, where a lady lives with her, and superintends her education. After many pauses and many trials of other subjects, Elizabeth could not help reverting once more to thefirst, and saying, I am astonished at his intimacy with Mr. Bingley. How can Mr. Bingley, who seems good-humouritself, and is, I really believe, truly amiable, be in friendship with such a man? How can they suit eachother? Do you know Mr. Bingley? Not at all. He is a sweet-tempered, amiable, charming man. He cannot know what Mr. Darcy is. Probably not; but Mr. Darcy can please where he chooses. He does not want abilities. He can be aconversible companion if he thinks it worth his while. Among those who are at all his equals inconsequence, he is a very different man from what he is to the less prosperous. His pride never desertshim; but with the rich he is liberal-minded, just, sincere, rational, honourable, and, perhaps,agreeable, allowing something for fortune and figure. The whist party soon afterwards breaking up, the players gathered round the other table, and took his station between his cousin Elizabeth and Mrs. Philips. The usual inquiries as to hissuccess were made by the latter. It had not been very great; he had lost every point; but when began to express her concern thereupon, he assured her, with much earnest gravity, that it was notof the least importance; that he considered the money as a mere trifle, and begged she would not makeherself uneasy. I know very well, madam, said he, that when persons sit down to a card table they must take theirchance of these things, and happily I am not in such circumstances as to make five shillings any are, undoubtedly, many who could not say the same; but, thanks to Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Iam removed far beyond the necessity of regarding little matters. Mr. Wickham s attention was caught; and after observing Mr. Collins for a few moments, he askedElizabeth in a low voice whether her relations were very intimately acquainted with the family of DeBourgh. Lady Catherine de Bourgh, she replied, has very lately given him a living. I hardly know how was first introduced to her notice, but he certainly has not known her long. You know of course that Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Lady Anne Darcy were sisters; consequentlythat she is aunt to the present Mr. Darcy. No, indeed, I did not. I knew nothing at all of Lady Catherine s connections. I never heard of herexistence till the day before yesterday. Her daughter, Miss de Bourgh, will have a very large fortune, and it is believed that she and her cousinwill unite the two estates. This information made Elizabeth smile, as she thought of poor Miss Bingley. Vain indeed must be allher attentions, vain and useless her affection for his sister and her praise of himself, if he were alreadyself-destined to another. Mr. Collins, said she, speaks highly both of Lady Catherine and her daughter; but, from someparticulars that he has related of her Ladyship, I suspect his gratitude misleads him; and that, in spite ofher being his patroness, she is an arrogant, conceited woman. I believe her to be both in a great degree, replied Wickham: I have not seen her for many years; but Ivery well remember that I never liked her, and that her manners were dictatorial and insolent. She has thereputation of being remarkably sensible and clever; but I rather believe she derives part of her abilitiesfrom her rank and fortune, part from her authoritative manner, and the rest from the pride of her nephew,who chooses that every one connected with him should have an understanding of the first class. Elizabeth allowed that he had given a very rational account of it, and they continued talking togetherwith mutual satisfaction till supper put an end to cards, and gave the rest of the ladies their share of s attentions. There could be no conversation in the noise of Mrs. Philips s supper party, but hismanners, recommended him to everybody. Whatever he said, was said well; and whatever he did, donegracefully. Elizabeth went away with her head full of him. She could think of nothing but of , and of what he had told her, all the way home; but there was not time for her even to mentionhis name as they went, for neither Lydia nor Mr. Collins was once silent. Lydia talked incessantly oflottery tickets, of the fish she had lost and the fish she had won; and Mr. Collins, in describing the civilityof Mr. and Mrs. Philips, protesting that he did not in the least regard his losses at whist, enumerating allthe dishes at supper, and repeatedly fearing that he crowded his cousins, had more to say than he couldwell manage before the carriage stopped at Longbourn XVIIELIZABETH related to Jane, the next day, what had passed between Mr. Wickham and herself. Janelistened with astonishment and concern: she knew not how to believe that Mr. Darcy could be sounworthy of Mr. Bingley s regard; and yet it was not in her nature to question the veracity of a youngman of such amiable appearance as Wickham. The possibility of his having really endured suchunkindness was enough to interest all her tender feelings; and nothing therefore remained to be done butto think well of them both, to defend the conduct of each, and throw into the account of accident ormistake whatever could not be otherwise explained. They have both, said she, been deceived, I daresay, in some way or other, of which we can form noidea. Interested people have perhaps misrepresented each to the other. It is, in short, impossible for us toconjecture the causes or circumstances which may have alienated them, without actual blame on eitherside. Very true, indeed; and now, my dear Jane, what have you got to say in behalf of the interested peoplewho have probably been concerned in the business? Do clear them, too, or we shall be obliged to think illof somebody. Laugh as much as you choose, but you will not laugh me out of my opinion. My dearest Lizzy, do butconsider in what a disgraceful light it places Mr. Darcy, to be treating his father s favourite in such amanner, one whom his father had promised to provide for. It is impossible. No man of commonhumanity, no man who had any value for his character, could be capable of it. Can his most intimatefriends be so excessively deceived in him? Oh no. I can much more easily believe Mr. Bingley s being imposed on than that Mr. Wickham should inventsuch a history of himself as he gave me last night; names, facts, everything mentioned without it be not so, let Mr. Darcy contradict it. Besides, there was truth in his looks. It is difficult, indeed it is distressing. One does not know what to think. I beg your pardon; one knows exactly what to think. But Jane could think with certainty on only one point, that Mr. Bingley, if he had been imposed on,would have much to suffer when the affair became public. The two young ladies were summoned from the shrubbery, where this conversation passed, by thearrival of some of the very persons of whom they had been speaking; Mr. Bingley and his sisters came togive their personal invitation for the long-expected ball at Netherfield, which was fixed for the followingTuesday. The two ladies were delighted to see their dear friend again, called it an age since they had met,and repeatedly asked what she had been doing with herself since their separation. To the rest of thefamily they paid little attention; avoiding Mrs. Bennet as much as possible, saying not much to Elizabeth,and nothing at all to the others. They were soon gone again, rising from their seats with an activity whichtook their brother by surprise, and hurrying off as if eager to escape from Mrs. Bennet s civilities. The prospect of the Netherfield ball was extremely agreeable to every female of the family. Mrs. Bennetchose to consider it as given in compliment to her eldest daughter, and was particularly flattered byreceiving the invitation from Mr. Bingley himself, instead of a ceremonious card. Jane pictured to herselfa happy evening in the society of her two friends, and the attentions of their brother; and Elizabeththought with pleasure of dancing a great deal with Mr. Wickham, and of seeing a confirmation ofeverything in Mr. Darcy s look and behaviour. The happiness anticipated by Catherine and Lydiadepended less on any single event, or any particular person; for though they each, like Elizabeth, meantto dance half the evening with Mr. Wickham, he was by no means the only partner who could satisfythem, and a ball was, at any rate, a ball. And even Mary could assure her family that she had nodisinclination for it. While I can have my mornings to myself, said she, it is enough. I think it is no sacrifice to joinoccasionally in evening engagements. Society has claims on us all; and I profess myself one of those whoconsider intervals of recreation and amusement as desirable for everybody. Elizabeth s spirits were so high on the occasion, that though she did not often speak unnecessarily toMr. Collins, she could not help asking him whether he intended to accept Mr. Bingley s invitation, and ifhe did, whether he would think it proper to join in the evening s amusement; and she was rather surprisedto find that he entertained no scruple whatever on that head, and was very far from dreading a rebuke,either from the Archbishop or Lady Catherine de Bourgh, by venturing to dance. I am by no means of opinion, I assure you, said he, that a ball of this kind, given by a young man ofcharacter, to respectable people, can have any evil tendency; and I am so far from objecting to dancingmyself, that I shall hope to be honoured with the hands of all my fair cousins in the course of theevening; and I take this opportunity of soliciting yours, Miss Elizabeth, for the two first dancesespecially; a preference which I trust my cousin Jane will attribute to the right cause, and not to anydisrespect for her. Elizabeth felt herself completely taken in. She had fully proposed being engaged by Wickham for thosevery dances; and to have Mr. Collins instead! her liveliness had been never worse timed. There was nohelp for it, however. Mr. Wickham s happiness and her own was perforce delayed a little longer, and s proposal accepted with as good a grace as she could. She was not the better pleased with hisgallantry, from the idea it suggested of something more. It now first struck her that she was selected fromamong her sisters as worthy of being the mistress of Hunsford Parsonage, and of assisting to form aquadrille table at Rosings, in the absence of more eligible visitors. The idea soon reached to conviction,as she observed his increasing civilities towards herself, and heard his frequent attempt at a complimenton her wit and vivacity; and though more astonished than gratified herself by this effect of her charms, itwas not long before her mother gave her to understand that the probability of their marriage wasexceedingly agreeable to her. Elizabeth, however, did not choose to take the hint, being well aware that aserious dispute must be the consequence of any reply. Mr. Collins might never make the offer, and, till hedid, it was useless to quarrel about him. If there had not been a Netherfield ball to prepare for and talk of, the younger Miss Bennets would havebeen in a pitiable state at this time; for from the day of the invitation to the day of the ball there was sucha succession of rain as prevented their walking to Meryton once. No aunt, no officers, no news could besought after; the very shoe-roses for Netherfield were got by proxy. Even Elizabeth might have foundsome trial of her patience in weather which totally suspended the improvement of her acquaintance withMr. Wickham; and nothing less than a dance on Tuesday could have made such a Friday, Saturday,Sunday, and Monday endurable to Kitty and XVIIITILL Elizabeth entered the drawing-room at Netherfield, and looked in vain for Mr. Wickham among thecluster of red coats there assembled, a doubt of his being present had never occurred to her. The certaintyof meeting him had not been checked by any of those recollections that might not unreasonably havealarmed her. She had dressed with more than usual care, and prepared in the highest spirits for theconquest of all that remained unsubdued of his heart, trusting that it was not more than might be won inthe course of the evening. But in an instant arose the dreadful suspicion of his being purposely omitted,for Mr. Darcy s pleasure, in the Bingley s invitation to the officers; and though this was not exactly thecase, the absolute fact of his absence was pronounced by his friend Mr. Denny, to whom Lydia eagerlyapplied, and who told them that Wickham had been obliged to go to town on business the day before, andwas not yet returned; adding, with a significant smile, I do not imagine his business would have called him away just now, if he had not wished to avoid acertain gentleman here. This part of his intelligence, though unheard by Lydia, was caught by Elizabeth; and, as it assured herthat Darcy was not less answerable for Wickham s absence than if her first surmise had been just, everyfeeling of displeasure against the former was so sharpened by immediate disappointment, that she couldhardly reply with tolerable civility to the polite inquiries which he directly afterwards approached tomake. Attention, forbearance, patience with Darcy, was injury to Wickham. She was resolved againstany sort of conversation with him, and turned away with a degree of ill-humour which she could notwholly surmount even in speaking to Mr. Bingley, whose blind partiality provoked her. But Elizabeth was not formed for ill-humour; and though every prospect of her own was destroyed forthe evening, it could not dwell long on her spirits; and, having told all her griefs to Charlotte Lucas,whom she had not seen for a week, she was soon able to make a voluntary transition to the oddities of hercousin, and to point him out to her particular notice. The two first dances, however, brought a return ofdistress: they were dances of mortification. Mr. Collins, awkward and solemn, apologising instead ofattending, and often moving wrong without being aware of it, gave her all the shame and misery which adisagreeable partner for a couple of dances can give. The moment of her release from him was ecstasy. She danced next with an officer, and had the refreshment of talking of Wickham, and of hearing that hewas universally liked. When those dances were over, she returned to Charlotte Lucas, and was inconversation with her, when she found herself suddenly addressed by Mr. Darcy, who took her so muchby surprise in his application for her hand, that, without knowing what she did, she accepted him. Hewalked away again immediately, and she was left to fret over her own want of presence of mind:Charlotte tried to console her. I daresay you will find him very agreeable. Heaven forbid! That would be the greatest misfortune of all! To find a man agreeable whom one isdetermined to hate! Do not wish me such an evil. When the dancing recommenced, however, and Darcy approached to claim her hand, Charlotte couldnot help cautioning her, in a whisper, not to be a simpleton, and allow her fancy for Wickham to makeher appear unpleasant in the eyes of a man of ten times his consequence. Elizabeth made no answer, andtook her place in the set, amazed at the dignity to which she was arrived in being allowed to standopposite to Mr. Darcy, and reading in her neighbours looks their equal amazement in beholding it. Theystood for some time without speaking a word; and she began to imagine that their silence was to lastthrough the two dances, and, at first, was resolved not to break it; till suddenly fancying that it would bethe greater punishment to her partner to oblige him to talk, she made some slight observation on thedance. He replied, and was again silent. After a pause of some minutes, she addressed him a second time,with It is your turn to say something now, Mr. Darcy. I talked about the dance, and you ought to make somekind of remark on the size of the room, or the number of couples. He smiled, and assured her that whatever she wished him to say should be said. Very well; that will do for the present. Perhaps, by and by, I may observe that private balls are muchpleasanter than public ones; but now we may be silent. Do you talk by rule, then, while you are dancing? Sometimes. One must speak a little, you know. It would look odd to be entirely silent for half an hourtogether; and yet, for the advantage of some, conversation ought to be so arranged as that they may havethe trouble of saying as little as possible. Are you consulting your own feelings in the present case, or do you imagine that you are gratifyingmine? Both, replied Elizabeth archly; for I have always seen a great similarity in the turn of our minds. Weare each of an unsocial, taciturn disposition, unwilling to speak, unless we expect to say something thatwill amaze the whole room, and be handed down to posterity with all the clat of a proverb. This is no very striking resemblance of your own character, I am sure, said he. How near it may be tomine, I cannot pretend to say. You think it a faithful portrait, undoubtedly. I must not decide on my own performance. He made no answer, and they were again silent till they had gone down the dance, when he asked her ifshe and her sisters did not very often walk to Meryton. She answered in the affirmative; and, unable toresist the temptation, added, When you met us there the other day, we had just been forming a newacquaintance. The effect was immediate. A deeper shade of hauteur overspread his features, but he said not a word;and Elizabeth, though blaming herself for her own weakness, could not go on. At length Darcy spoke,and in a constrained manner said, Mr. Wickham is blessed with such happy manner as may insure his making friends; whether he may beequally capable of retaining them, is less certain. He has been so unlucky as to lose your friendship, replied Elizabeth, with emphasis, and in a mannerwhich he is likely to suffer from all his life. Darcy made no answer, and seemed desirous or changing the subject. At that moment Sir William Lucas appeared close to them, meaning to pass through the set to the otherside of the room; but, on perceiving Mr. Darcy, he stopped, with a bow of superior courtesy, tocompliment him on his dancing and his partner. I have been most highly gratified, indeed, my dear sir; such very superior dancing is not often seen. Itis evident that you belong to the first circles. Allow me to say, however, that your fair partner does notdisgrace you; and that I must hope to have this pleasure often repeated, especially when a certaindesirable event, my dear Miss Eliza (glancing at her sister and Bingley), shall take place. Whatcongratulations will then flow in! I appeal to Mr. Darcy; but let me not interrupt you, sir. You will notthank me for detaining you from the bewitching converse of that young lady, whose bright eyes are alsoupbraiding me. The latter part of this address was scarcely heard by Darcy; but Sir William s allusion to his friendseemed to strike him forcibly, and his eyes were directed, with a very serious expression, towardsBingley and Jane, who were dancing together. Recovering himself, however, shortly, he turned to hispartner, and said, Sir William s interruption has made me forget what we were talking of. I do not think we were speaking at all. Sir William could not have interrupted any two people in theroom who had less to say for themselves. We have tried two or three subjects already without success,and what we are to talk of next I cannot imagine. What think you of books? said he, smiling. Books oh no! I am sure we never read the same, or not with the same feelings. I am sorry you think so; but if that be the case there can at least be no want of subject. We maycompare our different opinions. No I cannot talk of books in a ball-room; my head is always full of something else. The present always occupies you in such scenes does it? said he, with a look of doubt. Yes, always, she replied, without knowing what she said; for her thoughts had wandered far from thesubject, as soon afterwards appeared by her suddenly exclaiming, I remember hearing you once say, , that you hardly ever forgave; that your resentment, once created, was unappeasable. You arevery cautions, I suppose, as to its being created? I am, said he, with a firm voice. And never allow yourself to be blinded by prejudice? I hope not. It is particularly incumbent on those who never change their opinion, to be secure of judging properlyat first. May I ask to what these questions tend? Merely to the illustration of your character, said she, endeavouring to shake off her gravity. I mtrying to make it out. And what is your success? She shook her head. I do not get on at all. I hear such different accounts of you as puzzle meexceedingly. I can readily believe, answered he, gravely, that reports may vary greatly with respect to me; and Icould wish, Miss Bennet, that you were not to sketch my character at the present moment, as there isreason to fear that the performance would reflect no credit on either. But if I do not take your likeness now, I may never have another opportunity. I would by no means suspend any pleasure of yours, he coldly replied. She said no more, and theywent down the other dance and parted in silence; on each side dissatisfied, though not to an equal degree;for in Darcy s breast there was a tolerably powerful feeling towards her, which soon procured herpardon, and directed all his anger against an other. They had not long separated when Miss Bingley came towards her, and, with an expression of civildisdain, thus accosted her, So, Miss Eliza, I hear you are quite delighted with George Wickham? Your sister has been talking tome about him, and asking me a thousand questions; and I find that the young man forgot to tell you,among his other communications, that he was the son of old Wickham, the late Mr. Darcy s steward. Letme recommend you, however, as a friend, not to give implicit confidence to all his assertions; for, as toMr. Darcy s using him ill, it is perfectly false: for, on the contrary, he has been always remarkably kindto him, though George Wickham has treated Mr. Darcy in a most infamous manner. I do not know theparticulars, but I know very well that Mr. Darcy is not in the least to blame; that he cannot bear to hearGeorge Wickham mentioned; and that though my brother thought he could not well avoid including himin his invitation to the officers, he was excessively glad to find that he had taken himself out of the coming into the country at all is a most insolent thing, indeed, and I wonder how he could presume todo it. I pity you, Miss Eliza, for this discovery of your favourite s guilt; but really, considering hisdescent, one could not except much better. His guilt and his descent appear, by your account, to be the same, said Elizabeth, angrily; for I haveheard you accuse him of nothing worse than of being the son of Mr. Darcy s steward, and of that, I canassure you, he informed me himself. I beg your pardon, replied Miss Bingley, turning away with a sneer. Excuse my interference; it waskindly meant. Insolent girl! said Elizabeth to herself. You are much mistaken if you expect to influence me by sucha paltry attack as this. I see nothing in it but your own wilful ignorance and the malice of Mr. Darcy. Shethen sought her eldest sister, who had undertaken to make inquiries on the same subject of Bingley. Janemet her with a smile of such sweet complacency, a glow of such happy expression, as sufficientlymarked how well she was satisfied with the occurrences of the evening. Elizabeth instantly read herfeelings; and, at that moment, solicitude for Wickham, resentment against his enemies, and everythingelse, gave way before the hope of Jane s being in the fairest way for happiness. I want to know, said she, with a countenance no less smiling than her sister s, what you have learntabout Mr. Wickham. But perhaps you have been too pleasantly engaged to think of any third person, inwhich case you may be sure of my pardon. No, replied Jane, I have not forgotten him; but I have nothing satisfactory to tell you. Mr. Bingleydoes not know the whole of his history, and is quite ignorant of the circumstances which have principallyoffended Mr. Darcy; but he will vouch for the good conduct, the probity and honour, of his friend, and isperfectly convinced that Mr. Wickham has deserved much less attention from Mr. Darcy than he hasreceived; and I am sorry to say that by his account, as well as his sister s, Mr. Wickham is by no means arespectable young man. I am afraid he has been very imprudent, and has deserved to lose Mr. Darcy sregard. Mr. Bingley does not know Mr. Wickham himself. No; he never saw him till the other morning at Meryton. This account then is what he has received from Mr. Darcy. I am perfectly satisfied. But what does hesay of the living? He does not exactly recollect the circumstances, though he has heard them from Mr. Darcy more thanonce, but he believes that it was left to him conditionally only. I have not a doubt of Mr. Bingley s sincerity, said Elizabeth warmly, but you must excuse my notbeing convinced by assurances only. Mr. Bingley s defence of his friend was a very able one, I daresay;but since he is unacquainted with several parts of the story, and has learnt the rest from that friendhimself, I shall venture still to think of both gentlemen as I did before. She then changed the discourse to one more gratifying to each, and on which there could be nodifference of sentiment. Elizabeth listened with delight to the happy though modest hopes which Janeentertained of Bingley s regard, and said all in her power to heighten her confidence in it. On their beingjoined by Mr. Bingley himself, Elizabeth withdrew to Miss Lucas; to whose inquiry after thepleasantness of her last partner she had scarcely replied before Mr. Collins came up to them, and told herwith great exultation that he had just been so fortunate as to make a most important discovery. I have found out, said he, by a singular accident, that there is now in the room a near relation to mypatroness. I happened to overhear the gentleman himself mentioning to the young lady who does thehonours of this house the names of his cousin Miss De Bourgh, and of her mother Lady Catherine. Howwonderfully this sort of things occur! Who would have thought of my meeting with perhaps anephew of Lady Catherine de Bourgh in this assembly! I am most thankful that the discovery is made intime for me to pay my respects to him, which I am now going to do, and trust he will excuse my nothaving done it before. My total ignorance of the connection must plead my apology. You are not going to introduce yourself to Mr. Darcy? Indeed I am. I shall entreat his pardon for not having done it earlier. I believe him to be LadyCatherine s nephew. It will be in my power to assure him that her Ladyship was quite well yesterdayse nnight. Elizabeth tried hard to dissuade him from such a scheme; assuring him that Mr. Darcy would considerhis addressing him without introduction as an impertinent freedom, rather than a compliment to his aunt;that it was not in the least necessary there should be any notice on either side, and that if it were, it mustbelong to Mr. Darcy, the superior in consequence, to begin the acquaintance. Mr. Collins listened to herwith the determined air of following his own inclination, and when she ceased speaking, replied thus, My dear Miss Elizabeth, I have the highest opinion in the world of your excellent judgment in allmatter within the scope of your understanding, but permit me to say that there must be a wide differencebetween the established forms of ceremony amongst the laity and those which regulate the clergy; for,give me leave to observe that I consider the clerical office as equal in point of dignity with the highestrank in the kingdom provided that a proper humility of behaviour is at the same time maintained. Youmust, therefore, allow me to follow the dictates of my conscience on this occasion, which leads me toperform what I look on as a point of duty. Pardon me for neglecting to profit by your advice, which onevery other subject shall be my constant guide, though in the case before us I consider myself more fittedby education and habitual study to decide on what is right than a young lady like yourself ; and with alow bow he left her to attack Mr. Darcy, whose reception of his advances she eagerly watched, andwhose astonishment at being so addressed was very evident. Her cousin prefaced his speech with asolemn bow, and though she could not hear a word of it, she felt as if hearing it all, and saw in the motionof his lips the words apology, Hunsford, and Lady Catherine de Bourgh. It vexed her to see himexpose himself to such a man. Mr. Darcy was eyeing him with unrestrained wonder; and when at last allowed him to speak, replied with an air of distant civility. Mr. Collins, however, was notdiscouraged from speaking again, and Mr. Darcy s contempt seemed abundantly increasing with thelength of his second speech; and at the end of it he only made him a slight bow, and moved another way:Mr. Collins then returned to Elizabeth. I have no reason, I assure you, said he, to be dissatisfied with my reception. Mr. Darcy seemed muchpleased with the attention. He answered me with the utmost civility, and even paid me the compliment ofsaying that he was so well convinced of Lady Catherine s discernment as to be certain she could neverbestow a favour unworthily. It was really a very handsome thought. Upon the whole, I am much pleasedwith him. As Elizabeth had no longer any interest of her own to pursue, she turned her attention almost entirely onher sister and Mr. Bingley; and the train of agreeable reflections which her observations gave birth tomade her perhaps almost as happy as Jane. She saw her in idea settled in that very house, in all thefelicity which a marriage of true affection could bestow; and she felt capable, under such circumstances,of endeavouring even to like Bingley s two sisters. Her mother s thoughts she plainly saw were bent thesame way, and she determined not to venture near her, lest she might hear too much. When they sat downto supper, therefore, she considered it a most unlucky perverseness which placed them within one of eachother; and deeply was she vexed to find that her mother was talking to that one person (Lady Lucas)freely, openly, and of nothing else but of her expectation that Jane would be soon married to It was an animating subject, and Mrs. Bennet seemed incapable of fatigue while enumeratingthe advantages of the match. His being such a charming young man, and so rich, and living but threemiles from them, were the first points of self-gratulation; and then it was such a comfort to think howfond the two sisters were of Jane, and to be certain that they must desire the connection as much as shecould do. It was, moreover, such a promising thing for her younger daughters, as Jane s marrying sogreatly must throw them in the way of other rich men; and, lastly, it was so pleasant at her time of life tobe able to consign her single daughters to the care of their sister, that she might not be obliged to go intocompany more than she liked. It was necessary to make this circumstance a matter of pleasure, becauseon such occasions it is the etiquette; but no one was less likely than Mrs. Bennet to find comfort instaying at home at any period of her life. She concluded with many good wishes that Lady Lucas mightsoon be equally fortunate, though evidently and triumphantly believing there was no chance of it. In vain did Elizabeth endeavour to check the rapidity of her mother s words, or persuade her to describeher felicity in a less audible whisper; for to her inexpressible vexation she could perceive that the chief ofit was overheard by Mr. Darcy, who sat opposite to them. Her mother only scolded her for beingnonsensical. What is Mr. Darcy to me, pray, that I should be afraid of him? I am sure we owe him no such particularcivility as to be obliged to say nothing he may not like to hear. For heaven s sake, madam, speak lower. What advantage can it be to you to offend Mr. Darcy? Youwill never recommend yourself to his friend by so doing. Nothing that she could say, however, had any influence. Her mother would talk of her views in thesame intelligible tone. Elizabeth blushed and blushed again with shame and vexation. She could not helpfrequently glancing her eye at Mr. Darcy, though every glance convinced her of what she dreaded; forthough he was not always looking at her mother, she was convinced that his attention was invariablyfixed by her. The expression of his face changed gradually from indignant contempt to a composed andsteady gravity. At length, however, Mrs. Bennet had no more to say; and Lady Lucas, who had been long yawning atthe repetition of delights which she saw no likelihood of sharing, was left to the comforts of cold hamand chicken. Elizabeth now began to revive. But not long was the interval of tranquillity; for whensupper was over, singing was talked of, and she had the mortification of seeing Mary, after very littleentreaty, preparing to oblige the company. By many significant looks and silent entreaties did sheendeavour to prevent such a proof of complaisance, but in vain; Mary would not understand them; suchan opportunity of exhibiting was delightful to her, and she began her song. Elizabeth s eyes were fixedon her, with most painful sensations; and she watched her progress through the several stanzas with animpatience which was very ill rewarded at their close; for Mary, on receiving amongst the thanks of thetable the hint of a hope that she might be prevailed on to favour them again, after the pause of half aminute, began another. Mary s powers were by no means fitted for such a display; her voice was weak,and her manner affected. Elizabeth was in agonies. She looked at Jane to see how she bore it; but Janewas very composedly talking to Bingley. She looked at his two sisters, and saw them making signs ofderision at each other, and at Darcy, who continued, however, impenetrably grave. She looked at herfather to entreat his interference, lest Mary should be singing all night. He took the hint, and, when Maryhad finished her second song, said aloud, That will do extremely well, child. You have delighted us long enough. Let the other young ladies havetime to exhibit. Mary, though pretending not to hear, was somewhat disconcerted; and Elizabeth, sorry for her, andsorry for her father s speech, was afraid her anxiety had done no good. Others of the party were nowapplied to. If I, said Mr. Collins, were so fortunate as to be able to sing, I should have great pleasure, I am sure,in obliging the company with an air; for I consider music as a very innocent diversion, and perfectlycompatible with the profession of a clergyman. I do not mean, however, to assert that we can be justifiedin devoting too much of our time to music, for there are certainly other things to be attended to. Therector of a parish has much to do. In the first place, he must make such an agreement for tithes as may bebeneficial to himself and not offensive to his patron. He must write his own sermons; and the time thatremains will not be too much for his parish duties, and the care and improvement of his dwelling, whichhe cannot be excused from making as comfortable as possible. And I do not think it of light importancethat he should have attentive and conciliatory manners towards everybody, especially towards those towhom he owes his preferment. I cannot acquit him of that duty; nor could I think well of the man whoshould omit an occasion of testifying his respect towards anybody connected with the family. And witha bow to Mr. Darcy, he concluded his speech, which had been spoken so loud as to be heard by half theroom. Many stared many smiled, but no one looked more amused than Mr. Bennet himself, while hiswife seriously commended Mr. Collins for having spoken so sensibly, and observed, in a half-whisper toLady Lucas, that he was a remarkably clever, good kind of young man. To Elizabeth it appeared, that had her family made an agreement to expose themselves as much as theycould during the evening, it would have been impossible for them to play their parts with more spirit, orfiner success; and happy did she think it for Bingley and her sister that some of the exhibition hadescaped his notice, and that his feelings were not of a sort to be much distressed by the folly which hemust have witnessed. That his two sisters and Mr. Darcy, however, should have such an opportunity ofridiculing her relations was bad enough; and she could not determine whether the silent contempt of thegentleman, or the insolent smiles of the ladies, were more intolerable. The rest of the evening brought her little amusement. She was teased by Mr. Collins, who continuedmost perseveringly by her side; and though he could not prevail with her to dance with him again, put itout of her power to dance with others. In vain did she entreat him to stand up with somebody else, andoffered to introduce him to any young lady in the room. He assured her that, as to dancing, he wasperfectly indifferent to it; that his chief object was, by delicate attentions, to recommend himself to her;and that he should therefore make a point of remaining close to her the whole evening. There was noarguing upon such a project. She owed her greatest relief to her friend Miss Lucas, who often joinedthem, and good-naturedly engaged Mr. Collins s conversation to herself. She was at least free from the offence of Mr. Darcy s further notice: though often standing within a veryshort distance of her, quite disengaged, he never came near enough to speak. She felt it to be the probableconsequence of her allusions to Mr. Wickham, and rejoiced in it. The Longbourn party were the last of all the company to depart; and by a man uvre of Mrs. Bennet hadto wait for their carriage a quarter to an hour after everybody else was gone, which gave them time to seehow heartily they were wished away by some of the family. Mrs. Hurst and her sister scarcely openedtheir mouths except to complain of fatigue, and were evidently impatient to have the house tothemselves. They repulsed every attempt of Mrs. Bennet at conversation, and, by so doing, threw alanguor over the whole party, which was very little relieved by the long speeches of Mr. Collins, whowas complimenting Mr. Bingley and his sisters of the elegance of their entertainment, and the hospitalityand politeness which had marked their behaviour to their guests. Darcy said nothing at all. Mr. Bennet, inequal silence, was enjoying the scene. Mr. Bingley and Jane were standing together a little detached fromthe rest, and talked only to each other. Elizabeth preserved as steady a silence as either Mrs. Hurst orMiss Bingley; and even Lydia was too much fatigued to utter more than the occasional exclamation of Lord, how tired I am! accompanied by a violent yawn. When at length they arose to take leave, Mrs. Bennet was most pressingly civil in her hope of seeing thewhole family soon at Longbourn; and addressed herself particularly to Mr. Bingley, to assure him howhappy he would make them by eating a family dinner with them at any time, without the ceremony of aformal invitation. Bingley was all grateful pleasure; and he readily engaged for taking the earliestopportunity of waiting on her, after his return from London, whither he was obliged to go the next dayfor a short time. Mrs. Bennet was perfectly satisfied; and quitted the house under the delightful persuasion that, allowingfor the necessary preparations of settlements, new carriages, and wedding clothes, she shouldundoubtedly see her daughter settled at netherfield in the course of three or four months. Of havinganother daughter married to Mr. Collins she thought with equal certainty, and with considerable, thoughnot equal, pleasure. Elizabeth was the least dear to her of all her children; and though the man and thematch were quite good enough for her, the worth of each was eclipsed by Mr. Bingley and XIXTHE NEXT day opened a new scene at Longbourn. Mr. Collins made his declaration in form. Havingresolved to do it without loss of time, as his leave of absence extended only to the following Saturday,and having no feelings of diffidence to make it distressing to himself even at the moment, he set about itin a very orderly manner, with all the observances which he supposed a regular part of the business. Onfinding Mrs. Bennet, Elizabeth, and one of the younger girls together, soon after breakfast, he addressedthe mother in these words, May I hope, madam, for your interest with your fair daughter Elizabeth, when I solicit for the honourof a private audience with her in the course of this morning? Before Elizabeth had time for anything but a blush of surprise, Mrs. Bennet instantly answered, Oh dear! Yes, certainly. I am sure Lizzy will be very happy I am sure she can have no , Kitty, I want you upstairs. And gathering her work together, she was hastening away, whenElizabeth called out, Dear ma am, do not go. I beg you will not go. Mr. Collins must excuse me. He can have nothing to sayto me that anybody need not hear. I am going away myself. No, no, nonsense, Lizzy. I desire you will stay where you are. And upon Elizabeth s seeming really,with vexed and embarrassed looks, about to escape, she added, Lizzy, I insist upon your staying andhearing Mr. Collins. Elizabeth would not oppose such an injunction; and a moment s consideration making her also sensiblethat it would be wisest to get it over as soon and as quietly as possible, she sat down again, and tried toconceal, by incessant employment, the feelings which were divided between distress and diversion. and Kitty walked off, and as soon as they were gone, Mr. Collins began, Believe me, my dear Miss Elizabeth, that your modesty, so far from doing you any dis-service, ratheradds to your other perfections. You would have been less amiable in my eyes had there not been thislittle unwillingness; but allow me to assure you that I have your respected mother s permission for thisaddress. You can hardly doubt the purport of my discourse, however your natural delicacy may lead youto dissemble; my attentions have been too marked to be mistaken. Almost as soon as I entered the house Isingled you out as the companion of my future life. But before I am run away with by my feelings on thissubject, perhaps it will be advisable for me to state my reasons for marrying and, moreover, for cominginto Hertfordshire with the design of selecting a wife, as I certainly did. The idea of Mr. Collins, with all his solemn composure, being run away with by his feelings, madeElizabeth so near laughing that she could not use the short pause he allowed in any attempt to stop himfarther, and he continued, My reasons for marrying are, first, that I think it a right thing for every clergyman in easycircumstances (like myself) to set the example of matrimony in his parish; secondly, that I am convincedit will add very greatly to my happiness; and, thirdly, which perhaps I ought to have mentioned earlier,that it is the particular advice and recommendation of the very noble lady whom I have the honour ofcalling patroness. Twice has she condescended to give me her opinion (unasked too!) on this subject; andit was but the very Saturday night before I left Hunsford, between our pools at quadrille, while was arranging Miss De Bourgh s footstool, that she said, Mr. Collins, you must marry. Aclergyman like you must marry. Choose properly, choose a gentlewoman for my sake, and for your own;let her be an active, useful sort of person, not brought up high, but able to make a small income go agood way. This is my advice. Find such a woman as soon as you can, bring her to Hunsford, and I willvisit her. Allow me, by the way, to observe, my fair cousin, that I do not reckon the notice and kindnessof Lady Catherine de Bourgh as among the least of the advantages in my power to offer. You will findher manners beyond anything I can describe; and your wit and vivacity, I think, must be acceptable toher, especially when tempered with the silence and respect which her rank will inevitably excite. Thusmuch for my general intention in favour of matrimony; it remains to be told why my views were directedto Longbourn instead of my own neighbourhood, where I assure you there are many amiable youngwomen. But the fact is, that being, as I am, to inherit this estate after the death of your honoured father(who, however, may live many years longer), I could not satisfy myself without resolving to choose awife from among his daughters, that the loss to them might be as little as possible when the melancholyevent takes place which, however, as I have already said, may not be for several years. This has been mymotive, my fair cousin, and I flatter myself it will not sink me in your esteem. And now nothing remainsfor me but to assure you in the most animated language of the violence of my affection. To fortune I amperfectly indifferent, and shall make no demand of that nature on your father, since I am well aware thatit could not be complied with; and that one thousand pounds in the four per cents, which will not beyours till after your mother s decease, is all that you may ever be entitled to. On that head, therefore, Ishall be uniformly silent: and you may assure yourself that no ungenerous reproach shall ever pass mylips when we are married. It was absolutely necessary to interrupt him now. You are too hasty, sir , she cried. You forget that I have made no answer. Let me do it without furtherloss of time. Accept my thanks for the compliment you are paying me. I am very sensible of the honourof your proposals, but it is impossible for me to do otherwise than decline them. I am not now to learn , replied Mr. Collins, with a formal wave of the hand, that it is usual with youngladies to reject the addresses of the man whom they secretly mean to accept, when he first applies fortheir favour; and that sometimes the refusal is repeated a second or even a third time. I am, therefore, byno means discouraged by what you have just said, and shall hope to lead you to the altar ere long. Upon my word, sir, cried Elizabeth, your hope is rather an extraordinary one after my declaration. Ido assure you that I am not one of those young ladies (if such young ladies there are) who are so daringas to risk their happiness on the chance of being asked a second time. I am perfectly serious in myrefusal. You could not make me happy, and I am convinced that I am the last woman in the world whowould make you so. Nay, were your friend Lady Catherine to know me, I am persuaded she would findme in every respect ill qualified for the situation. Were it certain that Lady Catherine would think so, said Mr. Collins, very gravely but I cannotimagine that her Ladyship would at all disapprove of you. And you may be certain that when I have thehonour of seeing her again I shall speak in the highest terms of your modesty, economy, and otheramiable qualifications. Indeed, Mr. Collins, all praise of me will be unnecessary. You must give me leave to judge for myself,and pay me the compliment of believing what I say. I wish you very happy and very rich, and by refusingyour hand, do all in my power to prevent your being otherwise. In making me the offer, you must havesatisfied the delicacy of your feelings with regard to my family, and may take possession of Longbournestate whenever it falls, without any self-reproach. This matter may be considered, therefore, as finallysettled. And rising as she thus spoke, she would have quitted the room, had not Mr. Collins thusaddressed her, When I do myself the honour of speaking to you next on the subject, I shall hope to receive a morefavourable answer than you have now given me; though I am far from accusing you of cruelty at present,because I know it to be the established custom of your sex to reject a man on the first application and,perhaps, you have even now said as much to encourage my suit as would be consistent with the truedelicacy of the female character. Really, Mr. Collins, cried Elizabeth, with some warmth, you puzzle me exceedingly. If what I havehitherto said can appear to you in the form of encouragement, I know not how to express my refusal insuch a way as may convince you of its being one. You must give me leave to flatter myself. my dear cousin, that your refusal of my addresses are merelywords of course. My reasons for believing it are briefly these: It does not appear to me that my hand isunworthy your acceptance, or that the establishment I can offer would be any other than highly situation in life, my connections with the family of De Bourgh, and my relationship to your own, arecircumstances highly in my favour; and the should take it into further consideration that, in spite of yourmanifold attractions, it is by no means certain that another offer of marriage may ever be made you. Yourportion is unhappily so small, that it will in all likelihood undo the effects of your loveliness and amiablequalifications. As I must, therefore, conclude that you are not serious in your rejection of me, I shallchoose to attribute it to your wish of increasing my love by suspense, according to the usual practice ofelegant females. I do assure you, sir, that I have no pretensions whatever to that kind of elegance which consists intormenting a respectable man. I would rather be paid the compliment of being believed sincere. I thankyou again and again for the honour you have done me in your proposals, but to accept them is absolutelyimpossible. My feelings in every respect forbid it. can I speak plainer? Do not consider me now as anelegant female intending to plague you, but as a rational creature speaking the truth from her heart. You are uniformly charming! cried he, with an air of awkward gallantry; and I am persuaded that,when sanctioned by the express authority of both your excellent parents, my proposals will not fail ofbeing acceptable. To such perseverance in wilful self-deception Elizabeth would make no reply, and immediately and insilence withdrew; determined, that if he persisted in considering her repeated refusals as flatteringencouragement, to apply to her father, whose negative might be uttered in such a manner as must bedecisive, and whose behaviour at least could not be mistaken for the affectation and coquetry of anelegant XXMR. COLLINS was not left long to the silent contemplation of his successful love; for Mrs. Bennet,having dawdled about in the vestibule to watch for the end of the conference, no sooner saw Elizabethopen the door and with quick step pass her towards the staircase, than she entered the breakfast-room,and congratulated both him and herself in warm terms on the happy prospect of their nearer Collins received and returned these felicitations with equal pleasure, and then proceeded to relate theparticulars of their interview, with the result of which he trusted he had every reason to be satisfied, sincethe refusal which his cousin had steadfastly given him would naturally flow from her bashful modestyand the genuine delicacy of her character. This information, however, startled Mrs. Bennet; she would have been glad to be equally satisfied thather daughter had meant to encourage him by protesting against his proposals, but she dared not to believeit, and could not help saying so. But depend upon it, Mr. Collins, she added, that Lizzy shall be brought to reason. I will speak to herabout it myself directly. She is a very headstrong, foolish girl, and does not know her own interest; but Iwill make her know it. Pardon me for interrupting you, madam, cried Mr. Collins; but if she is really headstrong and foolish,I know not whether she would altogether be a very desirable wife to a man in my situation, who naturallylooks for happiness in the marriage state. If, therefore, she actually persists in rejecting my suit, perhapsit were better not to force her into accepting me, because, if liable to such defects of temper, she couldnot contribute much to my felicity. Sir, you quite misunderstand me, said Mrs. Bennet, alarmed. Lizzy is only headstrong in such mattersas these. In everything else she is as good-natured a girl as ever lived. I will go directly to Mr. Bennet,and we shall very soon settle it with her, I am sure. She would not give him time to reply, but hurrying instantly to her husband, called out, as she enteredthe library, Oh, Mr. Bennet, you are wanted immediately; we are all in an uproar. You must come and make Lizzymarry Mr. Collins, for she vows she will not have him; and if you do not make haste he will change hismind and not have her. Mr. Bennet raised his eyes from his book as she entered, and fixed them on her face with a calmunconcern, which was not in the least altered by her communication. I have not the pleasure of understanding you, said he, when she had finished her speech. Of what areyou talking? Of Mr. Collins and Lizzy. Lizzy declares she will not have Mr. Collins, and Mr. Collins begins to saythat he will not have Lizzy. And what am I to do on the occasion? It seems a hopeless business. Speak to Lizzy about it yourself. Tell her that you insist upon her marrying him. Let her be called down. She shall hear my opinion. Mrs. Bennet rang the bell, and Miss Elizabeth was summoned to the library. Come here, child, cried her father as she appeared. I have sent for you on an affair of importance. Iunderstand that Mr. Collins has made yon an offer of marriage. Is it true? Elizabeth replied that it was. Very well and this offer of marriage you have refused? I have, sir. Very well. We now come to the point. Your mother insists upon your accepting it. Is it not so, Yes, or I will never see her again. An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of yourparents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see youagain if you do. Elizabeth could not but smile at such a conclusion of such a beginning; but Mrs. Bennet, who hadpersuaded herself that her husband regarded the affair as she wished, was excessively disappointed. What do you mean, Mr. Bennet, by talking in this way? You promised me to insist upon her marryinghim. My dear, replied her husband, I have two small favours to request. First, that you will allow me thefree use of my understanding on the present occasion; and, secondly, of my room. I shall be glad to havethe library to myself as soon as may be. Not yet, however, in spite of her disappointment in her husband, did Mrs. Bennet give up the point. Shetalked to Elizabeth again and again; coaxed and threatened her by turns. She endeavoured to secure Janein her interest, but Jane, with all possible mildness, declined interfering; and Elizabeth, sometimes withreal earnestness and sometimes with playful gaiety, replied to her attacks. Though her manner varied,however, her determination never did. Mr. Collins, meanwhile, was meditating in solitude on what had passed. He thought too well of himselfto comprehend on what motive his cousin could refuse him; and though his pride was hurt, he suffered inno other way. His regard for her was quite imaginary; and the possibility of her deserving her mother sreproach prevented his feeling any regret. While the family were in this confusion, Charlotte Lucas came to spend the day with them. She was metin the vestibule by Lydia, who, flying to her, cried in a half-whisper, I am glad you are come, for there issuch fun here! What do you think has happened this morning? Mr. Collins has made an offer to Lizzy,and she will not have him. Charlotte had hardly time to answer before they were joined by Kitty, who came to tell the same news;and no sooner had they entered the breakfast-room, where Mrs. Bennet was alone, than she likewisebegan on the subject, calling on Miss Lucas for her compassion, and entreating her to persuade her friendLizzy to comply with the wishes of all her family. Pray do, my dear Miss Lucas, she added, in amelancholy tone; for nobody is on my side, nobody takes part with me; I am cruelly used, nobody feelsfor my poor nerves. Charlotte s reply was spared by the entrance of Jane and Elizabeth. Ay, there she comes, continued Mrs. Bennet, looking as unconcerned as may be, and caring no morefor us than if we were at York, provided she can have her own way. But I tell you what, Miss Lizzy, ifyou take it into your head to go on refusing every offer of marriage in this way, you will never get ahusband at all and I am sure I do not know who is to maintain you when your father is dead. I shall notbe able to keep you and so I warn you. I have done with you from this very day. I told you in thelibrary, you know, that I should never speak to you again, and you will find me as good as my word. Ihave no pleasure in talking to undutiful children. Not that I have much pleasure, indeed, in talking toanybody. People who suffer as I do from nervous complaints can have no great inclination for can tell what I suffer! But it is always so. Those who do not complain are never pitied. Her daughters listened in silence to this effusion, sensible that any attempt to reason with or soothe herwould only increase the irritation. She talked on, therefore, without interruption from any of them tillthey were joined by Mr. Collins, who entered with an air more stately than usual, and on perceivingwhom, she said to the girls, Now, I do insist upon it, that you, all of you, hold your tongues, and let Mr. Collins and me have a littleconversation together. Elizabeth passed quietly out of the room, Jane and Kitty followed, but Lydia stood her ground,determined to hear all she could; and Charlotte, detained first by the civility of Mr. Collins, whoseinquiries after herself and all her family were very minute, and then by a little curiosity, satisfied herselfwith walking to the window and pretending not to hear. In a doleful voice Mrs. Bennet thus began theprojected conversation: Oh, Mr. Collins. My dear madam, replied he, let us be for ever silent on this point. Far be it from me, he presentlycontinued, in a voice that marked his displeasure, to resent the behaviour of your daughter. Resignationto inevitable evils is the duty of us all: the peculiar duty of a young man who has been so fortunate as Ihave been, in early preferment; and, I trust, I am resigned. Perhaps not the less so from feeling a doubt ofmy positive happiness had my fair cousin honoured me with her hand; for I have often observed thatresignation is never so perfect as when the blessing denied begins to lose somewhat of its value in ourestimation. You will not, I hope, consider me as showing any disrespect to your family, my dear madam,by thus withdrawing my pretensions to your daughter s favour, without having paid yourself and the compliment of requesting you to interpose your authority in my behalf. My conduct may, Ifear, be objectionable in having accepted my dismission from your daughter s lips instead of your own;but we are all liable to error. I have certainly meant well through the whole affair. My object has been tosecure an amiable companion for myself, with due consideration for the advantage of all your family;and if my manner has been at all reprehensible, I here beg leave to apologise. Chapter XXITHE DISCUSSION of Mr. Collins s offer was now nearly at an end, and Elizabeth had only to sufferfrom the uncomfortable feelings necessarily attending it, and occasionally from some peevish allusion ofher mother. As for the gentleman himself, his feelings were chiefly expressed, not by embarrassment ordejection, or by trying to avoid her, but by stiffness of manner and resentful silence. He scarcely everspoke to her; and the assiduous attentions which he had been so sensible of himself were transferred forthe rest of the day to Miss Lucas, whose civility in listening to him was a seasonable relief to them all,and especially to her friend. The morrow produced no abatement of Mrs. Bennet s ill-humour or ill-health. Mr. Collins was also inthe same state of angry pride. Elizabeth had hoped that his resentment might shorten his visit, but hisplan did not appear in the least affected by it. He was always to have gone on Saturday, and to Saturdayhe still meant to stay. After breakfast the girls walked to Meryton, to inquire if Mr. Wickham were returned, and to lamentover his absence from the Netherfield ball. He joined them on their entering the town, and attended themto their aunt s, where his regret and vexation and the concern of everybody were well talked over. ToElizabeth, however, he voluntarily acknowledged that the necessity of his absence had beenself-imposed. I found, said he, as the time drew near, that I had better not meet Mr. Darcy; that to be in the sameroom, the same party with him for so many hours together, might be more than I could bear, and thatscenes might arise unpleasant to more than myself. She highly approved his forbearance; and they had leisure for a full discussion of it, and for all thecommendations which they civilly bestowed on each other, as Wickham and another officer walked backwith them to Longbourn, and during the walk he particularly attended to her. His accompanying themwas a double advantage: she felt all the compliment it offered to herself; and it was most acceptable as anoccasion of introducing him to her father and mother. Soon after their return a letter was delivered to Miss Bennet; it came from Netherfield, and was openedimmediately. The envelope contained a sheet of elegant, little, hot-pressed paper, well covered with alady s fair, flowing hand; and Elizabeth saw her sister s countenance change as she read it, and saw herdwelling intently on some particular passages. Jane recollected herself soon; and putting the letter away,tried to join, with her usual cheerfulness, in the general conversation: but Elizabeth felt an anxiety on thesubject which drew off her attention even from Wickham; and no sooner had he and his companion takenleave than a glance from Jane invited her to follow her upstairs. When they had gained their own room,Jane, taking out her letter, said, This is from Caroline Bingley: what it contains has surprised me a gooddeal. The whole party have left Netherfield by this time, and are on their way to town, and without anyintention of coming back again. You shall hear what she says. She then read the first sentence aloud, which comprised the information of their having just resolved tofollow their brother to town directly, and of their meaning to dine that day in Grosvenor Street, whereMr. Hurst had a house. The next was in these words: I do not pretend to regret anything I shall leave inHertfordshire except your society, my dearest friend; but we will hope, at some future period, to enjoymany returns of that delightful intercourse we have known, and in the meanwhile may lessen the pain ofseparation by a very frequent and most unreserved correspondence. I depend on you for that. To thesehigh-flown expressions Elizabeth listened with all the insensibility of distrust; and though the suddennessof their removal surprised her, she saw nothing in it really to lament: it was not to be supposed that theirabsence from Netherfield would prevent Mr. Bingley s being there; and as to the loss of their society, shewas persuaded that Jane must soon cease to regard it in the enjoyment of his. It is unlucky, said she, after a short pause, that you should not be able to see your friends before theyleave the country. But may we not hope that the period of future happiness, to which Miss Bingley looksforward, may arrive earlier than she is aware, and that the delightful intercourse you have known asfriends will be renewed with yet greater satisfaction as sisters? Mr. Bingley will not be detained inLondon by them. Caroline decidedly says that none of the party will return into Hertfordshire this winter. I will read it toyou. When my brother left us yesterday, he imagined that the business which took him to London mightbe concluded in three or four days; but as we are certain it cannot be so, and at the same time convincedthat when Charles gets to town he will be in no hurry to leave it again, we have determined on followinghim thither, that he may not be obliged to spend his vacant hours in a comfortless hotel. Many of myacquaintance are already there for the winter: I wish I could hear that you, my dearest friend, had anyintention of making one in the crowd, but of that I despair. I sincerely hope your Christmas inHertfordshire may abound in the gaieties which that season generally brings, and that your beaux will beso numerous as to prevent your feeling the loss of the three of whom we shall deprive you. It is evident by this, added Jane, that he comes back no more this winter. It is only evident that Miss Bingley does not mean he should. Why will you think so? It must be his own doing; he is his own master. But you do not know all. I willread you the passage which particularly hurts me. I will have no reserves from you. Mr. Darcy isimpatient to see his sister; and to confess the truth, we are scarcely less eager to meet her again. I reallydo not think Georgiana Darcy has her equal for beauty, elegance, and accomplishments; and the affectionshe inspires in Louisa and myself is heightened into something still more interesting from the hope wedare to entertain of her being hereafter our sister. I do not know whether I ever before mentioned to youmy feelings on this subject, but I will not leave the country without confiding them, and I trust you willnot esteem them unreasonable. My brother admires her greatly already; he will have frequent opportunitynow of seeing her on the most intimate footing; her relations all wish the connection as much as his own;and a sister s partiality is not misleading me, I think, when I call Charles most capable of engaging anywoman s heart. With all these circumstances to favour an attachment, and nothing to prevent it, am Iwrong, my dearest Jane, in indulging the hope of an event which will secure the happiness of so many? What think you of this sentence, my dear Lizzy? said Jane, as she finished it. Is it not clear enough?Does it not expressly declare that Caroline neither expects nor wishes me to be her sister; that she isperfectly convinced of her brother s indifference; and that, if she suspects the nature of my feelings forhim, she means (most kindly!) to put me on my guard. Can there be any other opinion on the subject? Yes, there can; for mine is totally different. Will you hear it? Most willingly. You shall have it in a few words. Miss Bingley sees that her brother is in love with you, and wants himto marry Miss Darcy. She follows him to town in the hope of keeping him there, and tries to persuadeyou that he does not care about you. Jane shook her head. Indeed, Jane, you ought to believe me. No one who has ever seen you together can doubt his affection;Miss Bingley, I am sure, cannot: she is not such a simpleton. Could she have seen half as much love inMr. Darcy for herself, she would have ordered her wedding clothes. But the case is this: we are not richenough or grand enough for them; and she is the more anxious to get Miss Darcy for her brother, fromthe notion that when there has been one intermarriage, she may have less trouble in achieving a second;in which there is certainly some ingenuity, and I daresay it would succeed if Miss De Bourgh were out ofthe way. But, my dearest Jane, you cannot seriously imagine that, because Miss Bingley tells you herbrother greatly admires Miss Darcy, he is in the smallest degree less sensible of your merit than when hetook leave of you on Tuesday; or that it will be in her power to persuade him that, instead of being inlove with you, he is very much in love with her friend. If we thought alike of Miss Bingley, replied Jane, your representation of all this might make me quiteeasy. But I know the foundation is unjust. Caroline is incapable of wilfully deceiving any one; and allthat I can hope in this case is, that she is deceived herself. That is right. You could not have started a more happy idea, since you will not take comfort in mine:believe her to be deceived, by all means. You have now done your duty by her, and must fret no longer. But, my dear sister, can I be happy, even supposing the best, in accepting a man whose sisters andfriends are all wishing him to marry elsewhere? You must decide for yourself, said Elizabeth; and if, upon mature deliberation, you find that themisery of disobliging his two sisters is more than equivalent to the happiness of being his wife, I adviseyou, by all means, to refuse him. How can you talk so? said Jane, faintly smiling; you must know that, though I should be exceedinglygrieved at their disapprobation, I could not hesitate. I do not think you would; and that being the case, I cannot consider your situation with muchcompassion. But if he returns no more this winter, my choice will never be required. A thousand things may arise insix months. The idea of his returning no more Elizabeth treated with the utmost contempt. It appeared to her merelythe suggestion of Caroline s interested wishes; and she could not for a moment suppose that thosewishes, however openly or artfully spoken, could influence a young man so totally independent of everyone. She represented to her sister, as forcibly as possible, what she felt on the subject, and had soon thepleasure of seeing its happy effect. Jane s temper was not desponding; and she was gradually led to hope,though the diffidence of affection sometimes overcame the hope, that Bingley would return toNetherfield, and answer every wish of her heart. They agreed that Mrs. Bennet should only hear of the departure of the family, without being alarmed onthe score of the gentleman s conduct; but even this partial communication gave her a great deal ofconcern, and she bewailed it as exceedingly unlucky that the ladies should happen to go away just as theywere all getting so intimate together. After lamenting it, however, at some length, she had the consolationof thinking that Mr. Bingley would be soon down again, and soon dining at Longbourn; and theconclusion of all was the comfortable declaration, that, though he had been invited only to a familydinner, she would take care to have two full XXIITHE BENNETS were engaged to dine with the Lucases; and again, during the chief of the day, was MissLucas so kind as to listen to Mr. Collins. Elizabeth took an opportunity of thanking her. It keeps him ingood humour, said she, and I am more obliged to you than I can express. Charlotte assured her friendof her satisfaction in being useful, and that it amply repaid her for the little sacrifice of her time. This wasvery amiable; but Charlotte s kindness extended farther than Elizabeth had any conception of: its objectwas nothing less than to secure her from any return of Mr. Collins s addresses, by engaging themtowards herself. Such was Miss Lucas s scheme; and appearances were so favourable, that when theyparted at night, she would have felt almost sure of success if he had not been to leave Hertfordshire sovery soon. But here she did injustice to the fire and independence of his character; for it led him toescape out of Longbourn House the next morning with admirable slyness, and hasten to Lucas Lodge tothrow himself at her feet. He was anxious to avoid the notice of his cousins, from a conviction that, ifthey saw him depart, they could not fail to conjecture his design, and he was not willing to have theattempt known till its success could be known likewise; for, though feeling almost secure, and withreason, for Charlotte had been tolerably encouraging, he was comparatively diffident since the adventureof Wednesday. His reception, however, was of the most flattering kind. Miss Lucas perceived him froman upper window as he walked towards the house, and instantly set out to meet him accidentally in thelane. But little had she dared to hope that so much love and eloquence awaited her there. In as short a time as Mr. Collins s long speeches would allow, everything was settled between them tothe satisfaction of both; and as they entered the house, he earnestly entreated her to name the day thatwas to make him the happiest of men; and though such a solicitation must be waived for the present, thelady felt no inclination to trifle with his happiness. The stupidity with which he was favoured by naturemust guard his courtship from any charm that could make a woman wish for its continuance; and MissLucas, who accepted him solely from the pure and disinterested desire of an establishment, cared nothow soon that establishment were gained. Sir William and Lady Lucas were speedily applied to for their consent; and it was bestowed with a mostjoyful alacrity. Mr. Collins s present circumstances made it a most eligible match for their daughter, towhom they could give little fortune; and his prospects of future wealth were exceedingly fair. LadyLucas began directly to calculate, with more interest than the matter had ever excited before, how manyyears longer Mr. Bennet was likely to live; and Sir William gave it as his decided opinion, that wheneverMr. Collins should be in possession of the Longbourn estate, it would be highly expedient that both heand his wife should make their appearance at St. James s. The whole family in short were properlyoverjoyed on the occasion. The younger girls formed hopes of coming out a year or two sooner than theymight otherwise have done; and the boys were relieved from their apprehension of Charlotte s dying anold maid. Charlotte herself was tolerably composed. She had gained her point, and had time to considerof it. Her reflections were in general satisfactory. Mr. Collins, to be sure, was neither sensible noragreeable; his society was irksome, and his attachment to her must be imaginary. But still he would beher husband. Without thinking highly either of men or of matrimony, marriage had always been herobject: it was the only honourable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune, and,however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want. Thispreservative she had now obtained; and at the age of twenty-seven, without having ever been handsome,she felt all the good luck of it. The least agreeable circumstance in the business was the surprise it mustoccasion to Elizabeth Bennet, whose friendship she valued beyond that of any other person. Elizabeth,would wonder, and probably would blame her; and though her resolution was not to be shaken, herfeelings must be hurt by such a disapprobation. She resolved to give her the information herself; andtherefore charged Mr. Collins, when he returned to Longbourn to dinner, to drop no hint of what hadpassed before any of the family. A promise of secrecy was of course very dutifully given, but it could notbe kept without difficulty; for the curiosity excited by his long absence burst forth in such very directquestions on his return, as required some ingenuity to evade, and he was at the same time exercisinggreat self-denial, for he was longing to publish his prosperous love. As he was to begin his journey too early on the morrow to see any of the family, the ceremony ofleave-taking was performed when the ladies moved for the night; and Mrs. Bennet, with great politenessand cordiality, said how happy they should be to see him at Longbourn again, whenever his otherengagements might allow him to visit them. My dear madam, he replied, this invitation is particularly gratifying, because it is what I have beenhoping to receive; and you may be very certain that I shall avail myself of it as soon as possible. They were all astonished; and Mr. Bennet, who could by no means wish for so speedy a return,immediately said, But is there not danger of Lady Catherine s disapprobation here, my good sir? You had better neglectyour relations than run the risk of offending your patroness. My dear sir, replied Mr. Collins, I am particularly obliged to you for this friendly caution, and youmay depend upon my not taking so material a step without her Ladyship s concurrence. You cannot be too much on your guard. Risk anything rather than her displeasure; and if you find itlikely to be raised by your coming to us again, which I should think exceedingly probable, stay quietly athome, and be satisfied that we shall take no offence. Believe me, my dear sir, my gratitude is warmly excited by such affectionate attention; and, dependupon it, you will speedily receive from me a letter of thanks for this as well as for every other mark ofyour regard during my stay in Hertfordshire. As for my fair cousins, though my absence may not be longenough to render it necessary, I shall now take the liberty of wishing them health and happiness, notexcepting my cousin Elizabeth. With proper civilities, the ladies the withdrew; all of them equally surprised to find that he meditated aquick return. Mrs. Bennet wished to understand by it that he thought of paying his addresses to one of heryounger girls, and Mary might have been prevailed on to accept him. She rated his abilities much higherthan any of the others: there was a solidity in his reflections which often struck her; and though by nomeans so clever as herself, she thought that, if encouraged to read and improve himself by such anexample as hers, he might become a very agreeable companion. But on the following morning everyhope of this kind was done away. Miss Lucas called soon after breakfast, and in a private conference with Elizabeth related the event ofthe day before. The possibility of Mr. Collins s fancying himself in love with her friend had once occurred to Elizabethwithin the last day or two: but that Charlotte could encourage him seemed almost as far from possibilityas that she could encourage him himself; and her astonishment was consequently so great as to overcomeat first the bounds of decorum, and she could not help crying out, Engaged to Mr. Collins! my dear Charlotte, impossible! The steady countenance which Miss Lucas had commanded in telling her story gave way to amomentary confusion here on receiving so direct a reproach; though, as it was no more than sheexpected, she soon regained her composure, and calmly replied, Why should you be surprised, my dear Eliza? Do you think it incredible that Mr. Collins should be ableto procure any woman s good opinion, because he was not so happy as to succeed with you? But Elizabeth had now recollected herself; and, making a strong effort for it, was able to assure her,with tolerable firmness, that the prospect of their relationship was highly grateful to her, and that shewished her all imaginable happiness. I see what you are feeling, replied Charlotte: you must be surprised, very much surprised, so lately asMr. Collins was wishing to marry you. But when you have had time to think it all over, I hope you willbe satisfied with what I have done. I am not romantic, you know. I never was. I ask only a comfortablehome; and, considering Mr. Collins s character, connections, and situation in life, I am convinced thatmy chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state. Elizabeth quietly answered undoubtedly ; and, after an awkward pause, they returned to the rest of thefamily. Charlotte did not stay much longer; and Elizabeth was then left to reflect on what she had was a long time before she became at all reconciled to the idea of so unsuitable a match. Thestrangeness of Mr. Collins s making two offers of marriage within three days was nothing in comparisonof his being now accepted. She had always felt that Charlotte s opinion of matrimony was not exactlylike her own; but she could not have supposed it possible that, when called into action, she would havesacrificed every better feeling to worldly advantage. Charlotte, the wife of Mr. Collins, was a mosthumiliating picture! And to the pang of a friend disgracing herself, and sunk in her esteem, was added thedistressing conviction that it was impossible for that friend to be tolerably happy in the lot she XXIIIELIZABETH was sitting with her mother and sisters, reflecting on what she had heard, and doubtingwhether she was authorised to mention it, when Sir William Lucas himself appeared, sent by his daughterto announce her engagement to the family. With many compliments to them, and much self-gratulationon the prospect of a connection between the houses, he unfolded the matter, to an audience not merelywondering, but incredulous; for Mrs. Bennet, with more perseverance than politeness, protested he mustbe entirely mistaken; and Lydia, always unguarded and often uncivil, boisterously exclaimed, Good Lord! Sir William, how can you tell such a story? Do you not know that Mr. Collins wants tomarry Lizzy? Nothing less than the complaisance of a courtier could have borne without anger such treatment: but SirWilliam s good-breeding carried him through it all; and though he begged leave to be positive as to thetruth of his information, he listened to all their impertinence with the most forbearing courtesy. Elizabeth, feeling it incumbent on her to relieve him from so unpleasant a situation, now put herselfforward to confirm his account, by mentioning her prior knowledge of it from Charlotte herself; andendeavoured to put a stop to the exclamations of her mother and sisters, by the earnestness of hercongratulations to Sir William, in which she was readily joined by Jane, and by making a variety ofremarks on the happiness that might be expected from the match, the excellent character of Mr. Collins,and the convenient distance of Hunsford from London. Mrs. Bennet was, in fact, too much overpowered to say a great deal while Sir William remained; but nosooner had he left them than her feelings found a rapid vent. In the first place, she persisted indisbelieving the whole of the matter; secondly, she was very sure that Mr. Collins had been taken in;thirdly, she trusted that they would never be happy together; and, fourthly, that the match might bebroken off. Two inferences, however, were plainly deduced from the whole: one, that Elizabeth was thereal cause of all the mischief; and the other, that she herself had been barbarously used by them all; andon these two points she principally dwelt during the rest of the day. Nothing could console and nothingappease her. Nor did that day wear out her resentment. A week elapsed before she could see Elizabethwithout scolding her: a month passed away before she could speak to Sir William or Lady Lucas withoutbeing rude; and many months were gone before she could at all forgive their daughter. Mr. Bennet s emotions were much more tranquil on the occasion, and such as he did experience hepronounced to be of a most agreeable sort; for it gratified him, he said, to discover that Charlotte Lucas,whom he had been used to think tolerably sensible, was as foolish as his wife, and more foolish than hisdaughter! Jane confessed herself a little surprised at the match: but she said less of her astonishment than of herearnest desire for their happiness; nor could Elizabeth persuade her to consider it as improbable. Kittyand Lydia were far from envying Miss Lucas, for Mr. Collins was only a clergyman; and it affected themin no other way than as a piece of news to spread at Meryton. Lady Lucas could not be insensible of triumph on being able to retort on Mrs. Bennet the comfort ofhaving a daughter well married; and she called at Longbourn rather oftener than usual to say how happyshe was, though Mrs. Bennet s sour looks and ill-natured remarks might have been enough to drivehappiness away. Between Elizabeth and Charlotte there was a restraint which kept them mutually silent on the subject;and Elizabeth felt persuaded that no real confidence could ever subsist between them again. Herdisappointment in Charlotte made her turn with fonder regard to her sister, of whose rectitude anddelicacy she was sure her opinion could never be shaken, and for whose happiness she grew daily moreanxious, as Bingley had now been gone a week, and nothing was heard of his return. Jane had sent Caroline an early answer to her letter, and was counting the days till she might reasonablehope to hear again. The promised letter of thanks from Mr. Collins arrived on Tuesday, addressed to theirfather, and written with all the solemnity of gratitude which a twelvemonth s abode in the family mighthave prompted. After discharging his conscience on that head, he proceeded to inform them, with manyrapturous expressions, of his happiness in having obtained the affection of their amiable neighbour, MissLucas, and then explained that it was merely with the view of enjoying her society that he had been soready to close with their kind wish of seeing him again at Longbourn, whither he hoped to be able toreturn on Monday fortnight; for Lady Catherine, he added, so heartily approved his marriage, that shewished it to take place as soon as possible, which he trusted would be an unanswerable argument with hisamiable Charlotte to name an early day for making him the happiest of men. Mr. Collins s return into Hertfordshire was no longer a matter of pleasure to Mrs. Bennet. On thecontrary, she was as much disposed to complain of it as her husband. It was very strange that he shouldcome to Longbourn instead of to Lucas Lodge; it was also very inconvenient and exceedinglytroublesome. She hated having visitors in the house while her health was so indifferent, and lovers wereof all people the most disagreeable. Such were the gentle murmurs of Mrs. Bennet, and they gave wayonly to the greater distress of Mr. Bingley s continued absence. Neither Jane nor Elizabeth was comfortable on this subject. Day after day passed away without bringingany other tidings of him than the report which shortly prevailed in Meryton of his coming no more toNetherfield the whole winter; a report which highly incensed Mrs. Bennet, and which she never failed tocontradict as a most scandalous falsehood. Even Elizabeth began to fear not that Bingley was indifferent but that his sisters would be successfulin keeping him away. Unwilling as she was to admit an idea so destructive of Jane s happiness, and sodishonourable to the stability of her lover, she could not prevent its frequently recurring. The unitedefforts of his two unfeeling sisters, and of his overpowering friend, assisted by the attractions of MissDarcy and the amusements of London, might be too much, she feared, for the strength of his attachment. As for Jane, her anxiety under this suspense was, of course, more painful than Elizabeth s: but whatevershe felt she was desirous of concealing; and between herself and Elizabeth, therefore, the subject wasnever alluded to. But as no such delicacy restrained her mother, an hour seldom passed in which she didnot talk of Bingley, express her impatience for his arrival, or even require Jane to confess that if he didnot come back she should think herself very ill used. It needed all Jane s steady mildness to bear theseattacks with tolerable tranquillity. Mr. Collins returned most punctually on the Monday fortnight, but his reception at Longbourn was notquite so gracious as it had been on his first introduction. He was too happy, however, to need muchattention; and, luckily for the others, the business of love-making relieved them from a great deal of hiscompany. The chief of every day was spent by him at Lucas Lodge, and he sometimes returned toLongbourn only in time to make an apology for his absence before the family went to bed. Mrs. Bennet was really in a most pitiable state. The very mention of anything concerning the matchthrew her into an agony of ill-humour, and wherever she went she was sure of hearing it talked of. Thesight of Miss Lucas was odious to her. As her successor in that house, she regarded her with jealousabhorrence. Whenever Charlotte came to see them, she concluded her to be anticipating the hour of possession; andwhenever she spoke in a low voice to Mr. Collins, was convinced that they were talking of theLongbourn estate, and resolving to turn herself and her daughters out of the house as soon as Mr. Bennetwas dead. She complained bitterly of all this to her husband. Indeed, Mr. Bennet, said she, it is very hard to think that Charlotte Lucas should ever be mistress ofthis house, that I should be forced to make way for her, and live to see her take my place in it! My dear, do not give way to such gloomy thoughts. Let us hope for better things. Let us flatterourselves that I may be the survivor. This was not very consoling to Mrs. Bennet; and, therefore, instead of making any answer, she went onas before. I cannot bear to think that they should have all this estate. If it was not for the entail, I should not mindit. What should not you mind? I should not mind anything at all. Let us be thankful that you are preserved from a state of such insensibility. I never can be thankful, Mr. Bennet, for anything about the entail. How any one could have theconscience to entail away an estate from one s own daughters I cannot understand; and all for the sake ofMr. Collins, too! Why should he have it more than anybody else? I leave it to yourself to determine, said Mr. XXIVMISS BINGLEY S letter arrived, and put an end to doubt. The very first sentence conveyed theassurance of their being all settled in London for the winter, and concluded with her brother s regret atnot having had time to pay his respects to his friends in Hertfordshire before he left the country. Hope was over, entirely 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 praiseoccupied the chief of it. Her many attractions were again dwelt on; and Caroline boasted joyfully of theirincreasing intimacy, and ventured to predict the accomplishment of the wishes which had been unfoldedin her former letter. She wrote also with great pleasure of her brother s being an intimate of Mr. Darcy shouse, and mentioned with raptures some plans of the latter with regard to new furniture. Elizabeth, to whom Jane very soon communicated the chief of all this, heard it in silent indignation. Herheart was divided between concern for her sister and resentment against all others. To Caroline sassertion of her brother s being partial to Miss Darcy she paid no credit. That he was really fond of Janeshe doubted no more than she had ever done; and much as she had always been disposed to like him, shecould not think without anger, hardly without contempt, on the easiness of temper, that want of properresolution, which now made him the slave of his designing friends, and led him to sacrifice his ownhappiness to the caprice of their inclinations. Had his own happiness, however, been the only sacrifice,he might have been allowed to sport with it in whatever manner he thought best; but her sister s wasinvolved in it, as she thought he must be sensible himself. It was a subject, in short, on which reflectionwould be long indulged, and must be unavailing. She could think of nothing else; and yet, whetherBingley s regard had really died away, or were suppressed by his friends interference; whether he hadbeen aware of Jane s attachment, or whether it had escaped his observation; whatever were the case,though her opinion of him must be materially affected by the difference, her sister s situation remainedthe same, her peace equally wounded. A day or two passed before Jane had courage to speak of her feeling to Elizabeth; but at last, on s leaving them together, after a longer irritation than usual about Netherfield and its master, shecould not help saying, Oh that my dear mother had more command over herself; she can have no idea of the pain she givesme by her continual reflections on him. But I will not repine. It cannot last long. He will be forgot, andwe shall all be as we were before. Elizabeth looked at her sister with incredulous solicitude, but said nothing. You doubt me, cried Jane, slightly colouring; indeed you have no reason. He may live in my memoryas the most amiable man of my acquaintance, but that is all. I have nothing either to hope or fear, andnothing to reproach him with. Thank God I have not that pain. A little time, therefore I shall certainlytry to get the better With a stronger voice she soon added, I have this comfort immediately, that it has not been more thanan error of fancy on my side, and that it has done no harm to any one but myself. My dear Jane, exclaimed Elizabeth, you are too good. Your sweetness and disinterestedness arereally angelic; I do not know what to say to you. I feel as if I had never done you justice, or loved you asyou deserve. Miss Bennet eagerly disclaimed all extraordinary merit, and threw back the praise on her sister s warmaffection. Nay, said Elizabeth, this is not fair. You wish to think all the world respectable, and are hurt if I speakill of anybody. I only want to think you perfect, and you set yourself against it. Do not be afraid of myrunning into any excess, of my encroaching on your privilege of universal goodwill. You need not. Thereare few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, themore am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all humancharacters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of either merit or sense. Ihave met with two instances lately: one I will not mention, the other is Charlotte s marriage. It isunaccountable! 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 notmake allowance enough for difference of situation and temper. Consider Mr. Collins s respectability, andCharlotte s prudent, steady character. Remember that she is one of a large family; that as to fortune it is amost eligible match; and be ready to believe, for everybody s sake, that she may feel something likeregard and esteem for our cousin. To oblige you, I would try to believe almost anything, but no one else could be benefited by such abelief as this; for were I persuaded that Charlotte had any regard for him, I should only think worse ofher understanding than I now do of her heart. My dear Jane, Mr. Collins is a conceited, pompous,narrow-minded, silly man: you know he is, as well as I do; and you must feel, as well as I do, that thewoman who marries him cannot have a proper way of thinking. You shall not defend her, though it isCharlotte Lucas. You shall not, for the sake of one individual, change the meaning of principle andintegrity, nor endeavour to persuade yourself or me that selfishness is prudence, and insensibility ofdanger security for happiness. I must think your language too strong in speaking of both, replied Jane; and I hope you will beconvinced of it, by seeing them happy together. But enough of this. You alluded to something else. Youmentioned two instances. I cannot misunderstand you, but I entreat you, dear Lizzy, not to pain me bythinking that person to blame, and saying your opinion of him is sunk. We must not be so ready to fancyourselves intentionally injured. We must not expect a lively young man to be always so guarded andcircumspect. It is very often nothing but our own vanity that deceives us. Women fancy admirationmeans 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 inthe world as some persons imagine. I am far from attributing any part of Mr. Bingley s conduct to design, said Elizabeth; but, withoutscheming to do wrong, or to make others unhappy, there may be error and there may be , want of attention to other people s feelings, and want of resolution, will do thebusiness. And do you impute it to either of those? Yes; to the last. But if I go on I shall displease you by saying what I think of persons you esteem. Stopme whilst you can. You persist, then, in supposing his sisters influence him. Yes, in conjunction with his friend. I cannot believe it. Why should they try to influence him? They can only wish his happiness; and if heis 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 hisincrease of wealth and consequence; they may wish him to marry a girl who has all the importance ofmoney, great connections, and pride. Beyond a doubt they do wish him to choose Miss Darcy, replied Jane; but this may be from betterfeelings than you are supposing. They have known her much longer than they have known me; nowonder if they love her better. But, whatever may be their own wishes, it is very unlikely they shouldhave opposed their brother s. What sister would think herself at liberty to do it, unless there weresomething very objectionable? If they believed him attached to me they would not try to part us; if hewere so they could not succeed. By supposing such an affection, you make everybody acting unnaturallyand wrong, and me most unhappy. Do not distress me by the idea. I am not ashamed of having beenmistaken or, at least it is slight, it is nothing in comparison of what I should feel in thinking ill of himor 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 evermentioned between them. Mrs. Bennet still continued to wonder and repine at his returning no more; and though a day seldompassed in which Elizabeth did not account for it clearly, there seemed little chance of her everconsidering it with less perplexity. Her daughter endeavoured to convince her of what she did not believeherself, that his attentions to Jane had been merely the effect of a common and transient liking, whichceased 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 bedown again in the summer. Mr. Bennet treated the matter differently. So Lizzy, said he, one day, your sister is crossed in love, Ifind. I congratulate her. Next to being married, a girl likes to be crossed in love a little now and then. It issomething to think of, and gives her a sort of distinction among her companions. When is your turn tocome? You will hardly bear to be long outdone by Jane. Now is your time. Here are officers enough atMeryton to disappoint all the young ladies in the country. Let Wickham be your man. He is a pleasantfellow, and would jilt you creditably. Thank you, sir, but a less agreeable man would satisfy me. We must not all expect Jane s goodfortune. True, said Mr. Bennet; but it is a comfort to think that, whatever of that kind may befall you, youhave 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 perverseoccurrences had thrown on many of the Longbourn family. They saw him often, and to his otherrecommendations was now added that of general unreserve. The whole of what Elizabeth had alreadyheard, his claims on Mr. Darcy, and all that he had suffered from him, was now openly acknowledgedand publicly canvassed; and everybody was pleased to think how much they had always disliked before they had known anything of the matter. Miss Bennet was the only creature who could suppose there might be any extenuating circumstances inthe case unknown to the society of Hertfordshire: her mild and steady candour always pleaded forallowances, and urged the possibility of mistakes; but by everybody else Mr. Darcy was condemned asthe worst of XXVAFTER a week spent in professions of love and schemes of felicity, Mr. Collins was called from hisamiable Charlotte by the arrival of Saturday. The pain of separation, however, might be alleviated on hisside by preparations for the reception of his bride, as he had reason to hope that, shortly after his nextreturn into Hertfordshire, the day would be fixed that was to make him the happiest of men. He tookleave of his relations at Longbourn with as much solemnity as before; wished his fair cousins health andhappiness 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, whocame, as usual, to spend the Christmas as Longbourn. Mr. Gardiner was a sensible, gentlemanlike man,greatly superior to his sister, as well by nature as education. The Netherfield ladies would have haddifficulty in believing that a man who lived by trade, and within view of his own warehouse, could havebeen so well bred and agreeable. Mrs. Gardiner, who was several years younger than Mrs. Bennet andMrs. Philips, was an amiable, intelligent, elegant woman, and a great favourite with her Longbournnieces. Between the two eldest and herself especially there subsisted a very particular regard. They hadfrequently been staying with her in town. The first part of Mrs. Gardiner s business, on her arrival, was to distribute her presents and describe thenewest fashions. When this was done, she had a less active part to play. It became her turn to listen. had many grievances to relate, and much to complain of. They had all been very ill used she lastsaw 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, she continued, for Jane would have got Mr. Bingley if she could But, Lizzy! Oh,sister! it is very hard to think that she might have been Mr. Collins s wife by this time, had not it been forher own perverseness. He made her an offer in this very room, and she refused him. The consequence ofit is, that Lady Lucas will have a daughter married before I have, and that Longbourn estate is just asmuch entailed as ever. The Lucases are very artful people, indeed, sister. They are all for what they canget. I am sorry to say it of them, but it is. It makes me very nervous and poorly, to be thwarted so in myown family, and to have neighbours who think of themselves before anybody else. However, yourcoming just at this time is the greatest of comforts, and I am very glad to hear what you tell us of longsleeves. Mrs. Gardiner, to whom the chief of this news had been given before, in the course of Jane andElizabeth 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 adesirable match for Jane, said she. I am sorry it went off. But these things happen so often! A youngman, 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, said Elizabeth; but it will not do for us. We do not suffer byaccident. It does not often happen that the interference of friends will persuade a young man ofindependent fortune to think no more of a girl whom he was violently in love with only a few daysbefore. But that expression of violently in love is so hackneyed, so doubtful, so indefinite, that it gives mevery little idea. It is as often applied to feelings which arise only from a half-hour s acquaintance, as to areal, strong attachment. Pray, how violent was Mr. Bingley s love? I never saw a more promising inclination; he was growing quite inattentive to other people, and whollyengrossed by her. Every time they met, it was more decided and remarkable. At his own ball he offendedtwo or three young ladies by not asking them to dance; and I spoke to him twice myself withoutreceiving an answer. Could there be finer symptoms? Is not general incivility the very essence of love? Oh yes! of that kind of love which I suppose him to have felt. Poor Jane! I am sorry for her, because,with her disposition, she may not get over it immediately. It had better have happened to you, Lizzy; youwould have laughed yourself out of it sooner. But do you think she would be prevailed on to go backwith us? Change of scene might be of service and perhaps a little relief from home may be as useful asanything. Elizabeth was exceedingly pleased with this proposal, and felt persuaded of her sister s readyacquiescence. I hope, added Mrs. Gardiner, that no consideration with regard to this young man will influence live in so different a part of town, all our connections are so different, and, as you well know, we goout 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 moresuffer him to call on Jane in such a part of London! My dear aunt, how could you think of it? Mr. Darcymay, perhaps, have heard of such a place as Gracechurch Street, but he would hardly think a month sablution enough to cleanse him from its impurities, were he once to enter it, and depend upon it, never stirs without him. So much the better. I hope they will not meet at all. But does not Jane correspond with his sister? Shewill 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 moreinteresting one of Bingley s being withheld from seeing Jane, she felt a solicitude on the subject whichconvinced her, on examination, that she did not consider it entirely hopeless. It was possible, andsometimes she thought it probable, that his affection might be reanimated, and the influence of hisfriends 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 herthoughts at the same time than as she hoped, 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 stayed a week at Longbourn; and what with the Philipses, the Lucases, and the officers,there was not a day without its engagement. Mrs. Bennet had so carefully provided for the entertainmentof her brother and sister, that they did not once sit down to a family dinner. When the engagement wasfor home, some of the officers always made part of it, of which officers Mr. Wickham was sure to beone; and on these occasions Mrs. Gardiner, rendered suspicious by Elizabeth s warm commendation ofhim, narrowly observed them both. Without supposing them, from what she saw, to be very seriously inlove, their preference of each other was plain enough to make her a little uneasy; and she resolved tospeak to Elizabeth on the subject before she left Hertfordshire, and represent to her the imprudence ofencouraging such an attachment. To Mrs. Gardiner Wickham had one means of affording pleasure, unconnected with his general ten or a dozen years ago, before her marriage, she had spent a considerable time in that very partof Derbyshire to which he belonged. They had, therefore, many acquaintance in common; and, thoughWickham had been little there since the death of Darcy s father, five years before, it was yet in his powerto 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 Pemberleywith the minute description which Wickham could give, and in bestowing her tribute of praise on thecharacter of its late possessor, she was delighting both him and herself. On being made acquainted withthe present Mr. Darcy s treatment of him, she tried to remember something of that gentleman s reputeddisposition, when quite a lad, which might agree with it; and was confident, at last, that she recollectedhaving heard Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy formerly spoken of as a very proud, ill-natured XXVIMRS. GARDINER S caution to Elizabeth was punctually and kindly given on the first favourableopportunity of speaking to her alone: after honestly telling her what she thought, she thus went on: You are too sensible a girl, Lizzy, to fall in love merely because you are warned against it; and,therefore, I am not afraid of speaking openly. Seriously, I would have you be on your guard. Do notinvolve yourself, or endeavour to involve him, in an affection which the want of fortune would make sovery imprudent. I have nothing to say against him: he is a most interesting young man; and if he had thefortune he ought to have, I should think you could not do better. But as it is you must not let your fancyrun away with you. You have sense, and we all expect you to use it. Your father would depend on yourresolution and good conduct, I am sure. You must not disappoint your father. My dear aunt, this is being serious indeed. Yes, and I hope to engage you to be serious likewise. Well, then, you need not be under any alarm. I will take care of myself, and of Mr. Wickham too. Heshall not be in love with me, if I can prevent it. Elizabeth, you are not serious now. I beg your pardon. I will try again. At present I am not in love with Mr. Wickham; no, I certainly amnot. But he is, beyond all comparison, the most agreeable man I ever saw and if he becomes reallyattached to me I believe it will be better that he should not. I see the imprudence of it. Oh, thatabominable Mr. Darcy! My father s opinion of me does me the greatest honour; and I should bemiserable to forfeit it. My father, however, is partial to Mr. Wickham. In short, my dear aunt, I should bevery sorry to be the means of making any of you unhappy; but since we see, every day, that where thereis affection young people are seldom withheld, by immediate want of fortune, from entering intoengagements with each other, how can I promise to be wiser than so many of my fellow-creatures, if Iam tempted, or how am I even to know that it would be wisdom to resist? All that I can promise you,therefore, is not to be in a hurry. I will not be in a hurry to believe myself his first object. When I am incompany with him, I will not be wishing. In short, I will do my best. Perhaps it will be as well if you discourage his coming here so very often. At least you should notremind your mother of inviting him. As I did the other day, said Elizabeth, with a conscious smile; very true it will be wise in me torefrain from that. But do not imagine that he is always here so often. It is on your account that he hasbeen so frequently invited this week. You know my mother s ideas as to the necessity of constantcompany for her friends. But really, and upon my honour, I will try to do what I think to be wisest; andnow I hope you are satisfied. Her aunt assured her that she was; and Elizabeth, having thanked her for the kindness of her hints, theyparted, 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, ashe took up his abode with the Lucases, his arrival was no great inconvenience to Mrs. Bennet. Hismarriage was now fast approaching; and she was at length so far resigned as to think it inevitable, andeven repeatedly to say, in an ill-natured tone, that she wished they might be happy. Thursday was to bethe wedding day, and on Wednesday Miss Lucas paid her farewell visit; and when she rose to take leave,Elizabeth, ashamed of her mother s ungracious and reluctant good wishes, and sincerely affected herself,accompanied her out of the room. As they went downstairs together, Charlotte said, I shall depend on hearing from you very often, Eliza. That you certainly shall. And I have another favour to ask. Will you come and see me? We shall often meet, I hope, in Hertfordshire. I am not likely to leave Kent for some time. Promise me, therefore, 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, added Charlotte, and I hope you will consent to beof the party. Indeed, Eliza, 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, andeverybody 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 ever had been: that it should be equallyunreserved was impossible. Elizabeth could never address her without feeling that all the comfort ofintimacy was over; and, though determined not to slacken as a correspondent, it was for the sake of whathad been rather than what was. Charlotte s first letters were received with a good deal of eagerness: therecould not but be curiosity to know how she would speak of her new home, how she would like LadyCatherine, and how happy she would dare pronounce herself to be; though, when the letters were read,Elizabeth felt that Charlotte expressed herself on every point exactly as she might have foreseen. Shewrote cheerfully, seemed surrounded with comforts, and mentioned nothing which she could not house, furniture, neighbourhood, and roads, were all to her taste, and Lady Catherine s behaviourwas 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 shewrote 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 aweek in town, without either seeing or hearing from Caroline. She accounted for it, however, bysupposing that her last letter to her friend from Longbourn had by some accident been lost. My aunt, she continued, is going to-morrow into that part of the town, and I shall take the opportunityof calling in Grosvenor Street. She wrote again when the visit was paid, and she had seen Miss Bingley. I did not think Caroline inspirits, were her words, but she was very glad to see me, and reproached me for giving her no notice ofmy coming to London. I was right, therefore; my last letter had never reached her. I inquired after theirbrother, of course. He was well, but so much engaged with Mr. Darcy, that they scarcely ever saw him. Ifound that Miss Darcy was expected to dinner: I wish I could see her. My visit was not long, as Carolineand Mrs. Hurst were going out. I daresay I shall soon see them here. Elizabeth shook her head over this letter. It convinced her that accident only could discover to her sister s being in town. Four weeks passed away, and Jane saw nothing of him. She endeavoured to persuade herself that shedid not regret it; but she could no longer be blind to Miss Bingley s inattention. After waiting at homeevery morning for a fortnight, and inventing every evening a fresh excuse for her, the visitor did at lastappear; but the shortness of her stay, and, yet more, the alteration of her manner, would allow Jane todeceive herself no longer. The letter which she wrote on this occasion to her sister will prove what shefelt: My dearest Lizzy will, I am sure, be incapable of triumphing in her better judgment, at myexpense, when I confess myself to have been entirely deceived in Miss Bingley s regard forme. But, my dear sister, though the event has proved you right, do not think me obstinate if Istill assert that, considering what her behaviour was, my confidence was as natural as yoursuspicion. I do not at all comprehend her reason for wishing to be intimate with me; but, ifthe same circumstances were to happen again, I am sure I should be deceived did not return my visit till yesterday; and not a note, not a line, did I receive in themeantime. When she did come, it was very evident that she had no pleasure in it; she made aslight, formal apology for not calling before, said not a word of wishing to see me again, andwas, in every respect, so altered a creature, that when she went away I was perfectlyresolved to continue the acquaintance no longer. I pity, though I cannot help blaming, was very wrong in singling me out as she did; I can safely say that every advance tointimacy began on her side. But I pity her, because she must feel that she has been actingwrong, and because I am very sure that anxiety for her brother is the cause of it. I need notexplain myself farther; and though we know this anxiety to be quite needless, yet if she feelsit, 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,however, at her having any such fears now, because if he had at all cared about me, we musthave met long, long ago. He knows of my being in town, I am certain, from something shesaid herself; and yet it would seem, by her manner of talking, as if she wanted to persuadeherself that he is really partial to Miss Darcy. I cannot understand it. If I were not afraid ofjudging harshly, I should be almost tempted to say that there is a strong appearance ofduplicity in all this. But I will endeavour to banish every painful thought, and think only ofwhat will make me happy, your affection, and the invariable kindness of my dear uncle andaunt. Let me hear from you very soon. Miss Bingley said something of his never returningto Netherfield again, of giving up the house, but not with any certainty. We had better notmention it. I am extremely glad that you have such pleasant accounts from our friends atHunsford. Pray go to see them, with Sir William and Maria. I am sure you will be verycomfortable there. Yours, etc. This letter gave Elizabeth some pain; but her spirits returned, as she considered that Jane would nolonger be duped, by the sister at least. All expectation from the brother was now absolutely over. Shewould not even wish for any renewal of his attentions. His character sank on every review of it; and, as apunishment for him, as well as a possible advantage to Jane, she seriously hoped he might really soonmarry Mr. Darcy s sister, as, by Wickham s account, she would make him abundantly regret what he hadthrown away. Mrs. Gardiner about this time reminded Elizabeth of her promise concerning that gentleman, andrequired information; and Elizabeth had such to send as might rather give contentment to her aunt than toherself. His apparent partiality had subsided, his attentions were over, he was the admirer of some oneelse. Elizabeth was watchful enough to see it all, but she could see it and write of it without materialpain. Her heart had been but slightly touched, and her vanity was satisfied with believing that she wouldhave been his only choice, had fortune permitted it. The sudden acquisition of ten thousand pounds wasthe most remarkable charm of the young lady to whom he was now rendering himself agreeable; butElizabeth, less clearsighted perhaps in this case than in Charlotte s, did not quarrel with him for his wishof independence. Nothing, on the contrary, could be more natural; and, while able to suppose that it costhim 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 wenton: I am now convinced, my dear aunt, that I have never been much in love; for had I reallyexperienced that pure and elevating passion, I should at present detest his very name, and wish him allmanner of evil. But my feelings are not only cordial towards him, they are even impartial towards MissKing. I cannot find out that I hate her at all, or that I am in the least unwilling to think her a very goodsort of girl. There can be no love in all this. My watchfulness has been effectual; and though I shouldcertainly be a more interesting object to all my acquaintance, were I distractedly in love with him, Icannot say that I regret my comparative insignificance. Importance may sometimes be purchased toodearly. Kitty and Lydia take his defection much more to heart than I do. They are young in the ways ofthe world, and not yet open to the mortifying conviction that handsome young men must have somethingto live on, as well as the plain. Chapter XXVIIWITH no greater events than these in the Longbourn family, and otherwise diversified by little beyondthe walks to Meryton, sometimes dirty and sometimes cold, did January and February pass away. Marchwas to take Elizabeth to Hunsford. She had not at first thought very seriously of going thither; butCharlotte, she soon found, was depending on the plan, and she gradually learned to consider it herselfwith greater pleasure as well as greater certainty. Absence had increased her desire of seeing Charlotteagain, and weakened her disgust of Mr. Collins. There was novelty in the scheme; and as, with such amother and such uncompanionable sisters, home could not be faultless, a little change was notunwelcome for its own sake. The journey would, moreover, give her a peep at Jane; and, in short, as thetime drew near, she would have been very sorry for any delay. Everything, however, went on smoothly,and was finally settled according to Charlotte s first sketch. She was to accompany Sir William and hissecond daughter. The improvement of spending a night in London was added in time, and the planbecame perfect as plan could be. The only pain was in leaving her father, who would certainly miss her, and who, when it came to thepoint, 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. Hispresent pursuit could not make him forget that Elizabeth had been the first to excite and to deserve hisattention, 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, andtrusting their opinion of her their opinion of everybody would always coincide, there was asolicitude, an interest, which she felt must ever attach her to him with a most sincere regard; and sheparted from him convinced that, whether married or single, he must always be her model of the amiableand pleasing. Her fellow-travellers the next day were not of a kind to make her think him less agreeable. Sir WilliamLucas, and his daughter Maria, a good-humoured girl, but as emptyheaded as himself, had nothing to saythat could be worth hearing, and were listened to with about as much delight as the rattle of the loved absurdities, but she had known Sir William s too long. He could tell her nothing new ofthe 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 bynoon. 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, and Elizabeth, looking earnestly in herface, 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, andwhose shyness, as they had not seen her for a twelvemonth, prevented their coming lower. All was joyand kindness. The day passed most pleasantly away; the morning in bustle and shopping, and the eveningat one of the theatres. Elizabeth then contrived to sit by her aunt. Their first subject was her sister; and she was more grievedthan astonished to hear, in reply to her minute inquiries, that though Jane always struggled to support herspirits, there were periods of dejection. It was reasonable, however, to hope that they would not continuelong. Mrs. Gardiner gave her the particulars also of Miss Bingley s visit in Gracechurch Street, andrepeated conversations occurring at different times between Jane and herself, which proved that theformer had, from her heart, given up the acquaintance. Mrs. Gardiner then rallied her niece on Wickham s desertion, and complimented her on bearing it sowell. But, my dear Elizabeth, she added, what sort of girl is Miss King? I should be sorry to think ourfriend mercenary. Pray, my dear aunt, what is the difference in matrimonial affairs between the mercenary and theprudent motive? Where does discretion end, and avarice begin? Last Christmas you were afraid of hismarrying me, because it would be imprudent; and now, because he is trying to get a girl with only tenthousand 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 believe. I know no harm of her. But he paid her not the smallest attention till her grandfather s death made her mistress of thisfortune? No why should he? If it were 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 equallypoor? 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 with other people mayobserve. If she does not object to it, why should we? Her not objecting does not justify him. It only shows her being deficient in something herself senseor feeling. Well, cried Elizabeth, have it as you choose. He shall be mercenary, and she shall be foolish. No, Lizzy, that is what I do not choose. I should be sorry, you know, to think ill of a young man whohas lived so long in Derbyshire. Oh, if that is all, I have a very poor opinion of young men who live in Derbyshire; and their intimatefriends who live in Hertfordshire are not much better. I am sick of them all. Thank Heaven! I am goingto-morrow where I shall find a man who has not one agreeable quality, who has neither manner nor senseto recommend him. Stupid men are the only ones worth knowing after all. Take care, Lizzy; that speech savours strongly of disappointment. Before they were separated by the conclusion of the play, she had the unexpected happiness of aninvitation to accompany her uncle and aunt in a tour of pleasure which they proposed taking in thesummer. We have not quite determined how far it shall carry us, said Mrs. Gardiner; but perhaps, to theLakes. No scheme could have been more agreeable to Elizabeth, and her acceptance of the invitation was mostready and grateful. My dear, dear aunt, she rapturously cried, what delight! what felicity! You give mefresh life and vigour. Adieu to disappointment and spleen. What are men to rocks and mountains? Oh,what hours of transport we shall spend! And when we do return, it shall not be like other travellers,without being able to give an accurate idea of anything. We will know where we have gone we willrecollect what we have seen. Lakes, mountains, and rivers, shall not be jumbled together in ourimaginations; nor, when we attempt to describe any particular scene, will we begin quarrelling about itsrelative situation. Let our first effusions be less insupportable than those of the generality of travellers. Chapter XXVIIIEVERY object in the next day s journey was new and interesting to Elizabeth; and her spirits were in astate of enjoyment; for she had seen her sister looking so well as to banish all fear for her health, and theprospect of her northern tour was a constant source of delight. When they left the highroad for the lane to Hunsford, every eye was in search of the Parsonage, andevery turning expected to bring it in view. The paling of Rosings Park was their boundary on one 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, thegreen pales and the laurel hedge, everything declared they were arriving. Mr. Collins and Charlotteappeared at the door, and the carriage stopped at the small gate, which led by a short gravel walk to thehouse, 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, andElizabeth was more and more satisfied with coming, when she found herself so affectionately saw instantly that her cousin s manners were not altered by his marriage: his formal civility was justwhat it had been; and he detained her some minutes at the gate to hear and satisfy his inquiries after allher family. They were then, with no other delay than his pointing out the neatness of the entrance, takeninto the house; and as soon as they were in the parlour, he welcomed them a second time, withostentatious 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 thegood proportion of the room, its aspect, and its furniture, he addressed himself particularly to her, as ifwishing to make her feel what she had lost in refusing him. But though everything seemed neat andcomfortable, she was not able to gratify him by any sigh of repentance; and rather looked with wonder ather friend, that she could have so cheerful an air with such a companion. When Mr. Collins said anythingof which his wife might reasonably be ashamed, which certainly was not seldom, she involuntarilyturned her eye on Charlotte. Once or twice she could discern a faint blush; but in general Charlottewisely did not hear. After sitting long enough to admire every article of furniture in the room, from thesideboard to the fender, to give an account of their journey, and of all that had happened in London, invited them to take a stroll in the garden, which was large and well laid out, and to thecultivation of which he attended himself. To work in his garden was one of his most respectablepleasures; and Elizabeth admired the command of countenance with which Charlotte talked of thehealthfulness of the exercise, and owned she encouraged it as much as possible. Here, leading the waythrough every walk and cross walk, and scarcely allowing them an interval to utter the praises he askedfor, every view was pointed out with a minuteness which left beauty entirely behind. He could numberthe fields in every direction, and could tell how many trees there were in the most distant clump. But ofall the views which his garden, or which the country or the kingdom could boast, none were to becompared with the prospect of Rosings, afforded by an opening in the trees that bordered the park nearlyopposite 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 havingshoes to encounter the remains of a white frost, turned back; and while Sir William accompanied him,Charlotte took her sister and friend over the house, extremely well pleased, probably, to have theopportunity of showing it without her husband s help. It was rather small, but well built and convenient;and everything was fitted up and arranged with a neatness and consistency of which Elizabeth gaveCharlotte all the credit. When Mr. Collins could be forgotten, there was really a great air of comfortthroughout, 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 theywere at dinner, when Mr. Collins joining in, observed, Yes, Miss Elizabeth, you will have the honour of seeing Lady Catherine de Bourgh on the ensuingSunday at church, and I need not say you will be delighted with her. She is all affability andcondescension, and I doubt not but you will be honoured with some portion of her notice when service isover. I have scarcely any hesitation in saying that she will include you and my sister Maria in everyinvitation with which she honours us during your stay here. Her behaviour to my dear Charlotte ischarming. We dine at Rosings twice every week, and are never allowed to walk home. Her Ladyship scarriage 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, added Charlotte, and a most attentiveneighbour. Very true, my dear, that is exactly what I say. She is the sort of woman whom one cannot regard withtoo much deference. The evening was spent chiefly in talking over Hertfordshire news, and telling again what had beenalready written; and when it closed, Elizabeth, in the solitude of her chamber, had to meditate uponCharlotte 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 visitwould pass, the quiet tenor of their usual employments, the vexatious interruptions of Mr. Collins, andthe 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 belowseemed to speak the whole house in confusion; and, after listening a moment, she heard somebodyrunning upstairs in a violent hurry, and calling loudly after her. She opened the door and met Maria in thelanding-place, who, breathless with agitation, cried out, Oh, 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. Make haste, and come down this moment. Elizabeth asked questions in vain; Maria would tell her nothing more; and down they ran into thedining-room which fronted the lane, in quest of this wonder; it was two ladies, stopping in a low phaetonat the garden gate. And is this all? cried Elizabeth. I expected at least that the pigs were got into the garden, and here isnothing but Lady Catherine and her daughter! La! my dear, said Maria, quite shocked at the mistake, it is not Lady Catherine. The old lady is , who lives with them. The other is Miss De Bourgh. Only look at her. She is quite a littlecreature. 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? Oh, Charlotte says she hardly ever does. It is the greatest of favours when Miss De Bourgh comes in. I like her appearance, said Elizabeth, struck with other ideas. She looks sickly and cross. Yes, shewill 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 SirWilliam, to Elizabeth s high diversion, was stationed in the doorway, in earnest contemplation of thegreatness 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 Collins no sooner saw the two girls than he began to congratulate them on their good fortune, whichCharlotte explained by letting them know that the whole party was asked to dine at Rosings the next XXIXMR. COLLINS S triumph, in consequence of this invitation, was complete. The power of displaying thegrandeur of his patroness to his wondering visitors, and of letting them see her civility towards himselfand his wife, was exactly what he had wished for; and that an opportunity of doing it should be given sosoon was such an instance of Lady Catherine s condescension as he knew not how to admire enough. I confess, said he, that I should not have been at all surprised by her Ladyship s asking us on Sundayto 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 imaginedthat we should receive an invitation to dine there (an invitation, moreover, including the whole party) soimmediately 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 allowedme to acquire. About the court, such instances of elegant breeding are not uncommon. Scarcely anything was talked of the whole day or next morning but their visit to Rosings. Mr. Collinswas carefully instructing them in what they were to expect, that the sight of such rooms, so manyservants, 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 requiringthat elegance of dress in us which becomes herself and daughter. I would advise you merely to put onwhatever of your clothes is superior to the rest, there is no occasion for anything more. Lady Catherinewill not think the worse of you for being simply dressed. She likes to have the distinction of rankpreserved. While they were dressing, he came two or three times to their different doors, to recommend their beingquick, as Lady Catherine very much objected to be kept waiting for her dinner. Such formidable accountsof her Ladyship, and her manner of living, quite frightened Maria Lucas, who had been little used tocompany; and she looked forward to her introduction at Rosings with as much apprehension as her fatherhad 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 hasits beauty and its prospects; and Elizabeth saw much to be pleased with, though she could not be in suchraptures as Mr. Collins expected the scene to inspire, and was but slightly affected by his enumeration ofthe windows in front of the house, and his relation of what the glazing altogether had originally cost SirLewis de Bourgh. When they ascended the steps to the hall, Maria s alarm was every moment increasing, and even SirWilliam did not look perfectly calm. Elizabeth s courage did not fail her. She had heard nothing of LadyCatherine that spoke her awful from any extraordinary talents or miraculous virtue, and the merestateliness 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 andfinished ornaments, they followed the servants through an antechamber to the room where LadyCatherine, her daughter, and Mrs. Jenkinson were sitting. Her Ladyship, with great condescension, aroseto receive them; and as Mrs. Collins had settled it with her husband that the office of introduction shouldbe hers, it was performed in a proper manner, without any of those apologies and thanks which he wouldhave thought necessary. In spite of having been at St. James s, Sir William was so completely awed by the grandeur surroundinghim, that he had but just courage enough to make a very low bow, and take his seat without saying aword; and his daughter, frightened almost out of her senses, sat on the edge of her chair, not knowingwhich way to look. Elizabeth found herself quite equal to the scene, and could observe the three ladiesbefore her composedly. Lady Catherine was a tall, large woman, with strongly-marked features, whichmight once have been handsome. Her air was not conciliating, nor was her manner of receiving themsuch as to make her visitors forget their inferior rank. She was not rendered formidable by silence: butwhatever she said was spoken in so authoritative a tone as marked her self-importance, and brought immediately to Elizabeth s mind; and, from the observation of the day altogether, she believedLady Catherine to be exactly what he had represented. When, after examining the mother, in whose countenance and deportment she soon found someresemblance of Mr. Darcy, she turned her eyes on the daughter, she could almost have joined in Maria sastonishment at her being so thin and so small. There was neither in figure nor face any likeness betweenthe ladies. Miss De Bourgh was pale and sickly: her features, though not plain, were insignificant; andshe spoke very little, except in a low voice, to Mrs. Jenkinson, in whose appearance there was nothingremarkable, and who was entirely engaged in listening to what she said, and placing a screen in theproper direction before her eyes. After sitting a few minutes, they were all sent to one of the windows to admire the view, Mr. Collinsattending them to point out its beauties, and Lady Catherine kindly informing them that it was muchbetter worth looking at in the summer. The dinner was exceedingly handsome, and there were all the servants, and all the articles of platewhich Mr. Collins had promised; and, as he had likewise foretold, he took his seat at the bottom of thetable, by her Ladyship s desire, and looked as if he felt that life could furnish nothing greater. He carvedand ate and praised with delighted alacrity; and every dish was commended first by him, and then by SirWilliam, who was now enough recovered to echo whatever his son-in-law said, in a manner whichElizabeth wondered Lady Catherine could bear. But Lady Catherine seemed gratified by their excessiveadmiration, and gave most gracious smiles, especially when any dish on the table proved a novelty tothem. The party did not supply much conversation. Elizabeth was ready to speak whenever there was anopening, but she was seated between Charlotte and Miss De Bourgh the former of whom was engagedin listening to Lady Catherine, and the latter said not a word to her all dinner-time. Mrs. Jenkinson waschiefly employed in watching how little Miss De Bourgh ate, pressing her to try some other dish andfearing she was indisposed. Maria thought speaking out of the question, and the gentlemen did nothingbut eat and admire. When the ladies returned to the drawing-room, there was little to be done but to hear Lady Catherinetalk, which she did without any intermission till coffee came in, delivering her opinion on every subjectin so decisive a manner as proved that she was not used to have her judgment controverted. She inquiredinto Charlotte s domestic concerns familiarly and minutely, and gave her a great deal of advice as to themanagement of them all; told her how everything ought to be regulated in so small a family as hers, andinstructed her as to the care of her cows and her poultry. Elizabeth found that nothing was beneath thisgreat lady s attention which could furnish her with an occasion for dictating to others. In the intervals ofher discourse with Mrs. Collins, she addressed a variety of questions to Maria and Elizabeth, butespecially 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, whetherthey were handsome, where they had been educated, what carriage her father kept, and what had been hermother s maiden name? Elizabeth felt all the impertinence of her questions, but answered them verycomposedly. Lady Catherine then observed, Your father s estate is entailed on Mr. Collins, I think? For your sake, turning to Charlotte, I am gladof it; but otherwise I see no occasion for entailing estates from the female line. It was not thoughtnecessary in Sir Lewis de Bourgh s family. Do you play and sing, Miss Bennet? A little. Oh then some time or other we shall be happy to hear you. Our instrument is a capital one, probablysuperior 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 fatherhas not so good an income as yours. Do you draw? No, not at all. What, none of you? Not one. That is very strange. But I suppose you had no opportunity. Your mother should have taken you totown every spring for the benefit of masters. My mother would have no objection, but my father hates London. Has your governess left you? We never had any governess. No governess! How was that possible? Five daughters brought up at home without a governess! I neverheard 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. Then 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 themeans. We were always encouraged to read, and had all the masters that were necessary. Those whochose to be idle certainly might. Ay, no doubt: but that is what a governess will prevent; and if I had known your mother, I should haveadvised her most strenuously to engage one. I always say that nothing is to be done in education withoutsteady and regular instruction, and nobody but a governess can give it. It is wonderful how many familiesI have been the means of supplying in that way. I am always glad to get a young person well placed nieces of Mrs. Jenkinson are most delightfully situated through my means; and it was but the otherday that I recommended another young person, who was merely accidentally mentioned to me, and thefamily are quite delighted with her. Mrs. Collins, did I tell you of Lady Metcalfe s calling yesterday tothank me? She finds Miss Pope a treasure. Lady Catherine, said she, you have given me a treasure. Are any of your younger sisters out, Miss Bennet? Yes, ma am, all. All! What, all five out at once? Very odd! And you only the second. The younger ones out before theelder are married! Your younger sisters must be very young? Yes, my youngest is not sixteen. Perhaps she is full young to be much in company. But, really, ma am,I think it would be very hard upon younger sisters that they should not have their share of society andamusement, because the elder may not have the means or inclination to marry early. The last born has asgood a right to the pleasures of youth as the first. And to be kept back on such a motive! I think it wouldnot 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. Pray,what is your age? With three younger sisters grown up, replied Elizabeth, smiling, your Ladyship can hardly expect meto own it. Lady Catherine seemed quite astonished at not receiving a direct answer; and Elizabeth suspectedherself 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. Lady Catherine,Sir William, and Mr. and Mrs. Collins sat down to quadrille; and as Miss De Bourgh chose to play atcassino, the two girls had the honour of assisting Mrs. Jenkinson to make up her party. Their table wassuperlatively stupid. Scarcely a syllable was uttered that did not relate to the game, except when expressed her fears of Miss De Bourgh s being too hot or too cold, or having too much or toolittle light. A great deal more passed at the other table. Lady Catherine was generally speaking statingthe mistakes of the three others, or relating some anecdote of herself. Mr. Collins was employed inagreeing to everything her Ladyship said, thanking her for every fish he won, and apologising if hethought he won too many. Sir William did not say much. He was storing his memory with anecdotes andnoble names. When Lady Catherine and her daughter had played as long as they chose, the tables were broken up, thecarriage was offered to Mrs. Collins, gratefully accepted, and immediately ordered. The party thengathered round the fire to hear Lady Catherine determine what weather they were to have on the these instructions they were summoned by the arrival of the coach; and with many speeches ofthankfulness on Mr. Collins s side, and as many bows on Sir William s, they departed. As soon as theyhad driven from the door, Elizabeth was called on by her cousin to give her opinion of all that she hadseen at Rosings, which, for Charlotte s sake, she made more favourable than it really was. But hercommendation, though costing her some trouble, could by no means satisfy Mr. Collins, and he was verysoon obliged to take her Ladyship s praise into his own XXXSIR WILLIAM stayed only a week at Hunsford; but his visit was long enough to convince him of hisdaughter s being most comfortably settled, and of her possessing such a husband and such a neighbour aswere not often met with. While Sir William was with them, Mr. Collins devoted his mornings to drivinghim out in his gig, and showing him the country: but when he went away, the whole family returned totheir usual employments, and Elizabeth was thankful to find that they did not see more of her cousin bythe alteration; for the chief of the time between breakfast and dinner was now passed by him either atwork in the garden, or in reading and writing, and looking out of window in his own book room, whichfronted the road. The room in which the ladies sat was backwards. Elizabeth at first had rather wonderedthat Charlotte should not prefer the dining parlour for common use; it was a better sized room, and had apleasanter aspect: but she soon saw that her friend had an excellent reason for what she did, for 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 forthe knowledge of what carriages went along, and how often especially Miss De Bourgh drove by in herphaeton, which he never failed coming to inform them of, though it happened almost every day. She notinfrequently stopped at the parsonage, and had a few minutes conversation with Charlotte, but wasscarcely 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 didnot think it necessary to go likewise; and till Elizabeth recollected that there might be other familylivings to be disposed of, she could not understand the sacrifice of so many hours. Now and then theywere honoured with a call from her Ladyship, and nothing escaped her observation that was passing inthe room during these visits. She examined into their employments, looked at their work, and advisedthem to do it differently; found fault with the arrangement of the furniture, or detected the housemaid innegligence; and if she accepted any refreshment, seemed to do it only for the sake of finding out thatMrs. 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 thecountry, she was a most active magistrate in her own parish, the minutest concerns of which were carriedto her by Mr. Collins; and whenever any of the cottagers were disposed to be quarrelsome, discontented,or too poor, she sailed forth into the village to settle their differences, silence their complaints, and scoldthem into harmony and plenty. The entertainment of dining at Rosings was repeated about twice a week; and, allowing for the loss ofSir William, and there being only one card-table in the evening, every such entertainment was thecounterpart of the first. Their other engagements were few; as the style of living of the neighbourhood ingeneral was beyond the Collinses reach. This, however, was no evil to Elizabeth, and upon the wholeshe 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. Herfavourite walk, and where she frequently went while the others were calling on Lady Catherine, wasalong the open grove which edged that side of the park where there was a nice sheltered path, which noone 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 weekpreceding it was to bring an addition to the family at Rosings, which in so small a circle must beimportant. Elizabeth had heard, soon after her arrival, that Mr. Darcy was expected there in the course ofa few weeks; and though there were not many of her acquaintance whom she did not prefer, his comingwould furnish one comparatively new to look at in their Rosings parties, and she might be amused inseeing how hopeless Miss Bingley s designs on him were, by his behaviour to his cousin, for whom hewas evidently destined by Lady Catherine; who talked of his coming with the greatest satisfaction, spokeof him in terms of the highest admiration, and seemed almost angry to find that he had already beenfrequently seen by Miss Lucas and herself. His arrival was soon known at the Parsonage; for Mr. Collins was walking the whole morning withinview of the lodges opening into Hunsford Lane, in order to have the earliest assurance of it; and, aftermaking his bow as the carriage turned into the park, hurried home with the great intelligence. On thefollowing morning he hastened to Rosings to pay his respects. There were two nephews of LadyCatherine to require them, for Mr. Darcy had brought with him a Colonel Fitzwilliam, the younger son ofhis uncle Lord ; and, to the great surprise of all the party, when Mr. Collins returned, the gentlemanaccompanied him. Charlotte had seen them from her husband s room, crossing the road, and immediatelyrunning into the other, told the girls what an honour they might expect, adding, I may thank you, Eliza, for this piece of civility. Mr. Darcy would never have come so soon to waitupon me. Elizabeth had scarcely time to disclaim all right to the compliment before their approach wasannounced by the doorbell, and shortly afterwards the three gentlemen entered the room. ColonelFitzwilliam, who led the way, was about thirty, not handsome, but in person and address most truly thegentleman. 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 herwith every appearance of composure. Elizabeth merely courtesied 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 andgarden to Mrs. Collins, sat for some time without speaking to anybody. At length, however, his civilitywas so far awakened as to inquire of Elizabeth after the health of her family. She answered him in theusual way; and, after a moment s pause, added, 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 anyconsciousness of what had passed between the Bingleys and Jane; and she thought he looked a littleconfused as he answered that he had never been so fortunate as to meet Miss Bennet. The subject waspursued no further, and the gentlemen soon afterwards went XXXICOLONEL FITZWILLIAM S manners were very much admired at the Parsonage, and the ladies all feltthat he must add considerably to the pleasure of their engagements at Rosings. It was some days,however, before they received any invitation thither, for while there were visitors in the house they couldnot be necessary; and it was not till Easter-day, almost a week after the gentlemen s arrival, that weremerely asked on leaving church to come there in the evening. For the last week they had seen very littleof either Lady Catherine or her daughter. Colonel Fitzwilliam had called at the Parsonage more than onceduring 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 sdrawing-room. Her Ladyship received them civilly, but it was plain that their company was by no meansso acceptable as when she could get nobody else; and she was, in fact, 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: anything 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 byher, and talked so agreeably of Kent and Hertfordshire, of travelling and staying at home, of new booksand music, that Elizabeth had never been half so well entertained in that room before; and they conversedwith so much spirit and flow as to draw the attention of Lady Catherine herself, as well as of Mr. eyes had been soon and repeatedly turned towards them with a look of curiosity; and that herLadyship, after a while, shared the feeling, was more openly acknowledged, for she did not scruple tocall out, What is that you are saying, Fitzwilliam? What is it you are talking of? What are you telling MissBennet? Let me hear what it is. We are speaking of music, madam, said he, when no longer able to avoid a reply. Of music! Then pray speak aloud. It is of all subjects my delight. I must have my share in theconversation, if you are speaking of music. There are few people in England, I suppose, who have moretrue enjoyment of music than myself, or a better natural taste. If I had ever learnt, I should have been agreat proficient. And so would Anne, if her health had allowed her to apply. I am confident that shewould have performed delightfully. How does Georgiana get on, Darcy? 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, madam, he replied, 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 toneglect it on any account. I often tell young ladies that no excellence in music is to be acquired withoutconstant practice. I have told Miss Bennet several times that she will never play really well unless shepractises 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 pianoforte in Mrs. Jenkinson s room. She would be innobody s way, you know, 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; andshe sat down directly to the instrument. He drew a chair near her. Lady Catherine listened to half a song,and then talked, as before, to her other nephew; till the latter walked away from her, and, moving withhis usual deliberation towards the pianoforte, stationed himself so as to command a full view of the fairperformer s countenance. Elizabeth saw what he was doing, and at the first convenient pause turned tohim with an arch smile, and said, You mean to frighten me, Mr. Darcy, by coming in all this state to hear me. But I will not be alarmedthough your sister does play so well. There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to befrightened at the will of others. My courage always rises with every attempt to intimidate me. I shall not say that you are mistaken, he replied, because you could not really believe me to entertainany design of alarming you; and I have had the pleasure of your acquaintance long enough to know thatyou 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 willgive you a very pretty notion of me, and teach you not to believe a word I say. I am particularly unluckyin meeting with a person so well able to expose my real character, in a part of the world where I hadhoped to pass myself off with some degree of credit. Indeed, Mr. Darcy, it is very ungenerous in you tomention all that you knew to my disadvantage in Hertfordshire and, give me leave to say, veryimpolitic too for it is provoking me to retaliate, and such things may come out as will shock yourrelations to hear. I am not afraid of you, said he, smilingly. Pray let me hear what you have to accuse him of, cried Colonel Fitzwilliam. I should like to knowhow he behaves among strangers. You shall hear, then but prepare for something very dreadful. The first time of my ever seeing him inHertfordshire, you must know, was at a ball and at this ball, what do you think he did? He danced onlyfour dances! I am sorry to pain you, but so it was. He danced only four dances, though gentlemen werescarce; and, to my certain knowledge, more than one young lady was sitting down in want of a Darcy, you cannot deny the fact. I had not at that time the honour of knowing any lady in the assembly beyond my own party. True; and nobody can ever be introduced in a ballroom. Well, Colonel Fitzwilliam, what do I playnext? My fingers wait your orders. Perhaps, said Darcy, I should have judged better had I sought an introduction, but I am ill qualified torecommend myself to strangers. Shall we ask your cousin the reason of this? said Elizabeth, 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 torecommend himself to strangers? I can answer your question, said Fitzwilliam, without applying to him. It is because he will not givehimself the trouble. I certainly have not the talent which some people possess, said Darcy, of conversing easily with thoseI have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concernsas I often see done. My fingers, said Elizabeth, do not move over this instrument in the masterly manner which I see somany women s do. They have not the same force or rapidity, and do not produce the same then I have always supposed it to be my own fault because I would not take the trouble ofpractising. It is not that I do not believe my fingers as capable as any other woman s of superiorexecution. Darcy smiled and said, You are perfectly right. You have employed your time much better. No oneadmitted to the privilege of hearing you can think anything wanting. We neither of us perform tostrangers. Here they were interrupted by Lady Catherine, who called out to know what they were talking immediately began playing again. Lady Catherine approached, and, after listening for a fewminutes, said to Darcy, Miss Bennet would not play at all amiss if she practised more, and could have the advantage of aLondon master. She has a very good notion of fingering, though her taste is not equal to Anne s. Annewould 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 thatmoment nor at any other could she discern any symptom of love; and from the whole of his behaviour toMiss De Bourgh she derived this comfort for Miss Bingley, that he might have been just as likely tomarry her, had she been his relation. Lady Catherine continued her remarks on Elizabeth s performance, mixing with them many instructionson execution and taste. Elizabeth received them with all the forbearance of civility; and at the request ofthe gentlemen remained at the instrument till her Ladyship s carriage was ready to take them all XXXIIELIZABETH was sitting by herself the next morning, and writing to Jane, while Mrs. Collins and Mariawere gone on business into the village, when she was startled by a ring at the door, the certain signal of avisitor. As she had heard no carriage, she thought it not unlikely to be Lady Catherine; and under thatapprehension was putting away her half-finished letter, that she might escape all impertinent questions,when the door opened, and to her very great surprise Mr. Darcy, and Mr. Darcy only, entered the room. He seemed astonished too on finding her alone, and apologised for his intrusion, by letting her knowthat he had understood all the ladies to be within. They then sat down, and when her inquiries after Rosings were made, seemed in danger of sinking intototal silence. It was absolutely necessary, therefore, to think of something; and in this emergencyrecollecting when she had seen him last in Hertfordshire, and feeling curious to know what he would sayon the subject of their hasty departure, she observed, How very suddenly you all quitted Netherfield last November, Mr. Darcy! It must have been a mostagreeable surprise to Mr. Bingley to see you all after him so soon; for, if I recollect right, he went but theday before. He and his sisters were well, I hope, when you left London? Perfectly so, I thank you. She found that she was to receive no other answer; and, after a short pause, added, 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 infuture. He has many friends, and he is at a time of life when friends and engagements are continuallyincreasing. If he means to be but little at Netherfield, it would be better for the neighbourhood that he should giveup the place entirely, for then we might possibly get a settled family there. But, perhaps, Mr. Bingley didnot take the house so much for the convenience of the neighbourhood as for his own, and we must expecthim to keep or quit it on the same principle. I should not be surprised, said Darcy, 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; and, having nothing else tosay, 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. Lady Catherine, I believe,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. Yes, indeed; his friends may well rejoice in his having met with one of the very few sensible womenwho would have accepted him, or have made him happy if they had. My friend has an excellentunderstanding though I am not certain that I consider her marrying Mr. Collins as the wisest thing sheever did. She seems perfectly happy, however; and, in a prudential light, it is certainly a very good matchfor 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. Yes, I call it a very easydistance. I should never have considered the distance as one of the advantages of the match, cried Elizabeth. Ishould never have said Mrs. Collins was settled near her family. It is a proof of your own attachment to Hertfordshire. Anything beyond the very neighbourhood ofLongbourn, I suppose, would appear far. As he spoke there was a sort of smile, which Elizabeth fancied she understood; he must be supposingher 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 berelative, and depend on many varying circumstances. Where there is fortune to make the expense oftravelling unimportant, distance becomes no evil. But that is not the case here. Mr. and Mrs. Collins havea comfortable income, but not such a one as will allow of frequent journeys and I am persuaded myfriend would not call herself near her family under less than half the present distance. Mr. Darcy drew his chair a little towards her, and said, You cannot have a right to such very stronglocal 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, and, glancing over it, said, 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 anend to by the entrance of Charlotte and her sister, just returned from their walk. The t te- -t te surprisedthem. Mr. Darcy related the mistake which had occasioned his intruding on Miss Bennet, and, aftersitting a few minutes longer, without saying much to anybody, went away. What can be the meaning of this? said Charlotte, as soon as he was gone. My dear Eliza, he must bein 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 thecase; and, after various conjectures, they could at last only suppose his visit to proceed from thedifficulty of finding anything to do, which was the more probable from the time of year. All field sportswere over. Within doors there was Lady Catherine, books, and a billiard table, but gentlemen cannot bealways within doors; and in the nearness of the Parsonage, or the pleasantness of the walk to it, or of thepeople who lived in it, the two cousins found a temptation from this period of walking thither almostevery day. They called at various times of the morning, sometimes separately, sometimes together, andnow and then accompanied by their aunt. It was plain to them all that Colonel Fitzwilliam came becausehe had pleasure in their society, a persuasion which of course recommended him still more; andElizabeth was reminded by her own satisfaction in being with him, as well as by his evident admirationof her former favourite, George Wickham; and though, in comparing them, she saw there was lesscaptivating softness in Colonel Fitzwilliam s manners, she saw believed he might have the best informedmind. But why Mr. Darcy came so often to the Parsonage it was more difficult to understand. It could not befor society, as he frequently sat there ten minutes together without opening his lips; and when he didspeak, it seemed the effect of necessity rather than of choice a sacrifice to propriety, not a pleasure tohimself. He seldom appeared really animated. Mrs. Collins knew not what to make of him. ColonelFitzwilliam s occasionally laughing at his stupidity proved that he was generally different, which herown knowledge of him could not have told her; and as she would have liked to believe this change theeffect of love, and the object of that love her friend Eliza, she set herself seriously to work to find it out;she watched him whenever they were at Rosings, and whenever he came to Hunsford; but without muchsuccess. He certainly looked at her friend a great deal, but the expression of that look was disputable. Itwas an earnest, steadfast gaze, but she often doubted whether there were much admiration in it, andsometimes it seemed nothing but absence of mind. She had once or twice suggested to Elizabeth the possibility of his being partial to her, but Elizabethalways laughed at the idea; and Mrs. Collins did not think it right to press the subject, from the danger ofraising expectations which might only end in disappointment; for in her opinion it admitted not of adoubt, 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 mosteligible; but, to counterbalance these advantages, Mr. Darcy had considerable patronage in the church,and his cousin could have none at XXXIIIMORE than once did Elizabeth, in her ramble within the park, unexpectedly meet Mr. Darcy. She felt allthe perverseness of the mischance that should bring him where no one else was brought; and, to preventits ever happening again, took care to inform him, at first, that it was a favourite haunt of hers. How itcould occur a second time, therefore, was very odd! Yet it did, and even the third. It seemed like wilfulill-nature, or a voluntary penance; for on these occasions is was not merely a few formal inquiries and anawkward pause and then away, but he actually thought it necessary to turn back and walk with her. Henever said a great deal, nor did she give herself the trouble of talking or of listening much; but it struckher in the course of their third encounter that he was asking some odd unconnected questions about herpleasure in being at Hunsford, her love of solitary walks, and her opinion of Mr. and Mrs. Collins shappiness; and that in speaking of Rosings, and her not perfectly understanding the house, he seemed toexpect that whenever she came into Kent again she would be staying there too. His words seemed toimply it. Could he have Colonel Fitzwilliam in his thoughts? She supposed, if he meant anything, hemust mean an allusion to what might arise in that quarter. It distressed her a little, and she was quite gladto find herself at the gate in the pales opposite the Parsonage. She was engaged one day, as she walked, in reperusing Jane s last letter, and dwelling on somepassages which proved that Jane had not written in spirits, when, instead of being again surprised by , she saw, on looking up, that Colonel Fitzwilliam was meeting her. Putting away the letterimmediately, and forcing a smile, she said, I did not know before that you ever walked this way. I have been making the tour of the park, he replied, as I generally do every year, and intended toclose it with a call at the Parsonage. Are you going much farther? No, 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? said she. Yes if Darcy does not put it off again. But I am at his disposal. He arranges the business just as hepleases. And if not able to please himself in the arrangement, he has at least great pleasure in the power ofchoice. I do not know anybody who seems more to enjoy the power of doing what he likes than He likes to have his own way very well, replied Colonel Fitzwilliam. But so we all do. It is only thathe has better means of having it than many others, because he is rich, and many others are poor. I speakfeelingly. A younger son, you know, must be inured to self-denial and dependence. In my opinion, the younger son of an earl can know very little of either. Now, seriously, what have youever known of self-denial and dependence? When have you been prevented by want of money fromgoing wherever you chose or procuring anything you had a fancy for? These are home questions and perhaps I cannot say that I have experienced many hardships of thatnature. But in matters of greater weight I may suffer from the want of money. Younger sons cannotmarry where they like. Unless where they like women of fortune, which I think they very often do. Our habits of expense make us too dependent, and there are not many in my rank of life who can affordto marry without some attention to money. Is this, thought Elizabeth, meant for me? and she coloured at the idea; but, recovering herself, said ina lively tone, And pray, what is the usual price of an earl s younger son? Unless the elder brother is verysickly, 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 makehim 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 hisdisposal. I wonder he does not marry, to secure a lasting convenience of that kind. But, perhaps, his sisterdoes as well for the present; and, as she is under his sole care, he may do what he likes with her. No, said Colonel Fitzwilliam, that is an advantage which he must divide with me. I am joined withhim in the guardianship of Miss Darcy. Are you indeed? And pray what sort of a guardian do you make? Does your charge give you muchtrouble? Young ladies of her age are sometimes a little difficult to manage; and if she has the true Darcyspirit, she may like to have her own way. As she spoke, she observed him looking at her earnestly; and the manner in which he immediatelyasked her why she supposed Miss Darcy likely to give them any uneasiness, convinced her that she hadsomehow or other got pretty near the truth. She directly replied, You need not be frightened. I never heard any harm of her; and I daresay she is one of the mosttractable creatures in the world. She is a very great favourite with some ladies of my acquaintance, and Miss Bingley. I think I have heard you say that you know them. I know them a little. Their brother is a pleasant, gentlemanlike man he is a great friend of Darcy s. Oh yes, said Elizabeth drily Mr. Darcy is uncommonly kind to Mr. Bingley, and takes a prodigiousdeal of care of him. Care of him! Yes, I really believe Darcy does take care of him in those points where he most wantscare. From something that he told me in our journey hither, I have reason to think Bingley very muchindebted to him. But I ought to beg his pardon, for I have no right to suppose that Bingley was the personmeant. It was all conjecture. What is it you mean? It is a circumstance which Darcy of course could not wish to be generally known, because if it were toget 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 wasmerely this: that he congratulated himself on having lately saved a friend from the inconveniences of amost imprudent marriage, but without mentioning names or any other particulars; and I only suspected itto be Bingley from believing him the kind of young man to get into a scrape of that sort, and fromknowing 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 toldyou. Elizabeth made no answer, and walked on, her heart swelling with indignation. After watching her alittle, Fitzwilliam asked her why she was so thoughtful. I am thinking of what you have been telling me, said she. Your cousin s conduct does not suit myfeelings. 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; or why,upon his own judgment alone, he was to determine and direct in what manner that friend was to behappy. But, she continued, recollecting herself, as we know none of the particulars, it is not fair tocondemn him. It is not to be supposed that there was much affection in the case. That is not an unnatural surmise, said Fitzwilliam; but it is lessening the honour of my cousin striumph very sadly. This was spoken jestingly, but it appeared to her so just a picture of Mr. Darcy, that she would not trustherself with an answer; and, therefore, abruptly changing the conversation, talked on indifferent matterstill they reached the Parsonage. There, shut into her own room, as soon as their visitor left them, shecould think without interruption of all that she had heard. It was not to be supposed that any other peoplecould be meant than those with whom she was connected. There could not exist in the world two menover whom Mr. Darcy could have such boundless influence. That he had been concerned in the measurestaken to separate Mr. Bingley and Jane, she had never doubted; but she had always attributed to MissBingley the principal design and arrangement of them. If his own vanity, however, did not mislead him,he was the cause his pride and caprice were the cause of all that Jane had suffered, and still continuedto suffer. He had ruined for a while every hope of happiness for the most affectionate, generous heart inthe 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 thesestrong objections probably were, her having one uncle who was a country attorney, and another who wasin business in London. To Jane herself, she exclaimed, there could be no possibility of objection, all loveliness andgoodness as she is! Her understanding excellent, her mind improved, and her manners could anything be urged against my father, who, though with some peculiarities, has abilitieswhich Mr. Darcy himself need not disdain, and respectability which he will probably never reach. Whenshe thought of her mother, indeed, her confidence gave way a little; but she would not allow that anyobjections there had material weight with Mr. Darcy, whose pride, she was convinced, would receive adeeper wound from the want of importance in his friend s connections than from their want of sense; andshe was quite decided, as last, that he had been partly governed by this worst kind of pride, and partly bythe 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 worsetowards the evening that, added to her unwillingness to see Mr. Darcy, it determined her not to attend hercousins to Rosings, where they were engaged to drink tea. Mrs. Collins, seeing that she was reallyunwell, did not press her to go, and as much as possible prevented her husband from pressing her; butMr. Collins could not conceal his apprehension of Lady Catherine s being rather displeased by herstaying at XXXIVWHEN they were gone, Elizabeth, as if intending to exasperate herself as much as possible against , chose for her employment the examination of all the letters which Jane had written to her sinceher being in Kent. They contained no actual complaint, nor was there any revival of past occurrences, orany communication of present suffering. But in all, and in almost every line of each, there was a want ofthat cheerfulness which had been used to characterise her style, and which, proceeding from the serenityof a mind at ease with itself, and kindly disposed towards every one, had been scarcely ever noticed every sentence conveying the idea of uneasiness, with an attention which it had hardlyreceived on the first perusal. Mr. Darcy s shameful boast of what misery he had been able to inflict gaveher a keener sense of her sister s sufferings. It was some consolation to think that his visit to Rosings wasto end on the day after the next, and a still greater that in less than a fortnight she should herself be withJane 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, shedid 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 alittle fluttered by the idea of its being Colonel Fitzwilliam himself, who had once before called late in theevening, and might now come to inquire particularly after her. But this idea was soon banished, and herspirits were very differently affected, when, to her utter amazement, she saw Mr. Darcy walk into theroom. In a hurried manner he immediately began an inquiry after her health, imputing his visit to a wishof hearing that she were better. She answered him with cold civility. He sat down for a few moments, andthen getting up, walked about the room. Elizabeth was surprised, but said not a word. After a silence ofseveral 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 tellyou how ardently I admire and love you. Elizabeth s astonishment was beyond expression. She stared, coloured, doubted, and was silent. This heconsidered sufficient encouragement, and the avowal of all that he felt and had long felt for herimmediately followed. 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, ofits being a degradation, of the family obstacles which judgment had always opposed to inclination, weredwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding, but was very unlikelyto recommend his suit. In spite of her deeply-rooted dislike, she could not be insensible to the compliment of such a man saffection, and though her intentions did not vary for an instant, she was at first sorry for the pain he wasto receive; till, roused to resentment by his subsequent language, she lost all compassion in anger. Shetried, however, to compose herself to answer him with patience, when he should have done. Heconcluded 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 heracceptance of his hand. As he said this she could easily see that he had no doubt of a favourable spoke of apprehension and anxiety, but his countenance expressed real security. Such a circumstancecould only exasperate farther; and when he ceased the colour rose into her cheeks and she said, In such cases as this, it is, I believe, the established mode to express a sense of obligation for thesentiments 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 goodopinion, and you have certainly bestowed it most unwillingly. I am sorry to have occasioned pain to anyone. It has been most unconsciously done, however, and I hope will be of short duration. The feelingswhich you tell me have long prevented the acknowledgment of your regard can have little difficulty inovercoming it after this explanation. Mr. Darcy, who was leaning against the mantelpiece with his eyes fixed on her face, seemed to catchher words with no less resentment than surprise. His complexion became pale with anger, and thedisturbance 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 sfeelings dreadful. At length, in a voice of forced calmness, he said, And this is all the reply which I am to have the honour of expecting! I might, perhaps, wish to beinformed why, with so little endeavour at civility, I am thus rejected. But it is of small importance. I might as well inquire, replied she, why, with so evident a design of offending and insulting me, youchose to tell me that you liked me against your will, against your reason, and even against yourcharacter? Was not this some excuse for incivility, if I was uncivil? But I have other provocations. Youknow I have. Had not my own feelings decided against you, had they been indifferent, or had they evenbeen favourable, do you think that any consideration would tempt me to accept the man who has been themeans 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 listenedwithout 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 ungenerouspart you acted there. You dare not, you cannot, deny that you have been the principal, if not the onlymeans of dividing them from each other, of exposing one to the censure of the world for caprice andinstability, the other to its derision for disappointed hopes, and involving them both in misery of theacutest kind. She paused, and saw with no slight indignation that he was listening with an air which proved himwholly 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? she repeated. With assumed tranquillity he then replied, I have no wish of denying that I did everything in my powerto separate my friend from your sister, or that I rejoice in my success. Towards him I have been kinderthan towards myself. Elizabeth disdained the appearance of noticing this civil reflection, but its meaning did not escape, norwas it likely to conciliate her. But it is not merely this affair, she continued, on which my dislike is founded. Long before it hadtaken place, my opinion of you was decided. Your character was unfolded in the recital which I receivedmany months ago from Mr. Wickham. On this subject, what can you have to say? In what imaginary actof friendship can you here defend yourself? or under what misrepresentation can you here impose uponothers? You take an eager interest in that gentleman s concerns, said Darcy, in a less tranquil tone, and with aheightened colour. Who that knows what his misfortunes have been can help feeling an interest in him? His misfortunes! repeated Darcy, contemptuously, yes, his misfortunes have been great indeed. And of your infliction, cried Elizabeth, with energy. You have reduced him to his present state ofpoverty comparative poverty. You have withheld the advantages which you must know to have beendesigned for him. You have deprived the best years of his life of that independence which was no less hisdue that his desert. You have done all this! and yet you can treat the mention of his misfortunes withcontempt and ridicule. And this, cried Darcy, as he walked with quick steps across the room, is your opinion of me! This isthe estimation in which you hold me! I thank you for explaining it so fully. My faults, according to thiscalculation, are heavy indeed! But, perhaps, added he, 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 thescruples that had long prevented my forming any serious design. These bitter accusations might havebeen suppressed, had I, with greater policy, concealed my struggles, and flattered you into the belief ofmy being impelled by unqualified, unalloyed inclination; by reason, by reflection, by everything. Butdisguise of every sort is my abhorrence. Nor am I ashamed of the feelings I related. They were naturaland just. Could you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your connections? To congratulate myselfon 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 withcomposure when she said, You are mistaken, Mr. Darcy, if you suppose that the mode of your declaration affected me in anyother way than as it spared me the concern which I might have felt in refusing you, had you behaved in amore gentlemanlike 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 meto accept it. Again his astonishment was obvious; and he looked at her with an expression of mingled incredulityand mortification. She went on, From the very beginning, from the first moment, I may almost say, of my acquaintance with you, yourmanners, impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdainof the feelings of others, were such as to form that groundwork of disapprobation on which succeedingevents have built so immovable a dislike; and I had not known you a month before I felt that you werethe last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry. You have said quite enough, madam. I perfectly comprehend your feelings, and have now only to beashamed of what my own have been. Forgive me for having taken up so much of your time, and acceptmy 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 frontdoor and quit the house. The tumult of her mind was now painfully great. She knew not how to supportherself, and, from actual weakness, sat down and cried for half an hour. Her astonishment, as shereflected on what had passed, was increased by every review of it. That she should receive an offer ofmarriage from Mr. Darcy! that he should have been in love with her for so many months! so much inlove as to wish to marry her in spite of all the objections which had made him prevent his friend smarrying her sister, and which must appear at least with equal force in his own case, was almostincredible! it was gratifying to have inspired unconsciously so strong an affection. But his pride, hisabominable pride, his shameless avowal of what he had done with respect to Jane, his unpardonableassurance in acknowledging, though he could not justify it, and the unfeeling manner in which he hadmentioned Mr. Wickham, his cruelty towards whom he had not attempted to deny, soon overcame thepity 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 feelhow unequal she was to encounter Charlotte s observation, and hurried her away to her XXXVELIZABETH awoke the next morning to the same thoughts and meditations which had at length closedher eyes. She could not yet recover from the surprise of what had happened: it was impossible to think ofanything else; and, totally indisposed for employment, she resolved soon after breakfast to indulgeherself in air and exercise. She was proceeding directly to her favourite walk, when the recollection ofMr. Darcy s sometimes coming there stopped her, and instead of entering the park, she turned up the lanewhich led her farther from the turnpike road. The park paling was still the boundary on one side, and shesoon 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 themorning, to stop at the gates and look into the park. The five weeks which she had now passed in Kenthad made a great difference in the country, and every day was adding to the verdure of the early was on the point of continuing her walk, when she caught a glimpse of a gentleman within the sort ofgrove which edged the park: he was moving that way; and fearful of its being Mr. Darcy, she wasdirectly retreating. But the person who advanced was now near enough to see her, and stepping forwardwith eagerness pronounced her name. She had turned away; but on hearing herself called, though in avoice which proved it to be Mr. Darcy, she moved again towards the gate. He had by that time reached italso; and, holding out a letter, which she instinctively took, said, with a look of haughty composure, Ihave been walking in the grove some time, in the hope of meeting you. Will you do me the honour ofreading that letter? and then, with a slight bow, turned again into the plantation, and was soon out ofsight. With no expectation of pleasure, but with the strongest curiosity, Elizabeth opened the letter, and to herstill increasing wonder, perceived an envelope containing two sheets of letter paper, written quitethrough, in a very close hand. The envelope itself was likewise full. Pursuing her way along the lane, shethen began it. It was dated from Rosings, at eight o clock in the morning, and was as follows: Be not alarmed, madam, on receiving this letter, by the apprehension of its containing anyrepetition of those sentiments, or renewal of those offers, which were last night sodisgusting to you. I write without any intention of paining you, or humbling myself, bydwelling on wishes, which, for the happiness of both, cannot be too soon forgotten; and theeffort which the formation and the perusal of this letter must occasion should have beenspared, had not my character required it to be written and read. You must, therefore, pardonthe freedom with which I demand your attention; your feelings, I know, will bestow itunwillingly, but I demand it of your justice. Two offences of a very different nature, and by no means of equal magnitude, you lastnight laid to my charge. The first mentioned was, that, regardless of the sentiments of either,I had detached Mr. Bingley from your sister, and the other, that I had, in defiance ofvarious claims, in defiance of honour and humanity, ruined the immediate prosperity andblasted the prospects of Mr. Wickham Wilfully and wantonly to have thrown off thecompanion of my youth, the acknowledged favourite of my father, a young man who hadscarcely any other dependence than on our patronage, and who had been brought up toexpect its exertion, would be a depravity, to which the separation of two young personswhose affection could be the growth of only a few weeks could bear no comparison. Butfrom the severity of that blame which was last night so liberally bestowed, respecting eachcircumstance, I shall hope to be in future secured, when the following account of my actionsand their motives has been read. If, in the explanation of them which is due to myself, I amunder the necessity of relating feelings which may be offensive to yours, I can only say thatI am sorry. The necessity must be obeyed, and further apology would be absurd. I had notbeen long in Hertfordshire before I saw, in common with others, that Bingley preferred yourelder sister to any other young woman in the country. But it was not till the evening of thedance at Netherfield that I had any apprehension of his feeling a serious attachment. I hadoften seen him in love before. At that ball, while I had the honour of dancing with you, Iwas first made acquainted, by Sir William Lucas s accidental information, that Bingley sattentions to your sister had given rise to a general expectation of their marriage. He spokeof it as a certain event, of which the time alone could be undecided. From that moment Iobserved my friend s behaviour attentively; and I could then perceive that his partiality forMiss Bennet was beyond what I had ever witnessed in him. Your sister I also watched. Herlook and manners were open, cheerful, and engaging as ever, but without any symptom ofpeculiar regard; and I remained convinced, from the evening s scrutiny, that though shereceived his attentions with pleasure, she did not invite them by any participation ofsentiment. If you have not been mistaken here, I must have been in an error. Your superiorknowledge of your sister must make the latter probable. If it be so, if I have been misled bysuch error to inflict pain on her, your resentment has not been unreasonable. But I shall notscruple to assert that the serenity of your sister s countenance and air was such as mighthave given the most acute observer a conviction that, however amiable her temper, her heartwas not likely to be easily touched. That I was desirous of believing her indifferent iscertain; but I will venture to say that my investigations and decisions are not usuallyinfluenced by my hopes or fears. I did not believe her to be indifferent because I wished it; Ibelieved it on impartial conviction, as truly as I wished it in reason. My objections to themarriage were not merely those which I last night acknowledged to have required the utmostforce of passion to put aside in my own case; the want of connection could not be so greatan evil to my friend as to me. But there were other causes of repugnance; causes which,though still existing, and existing to an equal degree in both instances, I had myselfendeavoured to forget, because they were not immediately before me. These causes must bestated, though briefly. The situation of your mother s family, though objectionable, wasnothing in comparison of that total want of propriety so frequently, so almost uniformlybetrayed by herself, by your three younger sisters, and occasionally even by yourfather: pardon me, it pains me to offend you. But amidst your concern for the defects ofyour nearest relations, and your displeasure at this representation of them, let it give youconsolation to consider that to have conducted yourselves so as to avoid any share of thelike censure is praise no less generally bestowed on you and your elder sister than it ishonourable to the sense and disposition of both. I will only say, farther, that from whatpassed that evening my opinion of all parties was confirmed, and every inducementheightened, which could have led me before to preserve my friend from what I esteemed amost unhappy connection. He left Netherfield for London on the day following, as you, I amcertain, remember, with the design of soon returning. The part which I acted is now to beexplained. His sisters uneasiness had been equally excited with my own: our coincidence offeeling was soon discovered; and, alike sensible that no time was to be lost in detachingtheir brother, we shortly resolved on joining him directly in London. We accordinglywent and there I readily engaged in the office of pointing out to my friend the certain evilsof such a choice. I described and enforced them earnestly. But however this remonstrancemight have staggered or delayed his determination, I do not suppose that it would ultimatelyhave prevented the marriage, had it not been seconded by the assurance, which I hesitatednot in giving, of your sister s indifference. He had before believed her to return his affectionwith sincere, if not with equal, regard. But Bingley has great natural modesty, with astronger dependence on my judgment than on his own. To convince him, therefore, that hehad deceived himself was no very difficult point. To persuade him against returning intoHertfordshire, when that conviction had been given, was scarcely the work of a moment. Icannot blame myself for having done thus much. There is but one part of my conduct, in thewhole affair, on which I do not reflect with satisfaction; it is that I condescended to adoptthe measures of art so far as to conceal from him your sister s being in town. I knew itmyself, as it was known to Miss Bingley; but her brother is even yet ignorant of it. That theymight have met without ill consequence is, perhaps, probable; but his regard did not appearto me enough extinguished for him to see her without some danger. Perhaps thisconcealment, this disguise, was beneath me. It is done, however, and it was done for thebest. On this subject I have nothing more to say, no other apology to offer. If I havewounded your sister s feelings, it was unknowingly done; and though the motives whichgoverned me may to you very naturally appear insufficient, I have not yet learnt to condemnthem. With respect to that other, more weighty accusation, of having injured , I can only refute it by laying before you the whole of his connection with myfamily. Of what he has particularly accused me I am ignorant; but of the truth of what Ishall relate I can summon more than one witness of undoubted veracity. Mr. Wickham is theson of a very respectable man, who had for many years the management of all thePemberley estates, and whose good conduct in the discharge of his trust naturally inclinedmy father to be of service to him; and on George Wickham, who was his godson, hiskindness was therefore liberally bestowed. My father supported him at school, andafterwards at Cambridge; most important assistance, as his own father, always poor from theextravagance of his wife, would have been unable to give him a gentleman s education. Myfather was not only fond of this young man s society, whose manners were alwaysengaging, he had also the highest opinion of him, and hoping the church would be hisprofession, intended to provide for him in it. As for myself, it is many, many years since Ifirst began to think of him in a very different manner. The vicious propensities, the want ofprinciple, which he was careful to guard from the knowledge of his best friend, could notescape the observation of a young man of nearly the same age with himself, and who hadopportunities of seeing him in unguarded moments, which Mr. Darcy could not have. Hereagain I shall give you pain to what degree you only can tell. But whatever may be thesentiments which Mr. Wickham has created, a suspicion of their nature shall not prevent mefrom unfolding his real character. It adds even another motive. My excellent father diedabout five years ago; and his attachment to Mr. Wickham was to the last so steady, that inhis will he particularly recommended it to me to promote his advancement in the bestmanner that his profession might allow, and if he took orders, desired that a valuable familyliving might be his as soon as it became vacant. There was also a legacy of one thousandpounds. His own father did not long survive mine; and within half a year from these eventsMr. Wickham wrote to inform me that, having finally resolved against taking orders, hehoped I should not think it unreasonable for him to expect some more immediate pecuniaryadvantage, in lieu of the preferment, by which he could not be benefited. He had someintention, he added, of studying the law, and I must be aware that the interest of onethousand pounds would be a very insufficient support therein. I rather wished than believedhim to be sincere; but, at any rate, was perfectly ready to accede to his proposal. I knew thatMr. Wickham ought not to be a clergyman. The business was therefore soon settled. Heresigned all claim to assistance in the church, were it possible that he could ever be in asituation to receive it, and accepted in return three thousand pounds. All connection betweenus seemed now dissolved. I thought too ill of him to invite him to Pemberley, or admit hissociety in town. In town, I believe, he chiefly lived, but his studying the law was a merepretence; and being now free from all restraint, his life was a life of idleness and about three years I heard little of him; but on the decease of the incumbent of the livingwhich had been designed for him, he applied to me again by letter for the presentation. Hiscircumstances, he assured me, and I had no difficulty in believing it, were exceedingly had found the law a most unprofitable study, and was now absolutely resolved on beingordained, if I would present him to the living in question of which he trusted there couldbe little doubt, as he was well assured that I had no other person to provide for, and I couldnot have forgotten my revered father s intentions. You will hardly blame me for refusing tocomply with this entreaty, or for resisting every repetition of it. His resentment was inproportion to the distress of his circumstances and he was doubtless as violent in his abuseof me to others as in his reproaches to myself. After this period, every appearance ofacquaintance was dropped. How he lived, I know not. But last summer he was again mostpainfully obtruded on my notice. I must now mention a circumstance which I would wish toforget myself, and which no obligation less than the present should induce me to unfold toany human being. Having said thus much, I feel no doubt of your secrecy. My sister, who ismore than ten years my junior, was left to the guardianship of my mother s nephew, ColonelFitzwilliam, and myself. About a year ago, she was taken from school, and an establishmentformed for her in London; and last summer she went with the lady who presided over it toRamsgate; and thither also went Mr. Wickham, undoubtedly by design; for there proved tohave been a prior acquaintance between him and Mrs. Younge, in whose character we weremost unhappily deceived; and by her connivance and aid he so far recommended himself toGeorgiana, whose affectionate heart retained a strong impression of his kindness to her as achild, that she was persuaded to believe herself in love and to consent to an elopement. Shewas then but fifteen, which must be her excuse; and after stating her imprudence, I amhappy to add that I owed the knowledge of it to herself. I joined them unexpectedly a day ortwo before the intended elopement; and then Georgiana, unable to support the idea ofgrieving and offending a brother whom she almost looked up to as a father, acknowledgedthe whole to me. You may imagine what I felt and how I acted. Regard for my sister s creditand feelings prevented any public exposure; but I wrote to Mr. Wickham, who left the placeimmediately, and Mrs. Younge was of course removed from her charge. Mr. Wickham schief object was unquestionably my sister s fortune, which is thirty thousand pounds; but Icannot help supposing that the hope of revenging himself on me was a strong revenge would have been complete indeed. This, madam, is a faithful narrative of everyevent in which we have been concerned together; and if you do not absolutely reject it asfalse, you will, I hope, acquit me henceforth of cruelty towards Mr. Wickham. I know not inwhat manner, under what form of falsehood, he has imposed on you; but his success is notperhaps to be wondered at, ignorant as you previously were of everything concerning could not be in your power, and suspicion certainly not in your inclination. Youmay possibly wonder why all this was not told you last night. But I was not then masterenough of myself to know what could or ought to be revealed. For the truth of everythinghere related, I can appeal more particularly to the testimony of Colonel Fitzwilliam, who,from our near relation ship and constant intimacy, and still more as one of the executors ofmy father s will, has been unavoidably acquainted with every particular of thesetransactions. If your abhorrence of me should make my assertions valueless, you cannot beprevented by the same cause from confiding in my cousin; and that there may be thepossibility of consulting hi, I shall endeavour to find some opportunity of putting this letterin your hands in the course of the morning. I will only add, God bless you. FITZWILLIAM DARCY. Chapter XXXVIIF Elizabeth, when Mr. Darcy gave her the letter, did not expect it to contain a renewal of his offers, shehad formed no expectation at all of its contents. But, such as they were, it may be well supposed howeagerly she went through them, and what a contrariety of emotion they excited. Her feelings as she readwere scarcely to be defined. With amazement did she first understand that he believed any apology to bein his power; and steadfastly was she persuaded that he could have no explanation to give, which a justsense of shame would not conceal. With a strong prejudice against everything he might say, she beganhis account of what had happened at Netherfield. She read with an eagerness which hardly left her powerof comprehension; and from impatience of knowing what the next sentence might bring, was incapableof attending to the sense of the one before her eyes. His belief of her sister s insensibility she instantlyresolved to be false; and his account of the real, the worst objections to the match, made her too angry tohave any wish of doing him justice. He expressed no regret for what he had done which satisfied her; hisstyle was not penitent, but haughty. It was all pride and insolence. But when this subject was succeeded by his account of Mr. Wickham when she read, with somewhatclearer attention, a relation of events which, if true, 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 acutelypainful and more difficult of definition. Astonishment, apprehension, and even horror, oppressed her. Shewished to discredit it entirely, repeatedly exclaiming, This must be false! This cannot be! This must bethe grossest falsehood! and when she had gone through the whole letter, though scarcely knowinganything of the last page or two, put it hastily away, protesting that she would not regard it, that shewould never look in it again. In this perturbed state of mind, with thoughts that could rest on nothing, she walked on; but it would notdo: in half a minute the letter was unfolded again; and, collecting herself as well as she could, she againbegan the mortifying perusal of all that related to Wickham, and commanded herself so far as to examinethe meaning of every sentence. The account of his connection with the Pemberley family was exactlywhat he had related himself; and the kindness of the late Mr. Darcy, though she had not before known itsextent, agreed equally well with his own words. So far each recital confirmed the other; but when shecame to the will, the difference was great. What Wickham had said of the living was fresh in hermemory; and as she recalled his very words, it was impossible not to feel that there was gross duplicityon one side or the other, and, for a few moments, she flattered herself that her wishes did not err. Butwhen she read and re-read with the closest attention, the particulars immediately following, ofWickham s resigning all pretensions to the living, of his receiving in lieu so considerable a sum as threethousand pounds, again was she forced to hesitate. She put down the letter, weighed every circumstance with what she meant to beimpartiality deliberated on the probability of each statement but with little success. On both sides itwas only assertion. Again she read on. But every line proved more clearly that the affair, which she hadbelieved it impossible that any contrivance could so represent as to render Mr. Darcy s conduct in it lessthan 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 chargeexceedingly shocked her; the more so, as she could bring no proof of its injustice. She had never heard ofhim before his entrance into the shire militia, in which he had engaged at the persuasion of theyoung man who, on meeting him accidentally in town, had there renewed a slight acquaintance. Of hisformer way of life nothing had been known in Hertfordshire but what he told himself. As to his realcharacter, had information been in her power, she had never felt a wish of inquiring. His countenance,voice, and manner, had established him at once in the possession of every virtue. She tried to recollectsome instance of goodness, some distinguished trait of integrity or benevolence, that might rescue himfrom 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 ofmany years continuance. But no such recollection befriended her. She could see him instantly beforeher, in every charm of air and address, but she could remember no more substantial good than the generalapprobation of the neighbourhood, and the regard which his social powers had gained him in the pausing on this point a considerable while, she once more continued to read. But, alas! the storywhich followed, of his designs on Miss Darcy, received some confirmation from what had passedbetween Colonel Fitzwilliam and herself only the morning before; and at last she was referred for thetruth of every particular to Colonel Fitzwilliam himself from whom she had previously received theinformation of his near concern in all his cousin s affairs, and whose character she had no reason toquestion. AT one time she had almost resolved on applying to him, but the idea was checked by theawkwardness of the application, and at length wholly banished by the conviction that Mr. Darcy wouldnever have hazarded such a proposal, if he had not been well assured of his cousin s corroboration. She perfectly remembered everything that had passed in conversation between Wickham and herself intheir first evening at Mr. Philips s. Many of his expressions were still fresh in her memory. She was nowstruck with the impropriety of such communications to a stranger, and wondered it had escaped herbefore. She saw the indelicacy of putting himself forward as he had done, and the inconsistency of hisprofessions with his conduct. She remembered that he had boasted of having no fear of seeing that Mr. Darcy might leave the country, but that he should stand his ground; yet he had avoidedthe Netherfield ball the very next week. She remembered, also, that till the Netherfield family had quittedthe country, he had told his story to no one but herself; but that after their removal, it had beeneverywhere discussed; that he had then no reserves, no scruples in sinking Mr. Darcy s character, thoughhe had assured her that respect for the father would always prevent his exposing the son. How differently did everything now appear in which he was concerned! His attentions to Miss Kingwere now the consequence of views solely and hatefully mercenary; and the mediocrity of her fortuneproved no longer the moderation of his wishes, but his eagerness to grasp at anything. His behaviour toherself 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 mostincautiously shown. Every lingering struggle in his favour grew fainter and fainter; and in furtherjustification of Mr. Darcy, she could not but allow that Mr. Bingley, when questioned by Jane, had longago asserted his blamelessness in the affair; that, proud and repulsive as were his manners, she hadnever, in the whole course of their acquaintance an acquaintance which had latterly brought them muchtogether, and given her a sort of intimacy with his ways seen anything that betrayed him to beunprincipled or unjust anything that spoke him of irreligious or immoral habits; that among his ownconnections he was esteemed and valued that even Wickham had allowed him merit as a brother, andthat she had often heard him speak so affectionately of his sister as to prove him capable of some amiablefeeling; that had his actions been what Wickham represented them, so gross a violation of everythingright could hardly have been concealed from the world; and that friendship between a person capable ofit and such an amiable man as Mr. Bingley was incomprehensible. She grew absolutely ashamed of herself. Of neither Darcy nor Wickham could she think, withoutfeeling that she had been blind, partial, prejudiced, absurd. How despicably have I acted! she cried. I, who have prided myself on my discernment! I, who havevalued myself on my abilities! who have often disdained the generous candour of my sister, and gratifiedmy vanity in useless or blameless distrust. How humiliating is this discovery! Yet, how just ahumiliation! Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind. But vanity, not love, hasbeen my folly. Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the verybeginning of our acquaintance I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason awaywhere either was 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 herrecollection that Mr. Darcy s explanation there had appeared very insufficient; and she read it different was the effect of a second perusal. How could she deny that credit to his assertions, inone instance, which she had been obliged to give in the other? He declared himself to have been totallyunsuspicious of her sister s attachment; and she could not help remembering what Charlotte s opinionhad always been. Neither could she deny the justice of his description of Jane. She felt that Jane sfeelings, though fervent, were little displayed, and that there was a constant complacency in her air andmanner, not often united with great sensibility. When she came to that part of the letter in which her family were mentioned, in terms of suchmortifying, yet merited, reproach, her sense of shame was severe. The justice of the charge struck her tooforcibly for denial; and the circumstances to which he particularly alluded, as having passed at theNetherfield ball, and as confirming all his first disapprobation, could not have made a strongerimpression on his mind than on hers. The compliment to herself and her sister was not unfelt. It soothed, but it could not console her for thecontempt which had been thus self-attracted by the rest of her family; and as she considered that Jane sdisappointment had, in fact, been the work of her nearest relations, and reflected how materially thecredit of both must be hurt by such impropriety of conduct, she felt depressed beyond anything she hadever known before. After wandering along the lane for two hours, giving way to every variety of thought, reconsideringevents, determining probabilities, and reconciling herself, as well as she could, to a change so sudden andso important, fatigue, and a recollection of her long absence, made her at length return home; and sheentered the house with the wish of appearing cheerful as usual, and the resolution of repressing suchreflections 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 atleast an hour, hoping for her return, and almost resolving to walk after her till she could be could but just affect concern in missing him; she really rejoiced at it. Colonel Fitzwilliam wasno longer an object. She could think only of her XXXVIITHE TWO gentlemen left Rosings the next morning; and Mr. Collins having been in waiting near thelodges, to make them his parting obeisance, was able to bring home the pleasing intelligence of theirappearing in very good health, and in as tolerable spirits as could be expected, after the melancholy sceneso lately gone through at Rosings. To Rosings he then hastened to console Lady Catherine and herdaughter; and on his return brought back, 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 thistime have been presented to her as her future niece; nor could she think, without a smile, of what herLadyship 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, saidLady Catherine; I believe nobody feels the loss of friends so much as I do. But I am particularly attachedto 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 tofeel it most acutely more, I think, than last year. His attachment to Rosings certainly increases. Mr. Collins had a compliment and an allusion to throw in here, which were kindly smiled on by themother and daughter. Lady Catherine observed, after dinner, that Miss Bennet seemed out of spirits; and immediatelyaccounting for it herself, by supposing that she did not like to go home again so soon, she added, But if that is the case, you must write to your mother to beg that you may stay a little longer. will be very glad of your company, I am sure. I am much obliged to your Ladyship for your kind invitation, replied Elizabeth; but it is not in mypower to accept it. I must be in town next Saturday. Why, at that rate, you will have been here only six weeks. I expected you to stay two months. I toldMrs. Collins so before you came. There can be no occasion for your going so soon. Mrs. Bennet couldcertainly spare you for another fortnight. But my father cannot. He wrote last week to hurry my return. Oh, your father, of course, may spare you, if your mother can. Daughters are never of so muchconsequence to a father. And if you will stay another month complete, it will be in my power to take oneof you as far as London, for I am going there early in June, for a week; and as Dawson does not object tothe barouche-box, there will be very good room for one of you and, indeed, if the weather shouldhappen to be cool, I should not object to taking you both, as you are neither of you large. You are all kindness, madam; but I believe we must abide by our original plan. Lady Catherine seemed resigned. Mrs. Collins, you must send a servant with them. You know I alwaysspeak my mind, and I cannot bear the idea of two young women travelling post by themselves. It ishighly improper. You must contrive to send somebody. I have the greatest dislike in the world to that sortof thing. Young women should always be properly guarded and attended, according to their situation inlife. When my niece Georgiana went to Ramsgate last summer, I made a point of her having twomen-servants go with her. Miss Darcy, the daughter of Mr. Darcy of Pemberley, and Lady Anne, couldnot have appeared with propriety in a different manner. I am excessively attentive to all those must send John with the young ladies, Mrs. Collins. I am glad it occurred to me to mention it; for itwould really be discreditable to you to let them go alone. My uncle is to send a servant for us. Oh! Your uncle! He keeps a man-servant, does he? I am very glad you have somebody who thinks ofthose things. Where shall you change horses? Oh, Bromley, of course. If you mention my name at theBell, you will be attended to. Lady Catherine had many other questions to ask respecting their journey, and as she did not answerthem all herself attention was necessary, which Elizabeth believed to be lucky for her; or, with a mind sooccupied, 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 solitarywalk, 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 herfeelings 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 andupbraided him, her anger was turned against herself; and his disappointed feelings became the object ofcompassion. His attachment excited gratitude, his general character respect: but she could not approvehim; nor could she for a moment repent her refusal, or feel the slightest inclination ever to see him her own past behaviour there was a constant source of vexation and regret: and in the unhappy defectsof her family a subject of yet heavier chagrin. They were hopeless of remedy. Her father, contented withlaughing at them, would never exert himself to restrain the wild giddiness of his youngest daughters; andher mother, with manners so far from right herself, was entirely insensible of the evil. Elizabeth hadfrequently united with Jane in an endeavour to check the imprudence of Catherine and Lydia; but whilethey were supported by their mother s indulgence, what chance could there be of improvement?Catherine, weak-spirited, irritable, and completely under Lydia s guidance, had been always affronted bytheir advice; and Lydia, self-willed and careless, would scarcely give them a hearing. They wereignorant, idle, and vain. While there was an officer in Meryton, they would flirt with him; and whileMeryton 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 restoringBingley to all her former good opinion, heightened the sense of what Jane had lost. His affection wasproved to have been sincere, and his conduct cleared of all blame, unless any could attach to theimplicitness of his confidence in his friend. How grievous then was the thought that, of a situation sodesirable in every respect, so replete with advantage, so promising for happiness, Jane had beendeprived, by the folly and indecorum of her own family! When to these recollections was added the development of Wickham s character, it may be easilybelieved that the happy spirits which had seldom been depressed before were now so much affected as tomake 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 very last evening was spent there; and her Ladyship again inquired minutely into the particulars oftheir journey, gave them directions as to the best method of packing, and was so urgent on the necessityof placing gowns in the only right way, that Maria thought herself obliged, on her return, to undo all thework of the morning, and pack her trunk afresh. When they parted, Lady Catherine, with great condescension, wished them a good journey, and invitedthem to come to Hunsford again next year; and Miss De Bourgh exerted herself so far as to courtesy andhold out her hand to XXXVIIION Saturday morning Elizabeth and Mr. Collins met for breakfast a few minutes before the othersappeared; and he took the opportunity of paying the parting civilities which he deemed indispensablynecessary. I know not, Miss Elizabeth, said he, whether Mrs. Collins has yet expressed her sense of yourkindness in coming to us; but I am very certain you will not leave the house without receiving her thanksfor it. The favour of your company has been much felt, I assure you. We know how little there is to temptany one to our humble abode. Our plain manner of living, our small rooms, and few domestics, and thelittle we see of the world, must make Hunsford extremely dull to a young lady like yourself; but I hopeyou will believe us grateful for the condescension, and that we have done everything in our power toprevent your spending your time unpleasantly. Elizabeth was eager with her thanks and assurances of happiness. She had spent six weeks with greatenjoyment; and the pleasure of being with Charlotte, and the kind attentions she had received, must makeher 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 havecertainly done our best; and most fortunately having it in our power to introduce you to very superiorsociety, and from our connection with Rosings, the frequent means of varying the humble home scene, Ithink we may flatter ourselves that your Hunsford visit cannot have been entirely irksome. Our situationwith regard to Lady Catherine s family is, indeed, the sort of extraordinary advantage and blessing whichfew can boast. You see on what a footing we are. You see how continually we are engaged there. Intruth, I must acknowledge that, with all the disadvantages of this humble parsonage, I should not thinkany 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. You may, in fact, carry a very favourable report of us into Hertfordshire, my dear cousin. I flattermyself, at least, that you will be able to do so. Lady Catherine s great attentions to Mrs. Collins you havebeen a daily witness of; and altogether I trust it does not appear that your friend has drawn anunfortunate but on this point it will be as well to be silent. Only let me assure you, my dear MissElizabeth, that I can from my heart most cordially wish you equal felicity in marriage. My dear Charlotteand I have but one mind and one way of thinking. There is in everything a most remarkable resemblanceof 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 sinceritycould add, that she firmly believed and rejoiced in his domestic comforts. She was not sorry, however, tohave the recital of them interrupted by the entrance of the lady from whom they sprang. Poor Charlotte!it was melancholy to leave her to such society! But she had chosen it with her eyes open; and thoughevidently regretting that her visitors were to go, she did not seem to ask for compassion. Her home andher housekeeping, her parish and her poultry, and all their dependent concerns, had not yet lost theircharms. At length the chaise arrived, the trunks were fastened on, the parcels placed within, and it waspronounced 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 hiscompliments to Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, though unknown. He then handed her in, Maria followed, and thedoor was on the point of being closed, when he suddenly reminded them, with some consternation, thatthey had hitherto forgotten to leave any message for the ladies of Rosings. But, he added, you will of course wish to have your humble respects delivered to them, with yourgrateful 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. Good gracious! cried Maria, after a few minutes silence, it seems but a day or two since we firstcame! 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 theirleaving 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 variousengagements 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 hersister of Mr. Darcy s proposals. To know that she had the power of revealing what would so exceedinglyastonish Jane, and must, at the same time, so highly gratify whatever of her own vanity she had not yetbeen able to reason away, was such a temptation to openness as nothing could have conquered, but thestate 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 mightonly grieve her sister XXXIXIT was the second week in May, in which the three young ladies set out together from GracechurchStreet for the town of , in Hertfordshire; and, as they drew near the appointed inn where s carriage was to meet them, they quickly perceived, in token of the coachman s punctuality, bothKitty and Lydia looking out of a diningroom upstairs. These two girls had been above an hour in theplace, happily employed in visiting an opposite milliner, watching the sentinel on guard, and dressing asalad and cucumber. After welcoming their sisters, they triumphantly displayed a table set out with such cold meat as an innlarder usually affords, exclaiming, Is not this nice? is not this an agreeable surprise? And we mean to treat you all, added Lydia; but you must lend us the money, for we have just spentours at the shop out there. Then showing her purchases, Look here, I have bought this bonnet. I do notthink 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 gethome, and see if I can make it up any better. And when her sisters abused it as ugly, she added, with perfect unconcern, Oh, but there were two orthree much uglier in the shop; and when I have bought some prettier-coloured satin to trim it with fresh, Ithink it will be very tolerable. Besides, 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? cried Elizabeth, with the greatest satisfaction. They are going to be encamped near Brighton; and I do so want papa to take us all there for thesummer! It would be such a delicious scheme, and I daresay would hardly cost anything at all. Mammawould like to go, too, of all things! Only think what a miserable summer else we shall have! Yes, thought Elizabeth; that would be a delightful scheme, indeed, and completely do for us at Heaven! Brighton and a whole campful of soldiers, to us, who have been overset already by onepoor regiment of militia, and the monthly balls of Meryton! Now I have got some news for you, said Lydia, as they sat down to table. What do you think? It isexcellent news, capital 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. Lydia laughed,and said, Ay, that is just like your formality and discretion. You thought the waiter must not hear, as if he cared!I daresay he often hears worse things said than I am going to say. But he is an ugly fellow! I am glad heis gone. I never saw such a long chin in my life. Well, 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 foryou! She is gone down to her uncle at Liverpool; gone to stay. Wickham is safe. And Mary King is safe! added Elizabeth; 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, said Jane. I am sure there is not on his. I will answer for it, he never cared three straws about her. Who couldabout such a nasty little freckled thing? Elizabeth was shocked to think that, however incapable of such coarseness of expression herself, thecoarseness of the sentiment was little other than her own breast had formerly harboured and fanciedliberal! 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, workbags, and parcels, and the unwelcome addition of Kitty s andLydia s purchases, were seated in it. How nicely we are crammed in! cried Lydia. I am glad I brought my bonnet, if it is only for the funof having another band-box! Well, now let us be quite comfortable and snug, and talk and laugh all theway home. And in the first place, let us hear what has happened to you all since you went away. Haveyou seen any pleasant men? Have you had any flirting? I was in great hopes that one of you would havegot a husband before you came back. Jane will be quite an old maid soon, I declare. She is almostthree-and-twenty! Lord! how ashamed I should be of not being married before three-and-twenty! Myaunt Philips wants you so to get husbands, you can t think. She says Lizzy had better have taken ; but I do not think there would have been any fun in it. Lord! how I should like to be marriedbefore any of you! and then I would chaperon you about to all the balls. Dear me! we had such a goodpiece of fun the other day at Colonel Forster s! Kitty and me were to spend the day there, and 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 byherself; and then, what do you think we did? We dressed up Chamberlayne in woman s clothes, onpurpose to pass for a lady, only think what fun! Not a soul knew of it, but Colonel and Mrs. Forster,and Kitty and me, except my aunt, for we were forced to borrow one of her gowns; and you cannotimagine how well he looked! When Denny, and Wickham, and Pratt, and two or three more of the mencame in, they did not know him in the least. Lord! how I laughed! and so did Mrs. Forster. I thought Ishould have died. And that made the men suspect something, and then they soon found out what was thematter. With such kind of histories of their parties and good jokes did Lydia, assisted by Kitty s hints andadditions, endeavour to amuse her companions all the way to Longbourn. Elizabeth listened as little asshe 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; andmore than once during dinner did Mr. Bennet say voluntarily to Elizabeth, I am glad you are come back, Lizzy. Their party in the dining-room was large, for almost all the Lucases came to meet Maria and hear thenews; and various were the subjects which occupied them: Lady Lucas was inquiring of Maria, acrossthe table, after the welfare and poultry of her eldest daughter; Mrs. Bennet was doubly engaged, on onehand collecting an account of the present fashions from Jane, who sat some way below her, and on theother, retailing them all to the younger Miss Lucases; and Lydia, in a voice rather louder than any otherperson s, was enumerating the various pleasures of the morning to anybody who would hear her. Oh, Mary, said she, I wish you had gone with us, for we had such fun! as we went along Kitty and medrew up all the blinds, and pretended there was nobody in the coach; and I should have gone so all theway, 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, wewould have treated you too. And then when we came away it was such fun! I thought we never shouldhave got into the coach. I was ready to die of laughter. And then we were so merry all the way home! wetalked and laughed so loud, that anybody might have heard us ten miles off! To this Mary very gravely replied, Far be it from me, my dear sister, to depreciate such pleasures. Theywould doubtless be congenial with the generality of female minds. But I confess they would have nocharms for me. I should infinitely prefer a book. But of this answer Lydia heard not a word. She seldom listened to anybody 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 everybodywent on; but Elizabeth steadily opposed the scheme. It should not be said that the Miss Bennets could notbe at home half a day before they were in pursuit of the officers. There was another reason, too, for heropposition. She dreaded seeing Wickham again, and was resolved to avoid it as long as possible. Thecomfort to her, of the regiment s approaching removal, was indeed beyond expression. In a fortnight theywere 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 hadgiven them a hint at the inn, was under frequent discussion between her parents. Elizabeth saw directlythat her father had not the smallest intention of yielding; but his answers were at the same time so vagueand equivocal, that her mother, though often disheartened, had never yet despaired of succeeding at XLELIZABETH S impatience to acquaint Jane with what had happened could no longer be overcome; andat length, resolving to suppress every particular in which her sister was concerned, and preparing her tobe 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 anyadmiration of Elizabeth appear perfectly natural; and all surprise was shortly lost in other feelings. Shewas sorry that Mr. Darcy should have delivered his sentiments in a manner so little suited to recommendthem; but still more was she grieved for the unhappiness which her sister s refusal must have given him. His being so sure of succeeding was wrong, said she, and certainly ought not to have appeared; butconsider how much it must increase his disappointment. Indeed, replied Elizabeth, I am heartily sorry for him; but he has other feelings which will probablysoon drive away his regard for me. You do not blame me, however, for refusing him? Blame you! Oh, no. 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 GeorgeWickham. What a stroke was this for poor Jane! who would willingly have gone through the worldwithout believing that so much wickedness existed in the whole race of mankind as was here collected inone individual. Nor was Darcy s vindication, though grateful to her feelings, capable of consoling her forsuch discovery. Most earnestly did she labour to prove the probability of error, and to seek to clear one,without involving the other. This will not do, said Elizabeth; you never will be able to make both of them good for anything. Takeyour 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 mypart, I am inclined to believe it all Mr. Darcy s, but you shall do as you choose. It was some time, however, before a smile could be extorted from Jane. I do not know when I have been more shocked, said she. Wickham so very bad! It is almost pastbelief. And poor Mr. Darcy! dear Lizzy, only consider what he must have suffered. Such adisappointment! and with the knowledge of your ill opinion too! and having to relate such a thing of hissister! It is really too distressing, I am sure you must feel it so. Oh no, my regret and compassion are all done away by seeing you so full of both. I know you will dohim such ample justice, that I am growing every moment more unconcerned and indifferent. Yourprofusion makes me saving; and if you lament over him much longer, my heart will be as light as afeather. Poor Wickham! there is such an expression of goodness in his countenance! such an openness andgentleness in his manner. There certainly was some great mismanagement in the education of those two young men. One has gotall 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. Itis such a spur to one s genius, such an opening for wit, to have a dislike of that kind. One may becontinually abusive without saying anything just; but one cannot be always laughing at a man withoutnow and then stumbling on something witty. Lizzy, 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. Andwith 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! Oh, how I wanted you! How unfortunate that you should have used such very strong expressions in speaking of Wickham toMr. Darcy, for now they do appear wholly undeserved. Certainly. But the misfortune of speaking with bitterness is a most natural consequence of theprejudices I had been encouraging. There is one point on which I want your advice. I want to be toldwhether 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 sodreadfully. What is your own opinion? That it ought not to be attempted. Mr. Darcy has not authorised me to make his communication 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 generalprejudice 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. Some time 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, sorryfor what he had 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 secretswhich had weighed on her for a fortnight, and was certain of a willing listener in Jane, whenever shemight wish to talk again of either. But there was still something lurking behind, of which prudenceforbade the disclosure. She dared not relate the other half of Mr. Darcy s letter, nor explain to her sisterhow 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 herin throwing off this last encumbrance of mystery. And then, said she, if that very improbable eventshould ever take place, I shall merely be able to tell what Bingley may tell in a much more agreeablemanner 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. Janewas not happy. She still cherished a very tender affection for Bingley. Having never even fancied herselfin 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, andprefer 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 healthand their tranquillity. Well, Lizzy, said Mrs. Bennet, one day, what is your opinion now of this sad business of Jane s? Formy part, I am determined never to speak of it again to anybody. I told my sister Philips so the other I cannot find out that Jane saw anything of him in London. Well, he is a very undeserving youngman and I do not suppose there is the least chance in the world of her ever getting him now. There is notalk of his coming to Netherfield again in the summer; and I have inquired of everybody, too, who islikely to know. I do not believe that he will ever live at Netherfield any more. Oh, well! it is just as he chooses. Nobody wants him to come; thought I shall always say that he usedmy daughter extremely ill; and, if I was her, I would not have put up with it. Well, my comfort is, I amsure 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. Well, Lizzy, continued her mother, soon afterwards, and so the Collinses live very comfortable, dothey? Well, well, I only hope it will last. And what sort of table do they keep? Charlotte is an excellentmanager, I daresay. If she is half as sharp as her mother, she is saving enough. There is nothingextravagant in their housekeeping, I daresay. No, nothing at all. A great deal of good management, depend upon it. Yes, yes. They will take care not to outrun theirincome. They will never be distressed for money. Well, much good may it do them! And so, I suppose,they often talk of having Longbourn when your father is dead. They look upon it quite as their own, Idaresay, 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 betweenthemselves. Well, if they can be easy with an estate that is not lawfully their own, so much the better. Ishould be ashamed of having one that was only entailed on me. Chapter XLITHE FIRST week of their return was soon gone. The second began. It was the last of the regiment s stayin Meryton, and all the young ladies in the neighbourhood were drooping apace. The dejection wasalmost universal. The elder Miss Bennets alone were still able to eat, drink, and sleep, and pursue theusual course of their employments. Very frequently were they reproached for this insensibility by Kittyand Lydia, whose own misery was extreme, and who could not comprehend such hard-heartedness in anyof the family. Good Heaven! What is to become of us? What are we to do? would they often exclaim in thebitterness of woe. How can you be smiling so, Lizzy? 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, said she, I cried for two days together when Colonel Millar s regiment went away. Ithought I should have broke my heart. I am sure I shall break mine, said Lydia. If one could but go to Brighton! observed Mrs. Bennet. Oh yes! 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, added Kitty. Such were the kind of lamentations resounding perpetually through Longbourn House. Elizabeth triedto be diverted by them; but all sense of pleasure was lost in shame. She felt anew the justice of s objections; and never had she before been so much disposed to pardon his interference in theviews of his friend. But the gloom of Lydia s prospect was shortly cleared away; for she received an invitation from , the wife of the colonel of the regiment, to accompany her to Brighton. This invaluable friend wasa very young woman, and very lately married. A resemblance in good-humour and good spirits hadrecommended her and Lydia to each other, and out of their three months acquaintance they had beenintimate two. The rapture of Lydia on this occasion, her adoration of Mrs. Forster, the delight of Mrs. Bennet, and themortification of Kitty, are scarcely to be described. Wholly inattentive to her sister s feelings, Lydia flewabout the house in restless ecstasy, calling for every one s congratulations, and laughing and talking withmore violence than ever; whilst the luckless Kitty continued in the parlour repining at her fate in terms asunreasonable as her accent was peevish. I cannot see why Mrs. Forster should not ask me as well as Lydia, said she, though I am not herparticular friend. I have just as much right to be asked as she has, and more too, for I am two yearsolder. In vain did Elizabeth attempt to make her reasonable, and Jane to make her resigned. As for Elizabethherself, this invitation was so far from exciting in her the same feelings as in her mother and Lydia, thatshe considered it as the death-warrant of all possibility of common sense for the latter; and, detestable assuch a step must make her were it known, she could not help secretly advising her father not to let her represented to him all the improprieties of Lydia s general behaviour, the little advantage she couldderive from the friendship of such a woman as Mrs. Forster, and the probability of her being yet moreimprudent with such a companion at Brighton, where the temptations must be greater than at home. Heheard her attentively, and then said, Lydia will never be easy till she has exposed herself in some public place or other, and we can neverexpect her to do it with so little expense or inconvenience to her family as under the presentcircumstances. If you were aware, said Elizabeth, of the very great disadvantage to us all, which must arise from thepublic notice of Lydia s unguarded and imprudent manner, nay, which has already arisen from it, I amsure you would judge differently in the affair. Already arisen! repeated Mr. Bennet. What! has she frightened away some of your lovers? Poor littleLizzy. But do not be cast down. Such squeamish youths as cannot bear to be connected with a littleabsurdity are not worth a regret. Come, let me see the list of the pitiful fellows who have been kept aloofby 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 importance, our respectability in the world, must be affected by thewild volatility, the assurance and disdain of all restraint which mark Lydia s character. Excuse me, for Imust speak plainly. If you, my dear father, will not take the trouble of checking her exuberant spirits, andof teaching her that her present pursuits are not to be the business of her life, she will soon be beyond thereach of amendment. Her character will be fixed; and she will, at sixteen, be the most determined flirtthat ever made herself and her family ridiculous. A flirt, too, in the worst and meanest degree offlirtation; without any attraction beyond youth and a tolerable person; and, from the ignorance andemptiness of her mind, wholly unable to ward off any portion of that universal contempt which her ragefor admiration will excite. In this danger Kitty is also comprehended. She will follow wherever Lydialeads. Vain, ignorant, idle, and absolutely uncontrolled! Oh, my dear father, can you suppose it possiblethat they will not be censured and despised wherever they are known, and that their sisters will not beoften involved in the disgrace? Mr. Bennet saw that her whole heart was in the subject; and, affectionately taking her hand, said inreply, Do not make yourself uneasy, my love. Wherever you and Jane are known, you must be respected andvalued; and you will not appear to less advantage for having a couple of or I may say, three very sillysisters. We shall have no peace at Longbourn if Lydia does not go to Brighton. Let her go, then. ColonelForster is a sensible man, and will keep her out of any real mischief; and she is luckily too poor to be anobject of prey to anybody. At Brighton she will be of less importance even as a common flirt than shehas been here. The officers will find women better worth their notice. Let us hope, therefore, that herbeing there may teach her her own insignificance. At any rate, she cannot grow many degrees worse,without authorising 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 sheleft him disappointed and sorry. It was not in her nature, however, to increase her vexations by dwellingon them. She was confident of having performed her duty; and to fret over unavoidable evils, or augmentthem by anxiety, was no part of her disposition. Had Lydia and her mother known the substance of her conference with her father, their indignationwould hardly have found expression in their united volubility. In Lydia s imagination, a visit to Brightoncomprised every possibility of earthly happiness. She saw, with the creative eye of fancy, the streets ofthat gay bathing-place covered with officers. She saw herself the object of attention to tens and to scoresof them at present unknown. She saw all the glories of the camp: its tents stretched forth in beauteousuniformity of lines, crowded with the young and the gay, and dazzling with scarlet; and, to complete theview, 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, whatwould have been her sensations? They could have been understood only by her mother, who might havefelt nearly the same. Lydia s going to Brighton was all that consoled her for the melancholy conviction ofher husband s never intending to go there himself. But they were entirely ignorant of what had passed; and their raptures continued, with littleintermission, 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 himsince her return, agitation was pretty well over; the agitations of former partiality entirely so. She hadeven learnt to detect, in the very gentleness which delighted her, an affectation and a sameness to disgustand weary. In his present behaviour to herself, moreover, she had a fresh source of displeasure; for theinclination he soon testified of renewing those attentions which had marked the early part of theiracquaintance could only serve, after what had since passed, to provoke her. She lost all concern for himin finding herself thus selected as the object of such idle and frivolous galantry; and while she steadilyrepressed it, could not but feel the reproof contained in his believing that, however long and for whatevercause his attentions had been withdrawn, her vanity would be gratified, and her preference secured at anytime, by their renewal. On the very last day of the regiment s remaining in Meryton, he dined, with others of the officers, atLongbourn; and so little was Elizabeth disposed to part from him in good-humour, that, on his makingsome inquiry as to the manner in which her time had passed at Hunsford, she mentioned ColonelFitzwilliam s and Mr. Darcy s having both spent three weeks at Rosings, and asked him if he wereacquainted with the former. He looked surprised, displeased, alarmed; but, with a moment s recollection, and a returning smile,replied that he had formerly seen him often; and, after observing that he was a very gentlemanlike man,asked her how she had liked him. Her answer was warmly in his favour. With an air of indifference, hesoon afterwards added, How long did you say that he was at Rosings? Nearly three weeks. And you saw him frequently? Yes, almost every day. His manners are very different from his cousin s. Yes, very different; but I think Mr. Darcy improves on acquaintance. Indeed! cried Wickham, with a look which did not escape her. And pray may I ask but checkinghimself, he added, in a gayer tone, Is it in address that he improves? Has he deigned to add aught ofcivility to his ordinary style? for I dare not hope, he continued, in a lower and more serious tone, that heis improved in essentials. Oh no! said Elizabeth. In essentials, I believe, he is very much what he ever was. While she spoke, Wickham looked as if scarcely knowing whether to rejoice over her words or todistrust their meaning. There was a something in her countenance which made him listen with anapprehensive 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 ina 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 hewas silent; till, shaking off his embarrassment, he turned to her again, and said in the gentlest ofaccents, You, who so well know my feelings towards Mr. Darcy, will readily comprehend how sincerely I mustrejoice that he is wise enough to assume even the appearance of what is right. His pride, in that direction,may be of service, if not to himself, to many others, for it must deter him from such foul misconduct as Ihave suffered by. I only fear that the sort of cautiousness to which you, I imagine, have been alluding, ismerely adopted on his visits to his aunt, of whose good opinion and judgment he stands much in awe. Hisfear of her has always operated, I know, when they were together; and a good deal is to be imputed to hiswish 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. Shesaw that he wanted to engage her on the old subject of his grievances, and she was in no humour toindulge him. The rest of the evening passed with the appearance, on his side, of usual cheerfulness, butwith no further attempt to distinguish Elizabeth; and they parted at last with mutual civility, and possiblya mutual desire of never meeting again. When the party broke up, Lydia returned with Mrs. Forster to Meryton, from whence they were to setout early the next morning. The separation between her and her family was rather noisy than was the only one who shed tears; but she did weep from vexation and envy. Mrs. Bennet wasdiffuse in her good wishes for the felicity of her daughter, and impressive in her injunctions that shewould not miss the opportunity of enjoying herself as much as possible, advice which there was everyreason to believe would be attended to; and, in the clamorous happiness of Lydia herself in biddingfarewell, the more gentle adieus of her sisters were uttered without being XLIIHAD Elizabeth s opinion been all drawn from her own family, she could not have formed a verypleasing picture of conjugal felicity or domestic comfort. Her father, captivated by youth and beauty, andthat appearance of good-humour which youth and beauty generally give, had married a woman whoseweak understanding and illiberal mind had very early in their marriage put an end to all real affection forher. Respect, esteem, and confidence had vanished for ever; and all his views of domestic happiness wereoverthrown. But Mr. Bennet was not of a disposition to seek comfort for the disappointment which his ownimprudence had brought on in any of those pleasures which too often console the unfortunate for theirfolly or their vice. He was fond of the country and of books; and from these tastes had arisen hisprincipal enjoyments. To his wife he was very little otherwise indebted than as her ignorance and follyhad contributed to his amusement. This is not the sort of happiness which a man would in general wish toowe to his wife; but where other powers of entertainment are wanting, the true philosopher will derivebenefit from such as are given. Elizabeth, however, had never been blind to the impropriety of her father s behaviour as a husband. Shehad always seen it with pain; but respecting his abilities, and grateful for his affectionate treatment ofherself, she endeavoured to forget what she could not overlook, and to banish from her thoughts thatcontinual breach of conjugal obligation and decorum which, in exposing his wife to the contempt of herown children, was so highly reprehensible. But she had never felt so strongly as now the disadvantageswhich must attend the children of so unsuitable a marriage, nor ever been so fully aware of the evilsarising from so ill-judged a direction of talents talents which, rightly used, might at least havepreserved 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 inthe loss of the regiment. Their parties abroad were less varied than before; and at home she had a motherand sister, whose constant repinings at the dulness of everything around them threw a real gloom overtheir domestic circle; and, though Kitty might in time regain her natural degree of sense, since thedisturbers of her brain were removed, her other sister, from whose disposition greater evil might beapprehended, was likely to be hardened in all her folly and assurance by a situation of such doubledanger as a watering-place and a camp. Upon the whole, therefore, she found, what has been sometimesfound before, that an event to which she had looked forward with impatient desire, did not, in takingplace bring all the satisfaction she had promised herself. It was consequently necessary to name someother period for the commencement of actual felicity; to have some other point on which her wishes andhopes 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 happiestthoughts: it was her best consolation for all the uncomfortable hours which the discontentedness of hermother and Kitty made inevitable; and could she have included Jane in the scheme every part of it wouldhave been perfect. But it is fortunate, thought she, that I have something to wish for. Were the whole arrangementcomplete, my disappointment would be certain. But here, by carrying with me one ceaseless source ofregret in my sister s absence, I may reasonably hope to have all my expectations of pleasure realised. Ascheme of which every part promises delight can never be successful; and general disappointment is onlywarded 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; buther letters were always long expected, and always very short. Those to her mother contained little elsethan that they were just returned from the library, where such and such officers had attended them, andwhere she had seen such beautiful ornaments as made her quite wild; that she had a new gown, or a newparasol, which she would have described more fully, but was obliged to leave off in a violent hurry, asMrs. Forster called her, and they were going to the camp; and from her correspondence with her sisterthere was still less to be learnt, for her letters to Kitty, though rather longer, were much too full of linesunder the words to be made public. After the first fortnight or three weeks of her absence, health, good-humour, and cheerfulness began toreappear at Longbourn. Everything wore a happier aspect. The families who had been in town for thewinter came back again, and summer finery and summer engagements arose. Mrs. Bennet was restored toher usual querulous serenity; and by the middle of June Kitty was so much recovered as to be able toenter Meryton without tears, an event of such happy promise as to make Elizabeth hope that by thefollowing 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 bequartered in Meryton. The time fixed for the beginning of their northern tour was now fast approaching; and a fortnight onlywas wanting of it, when a letter arrived from Mrs. Gardiner, which at once delayed its commencementand curtailed its extent. Mr. Gardiner would be prevented by business from setting out till a fortnightlater in July, and must be in London again within a month; and as that left too short a period for then togo so far and see so much as they had proposed, or at least to see it with the leisure and comfort they hadbuilt on they were obliged to give up the Lakes, and substitute a more contracted tour; and, according tothe present plan, were to go no farther northward than Derbyshire. In that county there was enough to beseen to occupy the chief of their three weeks; and to Mrs. Gardiner it had a peculiarly strong town where she had formerly passed some years of her life, and where they were now to spend a fewdays, was probably as great an object of her curiosity as all the celebrated beauties of Matlock,Chatsworth, Dovedale, or the Peak. Elizabeth was excessively disappointed: she had set, her heart on seeing the Lakes; and still thoughtthere might have been time enough. But it was her business to be satisfied and certainly her temper tobe happy; and all was soon right again. With the mention of Derbyshire there were many ideas connected. It was impossible for her to see theword without thinking of Pemberley and its owner. But surely, said she, I may enter his county withimpunity, 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 sarrival. But they did pass away, and Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, with their four children, did at length appearat Longbourn. The children, two girls of six and eight years old, and two younger boys, were to be leftunder the particular care of their cousin Jane, who was the general favourite, and whose steady sense andsweetness of temper exactly adapted her for attending to them in every way teaching them, playingwith them, and loving them. The Gardiners stayed only one night at Longbourn, and set off the next morning with Elizabeth inpursuit of novelty and amusement. One enjoyment was certain that of suitableness as companions asuitableness which comprehended health and temper to bear inconveniences cheerfulness to enhanceevery pleasure and affection and intelligence, which might supply it among themselves if there weredisappointments abroad. It is not the object of this work to give a description of Derbyshire, nor of any of the remarkable placesthrough which their route thither lay Oxford, Blenheim, Warwick, Kenilworth, Birmingham, etc., aresufficiently 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 acquaintancestill remained, they bent their steps, after having seen all the principal wonders of the country; and withinfive miles of Lambton, Elizabeth found, from her aunt, that Pemberley was situated. It was not in theirdirect road; nor more than a mile or two out of it. In talking over their route the evening before, expressed an inclination to see the place again. Mr. Gardiner declared his willingness, andElizabeth was applied to for her approbation. My love, 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, youknow. Elizabeth was distressed. She felt that she had no business at Pemberley, and was obliged to assume adisinclination 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, said she, I shouldnot care about it myself; but the grounds are delightful. They have some of the finest woods in thecountry. Elizabeth said no more; but her mind could not acquiesce. The possibility of meeting Mr. Darcy, whileviewing the place, instantly occurred. It would be dreadful! She blushed at the very idea; and thought itwould be better to speak openly to her aunt, than to run such a risk. But against this there wereobjections; and she finally resolved that it could be the last resource, if her private inquiries as to theabsence of the family were unfavourably answered. Accordingly, when she retired at night, she asked the chambermaid whether Pemberley were not a veryfine place, what was the name of its proprietor, and, with no little alarm, whether the family were downfor the summer. A most welcome negative followed the last question; and her alarms being nowremoved, she was at leisure to feel a great deal of curiosity to see the house herself; and when the subjectwas revived the next morning, and she was again applied to, could readily answer, and with a proper airof indifference, that she had not really any dislike to the scheme. To Pemberley, therefore, they were to XLIIIELIZABETH, as they drove along, watched for the first appearance of Pemberley Woods with someperturbation; and when at length they turned in at the lodge, her spirits were in a high flutter. The park was very large, and contained great variety of ground. They entered it in one of its lowestpoints, and drove for some time through a beautiful wood stretching over a wide extent. Elizabeth s mind was too full for conversation, but she saw and admired every remarkable spot andpoint of view. They gradually ascended for half a mile, and then found themselves at the top of aconsiderable eminence, where the wood ceased, and the eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House,situated on the opposite side of the valley, into which the road with some abruptness wound. It was alarge, handsome stone building, standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high woodyhills; and in front a stream of some natural importance was swelled into greater, but without any artificialappearance. Its banks were neither formal nor falsely adorned. Elizabeth was delighted. She had neverseen a place for which nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted byan awkward taste. They were all of them warm in their admiration; and at that moment she felt that to bemistress of Pemberley might be something! They descended the hill, crossed the bridge, and drove to the door; and, while examining the neareraspect of the house, all her apprehension of meeting its owner returned. She dreaded lest thechambermaid had been mistaken. On applying to see the place, they were admitted into the hall; andElizabeth, as they waited for the housekeeper, had leisure to wonder at her being where she was. The housekeeper came, a respectable-looking elderly woman, much less fine, and more civil, than shehad any notion of finding her. They followed her into the dining-parlour. It was a large,well-proportioned room, handsomely fitted up. Elizabeth, after slightly surveying it, went to a window toenjoy its prospect. The hill, crowned with wood, from which they had descended, receiving increasedabruptness from the distance, was a beautiful object. Every disposition of the ground was good; and shelooked on the whole scene, the river, the trees scattered on its banks, and the winding of the valley, as faras she could trace it, with delight. As they passed into other rooms, these objects were taking differentpositions; but from every window there were beauties to be seen. The rooms were lofty and handsome,and their furniture suitable to the fortune of their proprietor; but Elizabeth saw, with admiration of histaste, that it was neither gaudy nor uselessly fine, with less of splendour, and more real elegance,than the furniture of Rosings. And of this place, thought she, I might have been mistress! With these rooms I might have now beenfamiliarly acquainted! Instead of viewing them as a stranger, I might have rejoiced in them as my own,and welcomed to them as visitors my uncle and aunt. But no, recollecting herself, that could never be;my uncle and aunt would have been lost to me; I should not have been allowed to invite them. This was a lucky recollection it saved her from something like regret. She longed to inquire of the housekeeper whether her master were really absent, but had not courage forit. At length, however, the question was asked by her uncle; and she turned away with alarm, while replied that he was; adding, But we expect him to-morrow, with a large party of friends. Howrejoiced was Elizabeth that their own journey had not by any circumstance been delayed a day. Her aunt now called her to look at a picture. She approached, and saw the likeness of Mr. Wickham,suspended, amongst several other miniatures, over the mantelpiece. Her aunt asked her, smilingly, howshe liked it. The housekeeper came forward, and told them it was the picture of a young gentleman, theson of her late master s steward, who had been brought up by him at his own expense. He is now goneinto the army, she added; but I am afraid he has turned out very wild. Mrs. Gardiner looked at her niece with a smile, but Elizabeth could not return it. And that, said Mrs. Reynolds, pointing to another of the miniatures, is my master and very like was drawn at the same time as the other about eight years ago. I have heard much of your master s fine person, said Mrs. Gardiner, looking at the picture; it is ahandsome face. But, Lizzy, you can tell us whether it is like or not. Mrs. Reynolds s respect for Elizabeth seemed to increase on this intimation of her knowing her master. Does that young lady know Mr. Darcy? Elizabeth coloured and said, A little. And do not you think him a very handsome gentleman, ma am? Yes, very handsome. I am sure I know none so handsome; but in the gallery upstairs you will see a finer, larger picture ofhim than this. This room was my late master s favourite room, and these miniatures are just as they usedto be then. He was very fond of them. This accounted to Elizabeth for Mr. Wickham s being among them. Mrs. Reynolds then directed their attention to one of Miss Darcy, drawn when she was only eight yearsold. And is Miss Darcy as handsome as her brother? said Mr. Gardiner. Oh yes the handsomest young lady that ever was seen; and so accomplished! She plays and sings allday long. In the next room is a new instrument just come down for her a present from my master; shecomes here to-morrow with him. Mr. Gardiner, whose manners were easy and pleasant, encouraged her communicativeness by hisquestions and remarks: Mrs. Reynolds, either from pride or attachment, had evidently great pleasure intalking of her master and his sister. Is your master much at Pemberley in the course of the year? Not so much as I could wish, sir: but I daresay he may spend half his time here; and Miss Darcy isalways down for the summer months. Except, thought Elizabeth, when she goes to Ramsgate. If your master would marry, you might see more of him. Yes, sir; but I do not know when that will be. I do not know who is good enough for him. Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner smiled. Elizabeth could not help saying, It is very much to his credit, I am sure,that you should think so. I say no more than the truth, and what everybody will say that knows him, replied the other. Elizabeththought this was going pretty far; and she listened with increasing astonishment as the housekeeperadded, I have never had a cross word from him in my life, and I have known him ever since he was fouryears old. This was praise of all others most extraordinary, most opposite to her ideas. That he was not agood-tempered man had been her firmest opinion. Her keenest attention was awakened: she longed tohear more; and was grateful to her uncle for saying, There are very few people of whom so much can be said. You are lucky in having such a master. Yes, sir, I know I am. If I were to go through the world, I could not meet with a better. But I havealways observed that they who are good-natured when children are good-natured when they grow up;and he was always the sweetest-tempered, most generous-hearted boy in the world. Elizabeth almost stared at her. Can this be Mr. Darcy? thought she. His father was an excellent man, said Mrs. Gardiner. Yes, ma am, that he was indeed; and his son will be just like him just as affable to the poor. Elizabeth listened, wondered, doubted, and was impatient for more. Mrs. Reynolds could interest her onno other point. She related the subjects of the pictures, the dimensions of the rooms, and the price of thefurniture in vain. Mr. Gardiner, highly amused by the kind of family prejudice, to which he attributed herexcessive commendation of her master, soon led again to the subject; and she dwelt with energy on hismany merits, as they proceeded together up the great staircase. He is the best landlord, and the best master, said she, that ever lived. Not like the wild young mennowadays, who think of nothing but themselves. There is not one of his tenants or servants but what willgive him a good name. Some people call him proud; but I am sure I never saw anything of it. To myfancy, it is only because he does not rattle away like other young men. In what an amiable light does this place him! thought Elizabeth. This fine account of him, whispered her aunt as they walked, is not quite consistent with hisbehaviour to our poor friend. Perhaps we might be deceived. That is not very likely; our authority was too good. On reaching the spacious lobby above, they were shown into a very pretty sitting-room, lately fitted upwith greater elegance and lightness than the apartments below; and were informed that it was but justdone to give pleasure to Miss Darcy, who had taken a liking to the room when last at Pemberley. He is certainly a good brother, said Elizabeth, as she walked towards one of the windows. Mrs. Reynolds anticipated Miss Darcy s delight when she should enter the room. And this is alwaysthe way with him, she added. Whatever can give his sister any pleasure, is sure to be done in a is nothing he would not do for her. The picture gallery, and two or three of the principal bedrooms, were all that remained to be shown. Inthe former were many good paintings: but Elizabeth knew nothing of the art; and from such as had beenalready visible below, she had willingly turned to look at some drawings of Miss Darcy s, in crayons,whose subjects were usually more interesting, and also more intelligible. In the gallery there were many family portraits, but they could have little to fix the attention of astranger. Elizabeth walked on in quest of the only face whose features would be known to her. At last itarrested her and she beheld a striking resemblance of Mr. Darcy, with such a smile over the face as sheremembered to have sometimes seen when he looked at her. She stood several minutes before the picture,in earnest contemplation, and returned to it again before they quitted the gallery. Mrs. Reynolds informedthem that it had been taken in his father s lifetime. There was certainly at this moment, in Elizabeth s mind, a more gentle sensation towards the originalthan she had ever felt in the height of their acquaintance. The commendation bestowed on him by was of no trifling nature. What praise is more valuable than the praise of an intelligent servant?As a brother, a landlord, a master, she considered how many people s happiness was in his guardianship!How much of pleasure or pain it was in his power to bestow! How much of good or evil must be done byhim! Every idea that had been brought forward by the housekeeper was favourable to his character; andas she stood before the canvas on which he was represented, and fixed his eyes upon herself, she thoughtof his regard with a deeper sentiment of gratitude than it had ever raised before: she remembered itswarmth, and softened its impropriety of expression. When all of the house that was open to general inspection had been seen, they returned downstairs; and,taking leave of the housekeeper, were consigned over to the gardener, who met them at the hall door. As they walked across the lawn towards the river, Elizabeth turned back to look again; her uncle andaunt stopped also: and while the former was conjecturing as to the date of the building, the owner of ithimself suddenly came forward from the road which led behind it to the stables. They were within twenty yards of each other, and so abrupt was his appearance, that it was impossibleto avoid his sight. Their eyes instantly met, and the cheeks of each were overspread with the deepestblush. He absolutely started, and for a moment seemed immovable from surprise; but shortly recoveringhimself, advanced towards the party, and spoke to Elizabeth, if not in terms of perfect composure, at leastof perfect civility. She had instinctively turned away; but, stopping on his approach, received his compliments with anembarrassment impossible to be overcome. Had his first appearance, or his resemblance to the picturethey had just been examining, been insufficient to assure the other two that they now saw Mr. Darcy, thegardener s expression of surprise, on beholding his master, must immediately have told it. They stood alittle aloof while he was talking to their niece, who, astonished and confused, scarcely dared lift her eyesto his face, and knew not what answer she returned to his civil inquiries after her family. Amazed at thealteration of his manner since they last parted, every sentence that he uttered was increasing herembarrassment; and every idea of the impropriety of her being found there recurring to her mind, the fewminutes in which they continued together were some of the most uncomfortable of her life. Nor did heseem much more at ease; when he spoke, his accent had none of its usual sedateness; and he repeated hisinquiries as to the time of her having left Longbourn, and of her stay in Derbyshire, so often, and in sohurried a way, as plainly spoke the distraction of his thoughts. At length every idea seemed to fail him; and after standing a few moments without saying a word, hesuddenly recollected himself, and took leave. The others then joined her, and expressed their admiration of his figure; but Elizabeth heard not a word,and, wholly engrossed by her own feelings, followed them in silence. She was overpowered by shameand vexation. Her coming there was the most unfortunate, the most ill-judged thing in the world! Howstrange must it appear to him! In what a disgraceful light might it not strike so vain a man! It might seemas if she had purposely thrown herself in his way again! Oh! why did she come? or, why did he thuscome a day before he was expected? Had they been only ten minutes sooner, they should have beenbeyond the reach of his discrimination; for it was plain that he was that moment arrived, that momentalighted from his horse or his carriage. She blushed again and again over the perverseness of the his behaviour, so strikingly altered, what could it mean? That he should even speak to her wasamazing! but to speak with such civility, to inquire after her family! Never in her life had she seen hismanner so little dignified, never had he spoken with such gentleness as on this unexpected meeting. Whata contrast did it offer to his last address in Rosings Park, when he put his letter into her hand! She knewnot what to think, or how to account for it. They had now entered a beautiful walk by the side of the water, and every step was bringing forward anobler fall of ground, or a finer reach of the woods to which they were approaching: but it was some timebefore Elizabeth was sensible of any of it; and, though she answered mechanically to the repeatedappeals of her uncle and aunt, and seemed to direct her eyes to such objects as they pointed out, shedistinguished no part of the scene. Her thoughts were all fixed on that one spot of Pemberley House,whichever it might be, where Mr. Darcy then was. She longed to know what at that moment was passingin his mind; in what manner he thought of her, and whether, in defiance of everything, she was still dearto him. Perhaps he had been civil only because he felt himself at ease; yet there had been that in hisvoice, which was not like ease. Whether he had felt more of pain or of pleasure in seeing her she couldnot tell, but he certainly had not seen her with composure. At length, however, the remarks of her companions on her absence of mind roused her, and she felt thenecessity of appearing more like herself. They entered the woods, and, bidding adieu to the river for a while, ascended some of the higherground; whence, in spots where the opening of the trees gave the eye power to wander, were manycharming views of the valley, the opposite hills, with the long range of woods overspreading many, andoccasionally part of the stream. Mr. Gardiner expressed a wish of going round the whole park, but fearedit might be beyond a walk. With a triumphant smile they were told that it was ten miles round. It settledthe matter; and they pursued the accustomed circuit; which brought them again, after some time, in adescent among hanging woods, to the edge of the water, and one of its narrowest parts. They crossed itby a simple bridge, in character with the general air of the scene: it was a spot less adorned than any theyhad yet visited; and the valley, here contracted into a glen, allowed room only for the stream and anarrow walk amidst the rough coppice-wood which bordered it. Elizabeth longed to explore its windings;but when they had crossed the bridge, and perceived their distance from the house, Mrs. Gardiner, whowas not a great walker, could go no farther, and thought only of returning to the carriage as quickly aspossible. Her niece was, therefore, obliged to submit, and they took their way towards the house on theopposite side of the river, in the nearest direction; but their progress was slow, for Mr. Gardiner, thoughseldom able to indulge the taste, was very fond of fishing, and was so much engaged in watching theoccasional appearance of some trout in the water, and talking to the man about them, that he advancedbut little. Whilst wandering on in this slow manner, they were again surprised, and Elizabeth sastonishment was quite equal to what it had been at first, by the sight of Mr. Darcy approaching them,and at no great distance. The walk, being here less sheltered than on the other side, allowed them to seehim before they met. Elizabeth, however astonished, was at least more prepared for an interview thanbefore, and resolved to appear and to speak with calmness, if he really intended to meet them. For a fewmoments, indeed, she felt that he would probably strike into some other path. The idea lasted while aturning in the walk concealed him from their view; the turning passed, he was immediately before a glance she saw that he had lost none of his recent civility; and, to imitate his politeness, she beganas they met to admire the beauty of the place; but she had not got beyond the words delightful and charming, when some unlucky recollections obtruded, and she fancied that praise of Pemberley fromher might be mischievously construed. Her colour changed, and she said no more. Mr. Gardiner was standing a little behind; and on her pausing, he asked her if she would do him thehonour of introducing him to her friends. This was a stroke of civility for which she was quiteunprepared; and she could hardly suppress a smile at his being now seeking the acquaintance of some ofthose very people, against whom his pride had revolted in his offer to herself. What will be his surprise, thought she, when he knows who they are! He takes them now for people of fashion. The introduction, however, was immediately made; and as she named their relationship to herself, shestole a sly look at him, to see how he bore it; and was not without the expectation of his decamping asfast as he could from such disgraceful companions. That he was surprised by the connection was evident:he sustained it, however, with fortitude: and, so far from going away, turned back with them, and enteredinto conversation with Mr. Gardiner. Elizabeth could not but be pleased, could not but triumph. It wasconsoling that he should know she had some relations for whom there was no need to blush. She listenedmost attentively to all that passed between them, and gloried in every expression, every sentence of heruncle, which marked his intelligence, his taste, or his good manners. The conversation soon turned upon fishing; and she heard Mr. Darcy invite him, with the greatestcivility, to fish there as often as he chose, while he continued in the neighbourhood, offering at the sametime to supply him with fishing tackle, and pointing out those parts of the stream where there was usuallymost sport. Mrs. Gardiner, who was walking arm in arm with Elizabeth, gave her a look expressive of herwonder. Elizabeth said nothing, but it gratified her exceedingly; the compliment must be all for astonishment, however, was extreme; and continually was she repeating, Why is he so altered?From what can it proceed? It cannot be for me, it cannot be for my sake that his manners are thussoftened. My reproofs at Hunsford could not work such a change as this. It is impossible that he shouldstill love me. After walking some time in this way, the two ladies in front, the two gentlemen behind, on resumingtheir places, after descending to the brink of the river for the better inspection of some curiouswater-plant, there chanced to be a little alteration. It originated in Mrs. Gardiner, who, fatigued by theexercise of the morning, found Elizabeth s arm inadequate to her support, and consequently preferred herhusband s. Mr. Darcy took her place by her niece, and they walked on together. After a short silence thelady first spoke. She wished him to know that she had been assured of his absence before she came to theplace, and accordingly began by observing, that his arrival had been very unexpected for yourhousekeeper, she added, informed us that you would certainly not be here till to-morrow; and, indeed,before we left Bakewell, we understood that you were not immediately expected in the country. Heacknowledged the truth of it all; and said that business with his steward had occasioned his comingforward a few hours before the rest of the party with whom he had been travelling. They will join meearly to-morrow, he continued, and among them are some who will claim an acquaintance withyou, Mr. Bingley and his sisters. Elizabeth answered only by a slight bow. Her thoughts were instantly driven back to the time when s name had been last mentioned between them; and if she might judge from his complexion, hismind was not very differently engaged. There is also one other person in the party, he continued after a pause, who more particularly wishesto be known to you. Will you allow me, or do I ask too much to introduce my sister to your acquaintanceduring your stay at Lambton? The surprise of such an application was great indeed; it was too great for her to know in what mannershe acceded to it. She immediately felt that whatever desire Miss Darcy might have of being acquaintedwith her must be the work of her brother, and without looking farther, it was satisfactory; it wasgratifying to know that his resentment had not made him think really ill of her. They now walked on in silence; each of them deep in thought. Elizabeth was not comfortable; that wasimpossible; but she was flattered and pleased. His wish of introducing his sister to her was a complimentof the highest kind. They soon outstripped the others; and when they had reached the carriage, Mr. andMrs. Gardiner were half a quarter of a mile behind. He then asked her to walk into the house but she declared herself not tired, and they stood together onthe lawn. At such a time much might have been said, and silence was very awkward. She wanted to talk,but there seemed an embargo on every subject. At last she recollected that she had been travelling, andthey talked of Matlock and Dovedale with great perseverance. Yet time and her aunt moved slowly andher patience and her ideas were nearly worn out before the t te- -t te was over. On Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner s coming up they were all pressed to go into the house and take somerefreshment; but this was declined, and they parted on each side with the utmost politeness. Mr. Darcyhanded the ladies into the carriage, and when it drove off, Elizabeth saw him walking slowly towards thehouse. The observations of her uncle and aunt now began; and each of them pronounced him to be infinitelysuperior to anything they had expected. He is perfectly well behaved, polite, and unassuming, said heruncle. There is something a little stately in him to be sure, replied her aunt; but it is confined to his air, andis not unbecoming. I can now say with the housekeeper, that though some people may call him proud, Ihave seen nothing of it. I was never more surprised than by his behaviour to us. It was more than civil; it was really attentive;and there was no necessity for such attention. His acquaintance with Elizabeth was very trifling. To be sure, Lizzy, said her aunt, he is not so handsome as Wickham; or rather he has not Wickham scountenance, for his features are perfectly good. But how came you to tell us that he was sodisagreeable? Elizabeth excused herself as well as she could: said that she had liked him better when they met in Kentthan before, and that she had never seen him so pleasant as this morning. But perhaps he may be a little whimsical in his civilities, replied her uncle. Your great men often are;and, therefore, I shall not take him at his word about fishing, as he might change his mind another day,and warn me off his grounds. Elizabeth felt that they had entirely mistaken his character, but said nothing. From what we have seen of him, continued Mrs. Gardiner, I really should not have thought that hecould have behaved in so cruel a way by anybody, as he has done by poor Wickham. He has not anill-natured look. On the contrary, there is something pleasing about his mouth when he speaks. And thereis something of dignity in his countenance, that would not give one an unfavorable idea of his heart. But,to be sure, the good lady who showed us the house did give him a most flaming character! I could hardlyhelp laughing aloud sometimes. But he is a liberal master, I suppose, and that, in the eye of a servant,comprehends every virtue. Elizabeth here felt herself called on to say something in vindication of his behaviour to Wickham; and,therefore, gave them to understand, in as guarded a manner as she could, that by what she had heard fromhis relations in Kent, his actions were capable of a very different construction; and that his character wasby no means so faulty, nor Wickham s so amiable, as they had been considered in Hertfordshire. Inconfirmation of this, she related the particulars of all the pecuniary transactions in which they had beenconnected, without actually naming her authority, but stating it to be such as might be relied on. Mrs. Gardiner was surprised and concerned: but as they were now approaching the scene of her formerpleasures, every idea gave way to the charm of recollection; and she was too much engaged in pointingout to her husband all the interesting spots in its environs, to think of anything else. Fatigued as she hadbeen by the morning s walk, they had no sooner dined than she set off again in quest of her formeracquaintance, and the evening was spent in the satisfactions of an intercourse renewed after many years discontinuance. The occurrences of the day were too full of interest to leave Elizabeth much attention for any of thesenew friends; and she could do nothing but think, and think with wonder, of Mr. Darcy s civility, andabove all, of his wishing her to be acquainted with his XLIVELIZABETH had settled it that Mr. Darcy would bring h is sister to visit her the very day after herreaching Pemberley; and was, consequently, resolved not to be out of sight of the inn the whole of thatmorning. But her conclusion was false; for on the very morning after their own arrival at Lambton thesevisitors came. They had been walking about the place with some of their new friends, and were justreturned to the inn to dress themselves for dining with the same family, when the sound of a carriagedrew them to a window, and they saw a gentleman and lady in a curricle driving up the street. Elizabeth,immediately recognising the livery, guessed what it meant, and imparted no small degree of surprise toher relations by acquainting them with the honour which she expected. Her uncle and aunt were allamazement; and the embarrassment of her manner as she spoke, joined to the circumstance itself, andmany of the circumstances of the preceding day, opened to them a new idea on the business. Nothing hadever suggested it before, but they now felt that there was no other way of accounting for such attentionsfrom such a quarter than by supposing a partiality for their niece. While these newlyborn notions werepassing in their heads, the perturbation of Elizabeth s feelings was every moment increasing. She wasquite amazed at her own discomposure; but, amongst other causes of disquiet, she dreaded lest thepartiality of the brother should have said too much in her favour; and, more than commonly anxious toplease, she naturally suspected that every power of pleasing would fail her. She retreated from the window, fearful of being seen; and as she walked up and down the room,endeavouring to compose herself, saw such looks of inquiring surprise in her uncle and aunt as madeeverything worse. Miss Darcy and her brother appeared, and this formidable introduction took place. With astonishmentdid Elizabeth see that her new acquaintance was at least as much embarrassed as herself. Since her beingat Lambton, she had heard that Miss Darcy was exceedingly proud; but the observation of a very fewminutes convinced her that she was only exceedingly shy. She found it difficult to obtain even a wordfrom her beyond a monosyllable. Miss Darcy was tall, and on a larger scale than Elizabeth; and, though little more than sixteen, herfigure was formed, and her appearance womanly and graceful. She was less handsome than her brother,but there was sense and goodhumour in her face, and her manners were perfectly unassuming and , who had expected to find in her as acute and unembarrassed an observer as ever Mr. Darcyhad been, was much relieved by discerning such different feelings. They had not been long together before Darcy told her that Bingley was also coming to wait on her; andshe had barely time to express her satisfaction, and prepare for such a visitor, when Bingley s quick stepwas heard on the stairs, and in a moment he entered the room. All Elizabeth s anger against him had beenlong done away; but had she still felt any, it could hardly have stood its ground against the unaffectedcordiality with which he expressed himself on seeing her again. He inquired in a friendly, thoughgeneral, way, after her family, and looked and spoke with the same goodhumoured ease that he had everdone. To Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner he was scarcely a less interesting personage than to herself. They had longwished to see him. The whole party before them, indeed, excited a lively attention. The suspicions whichhad just arisen of Mr. Darcy and their niece directed their observation towards each with an earnest,though guarded, inquiry; and they soon drew from those inquiries the full conviction that one of them atleast knew what it was to love. Of the lady s sensations they remained a little in doubt; but that thegentleman was overflowing with admiration was evident enough. Elizabeth, on her side, had much to do. She wanted to ascertain the feelings of each of her visitors, shewanted to compose her own, and to make herself agreeable to all; and in the latter object, where shefeared most to fail, she was most sure of success, for those to whom she endeavoured to give pleasurewere prepossessed in her favour. Bingley was ready, Georgiana was eager, and Darcy determined, to bepleased. In seeing Bingley, her thoughts naturally flew to her sister; and oh! how ardently did she long to knowwhether any of his were directed in a like manner. Sometimes she could fancy that he talked less than onformer occasions, and once or twice pleased herself with the notion that as he looked at her he was tryingto trace a resemblance. But, though this might be imaginary, she could not be deceived as to hisbehaviour to Miss Darcy, who had been set up as a rival to Jane. No look appeared on either side thatspoke particular regard. Nothing occurred between them that could justify the hopes of his sister. On thispoint she was soon satisfied; and two or three little circumstances occurred ere they parted, which, in heranxious interpretation, denoted a recollection of Jane, not untinctured by tenderness, and a wish of sayingmore that might lead to the mention of her, had he dared. He observed to her, at a moment when the others were talking together, and in a tone which hadsomething of real regret, that, it was a very long time since he had had the pleasure of seeing her ; and,before she could reply, he added, It is above eight months. We have not met since the 26th ofNovember, when we were all dancing together at Netherfield. Elizabeth was pleased to find his memory so exact; and he afterwards took occasion to ask her, whenunattended to by any of the rest, whether all her sisters were at Longbourn. There was not much in thequestion, nor in the preceding remark; but there was a look and a manner which gave them meaning. It was not often that she could turn her eyes on Mr. Darcy himself; but whenever she did catch aglimpse she saw an expression of general complaisance, and in all that he said she heard an accent so farremoved from hauteur or disdain of his companions, as convinced her that the improvement of mannerswhich she had yesterday witnessed, however temporary its existence might prove, had at least outlivedone day. When she saw him thus seeking the acquaintance and courting the good opinion of people withwhom any intercourse a few months ago would have been a disgrace; when she saw him thus civil, notonly to herself, but to the very relations whom he had openly disdained, and recollected their last livelyscene in Hunsford Parsonage, the difference, the change was so great, and struck so forcibly on her mind,that she could hardly restrain her astonishment from being visible. Never, even in the company of hisdear friends at Netherfield, or his dignified relations at Rosings, had she seen him so desirous to please,so free from self-consequence or unbending reserve, as now when no importance could result from thesuccess of his endeavours, and when even the acquaintance of those to whom his attentions wereaddressed would draw down the ridicule and censure of the ladies both of Netherfield and Rosings. Their visitors stayed with them above half an hour; and when they arose to depart, Mr. Darcy called onhis sister to join him in expressing their wish of seeing Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, and Miss Bennet, todinner at Pemberley, before they left the country. Miss Darcy, though with a diffidence which markedher little in the habit of giving invitations, readily obeyed. Mrs. Gardiner looked at her niece, desirous of knowing how she, whom the invitation most concerned,felt disposed as to its acceptance, but Elizabeth had turned away her head. Presuming, however, that thisstudied avoidance spoke rather a momentary embarrassment than any dislike of the proposal, and seeingin her husband, who was fond of society, a perfect willingness to accept it, she ventured to engage for herattendance, and the day after the next was fixed on. Bingley expressed great pleasure in the certainty of seeing Elizabeth again, having still a great deal tosay to her, and many inquiries to make after all their Hertfordshire friends. Elizabeth, construing all thisinto a wish of hearing her speak of her sister, was pleased; and on this account, as well as some others,found herself, when their visitors left them, capable of considering the last half-hour with somesatisfaction, though while it was passing the enjoyment of it had been little. Eager to be alone, and fearfulof inquiries or hints from her uncle and aunt, she stayed with them only long enough to hear theirfavourable opinion of Bingley, and then hurried away to dress. But she had no reason to fear Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner s curiosity; it was not their wish to force hercommunication. It was evident that she was much better acquainted with Mr. Darcy than they had beforeany idea of; it was evident that he was very much in love with her. They saw much to interest, butnothing to justify inquiry. Of Mr. Darcy it was now a matter of anxiety to think well; and, as far as their acquaintance reached,there was no fault to find. They could not be untouched by his politeness; and had they drawn hischaracter from their own feelings and his servant s report, without any reference to any other account, thecircle in Hertfordshire to which he was known would not have recognised it for Mr. Darcy. There wasnow an interest, however, in believing the housekeeper; and they soon became sensible that the authorityof a servant, who had known him since he was four years old, and whose own manners indicatedrespectability, was not to be hastily rejected. Neither had anything occurred in the intelligence of theirLambton friends that could materially lessen its weight. They had nothing to accuse him of but pride;pride he probably had, and if not, it would certainly be imputed by the inhabitants of a small market townwhere the family did not visit. It was acknowledged, however, that he was a liberal man, and did muchgood among the poor. With respect to Wickham, the travellers soon found that he was not held there in much estimation; forthough the chief of his concerns with the son of his patron were imperfectly understood, it was yet awell-known fact that on his quitting Derbyshire, he had left many debts behind him, which Mr. Darcyafterwards discharged. As for Elizabeth her thoughts were at Pemberley this evening more than the last; and the evening,though as it passed it seemed long, was not long enough to determine her feelings towards one in thatmansion; and she lay awake two whole hours, endeavouring to make them out. She certainly did not hatehim. No; hatred had vanished long ago, and she had almost as long been ashamed of ever feeling adislike against him that could be so called. The respect created by the conviction of his valuable qualities,though at first unwillingly admitted, had for some time ceased to be repugnant to her feelings; and it wasnow heightened into somewhat of a friendlier nature by the testimony so highly in his favour, andbringing forward his disposition in some amiable a light, which yesterday had produced. But above all,above respect and esteem, there was a motive within her of goodwill which could not be overlooked. Itwas gratitude; gratitude, not merely for having once loved her, but for loving her still well enough toforgive all the petulance and acrimony of her manner in rejecting him, and all the unjust accusationsaccompanying her rejection. He who, she had been persuaded, would avoid her as his greatest enemy,seemed, on this accidental meeting, most eager to preserve the acquaintance, and without any indelicatedisplay of regard, or any peculiarity of manner, where their two selves only were concerned, wassoliciting the good opinion of her friends, and bent on making her known to his sister. Such a change in aman of so much pride excited not only astonishment but gratitude for to love, ardent love, it must beattributed; and, as such, its impression on her was of a sort to be encouraged, as by no means unpleasing,though it could not be exactly defined. She respected, she esteemed, she was grateful to hi, she felt a realinterest in his welfare; and she only wanted to know how far she wished that welfare to depend uponherself, and how far it would be for the happiness of both that she should employ the power, which herfancy told her she still possessed, of bringing on the renewal of his addresses. It had been settled in the evening, between the aunt and niece, that such a striking civility as MissDarcy s in coming to them on the very day of her arrival at Pemberley, for she had reached it only to alate breakfast, ought to be imitated, though it could not be equalled, by some exertion of politeness ontheir side; and, consequently, that it would be highly expedient to wait on her at Pemberley the followingmorning. They were, therefore, to go. Elizabeth was pleased; though when she asked herself the reason,she had very little to say in reply. Mr. Gardiner left them soon after breakfast. The fishing scheme had been renewed the day before, and apositive engagement made of his meeting some of the gentlemen at Pemberley by XLVCONVINCED as Elizabeth now was that Miss Bingley s dislike of her had originated in jealousy, shecould not help feeling how very unwelcome her appearance at Pemberley must be to her, and was curiousto know with how much civility on that lady s side the acquaintance would now be renewed. On reaching the house they were shown through the hall into the saloon, whose northern aspectrendered it delightful for summer. Its windows, opening to the ground, admitted a most refreshing viewof the high woody hills behind the house, and of the beautiful oaks and Spanish chestnuts which werescattered over the intermediate lawn. In this room they were received by Miss Darcy, who was sitting there with Mrs. Hurst and MissBingley, and the lady with whom she lived in London. Georgiana s reception of them was very civil, butattended with all that embarrassment which, though proceeding from shyness and the fear of doingwrong, would easily give to those who felt themselves inferior the belief of her being proud and Gardiner and her niece, however, did her justice, and pitied her. By Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley they were noticed only by a courtesy; and on their being seated, apause, awkward as such pauses must always be, succeeded for a few moments. It was first broken byMrs. Annesley, a genteel, agreeable-looking woman, whose endeavour to introduce some kind ofdiscourse proved her to be more truly well-bred than either of the others; and between her and , with occasional help from Elizabeth, the conversation was carried on. Miss Darcy looked as ifshe wished for courage enough to join in it; and sometimes did venture a short sentence, when there wasleast danger of its being heard. Elizabeth soon saw that she was herself closely watched by Miss Bingley, and that she could not speaka word, especially to Miss Darcy, without calling her attention. This observation would not haveprevented her from trying to talk to the latter, had they not been seated at an inconvenient distance; butshe was not sorry to be spared the necessity of saying much: her own thoughts were employing her. Sheexpected every moment that some of the gentlemen would enter the room: she wished, she feared, thatthe master of the house might be amongst them; and whether she wished or feared it most, she couldscarcely determine. After sitting in this manner a quarter of an hour, without hearing Miss Bingley svoice, Elizabeth was aroused by receiving from her a cold inquiry after the health of her family. Sheanswered with equal indifference and brevity, and the other said no more. The next variation which their visit afforded was produced by the entrance of servants with cold meat,cake, and a variety of all the finest fruits in season; but this did not take place till after many a significantlook and smile from Mrs. Annesley to Miss Darcy had been given, to remind her of her post. There wasnow employment for the whole party; for though they could not all talk, they could all eat; and thebeautiful pyramids of grapes, nectarines, and peaches, soon collected them round the table. While thus engaged, Elizabeth had a fair opportunity of deciding whether she most feared or wished forthe appearance of Mr. Darcy, by the feelings which prevailed on his entering the room; and then, thoughbut a moment before she had believed her wishes to predominate, she began to regret that he came. He had been some time with Mr. Gardiner, who with two or three other gentlemen from the house, wasengaged by the river, and had left him only on learning that the ladies of the family intended a visit toGeorgiana that morning. No sooner did he appear, than Elizabeth wisely resolved to be perfectly easyand unembarrassed; a resolution the more necessary to be made, but perhaps not the more easily kept,because she saw that the suspicions of the whole party were awakened against them, and that there wasscarcely an eye which did not watch his behaviour when he first came into the room. In no countenancewas attentive curiosity so strongly marked as in Miss Bingley s, in spite of the smiles which overspreadher face whenever she spoke to one of its objects; for jealousy had not yet made her desperate, and herattentions to Mr. Darcy were by no means over. Miss Darcy, on her brother s entrance, exerted herselfmuch more to talk; and Elizabeth saw that he was anxious for his sister and herself to get acquainted, andforwarded, as much as possible, every attempt at conversation on either side. Miss Bingley saw all thislikewise; and, in the imprudence of anger, took the first opportunity of saying, with sneering civility, Pray, Miss Eliza, are not the shire militia removed from Meryton? They must be a great loss toyour family. In Darcy s presence she dared not mention Wickham s name; but Elizabeth instantly comprehendedthat he was uppermost in her thoughts; and the various recollections connected with him gave her amoment s distress; but, exerting herself vigorously to repel the ill-natured attack, she presently answeredthe question in a tolerably disengaged tone. While she spoke, an involuntary glance showed her Darcywith a heightened complexion, earnestly looking at her, and his sister overcome with confusion, andunable to lift up her eyes. Had Miss Bingley known what pain she was then giving her beloved friend,she undoubtedly would have refrained from the hint; but she had merely intended to discomposeElizabeth, by bringing forward the idea of a man to whom she believed her partial, to make her betray asensibility which might injure her in Darcy s opinion, and, perhaps, to remind the latter of all the folliesand absurdities by which some part of her family were connected with that corps. Not a syllable had everreached her of Miss Darcy s meditated elopement. To no creature had it been revealed, where secrecywas possible, except to Elizabeth; and from all Bingley s connections her brother was particularlyanxious to conceal it, from that very wish which Elizabeth had long ago attributed to him, of theirbecoming hereafter her own. He had certainly formed such a plan; and without meaning that it shouldaffect his endeavour to separate him from Miss Bennet, it is probable that it might add something to hislively concern for the welfare of his friend. Elizabeth s collected behaviour, however, soon quieted his emotion; and as Miss Bingley, vexed anddisappointed, dared not approach nearer to Wickham, Georgiana also recovered in time, though notenough to be able to speak any more. Her brother, whose eye she feared to meet, scarcely recollected herinterest in the affair; and the very circumstance which had been designed to turn his thoughts fromElizabeth seemed to have fixed them on her more and more cheerfully. Their visit did not continue long after the question and answer above mentioned; and while Mr. Darcywas attending them to their carriage, Miss Bingley was venting her feelings in criticisms on Elizabeth sperson, behaviour, and dress. But Georgiana would not join her. Her brother s recommendation wasenough to insure her favour: his judgment could not err; and he had spoken in such terms of Elizabeth asto leave Georgiana without the power of finding her otherwise than lovely and amiable. When Darcyreturned to the saloon, Miss Bingley could not help repeating to him some part of what she had beensaying to his sister. How very ill Eliza Bennet looks this morning, Mr. Darcy, she cried: I never in my life saw any one somuch altered as she is since the winter. She is grown so brown and coarse. Louisa and I were agreeingthat we should not have known her again. However little Mr. Darcy might have liked such an address, he contented himself with coolly replyingthat he perceived no other alteration than her being rather tanned, no miraculous consequence oftravelling in the summer. For my own part, she rejoined, I must confess that I never could see any beauty in her. Her face is toothin; her complexion has no brilliancy; and her features are not at all handsome. Her nose wantscharacter; there is nothing marked in its lines. Her teeth are tolerable, but not out of the common way;and as for her eyes, which have sometimes been called so fine, I never could perceive anythingextraordinary in them. They have a sharp, shrewish look, which I do not like at all; and in her airaltogether there is a self sufficiency without fashion, which is intolerable. Persuaded as Miss Bingley was that Darcy admired Elizabeth, this was not the best method ofrecommending herself; but angry people are not always wise; and in seeing him at last look somewhatnettled, she had all the success she expected. He was resolutely silent, however; and, from adetermination of making him speak, she continued, I remember, when we first knew her in Hertfordshire, how amazed we all were to find that she was areputed beauty; and I particularly recollect your saying one night, after they had been dining atNetherfield, She a beauty! I should as soon call her mother a wit. But afterwards she seemed toimprove on you, and I believe you thought her rather pretty at one time. Yes, replied Darcy, who could contain himself no longer, but that was only when I first knew her; forit is many months since I have considered her as one of the handsomest women of my acquaintance. He then went away, and Miss Bingley was left to all the satisfaction of having forced him to say whatgave no one any pain but herself. Mrs. Gardiner and Elizabeth talked of all that had occurred during their visit, as they returned, exceptwhat had particularly interested them both. The looks and behaviour of everybody they had seen werediscussed, except of the person who had mostly engaged their attention. They talked of his sister, hisfriends, his house, his fruit, of everything but himself; yet Elizabeth was longing to know what thought of him, and Mrs. Gardiner would have been highly gratified by her niece s beginningthe XLVIELIZABETH had been a good deal disappointed in not finding a letter from Jane on their first arrival atLambton; and this disappointment had been renewed on each of the mornings that had now been spentthere; but on the third her repining was over, and her sister justified, by the receipt of two letters from herat once, on one of which was marked that it had been mis-sent elsewhere. Elizabeth was not surprised atit, as Jane had written the direction remarkably ill. They had just been preparing to walk as the letters came in; and her uncle and aunt, leaving her to enjoythem in quiet, set off by themselves. The one mis-sent must be first attended to; it had been written fivedays ago. The beginning contained an account of all their little parties and engagements, with such newsas the country afforded; but the latter half, which was dated a day later, and written in evident agitation,gave more important intelligence. It was to this effect: Since writing the above, dearest Lizzy, something has occurred of a most unexpected and seriousnature; but I am afraid of alarming you be assured that we are all well. What I have to say relates topoor Lydia. An express came at twelve last night, just as we were all gone to bed, from Colonel Forster,to inform us that she had gone off to Scotland with one of his officers; to own the truth, with Wick ham!Imagine our surprise. To Kitty, however, it does not seem so wholly unexpected. I am very, very imprudent a match on both sides! But I am willing to hope the best, and that his character has beenmisunderstood. Thoughtless and indiscreet I can easily believe him, but this step (and let us rejoice overit) marks nothing bad at heart. His choice is disinterested at least, for he must know my father can giveher nothing. Our poor mother is sadly grieved. My father bears it better. How thankful am I, that wenever let them know what has been said against him; we must forget it ourselves. They were off Saturdaynight about twelve, as is conjectured, but were not missed till yesterday morning at eight. The expresswas sent off directly. My dear Liz, they must have passed within ten miles of us. Colonel Forester givesus reason to expect him here soon. Lydia left a few lines for his wife, informing her of their intention. Imust conclude, for I cannot be long from my poor mother. I am afraid you will not be able to make it out,but I hardly know what I have written. Without allowing herself time for consideration and scarcely knowing what she felt, Elizabeth, onfinishing this letter, instantly seized the other, and opening it with the utmost impatience, read as follows:it had been written a day later than the conclusion of the first. By this time, my dearest sister, you have received my hurried letter; I wish this may be moreintelligible, but though not confined for time, my head is so bewildered that I cannot answer for beingcoherent. Dearest Lizzy, I hardly know what I would write, but I have bad news for you, and it cannot bedelayed. Imprudent as a marriage between Mr. Wickham and our poor Lydia would be, we are nowanxious to be assured it has taken place, for there is but too much reason to fear they are not gone toScotland. Colonel Forster came yesterday, having left Brighton the day before, not many hours after theexpress. Though Lydia s short letter to Mrs. F. gave them to understand that they were going to GretnaGreen, something was dropped by Denny expressing his belief that W. never intended to go there, or tomarry Lydia at all, which was repeated to Colonel F., who, instantly taking the alarm, set off from B.,intending to trace their route. He did trace them easily to Clapham, but no farther; for on entering thatplace, they removed into a hackney-coach, and dismissed the chaise that brought them from Epsom. Allthat is known after this is, that they were seen to continue the London road. I know not what to making every possible inquiry on that side London, Colonel F. came on into Hertfordshire,anxiously renewing them at all the turnpikes, and at the inns in Barnet and Hatfield, but without anysuccess, no such people had been seen to pass through. With the kindest concern he came on toLongbourn, and broke his apprehensions to us in a manner most creditable to his heart. I am sincerelygrieved for him and Mrs. F.; but no one can throw any blame on them. Our distress, my dear Lizzy, isvery great. My father and mother believe the worst, but I cannot think so ill of him. Many circumstancesmight make it more eligible for them to be married privately in town than to pursue their first plan; andeven if he could form such a design against a young woman of Lydia s connections, which is not likely,can I suppose her so lost to everything? Impossible! I grieve to find, however, that Colonel F. is notdisposed to depend upon their marriage: he shook his head when I expressed my hopes, and said hefeared W. was not a man to be trusted. My poor mother is really ill, and keeps her room. Could she exertherself, it would be better, but this is not to be expected; and as to my father, I never in my life saw himso affected. Poor Kitty has anger for having concealed their attachment; but as it was a matter ofconfidence, one cannot wonder. I am truly glad, dearest Lizzy, that you have been spared something ofthese distressing scenes; but now, as the first shock is over, shall I own that I long for your return? I amnot so selfish, however, as to press for it, if inconvenient. Adieu! I take up my pen again to do what Ihave just told you I would not; but circumstances are such, that I cannot help earnestly begging you all tocome here as soon as possible. I know my dear uncle and aunt so well, that I am not afraid of requestingit, though I have still something more to ask of the former. My father is going to London with ColonelForster instantly, to try to discover her. What he means to do, I am sure I know not; but his excessivedistress will not allow him to pursue any measure in the best and safest way, and Colonel Forster isobliged to be at Brighton again to-morrow evening. In such an exigence my uncle s advice and assistancewould be everything in the world; he will immediately comprehend what I must feel, and I rely upon hisgoodness. Oh! where, where is my uncle? cried Elizabeth, darting from her seat as she finished the letter, ineagerness to follow him, without losing a moment of the time so precious; but as she reached the door, itwas opened by a servant, and Mr. Darcy appeared. Her pale face and impetuous manner made him start,and before he could recover himself enough to speak, she, in whose mind every idea was superseded byLydia s situation, hastily exclaimed, I beg your pardon, but I must leave you. I must find Mr. Gardinerthis moment on business that cannot be delayed; I have not an instant to lose. Good God! what is the matter? cried he, with more feeling than politeness; then recollecting himself, I will not detain you a minute; but let me, or let the servant, go after Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner. You are notwell enough; you cannot go yourself. Elizabeth hesitated, but her knees trembled under her, and she felt how little would be gained by herattempting to pursue them. Calling back the servant, therefore, she commissioned him, though in sobreathless an accent as made her almost unintelligible, to fetch his master and mistress home instantly. On his quitting the room, she sat down, unable to support herself, and looking so miserably ill, that itwas impossible for Darcy to leave her, or to refrain from saying, in a tone of gentleness andcommiseration, Let me call your maid. Is there nothing you could take to give you present relief? Aglass of wine; shall I get you one? You are very ill. No, I thank you, she replied, endeavouring to recover herself. There is nothing the matter with me. Iam quite well, I am only distressed by some dreadful news which I have just received from Longbourn. She burst into tears as she alluded to it, and for a few minutes could not speak another word. Darcy, inwretched suspense, could only say something indistinctly of his concern, and observe her incompassionate silence. At length she spoke again. I have just had a letter from Jane, with such dreadfulnews. It cannot be concealed from any one. My youngest sister has left all her friends has eloped; hasthrown herself into the power of of Mr. Wickham. They are gone off together from Brighton. Youknow him too well to doubt the rest. She has no money, no connections, nothing that can tempt himto she is lost for ever. Darcy was fixed in astonishment. When I consider, she added, in a yet more agitated voice, that Imight have prevented it! I who knew what he was. Had I but explained some part of it only some partof what I learnt, to my own family! Had his character been known, this could not have happened. But itis all, all too late now. I am grieved, indeed, cried Darcy: grieved shocked. But is it certain, absolutely certain? Oh, yes! They left Brighton together on Sunday night, and were traced almost to London, but notbeyond: they are certainly not gone to Scotland. And what has been done, what has been attempted, to recover her? My father has gone to London, and Jane has written to beg my uncle s immediate assistance, and weshall be off, I hope, in half an hour. But nothing can be done; I know very well that nothing can be is such a man to be worked on? How are they even to be discovered? I have not the smallest is every way horrible! Darcy shook his head in silent acquiescence. When my eyes were open to his real character. Oh! had I known what I ought, what I dared to do! But Iknew not I was afraid of doing too much. Wretched, wretched mistake! Darcy made no answer. He seemed scarcely to hear her, and was walking up and down the room inearnest meditation; his brow contracted, his air gloomy. Elizabeth soon observed, and instantlyunderstood it. Her power was sinking; everything must sink under such a proof of family weakness, suchan assurance of the deepest disgrace. She could neither wonder nor condemn, but the belief of hisself-conquest brought nothing consolatory to her bosom, afforded no palliation of her distress. It was, onthe contrary, exactly calculated to make her understand her own wishes; and never had she so honestlyfelt that she could have loved him, as now, when all love must be vain. But self, though it would intrude, could not engross her. Lydia the humiliation, the misery she wasbringing on them all soon swallowed up every private care; and covering her face with herhandkerchief, Elizabeth was soon lost to everything else; and, after a pause of several minutes, was onlyrecalled to a sense of her situation by the voice of her companion, who, in a manner which, though itspoke compassion, spoke likewise restraint, said, I am afraid you have been long desiring my absence,nor have I anything to plead in excuse of my stay, but real, though unavailing concern. Would to Heaventhat anything could be either said or done on my part, that might offer consolation to such distress! But Iwill not torment you with vain wishes, which may seem purposely to ask for your thanks. Thisunfortunate affair will, I fear, prevent my sister s having the pleasure of seeing you at Pemberley to-day. Oh yes. Be so kind as to apologise for us to Miss Darcy. Say that urgent business calls us homeimmediately. Conceal the unhappy truth as long as it is possible. I know it cannot be long. He readily assured her of his secrecy, again expressed his sorrow for her distress, wished it a happierconclusion than there was at present reason to hope, and, leaving his compliments for her relations, withonly one serious parting look went away. As he quitted the room, Elizabeth felt how improbable it was that they should ever see each other againon such terms of cordiality as had marked their several meetings in Derbyshire; and as she threw aretrospective glance over the whole of their acquaintance, so full of contradictions and varieties, sighedat the perverseness of those feelings which would now have promoted its continuance, and wouldformerly have rejoiced in its termination. If gratitude and esteem are good foundations of affection, Elizabeth s change of sentiment will beneither improbable nor faulty. But if otherwise, if the regard springing from such sources is unreasonableor unnatural, in comparison of what is so often described as arising on a first interview with its object,and even before two words have been exchanged nothing can be said in her defence, except that she hadgiven somewhat of a trial to the latter method, in her partiality for Wickham, and that its ill successmight, perhaps, authorize her to seek the other less interesting mode of attachment. Be that as it may, shesaw him go with regret; and in this early example of what Lydia s infamy must produce, found additionalanguish as she reflected on that wretched business. Never since reading Jane s second letter had sheentertained a hope of Wickham s meaning to marry her. No one but Jane, she thought, could flatterherself with such an expectation. Surprise was the least of all her feelings on this development. While thecontents of the first letter remained on her mind, she was all surprise, all astonishment, that Wickhamshould marry a girl, whom it was impossible he could marry for money; and how Lydia could ever haveattached him had appeared incomprehensible. But now it was all too natural. For such an attachment asthis she might have sufficient charms; and though she did not suppose Lydia to be deliberately engagingin an elopement, without the intention of marriage, she had no difficulty in believing that neither hervirtue nor her understanding would preserve her from falling an easy prey. She had never perceived, while the regiment was in Hertfordshire, that Lydia had any partiality for him;but she was convinced that Lydia had wanted only encouragement to attach herself to one officer, sometimes another, had been her favourite, as their attentions raised them in heropinion. Her affections had been continually fluctuating, but never without an object. The mischief ofneglect and mistaken indulgence towards such a girl oh! how acutely did she now feel it. She was wild to be at home to hear, to see, to be upon the spot to share with Jane in the cares thatmust now fall wholly upon her, in a family so deranged; a father absent, a mother incapable of exertion,and requiring constant attendance; and though almost persuaded that nothing could be done for Lydia,her uncle s interference seemed of the utmost importance, and till he entered the room the misery of herimpatience was severe. Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner had hurried back in alarm, supposing, by the servant saccount, that their niece was taken suddenly ill; but satisfying them instantly on that head, she eagerlycommunicated the cause of their summons, reading the two letters aloud, and dwelling on the postscriptof the last with trembling energy, though Lydia had never been a favourite with them. Mr. and could not but be deeply afflicted. Not Lydia only, but all were concerned in it; and after the firstexclamations of surprise and horror, Mr. Gardiner readily promised every assistance in his , though expecting no less, thanked him with tears of gratitude; and all three being actuated byone spirit, everything relating to their journey was speedily settled. They were to be off as soon aspossible. But what is to be done about Pemberley? cried Mrs. Gardiner. John told us Mr. Darcy washere when you sent for us; was it so? Yes; and I told him we should not be able to keep our engagement. That is all settled. What is all settled? repeated the other, as she ran into her room to prepare. And are they upon suchterms as for her to disclose the real truth! Oh that I knew how it was! But wishes were vain; or, at best, could serve only to amuse her in the hurry and confusion of thefollowing hour. Had Elizabeth been at leisure to be idle, she would have remained certain that allemployment was impossible to one so wretched as herself; but she had her share of business as well asher aunt, and amongst the rest there were notes to be written to all their friends at Lambton, with falseexcuses for their sudden departure. An hour, however, saw the whole completed; and Mr. Gardiner,meanwhile, having settled his account at the inn, nothing remained to be done but to go; and Elizabeth,after all the misery of the morning, found herself, in a shorter space of time than she could havesupposed, seated in the carriage, and on the road to XLVII I HAVE been thinking it over again, Elizabeth, said her uncle, as they drove from the town; and really,upon serious consideration, I am much more inclined than I was to judge as your eldest sister does of thematter. It appears to me so very unlikely that any young man should form such a design against a girlwho is by no means unprotected or friendless, and who was actually staying in his Colonel s family, thatI am strongly inclined to hope the best. Could he expect that her friends would not step forward? Couldhe expect to be noticed again by the regiment, after such an affront to Colonel Forster? His temptation isnot adequate to the risk. Do you really think so? cried Elizabeth, brightening up for a moment. Upon my word, said Mrs. Gardiner, I begin to be of your uncle s opinion. It is really too great aviolation of decency, honour, and interest, for him to be guilty of it. I cannot think so very ill ofWickham. Can you, yourself, Lizzy, so wholly give him up, as to believe him capable of it? Not perhaps of neglecting his own interest. But of every other neglect I can believe him capable. If,indeed, it should be so! But I dare not hope it. Why should they not go on to Scotland, if that had beenthe case? In the first place, replied Mr. Gardiner, there is no absolute proof that they are not gone to Scotland. Oh, but their removing from the chaise into a hackney coach is such a presumption! And, besides, notraces of them were to be found on the Barnet road. Well, then, supposing them to be in London. They may be there, though for the purpose ofconcealment, for no more exceptionable purpose. It is not likely that money should be very abundant oneither side; and it might strike them that they could be more economically, though less expeditiously,married in London than in Scotland. But why all this secrecy? Why any fear of detection? Why must their marriage be private? Oh no, no,this is not likely. His most particular friend, you see by Jane s account, was persuaded of his neverintending to marry her. Wickham will never marry a woman without some money. He cannot afford what claims has Lydia, what attractions has she beyond youth, health, and good humour, that couldmake him for her sake forego every chance of benefiting himself by marrying well? As to what restraintthe apprehensions of disgrace in the corps might throw on a dishonourable elopement with her, I am notable to judge; for I know nothing of the effects that such a step might produce. But as to your otherobjection, I am afraid it will hardly hold good. Lydia has no brothers to step forward; and he mightimagine, from my father s behaviour, from his indolence and the little attention he has ever seemed togive to what was going forward in his family, that he would do as little and think as little about it, as anyfather could do, in such a matter. But can you think that Lydia is so lost to everything but love of him, as to consent to live with him onany other terms than marriage? It does seem, and it is most shocking, indeed, replied Elizabeth, with tears in her eyes, that a sister ssense of decency and virtue in such a point should admit of doubt. But, really, I know not what to I am not doing her justice. But she is very young; she has never been taught to think on serioussubjects; and for the last halfyear, nay, for a twelvemonth, she has been given up to nothing butamusement and vanity. She has been allowed to dispose of her time in the most idle and frivolousmanner, and to adopt any opinions that came in her way. Since the shire were first quartered inMeryton, nothing but love flirtation, and officers, has been in her head. She has been doing everything inher power, by thinking and talking on the subject, to give greater what shall I call it? susceptibility toher feelings; which are naturally lively enough. And we all know that Wickham has every charm ofperson and address that can captivate a woman. But you see that Jane, said her aunt, does not think so ill of Wickham as to believe him capable of theattempt. Of whom does Jane ever think ill? And who is there, whatever might be their former conduct, that shewould believe capable of such an attempt, till it were proved against them? But Jane knows, as well as Ido, what Wickham really is. We both know that he has been profligate in every sense of the word. Thathe has neither integrity nor honour. That he is as false and deceitful as he is insinuating. And do you really know all this? cried Mrs. Gardiner, whose curiosity as to the mode of herintelligence was all alive. I do, indeed, replied Elizabeth, colouring. I told you the other day of his infamous behaviour to ; and you, yourself, when last at Longbourn, heard in what manner he spoke of the man who hadbehaved with such forbearance and liberality towards him. And there are other circumstances which I amnot at liberty which it is not worth while to relate; but his lies about the whole Pemberley family areendless. From what he said of Miss. Darcy I was thoroughly prepared to see a proud, reserved,disagreeable girl. Yet he knew to the contrary himself. He must know that she was as amiable andunpretending as we have found her. But does Lydia know nothing of this; can she be ignorant of what you and Jane seem so well tounderstand? Oh yes! that, that is the worst of all. Till I was in Kent, and saw so much both of Mr. Darcy and hisrelation Colonel Fitzwilliam, I was ignorant of the truth myself. And when I returned home the shirewas to leave Meryton in a week or fortnight s time. As that was the case, neither Jane, to whom I relatedthe whole, nor I, thought it necessary to make our knowledge public; for of what use could it apparentlybe to any one, that the good opinion which all the neighbourhood had of him should then be overthrown?And even when it was settled that Lydia should go with Mrs. Forster, the necessity of opening her eyes tohis character never occurred to me. That she could be in any danger from the deception never entered myhead. That such a consequence as this should ensue, you may easily believe was far enough from mythoughts. When they all removed to Brighton, therefore, you had no reason, I suppose, to believe them fond ofeach other? Not the slightest. I can remember no symptom of affection on either side; and had anything of the kindbeen perceptible, you must be aware that ours is not a family on which it could be thrown away. Whenfirst he entered the corps, she was ready enough to admire him; but so we all were. Every girl in or nearMeryton was out of her senses about him for the first two months; but he never distinguished her by anyparticular attention; and, consequently, after a moderate period of extravagant and wild admiration, herfancy for him gave way, and others of the regiment, who treated her with more distinction, again becameher favourites. It may be easily believed that, however little of novelty could be added to their fears, hopes, andconjectures, on this interesting subject, by its repeated discussion, no other could detain them from itlong, during the whole of the journey. From Elizabeth s thoughts it was never absent. Fixed there by thekeenest of all anguish, self-reproach, she could find no interval of ease or forgetfulness. They travelled as expeditiously as possible; and, sleeping one night on the road, reached Longbourn bydinner-time the next day. It was a comfort to Elizabeth to consider that Jane could not have been weariedby long expectations. The little Gardiners, attracted by the sight of a chaise, were standing on the steps of the house, as theyentered the paddock; and when the carriage drove up to the door, the joyful surprise that lighted up theirfaces and displayed itself over their whole bodies, in a variety of capers and frisks, was the first pleasingearnest of their welcome. Elizabeth jumped out; and after giving each of them a hasty kiss, hurried into the vestibule, where Jane,who came running downstairs from her mother s apartment, immediately met her. Elizabeth, as she affectionately embraced her, whilst tears filled the eyes of both, lost not a moment inasking whether anything had been heard of the fugitives. Not yet, replied Jane. But now that my dear uncle is come, I hope everything will be well. Is my father in town? Yes, he went on Tuesday, as I wrote you word. And have you heard from him often? We have heard only once. He wrote me a few lines on Wednesday, to say that he had arrived in safety,and to give me his directions, which I particularly begged him to do. He merely added, that he should notwrite again, till he had something of importance to mention. And my mother how is she? How are you all? My mother is tolerably well, I trust; though her spirits are greatly shaken. She is upstairs, and will havegreat satisfaction in seeing you all. She does not yet leave her dressing-room. Mary and Kitty, thankHeaven! are quite well. But you how are you? cried Elizabeth. You look pale. How much you must have gone through! Her sister, however, assured her of her being perfectly well; and their conversation, which had beenpassing while Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner were engaged with their children, was now put an end to by theapproach of the whole party. Jane ran to her uncle and aunt, and welcomed and thanked them both, withalternate smiles and tears. When they were all in the drawing-room, the questions which Elizabeth had already asked were ofcourse repeated by the others, and they soon found that Jane had no intelligence to give. The sanguinehope of good, however, which the benevolence of her heart suggested, had not yet deserted her; she stillexpected that it would all end well, and that every morning would bring some letter, either from Lydia orher father, to explain their proceedings, and, perhaps, announce the marriage. Mrs. Bennet, to whose apartment they all repaired, after a few minutes conversation together, receivedthem exactly as might be expected; with tears and lamentations of regret, invectives against the villainousconduct of Wickham, and complaints of her own sufferings and ill-usage. Blaming everybody but theperson to whose ill-judging indulgence the errors of her daughter must be principally owing. If I had been able, said she, to carry my point in going to Brighton with all my family, this would nothave happened: but poor dear Lydia had nobody to take care of her. Why did the Forsters ever let her goout of their sight? I am sure there was some great neglect or other on their side, for she is not the kind ofgirl to do such a thing, if she had been well looked after. I always thought they were very unfit to havethe charge of her; but I was overruled, as I always am. Poor, dear child! And now here s Mr. Bennet goneaway, and I know he will fight Wickham, wherever he meets him, and then he will be killed, and what isto become of us all? The Collinses will turn us out, before he is cold in his grave; and if you are not kindto us, brother, I do not know what we shall do. They all exclaimed against such terrific ideas; and Mr. Gardiner, after general assurances of hisaffection for her and all her family, told her that he meant to be in London the very next day, and wouldassist Mr. Bennet in every endeavour for recovering Lydia. Do not give way to useless alarm, added he: though it is right to be prepared for the worst, there is nooccasion to look on it as certain. It is not quite a week since they left Brighton. In a few days more wemay gain some news of them; and till we know that they are not married, and have no design ofmarrying, do not let us give the matter over as lost. As soon as I get to town, I shall go to my brother, andmake him come home with me to Gracechurch Street, and then we may consult together as to what is tobe done. Oh, my dear brother, replied Mrs. Bennet, that is exactly what I could most wish for. And now do,when you get to town, find them out, wherever they may be; and if they are not married already, makethem marry. And as for wedding clothes, do not let them wait for that, but tell Lydia she shall have asmuch money as she chooses to buy them, after they are married. And, above all things, keep Mr. Bennetfrom fighting. Tell him what a dreadful state I am in that I am frightened out of my wits; and have suchtremblings, such flutterings, all over me, such spasms in my side, and pains in my head, and suchbeatings at heart that I can get no rest by night nor by day. And tell my dear Lydia not to give anydirections about her clothes till she has seen me, for she does not know which are the best , brother, how kind you are! I know you will contrive it all. But Mr. Gardiner, though he assured her again of his earnest endeavours in the cause, could not avoidrecommending moderation to her, as well in her hopes as her fears; and after talking with her in thismanner till dinner was on table, they left her to vent all her feelings on the housekeeper, who attended inthe absence of her daughters. Though her brother and sister were persuaded that there was no real occasion for such a seclusion fromthe family, they did not attempt to oppose it, for they knew that she had not prudence enough to hold hertongue before the servants, while they waited at table, and judged it better that one only of the household,and the one whom they could most trust, should comprehend all her fears and solicitude on the subject. In the dining-room they were soon joined by Mary and Kitty, who had been too busily engaged in theirseparate apartments to make their appearance before. One came from her books, and the other from hertoilette. The faces of both, however, were tolerably calm; and no change was visible in either, except thatthe loss of her favourite sister, or the anger which she had herself incurred in the business, had givensomething more of fretfulness than usual to the accents of Kitty. As for Mary, she was mistress enoughof herself to whisper to Elizabeth, with a countenance of grave reflection, soon after they were seated attable, This is a most unfortunate affair, and will probably be much talked of. But we must stem the tide ofmalice, and pour into the wounded bosoms of each other the balm of sisterly consolation. Then perceiving in Elizabeth no inclination of replying, she added, Unhappy as the event must be forLydia, we may draw from it this useful lesson: that loss of virtue in a female is irretrievable, that onefalse step involves her in endless ruin, that her reputation is no less brittle than it is beautiful, and that shecannot be too much guarded in her behaviour towards the undeserving of the other sex. Elizabeth lifted up her eyes in amazement, but was too much oppressed to make any reply. Mary,however, continued to console herself with such kind of moral extractions from the evil before them. In the afternoon, the two elder Miss Bennets were able to be for half an hour by themselves; andElizabeth instantly availed herself of the opportunity of making any inquiries which Jane was equallyeager to satisfy. After joining in general lamentations over the dreadful sequel of this event, whichElizabeth considered as all but certain, and Miss Bennet could not assert to be wholly impossible, theformer continued the subject by saying, But tell me all and everything about it which I have not alreadyheard. Give me further particulars. What did Colonel Forster say? Had they no apprehension of anythingbefore the elopement took place? They must have seen them together for ever. Colonel Forster did own that he had often suspected some partiality, especially on Lydia s side, butnothing to give him any alarm. I am so grieved for him. His behaviour was attentive and kind to theutmost. He was coming to us, in order to assure us of his concern, before he had any idea of their notbeing gone to Scotland: when that apprehension first got abroad, it hastened his journey. And was Denny convinced that Wickham would not marry? Did he know of their intending to go off?Had Colonel Forster seen Denny himself? Yes; but when questioned by him Denny denied knowing anything of their plan, and would not give hisreal opinion about it. He did not repeat his persuasion of their not marrying, and from that I am inclinedto hope he might have been misunderstood before. And till Colonel Forester came himself, not one of you entertained a doubt, I suppose, of their beingreally married? How was it possible that such an idea should enter our brains? I felt a little uneasy a little fearful ofmy sister s happiness with him in marriage, because I knew that his conduct had not been always quiteright. My father and mother knew nothing of that, they only felt how imprudent a match it must be. Kittythen owned, with a very natural triumph on knowing more than the rest of us, that in Lydia s last lettershe had prepared her for such a step. She had known, it seems, of their being in love with each othermany weeks. But not before they went to Brighton? No, I believe not. And did Colonel Forester appear to think ill of Wick ham himself? Does he know his real character? I must confess that he did not speak so well of Wick ham as he formerly did. He believed him to beimprudent and extravagant; and since this sad affair has taken place, it is said that he left Meryton greatlyin debt: but I hope this may be false. Oh, Jane, had we been less secret, had we told what we knew of him, this could not have happened! Perhaps it would have been better, replied her sister. But to expose the former faults of any person, without knowing what their present feelings were,seemed unjustifiable. We acted with the best intentions. Could Colonel Forster repeat the particulars of Lydia s note to his wife? He brought it with him for us to see. Jane then took it from her pocket-book, and gave it to Elizabeth. These were the contents: MY DEAR HARRIET You will laugh when you know where I am gone, and I cannothelp laughing myself at your surprise to-morrow morning, as soon as I am missed. I amgoing to Gretna Green, and if you cannot guess with who, I shall think you a simpleton, forthere is but one man in the world I love, and he is an angel. I should never be happy withouthim, so think it no harm to be off. You need not send them word at Longbourn of my going,if you do not like it, for it will make the surprise the greater when I write to them, and signmy name Lydia Wickham. What a good joke it will be! I can hardly write for laughing. Praymake my excuses to Pratt for not keeping my engagement and dancing with him him I hope he will excuse me when he knows all, and tell him I will dance with him atthe next ball we meet with great pleasure. I shall send for my clothes when I get toLongbourn; but I wish you would tell Sally to mend a great slit in my worked muslin gownbefore they are packed up. Good-bye. Give my love to Colonel Forster. I hope you willdrink to our good journey. Your affectionate friend,LYDIA BENNET. Oh, thoughtless, thoughtless Lydia! cried Elizabeth, when she had finished it. What a letter is this, tobe written at such a moment! But at least it shows that she was serious in the object of her he might afterwards persuade her to, it was not on her side a scheme of infamy. My poorfather! how he must have felt it! I never saw any one so shocked. He could not speak a word for full ten minutes. My mother was takenill immediately, and the whole house in such confusion! Oh, Jane, cried Elizabeth, was there a servant belonging to it who did not know the whole storybefore the end of the day? I do not know: I hope there was. But to be guarded at such a time is very difficult. My mother was inhysterics; and though I endeavoured to give her every assistance in my power, I am afraid I did not do somuch as I might have done! but the horror of what might possibly happen almost took from me myfaculties. Your attendance upon her has been too much for you. You do not look well. Oh that I had been withyou! you have had every care and anxiety upon yourself alone. Mary and Kitty have been very kind, and would have shared in every fatigue, I am sure, but I did notthink it right for either of them. Kitty is slight and delicate, and Mary studies so much that her hours ofrepose should not be broken in on. My aunt Philips came to Longbourn on Tuesday, after my father wentaway; and was so good as to stay till Thursday with me. She was of great use and comfort to us all, andLady Lucas has been very kind: she walked here on Wednesday morning to condole with us, and offeredher services, or any of her daughters, if they could be of use to us. She had better have stayed at home, cried Elizabeth: perhaps she meant well, but, under such amisfortune as this, one cannot see too little of one s neighbours. Assistance is impossible; condolence,insufferable. Let them triumph over us at a distance, and be satisfied. She then proceeded to inquire into the measures which her father had intended to pursue, while in town,for the recovery of his daughter. He meant, I believe, replied Jane, to go to Epsom, the place where they last changed horses, see thepostilions, and try if anything could be made out from them. His principal object must be to discover thenumber of the hackney coach which took them from Clapham. It had come with a fare from London; andas he thought the circumstance of a gentleman and lady s removing from one carriage into another mightbe remarked, he meant to make inquiries at Clapham. If he could anyhow discover at what house thecoachman had before set down his fare, he determined to make inquiries there, and hoped it might not beimpossible to find out the stand and number of the coach. I do not know of any other designs that he hadformed; but he was in such a hurry to be gone, and his spirits so greatly discomposed, that I had difficultyin finding out even so much as this. Chapter XLVIITHE WHOLE party were in hopes of a letter from Mr. Bennet the next morning, but the post came inwithout bringing a single line from him. His family knew him to be, on all common occasions, a mostnegligent and dilatory correspondent; but at such a time they had hoped for exertion. They were forced toconclude that he had no pleasing intelligence to send, but even of that they would have been glad to becertain. Mr. Gardiner had waited only for the letters before he set off. When he was gone, they were certain at least of receiving constant information of what was going on;and their uncle promised, at parting, to prevail on Mr. Bennet to return to Longbourn as soon as he could,to the great consolation of his sister, who considered it as the only security for her husband s not beingkilled in a duel. Mrs. Gardiner and the children were to remain in Hertfordshire a few days longer, as the former thoughther presence might be serviceable to her nieces. She shared in their attendance on Mrs. Bennet, and was agreat comfort to them in their hours of freedom. Their other aunt also visited them frequently, andalways, as she said, with the design of cheering and heartening them up, though, as she never camewithout reporting some fresh instance of Wickham s extravagance or irregularity, she seldom went awaywithout leaving them more dispirited than she found them. All Meryton seemed striving to blacken the man who, but three months before, had been almost anangel of light. He was declared to be in debt to every tradesman in the place, and his intrigues, allhonoured with the title of seduction, had been extended into every tradesman s family. Everybodydeclared that he was the wickedest young man in the world; and everybody began to find out that theyhad always distrusted the appearance of his goodness. Elizabeth, though she did not credit above half ofwhat was said, believed enough to make her former assurance of her sister s ruin still more certain; andeven Jane, who believed still less of it, became almost hopeless, more especially as the time was nowcome, when, if they had gone to Scotland, which she had never before entirely despaired of, they must inall probability have gained some news of them. Mr. Gardiner left Longbourn on Sunday; on Tuesday his wife received a letter from him: it told themthat on his arrival he had immediately found out his brother, and persuaded him to come to GracechurchStreet. That Mr. Bennet had been to Epsom and Clapham, before his arrival, but without gaining anysatisfactory information; and that he was now determined to inquire at all the principal hotels in town, asMr. Bennet thought it possible they might have gone to one of them, on their first coming to London,before they procured lodgings. Mr. Gardiner himself did not expect any success from this measure; but ashis brother was eager in it, he meant to assist him in pursuing it. He added, that Mr. Bennet seemedwholly disinclined at present to leave London, and promised to write again very soon. There was also apostscript to this effect: I have written to Colonel Forster to desire him to find out, if possible, from some of the young man sintimates in the regiment, whether Wickham has any relations or connections who would be likely toknow in what part of the town he has now concealed himself. If there were any one that one could applyto, with a probability of gaining such a clue as that, it might be of essential consequence. At present wehave nothing to guide us. Colonel Forster will, I daresay, do everything in his power to satisfy us on thishead. But, on second thoughts, perhaps Lizzy could tell us what relations he has now living better thanany other person. Elizabeth was at no loss to understand from whence this deference for her authority proceeded; but itwas not in her power to give any information of so satisfactory a nature as the compliment deserved. She had never heard of his having had any relations, except a father and mother, both of whom hadbeen dead many years. It was possible, however, that some of his companions in the shire might beable to give more information; and though she was not very sanguine in expecting it, the application wasa something to look forward to. Every day at Longbourn was now a day of anxiety; but the most anxious part of each was when the postwas expected. The arrival of letters was the first grand object of every morning s impatience. Throughletters, whatever of good or bad was to be told would be communicated, and every succeeding day wasexpected to bring some news of importance. But before they heard again from Mr. Gardiner, a letter arrived for their father, from a different quarter,from Mr. Collins; which, as Jane had received directions to open all that came for him in his absence, sheaccordingly read; and Elizabeth, who knew what curiosities his letters always were, looked over her, andread it likewise. It was as follows: MY DEAR SIR I feel myself called upon, by our relationship, and my situation in life,to condole with you on the grievous affliction you are now suffering under, of which wewere yesterday informed by a letter from Hertfordshire. Be assured, my dear sir, that and myself sincerely sympathise with you, and all your respectable family, in yourpresent distress, which must be of the bitterest kind, because proceeding from a cause whichno time can remove. No arguments shall be wanting on my part, that can alleviate so severea misfortune; or that may comfort you, under a circumstance that must be, of all others, mostafflicting to a parent s mind. The death of your daughter would have been a blessing incomparison of this. And it is the more to be lamented, because there is reason to suppose, asmy dear Charlotte informs me, that this licentiousness of behaviour in your daughter hasproceeded from a faulty degree of indulgence; though, at the same time, for the consolationof yourself and Mrs. Bennet, I am inclined to think that her own disposition must benaturally bad, or she could not be guilty of such an enormity, at so early an age. Howsoeverthat may be, you are grievously to be pitied, in which opinion I am not only joined by , but likewise by Lady Catherine and her daughter, to whom I have related the agree with me in apprehending that this false step in one daughter will be injurious tothe fortunes of all the others: for who, as Lady Catherine herself condescendingly says, willconnect themselves with such a family? And this consideration leads me, moreover, toreflect, with augmented satisfaction, on a certain event of last November; for had it beenotherwise, I must have been involved in all your sorrow and disgrace. Let me advise you,then, my dear sir, to console yourself as much as possible, to throw off your unworthy childfrom your affection for ever, and leave her to reap the fruits of her own heinous offense Iam, dear sir, etc. etc. Mr. Gardener did not write again till he had received an answer from Colonel Forester; and then he hadnothing of a pleasant nature to send. It was not known that Wick ham had a single relation with whom hekept up any connection, and it was certain that he had no near one living. His former acquaintance hadbeen numerous; but since he had been in the militia, it did not appear that he was on terms of particularfriendship with any of them. There was no one, therefore, who could be pointed out as likely to give anynews of him. And in the wretched state of his own finances there was a very powerful motive forsecrecy, in addition to his fear of discovery by Lydia s relations; for it had just transpired that he had leftgaming debts behind him to a very considerable amount. Colonel Forester believed that more than athousand pounds would be necessary to clear his expenses at Brighton. He owed a good deal in the town,but his debts of honour were still more formidable. Mr. Gardiner did not attempt to conceal theseparticulars from the Longbourn family; Jane heard them with horror. A gamester! she cried. This iswholly unexpected; I had not an idea of it. Mr. Gardiner added, in his letter, that they might expect to see their father at home on the followingday, which was Saturday. Rendered spiritless by the ill success of all their endeavours, he had yielded tohis brother-in-law s entreaty that he would return to his family and leave it to him to do whateveroccasion might suggest to be advisable for continuing their pursuit. When Mrs. Bennet was told of this,she did not express so much satisfaction as her children expected, considering what her anxiety for hislife had been before. What! is he coming home, and without poor Lydia? she cried. Sure he will not leave London beforehe has found them. Who is to fight Wickham, and make him marry her, if he comes away? As Mrs. Gardiner began to wish to be at home, it was settled that she and her children should go toLondon at the same time that Mr. Bennet came from it. The coach, therefore, took them the first stage oftheir journey, and brought its master back to Longbourn. Mrs. Gardiner went away in all the perplexity about Elizabeth and her Derbyshire friend that hadattended her from that part of the world. His name had never been voluntarily mentioned before them byher niece; and the kind of half-expectation which Mrs. Gardener had formed, of their being followed by aletter from him, had ended in nothing. Elizabeth had received none since her return, that could comefrom Pemberley. The present unhappy state of the family rendered any other excuse for the lowness of her spiritsunnecessary; nothing, therefore, could be fairly conjectured from that, though Elizabeth, who was by thistime tolerably well acquainted with her own feelings, was perfectly aware that, had she known nothing ofDarcy, she could have borne the dread of Lydia s infamy somewhat better. It would have spared her, shethought, one sleepless night out of two. When Mr. Bennet arrived, he had all the appearance of his usual philosophic composure. He said aslittle as he had ever been in the habit of saying; made no mention of the business that had taken himaway, and it was some time before his daughters had courage to speak of it. It was not till the afternoon, when he joined them at tea, that Elizabeth ventured to introduce the subject;and then, on her briefly expressing her sorrow for what he must have endured, he replied, Say nothing ofthat. Who should suffer but myself? It has been my own doing, and I ought to feel it. You must not be too severe upon yourself, replied Elizabeth. You may well warn me against such an evil. Human nature is so prone to fall into it! No, Lizzy, let meonce in my life feel how much I have been to blame. I am not afraid of being overpowered by theimpression. It will pass away soon enough. Do you suppose them to be in London? Yes; where else can they be so well concealed? And Lydia used to want to go to London, added Kitty. She is happy, then, said her father, drily; and her residence there will probably be of some duration. Then, after a short silence, he continued, Lizzy, I bear you no ill-will for being justified in your adviceto me last May, which, considering the event, shows some greatness of mind. They were interrupted by Miss Bennet, who came to fetch her mother s tea. This is a parade, cried he, which does one good; it gives such an elegance to misfortune! Another dayI will do the same; I will sit in my library, in my night-cap and powdering gown, and give as muchtrouble as I can, or perhaps I may defer it till Kitty runs away. I am not going to run away, papa, said Kitty, fretfully. If I should ever go to Brighton, I wouldbehave better than Lydia. You go to Brighton! I would not trust you so near it as East Bourne, for fifty pounds! No, Kitty, I haveat least learnt to be cautious, and you will feel the effects of it. No officer is ever to enter my house again,nor even to pass through the village. Balls will be absolutely prohibited, unless you stand up with one ofyour sisters. And you are never to stir out of doors, till you can prove that you have spent ten minutes ofevery day in a rational manner. Kitty, who took all these threats in a serious light, began to cry. Well, well, said he, do not make yourself unhappy. If you are a good girl for the next ten years, I willtake you to a review at the end of them. Chapter XLIXTWO days after Mr. Bennet s return, as Jane and Elizabeth were walking together in the shrubberybehind the house, they saw the housekeeper coming towards them, and concluding that she came to callthem to their mother, went forward to meet her; but instead of the expected summons, when theyapproached her, she said to Miss Bennet, I beg your pardon, madam, for interrupting you, but I was inhopes you might have got some good news from town, so I took the liberty of coming to ask. What do you mean, Hill? We have heard nothing from town. Dear madam, cried Mrs. Hill, in great astonishment, don t you know there is an express come formaster from Mr. Gardiner? He has been here this half-hour, and master has had a letter. Away ran the girls, too eager to get in to have time for speech. They ran through the vestibule into thebreakfastroom; from thence to the library; their father was in neither; and they were on the point ofseeking him upstairs with their mother, when they were met by the butler, who said, If you are looking for my master, ma am, he is walking towards the little copse. Upon this information, they instantly passed through the hall once more, and ran across the lawn aftertheir father, who was deliberately pursuing his way towards a small wood on one side of the paddock. Jane, who was not so light, nor so much in the habit of running as Elizabeth, soon lagged behind, whileher sister, panting for breath, came up with him, and eagerly cried out, Oh, papa, what news? what news? have you heard from my uncle? Yes, I have had a letter from him by express. Well, and what news does it bring good or bad? What is there of good to be expected? said he, taking the letter from his pocket; but perhaps youwould like to read it. Elizabeth impatiently caught it from his hand. Jane now came up. Read it aloud, said their father, for I hardly know myself what it is about. Gracechurch Street, Monday, August 2. MY DEAR BROTHER At last I am able to send you some tidings of my niece, and suchas, upon the whole, I hope will give you satisfaction. Soon after you left me on Saturday, Iwas fortunate enough to find out in what part of London they were. The particulars I reservetill we meet. It is enough to know they are discovered; I have seen them both Then it is as I always hoped, cried Jane: they are married! Elizabeth read on: I have seen them both. They are not married, nor can I find there was any intention ofbeing so; but if you are willing to perform the engagements which I have ventured to makeon your side, I hope it will not be long before they are. All that is required of you is, toassure to your daughter, by settlement, her equal share of the five thousand pounds securedamong your children after the decease of yourself and my sister; and, moreover, to enter intoan engagement of allowing her, during your life, one hundred pounds per annum. These areconditions which, considering everything, I had no hesitation in complying with, as far as Ithought myself privileged, for you. I shall send this by express, that no time may be lost inbringing me your answer. You will easily comprehend, from these particulars, that s circumstances are not so hopeless as they are generally believed to be. Theworld has been deceived in that respect; and I am happy to say there will be some littlemoney, even when all his debts are discharged, to settle on my niece, in addition to her ownfortune. If, as I conclude will be the case, you send me full powers to act in your namethroughout the whole of this business, I will immediately give directions to Haggerston forpreparing a proper settlement. There will not be the smallest occasion for your coming totown again; therefore stay quietly at Longbourn, and depend on my diligence and care. Sendback your answer as soon as you can, and be careful to write explicitly. We have judged itbest that my niece should be married from this house, of which I hope you will approve. Shecomes to us to-day. I shall write again as soon as anything more is determined on. Yours,etc. EDW. GARDINER. Is it possible? cried Elizabeth, when she had finished. Can it be possible that he will marry her? Wickham is not so undeserving, then, as we have thought him, said her sister. My dear father, Icongratulate you. And have you answered the letter? said Elizabeth. No; but it must be done soon. Most earnestly did she then entreat him to lose no more time before he wrote. Oh, my dear father, she cried, come back and write immediately. Consider how important everymoment is in such a case. Let me write for you, said Jane, if you dislike the trouble yourself. I dislike it very much, he replied; but it must be done. And so saying, he turned back with them, and walked towards the house. And may I ask? said Elizabeth; but the terms, I suppose, must be complied with. Complied with! I am only ashamed of his asking so little. And they must marry! Yet he is such a man. Yes, yes, they must marry. There is nothing else to be done. But there are two things that I want verymuch to know: one is, how much money your uncle has laid down to bring it about; and the other, howI am ever to pay him. Money! my uncle! cried Jane, what do you mean, sir? I mean that no man in his senses would marry Lydia on so slight a temptation as one hundred a yearduring my life, and fifty after I am gone. That is very true, said Elizabeth; though it had not occurred to me before. His debts to be discharged,and something still to remain! Oh, it must be my uncle s doings! Generous, good man, I am afraid he hasdistressed himself. A small sum could not do all this. No, said her father. Wickham s a fool if he takes her with a farthing less than ten thousand pounds: Ishould be sorry to think so ill of him, in the very beginning of our relationship. Ten thousand pounds! Heaven forbid! How is half such a sum to be rapaid? Mr. Bennet made no answer; and each of them, deep in thought, continued silent till they reached thehouse. Their father then went to the library to write, and the girls walked into the breakfast-room. And they are really to be married! cried Elizabeth, as soon as they were by themselves. How strangethis is! and for this we are to be thankful. That they should marry, small as is their chance of happiness,and wretched as is his character, we are forced to rejoice! Oh, Lydia! I comfort myself with thinking, replied Jane, that he certainly would not marry Lydia if he had not areal regard for her. Though our kind uncle has done something towards clearing him, I cannot believethat ten thousand pounds, or anything like it, has been advanced. He has children of his own, and mayhave more. How could he spare half ten thousand pounds? If we are ever able to learn what Wickham s debts have been, said Elizabeth, and how much is settledon his side on our sister, we shall exactly know what Mr. Gardiner has done for them, because Wickhamhas not sixpence of his own. The kindness of my uncle and aunt can never be requited. Their taking herhome, and affording her their personal protection and countenance, is such a sacrifice to her advantage asyears of gratitude cannot enough acknowledge. By this time she is actually with them! If such goodnessdoes not make her miserable now, she will never deserve to be happy! What a meeting for her, when shefirst sees my aunt! We must endeavour to forget all that has passed on either side, said Jane: I hope and trust they willyet be happy. His consenting to marry her is a proof, I will believe, that he is come to a right way ofthinking. Their mutual affection will steady them; and I flatter myself they will settle so quietly, and livein so rational a manner, as may in time make their past imprudence forgotten. Their conduct has been such, replied Elizabeth, as neither you, nor I, nor anybody, can ever forget. Itis useless to talk of it. It now occurred to the girls that their mother was in all likelihood perfectly ignorant of what hadhappened. They went to the library, therefore, and asked their father whether he would not wish them tomake it known to her. He was writing, and, without raising his head, coolly replied, Just as you please. May we take my uncle s letter to read to her? Take whatever you like, and get away. Elizabeth took the letter from his writing-table, and they went upstairs together. Mary and Kitty wereboth with Mrs. Bennet: one communication would, therefore, do for all. After a slight preparation forgood news, the letter was read aloud. Mrs. Bennet could hardly contain herself. As soon as Jane had readMr. Gardiner s hope of Lydia s being soon married, her joy burst forth, and every following sentenceadded to its exuberance. She was now in an irritation as violent from delight as she had ever been fidgetyfrom alarm and vexation. To know that her daughter would be married was enough. She was disturbedby no fear for her felicity, nor humbled by any remembrance of her misconduct. My dear, dear Lydia! she cried: this is delightful indeed! She will be married! I shall see her again!She will be married at sixteen! My good, kind brother! I knew how it would be I knew he wouldmanage everything. How I long to see her! and to see dear Wickham too! But the clothes, the weddingclothes! I will write to my sister Gardiner about them directly. Lizzy, my dear, run down to your father,and ask him how much he will give her. Stay, stay, I will go myself. Ring the bell, Kitty, for Hill. I willput on my things in a moment. My dear, dear Lydia! How merry we shall be together when we meet! Her eldest daughter endeavoured to give some relief to the violence of these transports, by leading herthoughts to the obligations which Mr. Gardiner s behaviour laid them all under. For we must attribute this happy conclusion, she added, in a great measure to his kindness. We arepersuaded that he has pledged himself to assist Mr. Wickham with money. Well, cried her mother, it is all very right; who should do it but her own uncle? If he had not had afamily of his own, I and my children must have had all his money, you know; and it is the first time wehave ever had anything from him except a few presents. Well! I am so happy. In a short time I shall havea daughter married. Mrs. Wickham! How well it sounds. And she was only sixteen last June. My dearJane, I am in such a flutter, that I am sure I can t write; so I will dictate, and you write for me. We willsettle with your father about the money afterwards; but the things should be ordered immediately. She was then proceeding to all the particulars of calico, muslin, and cambric, and would shortly havedictated some very plentiful orders, had not Jane, though with some difficulty, persuaded her to wait tillher father was at leisure to be consulted. One day s delay, she observed, would be of small importance;and her mother was too happy to be quite so obstinate as usual. Other schemes, too, came into her head. I will go to Meryton, said she, as soon as I am dressed, and tell the good, good news to my sisterPhilips. And as I come back, I can call on Lady Lucas and Mrs. Long. Kitty, run down and order thecarriage. An airing would do me a great deal of good, I am sure. Girls, can I do anything for you inMeryton? Oh! here comes Hill. My dear Hill, have you heard the good news? Miss Lydia is going to bemarried; and you shall all have a bowl of punch to make merry at her wedding. Mrs. Hill began instantly to express her joy. Elizabeth received her congratulations amongst the rest,and then, sick of this folly, took refuge in her own room, that she might think with freedom. Poor Lydia ssituation must, at best, be bad enough; but that it was no worse, she had need to be thankful. She felt itso; and though, in looking forward, neither rational happiness nor worldly prosperity could be justlyexpected for her sister, in looking back to what they had feared, only two hours ago, she felt all theadvantages of what they had LMR. BENNET had very often wished, before this period of his life, that, instead of spending his wholeincome, he had laid by an annual sum, for the better provision of his children, and of his wife, if shesurvived him. He now wished it more than ever. Had he done his duty in that respect, Lydia need nothave been indebted to her uncle for whatever of honour or credit could now be purchased for her. Thesatisfaction of prevailing on one of the most worthless young men in Great Britain to be her husbandmight then have rested in its proper place. He was seriously concerned that a cause of so little advantage to any one should be forwarded at thesole expense of his brother-in-law; and he was determined, if possible, to find out the extent of hisassistance, and to discharge the obligation as soon as he could. When first Mr. Bennet had married, economy was held to be perfectly useless; for, of course, they wereto have a son. This son was to join in cutting off the entail, as soon as he should be of age, and the widowand younger children would by that means be provided for. Five daughters successively entered theworld, but yet the son was to come; and Mrs. Bennet, for many years after Lydia s birth, had been certainthat he would. This event had at last been despaired of, but it was then too late to be saving. Mrs. Bennethad no turn for economy; and her husband s love of independence had alone prevented their exceedingtheir income. Five thousand pounds was settled by marriage articles on Mrs. Bennet and the children. But in whatproportions it should be divided amongst the latter depended on the will of the parents. This was onepoint, with regard to Lydia at least, which was now to be settled, and Mr. Bennet could have nohesitation in acceding to the proposal before him. In terms of grateful acknowledgment for the kindnessof his brother, though expressed most concisely, he then delivered on paper his perfect approbation of allthat was done, and his willingness to fulfil the engagements that had been made for him. He had neverbefore supposed that, could Wickham be prevailed on to marry his daughter, it would be done with solittle inconvenience to himself as by the present arrangement. He would scarcely be ten pounds a year theloser, by the hundred that was to be paid them; for, what with her board and pocket allowance, and thecontinual presents in money which passed to her through her mother s hands, Lydia s expenses had beenvery little within that sum. That it would be done with such trifling exertion on his side, too, was another very welcome surprise;for his chief wish at present was to have as little trouble in the business as possible. When the firsttransports of rage which had produced his activity in seeking her were over, he naturally returned to allhis former indolence. His letter was soon despatched; for though dilatory in undertaking business, he wasquick in its execution. He begged to know further particulars of what he was indebted to his brother; butwas too angry with Lydia to send any message to her. The good news quickly spread through the house; and with proportionate speed through theneighbourhood. It was borne in the latter with decent philosophy. To be sure, it would have been morefor the advantage of conversation, had Miss Lydia Bennet come upon the town; or, as the happiestalternative, been secluded from the world, in some distant farmhouse. But there was much to be talkedof, in marrying her; and the good-natured wishes for her well-doing, which had proceeded before fromall the spiteful old ladies in Meryton, lost but little of their spirit in this change of circumstances, becausewith such a husband her misery was considered certain. It was a fortnight since Mrs. Bennet had been downstairs, but on this happy day she again took her seatat the head of her table, and in spirits oppressively high. No sentiment of shame gave a damp to hertriumph. The marriage of a daughter, which had been the first object of her wishes since Jane wassixteen, was now on the point of accomplishment, and her thoughts and her words ran wholly on thoseattendants of elegant nuptials, fine muslins, new carriages, and servants. She was busily searchingthrough the neighbourhood for a proper situation for her daughter; and, without knowing or consideringwhat their income might be, rejected many as deficient in size and importance. Haye Park might do, said she, if the Gouldings would quit it, or the great house at Stoke, if thedrawing-room were larger; but Ashworth is too far off. I could not bear to have her ten miles from me;and as for Purvis Lodge, the attics are dreadful. Her husband allowed her to talk on without interruption while the servants remained. But when theyhad withdrawn, he said to her, Mrs. Bennet, before you take any, or all of these houses, for your son anddaughter, let us come to a right understanding. Into one house in this neighbourhood they shall neverhave admittance. I will not encourage the imprudence of either, by receiving them at Longbourn. A long dispute followed this declaration; but Mr. Bennet was firm: it soon led to another; and found, with amazement and horror, that her husband would not advance a guinea to buy clothesfor his daughter. He protested that she should receive from him no mark of affection whatever on theoccasion. Mrs. Bennet could hardly comprehend it. That his anger could be carried to such a point ofinconceivable resentment as to refuse his daughter a privilege, without which her marriage wouldscarcely seem valid, exceeded all that she could believe possible. She was more alive to the disgracewhich her want of new clothes must reflect on her daughter s nuptials, than to any sense of shame at hereloping and living with Wickham a fortnight before they took place. Elizabeth was now most heartily sorry that she had, from the distress of the moment, been led to makeMr. Darcy acquainted with their fears for her sister; for since her marriage would so shortly give theproper termination to the elopement, they might hope to conceal its unfavourable beginning from allthose who were not immediately on the spot. She had no fear of its spreading farther through his means. There were few people on whose secrecy shewould have more confidently depended; but at the same time there was no one whose knowledge of asister s frailty would have mortified her so much. Not, however, from any fear of disadvantage from itindividually to herself; for at any rate there seemed a gulf impassable between them. Had Lydia smarriage been concluded on the most honourable terms, it was not to be supposed that Mr. Darcy wouldconnect himself with a family, where to every other objection would now be added an alliance andrelationship of the nearest kind with the man whom he so justly scorned. From such a connection she could not wonder that he should shrink. The wish of procuring her regard,which she had assured herself of his feeling in Derbyshire, could not in rational expectation survive sucha blow as this. She was humbled, she was grieved; she repented, though she hardly knew of what. Shebecame jealous of his esteem, when she could no longer hope to be benefited by it. She wanted to hear ofhim, when there seemed the least chance of gaining intelligence. She was convinced that she could havebeen happy with him, when it was no longer likely they should meet. What a triumph for him, as she often thought, could be know that the proposals which she had proudlyspurned only four months ago would now have been gladly and gratefully received! He was as generous,she doubted not, as the most generous of his sex. But while he was mortal, there must be a triumph. She began now to comprehend that he was exactly the man who, in disposition and talents, would mostsuit her. His understanding and temper, though unlike her own, would have answered all her wishes. Itwas an union that must have been to the advantage of both; by her ease and liveliness his mind mighthave been softened, his manners improved; and from his judgment, information, and knowledge of theworld, she must have received benefit of greater importance. But no such happy marriage could now teach the admiring multitude what connubial felicity really union of a different tendency, and precluding the possibility of the other, was soon to be formed intheir family. How Wickham and Lydia were to be supported in tolerable independence she could not imagine. Buthow little of permanent happiness could belong to a couple who were only brought together because theirpassions were stronger than their virtue, she could easily conjecture. Mr. Gardiner soon wrote again to his brother. To Mr. Bennet s acknowledgments he briefly replied,with assurances of his eagerness to promote the welfare of any of his family; and concluded withentreaties that the subject might never be mentioned to him again. The principal purport of his letter wasto inform them that Mr. Wickham had resolved on quitting the militia. It was greatly my wish that he should do so, he added, as soon as his marriage was fixedon. And I think you will agree with me in considering a removal from that corps as highlyadvisable, both on his account and my niece s. It is Mr. Wickham s intention to go into theRegulars; and, among his former friends, there are still some who are able and willing toassist him in the army. He has the promise of an ensigncy in General s regiment, nowquartered in the north. It is an advantage to have it so far from this part of the kingdom. Hepromises fairly; and I hope among different people, where they may each have a character topreserve, they will both be more prudent. I have written to Colonel Forster, to inform him ofour present arrangements, and to request that he will satisfy the various creditors of in and near Brighton with assurances of speedy payment, for which I havepledged myself. And will you give yourself the trouble of carrying similar assurances to hiscreditors in Meryton, of whom I shall subjoin a list, according to his information? He hasgiven in all his debts; I hope at least he has not deceived us. Haggerston has our directions,and all will be completed in a week. They will then join his regiment, unless they are firstinvited to Longbourn; and I understand from Mrs. Gardiner that my niece is very desirous ofseeing you all before she leaves the south. She is well, and begs to be dutifully rememberedto you and her mother. Yours, etc. E. GARDINER. Mr. Bennet and his daughters saw all the advantages of Wickham s removal from the shire, asclearly as Mr. Gardiner could do. But Mrs. Bennet was not so well pleased with it. Lydia s being settledin the north, just when she had expected most pleasure and pride in her company, for she had by nomeans given up her plan of their residing in Hertfordshire, was a severe disappointment; and, besides, itwas such a pity that Lydia should be taken from a regiment where she was acquainted with everybody,and had so many favourites. She is so fond of Mrs. Forster, said she, It will be quite shocking to send her away! And there areseveral of the young men, too, that she likes very much. The officers may not be so pleasant in General s regiment. His daughter s request, for such it might be considered, of being admitted into her family again, beforeshe set off for the north, received at first an absolute negative. But Jane and Elizabeth, who agreed inwishing, for the sake of their sister s feelings and consequence, that she should be noticed on hermarriage by her parents, urged him so earnestly, yet so rationally and so mildly, to receive her and herhusband at Longbourn, as soon as they were married, that he was prevailed on to think as they thoughtand act as they wished. And their mother had the satisfaction of knowing that she should be able to showher married daughter in the neighbourhood, before she was banished to the north. When Mr. Bennetwrote again to his brother, therefore, he sent his permission for them to come; and it was settled that, assoon as the ceremony was over, they should proceed to Longbourn. Elizabeth was surprised, however,that Wickham should consent to such a scheme; and, had she consulted only her own inclination, anymeeting with him would have been the last object of her LITHEIR sister s wedding day arrived; and Jane and Elizabeth felt for her probably more than she felt forherself. The carriage was sent to meet them at , and they were to return in it by dinner-time. Theirarrival was dreaded by the elder Miss Bennets; and Jane more especially, who gave Lydia the feelingswhich would have attended herself had she been the culprit, and was wretched in the thought of what hersister must endure. They came. The family were assembled in the breakfastroom to receive them. Smiles decked the face ofMrs. Bennet, as the carriage drove up to the door; her husband looked impenetrably grave; her daughters,alarmed, anxious, uneasy. Lydia s voice was heard in the vestibule; the door was thrown open, and she ran into the room. Hermother stepped forwards, embraced her, and welcomed her with rapture; gave her hand with anaffectionate smile to Wickham, who followed his lady, and wished them both joy, with an alacrity whichshowed no doubt of their happiness. Their reception from Mr. Bennet, to whom they then turned, was not quite so cordial. His countenancerather gained in austerity; and he scarcely opened his lips. The easy assurance of the young couple,indeed, was enough to provoke him. Elizabeth was disgusted, and even Miss Bennet was shocked. Lydiawas Lydia still; untamed, unabashed, wild, noisy, and fearless. She turned from sister to sister,demanding their congratulations; and when at length they all sat down, looked eagerly round the room,took notice of some little alteration in it, and observed, with a laugh, that it was a great while since shehad been there. Wickham was not at all more distressed than herself; but his manners were always so pleasing, that hadhis character and his marriage been exactly what they ought, his smiles and his easy address, while heclaimed their relationship, would have delighted them all. Elizabeth had not before believed him quiteequal to such assurance; but she sat down, resolving within herself to draw no limits in future to theimpudence of an impudent man. She blushed, and Jane blushed; but the cheeks of the two who causedtheir confusion suffered no variation of colour. There was no want of discourse. The bride and her mother could neither of them talk fast enough; andWickham, who happened to sit near Elizabeth, began inquiring after his acquaintance in thatneighbourhood, with a goodhumoured ease which she felt very unable to equal in her replies. Theyseemed each of them to have the happiest memories in the world. Nothing of the past was recollectedwith pain; and Lydia led voluntarily to subjects which her sisters would not have alluded to for the world. Only think of its being three months, she cried, since I went away: it seems but a fortnight, I declare;and yet there have been things enough happened in the time. Good gracious! when I went away, I amsure I had no more idea of being married till I came back again! though I thought it would be very goodfun if I was. Her father lifted up his eyes, Jane was distressed, Elizabeth looked expressively at Lydia; but she, whonever heard nor saw anything of which she chose to be insensible, gaily continued, Oh, mamma, do thepeople hereabouts know I am married to-day? I was afraid they might not; and we overtook WilliamGoulding in his curricle, so I was determined he should know it, and so I let down the side glass next tohim, and took off my glove and let my hand just rest upon the window frame, so that he might see thering, and then I bowed and smiled like anything. Elizabeth could bear it no longer. She got up and ran out of the room; and returned no more till sheheard them passing through the hall to the dining parlour. She then joined them soon enough to seeLydia, with anxious parade, walk up to her mother s right hand, and hear her say to her eldest sister, Ah,Jane I take your place now, and you must go lower, because I am a married woman. It was not to be supposed that time would give Lydia that embarrassment from which she had been sowholly free at first. Her ease and good spirits increased. She longed to see Mrs. Philips, the Lucases, andall their other neighbours, and to hear herself called Mrs. Wickham by each of them; and in themeantime she went after dinner to show her ring and boast of being married to Mrs. Hill and the twohousemaids. Well, mamma, said she, when they were all returned to the breakfast-room, and what do you think ofmy husband? Is not he a charming man? I am sure my sisters must all envy me. I only hope they mayhave half my good luck. They must all go to Brighton. That is the place to get husbands. What a pity it is,mamma, we did not all go. Very true; and if I had my will we should. But, my dear Lydia, I don t at all like your going such a wayoff. Must it be so? O Lord! yes; there is nothing in that. I shall like it of all things. You and papa, and my sisters, mustcome down and see us. We shall be at Newcastle all the winter, and I daresay there will be some balls,and I will take care to get good partners for them all. I should like it beyond anything! said her mother. And then when you go away, you may leave one or two of my sisters behind you; and I daresay I shallget husbands for them before the winter is over. I thank you for my share of the favour, said Elizabeth; but I do not particularly like your way ofgetting husbands. Their visitors were not to remain above ten days with them. Mr. Wickham had received his commissionbefore he left London, and he was to join his regiment at the end of a fortnight. No one but Mrs. Bennet regretted that their stay would be so short; and she made the most of the timeby visiting about with her daughter, and having very frequent parties at home. These parties wereacceptable to all; to avoid a family circle was even more desirable to such as did think than such as didnot. Wickham s affection for Lydia was just what Elizabeth had expected to find it; not equal to Lydia s forhim. She had scarcely needed her present observation to be satisfied, from the reason of things, that theirelopement had been brought on by the strength of her love rather than by his; and she would havewondered why, without violently caring for her, he chose to elope with her at all, had she not felt certainthat his flight was rendered necessary by distress of circumstances; and if that were the case, he was notthe young man to resist an opportunity of having a companion. Lydia was exceedingly fond of him. He was her dear Wickham on every occasion; no one was to be putin competition with him. He did everything best in the world; and she was sure he would kill more birdson the first of September than anybody else in the country. One morning, soon after their arrival, as she was sitting with her two elder sisters, she said toElizabeth, Lizzy, I never gave you an account of my wedding, I believe. You were not by when I told mamma andthe others all about it. Are not you curious to hear how it was managed? No, really, replied Elizabeth; I think there cannot be too little said on the subject. La! You are so strange! But I must tell you how it went off. We were married, you know, at s, because Wickham s lodgings were in that parish. And it was settled that we should all bethere by eleven o clock. My uncle and aunt and I were to go together; and the others were to meet us atthe church. Well, Monday morning came, and I was in such a fuss! I was so afraid, you know, thatsomething would happen to put it off, and then I should have gone quite distracted. And there was myaunt, all the time I was dressing, preaching and talking away just as if she was reading a , I did not hear above one word in ten, for I was thinking, you may suppose, of my dearWickham. I longed to know whether he would be married in his blue coat. Well, and so we breakfasted at ten as usual: I thought it would never be over; for, by the bye, you areto understand that my uncle and aunt were horrid unpleasant all the time I was with them. If you llbelieve me, I did not once put my foot out of doors, though I was there a fortnight. Not one party, orscheme, or anything. To be sure, London was rather thin, but, however, the Little Theatre was , and so just as the carriage came to the door, my uncle was called away upon business to that horridman Mr. Stone. And then, you know, when once they get together, there is no end of it. Well, I was sofrightened I did not know what to do, for my uncle was to give me away; and if we were beyond the hourwe could not be married all day. But, luckily, he came back again in ten minutes time, and then we allset out. However, I recollected afterwards, that if he had been prevented going, the wedding need not beput off, for Mr. Darcy might have done as well. Mr. Darcy! repeated Elizabeth, in utter amazement. Oh yes! he was to come there with Wickham, you know. But gracious me! I quite forgot! I ought not tohave said a word about it. I promised them so faithfully! What will Wickham say? It was to be such asecret! If it was to be a secret, said Jane, say not another word on the subject. You may depend upon myseeking no further. Oh, certainly, said Elizabeth, though burning with curiosity; we will ask you no questions. Thank you, said Lydia; for if you did, I should certainly tell you all, and then Wickham would be soangry. On such encouragement to ask, Elizabeth was forced to put it out of her power by running away. But to live in ignorance on such a point was impossible; or at least it was impossible not to try forinformation. Mr. Darcy had been at her sister s wedding. It was exactly a scene, and exactly amongpeople, where he had apparently least to do, and least temptation to go. Conjectures as to the meaning ofit, rapid and wild, hurried into her brain, but she was satisfied with none. Those that best pleased her, asplacing his conduct in the noblest light, seemed most improbable. She could not bear such suspense; andhastily seizing a sheet of paper, wrote a short letter to her aunt, to request an explanation of what Lydiahad dropped, if it were compatible with the secrecy which had been intended. You may readily comprehend, she added, what my curiosity must be to know how a personunconnected with any of us, and, comparatively speaking, a stranger to our family, should have beenamongst you at such a time. Pray write instantly, and let me understand it unless it is, for very cogentreasons, to remain in the secrecy which Lydia seems to think necessary; and then I must endeavour to besatisfied with ignorance. Not that I shall though, she added to herself, and she finished the letter; and, my dear aunt, if you donot tell me in an honourable manner, I shall certainly be reduced to tricks and stratagems to find it out. Jane s delicate sense of honour would not allow her to speak to Elizabeth privately of what Lydia hadlet fall; Elizabeth was glad of it: till it appeared whether her inquiries would receive any satisfaction,she had rather be without a LIIELIZABETH had the satisfaction of receiving an answer to her letter as soon as she possibly could. Shewas no sooner in possession of it, than hurrying into the little copse, where she was least likely to beinterrupted, she sat down on one of the benches, and prepared to be happy; for the length of the letterconvinced her that it did not contain a Street, Sept. 6. MY DEAR NIECE I have just received your letter, and shall devote this whole morningto answering it, as I foresee that a little writing will not comprise what I have to tell you. Imust confess myself surprised by your application; I did not expect it from you. Don t thinkme angry, however, for I only mean to let you know that I had not imagined such inquiriesto be necessary on your side. If you do not choose to understand me, forgive myimpertinence. Your uncle is as much surprised as I am; and nothing but the belief of yourbeing a party concerned would have allowed him to act as he has done. But if you are reallyinnocent and ignorant, I must be more explicit. On the very day of my coming home fromLongbourn, your uncle had a most unexpected visitor. Mr. Darcy called, and was shut upwith him several hours. It was all over before I arrived; so my curiosity was not sodreadfully racked as yours seems to have been. He came to tell Mr. Gardiner that he hadfound out where your sister and Mr. Wickham were, and that he had seen and talked withthem both Wickham repeatedly, Lydia once. From what I can collect, he left Derbyshireonly one day after ourselves, and came to town with the resolution of hunting for them. Themotive professed was his conviction of its being owing to himself that Wickham sworthlessness had not been so well known as to make it impossible for any young woman ofcharacter 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 theworld. 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 anothermotive, I am sure it would never disgrace him. He had been some days in town before hewas able to discover them; but he had something to direct his search, which was more thanwe had; and the consciousness of this was another reason for his resolving to follow 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 saywhat. She then took a large house in Edward Street, and has since maintained herself byletting lodgings. This Mrs. Younge was, he knew, intimately acquainted with Wickham; andhe went to her for intelligence of him, as soon as he got to town. But it was two or threedays before he could get from her what he wanted. She would not betray her trust, Isuppose, without bribery and corruption, for she really did know where her friend was to befound. Wickham, indeed, had gone to her on their first arrival in London, and had she beenable to receive them into her house, they would have taken up their abode with her. Atlength, however, our kind friend procured the wished-for direction. They were in saw Wickham, and afterwards insisted on seeing Lydia. His first object with her, heacknowledged had been to persuade her to quit her present disgraceful situation, and returnto her friends as soon as they could be prevailed on to receive her, offering his assistance asfar as it would go. But he found Lydia absolutely resolved on remaining where she was. Shecared for none of her friends; she wanted no help of his; she would not hear of leavingWickham. She was sure they should be married some time or other, and it did not muchsignify when. Since such were her feelings, it only remained, he thought, to secure andexpedite a marriage, which, in his very first conversation with Wickham, he easily learnthad never been his design. He confessed himself obliged to leave the regiment on account ofsome debts of honour which were very pressing; and scrupled not to lay all the illconsequences of Lydia s flight on her own folly alone. He meant to resign his commissionimmediately; and as to his future situation, he could conjecture very little about it. He mustgo somewhere, but he did not know where, and he knew he should have nothing to live Darcy asked why he did not marry your sister at once. Though Mr. Bennet was notimagined to be very rich, he would have been able to do something for him, and his situationmust have been benefited by marriage. But he found, in reply to this question, that Wickhamstill cherished the hope of more effectually making his fortune by marriage, in some othercountry. Under such circumstances, however, he was not likely to be proof against thetemptation of immediate relief. They met several times, for there was much to be , of course, wanted more than he could get; but at length was reduced to bereasonable. Everything being settled between them, Mr. Darcy s next step was to make youruncle acquainted with it, and he first called in Gracechurch Street the evening before I camehome. But Mr. Gardiner could not be seen; and Mr. Darcy found, on further inquiry, thatyour father was still with him, but would quit town the next morning. He did not judge yourfather to be a person whom he could so properly consult as your uncle, and therefore readilypostponed seeing him till after the departure of the former. He did not leave his name, andtill the next day it was only known that a gentleman had called on business. On Saturday hecame again. Your father was gone, your uncle at home, and, as I said before, they had agreat deal of talk together. They met again on Sunday, and then I saw him too. It was not allsettled before Monday: as soon as it was, the express was sent off to Longbourn. But ourvisitor 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 was to be done that he did not do himself; though I am sure (and I do not speak it tobe thanked, therefore say nothing about it) your uncle would most readily have settled thewhole. They battled it together for a long time, which was more than either the gentleman orlady concerned in it deserved. But at last your uncle was forced to yield, and instead ofbeing allowed to be of use to his niece, was forced to put up with only having the probablecredit of it, which went sorely against the grain; and I really believe your letter this morninggave him great pleasure, because it required an explanation that would rob him of hisborrowed feathers, and give the praise where it was due. But, Lizzy, this must go no furtherthan yourself, or Jane at most. You know pretty well, I suppose, what has been done for theyoung people. His debts are to be paid, amounting, I believe, to considerably more than athousand pounds, another thousand in addition to her own settled upon her, and hiscommission purchased. The reason why all this was to be done by him alone was such as Ihave given above. It was owing to him, to his reserve and want of proper consideration, thatWickham s character had been so misunderstood, and consequently that he had beenreceived and noticed as he was. Perhaps there was some truth in this; though I doubtwhether his reserve, or anybody s reserve, can be answerable for the event. But in spite ofall this fine talking, my dear Lizzy, you may rest perfectly assured that your uncle wouldnever have yielded, if we had not given him credit for another interest in the affair. Whenall this was resolved on, he returned again to his friends, who were still staying atPemberley; but it was agreed that he should be in London once more when the wedding tookplace, and all money matters were then to receive the last finish. I believe I have now toldyou everything. It is a relation which you tell me is to give you great surprise; I hope at leastit will not afford you any displeasure. Lydia came to us, and Wickham had constantadmission 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 stayed withus, if I had not perceived, by Jane s letter last Wednesday, that her conduct on coming homewas exactly of a piece with it, and therefore what I now tell you can give you no fresh talked to her repeatedly in the most serious manner, representing to her the wickedness ofwhat 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; butthen I recollected my dear Elizabeth and Jane, and for their sakes had patience with her. was punctual in his return, and, as Lydia informed you, attended the wedding. Hedined with us the next day, and was to leave town again on Wednesday or Thursday. Willyou be very angry with me, my dear Lizzy, if I take this opportunity of saying (what I wasnever bold enough to say before) how much I like him? His behaviour to us has, in everyrespect, been as pleasing as when we were in Derbyshire. His understanding and opinionsall 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; he hardly ever mentioned your name. Butslyness seems the fashion. Pray forgive me, if I have been very presuming, or at least do notpunish me so far as to exclude me from P. I shall never be quite happy till I have been allround the park. A low phaeton with a nice little pair of ponies would be the very thing. But Imust write no more. The children have been wanting me this half-hour. Yours verysincerely, M. GARDINER. The contents of this letter threw Elizabeth into a flutter of spirits, in which it was difficult to determinewhether pleasure or pain bore the greatest share. The vague and unsettled suspicions which uncertaintyhad produced of what Mr. Darcy might have been doing to forward her sister s match, which she hadfeared to encourage, as an exertion of goodness too great to be probable, and at the same time dreaded tobe just, from the pain of obligation, were proved beyond their greatest extent to be true! He had followedthem purposely to town, he had taken on himself all the trouble and mortification attendant on such aresearch; 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 manwhom he always most wished to avoid, and whose very name it was punishment to him to pronounce. Hehad done all this for a girl whom he could neither regard nor esteem. Her heart did whisper that he haddone it for her. But it was a hope shortly checked by other considerations; and she soon felt that even hervanity was insufficient, when required to depend on his affection for her, for a woman who had alreadyrefused him, as able to overcome a sentiment so natural as abhorrence against relationship withWickham. Brother-in-law of Wickham! Every kind of pride must revolt from the connection. He had, tobe 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 hisprincipal inducement, she could perhaps believe that remaining partiality for her might assist hisendeavours in a cause where her peace of mind must be materially concerned. It was painful, exceedinglypainful, to know that they were under obligations to a person who could never receive a return. Theyowed the restoration of Lydia, her character, everything, to him. Oh how heartily did she grieve overevery ungracious sensation she had ever encouraged, every saucy speech she had ever directed towardshim. For herself she was humbled; but she was proud of him, proud that in a cause of compassion andhonour he had been able to get the better of himself. She read over her aunt s commendation of himagain 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 thataffection and confidence subsisted between Mr. Darcy and herself. She was roused from her seat and her reflections by some one s approach; and, before she could strikeinto another path, she was overtaken by Wickham. I am afraid I interrupt your solitary ramble, my dear sister? said he, as he joined her. You certainly do, she replied with a smile; but it does not follow that the interruption must beunwelcome. I should be sorry, indeed, if it were. We were always good friends, and now we are better. True. Are the others coming out? I do not know. Mrs. Bennet and Lydia are going in the carriage to Meryton. And so, my dear sister, Ifind, from our uncle and aunt, that you have actually seen Pemberley. She replied in the affirmative. I almost envy you the pleasure, and yet I believe it would be too much for me, or else I could take it inmy way to Newcastle. And you saw the old housekeeper, I suppose? Poor Reynolds, she was always veryfond of me. But of course she did not mention my name to you. Yes, she did. And what did she say? That you were gone into the army, and she was afraid had not turned out well. At such a distance asthat, you know, things are strangely misrepresented. Certainly, he replied, biting his lips. Elizabeth hoped she had silenced him; but he soon afterwardssaid, I was surprised to see Darcy in town last month. We passed each other several times. I wonder what hecan be doing there. Perhaps preparing for his marriage with Miss De Bourgh, said Elizabeth. It must be somethingparticular to take him there at this time of year. Undoubtedly. Did you see him while you were at Lambton? I thought I understood from the Gardinersthat you had. Yes; he introduced us to his sister. And do you like her? Very much. I 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. I daresay she will; she has got over the most trying age. Did you go by the village of Kympton? I do not recollect that we did. I mention it because it is the living which I ought to have had. A must delightful place! Excellentparsonage house! It would have suited me in every respect. How should you have liked making sermons? Exceedingly well. I should have considered it as part of my duty, and the exertion would soon havebeen nothing. One ought not to repine; 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. Didyou ever hear Darcy mention the circumstance when you were in Kent? I have heard from authority, which I thought as good, that it was left you conditionally only, and at thewill of the present patron. You have! Yes, there was something in that; I told you so from the first, you may remember. I did hear, too, that there was a time when sermon-making was not so palatable to you as it seems to beat present; that you actually declared your resolution of never taking orders, and that the business hadbeen compromised accordingly. You did! and it was not wholly without foundation. You may remember what I told you on that point,when first we talked of it. They were now almost at the door of the house, for she had walked fast to get rid of him; and unwilling,for her sister s sake, to provoke him, she only said in reply, with a good-humoured smile, Come, Mr. Wickham, we are brother and sister, you know. Do not let us quarrel about the past. Infuture, I hope we shall be always of one mind. She held out her hand: he kissed it with affectionate gallantry, though he hardly knew how to look, andthey entered the LIIIMR. WICKHAM was so perfectly satisfied 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 shehad said enough to keep him quiet. The day of his and Lydia s 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 tocontinue at least a twelvemonth. Oh, my dear Lydia, she cried, when shall we meet again? O Lord! I don t know. Not these two or three years, perhaps. Write to me very often, my dear. As often as I can. But you know married women have never much time for writing. My sisters maywrite to me. They will have nothing else to do. Mr. Wickham s adieus were much more affectionate than his wife s. He smiled, looked handsome, andsaid many pretty things. He is as fine a fellow, said Mr. Bennet, as soon as they were out of the house, as ever I saw. Hesimpers, and smirks, and makes love to us all. I am prodigiously proud of him. I defy even Sir WiliamLucas himself to produce a more valuable son-in-law. The loss of her daughter made Mrs. Bennet very dull for several days. I often think, said she, that there is nothing so bad as parting with one s friends. One seems so forlornwithout them. This is the consequence, you see, madam, of marrying a daughter, said Elizabeth. It must make youbetter satisfied that your other four are single. It is no such thing. Lydia does not leave me because she is married; but only because her husband sregiment happens to be so far off. If that had been nearer, she would not have gone so soon. But the spiritless condition which this event threw her into was shortly relieved, and her mind openedagain to the agitation of hope, by an article of news, which then began to be in circulation. Thehousekeeper at Netherfield had received orders to prepare for the arrival of her master, who was comingdown in a day or two, to shoot there for several weeks. Mrs. Bennet was quite in the fidgets. She lookedat Jane, and smiled, and shook her head, by turns. Well, well, and so Mr. Bingley is coming down, sister, (for Mrs. Philips first brought her the news). Well, so much the better. Not that I care about it, though. He is nothing to us, you know, and I am sure Inever want to see him again. But, however, he is very welcome to come to Netherfield, if he likes it. Andwho knows what may happen? But that is nothing to us. You know, sister, we agreed long ago never tomention a word about it. And so, it is quite certain he is coming? You may depend on it, replied the other, for Mrs. Nichols was in Meryton last night: I saw herpassing by, and went out myself on purpose to know the truth of it; and she told me that it was certainlytrue. He comes down on Thursday, at the latest, very likely on Wednesday. She was going to thebutcher s, she told me, on purpose to order in some meat on Wednesday, and she has got three couple ofducks just fit to be killed. Miss Bennet had not been able to hear of his coming without changing colour. It was many monthssince she had mentioned his name to Elizabeth; but now, as soon as they were alone together, she said, I saw you look at me to-day, Lizzy, when my aunt told us of the present report; and I know I appeareddistressed; but don t imagine it was from any silly cause. I was only confused for the moment, because Ifelt that I should be looked at. I do assure you that the news does not affect me either with pleasure orpain. I am glad of one thing, that he comes along; because we shall see the less of him. Not that I am afraid of myself, but I dread other people s remarks. Elizabeth did not know what to make of it. Had she not seen him in Derbyshire, she might havesupposed him capable of coming there with no other view than what was acknowledged; but she stillthought him partial to Jane, and she wavered as to the greater probability of his coming there with hisfriend s permission, or being bold enough to come without it. Yet it is hard, she sometimes thought, that this poor man cannot come to a house, which he haslegally hired, without raising all this speculation! I will leave him to himself. In spite of what her sister declared, and really believed to be her feelings, in the expectation of hisarrival, Elizabeth could easily perceive that her spirits were affected by it. They were more disturbed,more unequal, than she had often seen them. The subject which had been so warmly canvassed between their parents, about a twelvemonth ago, wasnow brought forward again. As soon as ever Mr. Bingley comes, my dear, said Mrs. Bennet, you will wait on him of course. No, no. You forced me into visiting him last year, and promised, if I went to see him, he should marryone of my daughters. But it ended in nothing, and I will not be sent on a fool s errand again. His wife represented to him how absolutely necessary such an attention would be from all theneighbouring gentlemen, on his returning to Netherfield. Tis an etiquette I despise, said he. If he wants our society, let him seek it. He knows where we live. Iwill not spend my hours in running after my neighbours every time they go away and come back again. Well, all I know is, that it will be abominably rude if you do not wait on him. But, however, that shan tprevent my asking him to dine here, I am determined. We must have Mrs. Long and the Gouldings will make thirteen with ourselves, so there will be just room at the table for him. Consoled by this resolution, she was the better able to bear her husband s incivility; though it was verymortifying to know that her neighbours might all see Mr. Bingley in consequence of it before they the day of his arrival drew near, I begin to be sorry that he comes at all, said Jane to her sister. It would be nothing; I could see himwith perfect indifference; but I can hardly bear to hear it thus perpetually talked off. My mother meanswell; but she does not know, no one can know, how much I suffer from what she says. Happy shall I bewhen his stay at Netherfield is over! I wish I could say anything to comfort you, replied Elizabeth; but it is wholly out of my power. Youmust feel it; and the usual satisfaction of preaching patience to a suffer is denied me, because you havealways so much. Mr. Bingley arrived. Mrs. Bennet, through the assistance of servants, contrived to have the earliesttidings of it, that the period of anxiety and fretfulness on her side might be as long as it could. Shecounted the days that must intervene before their invitation could be sent; hopeless of seeing him on the third morning after his arrival in Hertfordshire, she saw him form her dressingroom windowenter 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; butElizabeth, to satisfy her mother, went to the window she looked she saw Mr. Darcy with him, and satdown again by her sister. There is a gentleman with him, mamma, said Kitty; who can it be? Some acquaintance or other, my dear, I suppose; I am sure I do not know. La! replied Kitty, it looks just like that man that used to be with him before. Mr. what s hisname that tall, proud man. Good gracious! Mr. Darcy! and so it does, I vow. Well, any friend of Mr. Bingley s will always bewelcome here to be sure; but else I must say that I hate the very sight of him. 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 firsttime after receiving his explanatory letter. Both sisters were uncomfortable enough. Each felt for theother, and of course for themselves; and their mother talked on of her dislike of Mr. Darcy, and herresolution to be civil to him only as Mr. Bingley s friends, without being heard bus either of them. ButElizabeth had source s of uneasiness which could not be suspected by Jane, to whom she had never yethad courage to show Mrs. Gardiner s letter, or to relate her own change of sentiment towards him. To Jane he could be only a man whose proposals the had refused, and whose merits she undervalued;but to her own more extensive information he was the person to whom the whole family were indebtedfor the first of benefits, and whom she regarded herself with an interest, if not quite so tender, at least asreasonable and just, as what Jane felt for Bingley. Her astonishment at his coming at his coming toNetherfield, to Longbourn, and voluntarily seeking her again, was almost equal to what she had knownon 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, anda smile of delight added lustre to her eyes, as she thought for that space of time that his affection andwishes must still be unshaken; but she would not be secure. Let me first see how he behaves, said she; it will then be early enough for expectation. She sat intently at work, striving to be composed, and without daring to lift up her eyes, till anxiouscuriosity carried them to the face of her sister as the servant was approaching the door. Jane looked alittle paler than usual, but more sedate than Elizabeth had expected. On the gentlemen s appearing, hercolour increased; yet she received them with tolerable ease, and with a propriety of behaviour equallyfree from any symptom of resentment, or any unnecessary complaisance. Elizabeth said as little to either as civility would allow, and sat down again to her work, with aneagerness which it did not often command. She had ventured only one glance at Darcy. He lookedserious as usual; and she thought, more as he had been used to look in Hertfordshire, than as she had seenhim at Pemberley. But, perhaps, he could not in her mother s presence be what he was before her uncleand 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 andembarrassed. He was received by Mrs. Bennet with a degree of civility which made her two daughtersashamed, especially when contrasted with the cold and ceremonious politeness of her courtesy andaddress of his friend. Elizabeth particularly, who knew that her mother owed to the latter the preservation of her favouritedaughter from irremediable infamy, was hurt and distressed to a most painful degree by a distinction soill applied. Darcy, after inquiring of her how Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner did, a question which she could not answerwithout confusion, said scarcely anything. He was not seated by her: perhaps that was the reason of hissilence; but it had not been so in Derbyshire. There he had talked to her friends when he could no toherself. But now several minutes elapsed, without bringing the sound of his voice; and whenoccasionally, unable to resist the impulse of curiosity, she raised her eyes to his face, she as often foundhim looking at Jane as at herself, and frequently on no object but the ground. More thoughtfulness andless anxiety to please, than when they last met, were plainly expressed. She was disappointed, and angrywith herself for being so. Could I expect it to be otherwise? said she. Yet why did he come? She was in no humour for conversation with any one but himself; and to him she had hardly courage tospeak. She inquired after his sister, but could do no more. It is a long time, Mr. Bingley, since you went away, said Mrs. Bennet. He readily agreed to it. I began to be afraid you would never come back again. People did sat, you meant to quit the placeentirely at Michaelmas; but, however, I hope it is not true. A great many changes have happened in theneighbourhood since you went away. Miss Lucas is married and settled: and one of my own daughters. Isuppose you have heard of it; indeed, you must have seen it in the papers. In was in the Times and theCourier, I know; though it was not put in as it ought to be. It was only said, Lately, George Wickham,Esq., to Miss Lydia Bennet, without there being a syllable said of her father, or the place where shelived, or anything. It was my brother Gardiner s drawing up, too, and i wonder how he came to makesuch an awkward business of it. Did you see it? Bingley replied that he did, and made his congratulations. Elizabeth dared not lift up her eyes. HowDarcy looked, therefore, she could not tell. It is a delightful thing, to be sure, to have a daughter well married, continued her mother; but at thesame time, Mr. Bingley, it is very hard to have her taken away from me. They are gone down toNewcastle, a place quite northward it seems, and there they are to stay, I do not know how long. Hisregiment is there; for I suppose you have heard of his leaving the shire, and of his being gone intothe Regulars. Thank heaven! he has some friends, though, perhaps, not so many as he deserves. Elizabeth, who knew this to be levelled at Mr. Darcy, was in such misery of shame that she could hardlykeep her seat. It drew from her, however, the exertion of speaking, which nothing else has so effectuallydone before; and she asked Bingley whether he meant to make any stay in the country at present. A fewweeks, he believed. When you have killed all your own birds, Mr. Bingley, said her mother, I beg you will come here andshoot as many as you please on Mr. Bennet s manor. I am sure he will be vastly happy to oblige you, andwill save all the best of the coveys for you. Elizabeth s misery increased at such unnecessary, such officious attention! Were the same fair prospectto arise at present, as had flattered them a year ago, everything, she was persuaded, would be hastening tothe same vexatious conclusion. At that instant she felt that years of happiness could not make Jane orherself amends for moments of such painful confusion. The first wish of my heart, said to herself, is never more to be in company with either of them. Theirsociety can afford no pleasure that will atone for such wretchedness as this! Let me never see either oneor the other again! Yet the misery, for which years of happiness were to offer no compensation, received soon afterwardsmaterial relief, from observing how much the beauty of her sister rekindled the admiration of her formerlover. When first he came in, he had spoken to her but little; but every five minutes seemed to be givingher more of his attention. He found her as handsome as she had been last year; as good-natured, and asunaffected, though not quite so chatty. Jane was anxious that no different should be perceived in her atall, and was really persuaded that she talked as much as ever; but her mind was so busily engaged, thatshe 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 wereinvited and engaged to dine at Longbourn in a few days time. You are quite a visit in my debt, Mr. Bingley, she added; for when you went to town last winter, youpromised to take a family dinner with us as soon as you returned. I have not forgot, you see; and I assureyou I was very much disappointed that you did not come back and keep your engagement. Bingley looked a little silly at this reflection, and said something of his concern at having beenprevented by business. They then went away. Mrs. Bennet had been strongly inclined to ask them to stay and dine there that day; but, though shealways kept a very good table, she did not think anything less than two courses could be good enough fora man on whom she had such anxious designs, or satisfy the appetite and pride of one who had tenthousand a LIVAS soon as they were gone, Elizabeth walked out to recover her spirits; or, in other world, to dwellwithout interruption on those subjects that must deaden them more. Mr. Darcy s behaviour astonishedand vexed her. Why, if he came only to be silent, grave, and indifferent, said she, did he come at all? She could settle it in no way at all that gave her pleasure. He could be still amiable, still pleasing, to my uncle and aunt, when he was in town; and why not tome? If he fears me, why come higher? If he no longer cares for me, why silent? Teasing, teasing man! Iwill think no more about him. Her resolution was for a short time involuntarily kept by the approach of her sister, who joined her witha cheerful look which showed her better satisfied with their visitors than Elizabeth. Now, said she, that this first meeting is over, I feel perfectly easy. I know my own strength, and Ishall never be embarrassed again by his coming. I am glad he dines here on Tuesday. It will then bepublicly seen that on both sides we meet only as common and indifferent acquaintance. Yes, very indifferent indeed, said Elizabeth, laughingly. Oh, Jane! take care. My dear Lizzy, you cannot think me so weak as to be in danger now. I think you are in very great danger of making him as much in love with you as ever. They did not see the gentlemen again till Tuesday; and Mrs. Bennet, in the meanwhile, was giving wayto all the happy schemes which the good-humour and common politeness of Bingley, in half an hour svisit, had revived. On Tuesday there was a large party assembled at Longbourn; and the two who were most anxiouslyexpected, to the credit of their punctuality as sportsmen, were in very good time. When they repaired tothe dining-room, Elizabeth eagerly watched to see whether Bingley would take the place which, in alltheir 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 tolook 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 hiseyes likewise turned towards Mr. Darcy, with an expression of half-laughing alarm. His behaviour to her sister was such during dinner-time as showed an admiration of her, which, thoughmore guarded than formerly, persuaded Elizabeth that, if left wholly to himself, Jane s happiness, and hisown, would be speedily secured. Though she dared not depend upon the consequence, she yet receivedpleasure from observing his behaviour. It gave her all the animation that her spirits could boast; for shewas in no cheerful humour. Mr. Darcy was almost as far from her as the table could divide them. He wason one side of her mother. She knew how little such a situation would give pleasure to either, or makeeither appear to advantage. She was not near enough to hear any of their discourse; but she could see howseldom they spoke to each other, and how formal and cold was their manner whenever they did. Hermother s ungraciousness made the sense of what they owed him more painful to Elizabeth s mind; andshe would, at times, have given anything to be privileged to tell him that his kindness was neitherunknown nor unfelt by the whole of the family. She was in hopes that the evening would afford some opportunity of bringing them together; that thewhole of the visit would not pass away without enabling them to enter into something more ofconversation than the mere ceremonious salutation attending his entrance. Anxious and uneasy, theperiod which passed in the drawing-room before the gentlemen came was wearisome and dull to a degreethat almost made her uncivil. She looked forward to their entrance as the point on which all her chance ofpleasure for the evening must depend. If he does not come to me, then, said she, I shall give him up for ever. The gentlemen came; and she thought he looked as if he would have answered her hopes; but, alas! theladies had crowded round the table, where Miss Bennet was making tea and Elizabeth pouring out thecoffee, in so close a confederacy, that there was not a single vacancy near her which would admit of achair. And on the gentlemen s approaching, one of the girls moved closer to her than ever, and said, in awhisper, The men shan t come and part us, I am determined. We want none of them; do we? Darcy had walked away to another part of the room. She followed him with her eyes, envied every oneto whom he spoke, had scarcely patience enough to help anybody to coffee, and then was enraged againstherself for being so silly! A man who has once been refused! How could I ever be foolish enough to expect a renewal of hislove? Is there one among the sex who would not protest against such a weakness as a second proposal tothe same woman? There is no indignity so abhorrent to their feelings. She was a little revived, however, by his bringing back his coffee-cup himself; and she seized theopportunity of saying, Is your sister at Pemberley still? Yes; she will remain there till Christmas. And quite alone? Have all her friends left her? Mrs. Annesley is with her. The others have been gone on to Scarborough these three weeks. She could think of nothing more to say; but if he wished to converse with her, he might have bettersuccess. He stood by her, however, for some minutes, in silence; and, at last, on the young lady swhispering to Elizabeth again, he walked away. When the tea things were removed, and the card-tables placed, the ladies all rose, and Elizabeth wasthen hoping to be soon joined by him, when all her views were overthrown by seeing him fall a victim toher mother s rapacity for whist-players, and in a few moments after seated with the rest of the party. Shenow lost every expectation of pleasure. They were confined for the evening at different tables, and shehad nothing to hope, but that his eyes were so often turned towards her side of the room as to make himplay 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. Well, girls, said she, as soon as they were left to themselves, what say you to the day? I thinkeverything has passed off uncommonly well, I assure you. The dinner was as well dressed as any I eversaw. The venison was roasted to a turn and everybody said they never saw so fat a haunch. The soupwas fifty times better than what we had at the Lucases last week; and even Mr. Darcy acknowledgedthat the partridges were remarkably well done; and I suppose he has two or three French cooks at , my dear Jane, I never saw you look in greater beauty. Mrs. Long said so too, for I asked herwhether you did not. And what do you think she said besides? Ah! Mrs. Bennet, we shall have her atNetherfield at last! She did, indeed. I do think Mrs. Long is as good a creature as ever lived and hernieces are very pretty behaved girls, and not at all handsome: I like them prodigiously. Mrs. Bennet, in short, was in very great spirits: she had seen enough of Bingley s behaviour to Jane tobe convinced that she would get him at last; and her expectations of advantage to her family, when in ahappy humour, were so far beyond reason, that she was quite disappointed at not seeing him there againthe next day to make his proposals. It has been a very agreeable day, said Miss Bennet to Elizabeth. The party seemed so well selected,so suitable one with the other. I hope we may often meet again. Elizabeth smiled. Lizzy, you must not do so. You must not suspect me. It mortifies me. I assure you that I have nowlearnt to enjoy his conversation as an agreeable and sensible young man without having a wish beyond am perfectly satisfied, from what his manners now are, that he never had any design of engaging myaffection. It is only that he is blessed with greater sweetness of address, and a stronger desire of generallypleasing, than any other man. You are very cruel, said her sister; you will not let me smile, and are provoking me to it everymoment. How hard it is in some cases to be believed! And how impossible in others! But why should you wishto persuade me that I feel more than I acknowledge? That is a question which I hardly know how to answer. We all love to instruct, though we can teachonly what is not worth knowing. Forgive me; and if you persist in indifference, do not make me yourconfidante. Chapter LVA FEW days after this visit, Mr. Bingley called again, and alone. His friend had left him that morning forLondon, but was to return home in ten days time. He sat with them above an hour, and was inremarkably good spirits. Mrs. Bennet invited him to dine with them; but, with many expressions ofconcern, he confessed himself engaged elsewhere. Next time you call, said she, I hope we shall be more lucky. He should be particularly happy at any time, etc., etc.; and if she would give him leave, would take anearly opportunity of waiting on them. Can you come to-morrow? Yes, he had no engagement at all for to-morrow; and her invitation was accepted with alacrity. He came, and in such very good time that the ladies were none of them dressed. In ran Mrs. Bennet toher daughter s room, in her dressing gown, and with her hair half-finished, crying out, My dear Jane, make haste and hurry down. He is come Mr. Bingley is come. He is, indeed. Makehaste, make haste. Here, Sarah, come to Miss Bennet this moment, and help her on with her gown. Nevermind Miss Lizzy s hair. We will be down as soon as we can, said Jane, but I daresay Kitty is forwarder than either of us, forshe went upstairs half an hour ago. Oh! hang Kitty! what has she to do with it? Come, be quick, be quick! where is your sash, my dear? But when her mother was gone, Jane would not be prevailed on to go down without one of her sisters. The same anxiety to get them by themselves was visible again in the evening. After tea, Mr. Bennetretired to the library, as was his custom, and Mary went upstairs to her instrument. Two obstacles of thefive being thus removed, Mrs. Bennet sat looking and winking at Elizabeth and Catherine for aconsiderable time, without making any impression on them. Elizabeth would not observe her; and whenat last Kitty did, she very innocently said, What is the matter, mamma? What do you keep winking at mefor? What am I to do? Nothing, child, nothing. I did not wink at you. She then sat still five minutes longer; but, unable towaste such a precious occasion, she suddenly got up, and saying to Kitty. Come here, my love, I want to speak to you, took her out of the room. Jane instantly gave a look atElizabeth which spoke her distress at such premeditation, and her entreaty that she would not give in toit. In a few minutes, Mrs. Bennet half opened the door and called out, Lizzy, my dear, I want to speak with you. Elizabeth was forced to go. We may as well leave them by themselves, you know, said her mother as soon as she was in the hall. Kitty and I are going upstairs to sit in my dressing-room. Elizabeth made no attempt to reason with her mother, but remained quietly in the hall till she and Kittywere out of sight, then returned into the drawing-room. Mrs. Bennet s schemes for this day were ineffectual. Bingley was everything that was charming, exceptthe professed lover of her daughter. His ease and cheerfulness rendered him a most agreeable addition totheir evening party; and he bore with the ill-judged officiousness of the mother, and heard all her sillyremarks with a forbearance and command of countenance particularly grateful to the daughter. He scarcely needed an invitation to stay to supper; and before he went away an engagement wasformed, chiefly through his own and Mrs. Bennet s means, for his coming next morning to shoot with herhusband. After this day, Jane said no more of her indifference. Not a word passed between the sisters concerningBingley; but Elizabeth went to bed in the happy belief that all must speedily be concluded, unless returned within the stated time. Seriously, however, she felt tolerably persuaded that all this musthave taken place with that gentleman s concurrence. Bingley was punctual to his appointment; and he and Mr. Bennet spent the morning together, as hadbeen agreed on. The latter was much more agreeable than his companion expected. There was nothing ofpresumption or folly in Bingley that could provoke his ridicule, or disgust him into silence; and he wasmore communicative, and less eccentric, than the other had ever seen him. Bingley of course returnedwith him to dinner; and in the evening Mrs. Bennet s invention was again at work to get everybody awayfrom him and her daughter. Elizabeth, who had a letter to write, went into the breakfast-room for thatpurpose soon after tea; for as the others were all going to sit down to cards, she could not be wanted tocounteract her mother s schemes. But on her returning to the drawing-room, when her letter was finished, she saw, to her infinite surprise,there was reason to fear that her mother had been too ingenious for her. On opening the door, sheperceived her sister and Bingley standing together over the hearth, as if engaged in earnest conversation;and had this led to no suspicion, the faces of both, as they hastily turned round and moved away fromeach other, would have told it all. Their situation was awkward enough; but hers she thought was stillworse. Not a syllable was uttered by either; and Elizabeth was on the point of going away again, whenBingley, who as well as the other had sat down, suddenly rose, and, whispering a few words to her sister,ran out of the room. Jane could have no reserves from Elizabeth, where confidence would give pleasure; and instantlyembracing her acknowledged, with the liveliest emotion, that she was the happiest creature in the world. Tis too much! she added, by far too much. I do not deserve it. Oh, why is not everybody as happy? Elizabeth s congratulations were given with a sincerity, a warmth, a delight, which words could butpoorly express. Every sentence of kindness was a fresh source of happiness to Jane. But she would notallow herself to stay with her sister, or say half that remained to be said, for the present. I must go instantly to my mother, she cried. I would not on any account trifle with her affectionatesolicitude, or allow her to hear it from any one but myself. He is gone to my father already. Oh, Lizzy, toknow that what I have to relate will give such pleasure to all my dear family; how shall I bear so muchhappiness? She then hastened away to her mother, who had purposely broken up the card party, and was sittingupstairs with Kitty. Elizabeth, who was left by herself, now smiled at the rapidity and ease with which an affair was finallysettled, that had given them so many previous months of surprise and vexation. And this, said she, is the end of all his friend s anxious circumspection! of all his sister s falsehoodand contrivance! the happiest, wisest, and most reasonable end! In a few minutes she was joined by Bingley, whose conference with her father had been short and to thepurpose. Where is your sister? said he hastily, as he opened the door. With my mother upstairs. She will be down in a moment, I daresay. He then shut the door, and, coming up to her, claimed the good wishes and affection of a honestly and heartily expressed her delight in the prospect of their relationship. They shookhands with great cordiality; and then, till her sister came down, she had to listen to all he had to say of hisown happiness, and of Jane s perfections; and in spite of his being a lover, Elizabeth really believed allhis expectations of felicity to be rationally founded, because they had for basis the excellentunderstanding and super-excellent disposition of Jane, and a general similarity of feeling and tastebetween her and himself. It was an evening of no common delight to them all; the satisfaction of Miss Bennet s mind gave such aglow of sweet animation to her face, as made her look handsomer than ever. Kitty simpered and smiled,and hoped her turn was coming soon. Mrs. Bennet could not give her consent, or speak her approbation,in terms warm enough to satisfy her feelings, though she talked to Bingley of nothing else for half anhour; and when Mr. Bennet joined them at supper, his voice and manner plainly showed how reallyhappy he was. Not a word, however, passed his lips in allusion to it, till their visitor took his leave for the night, but assoon as he was gone, he turned to his daughter and said, Jane, I congratulate you. You will be a very happy woman. Jane went to him instantly, kissed him, and thanked him for his goodness. You are a good girl, he replied, and I have great pleasure in thinking you will be so happily settled. Ihave not a doubt of your doing very well together. Your tempers are by no means unlike. You are each ofyou so complying, that nothing will ever be resolved on; so easy, that every servant will cheat you; andso generous, that you will always exceed your income. I hope not so. Imprudence or thoughtlessness in money matters would be unpardonable in me. Exceed their income! My dear Mr. Bennet, cried his wife, what are you talking of? Why, he has fouror five thousand a year, and very likely more. Then addressing her daughter, Oh, my dear, dear Jane, Iam so happy! I am sure I shan t get a wink of sleep all night. I knew how it would be. I always said itmust be so, at last. I was sure you could not be so beautiful for nothing! I remember, as soon as ever Isaw him, when he first came into Hertfordshire last year, I thought how likely it was that you shouldcome together. Oh, he is the handsomest young man that ever was seen! Wickham, Lydia, were all forgotten. Jane was beyond competition her favourite child. At that momentshe cared for no other. Her younger sisters soon began to make interest with her for objects of happinesswhich she might in future be able to dispense. Mary petitioned for the use of the library at Netherfield; and Kitty begged very hard for a few ballsthere every winter. Bingley, from this time, was of course a daily visitor at Longbourn; coming frequently before breakfast,and always remaining till after supper; unless when some barbarous neighbour, who could not be enoughdetested, had given him an invitation to dinner, which he thought himself obliged to accept. Elizabeth had now but little time for conversation with her sister; for while he was present Jane had noattention to be stow on any one else: but she found herself considerably useful to both of them in thosehours of separation that must sometimes occur. In the absence of Jane, he always attached himself toElizabeth for the pleasure of talking of her; and when Bingley was gone, Jane constantly sought the samemeans of relief. He has made me so happy, said she, one evening, by telling me that he was totally ignorant of mybeing in town last spring! I had not believed it possible. I suspected as much, replied Elizabeth. But how did he account for it? It must have been his sisters doing. They were certainly no friends to his acquaintance with me, whichI cannot wonder at, since he might have chosen so much more advantageously in many respects. Butwhen they see, as I trust they will, that their brother is happy with me, they will learn to be contented,and we shall be on good terms again: though we can never be what we once were to each other. That is the most unforgiving speech, said Elizabeth, that I ever heard you utter. Good girl! It wouldvex me, indeed, to see you again the dupe of Miss Bingley s pretended regard. Would you believe it, Lizzy, that when he went to town last November he really loved me, and nothingbut a persuasion of my being indifferent would have prevented his coming down again? He made a little mistake, to be sure; but it is to the credit of his modesty. This naturally introduced a panegyric from Jane on his diffidence, and the little value he put on his owngood qualities. Elizabeth was pleased to find that he had not betrayed the interference of his friend; for, though Janehad the most generous and forgiving heart in the world, she knew it was a circumstance which mustprejudice her against him. I am certainly the most fortunate creature that ever existed! cried Jane. Oh, Lizzy, why am I thussingled from my family, and blessed above them all? If I could but see you as happy! If there were butsuch another man for you! If you were to give me forty such men I never could be so happy as you. Till I have your disposition,your goodness. I never can have your happiness. No, no, let me shift for myself; and, perhaps, if I havevery good luck, I may meet with another Mr. Collins in time. The situation of affairs in the Longbourn family could not be long a secret. Mrs. Bennet was privilegedto whisper it to Mrs. Philips, and she ventured, without any permission, to do the same by all herneighbours in Meryton. The Bennets were speedily pronounced to be the luckiest family in the world; though only a few weeksbefore, when Lydia had first run away, they had been generally proved to be marked out for LVIONE morning, about a week after Bingley s engagement with Jane had been formed, as he and thefemales of the family were sitting together in the dining-room, their attention was suddenly drawn to thewindow by the sound of a carriage; and they perceived a chaise and four driving up the lawn. It was tooearly in the morning for visitors, and besides, the equipage did not answer to that of any of theirneighbours. The horses were post; and neither the carriage, nor the livery of the servant who preceded it,was familiar to them. As it was certain, however, that somebody was coming, Bingley instantly prevailedon Miss Bennet to avoid the confinement of such an intrusion, and walk away with him into theshrubbery. They both set off, and the conjectures of the remaining three continued, though with littlesatisfaction, till the door was thrown open, and their visitor entered. It was Lady Catherine de Bourgh. They were of course all intending to be surprised: but their astonishment was beyond their expectation;and on the part of Mrs. Bennet and Kitty, though she was perfectly unknown to them, even inferior towhat Elizabeth felt. She entered the room with an air more than usually ungracious, made no other reply to Elizabeth ssalutation than a slight inclination of the head, and sat down without saying a word. Elizabeth hadmentioned, her name to her mother on her Ladyship s entrance, though no request of introduction hadbeen made. Mrs. Bennet, all amazement, though flattered by having a guest of such high importance, received herwith the utmost politeness. After sitting for a moment in silence, she said, very stiffly, to Elizabeth, I hope you are well, Miss Bennet. That lady, I suppose, is your mother? Elizabeth replied very concisely that she was. And that, I suppose, is one of your sisters? Yes, madam, said Mrs. Bennet, delighted to speak to a Lady Catherine. She is my youngest girl butone. My youngest of all is lately married, and my eldest is somewhere about the ground, walking with ayoung man, who, I believe, will soon become a part of the family. You have a very small park here, returned Lady Catherine, after a short silence. It is nothing in comparison of Rosings, my Lady, I daresay; but I assure you it is much larger than SirWilliam Lucas s. This must be a most inconvenient sitting-room for the evening in summer; the windows are full west. Mrs. Bennet assured her that never sat there after dinner; and then added, May I take the liberty of asking your Ladyship whether you left Mr. and Mrs. Collins well? Yes, very well. I saw them the night before last. Elizabeth now expected that she would produce a letter for her from Charlotte, a it seemed the onlyprobable motive for her calling. But no letter appeared, and she was completely puzzled. Mrs. Bennet, with great civility, begged her Ladyship to take some refreshment: but Lady Catherinevery resolutely, and not very politely, declined eating anything; and then, rising up, said to Elizabeth, Miss Bennet, there seemed to be a prettyish kind of a little wilderness on one side of your lawn. Ishould be glad to take a turn in it, if you will favour me with your company. Go, my dear, cried her mother, and show her Ladyship about the different walks. I think she will bepleased with the hermitage. Elizabeth obeyed; and, running into her own room for her parasol, attended her noble guest they passed through the hall, Lady Catherine opened the doors into the dining-parlour anddrawing-room, and pronouncing them, after a short survey, to be decent-looking rooms, walked on. Her carriage remained at the door, and Elizabeth saw that her waiting-woman was in it. They proceededin silence along the gravel walk that led to the copse: Elizabeth was determined to make no effort forconversation with a woman who was now more than usually insolent and disagreeable. How could I ever think her like her nephew? said she, as she looked in her face. As soon as they entered the copse, Lady Catherine began in the following manner: You can be at no loss, Miss Bennet, to understand the reason of my journey hither. Your own heart,your own conscience, must tell you why I come. Elizabeth looked with unaffected astonishment. Indeed, you are mistaken, madam; I have not been at all able to account for the honour of seeing youhere. Miss Bennet, replied her Ladyship, in an angry tone, you ought to know that I am not to be trifledwith. But however insincere you may choose to be, you shall not find me so. My character has ever beencelebrated for its sincerity and frankness; and in a cause of such moment as this, I shall certainly notdepart from it. A report of a most alarming nature reached me two days ago. I was told, that not onlyyour sister was on the point of being most advantageously married, but that you, that Miss ElizabethBennet would, in all likelihood, be soon afterwards united to my nephew, my own nephew, Mr. I know it must be a scandalous falsehood, though I would not injure him so much as to supposethe truth of it possible, I instantly resolved on setting off for this place, that I might make my sentimentsknown to you. If you believed it impossible to be true, said Elizabeth, colouring with astonishment and disdain, Iwonder you took the trouble of coming so far. What could your Ladyship propose by it? At once to insist upon having such a report universally contradicted. Your coming to Longbourn, to see me and my family, said Elizabeth coolly, will be rather aconfirmation of it; if, indeed, such a report is in existence. If! do you then pretend to be ignorant of it? Has it not been industriously circulated by yourselves? Doyou not know that such a report is spread abroad? I never heard that it was. And can you likewise declare that there is no foundation for it? I do not pretend to possess equal frankness with your Ladyship. You may ask questions which I shallnot choose to answer. This is not to be borne. Miss Bennet, I insist on being satisfied. Has he, has my nephew, made you anoffer of marriage? Your Ladyship has declared it to be impossible. It ought to be so; it must be so while he retains the use of his reason. But your arts and allurementsmay, in a moment of infatuation, have made him forget what he owes to himself and to all his may have drawn him in. If I have I shall be the last person to confess it. Miss Bennet, do you know who I am? I have not been accustomed to such language as this. I amalmost the nearest relation he has in the world, and am entitled to know all his dearest concerns. But you are not entitled to know mine; nor will such behaviour as this ever induce me to be explicit. Let me be rightly understood. This match, to which you have the presumption to aspire, can never takeplace. No, never. Mr. Darcy is engaged to my daughter. Now, what have you to say? Only this, that if he is so, you can have no reason to suppose he will make an offer to me. Lady Catherine hesitated for a moment, and then replied, The engagement between them is of a peculiar kind. From their infancy, they have been intended foreach other. It was the favourite wish of his mother, as well as of hers. While in their cradles we plannedthe union; and now, at the moment when the wishes of both sisters would be accomplished, in theirmarriage, to be prevented by a young woman of inferior birth, of no importance in the world, and whollyunallied to the family! Do you pay no regard to the wishes of his friends? To his tacit engagement withMiss De Bourgh? Are you lost to every feeling of propriety and delicacy? Have you not heard me saythat from his earliest hours he was destined for his cousin? Yes; and I had heard it before. But what is that to me? If there is no other objection to my marryingyour nephew, I shall certainly not be kept from it by knowing that his mother and aunt wished him tomarry Miss De Bourgh. You both did as much as you could in planning the marriage. Its completiondepended on others. If Mr. Darcy is neither by honour nor inclination confined to his cousin, why is nothe to make another choice? And if I am that choice, why may not I accept him? Because honour, decorum, prudence, nay interest, forbid it. Yes, Miss Bennet, interest; for do notexpect to be noticed by his family or friends, if you wilfully act against the inclinations of all. You willbe censured, slighted, and despised by every one connected with him. Your alliance will be a disgrace;your name will never even be mentioned by any of us. These are heavy misfortunes, replied Elizabeth. But the wife of Mr. Darcy must have suchextraordinary sources of happiness necessarily attached to her situation, that she could, upon the whole,have no cause to repine. Obstinate, headstrong girl! I am ashamed of you! Is this your gratitude for my attentions to you lastspring? Is nothing due to me on that score? Let us sit down. You are to understand, Miss Bennet, that Icame here with the determined resolution of carrying my purpose; nor will I be dissuaded from it. I havenot been used to submit to any person s whims. I have not been in the habit of brooking disappointment. That will make your Ladyship s situation at present more pitiable; but it will have no effect on me. I will not be interrupted! Hear me in silence. My daughter and my nephew are formed for each are descended, on the maternal side, from the same noble line; and, on the father s, fromrespectable, honourable, and ancient, though untitled, families. Their fortune on both sides is are destined for each other by the voice of every member of their respective houses; and what is todivide them? the upstart pretensions of a young woman without family, connections, or fortune! Is thisto be endured? But it must not, shall not be! If you were sensible of your own good, you would not wishto quit the sphere in which you have been brought up. In marrying your nephew, I should not consider myself as quitting that sphere. He is a gentleman; I agentleman s daughter; so far we are equal. True. You are a gentleman s daughter. But what was your mother? Who are your uncles and aunts? Donot imagine me ignorant of their condition. Whatever my connection may be, said Elizabeth, if your nephew does not object to them, they can benothing to you. Tell me, once for all, are you engaged to him? Though Elizabeth would not, for the mere purpose of obliging Lady Catherine, have answered thisquestion, she could not but say, after a moment s deliberation, I am not. Lady Catherine seemed pleased. And will you promise me never to enter into such an engagement? I will make no promise of the kind. Miss Bennet, I am shocked and astonished. I expected to find a more reasonable young woman. But donot deceive yourself into a belief that I will ever recede. I shall not go away till you have given me theassurance I require. And I certainly never shall give it. I am not be to intimidated into anything so wholly Ladyship wants Mr. Darcy to marry your daughter; but would my giving you the wished-forpromise make their marriage at all more probable? Supposing him to be attached to me, would myrefusing to accept his hand make him wish to bestow it on his cousin? Allow me to say, Lady Catherine,that the arguments with which you have supported this extraordinary application have been as frivolousas the application was ill-judged. You have widely mistaken my character, if you think I can be workedon by such persuasions as these. How far your nephew might approve of your interference in his affairs, Icannot tell; but you have certainly no right to concern yourself in mine. I must beg, therefore, to beimportuned no further on the subject. Not so hasty, if you please. I have by no means done. To all the objections I have already urged I havestill another to add. I am no stranger to the particulars of your youngest sister s infamous elopement. Iknow it all; that the young man s marrying her was a patched-up business, at the expense of your fatherand uncle. And is such a girl to be my nephew s sister? Is her husband, who is the son of his late father ssteward, to be his brother? Heaven and earth! of what are you thinking? Are the shades of Pemberley tobe thus polluted? You can now have nothing further to say, she resentfully answered. You have insulted me in everypossible method. I must beg to return to the house. And she rose as she spoke. Lady Catherine rose also, and they turned back. Her Ladyship was highlyincensed. You have no regard, then, for the honour and credit of my nephew! Unfeeling, selfish girl! Do you notconsider that a connection with you must disgrace him in the eyes of everybody? Lady Catherine, I have nothing further to say. You know my sentiments. You are then resolved to have him? I have said no such thing. I am only resolved to act in that manner which will, in my own opinion,constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me. It is well. You refuse, then, to oblige me. You refuse to obey the claims of duty, honour, and are determined to ruin him in the opinion of all his friends, and make him the contempt of theworld. Neither duty, nor honour, nor gratitude, replied Elizabeth, has any possible claim on me, in thepresent instance. No principle of either would be violated by my marriage with Mr. Darcy. And withregard to the resentment of his family, or the indignation of the world, if the former were excited by hismarrying me, it would not give me one moment s concern and the world in general would have toomuch sense to join in the scorn. And this is your real opinion! This is your final resolve! Very well. I shall now know how to act. Donot imagine, Miss Bennet, that your ambition will ever be gratified. I came to try you. I hoped to find youreasonable; but depend upon it I will carry my point. In this manner Lady Catherine talked on till they were at the door of the carriage, when, turning hastilyround, she added, I take no leave of you, Miss Bennet. I send no compliments to your mother. You deserve no suchattention. I am most seriously displeased. Elizabeth made no answer; and without attempting to persuade her Ladyship to return into the house,walked quietly into it herself. She heard the carriage drive away as she proceeded upstairs. Her motherimpatiently met her at the door of her dressing-room, to ask why Lady Catherine would not come inagain and rest herself. She did not choose it, said her daughter; she would go. She is a very fine-looking woman! and her calling here was prodigiously civil! for she only came, Isuppose, to tell us the Collinses were well. She is on her road somewhere, I daresay; and so, passingthrough Meryton, thought she might as well call on you. I suppose she had nothing particular to say toyou, Lizzy? Elizabeth was forced to give in to a little falsehood here; for to acknowledge the substance of theirconversation was LVIITHE DISCOMPOSURE of spirits which this extraordinary visit threw Elizabeth into could not be easilyovercome; nor could she for many hours learn to think of it less than incessantly. Lady Catherine, itappeared, had actually taken the trouble of this journey from Rosings for the sole purpose of breaking offher supposed engagement with Mr. Darcy. It was a rational scheme to be sure! but from what the reportof their engagement could originate, Elizabeth was at a loss to imagine; till she recollected that his beingthe intimate friend of Bingley, and her being the sister of Jane, was enough, at a time when theexpectation of one wedding made everybody eager for another, to supply the idea. She had not herselfforgotten to feel that the marriage of her sister must bring them more frequently together. And herneighbours at Lucas Lodge, therefore (for through their communication with the Collinses, the report,she concluded, had reached Lady Catherine), had only set that down as almost certain and immediatewhich she had looked forward to as possible at some future time In revolving Lady Catherine s expressions, however, she could not help feeling some uneasiness as tothe possible consequence of her persisting in this interference. From what she had said of her resolutionto prevent the marriage, it occurred to Elizabeth that she must meditate an application to her nephew; andhow he might take a similar representation of the evils attached to a connection with her she dared notpronounce. She knew not the exact degree of his affection for his aunt, or his dependence on herjudgment, but it was natural to suppose that he thought much higher of her Ladyship than she could do;and it was certain, that in enumerating the miseries of a marriage with one whose immediate connectionswere so unequal to his own, his aunt would address him on his weakest side. With his nations of dignity,he would probably feel that the arguments, which to Elizabeth had appeared weak and ridiculous,contained much good sense and solid reasoning. If he had been wavering before as to what he should do, which had often seemed likely, the advice andentreaty of so near a relation might settle every doubt, and determine him at once to be as happy asdignity unblemished could make him. In that case he would return no more. Lady Catherine might seehim in her way through town; and his engagement to Bingley of coming again to Netherfield must giveway. If, therefore an excuse for not keeping his promise should come to his friend within a few days, sheadded, I shall know how to understand it. I shall then give over every expectation, every wish, of hisconstancy. If he is satisfied with only regretting me, when he might have obtained my affections andhand, I shall soon cease to regret him at all. The surprise of the rest of the family, on hearing who their visitor had been, was very great: but theyobligingly satisfied it with the same kind of supposition which had appeased Mrs. Bennet s curiosity; andElizabeth was spared from much teasing on the subject. The next morning, as she was going downstairs, she was met by her father, who came out of his librarywith a letter in his hand. Lizzy, said he, I was going to look for you: come into my room. She followed him thither; and her curiosity to know what he had to tell her was heightened by thesupposition of its being in some manner connected with the letter he held. It suddenly struck her that itmight be from Lady Catherine, and she anticipated with dismay all the consequent explanations. She followed her father to the fireplace, and they both sat down. He then said, I have received a letter this morning that has astonished me exceedingly. As it principally concernsyourself, you ought to know its contents. I did not know before that I had two daughters on the brink ofmatrimony. Let me congratulate you on a very important conquest. The colour now rushed into Elizabeth s cheeks in the instantaneous conviction of its being a letter fromthe nephew, instead of the aunt; and she was undetermined whether most to be pleased that he explainedhimself at all, or offended that his letter was not rather addressed to herself, when her father continued, You look conscious. Young ladies have great penetration in such matters as these; but I think I maydefy even your sagacity to discover the name of your admirer. This letter is from Mr. Collins. From Mr. Collins! and what can he have to say? Something very much to the purpose, of course. He begins with congratulations on the approachingnuptials of my eldest daughter, of which, it seems, he has been told by some of the good-natured,gossiping Lucases. I shall not sport with your impatience by reading what he says on that point. Whatrelates to yourself is as follows: Having thus offered you the sincere congratulations of Mrs. Collinsand myself on this happy event, let me now add a short hint on the subject of another, of which we havebeen advertised by the same authority. Your daughter Elizabeth, it is presumed, will not long bear thename of Bennet, after her eldest sister has resigned it; and the chosen partner of her fate may bereasonably looked up to as one of the most illustrious personages in this land. Can you possibly guess, Lizzy, who is meant by this? This young gentleman is blessed, in a peculiar way, with everything the heart of mortal can mostdesire, splendid property, noble kindred, and extensive patronage. Yet, in spite of all these temptations,let me warn my cousin Elizabeth, and yourself, of what evils you may incur by a precipitate closure withthis gentleman s proposals, which, of course, you will be inclined to take immediate advantage of. Have you any idea, Lizzy, who this gentleman is? But now it comes out. My motive for cautioning you is as follows: We have reason to imagine that his aunt, LadyCatherine de Bourgh, does not look on the match with a friendly eye. Mr. Darcy, you see, is the man! Now, Lizzy, I think I have surprised you. Could he, or the Lucases,have pitched on any man, within the circle of our acquaintance, whose name would have given the liemore effectually to what they related? Mr. Darcy, who never looks at any woman but to see a blemish,and who probably never looked at you in his life! It is admirable! Elizabeth tried to join in her father s pleasantry, but could only force one most reluctant smile. Neverhad his wit been directed in a manner so little agreeable to her. Are you not diverted? Oh yes. Pray read on. After mentioning the likelihood of his marriage to her Ladyship last night, she immediately, with herusual condescension, expressed what she felt on the occasion; when it became apparent that on the scoreof some family objections on the part of my cousin she would never give her consent to what she termedso disgraceful a match. I thought it my duty to give the speediest intelligence of this to my cousin, thatshe and her noble admirer may be aware of what they are about, and not run hastily into a marriagewhich has not been properly sanctioned. Mr. Collins, moreover, adds, I am truly rejoiced that mycousin Lydia s sad business has been so well hushed up, and am only concerned that their living togetherbefore the marriage took place should be so generally known. I must not, however, neglect the duties ofmy station, or refrain from declaring my amazement, at hearing that you received the young couple intoyour house as soon as they were married. It was an encouragement of vice; and had I been the rector ofLongbourn, I should very strenuously have opposed it. You ought certainly to forgive them as aChristian, but never to admit them in your sight, or allow their names to be mentioned in your hearing. That is his notion of Christian forgiveness! The rest of his letter is only about his dear Charlotte ssituation, and his expectation of a young olive-branch. But, Lizzy, you look as if you did not enjoy are not going to be missish, I hope and pretend to be affronted at an idle report, For what do we live,but to make sport for our neighbours. and laugh at them in our turn? Oh, cried Elizabeth, I am exceedingly diverted. But it is so strange! Yes, that is what makes it amusing. Had they fixed on any other man it would have been nothing; buthis perfect indifference and your pointed dislike make it so delightfully absurd! Much as I abominatewriting, I would not give up Mr. Collins s correspondence for any consideration. Nay, when I read letterof his, I cannot help giving him the preference even over Wickham, much as I value the impudence andhypocrisy of my son-in-law. And pray, Lizzy, what said Lady Catherine about this report? Did she call torefuse her consent? To this question his daughter replied only with a laugh; and as it had been asked without out the leastsuspicion, she was not distressed by his repeating it. Elizabeth had never been more at a loss to make herfeelings appear what they were not. It was necessary to laugh when she would rather have cried. Herfather had most cruelly mortified her by what he said of Mr. Darcy s indifference; and she could donothing but wonder at such a want of penetration, or fear that, perhaps, instead of his seeing too little, shemight have fancied too LVIIIINSTEAD of receiving any such letter of excuse from his friend as Elizabeth half expected Mr. Bingleyto do, he was able to bring Darcy with him to Longbourn before many days had passed after LadyCatherine s visit. The gentlemen arrived early; and, before Mrs. Bennet had time to tell him of theirhaving seen his aunt, of which her daughter sat in momentary dread, Bingley, who wanted to be alonewith Jane, proposed their all walking out. It was agreed to. Mrs. Bennet was not in the habit of walking,Mary could never spare time, but the remaining five set off together. Bingley and Jane, however, soonallowed the others to outstrip them. They lagged behind, while Elizabeth, Kitty, and Darcy were toentertain each other. Very little was said by either; Kitty was too much afraid of him to talk; Elizabethwas secretly forming a desperate resolution; and, perhaps, he might be doing the same. They walked toward the Lucases , because Kitty wished to call upon Maria; and as Elizabeth saw nooccasion for making it a general concern, when Kitty left them she went boldly on with him alone. Nowwas the moment for her resolution to be executed; and while her courage was high she immediatelysaid, Mr. Darcy, I am a very selfish creature, and for the sake of giving relief to my own feelings care nothow much I may be wounding yours. I can no longer help thanking you for your unexampled kindness tomy poor sister. Ever since I have known it I have been most anxious to acknowledge to you howgratefully I feel it. Were it known to the rest of my family I should not have merely my own gratitude toexpress. I am sorry, exceedingly sorry, replied Darcy, in a tone of surprise and emotion, that you have everbeen informed of what may, in a mistaken light, have given you uneasiness. I did not think Mrs. Gardinerwas so little to be trusted. You must not blame my aunt. Lydia s thoughtlessness first betrayed to me that you had beenconcerned in the matter; and, of course, I could not rest till I knew the particulars. Let me thank youagain and again, in the name of all my family, for that generous compassion which induced you to takeso much trouble, and bear so many mortifications, for the sake of discovering them. If you will thank me, he replied, let it be for yourself alone. That the wish of giving happiness to youmight add force to the other inducements which led me on I shall not attempt to deny. But your familyowe me nothing. Much as I respect them, I believe I thought only of you. Elizabeth was too much embarrassed to say a word. After a short pause, her companion added, You aretoo generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. Myaffections and wishes are unchanged; but one word from you will silence me on this subject for ever. Elizabeth, feeling all the more than common awkwardness and anxiety for his situation, now forcedherself to speak; and immediately, though not very fluently, gave him to understand that her sentimentshad undergone so material a change since the period to which he alluded as to make her receive withgratitude and pleasure his present assurances. The happiness which this reply produced was such as hehad probably never felt before; and he expressed himself on the occasion as sensibly and as warmly as aman violently in love can be supposed to do. Had Elizabeth been able to encounter his eyes, she mighthave seen how well the expression of heartfelt delight, diffused over his face, became him; but thoughshe could not look she could listen; and he told her of feelings which, in proving of what importance shewas to him, made his affection every moment more valuable. They walked on without knowing in what direction. There was too much to be thought, and felt, andsaid, for attention to any other objects. She soon learnt that they were indebted for their present goodunderstanding to the efforts of his aunt, who did call on him in her return through London, and thererelate her journey to Longbourn, its motive, and the substance of her conversation with Elizabeth;dwelling emphatically on every expression of the latter, which, in her Ladyship s apprehension,peculiarly denoted her perverseness and assurance, in the belief that such a relation must assist herendeavours to obtain that promise from her nephew which she had refused to give. But, unluckily for herLadyship, its effect had been exactly contrariwise. It taught me to hope, said he, as I had scarcely ever allowed myself to hope before. I knew enough ofyour disposition to be certain that had you been absolutely, irrevocably decided against me, you wouldhave acknowledged it to Lady Catherine frankly and openly. Elizabeth coloured and laughed as she replied, Yes, you know enough of my frankness to believe mecapable of that. After abusing you so abominably to your face, I could have no scruple in abusing you toall your relations. What did you say of me that I did not deserve? For though your accusations were ill founded, formedon mistaken premises, my behaviour to you at the time had merited the severest reproof. It wasunpardonable. I cannot think of it without abhorrence. We will not quarrel for the greater share of blame annexed to that evening, said Elizabeth. Theconduct of neither, if strictly examined, will be irreproachable; but since then we have both, I hope,improved in civility. I cannot be so easily reconciled to myself. The recollection of what I then said, of my conduct, mymanners, my expressions, during the whole of it, is now, and has been many months, inexpressiblypainful to me. Your reproof, so well applied, I shall never forget: Had you behaved in a moregentlemanlike manner. Those were your words. You know not, you can scarcely conceive, how theyhave tortured me; though it was some time, I confess, before I was reasonable enough to allow theirjustice. I was certainly very far from expecting them to make so strong an impression. I had not the smallestidea of their being ever felt in such a way. I can easily believe it. You thought me then devoid of every proper feeling, I am sure you did. The turnof your countenance I shall never forget, as you said that I could not have addressed you in any possibleway that would induce you to accept me. Oh, do not repeat what I then said. These recollections will not do at all. I assure you that I have longbeen most heartily ashamed of it. Darcy mentioned his letter. Did it, said he, did it soon make you think better of me? Did you, onreading it, give any credit to its contents? She explained what its effects on her had been, and how gradually all her former prejudices had beenremoved. I knew, said he, that what I wrote must give you pain, but it was necessary. I hope you havedestroyed the letter. There was one part, especially the opening of it, which I should dread your havingthe power of reading again. I can remember some expressions which might justly make you hate me. The letter shall certainly be burnt, if you believe it essential to the preservation of my regard; but,though we have both reason to think my opinions not entirely unalterable, they are not, I hope, quite soeasily changed as that implies. When I wrote that letter, replied Darcy, I believed myself perfectly calm and cool; but I am sinceconvinced that it was written in a dreadful bitterness of spirit. The letter, perhaps, began in bitterness, but it did not end so. The adieu is charity itself. But think nomore of the letter. The feelings of the person who wrote and the person who received it are now sowidely different from what they were then, that every unpleasant circumstance attending it ought to beforgotten. You must learn some of my philosophy. Think only of the past as its remembrance gives youpleasure. I cannot give you credit for any philosophy of the kind. Your retrospections must be so totally void ofreproach, that the contentment arising from them is not of philosophy, but, what is much better, ofignorance. But with me, it is not so. Painful recollections will intrude, which cannot, which ought not tobe repelled. I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice, though not in principle. As a child I wastaught what was right, but I was not taught to correct my temper. I was given good principles, but left tofollow them in pride and conceit. Unfortunately an only son (for many years an only child), I was spoiledby my parents, who, though good themselves (my father particularly, all that was benevolent andamiable), allowed, encouraged, almost taught me to be selfish and overbearing, to care for none beyondmy own family circle, to think meanly of all the rest of the world, to wish at least to think meanly of theirsense and worth compared with my own. Such I was, from eight to eight-and-twenty; and such I mightstill have been but for you, dearest, loveliest Elizabeth! What do I owe you! You taught me a lesson hardindeed at first, but most advantageous. By you I was properly humbled. I came to you without a doubt ofmy reception. You showed me how insufficient were all my pretensions to please a woman worthy ofbeing pleased. Had you then persuaded yourself that I should? Indeed I had. What will you think of my vanity? I believed you to be wishing, expecting myaddresses. My manners must have been in fault, but not intentionally, I assure you. I never meant to deceive you,but my spirits might often lead me wrong. How you must have hated me after that evening! Hate you! I was angry, perhaps, at first, but my anger soon began to take a proper direction. I am almost afraid of asking what you thought of me when we met at Pemberley. You blamed me forcoming? No, indeed, I felt nothing but surprise. Your surprise could not be greater than mine in being noticed by you. My conscience told me that Ideserved no extraordinary politeness, and I confess that I did not expect to receive more than my due. My object then, replied Darcy, was to show you, by every civility in my power, that I was not somean as to resent the past; and I hoped to obtain your forgiveness, to lessen your ill-opinion, by lettingyou see that your reproofs had been attended to. How soon any other wishes introduced themselves I canhardly tell, but I believe in about half an hour after I had seen you. He then told her of Georgiana s delight in her acquaintance, and of her disappointment at its suddeninterruption; which naturally leading to the cause of that interruption, she soon learnt that his resolutionof following her from Derbyshire in quest of her sister had been formed before he quitted the inn, andthat his gravity and thoughtfulness there had arisen from no other struggles than what such a purposemust comprehend. She expressed her gratitude again, but it was too painful a subject for each to be dwelt on farther. After walking several miles in a leisurely manner, and too busy to know anything about it, they found atlast, on examining their watches, that it was time to be at home. What could have become of Mr. Bingley and Jane! was a wonder which introduced the discussion oftheir affairs. Darcy was delighted with their engagement; his friend had given him the earliestinformation of it. I must ask whether you were surprised? said Elizabeth. Not at all. When I went away, I felt that it would soon happen. That is to say, you had given your permission. I guessed as much. And though he exclaimed at theterm, she found that it had been pretty much the case. On the evening before my going to London, said he, I made a confession to him, which I believe Iought to have made long ago. I told him of all that had occurred to make my former interference in hisaffairs absurd and impertinent. His surprise was great. He had never had the slightest suspicion. I toldhim, moreover, that I believed myself mistaken in supposing, as I had done, that your sister wasindifferent to him; and as I could easily perceive that his attachment to her was unabated, I felt no doubtof their happiness together. Elizabeth could not help smiling at his easy manner of directing his friend. Did you speak from your own observation, said she, when you told him that my sister loved him, ormerely from my information last spring? From the former. I had narrowly observed her, during the two visits which I had lately made her here;and I was convinced of her affection. And your assurance of it, I suppose, carried immediate conviction to him. It did. Bingley is most unaffectedly modest. His diffidence had prevented his depending on his ownjudgment in so anxious a case, but his reliance on mine made everything easy. I was obliged to confessone thing, which for a time, and not unjustly, offended him. I could not allow myself to conceal that yoursister had been in town three months last winter, that I had known it, and purposely kept it from him. Hewas angry. But his anger, I am persuaded, lasted no longer than he remained in any doubt of your sister ssentiments. He has heartily forgiven me now. Elizabeth longed to observe that Mr. Bingley had been a most delightful friend; so easily guided that hisworth was invaluable; but she checked herself. She remembered that he had yet to learn to be laughed at,and it was rather too early to begin. In anticipating the happiness of Bingley, which of course was to beinferior only to his own, he continued the conversation till they reached the house. In the hall they LIX MY dear Lizzy, where can you have been walking to? was a question which Elizabeth received fromJane as soon as she entered the room, and from all the others when they sat down to table. She had onlyto say in reply, that they had wandered about till she was beyond her own knowledge. She coloured asshe spoke; but neither that, nor anything else, awakened a suspicion of the truth. The evening passed quietly, unmarked by anything extraordinary. The acknowledged lovers talked andlaughed; the unacknowledged were silent. Darcy was not of a disposition in which happiness overflowsin mirth: and Elizabeth, agitated and confused, rather knew that she was happy than felt herself to be so;for, besides the immediate embarrassment, there were other evils before her. She anticipated what wouldbe felt in the family when her situation became known: she was aware that no one liked him but Jane;and even feared that with the others it was a dislike which not all his fortune and consequence might doaway. At night she opened her heart to Jane. Though suspicion was very far from Miss Bennet s generalhabits, she was absolutely incredulous here. You are joking, Lizzy. This cannot be! Engaged to Mr. Darcy! No, no, you shall not deceive me: Iknow it to be impossible. This is a wretched beginning, indeed! My sole dependence was on you; and I am sure nobody else willbelieve me, if you do not. Yet, indeed, I am in earnest. I speak nothing but the truth. He still loves me,and we are engaged. Jane looked at her doubtingly. Oh, Lizzy, it cannot be. I know how much you dislike him. You know nothing of the matter. That is all to be forgot. Perhaps I did not always love him so well as Ido now; but in such cases as these a good memory is unpardonable. This is the last time I shall everremember it myself. Miss Bennet still looked all amazement. Elizabeth again, and more seriously, assured her of its truth. Good heaven! can it be really so? Yet now I must believe you, cried Jane. My dear, dear Lizzy, Iwould, I do congratulate you; but are you certain forgive the question are you quite certain that youcan be happy with him? There can be no doubt of that. It is settled between us already that we are to be the happiest couple inthe world. But are you pleased, Jane? Shall you like to have such a brother? Very, very much. Nothing could give either Bingley or myself more delight. But we considered it wetalked of it as impossible. And do you really love him quite well enough? Oh, Lizzy, do anything ratherthan marry without affection. Are you quite sure that you feel what you ought to do? Oh, yes! You will only think I feel more than I ought to do when I tell you all. What do you mean? Why, I must confess that I love him better than I do Bingley. I am afraid you will be angry. My dearest sister, now be, be serious. I want to talk very seriously. Let me know everything that I amto know without delay. Will you tell me how long you have loved him? It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began; but I believe I must date it frommy first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley. Another entreaty that she would be serious, however, produced the desired effect; and she soon satisfiedJane by her solemn assurances of attachment. When convinced on that article, Miss Bennet had nothingfurther to wish. Now I am quite happy, said she, for you will be as happy as myself. I always had a value for it for nothing but his love of you, I must always have esteemed him; but now, as Bingley s friendand your husband, there can be only Bingley and yourself more dear to me. But, Lizzy, you have beenvery sly, very reserved with me. How little did you tell me of what passed at Pemberley and Lambton! Iowe all that I know of it to another not to you. Elizabeth told her the motives of her secrecy. She had been unwilling to mention Bingley; and theunsettled state of her own feelings had made her equally avoid the name of his friend: but now she wouldno longer conceal from her his share in Lydia s marriage. All was acknowledged, and half the night spentin conversation. Good gracious! cried Mrs. Bennet, as she stood at a window the next morning, if that disagreeableMr. Darcy is not coming here again with our dear Bingley! What can he mean by being so tiresome as tobe always coming here? I had no notion but he would go a shooting, or something or other, and notdisturb us with his company. What shall we do with him? Lizzy, you must walk out with him again, thathe may not be in Bingley s way. Elizabeth could hardly help laughing at so convenient a proposal; yet was really vexed that her mothershould be always giving him such an epithet. As soon as they entered, Bingley looked at her so expressively, and shook hands with such warmth, asleft no doubt of his good information; and he soon afterwards said aloud, Mrs. Bennet, have you nomore lanes hereabouts in which Lizzy may lose her way again to-day? I advise Mr. Darcy, and Lizzy, and Kitty, said Mrs. Bennet, to walk to Oakham Mount this is a nice long walk, and Mr. Darcy has never seen the view. It may do very well for the others, replied Mr. Bingley; but I am sure it will be too much for t it Kitty? Kitty owned that she had rather stay at home. Darcy professed a great curiosity to see the view from theMount, and Elizabeth silently consented. As she went upstairs to get ready, Mrs. Bennet followed her,saying, I am quite sorry, Lizzy, that you should be forced to have that disagreeable man all to yourself; but Ihope you will not mind it. It is all for Jane s sake, you know; and there is no occasion for talking to himexcept just now and then, so do not put yourself to inconvenience. During their walk, it was resolved that Mr. Bennet s consent should be asked in the course of theevening: Elizabeth reserved to herself the application for her mother s. She could not determine how hermother would take it; sometimes doubting whether all his wealth and grandeur would be enough toovercome her abhorrence of the man; but whether she were violently set against the match, or violentlydelighted with it, it was certain that her manner would be equally ill adapted to do credit to her sense; andshe could no more bear that Mr. Darcy should hear the first raptures of her joy, than the first vehemenceof her disapprobation. In the evening, soon after Mr. Bennet withdrew to the library, she saw Mr. Darcy rise also and followhim, and her agitation on seeing it was extreme. She did not fear her father s opposition, but he wasgoing to be made unhappy, and that it should be through her means; that she, his favourite child, shouldbe distressing him by her choice, should be filling him with fears and regrets in disposing of her, was awretched reflection, and she sat in misery till Mr. Darcy appeared again, when, looking at him, she was alittle relieved by his smile. In a few minutes he approached the table where she was sitting with Kitty;and, while pretending to admire her work, said in a whisper, Go to your father; he wants you in thelibrary. She was gone directly. Her father was walking about the room, looking grave and anxious. Lizzy, said he, what are youdoing? Are you out of your senses to be accepting this man? Have not you always hated him? How earnestly did she then wish that her former opinions had been more reasonable, her expressionsmore moderate! It would have spared her from explanations and professions which it was exceedinglyawkward to give; but they were now necessary, and she assured him, with some confusion, of herattachment to Mr. Darcy. Or, in other words, you are determined to have him. He is rich, to be sure, and you may have more fineclothes and fine carriages than Jane. But will they make you happy? Have you any other object, said Elizabeth, than your belief of my indifference? None at all. We all know him to be a proud, unpleasant sort of man; but this would be nothing if youreally liked him. I do, I do like him, she replied, with tears in her eyes; I love him. Indeed he has no improper is perfectly amiable. You do not know what he really is; then pray do not pain me by speaking of himin such terms. Lizzy, said her father, I have given him my consent. He is the kind of man, indeed, to whom I shouldnever dare refuse anything which he condescended to ask. I now give it to you, if you are resolved onhaving him. But let me advise you to think better of it. I know your disposition, Lizzy. I know that youcould be neither happy nor respectable, unless you truly esteemed your husband; unless you looked up tohim as a superior. Your lively talents would place you in the greatest danger in an unequal marriage. Youcould scarcely escape discredit and misery. My child, let me not have the grief of seeing you unable torespect your partner in life. You know not what you are about. Elizabeth, still more affected, was earnest and solemn in her reply; and, at length, by repeatedassurances that Mr. Darcy was really the object of her choice, by explaining the gradual change whichher estimation of him had undergone, relating her absolute certainty that his affection was not the workof a day, but had stood the test of many months suspense, and enumerating with energy all his goodqualities, she did conquer her father s incredulity, and reconcile him to the match. Well, my dear, said he, when she ceased speaking, I have no more to say. If this be the case, hedeserves you. I could not have parted with you, my Lizzy, to any one less worthy. To complete the favourable impression, she then told him what Mr. Darcy had voluntarily done forLydia. He heard her with astonishment. This is an evening of wonders, indeed! And so, Darcy did everything; made up the match, gave themoney, paid the fellow s debts, and got him his commission! So much the better. It will save me a worldof trouble and economy. Had it been your uncle s doing, I must and would have paid him; but theseviolent young lovers carry everything their own way. I shall offer to pay him to-morrow, he will rant andstorm about his love for you, and there will be an end of the matter. He then recollected her embarrassment a few days before on his reading Mr. Collins s letter; and afterlaughing at her some time, allowed her at last to go, saying, as she quitted the room, If any young mencome for Mary or Kitty, send them in, for I am quite at leisure. Elizabeth s mind was now relieved from a very heavy weight; and, after half an hour s quiet reflectionin her own room, she was able to join the others with tolerable composure. Everything was too recent forgaiety, but the evening passed tranquilly away; there was no longer anything material to be dreaded, andthe comfort of ease and familiarity would come in time. When her mother went up to her dressing-room at night, she followed her, and made the importantcommunication. Its effect was most extraordinary; for, on first hearing it, Mrs. Bennet sat quite still, andunable to utter a syllable. Nor was it under many, many minutes, that she could comprehend what sheheard, though not in general backward to credit what was for the advantage of her family, or that came inthe shape of a lover to any of them. She began at length to recover, to fidget about in her chair, get up, sitdown again, wonder, and bless herself. Good gracious! Lord bless me! only think! dear me! Mr. Darcy! Who would have thought it? And is itreally true? Oh, my sweetest Lizzy! how rich and how great you will be! What pin-money, what jewels,what carriages you will have! Jane s is nothing to it nothing at all. I am so pleased so happy. Such acharming man! so handsome! so tall! Oh, my dear Lizzy! pray apologise for my having disliked him somuch before. I hope he will overlook it. Dear, dear Lizzy. A house in town! Everything that is charming!Three daughters married! Ten thousand a year! Oh, Lord! what will become of me? I shall go distracted. This was enough to prove that her approbation need not be doubted; and Elizabeth, rejoicing that suchan effusion was heard only by herself, soon went away. But before she had been three minutes in herroom, her mother followed her. My dearest child, she cried, I can think of nothing else. Ten thousand a year, and very likely more! Tis as good as a lord! And a special license you must and shall be married by a special license. But,my dearest love, tell me what dish Mr. Darcy is particularly fond of, that I may have it to-morrow. This was a sad omen of what her mother s behaviour to the gentleman himself might be; and Elizabethfound that, though in the certain possession of his warmest affection, and secure of her relations consent,there was still something to be wished for. But the morrow passed off much better than she expected; forMrs. Bennet luckily stood in such awe of her intended son-in-law, that she ventured not to speak to him,unless it was in her power to offer him any attention, or mark her deference for his opinion. Elizabeth had the satisfaction of seeing her father taking pains to get acquainted with him; and soon assured her that he was rising every hour in his esteem. I admire all my three sons-in-law highly, said he. Wickham, perhaps, is my favourite; but I think Ishall like your husband quite as well as Jane s. Chapter LXELIZABETH S spirits soon rising to playfulness again she wanted Mr. Darcy to account for his havingever fallen in love with her. How could you begin? said she. I can comprehend your going oncharmingly, when you had once made a beginning, but what could set you off in the first place? I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too longago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun. My beauty you had early withstood, and as for my manners my behaviour to you was at least alwaysbordering on the uncivil, and I never spoke to you without rather wishing to give you pain than not. Now,be sincere; did you admire me for my impertinence? For the liveliness of your mind I did. You may as well call it impertinence at once. It was very little less. The fact is, that you were sick ofcivility, of deference, of officious attention. You were disgusted with the women who were alwaysspeaking, and looking, and thinking for your approbation alone. I roused and interested you, because Iwas so unlike them. Had you not been really amiable you would have hated me for it: but in spite of thepains you took to disguise yourself, your feelings were always noble and just; and in your heart youthoroughly despised the persons who so assiduously courted you. There I have saved you the trouble ofaccounting for it; and really, all things considered, I begin to think it perfectly reasonable. To be sure youknow no actual good of me but nobody thinks of that when they fall in love. Was there no good in your affectionate behaviour to Jane, while she was ill at Netherfield? Dearest Jane! who could have done less for her? But make a virtue of it by all means. My goodqualities are under your protection, and you are to exaggerate them as much as possible; and, in return, itbelongs to me to find occasions for teasing and quarrelling with you as often as may be; and I shall begindirectly, by asking you what made you so unwilling to come to the point at last? What made you so shyof me, when you first called, and afterwards dined here? Why, especially, when you called did you lookas if you did not care about me? Because you were grave and silent, and gave me no encouragement. But I was embarrassed. And so was I. You might have talked to me more when you came to dinner. A man who had felt less might. How unlucky that you should have a reasonable answer to give, and that I should be so reasonable as toadmit it! But I wonder how long you would have gone on, if you had been left to yourself. I wonderwhen you would have spoken if I had not asked you! My resolution of thanking you for your kindness toLydia had certainly great effect. Too much I am afraid; for what becomes of the moral, if our comfortsprings from a breach of promise, for I ought not to have mentioned the subject? This will never do. You need not distress yourself. The moral will be perfectly fair. Lady Catherine s unjustifiableendeavours to separate us were the means of removing all my doubts. I am not indebted for my presenthappiness to your eager desire of expressing your gratitude. I was not in a humour to wait for an openingof yours. My aunt s intelligence had given me hope, and I was determined at once to know everything. Lady Catherine has been of infinite use, which ought to make her happy, for she loves to be of use. Buttell me, what did you come down to Netherfield for? Was it merely to ride to Longbourn and beembarrassed? or had you intended any more serious consequences? My real purpose was to see you, and to judge, if I could, whether I might ever hope to make you loveme. My avowed one, or what I avowed to myself, was to see whether your sister was still partial toBingley, and if she were, to make the confession to him which I have since made. Shall you ever have courage to announce to Lady Catherine what is to befall her? I am more likely to want time than courage, Elizabeth. But it ought to be done; and if you will give mea sheet of paper it shall be done directly. And if I had not a letter to write myself, I might sit by you, and admire the evenness of your writing, asanother young lady once did. But I have an aunt, too, who must not be longer neglected. From an unwillingness to confess how much her intimacy with Mr. Darcy had been over-rated,Elizabeth had never yet answered Mrs. Gardiner s long letter; but now, having that to communicatewhich she knew would be most welcome, she was almost ashamed to find that her uncle and aunt hadalready lost three days of happiness, and immediately wrote as follows: I would have thanked you before, my dear aunt, as I ought to have done, for your long,kind, satisfactory detail of particulars; but, to say the truth, I was too cross to write. Yousupposed more than really existed. But now suppose as much as you choose; give a loose toyour fancy, indulge your imagination in every possible flight which the subject will afford,and unless you believe me actually married, you cannot greatly err. You must write againvery soon, and praise him a great deal more than you did in your last. I thank you again andagain for not going to the Lakes. How could I be so silly as to wish it? Your idea of theponies is delightful. We will go round the park every day. I am the happiest creature in theworld. Perhaps other people have said so before, but no one with such justice. I am happiereven than Jane; she only smiles, I laugh. Mr. Darcy sends you all the love in the world thatcan be spared from me. You are all to come to Pemberley at Christmas. Yours, etc. Mr. Darcy s letter to Lady Catherine was in a different style, and still different from either was whatMr. Bennet sent to Mr. Collins, in return for his last. DEAR SIR I must trouble you once more for congratulations. Elizabeth will soon be thewife of Mr. Darcy. Console Lady Catherine as well as you can. But, if I were you, I wouldstand by the nephew. He has more to give. Yours sincerely, etc. Miss Bingley s congratulations to her brother on his approaching marriage were all that wasaffectionate and insincere. She wrote even to Jane on the occasion, to express her delight, and repeat allher former professions of regard. Jane was not deceived, but she was affected; and though feeling noreliance on her, could not help writing her a much kinder answer than she knew was deserved. The joy which Miss Darcy expressed on receiving similar information was as sincere as her brother s insending it. Four sides of paper were insufficient to contain all her delight, and all her earnest desire ofbeing loved by her sister. Before any answer could arrive from Mr. Collins, or any congratulations to Elizabeth from his wife, theLongbourn family heard that the Collinses were come themselves to Lucas Lodge. The reason of thissudden removal was soon evident. Lady Catherine had been rendered so exceedingly angry by thecontents of her nephew s letter, that Charlotte, really rejoicing in the match, was anxious to get away tillthe storm was blown over. At such a moment the arrival of her friend was a sincere pleasure to Elizabeth,though in the course of their meetings she must sometimes think the pleasure dearly bought, when shesaw Mr. Darcy exposed to all the parading and obsequious civility of her husband. He bore it, however,with admirable calmness. He could even listen to Sir William Lucas, when he complimented him oncarrying away the brightest jewel of the country, and expressed his hopes of their all meeting frequentlyat St. James s, with very decent composure. If he did shrug his shoulders, it was not till Sir William wasout of sight. Mrs. Philips s vulgarity was another, and, perhaps, a greater tax on his forbearance; and though , as well as her sister, stood in too much awe of him to speak with the familiarity which Bingley sgood humour encouraged, yet, whenever she did speak, she must be vulgar. Nor was her respect for him,though it made her more quiet, at all likely to make her more elegant. Elizabeth did all she could to shieldhim from the frequent notice of either, and was ever anxious to keep him to herself, and to those of herfamily with whom he might converse without mortification; and though the uncomfortable feelingsarising from all this took from the season of courtship much of its pleasure, it added to the hope of thefuture; and she looked forward with delight to the time when they should be removed from society solittle pleasing to either, to all the comfort and elegance of their family party at LXIHAPPY for all her maternal feelings was the day on which Mrs. Bennet got rid of her two mostdeserving daughters. With what delighted pride she afterwards visited Mrs. Bingley, and talked of , may be guessed. I wish I could say, for the sake of her family, that the accomplishment of herearnest desire in the establishment of so many of her children produced so happy an effect as to make hera sensible amiable, well-informed woman for the rest of her life; though, perhaps, it was lucky for herhusband, who might not have relished domestic felicity in so unusual a form, that she still wasoccasionally nervous and invariably silly. Mr. Bennet missed his second daughter exceedingly; his affection for her drew him oftener from homethan anything else could do. He delighted in going to Pemberley, especially when he was least expected. Mr. Bingley and Jane remained at Netherfield only a twelvemonth. So near a vicinity to her mother andMeryton relations was not desirable even to his easy temper, or her affectionate heart. The darling wishof his sisters was then gratified: he bought an estate in a neighbouring county to Derbyshire: and Janeand Elizabeth, in addition to every other source of happiness, were within thirty miles of each other. Kitty, to her very material advantage, spent the chief of her time with her two elder sisters. In society sosuperior to what she had generally known, her improvement was great. She was not of so ungovernable atemper as Lydia; and, removed from the influence of Lydia s example, she became, by proper attentionand management, less irritable, less ignorant, and less insipid. From the further disadvantage of Lydia ssociety she was of course carefully kept; and though Mrs. Wickham frequently invited her to come andstay with her, with the promise of balls and young men, her father would never consent to her going. Mary was the only daughter who remained at home; and she was necessarily drawn from the pursuit ofaccomplishments by Mrs. Bennet s being quite unable to sit alone. Mary was obliged to mix more withthe world, but she could still moralise over every morning visit; and as she was no longer mortified bycomparisons between her sisters beauty and her own, it was suspected by her father that she submitted tothe change without much reluctance. As for Wickham and Lydia, their characters suffered no revolution from the marriage of her sisters. Hebore with philosophy the conviction that Elizabeth must now become acquainted with whatever of hisingratitude and falsehood had before been unknown to her; and, in spite of everything was not whollywithout hope that Darcy might yet be prevailed on to make his fortune. The congratulatory letter whichElizabeth received from Lydia on her marriage explained to her that, by his wife at least, if not byhimself, such a hope was cherished. The letter was to this effect: My DEAR LIZZY I wish you joy. If you love Mr. Darcy half so well as I do my dearWickham, you must be very happy. It is a great comfort to have you so rich; and when youhave nothing else to do, I hope you will think of us. I am sure Wickham would like a placeat court very much; and I do not think we shall have quite money enough to live uponwithout some help. Any place would do of about three or four hundred a year; but, however,do not speak to Mr. Darcy about it, if you had rather not. Yours, etc. As it happened that Elizabeth had much rather not, she endeavoured in her answer to put an end toevery entreaty and expectation of the kind. Such relief, however, as it was in her power to afford, by thepractice of what might be called economy in her own private expenses, she frequently sent them. It hadalways been evident to her that such an income as their under the direction of two persons so extravagantin their wants, and heedless of the future, must be very insufficient to their support; and whenever theychanged their quarters, either Jane or herself was sure of being applied to for some little assistancetowards discharging their bills. Their manner of living, even when the restoration of peace dismissedthem to a home, was unsettled in the extreme. They were always moving from place to place in quest of acheap situation, and always spending more than they ought. His affection for her soon sank intoindifference: hers lasted a little longer; and, in spite of her youth and her manners, she retained all theclaims to reputation which her marriage had given her. Though Darcy could never receive him at Pemberley, yet, for Elizabeth s sake, he assisted him furtherin his profession. Lydia was occasionally a visitor there, when her husband was gone to enjoy himself inLondon or Bath; and with the Bingleys they both of them frequently stayed so long that even Bingley sgood humour was overcome, and he proceeded so far as to talk of giving them a hint to be gone. Miss Bingley was very deeply mortified by Darcy s marriage; but as she thought it advisable to retainthe right of visiting at Pemberley, she dropt all her resentment; was fonder than ever of Georgiana,almost as attentive to Darcy as heretofore, and paid off every arrear of civility to Elizabeth. Pemberley was now Georgiana s home; and the attachment of the sisters was exactly what Darcy hadhoped to see. They were able to love each other, even as well as they intended. Georgiana had the highestopinion in the world of Elizabeth; though at first she often listened with an astonishment bordering onalarm at her lively, sportive manner of talking to her brother. Him who had always inspired in herself arespect which almost overcame her affection she now saw the object of open pleasantry. Her mindreceived knowledge, which had never before fallen in her way. By Elizabeth s instructions she began tocomprehend that a woman may take liberties with her husband, which a brother will not always allow ina sister more than ten years younger than himself. Lady Catherine was extremely indignant on the marriage of her nephew; and as she gave way to all thegenuine frankness of her character, in her reply to the letter which announced its arrangement, she senthim language so very abusive, especially of Elizabeth, that for some time all intercourse was at an at length, by Elizabeth s persuasion, he was prevailed on to overlook the offence, and seek areconciliation; and, after a little further resistance on the part of his aunt, her resentment gave way, eitherto her affection for him, or her curiosity to see how his wife conducted herself; and she condescended towait on them at Pemberley, in spite of that pollution which its woods had received, not merely from thepresence of such a mistress, but visits of her uncle and aunt from the city. With the Gardiners they were always on the most intimate terms. Darcy, as well as Elizabeth, reallyloved them; and they were both ever sensible of the warmest gratitude towards the persons who, bybringing her into Derbyshire. had been the means of uniting RecordAUTHOR: Austen, Jane, 1775 : Pride and prejudice, by Jane : The Harvard classics shelf of fiction, selected by Charles W. Eliot, with notes and introductionsby William Allan : New York: Collier & Son, DETAILS: Vol. 3, Part 2, of 20; 21 AUTHORS: Eliot, Charles William, 1834 1926Neilson, William Allan, 1869 1946, : .CITATION: Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. Vol. III, Part 2. Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction. NewYork: Collier & Son, 1917; , 2001. [Date of Printout].ELECTRONIC EDITION: Published November 2000 by ; 2000 , after the humble character of Melville s classic, Bartleby the Scrivener, publishescontemporary and classic reference, literature and nonfiction free of charge for the home, classroom anddesktop of each and every Internet participant. 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