Part 7 out of 8
society, let him seek it. He knows where we live. I will not
spend my hours in running after my neighbours every time they
go away and come back again."
"Well, all I know is, that it will be abominably rude if you do
not wait on him. But, however, that shan't prevent my asking
him to dine here, I am determined. We must have Mrs. Long and
the Gouldings soon. That will make thirteen with ourselves, so
there will be just room at table for him."
Consoled by this resolution, she was the better able to bear
her husband's incivility; though it was very mortifying to know
that her neighbours might all see Mr. Bingley, in consequence
of it, before THEY did. As the day of his arrival drew near:
"I begin to be sorry that he comes at all," said Jane to her
sister. "It would be nothing; I could see him with perfect
indifference, but I can hardly bear to hear it thus perpetually
talked of. My mother means well; but she does not know, no one
can know, how much I suffer from what she says. Happy shall I
be, when his stay at Netherfield is over!"
"I wish I could say anything to comfort you," replied Elizabeth;
"but it is wholly out of my power. You must feel it; and the
usual satisfaction of preaching patience to a sufferer is denied
me, because you have always so much."
Mr. Bingley arrived. Mrs. Bennet, through the assistance of
servants, contrived to have the earliest tidings of it, that
the period of anxiety and fretfulness on her side might be as
long as it could. She counted the days that must intervene
before their invitation could be sent; hopeless of seeing
him before. But on the third morning after his arrival in
Hertfordshire, she saw him, from her dressing-room window,
enter the paddock and ride towards the house.
Her daughters were eagerly called to partake of her joy. Jane
resolutely kept her place at the table; but Elizabeth, to
satisfy her mother, went to the window--she looked,--she
saw Mr. Darcy with him, and sat down 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-his-name. That tall, proud
"Good gracious! Mr. Darcy!--and so it does, I vow. Well,
any friend of Mr. Bingley's will always be welcome 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 first time after receiving his explanatory
letter. Both sisters were uncomfortable enough. Each felt
for the other, and of course for themselves; and their mother
talked on, of her dislike of Mr. Darcy, and her resolution
to be civil to him only as Mr. Bingley's friend, without
being heard by either of them. But Elizabeth had sources of
uneasiness which could not be suspected by Jane, to whom she
had never yet had courage to shew Mrs. Gardiner's letter, or
to relate her own change of sentiment towards him. To Jane,
he could be only a man whose proposals she had refused, and
whose merit she had undervalued; but to her own more extensive
information, he was the person to whom the whole family were
indebted for the first of benefits, and whom she regarded
herself with an interest, if not quite so tender, at least
as reasonable and just as what Jane felt for Bingley. Her
astonishment at his coming--at his coming to Netherfield, to
Longbourn, and voluntarily seeking her again, was almost equal
to what she had known on first witnessing his altered behaviour
The colour which had been driven from her face, returned for
half a minute with an additional glow, and a smile of delight
added lustre to her eyes, as she thought for that space of time
that his affection and wishes must still be unshaken. But she
would not be secure.
"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 anxious curiosity carried them
to the face of her sister as the servant was approaching the
door. Jane looked a little paler than usual, but more sedate
than Elizabeth had expected. On the gentlemen's appearing, her
colour increased; yet she received them with tolerable ease,
and with a propriety of behaviour equally free from any symptom
of resentment or any unnecessary complaisance.
Elizabeth said as little to either as civility would allow, and
sat down again to her work, with an eagerness which it did not
often command. She had ventured only one glance at Darcy. He
looked serious, as usual; and, she thought, more as he had been
used to look in Hertfordshire, than as she had seen him at
Pemberley. But, perhaps he could not in her mother's presence
be what he was before her uncle and aunt. It was a painful,
but not an improbable, conjecture.
Bingley, she had likewise seen for an instant, and in that
short period saw him looking both pleased and embarrassed. He
was received by Mrs. Bennet with a degree of civility which
made her two daughters ashamed, especially when contrasted with
the cold and ceremonious politeness of her curtsey and address
to his friend.
Elizabeth, particularly, who knew that her mother owed to the
latter the preservation of her favourite daughter from
irremediable infamy, was hurt and distressed to a most painful
degree by a distinction so ill applied.
Darcy, after inquiring of her how Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner did, a
question which she could not answer without confusion, said
scarcely anything. He was not seated by her; perhaps that
was the reason of his silence; but it had not been so in
Derbyshire. There he had talked to her friends, when he could
not to herself. But now several minutes elapsed without
bringing the sound of his voice; and when occasionally, unable
to resist the impulse of curiosity, she raised he eyes to his
face, she as often found him looking at Jane as at herself, and
frequently on no object but the ground. More thoughtfulness
and less anxiety to please, than when they last met, were
plainly expressed. She was disappointed, and angry with
herself for being so.
"Could I expect it to be otherwise!" said she. "Yet why did
She was in no humour for conversation with anyone but himself;
and to him she had hardly courage to speak.
She inquired after his sister, but could do no more.
"It is a long time, Mr. Bingley, since you went away," said
He readily agreed to it.
"I began to be afraid you would never come back again. People
DID say you meant to quit the place entirely at Michaelmas;
but, however, I hope it is not true. A great many changes have
happened in the neighbourhood, since you went away. Miss Lucas
is married and settled. And one of my own daughters. I suppose
you have heard of it; indeed, you must have seen it in the
papers. It was in The Times and The Courier, I know; though
it was not put in as it ought to be. It was only said, 'Lately,
George Wickham, Esq. to Miss Lydia Bennet,' without there being
a syllable said of her father, or the place where she lived, or
anything. It was my brother Gardiner's drawing up too, and I
wonder how he came to make such 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. How Mr. Darcy 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 the same time,
Mr. Bingley, it is very hard to have her taken such a way from
me. They are gone down to Newcastle, a place quite northward,
it seems, and there they are to stay I do not know how long.
His regiment is there; for I suppose you have heard of his
leaving the ----shire, and of his being gone into the 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 hardly keep her seat.
It drew from her, however, the exertion of speaking, which
nothing else had so effectually done before; and she asked
Bingley whether he meant to make any stay in the country at
present. A few weeks, he believed.
"When you have killed all your own birds, Mr. Bingley,"
said her mother, "I beg you will come here, and shoot as
many as you please on Mr. Bennet's manor. I am sure he
will be vastly happy to oblige you, and will save all the
best of the covies for you."
Elizabeth's misery increased, at such unnecessary, such
officious attention! Were the same fair prospect to arise at
present as had flattered them a year ago, every thing, she was
persuaded, would be hastening to the same vexatious conclusion.
At that instant, she felt that years of happiness could not
make Jane or herself amends for moments of such painful
"The first wish of my heart," said she to herself, "is never
more to be in company with either of them. Their society can
afford no pleasure that will atone for such wretchedness as
this! Let me never see either one or the other again!"
Yet the misery, for which years of happiness were to offer no
compensation, received soon afterwards material relief, from
observing how much the beauty of her sister re-kindled the
admiration of her former lover. When first he came in, he had
spoken to her but little; but every five minutes seemed to be
giving her more of his attention. He found her as handsome as
she had been last year; as good natured, and as unaffected,
though not quite so chatty. Jane was anxious that no difference
should be perceived in her at all, and was really persuaded that
she talked as much as ever. But her mind was so busily engaged,
that she did not always know when she was silent.
When the gentlemen rose to go away, Mrs. Bennet was mindful of
her intended civility, and they were invited and engaged to
dine at Longbourn in a few days time.
"You are quite a visit in my debt, Mr. Bingley," she added,
"for when you went to town last winter, you promised to take
a family dinner with us, as soon as you returned. I have not
forgot, you see; and I assure you, I was very much disappointed
that you did not come back and keep your engagement."
Bingley looked a little silly at this reflection, and said
something of his concern at having been prevented by business.
They then went away.
Mrs. Bennet had been strongly inclined to ask them to stay and
dine there that day; but, though she always kept a very good
table, she did not think anything less than two courses could
be good enough for a man on whom she had such anxious designs,
or satisfy the appetite and pride of one who had ten thousand a
As soon as they were gone, Elizabeth walked out to recover
her spirits; or in other words, to dwell without interruption
on those subjects that must deaden them more. Mr. Darcy's
behaviour astonished and 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 that gave her pleasure.
"He could be still amiable, still pleasing, to my uncle and
aunt, when he was in town; and why not to me? If he fears me,
why come hither? If he no longer cares for me, why silent?
Teasing, teasing, man! I will think no more about him."
Her resolution was for a short time involuntarily kept by
the approach of her sister, who joined her with a cheerful
look, which showed her better satisfied with their visitors,
"Now," said she, "that this first meeting is over, I feel
perfectly easy. I know my own strength, and I shall never be
embarrassed again by his coming. I am glad he dines here on
Tuesday. It will then be publicly seen that, on both sides,
we meet only as common and indifferent acquaintance."
"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
"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 way to all the
happy schemes, which the good humour and common politeness
of Bingley, in half an hour's visit, had revived.
On Tuesday there was a large party assembled at Longbourn;
and the two who were most anxiously expected, to the credit of
their punctuality as sportsmen, were in very good time. When
they repaired to the dining-room, Elizabeth eagerly watched to
see whether Bingley would take the place, which, in all their
former parties, had belonged to him, by her sister. Her
prudent mother, occupied by the same ideas, forbore to invite
him to sit by herself. On entering the room, he seemed to
hesitate; but Jane happened to look round, and happened to
smile: it was decided. He placed himself by her.
Elizabeth, with a triumphant sensation, looked towards his
friend. He bore it with noble indifference, and she would have
imagined that Bingley had received his sanction to be happy,
had she not seen his eyes likewise turned towards Mr. Darcy,
with an expression of half-laughing alarm.
His behaviour to her sister was such, during dinner time, as
showed an admiration of her, which, though more guarded than
formerly, persuaded Elizabeth, that if left wholly to himself,
Jane's happiness, and his own, would be speedily secured.
Though she dared not depend upon the consequence, she yet
received pleasure from observing his behaviour. It gave her
all the animation that her spirits could boast; for she was in
no cheerful humour. Mr. Darcy was almost as far from her as
the table could divide them. He was on one side of her mother.
She knew how little such a situation would give pleasure to
either, or make either appear to advantage. She was not near
enough to hear any of their discourse, but she could see how
seldom they spoke to each other, and how formal and cold was
their manner whenever they did. Her mother's ungraciousness,
made the sense of what they owed him more painful to Elizabeth's
mind; and she would, at times, have given anything to be
privileged to tell him that his kindness was neither unknown
nor unfelt by the whole of the family.
She was in hopes that the evening would afford some opportunity
of bringing them together; that the whole of the visit would
not pass away without enabling them to enter into something
more of conversation than the mere ceremonious salutation
attending his entrance. Anxious and uneasy, the period which
passed in the drawing-room, before the gentlemen came, was
wearisome and dull to a degree that almost made her uncivil.
She looked forward to their entrance as the point on which all
her chance of pleasure for the evening must depend.
"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! the ladies had crowded
round the table, where Miss Bennet was making tea, and
Elizabeth pouring out the coffee, in so close a confederacy
that there was not a single vacancy near her which would admit
of a chair. And on the gentlemen's approaching, one of the
girls moved closer to her than ever, and said, in a whisper:
"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 everyone to whom he spoke,
had scarcely patience enough to help anybody to coffee; and
then was enraged against herself for being so silly!
"A man who has once been refused! How could I ever be foolish
enough to expect a renewal of his love? Is there one among the
sex, who would not protest against such a weakness as a second
proposal to the same woman? There is no indignity so abhorrent
to their feelings!"
She was a little revived, however, by his bringing back his
coffee cup himself; and she seized the opportunity 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 better success. He stood by
her, however, for some minutes, in silence; and, at last, on
the young lady's whispering to Elizabeth again, he walked away.
When the tea-things were removed, and the card-tables placed,
the ladies all rose, and Elizabeth was then hoping to be soon
joined by him, when all her views were overthrown by seeing him
fall a victim to her mother's rapacity for whist players, and
in a few moments after seated with the rest of the party. She
now lost every expectation of pleasure. They were confined for
the evening at different tables, and she had nothing to hope,
but that his eyes were so often turned towards her side of the
room, as to make him play as unsuccessfully as herself.
Mrs. Bennet had designed to keep the two Netherfield gentlemen
to supper; but their carriage was unluckily ordered before any
of the others, and she had no opportunity of detaining them.
"Well girls," said she, as soon as they were left to themselves,
"What say you to the day? I think every thing has passed off
uncommonly well, I assure you. The dinner was as well dressed
as any I ever saw. The venison was roasted to a turn--and
everybody said they never saw so fat a haunch. The soup was
fifty times better than what we had at the Lucases' last week;
and even Mr. Darcy acknowledged, that the partridges were
remarkably well done; and I suppose he has two or three French
cooks at least. And, my dear Jane, I never saw you look in
greater beauty. Mrs. Long said so too, for I asked her whether
you did not. And what do you think she said besides? 'Ah! Mrs.
Bennet, we shall have her at Netherfield at last.' She did
indeed. I do think Mrs. Long is as good a creature as ever
lived--and her nieces 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, to be convinced that she
would get him at last; and her expectations of advantage to her
family, when in a happy humour, were so far beyond reason, that
she was quite disappointed at not seeing him there again the
next day, to make his proposals.
"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."
"Lizzy, you must not do so. You must not suspect me. It
mortifies me. I assure you that I have now learnt to enjoy
his conversation as an agreeable and sensible young man,
without having a wish beyond it. I am perfectly satisfied,
from what his manners now are, that he never had any design
of engaging my affection. It is only that he is blessed
with greater sweetness of address, and a stronger desire of
generally pleasing, than any other man."
"You are very cruel," said her sister, "you will not let me
smile, and are provoking me to it every moment."
"How hard it is in some cases to be believed!"
"And how impossible in others!"
"But why should you wish to persuade me that I feel more than I
"That is a question which I hardly know how to answer. We all
love to instruct, though we can teach only what is not worth
knowing. Forgive me; and if you persist in indifference, do
not make me your confidante."
A few days after this visit, Mr. Bingley called again, and
alone. His friend had left him that morning for London, but
was to return home in ten days time. He sat with them above an
hour, and was in remarkably good spirits. Mrs. Bennet invited
him to dine with them; but, with many expressions of concern,
he confessed himself engaged elsewhere.
"Next time you call," said she, "I hope we shall be more
He should be particularly happy at any time, etc. etc.; and if
she would give him leave, would take an early 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 to her 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. Make haste, make haste.
Here, Sarah, come to Miss Bennet this moment, and help her
on with her gown. Never mind Miss Lizzy's hair."
"We will be down as soon as we can," said Jane; "but I dare say
Kitty is forwarder than either of us, for she went up stairs
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. Bennet retired to the library,
as was his custom, and Mary went up stairs to her instrument.
Two obstacles of the five being thus removed, Mrs. Bennet
sat looking and winking at Elizabeth and Catherine for a
considerable time, without making any impression on them.
Elizabeth would not observe her; and when at last Kitty did,
she very innocently said, "What is the matter mamma? What do
you keep winking at me for? What am I to do?"
"Nothing child, nothing. I did not wink at you." She then sat
still five minutes longer; but unable to waste 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 at Elizabeth which spoke her
distress at such premeditation, and her entreaty that SHE
would not give in to it. 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 Kitty were out of
sight, then returned into the drawing-room.
Mrs. Bennet's schemes for this day were ineffectual. Bingley
was every thing that was charming, except the professed lover
of her daughter. His ease and cheerfulness rendered him a
most agreeable addition to their evening party; and he bore
with the ill-judged officiousness of the mother, and heard all
her silly remarks with a forbearance and command of countenance
particularly grateful to the daughter.
He scarcely needed an invitation to stay supper; and before he
went away, an engagement was formed, chiefly through his own
and Mrs. Bennet's means, for his coming next morning to shoot
with her husband.
After this day, Jane said no more of her indifference.
Not a word passed between the sisters concerning Bingley;
but Elizabeth went to bed in the happy belief that all must
speedily be concluded, unless Mr. Darcy returned within the
stated time. Seriously, however, she felt tolerably persuaded
that all this must have taken place with that gentleman's
Bingley was punctual to his appointment; and he and Mr. Bennet
spent the morning together, as had been agreed on. The latter
was much more agreeable than his companion expected. There was
nothing of presumption or folly in Bingley that could provoke
his ridicule, or disgust him into silence; and he was more
communicative, and less eccentric, than the other had ever seen
him. Bingley of course returned with him to dinner; and in the
evening Mrs. Bennet's invention was again at work to get every
body away from him and her daughter. Elizabeth, who had a
letter to write, went into the breakfast room for that purpose
soon after tea; for as the others were all going to sit down to
cards, she could not be wanted to counteract her mother's
But on 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, she perceived 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
from each other, would have told it all. Their situation
was awkward enough; but HER'S she thought was still worse.
Not a syllable was uttered by either; and Elizabeth was on
the point of going away again, when Bingley, 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 instantly embracing 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 but poorly express. Every
sentence of kindness was a fresh source of happiness to Jane.
But she would not allow 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 affectionate solicitude; or allow
her to hear it from anyone but myself. He is gone to my
father already. Oh! Lizzy, to know that what I have to relate
will give such pleasure to all my dear family! how shall I
bear so much happiness!"
She then hastened away to her mother, who had purposely broken
up the card party, and was sitting up stairs with Kitty.
Elizabeth, who was left by herself, now smiled at the rapidity
and ease with which an affair was finally settled, that had
given them so many previous months of suspense and vexation.
"And this," said she, "is the end of all his friend's anxious
circumspection! of all his sister's falsehood and contrivance!
the happiest, wisest, most reasonable end!"
In a few minutes she was joined by Bingley, whose conference
with her father had been short and to the purpose.
"Where is your sister?" said he hastily, as he opened the door.
"With my mother up stairs. She will be down in a moment,
I dare say."
He then shut the door, and, coming up to her, claimed the good
wishes and affection of a sister. Elizabeth honestly and
heartily expressed her delight in the prospect of their
relationship. They shook hands with great cordiality; and
then, till her sister came down, she had to listen to all he
had to say of his own happiness, and of Jane's perfections;
and in spite of his being a lover, Elizabeth really believed
all his expectations of felicity to be rationally founded,
because they had for basis the excellent understanding, and
super-excellent disposition of Jane, and a general similarity
of feeling and taste between her and himself.
It was an evening of no common delight to them all; the
satisfaction of Miss Bennet's mind gave a glow of such 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 an hour; and when Mr.
Bennet joined them at supper, his voice and manner plainly
showed how really happy he was.
Not a word, however, passed his lips in allusion to it, till
their visitor took his leave for the night; but as soon 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
"You are a good girl;" he replied, "and I have great pleasure
in thinking you will be so happily settled. I have not a doubt
of your doing very well together. Your tempers are by no means
unlike. You are each of you so complying, that nothing will
ever be resolved on; so easy, that every servant will cheat
you; and so 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 four or five thousand a
year, and very likely more." Then addressing her daughter,
"Oh! my dear, dear Jane, I am so happy! I am sure I shan't
get a wink of sleep all night. I knew how it would be. I
always said it must be so, at last. I was sure you could not
be so beautiful for nothing! I remember, as soon as ever I saw
him, when he first came into Hertfordshire last year, I thought
how likely it was that you should come 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 moment, she cared for no other. Her
younger sisters soon began to make interest with her for objects
of happiness which 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 balls there 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 enough detested, had given him
an invitation to dinner which he thought himself obliged to
Elizabeth had now but little time for conversation with her
sister; for while he was present, Jane had no attention to
bestow on anyone else; but she found herself considerably
useful to both of them in those hours of separation that must
sometimes occur. In the absence of Jane, he always attached
himself to Elizabeth, for the pleasure of talking of her; and
when Bingley was gone, Jane constantly sought the same means
"He has made me so happy," said she, one evening, "by telling
me that he was totally ignorant of my being 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 sister's doing. They were certainly no
friends to his acquaintance with me, which I cannot wonder at,
since he might have chosen so much more advantageously in many
respects. But when 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 would vex 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 nothing but a persuasion of
MY being indifferent would have prevented his coming down
"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 own good
qualities. Elizabeth was pleased to find that he had not
betrayed the interference of his friend; for, though Jane had
the most generous and forgiving heart in the world, she knew
it was a circumstance which must prejudice her against him.
"I am certainly the most fortunate creature that ever existed!"
cried Jane. "Oh! Lizzy, why am I thus singled from my family,
and blessed above them all! If I could but see YOU as happy!
If there WERE but such 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 have very 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 privileged to whisper it to
Mrs. Phillips, and she ventured, without any permission, to do
the same by all her neighbours in Meryton.
The Bennets were speedily pronounced to be the luckiest family
in the world, though only a few weeks before, when Lydia had
first run away, they had been generally proved to be marked out
One morning, about a week after Bingley's engagement with
Jane had been formed, as he and the females of the family
were sitting together in the dining-room, their attention
was suddenly drawn to the window, by the sound of a carriage;
and they perceived a chaise and four driving up the lawn.
It was too early in the morning for visitors, and besides, the
equipage did not answer to that of any of their neighbours.
The horses were post; and neither the carriage, nor the livery
of the servant who preceded it, were familiar to them. As it
was certain, however, that somebody was coming, Bingley
instantly prevailed on Miss Bennet to avoid the confinement of
such an intrusion, and walk away with him into the shrubbery.
They both set off, and the conjectures of the remaining three
continued, though with little satisfaction, till the door was
thrown open and their visitor entered. It was Lady Catherine
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 to what Elizabeth felt.
She entered the room with an air more than usually ungracious,
made no other reply to Elizabeth's salutation than a slight
inclination of the head, and sat down without saying a word.
Elizabeth had mentioned her name to her mother on her ladyship's
entrance, though no request of introduction had been made.
Mrs. Bennet, all amazement, though flattered by having a
guest of such high importance, received her with 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 but one. My youngest of
all is lately married, and my eldest is somewhere about the
grounds, walking with a young 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 dare say;
but I assure you it is much larger than Sir William 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 they 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, as it seemed the only probable motive for
her calling. But no letter appeared, and she was completely
Mrs. Bennet, with great civility, begged her ladyship to take
some refreshment; but Lady Catherine very 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. I should 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 be pleased with the
Elizabeth obeyed, and running into her own room for her
parasol, attended her noble guest downstairs. As they passed
through the hall, Lady Catherine opened the doors into the
dining-parlour and drawing-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 proceeded in silence along the
gravel walk that led to the copse; Elizabeth was determined to
make no effort for conversation 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
"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 you here."
"Miss Bennet," replied her ladyship, in an angry tone, "you
ought to know, that I am not to be trifled with. But however
insincere YOU may choose to be, you shall not find ME so.
My character has ever been celebrated for its sincerity and
frankness, and in a cause of such moment as this, I shall
certainly not depart from it. A report of a most alarming
nature reached me two days ago. I was told that not only your
sister was on the point of being most advantageously married,
but that you, that Miss Elizabeth Bennet, would, in all
likelihood, be soon afterwards united to my nephew, my own
nephew, Mr. Darcy. Though I KNOW it must be a scandalous
falsehood, though I would not injure him so much as to suppose
the truth of it possible, I instantly resolved on setting off
for this place, that I might make my sentiments known to you."
"If you believed it impossible to be true," said Elizabeth,
colouring with astonishment and disdain, "I wonder you took the
trouble of coming so far. What could your ladyship propose by
"At once to insist upon having such a report universally
"Your coming to Longbourn, to see me and my family," said
Elizabeth coolly, "will be rather a confirmation 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? Do you 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
"I do not pretend to possess equal frankness with your ladyship.
You may ask questions which I shall not choose to answer."
"This is not to be borne. Miss Bennet, I insist on being
satisfied. Has he, has my nephew, made you an offer of
"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 allurements may, in a moment
of infatuation, have made him forget what he owes to himself
and to all his family. You 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 am almost 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 take place. 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 for each other. It was the
favourite wish of HIS mother, as well as of her's. While in
their cradles, we planned the union: and now, at the moment
when the wishes of both sisters would be accomplished in their
marriage, to be prevented by a young woman of inferior birth,
of no importance in the world, and wholly unallied to the
family! Do you pay no regard to the wishes of his friends?
To his tacit engagement with Miss de Bourgh? Are you lost to
every feeling of propriety and delicacy? Have you not heard
me say that from his earliest hours he was destined for his
"Yes, and I had heard it before. But what is that to me? If
there is no other objection to my marrying your nephew, I shall
certainly not be kept from it by knowing that his mother and
aunt wished him to marry Miss de Bourgh. You both did as much
as you could in planning the marriage. Its completion depended
on others. If Mr. Darcy is neither by honour nor inclination
confined to his cousin, why is not he 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 not expect to be noticed
by his family or friends, if you wilfully act against the
inclinations of all. You will be censured, slighted, and
despised, by everyone connected with him. Your alliance will
be a disgrace; your name will never even be mentioned by any
"These are heavy misfortunes," replied Elizabeth. "But the
wife of Mr. Darcy must have such extraordinary 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 last spring? Is
nothing due to me on that score? Let us sit down. You are to
understand, Miss Bennet, that I came here with the determined
resolution of carrying my purpose; nor will I be dissuaded
from it. I have not 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 other. They are descended,
on the maternal side, from the same noble line; and, on the
father's, from respectable, honourable, and ancient--though
untitled--families. Their fortune on both sides is splendid.
They are destined for each other by the voice of every member
of their respective houses; and what is to divide them?
The upstart pretensions of a young woman without family,
connections, or fortune. Is this to be endured! But it
must not, shall not be. If you were sensible of your own
good, you would not wish to 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 am a gentleman's
daughter; so far we are equal."
"True. You ARE a gentleman's daughter. But who was your
mother? Who are your uncles and aunts? Do not imagine me
ignorant of their condition."
"Whatever my connections may be," said Elizabeth, "if your
nephew does not object to them, they can be nothing 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 this question, 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 do not deceive yourself into
a belief that I will ever recede. I shall not go away till you
have given me the assurance I require."
"And I certainly NEVER shall give it. I am not to be intimidated
into anything so wholly unreasonable. Your ladyship wants
Mr. Darcy to marry your daughter; but would my giving you the
wished-for promise make their marriage at all more probable?
Supposing him to be attached to me, would my refusing 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 frivolous
as the application was ill-judged. You have widely mistaken my
character, if you think I can be worked on by such persuasions
as these. How far your nephew might approve of your interference
in his affairs, I cannot tell; but you have certainly no right
to concern yourself in mine. I must beg, therefore, to be
importuned no farther on the subject."
"Not so hasty, if you please. I have by no means done.
To all the objections I have already urged, I have still
another to add. I am no stranger to the particulars of your
youngest sister's infamous elopement. I know it all; that
the young man's marrying her was a patched-up business, at the
expence of your father and uncles. And is such a girl to be
my nephew's sister? Is her husband, is the son of his late
father's steward, to be his brother? Heaven and earth!--of
what are you thinking? Are the shades of Pemberley to be
"You can now have nothing further to say," she resentfully
answered. "You have insulted me in every possible 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 highly incensed.
"You have no regard, then, for the honour and credit of my
nephew! Unfeeling, selfish girl! Do you not consider that
a connection with you must disgrace him in the eyes of
"Lady Catherine, I have nothing further to say. You know my
"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
"It is well. You refuse, then, to oblige me. You refuse to
obey the claims of duty, honour, and gratitude. You are
determined to ruin him in the opinion of all his friends,
and make him the contempt of the world."
"Neither duty, nor honour, nor gratitude," replied Elizabeth,
"have any possible claim on me, in the present instance. No
principle of either would be violated by my marriage with
Mr. Darcy. And with regard to the resentment of his family, or
the indignation of the world, if the former WERE excited by his
marrying me, it would not give me one moment's concern--and
the world in general would have too much sense to join in the
"And this is your real opinion! This is your final resolve!
Very well. I shall now know how to act. Do not imagine, Miss
Bennet, that your ambition will ever be gratified. I came to
try you. I hoped to find you reasonable; 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 hastily round, she added,
"I take no leave of you, Miss Bennet. I send no compliments to
your mother. You deserve no such attention. I am most
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
up stairs. Her mother impatiently met her at the door of the
dressing-room, to ask why Lady Catherine would not come in
again 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, I suppose, to tell us
the Collinses were well. She is on her road somewhere, I dare
say, and so, passing through Meryton, thought she might as well
call on you. I suppose she had nothing particular to say to
Elizabeth was forced to give into a little falsehood here;
for to acknowledge the substance of their conversation was
The discomposure of spirits which this extraordinary visit
threw Elizabeth into, could not be easily overcome; nor
could she, for many hours, learn to think of it less than
incessantly. Lady Catherine, it appeared, had actually taken
the trouble of this journey from Rosings, for the sole purpose
of breaking off her supposed engagement with Mr. Darcy. It was
a rational scheme, to be sure! but from what the report of
their engagement could originate, Elizabeth was at a loss to
imagine; till she recollected that HIS being the intimate
friend of Bingley, and HER being the sister of Jane, was
enough, at a time when the expectation of one wedding made
everybody eager for another, to supply the idea. She had not
herself forgotten to feel that the marriage of her sister must
bring them more frequently together. And her neighbours 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
immediate, which 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 to the possible consequence
of her persisting in this interference. From what she had said
of her resolution to prevent their marriage, it occurred to
Elizabeth that she must meditate an application to her nephew;
and how HE might take a similar representation of the evils
attached to a connection with her, she dared not pronounce.
She knew not the exact degree of his affection for his aunt, or
his dependence on her judgment, 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 connections were so unequal
to his own, his aunt would address him on his weakest side.
With his notions 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 and entreaty of so near a
relation might settle every doubt, and determine him at once to
be as happy as dignity unblemished could make him. In that
case he would return no more. Lady Catherine might see him in
her way through town; and his engagement to Bingley of coming
again to Netherfield must give way.
"If, therefore, an excuse for not keeping his promise should
come to his friend within a few days," she added, "I shall
know how to understand it. I shall then give over every
expectation, every wish of his constancy. If he is satisfied
with only regretting me, when he might have obtained my
affections and hand, 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 they obligingly satisfied
it, with the same kind of supposition which had appeased
Mrs. Bennet's curiosity; and Elizabeth 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 library with a letter in his
"Lizzy," said he, "I was going to look for you; come into my
She followed him thither; and her curiosity to know what he
had to tell her was heightened by the supposition of its being
in some manner connected with the letter he held. It suddenly
struck her that it might be from Lady Catherine; and she
anticipated with dismay all the consequent explanations.
She followed her father to the fire place, and they both sat
down. He then said,
"I have received a letter this morning that has astonished me
exceedingly. As it principally concerns yourself, you ought
to know its contents. I did not know before, that I had two
daughters on the brink of matrimony. 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 from the nephew, instead of the
aunt; and she was undetermined whether most to be pleased that
he explained himself 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 may defy 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 approaching nuptials 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. What relates to yourself, is
as follows: 'Having thus offered you the sincere congratulations
of Mrs. Collins and myself on this happy event, let me now add
a short hint on the subject of another; of which we have been
advertised by the same authority. Your daughter Elizabeth, it is
presumed, will not long bear the name of Bennet, after her elder
sister has resigned it, and the chosen partner of her fate may be
reasonably 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 every thing
the heart of mortal can most desire,--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
with this 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
"'My motive for cautioning you is as follows. We have reason to
imagine that his aunt, Lady Catherine 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 lie more 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
Elizabeth tried to join in her father's pleasantry, but could
only force one most reluctant smile. Never had 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 this marriage to her ladyship
last night, she immediately, with her usual condescension,
expressed what she felt on the occasion; when it become apparent,
that on the score of some family objections on the part of my
cousin, she would never give her consent to what she termed so
disgraceful a match. I thought it my duty to give the speediest
intelligence of this to my cousin, that she and her noble
admirer may be aware of what they are about, and not run
hastily into a marriage which has not been properly sanctioned.'
Mr. Collins moreover adds, 'I am truly rejoiced that my cousin
Lydia's sad business has been so well hushed up, and am only
concerned that their living together before the marriage took
place should be so generally known. I must not, however,
neglect the duties of my station, or refrain from declaring my
amazement at hearing that you received the young couple into
your house as soon as they were married. It was an encouragement
of vice; and had I been the rector of Longbourn, I should very
strenuously have opposed it. You ought certainly to forgive them,
as a Christian, 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's situation, and his expectation of a young
olive-branch. But, Lizzy, you look as if you did not enjoy it.
You 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 excessively diverted. But it is
"Yes--THAT is what makes it amusing. Had they fixed on any other
man it would have been nothing; but HIS perfect indifference,
and YOUR pointed dislike, make it so delightfully absurd! Much
as I abominate writing, I would not give up Mr. Collins's
correspondence for any consideration. Nay, when I read a letter
of his, I cannot help giving him the preference even over Wickham,
much as I value the impudence and hypocrisy of my son-in-law.
And pray, Lizzy, what said Lady Catherine about this report?
Did she call to refuse her consent?"
To this question his daughter replied only with a laugh; and
as it had been asked without the least suspicion, she was not
distressed by his repeating it. Elizabeth had never been
more at a loss to make her feelings appear what they were not.
It was necessary to laugh, when she would rather have cried.
Her father had most cruelly mortified her, by what he said of
Mr. Darcy's indifference, and she could do nothing but wonder
at such a want of penetration, or fear that perhaps, instead
of his seeing too little, she might have fancied too much.
Instead of receiving any such letter of excuse from his friend,
as Elizabeth half expected Mr. Bingley to do, he was able to
bring Darcy with him to Longbourn before many days had passed
after Lady Catherine's visit. The gentlemen arrived early;
and, before Mrs. Bennet had time to tell him of their having
seen his aunt, of which her daughter sat in momentary dread,
Bingley, who wanted to be alone with 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,
soon allowed the others to outstrip them. They lagged behind,
while Elizabeth, Kitty, and Darcy were to entertain each other.
Very little was said by either; Kitty was too much afraid of
him to talk; Elizabeth was secretly forming a desperate
resolution; and perhaps he might be doing the same.
They walked towards the Lucases, because Kitty wished to call
upon Maria; and as Elizabeth saw no occasion for making it a
general concern, when Kitty left them she went boldly on with
him alone. Now was the moment for her resolution to be
executed, and, while her courage was high, she immediately
"Mr. Darcy, I am a very selfish creature; and, for the sake of
giving relief to my own feelings, care not how much I may be
wounding your's. I can no longer help thanking you for your
unexampled kindness to my poor sister. Ever since I have
known it, I have been most anxious to acknowledge to you how
gratefully I feel it. Were it known to the rest of my family,
I should not have merely my own gratitude to express."
"I am sorry, exceedingly sorry," replied Darcy, in a tone of
surprise and emotion, "that you have ever been informed of what
may, in a mistaken light, have given you uneasiness. I did not
think Mrs. Gardiner was so little to be trusted."
"You must not blame my aunt. Lydia's thoughtlessness first
betrayed to me that you had been concerned in the matter; and,
of course, I could not rest till I knew the particulars. Let
me thank you again and again, in the name of all my family,
for that generous compassion which induced you to take so much
trouble, and bear so many mortifications, for the sake of
"If you WILL thank me," he replied, "let it be for yourself
alone. That the wish of giving happiness to you might add
force to the other inducements which led me on, I shall not
attempt to deny. But your FAMILY owe 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 are too generous to
trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were
last April, tell me so at once. MY affections 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 of his situation, now forced herself to speak; and
immediately, though not very fluently, gave him to understand
that her sentiments had undergone so material a change, since
the period to which he alluded, as to make her receive with
gratitude and pleasure his present assurances. The happiness
which this reply produced, was such as he had probably never
felt before; and he expressed himself on the occasion as
sensibly and as warmly as a man violently in love can be
supposed to do. Had Elizabeth been able to encounter his
eye, she might have seen how well the expression of heartfelt
delight, diffused over his face, became him; but, though she
could not look, she could listen, and he told her of feelings,
which, in proving of what importance she was 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, and said, for attention to
any other objects. She soon learnt that they were indebted
for their present good understanding to the efforts of his
aunt, who did call on him in her return through London,
and there relate 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
her endeavours to obtain that promise from her nephew which
she had refused to give. But, unluckily for her ladyship,
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 of your disposition to
be certain that, had you been absolutely, irrevocably decided
against me, you would have acknowledged it to Lady Catherine,
frankly and openly."
Elizabeth coloured and laughed as she replied, "Yes, you know
enough of my frankness to believe me capable of THAT.
After abusing you so abominably to your face, I could have no
scruple in abusing you to all your relations."
"What did you say of me, that I did not deserve? For, though
your accusations were ill-founded, formed on mistaken premises,
my behaviour to you at the time had merited the severest
reproof. It was unpardonable. I cannot think of it without
"We will not quarrel for the greater share of blame annexed to
that evening," said Elizabeth. "The conduct 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, my manners, my expressions
during the whole of it, is now, and has been many months,
inexpressibly painful to me. Your reproof, so well applied, I
shall never forget: 'had you behaved in a more gentlemanlike
manner.' Those were your words. You know not, you can
scarcely conceive, how they have tortured me;--though it was
some time, I confess, before I was reasonable enough to allow
"I was certainly very far from expecting them to make so strong
an impression. I had not the smallest idea 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 turn of your
countenance I shall never forget, as you said that I could
not have addressed you in any possible way 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 long been most
heartily ashamed of it."
Darcy mentioned his letter. "Did it," said he, "did it soon
make you think better of me? Did you, on reading it, give any
credit to its contents?"
She explained what its effect on her had been, and how gradually
all her former prejudices had been removed.
"I knew," said he, "that what I wrote must give you pain,
but it was necessary. I hope you have destroyed the letter.
There was one part especially, the opening of it, which I
should dread your having the 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 so easily changed as that implies."
"When I wrote that letter," replied Darcy, "I believed myself
perfectly calm and cool, but I am since convinced 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 no more of the
letter. The feelings of the person who wrote, and the person
who received it, are now so widely different from what they
were then, that every unpleasant circumstance attending it
ought to be forgotten. You must learn some of my philosophy.
Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure."
"I cannot give you credit for any philosophy of the kind.
Your retrospections must be so totally void of reproach, that
the contentment arising from them is not of philosophy, but,
what is much better, of innocence. But with me, it is not
so. Painful recollections will intrude which cannot, which
ought not, to be repelled. I have been a selfish being all my
life, in practice, though not in principle. As a child I was
taught what was right, but I was not taught to correct my
temper. I was given good principles, but left to follow them
in pride and conceit. Unfortunately an only son (for many
years an only child), I was spoilt by my parents, who, though
good themselves (my father, particularly, all that was
benevolent and amiable), allowed, encouraged, almost taught me
to be selfish and overbearing; to care for none beyond my own
family circle; to think meanly of all the rest of the world;
to wish at least to think meanly of their sense and worth
compared with my own. Such I was, from eight to eight and
twenty; and such I might still have been but for you, dearest,
loveliest Elizabeth! What do I not owe you! You taught me a
lesson, hard indeed at first, but most advantageous. By you,
I was properly humbled. I came to you without a doubt of my
reception. You showed me how insufficient were all my
pretensions to please a woman worthy of being 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 my addresses."
"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
"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 for coming?"
"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 I deserved 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 so mean as to resent the
past; and I hoped to obtain your forgiveness, to lessen your
ill opinion, by letting you see that your reproofs had been
attended to. How soon any other wishes introduced themselves
I can hardly 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 sudden interruption; which
naturally leading to the cause of that interruption, she soon
learnt that his resolution of following her from Derbyshire in
quest of her sister had been formed before he quitted the inn,
and that his gravity and thoughtfulness there had arisen from
no other struggles than what such a purpose must comprehend.
She expressed her gratitude again, but it was too painful a
subject to each, to be dwelt on farther.
After walking several miles in a leisurely manner, and too busy
to know anything about it, they found at last, on examining
their watches, that it was time to be at home.
"What could become of Mr. Bingley and Jane!" was a wonder
which introduced the discussion of their affairs. Darcy
was delighted with their engagement; his friend had given
him the earliest information of it.
"I must ask whether you were surprised?" said Elizabeth.
"Not at all. When I went away, I felt that it would soon
"That is to say, you had given your permission. I guessed as
much." And though he exclaimed at the term, 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 I ought to have made long
ago. I told him of all that had occurred to make my former
interference in his affairs absurd and impertinent. His
surprise was great. He had never had the slightest suspicion.
I told him, moreover, that I believed myself mistaken in
supposing, as I had done, that your sister was indifferent to
him; and as I could easily perceive that his attachment to her
was unabated, I felt no doubt of 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, or merely from my
information last spring?"
"From the former. I had narrowly observed her during the two
visits which I had lately made here; and I was convinced of her
"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 own judgment in so anxious
a case, but his reliance on mine made every thing easy. I
was obliged to confess one thing, which for a time, and not
unjustly, offended him. I could not allow myself to conceal
that your sister had been in town three months last winter,
that I had known it, and purposely kept it from him. He was
angry. But his anger, I am persuaded, lasted no longer than
he remained in any doubt of your sister's sentiments. He has
heartily forgiven me now."
Elizabeth longed to observe that Mr. Bingley had been a most
delightful friend; so easily guided that his worth 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 be inferior only to his own, he continued the
conversation till they reached the house. In the hall they
"My dear Lizzy, where can you have been walking to?" was a
question which Elizabeth received from Jane as soon as she
entered their room, and from all the others when they sat down
to table. She had only to say in reply, that they had wandered
about, till she was beyond her own knowledge. She coloured as
she 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 and laughed, the unacknowledged
were silent. Darcy was not of a disposition in which happiness
overflows in 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 would be 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 do away.
At night she opened her heart to Jane. Though suspicion was
very far from Miss Bennet's general habits, she was absolutely
"You are joking, Lizzy. This cannot be!--engaged to Mr. Darcy!
No, no, you shall not deceive me. I know it to be impossible."
"This is a wretched beginning indeed! My sole dependence was
on you; and I am sure nobody else will believe 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 I do now. But in
such cases as these, a good memory is unpardonable. This is
the last time I shall ever remember 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, I would--I do
congratulate you--but are you certain? forgive the question
--are you quite certain that you can 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 in the world.
But are you pleased, Jane? Shall you like to have such a
"Very, very much. Nothing could give either Bingley or
myself more delight. But we considered it, we talked of it as
impossible. And do you really love him quite well enough?
Oh, Lizzy! do anything rather than 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 serious. I want to talk very
seriously. Let me know every thing that I am to 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 from my first seeing his
beautiful grounds at Pemberley."
Another entreaty that she would be serious, however, produced
the desired effect; and she soon satisfied Jane by her solemn
assurances of attachment. When convinced on that article, Miss
Bennet had nothing further to wish.
"Now I am quite happy," said she, "for you will be as happy as
myself. I always had a value for him. Were it for nothing but
his love of you, I must always have esteemed him; but now, as
Bingley's friend and your husband, there can be only Bingley
and yourself more dear to me. But Lizzy, you have been very
sly, very reserved with me. How little did you tell me of what
passed at Pemberley and Lambton! I owe 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 the unsettled state of her
own feelings had made her equally avoid the name of his friend.
But now she would no longer conceal from her his share in
Lydia's marriage. All was acknowledged, and half the night
spent in conversation.
* * * * *
"Good gracious!" cried Mrs. Bennet, as she stood at a window
the next morning, "if that disagreeable Mr. Darcy is not coming
here again with our dear Bingley! What can he mean by being so
tiresome as to be always coming here? I had no notion but he
would go a-shooting, or something or other, and not disturb us
with his company. What shall we do with him? Lizzy, you must
walk out with him again, that he may not be in Bingley's way."
Elizabeth could hardly help laughing at so convenient a
proposal; yet was really vexed that her mother should be
always giving him such an epithet.
As soon as they entered, Bingley looked at her so expressively,
and shook hands with such warmth, as left no doubt of his good
information; and he soon afterwards said aloud, "Mrs. Bennet,
have you no more 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 morning. It 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 Kitty. Won't it, Kitty?"
Kitty owned that she had rather stay at home. Darcy professed
a great curiosity to see the view from the Mount, and Elizabeth
silently consented. As she went up stairs 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 I hope you will not
mind it: it is all for Jane's sake, you know; and there is no
occasion for talking to him, except 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 the evening. Elizabeth
reserved to herself the application for her mother's. She
could not determine how her mother would take it; sometimes
doubting whether all his wealth and grandeur would be enough
to overcome her abhorrence of the man. But whether she were
violently set against the match, or violently delighted with
it, it was certain that her manner would be equally ill adapted
to do credit to her sense; and she could no more bear that
Mr. Darcy should hear the first raptures of her joy, than the
first vehemence of her disapprobation.
* * * * *
In the evening, soon after Mr. Bennet withdrew to the library,
she saw Mr. Darcy rise also and follow him, and her agitation
on seeing it was extreme. She did not fear her father's
opposition, but he was going to be made unhappy; and that it
should be through her means--that SHE, his favourite child,
should be distressing him by her choice, should be filling him
with fears and regrets in disposing of her--was a wretched
reflection, and she sat in misery till Mr. Darcy appeared
again, when, looking at him, she was a little 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 the
library." She was gone directly.
Her father was walking about the room, looking grave and
anxious. "Lizzy," said he, "what are you doing? Are you out
of your senses, to be accepting this man? Have not you always
How earnestly did she then wish that her former opinions had
been more reasonable, her expressions more moderate! It would
have spared her from explanations and professions which it was
exceedingly awkward to give; but they were now necessary, and
she assured him, with some confusion, of her attachment to
"Or, in other words, you are determined to have him. He is
rich, to be sure, and you may have more fine clothes and fine
carriages than Jane. But will they make you happy?"
"Have you any other objection," 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 you really liked him."
"I do, I do like him," she replied, with tears in her eyes,
"I love him. Indeed he has no improper pride. He is perfectly
amiable. You do not know what he really is; then pray do not
pain me by speaking of him in such terms."
"Lizzy," said her father, "I have given him my consent.
He is the kind of man, indeed, to whom I should never dare
refuse anything, which he condescended to ask. I now give it
to YOU, if you are resolved on having him. But let me advise
you to think better of it. I know your disposition, Lizzy.
I know that you could be neither happy nor respectable, unless
you truly esteemed your husband; unless you looked up to him
as a superior. Your lively talents would place you in the
greatest danger in an unequal marriage. You could scarcely
escape discredit and misery. My child, let me not have the
grief of seeing YOU unable to respect 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 repeated assurances that Mr. Darcy was
really the object of her choice, by explaining the gradual
change which her estimation of him had undergone, relating her
absolute certainty that his affection was not the work of a
day, but had stood the test of many months suspense, and
enumerating with energy all his good qualities, 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, he deserves you. I could
not have parted with you, my Lizzy, to anyone less worthy."
To complete the favourable impression, she then told him what
Mr. Darcy had voluntarily done for Lydia. He heard her with
"This is an evening of wonders, indeed! And so, Darcy did
every thing; made up the match, gave the money, paid the
fellow's debts, and got him his commission! So much the
better. It will save me a world of trouble and economy.
Had it been your uncle's doing, I must and WOULD have paid
him; but these violent young lovers carry every thing their
own way. I shall offer to pay him to-morrow; he will rant
and storm 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 after laughing at her some
time, allowed her at last to go--saying, as she quitted the
room, "If any young men come 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 reflection in her own room,
she was able to join the others with tolerable composure.
Every thing was too recent for gaiety, but the evening passed
tranquilly away; there was no longer anything material to
be dreaded, and the 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 important communication. Its effect
was most extraordinary; for on first hearing it, Mrs. Bennet
sat quite still, and unable to utter a syllable. Nor was it
under many, many minutes that she could comprehend what she
heard; though not in general backward to credit what was for
the advantage of her family, or that came in the shape of a
lover to any of them. She began at length to recover, to
fidget about in her chair, get up, sit down again, wonder,
and bless herself.
"Good gracious! Lord bless me! only think! dear me!
Mr. Darcy! Who would have thought it! And is it really 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 a charming man!--so handsome! so tall!--Oh, my
dear Lizzy! pray apologise for my having disliked him so much
before. I hope he will overlook it. Dear, dear Lizzy. A house
in town! Every thing 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 such an effusion was
heard only by herself, soon went away. But before she had
been three minutes in her own room, 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 licence. You must and shall be married
by a special licence. 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 Elizabeth found 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;
for Mrs. 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 Mr. Bennet 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 I shall like YOUR husband
quite as well as Jane's."
Elizabeth's spirits soon rising to playfulness again, she
wanted Mr. Darcy to account for his having ever fallen in love
with her. "How could you begin?" said she. "I can comprehend
your going on charmingly, 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 long ago. 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 always bordering 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 of civility, of
deference, of officious attention. You were disgusted with
the women who were always speaking, and looking, and thinking
for YOUR approbation alone. I roused, and interested you,
because I was so unlike THEM. Had you not been really
amiable, you would have hated me for it; but in spite of the
pains you took to disguise yourself, your feelings were always
noble and just; and in your heart, you thoroughly despised the
persons who so assiduously courted you. There--I have saved
you the trouble of accounting for it; and really, all things
considered, I begin to think it perfectly reasonable. To be
sure, you knew 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 good qualities are under your
protection, and you are to exaggerate them as much as possible;
and, in return, it belongs to me to find occasions for teasing
and quarrelling with you as often as may be; and I shall begin
directly by asking you what made you so unwilling to come to
the point at last. What made you so shy of me, when you first
called, and afterwards dined here? Why, especially, when you
called, did you look as 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 to admit it! But I
wonder how long you WOULD have gone on, if you had been left
to yourself. I wonder when you WOULD have spoken, if I
had not asked you! My resolution of thanking you for your
kindness to Lydia had certainly great effect. TOO MUCH, I am
afraid; for what becomes of the moral, if our comfort springs
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 unjustifiable endeavours to separate us
were the means of removing all my doubts. I am not indebted
for my present happiness to your eager desire of expressing
your gratitude. I was not in a humour to wait for any opening
of your's. My aunt's intelligence had given me hope, and I was
determined at once to know every thing."
"Lady Catherine has been of infinite use, which ought to make
her happy, for she loves to be of use. But tell me, what did
you come down to Netherfield for? Was it merely to ride to
Longbourn and be embarrassed? or had you intended any more
"My real purpose was to see YOU, and to judge, if I could,
whether I might ever hope to make you love me. My avowed one,
or what I avowed to myself, was to see whether your sister were
still partial to Bingley, 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 more time than courage, Elizabeth.
But it ought to done, and if you will give me a 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, as another young lady
once did. But I have an aunt, too, who must not be longer
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 communicate which she knew would be most welcome, she was
almost ashamed to find that her uncle and aunt had already 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.
You supposed more than really existed. But NOW suppose as
much as you choose; give a loose rein to your 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 again very soon, and praise him a
great deal more than you did in your last. I thank you, again
and again, for not going to the Lakes. How could I be so silly
as to wish it! Your idea of the ponies is delightful. We will