FictionForest

Chapter 27

Jane AustenAug 15, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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With no greater events than these
in the Longbourn family, and otherwise diversified
by little beyond the walks to Meryton, sometimes dirty
and sometimes cold, did January and February pass
away.  March was to take Elizabeth to Hunsford. 
She had not at first thought very seriously of going
thither; but Charlotte, she soon found, was depending
on the plan and she gradually learned to consider
it herself with greater pleasure as well as greater
certainty.  Absence had increased her desire of
seeing Charlotte again, and weakened her disgust of
Mr. Collins.  There was novelty in the scheme,
and as, with such a mother and such uncompanionable
sisters, home could not be faultless, a little change
was not unwelcome for its own sake.  The journey
would moreover give her a peep at Jane; and, in short,
as the time 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 his second daughter.  The improvement of spending
a night in London was added in time, and the plan became
perfect as plan could be.

The only pain was in leaving her father,
who would certainly miss her, and who, when it came
to the point, so little liked her going, that he told
her to write to him, and almost promised to answer
her letter.

The farewell between herself and Mr.
Wickham was perfectly friendly; on his side even more. 
His present pursuit could not make him forget that
Elizabeth had been the first to excite and to deserve
his attention, the first to listen and to pity, the
first to be admired; and in his manner of bidding
her adieu, wishing her every enjoyment, reminding her
of what she was to expect in Lady Catherine de Bourgh,
and trusting their opinion of her ­their
opinion of everybody ­would always coincide,
there was a solicitude, an interest which she felt
must ever attach her to him with a most sincere regard;
and she parted from him convinced that, whether married
or single, he must always be her model of the amiable
and pleasing.

Her fellow-travellers the next day
were not of a kind to make her think him less agreeable. 
Sir William Lucas, and his daughter Maria, a good-humoured
girl, but as empty-headed as himself, had nothing to
say that could be worth hearing, and were listened
to with about as much delight as the rattle of the
chaise.  Elizabeth loved absurdities, but she
had known Sir William’s too long.  He could
tell her nothing new of the wonders of his presentation
and knighthood; and his civilities were worn out,
like his information.

It was a journey of only twenty-four
miles, and they began it so early as to be in Gracechurch
Street by noon.  As they drove to Mr. Gardiner’s
door, Jane was at a drawing-room window watching their
arrival; when they entered the passage she was there
to welcome them, and Elizabeth, looking earnestly
in her face, was pleased to see it healthful and lovely
as ever.  On the stairs were a troop of little
boys and girls, whose eagerness for their cousin’s
appearance would not allow them to wait in the drawing-room,
and whose shyness, as they had not seen her for a
twelvemonth, prevented their coming lower.  All
was joy and kindness.  The day passed most pleasantly
away; the morning in bustle and shopping, and the
evening at one of the theatres.

Elizabeth then contrived to sit by
her aunt.  Their first object was her sister;
and she was more grieved than astonished to hear, in
reply to her minute inquiries, that though Jane always
struggled to support her spirits, there were periods
of dejection.  It was reasonable, however, to
hope that they would not continue long.  Mrs. Gardiner
gave her the particulars also of Miss Bingley’s
visit in Gracechurch Street, and repeated conversations
occurring at different times between Jane and herself,
which proved that the former had, from her heart, given
up the acquaintance.

Mrs. Gardiner then rallied her niece
on Wickham’s desertion, and complimented her
on bearing it so well.

“But my dear Elizabeth,”
she added, “what sort of girl is Miss King? 
I should be sorry to think our friend mercenary.”

“Pray, my dear aunt, what is
the difference in matrimonial affairs, between the
mercenary and the prudent motive?  Where does discretion
end, and avarice begin?  Last Christmas you were
afraid of his marrying me, because it would be imprudent;
and now, because he is trying to get a girl with only
ten thousand pounds, you want to find out that he is
mercenary.”

“If you will only tell me what
sort of girl Miss King is, I shall know what to think.”

“She is a very good kind of
girl, I believe.  I know no harm of her.”

“But he paid her not the smallest
attention till her grandfather’s death made
her mistress of this fortune.”

“No ­what 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 equally poor?”

“But there seems an indelicacy
in directing his attentions towards her so soon after
this event.”

“A man in distressed circumstances
has not time for all those elegant decorums which
other people may observe.  If she does not
object to it, why should we?”

Her not objecting does
not justify him.  It only shows her being
deficient in something herself ­sense or
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 who has 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 intimate friends who live in Hertfordshire
are not much better.  I am sick of them all. 
Thank Heaven!  I am going to-morrow where I shall
find a man who has not one agreeable quality, who has
neither manner nor sense to recommend him.  Stupid
men are the only ones worth knowing, 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 an invitation to accompany her uncle and aunt in
a tour of pleasure which they proposed taking in the
summer.

“We have not determined how
far it shall carry us,” said Mrs. Gardiner,
“but, perhaps, to the Lakes.”

No scheme could have been more agreeable
to Elizabeth, and her acceptance of the invitation
was most ready and grateful.  “Oh, my dear,
dear aunt,” she rapturously cried, “what
delight! what felicity!  You give me fresh life
and vigour.  Adieu to disappointment and spleen. 
What are young 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 one accurate idea of anything. 
We will know where we have gone ­we
will recollect what we have seen.  Lakes,
mountains, and rivers shall not be jumbled together
in our imaginations; nor when we attempt to describe
any particular scene, will we begin quarreling about
its relative situation.  Let our first
effusions be less insupportable than those of
the generality of travellers.”

 

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