FictionForest

Chapter 59

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

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“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 incredulous here.

“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
brother?”

“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 hated him?”

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 Mr. Darcy.

“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 astonishment.

“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.”

 

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