FictionForest

Chapter 60

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

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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 yours.  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 serious consequence?”

“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
be 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 neglected.”

From an unwillingness to confess how
much her intimacy with Mr. Darcy had been over-rated,
Elizabeth had never yet answered Mrs. Gardiner’s
long letter; but now, having that to 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 go round
the Park every day.  I am the happiest creature
in the world.  Perhaps other people have said so
before, but not one with such justice.  I am happier
even than Jane; she only smiles, I laugh.  Mr.
Darcy sends you all the love in the world that he
can spare from me.  You are all to come to Pemberley
at Christmas.  Yours, etc.”

Mr. Darcy’s letter to Lady Catherine
was in a different style; and still different from
either was what Mr. Bennet sent to Mr. Collins, in
reply to his last.

“DEAR SIR,

“I must trouble you once more
for congratulations.  Elizabeth will soon be the
wife of Mr. Darcy.  Console Lady Catherine as well
as you can.  But, if I were you, I would stand
by the nephew.  He has more to give.

“Yours sincerely, etc.”

Miss Bingley’s congratulations
to her brother, on his approaching marriage, were
all that was affectionate and insincere.  She wrote
even to Jane on the occasion, to express her delight,
and repeat all her former professions of regard. 
Jane was not deceived, but she was affected; and though
feeling no reliance on her, could not help writing
her a much kinder answer than she knew was deserved.

The joy which Miss Darcy expressed
on receiving similar information, was as sincere as
her brother’s in sending it.  Four sides
of paper were insufficient to contain all her delight,
and all her earnest desire of being loved by her sister.

Before any answer could arrive from
Mr. Collins, or any congratulations to Elizabeth from
his wife, the Longbourn family heard that the Collinses
were come themselves to Lucas Lodge.  The reason
of this sudden removal was soon evident.  Lady
Catherine had been rendered so exceedingly angry by
the contents of her nephew’s letter, that Charlotte,
really rejoicing in the match, was anxious to get away
till the storm was blown over.  At such a moment,
the arrival of her friend was a sincere pleasure to
Elizabeth, though in the course of their meetings
she must sometimes think the pleasure dearly bought,
when she saw Mr. Darcy exposed to all the parading
and obsequious civility of her husband.  He bore
it, however, with admirable calmness.  He could
even listen to Sir William Lucas, when he complimented
him on carrying away the brightest jewel of the country,
and expressed his hopes of their all meeting frequently
at St. James’s, with very decent composure. 
If he did shrug his shoulders, it was not till Sir
William was out of sight.

Mrs. Phillips’s vulgarity was
another, and perhaps a greater, tax on his forbearance;
and though Mrs. Phillips, as well as her sister, stood
in too much awe of him to speak with the familiarity
which Bingley’s good humour encouraged, yet,
whenever she did speak, she must be vulgar. 
Nor was her respect for him, though it made her more
quiet, at all likely to make her more elegant. 
Elizabeth did all she could to shield him from the
frequent notice of either, and was ever anxious to
keep him to herself, and to those of her family with
whom he might converse without mortification; and
though the uncomfortable feelings arising from all
this took from the season of courtship much of its
pleasure, it added to the hope of the future; and
she looked forward with delight to the time when they
should be removed from society so little pleasing
to either, to all the comfort and elegance of their
family party at Pemberley.

 

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