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|Chapter 21 (Vol. I, Chap. XXI)|
|(Vol. I, Chap. 20)
||Table of Contents
||(Vol. I, Chap. 22)|
|Chapter 21 (Vol. I, Chap. XXI)
|The discussion of Mr. Collins's offer was now nearly at an end,
and Elizabeth had only to suffer from the uncomfortable
feelings necessarily attending it, and occasionally from some
peevish allusion of her mother. As for the gentleman himself,
his feelings were chiefly expressed, not by embarrassment or
dejection, or by trying to avoid her, but by stiffness of
manner and resentful silence. He scarcely ever spoke to her,
and the assiduous attentions which he had been so sensible of
himself, were transferred for the rest of the day to Miss
Lucas, whose civility in listening to him, was a seasonable
relief to them all, and especially to her friend.
|The morrow produced no abatement of Mrs. Bennet's ill humour or
ill health. Mr. Collins was also in the same state of angry
pride. Elizabeth had hoped that his resentment might shorten
his visit, but his plan did not appear in the least affected by
it. He was always to have gone on Saturday, and to Saturday he
still meant to stay.
|After breakfast, the girls walked to Meryton, to inquire if
Mr. Wickham were returned, and to lament over his absence from
the Netherfield ball. He joined them on their entering the
town and attended them to their aunt's, where his regret and
vexation, and the concern of every body was well talked
over. -- To Elizabeth, however, he voluntarily acknowledged
that the necessity of his absence had been self imposed.
|"I found," said he, "as the time drew near, that I had better
not meet Mr. Darcy; -- that to be in the same room, the same
party with him for so many hours together, might be more than
I could bear, and that scenes might arise unpleasant to more
|She highly approved his forbearance, and they had leisure for a
full discussion of it, and for all the commendation which they
civilly bestowed on each other, as Wickham and another officer
walked back with them to Longbourn, and during the walk he
particularly attended to her. His accompanying them was a
double advantage; she felt all the compliment it offered to
herself, and it was most acceptable as an occasion of
introducing him to her father and mother.
|Soon after their return, a letter was delivered to Miss Bennet;
it came from Netherfield, and was opened immediately. The
envelope contained a sheet of elegant, little, hot-pressed
paper, well covered with a lady's fair, flowing hand; and
Elizabeth saw her sister's countenance change as she read it,
and saw her dwelling intently on some particular passages.
Jane recollected herself soon, and putting the letter away,
tried to join with her usual cheerfulness in the general
conversation; but Elizabeth felt an anxiety on the subject
which drew off her attention even from Wickham; and no sooner
had he and his companion taken leave, than a glance from Jane
invited her to follow her up stairs. When they had gained
their own room, Jane taking out the letter, said,
|"This is from Caroline Bingley; what it contains, has surprised
me a good deal. The whole party have left Netherfield by this
time, and are on their way to town; and without any intention
of coming back again. You shall hear what she says."
|She then read the first sentence aloud, which comprised the
information of their having just resolved to follow their
brother to town directly, and of their meaning to dine that day
in Grosvenor street, where Mr. Hurst had a house. The next was
in these words. "I do not pretend to regret any thing I shall
leave in Hertfordshire, except your society, my dearest friend;
but we will hope at some future period, to enjoy many returns
of the delightful intercourse we have known, and in the mean
while may lessen the pain of separation by a very frequent and
most unreserved correspondence. I depend on you for that." To
these high flown expressions, Elizabeth listened with all the
insensibility of distrust; and though the suddenness of their
removal surprised her, she saw nothing in it really to lament;
it was not to be supposed that their absence from Netherfield
would prevent Mr. Bingley's being there; and as to the loss of
their society, she was persuaded that Jane must soon cease to
regard it, in the enjoyment of his.
|"It is unlucky," said she, after a short pause, "that you
should not be able to see your friends before they leave the
country. But may we not hope that the period of future
happiness to which Miss Bingley looks forward, may arrive
earlier than she is aware, and that the delightful intercourse
you have known as friends, will be renewed with yet greater
satisfaction as sisters? -- Mr. Bingley will not be detained
in London by them."
|"Caroline decidedly says that none of the party will return
into Hertfordshire this winter. I will read it to you -- "
|"When my brother left us yesterday, he imagined that the
business which took him to London, might be concluded in three
or four days, but as we are certain it cannot be so, and at the
same time convinced that when Charles gets to town he will be
in no hurry to leave it again, we have determined on following
him thither, that he may not be obliged to spend his vacant
hours in a comfortless hotel. Many of my acquaintance are
already there for the winter; I wish I could hear that you, my
dearest friend, had any intention of making one in the crowd,
but of that I despair. I sincerely hope your Christmas in
Hertfordshire may abound in the gaieties which that season
generally brings, and that your beaux will be so numerous as to
prevent your feeling the loss of the three of whom we shall
|"It is evident by this," added Jane, "that he comes back no
more this winter."
|"It is only evident that Miss Bingley does not mean he
|"Why will you think so? It must be his own doing. -- He is his
own master. But you do not know all. I will read you the
passage which particularly hurts me. I will have no reserves
from you." "Mr. Darcy is impatient to see his sister, and to
confess the truth, we are scarcely less eager to meet her
again. I really do not think Georgiana Darcy has her equal for
beauty, elegance, and accomplishments; and the affection she
inspires in Louisa and myself is heightened into something
still more interesting, from the hope we dare to entertain of
her being hereafter our sister. I do not know whether I ever
before mentioned to you my feelings on this subject, but I will
not leave the country without confiding them, and I trust you
will not esteem them unreasonable. My brother admires her
greatly already, he will have frequent opportunity now of
seeing her on the most intimate footing, her relations all wish
the connection as much as his own, and a sister's partiality is
not misleading me, I think, when I call Charles most capable of
engaging any woman's heart. With all these circumstances to
favour an attachment and nothing to prevent it, am I wrong, my
dearest Jane, in indulging the hope of an event which will
secure the happiness of so many?"
|"What think you of this sentence, my dear Lizzy?" -- said
Jane as she finished it. "Is it not clear enough? -- Does it
not expressly declare that Caroline neither expects nor wishes
me to be her sister; that she is perfectly convinced of her
brother's indifference, and that if she suspects the nature of
my feelings for him, she means (most kindly!) to put me on my
guard? Can there be any other opinion on the subject?"
|"Yes, there can; for mine is totally different. -- Will you
|"You shall have it in few words. Miss Bingley sees that her
brother is in love with you, and wants him to marry Miss Darcy.
She follows him to town in the hope of keeping him there, and
tries to persuade you that he does not care about you."
|Jane shook her head.
|"Indeed, Jane, you ought to believe me. -- No one who has ever
seen you together, can doubt his affection. Miss Bingley I am
sure cannot. She is not such a simpleton. Could she have seen
half as much love in Mr. Darcy for herself, she would have
ordered her wedding clothes. But the case is this. We are not
rich enough, or grand enough for them; and she is the more
anxious to get Miss Darcy for her brother, from the notion that
when there has been one intermarriage, she may have less
trouble in achieving a second; in which there is certainly some
ingenuity, and I dare say it would succeed, if Miss de Bourgh
were out of the way. But, my dearest Jane, you cannot
seriously imagine that because Miss Bingley tells you her
brother greatly admires Miss Darcy, he is in the smallest
degree less sensible of your merit than when he took leave of
you on Tuesday, or that it will be in her power to persuade him
that instead of being in love with you, he is very much in love
with her friend."
|"If we thought alike of Miss Bingley," replied Jane, "your
representation of all this, might make me quite easy. But I
know the foundation is unjust. Caroline is incapable of
wilfully deceiving any one; and all that I can hope in this
case is, that she is deceived herself."
|"That is right. -- You could not have started a more happy
idea, since you will not take comfort in mine. Believe her to
be deceived by all means. You have now done your duty by her,
and must fret no longer."
|"But, my dear sister, can I be happy, even supposing the best,
in accepting a man whose sisters and friends are all wishing
him to marry elsewhere?"
|"You must decide for yourself," said Elizabeth, "and if, upon
mature deliberation, you find that the misery of disobliging
his two sisters is more than equivalent to the happiness of
being his wife, I advise you by all means to refuse him."
|"How can you talk so?" -- said Jane faintly smiling, -- "You
must know that though I should be exceedingly grieved at their
disapprobation, I could not hesitate."
|"I did not think you would; -- and that being the case,
I cannot consider your situation with much compassion."
|"But if he returns no more this winter, my choice will never be
required. A thousand things may arise in six months!"
|The idea of his returning no more Elizabeth treated with the
utmost contempt. It appeared to her merely the suggestion of
Caroline's interested wishes, and she could not for a moment
suppose that those wishes, however openly or artfully spoken,
could influence a young man so totally independent of every
|She represented to her sister as forcibly as possible what she
felt on the subject, and had soon the pleasure of seeing its
happy effect. Jane's temper was not desponding, and she was
gradually led to hope, though the diffidence of affection
sometimes overcame the hope, that Bingley would return to
Netherfield and answer every wish of her heart.
|They agreed that Mrs. Bennet should only hear of the departure
of the family, without being alarmed on the score of the
gentleman's conduct; but even this partial communication gave
her a great deal of concern, and she bewailed it as exceedingly
unlucky that the ladies should happen to go away, just as they
were all getting so intimate together. After lamenting it
however at some length, she had the consolation of thinking
that Mr. Bingley would be soon down again and soon dining at
Longbourn, and the conclusion of all was the comfortable
declaration that, though he had been invited only to a family
dinner, she would take care to have two full courses.
|(Vol. I, Chap. 20)
||Table of Contents
||(Vol. I, Chap. 22)|
Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in English and Chinese