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|Chapter 26 (Vol. II, Chap. III)|
|(Vol. II, Chap. 2)
||Table of Contents
||(Vol. II, Chap. 4)|
|Chapter 26 (Vol. II, Chap. III)
|Mrs. Gardiner's caution to Elizabeth was punctually and kindly
given on the first favourable opportunity of speaking to her
alone; after honestly telling her what she thought, she thus
|"You are too sensible a girl, Lizzy, to fall in love merely
because you are warned against it; and, therefore, I am not
afraid of speaking openly. Seriously, I would have you be on
your guard. Do not involve yourself, or endeavour to involve
him in an affection which the want of fortune would make so
very imprudent. I have nothing to say against him; he is a
most interesting young man; and if he had the fortune he ought
to have, I should think you could not do better. But as it is
-- you must not let your fancy run away with you. You have
sense, and we all expect you to use it. Your father would
depend on your resolution and good conduct, I am sure. You
must not disappoint your father."
|"My dear aunt, this is being serious indeed."
|"Yes, and I hope to engage you to be serious likewise."
|"Well, then, you need not be under any alarm. I will take care
of myself, and of Mr. Wickham too. He shall not be in love
with me, if I can prevent it."
|"Elizabeth, you are not serious now."
|"I beg your pardon. I will try again. At present I am not in
love with Mr. Wickham; no, I certainly am not. But he is,
beyond all comparison, the most agreeable man I ever saw -- and
if he becomes really attached to me -- I believe it will be
better that he should not. I see the imprudence of it. -- Oh!
that abominable Mr. Darcy! -- My father's opinion of me does
me the greatest honor; and I should be miserable to forfeit it.
My father, however, is partial to Mr. Wickham. In short, my
dear aunt, I should be very sorry to be the means of making any
of you unhappy; but since we see every day that where there is
affection, young people are seldom withheld by immediate want
of fortune from entering into engagements with each other, how
can I promise to be wiser than so many of my fellow creatures
if I am tempted, or how am I even to know that it would be
wisdom to resist? All that I can promise you, therefore, is
not to be in a hurry. I will not be in a hurry to believe
myself his first object. When I am in company with him, I will
not be wishing. In short, I will do my best."
|"Perhaps it will be as well, if you discourage his coming here
so very often. At least, you should not remind your mother
of inviting him."
|"As I did the other day," said Elizabeth, with a conscious
smile; "very true, it will be wise in me to refrain from
that. But do not imagine that he is always here so often.
It is on your account that he has been so frequently invited
this week. You know my mother's ideas as to the necessity of
constant company for her friends. But really, and upon my
honour, I will try to do what I think to be wisest; and now,
I hope you are satisfied."
|Her aunt assured her that she was; and Elizabeth having thanked
her for the kindness of her hints, they parted; a wonderful
instance of advice being given on such a point without being
|Mr. Collins returned into Hertfordshire soon after it had been
quitted by the Gardiners and Jane; but as he took up his abode
with the Lucases, his arrival was no great inconvenience to
Mrs. Bennet. His marriage was now fast approaching, and she
was at length so far resigned as to think it inevitable, and
even repeatedly to say in an ill-natured tone that she
"wished they might be happy." Thursday was to be the wedding
day, and on Wednesday Miss Lucas paid her farewell visit; and
when she rose to take leave, Elizabeth, ashamed of her mother's
ungracious and reluctant good wishes, and sincerely affected
herself, accompanied her out of the room. As they went down
stairs together, Charlotte said,
|"I shall depend on hearing from you very often, Eliza."
|"That you certainly shall."
|"And I have another favour to ask. Will you come and see me?"
|"We shall often meet, I hope, in Hertfordshire."
|"I am not likely to leave Kent for some time. Promise me,
therefore, to come to Hunsford."
|Elizabeth could not refuse, though she foresaw little pleasure
in the visit.
|"My father and Maria are to come to me in March," added
Charlotte, "and I hope you will consent to be of the party.
Indeed, Eliza, you will be as welcome to me as either of them."
|The wedding took place; the bride and bridegroom set off for
Kent from the church door, and every body had as much to say or
to hear on the subject as usual. Elizabeth soon heard from her
friend; and their correspondence was as regular and frequent as
it had ever been; that it should be equally unreserved was
impossible. Elizabeth could never address her without feeling
that all the comfort of intimacy was over, and, though
determined not to slacken as a correspondent, it was for the
sake of what had been, rather than what was. Charlotte's first
letters were received with a good deal of eagerness; there
could not but be curiosity to know how she would speak of her
new home, how she would like Lady Catherine, and how happy she
would dare pronounce herself to be; though, when the letters
were read, Elizabeth felt that Charlotte expressed herself on
every point exactly as she might have foreseen. She wrote
cheerfully, seemed surrounded with comforts, and mentioned
nothing which she could not praise. The house, furniture,
neighbourhood, and roads, were all to her taste, and Lady
Catherine's behaviour was most friendly and obliging. It was
Mr. Collins's picture of Hunsford and Rosings rationally
softened; and Elizabeth perceived that she must wait for her
own visit there, to know the rest.
|Jane had already written a few lines to her sister to announce
their safe arrival in London; and when she wrote again,
Elizabeth hoped it would be in her power to say something of
|Her impatience for this second letter was as well rewarded as
impatience generally is. Jane had been a week in town, without
either seeing or hearing from Caroline. She accounted for it,
however, by supposing that her last letter to her friend from
Longbourn had by some accident been lost.
|"My aunt," she continued, "is going to-morrow into that part of
the town, and I shall take the opportunity of calling in
|She wrote again when the visit was paid, and she had seen Miss
Bingley. "I did not think Caroline in spirits," were her
words, "but she was very glad to see me, and reproached me for
giving her no notice of my coming to London. I was right,
therefore; my last letter had never reached her. I enquired
after their brother, of course. He was well, but so much
engaged with Mr. Darcy, that they scarcely ever saw him. I
found that Miss Darcy was expected to dinner. I wish I could
see her. My visit was not long, as Caroline and Mrs. Hurst
were going out. I dare say I shall soon see them here."
|Elizabeth shook her head over this letter. It convinced her
that accident only could discover to Mr. Bingley her sister's
being in town.
|Four weeks passed away, and Jane saw nothing of him. She
endeavoured to persuade herself that she did not regret it; but
she could no longer be blind to Miss Bingley's inattention.
After waiting at home every morning for a fortnight, and
inventing every evening a fresh excuse for her, the visitor did
at last appear; but the shortness of her stay, and yet more,
the alteration of her manner, would allow Jane to deceive
herself no longer. The letter which she wrote on this occasion
to her sister, will prove what she felt.
|"My dearest Lizzy will, I am sure, be incapable of triumphing
in her better judgment, at my expence, when I confess myself to
have been entirely deceived in Miss Bingley's regard for me.
But, my dear sister, though the event has proved you right, do
not think me obstinate if I still assert that, considering what
her behaviour was, my confidence was as natural as your
suspicion. I do not at all comprehend her reason for wishing
to be intimate with me, but if the same circumstances were to
happen again, I am sure I should be deceived again. Caroline
did not return my visit till yesterday; and not a note, not a
line, did I receive in the mean time. When she did come, it
was very evident that she had no pleasure in it; she made a
slight, formal, apology for not calling before, said not a word
of wishing to see me again, and was in every respect so altered
a creature, that when she went away I was perfectly resolved to
continue the acquaintance no longer. I pity, though I cannot
help blaming her. She was very wrong in singling me out as she
did; I can safely say, that every advance to intimacy began on
her side. But I pity her, because she must feel that she has
been acting wrong, and because I am very sure that anxiety for
her brother is the cause of it, I need not explain myself
farther; and though we know this anxiety to be quite needless,
yet if she feels it, it will easily account for her behaviour
to me; and so deservedly dear as he is to his sister, whatever
anxiety she may feel on his behalf is natural and amiable.
I cannot but wonder, however, at her having any such fears
now, because, if he had at all cared about me, we must have met
long, long ago. He knows of my being in town, I am certain,
from something she said herself; and yet it should seem by her
manner of talking, as if she wanted to persuade herself that he
is really partial to Miss Darcy. I cannot understand it. If I
were not afraid of judging harshly, I should be almost tempted
to say that there is a strong appearance of duplicity in all
this. But I will endeavour to banish every painful thought,
and think only of what will make me happy: your affection, and
the invariable kindness of my dear uncle and aunt. Let me hear
from you very soon. Miss Bingley said something of his never
returning to Netherfield again, of giving up the house, but not
with any certainty. We had better not mention it. I am
extremely glad that you have such pleasant accounts from our
friends at Hunsford. Pray go to see them, with Sir William and
Maria. I am sure you will be very comfortable there.
|This letter gave Elizabeth some pain; but her spirits returned
as she considered that Jane would no longer be duped, by the
sister at least. All expectation from the brother was now
absolutely over. She would not even wish for any renewal of
his attentions. His character sunk on every review of it; and
as a punishment for him, as well as a possible advantage to
Jane, she seriously hoped he might really soon marry
Mr. Darcy's sister, as, by Wickham's account, she would make
him abundantly regret what he had thrown away.
|Mrs. Gardiner about this time reminded Elizabeth of her promise
concerning that gentleman, and required information; and
Elizabeth had such to send as might rather give contentment to
her aunt than to herself. His apparent partiality had
subsided, his attentions were over, he was the admirer of some
one else. Elizabeth was watchful enough to see it all, but she
could see it and write of it without material pain. Her heart
had been but slightly touched, and her vanity was satisfied
with believing that she would have been his only choice, had
fortune permitted it. The sudden acquisition of ten thousand
pounds was the most remarkable charm of the young lady to whom
he was now rendering himself agreeable; but Elizabeth, less
clear-sighted perhaps in his case than in Charlotte's, did not
quarrel with him for his wish of independence. Nothing, on the
contrary, could be more natural; and while able to suppose that
it cost him a few struggles to relinquish her, she was ready to
allow it a wise and desirable measure for both, and could very
sincerely wish him happy.
|All this was acknowledged to Mrs. Gardiner; and after relating
the circumstances, she thus went on: -- "I am now convinced, my
dear aunt, that I have never been much in love; for had I
really experienced that pure and elevating passion, I should at
present detest his very name, and wish him all manner of evil.
But my feelings are not only cordial towards him; they are
even impartial towards Miss King. I cannot find out that I
hate her at all, or that I am in the least unwilling to think
her a very good sort of girl. There can be no love in all
this. My watchfulness has been effectual; and though I should
certainly be a more interesting object to all my acquaintance,
were I distractedly in love with him, I cannot say that I
regret my comparative insignificance. Importance may sometimes
be purchased too dearly. Kitty and Lydia take his defection
much more to heart than I do. They are young in the ways of
the world, and not yet open to the mortifying conviction that
handsome young men must have something to live on, as well as
|(Vol. II, Chap. 2)
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||(Vol. II, Chap. 4)|
Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in English and Chinese