|ocrat mirror → Pride and Prejudice
|Chapter 39 (Vol. II, Chap. XVI)|
|(Vol. II, Chap. 15)
||Table of Contents
||(Vol. II, Chap. 17)|
|Chapter 39 (Vol. II, Chap. XVI)
|It was the second week in May in which the three young
ladies set out together from Gracechurch-street for the town of
---- in Hertfordshire; and, as they drew near the appointed inn
where Mr. Bennet's carriage was to meet them, they quickly
perceived, in token of the coachman's punctuality, both Kitty
and Lydia looking out of a dining room upstairs. These two
girls had been above an hour in the place, happily employed in
visiting an opposite milliner, watching the sentinel on guard,
and dressing a salad and cucumber.
|After welcoming their sisters, they triumphantly displayed a
table set out with such cold meat as an inn larder usually
affords, exclaiming, "Is not this nice? is not this an
|"And we mean to treat you all," added Lydia; "but you must lend
us the money, for we have just spent ours at the shop out
there." Then showing her purchases: "Look here, I have bought
this bonnet. I do not think it is very pretty; but I thought I
might as well buy it as not. I shall pull it to pieces as soon
as I get home, and see if I can make it up any better."
|And when her sisters abused it as ugly, she added, with perfect
unconcern, "Oh! but there were two or three much uglier in the
shop; and when I have bought some prettier coloured satin to
trim it with fresh, I think it will be very tolerable.
Besides, it will not much signify what one wears this summer
after the ----shire have left Meryton, and they are going in a
|"Are they indeed?" cried Elizabeth, with the greatest
|"They are going to be encamped near Brighton; and I do so want
papa to take us all there for the summer! It would be such a
delicious scheme, and I dare say would hardly cost any thing at
all. Mamma would like to go too, of all things! Only think
what a miserable summer else we shall have!"
|"Yes," thought Elizabeth, "that would be a delightful scheme,
indeed, and completely do for us at once. Good Heaven!
Brighton, and a whole campful of soldiers, to us, who have been
overset already by one poor regiment of militia, and the
monthly balls of Meryton."
|"Now I have got some news for you," said Lydia, as they sat
down to table. "What do you think? It is excellent news,
capital news, and about a certain person that we all like."
|Jane and Elizabeth looked at each other, and the waiter was
told that he need not stay. Lydia laughed, and said, "Aye,
that is just like your formality and discretion. You thought
the waiter must not hear, as if he cared! I dare say he often
hears worse things said than I am going to say. But he is an
ugly fellow! I am glad he is gone. I never saw such a long
chin in my life. Well, but now for my news: it is about dear
Wickham; too good for the waiter, is not it? There is no
danger of Wickham's marrying Mary King. There's for you! She
is gone down to her uncle at Liverpool; gone to stay. Wickham
|"And Mary King is safe!" added Elizabeth; "safe from a
connection imprudent as to fortune."
|"She is a great fool for going away, if she liked him."
|"But I hope there is no strong attachment on either side,"
|"I am sure there is not on his. I will answer for it he
never cared three straws about her. Who could about such a
nasty little freckled thing?"
|Elizabeth was shocked to think that, however incapable of such
coarseness of expression herself, the coarseness of the
sentiment was little other than her own breast had formerly
harboured and fancied liberal!
|As soon as all had ate, and the elder ones paid, the carriage
was ordered; and, after some contrivance, the whole party, with
all their boxes, workbags, and parcels, and the unwelcome
addition of Kitty's and Lydia's purchases, were seated in it.
|"How nicely we are crammed in!" cried Lydia. "I am glad I
bought my bonnet, if it is only for the fun of having another
bandbox! Well, now let us be quite comfortable and snug, and
talk and laugh all the way home. And in the first place, let
us hear what has happened to you all, since you went away.
Have you seen any pleasant men? Have you had any flirting?
I was in great hopes that one of you would have got a husband
before you came back. Jane will be quite an old maid soon,
I declare. She is almost three and twenty! Lord, how ashamed
I should be of not being married before three and twenty! My
aunt Philips wants you so to get husbands, you can't think.
She says Lizzy had better have taken Mr. Collins; but I do
not think there would have been any fun in it. Lord! how I
should like to be married before any of you; and then I would
chaperon you about to all the balls. Dear me! we had such a
good piece of fun the other day at Colonel Foster's. Kitty and
me were to spend the day there, and Mrs. Forster promised to
have a little dance in the evening (by the bye, Mrs. Forster
and me are such friends!); and so she asked the two
Harringtons to come, but Harriet was ill, and so Pen was forced
to come by herself; and then, what do you think we did? We
dressed up Chamberlayne in woman's clothes, on purpose to pass
for a lady, -- only think what fun! Not a soul knew of it but
Col. and Mrs. Forster, and Kitty and me, except my aunt, for we
were forced to borrow one of her gowns; and you cannot imagine
how well he looked! When Denny, and Wickham, and Pratt, and
two or three more of the men came in, they did not know him in
the least. Lord! how I laughed! and so did Mrs. Forster.
I thought I should have died. And that made the men suspect
something, and then they soon found out what was the matter."
|With such kind of histories of their parties and good jokes did
Lydia, assisted by Kitty's hints and additions, endeavour to
amuse her companions all the way to Longbourn. Elizabeth
listened as little as she could, but there was no escaping the
frequent mention of Wickham's name.
|Their reception at home was most kind. Mrs. Bennet rejoiced to
see Jane in undiminished beauty; and more than once during
dinner did Mr. Bennet say voluntarily to Elizabeth,
|"I am glad you are come back, Lizzy."
|Their party in the dining-room was large, for almost all the
Lucases came to meet Maria and hear the news: and various were
the subjects which occupied them. Lady Lucas was enquiring of
Maria, across the table, after the welfare and poultry of her
eldest daughter; Mrs. Bennet was doubly engaged, on one hand
collecting an account of the present fashions from Jane, who
sat some way below her, and on the other, retailing them all to
the younger Miss Lucases; and Lydia, in a voice rather louder
than any other person's, was enumerating the various pleasures
of the morning to any body who would hear her.
|"Oh! Mary," said she, "I wish you had gone with us, for we had
such fun! as we went along, Kitty and me drew up all the
blinds, and pretended there was nobody in the coach; and I
should have gone so all the way, if Kitty had not been sick;
and when we got to the George, I do think we behaved very
handsomely, for we treated the other three with the nicest cold
luncheon in the world, and if you would have gone, we would
have treated you too. And then when we came away it was such
fun! I thought we never should have got into the coach. I was
ready to die of laughter. And then we were so merry all the
way home! we talked and laughed so loud, that any body might
have heard us ten miles off!"
|To this, Mary very gravely replied, "Far be it from me, my dear
sister, to depreciate such pleasures. They would doubtless be
congenial with the generality of female minds. But I confess
they would have no charms for me. I should infinitely prefer a
|But of this answer Lydia heard not a word. She seldom listened
to any body for more than half a minute, and never attended to
Mary at all.
|In the afternoon Lydia was urgent with the rest of the girls to
walk to Meryton, and see how every body went on; but Elizabeth
steadily opposed the scheme. It should not be said, that the
Miss Bennets could not be at home half a day before they were
in pursuit of the officers. There was another reason too, for
her opposition. She dreaded seeing Wickham again, and was
resolved to avoid it as long as possible. The comfort to her
of the regiment's approaching removal was indeed beyond
expression. In a fortnight they were to go, and once gone, she
hoped there could be nothing more to plague her on his account.
|She had not been many hours at home, before she found that the
Brighton scheme, of which Lydia had given them a hint at the
inn, was under frequent discussion between her parents.
Elizabeth saw directly that her father had not the smallest
intention of yielding; but his answers were at the same time so
vague and equivocal, that her mother, though often
disheartened, had never yet despaired of succeeding at last.
|(Vol. II, Chap. 15)
||Table of Contents
||(Vol. II, Chap. 17)|
Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in English and Chinese