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|Chapter 40 (Vol. II, Chap. XVII)|
|(Vol. II, Chap. 16)
||Table of Contents
||(Vol. II, Chap. 18)|
|Chapter 40 (Vol. II, Chap. XVII)
|Elizabeth's impatience to acquaint Jane with what had happened
could no longer be overcome; and at length resolving to
suppress every particular in which her sister was concerned,
and preparing her to be surprised, she related to her the next
morning the chief of the scene between Mr. Darcy and herself.
|Miss Bennet's astonishment was soon lessened by the strong
sisterly partiality which made any admiration of Elizabeth
appear perfectly natural; and all surprise was shortly lost in
other feelings. She was sorry that Mr. Darcy should have
delivered his sentiments in a manner so little suited to
recommend them; but still more was she grieved for the
unhappiness which her sister's refusal must have given him.
|"His being so sure of succeeding, was wrong," said she; "and
certainly ought not to have appeared; but consider how much it
must increase his disappointment."
|"Indeed," replied Elizabeth, "I am heartily sorry for him; but
he has other feelings which will probably soon drive away his
regard for me. You do not blame me, however, for refusing
|"Blame you! Oh, no."
|"But you blame me for having spoken so warmly of Wickham."
|"No -- I do not know that you were wrong in saying what you
|"But you will know it, when I have told you what happened the
very next day."
|She then spoke of the letter, repeating the whole of its
contents as far as they concerned George Wickham. What a
stroke was this for poor Jane! who would willingly have gone
through the world without believing that so much wickedness
existed in the whole race of mankind, as was here collected in
one individual. Nor was Darcy's vindication, though grateful
to her feelings, capable of consoling her for such discovery.
Most earnestly did she labour to prove the probability of
error, and seek to clear one without involving the other.
|"This will not do," said Elizabeth. "You never will be able
to make both of them good for any thing. Take your choice,
but you must be satisfied with only one. There is but such
a quantity of merit between them; just enough to make one
good sort of man; and of late it has been shifting about
pretty much. For my part, I am inclined to believe it all
Mr. Darcy's, but you shall do as you choose."
|It was some time, however, before a smile could be extorted
|"I do not know when I have been more shocked," said she.
"Wickham so very bad! It is almost past belief. And poor Mr.
Darcy! dear Lizzy, only consider what he must have suffered.
Such a disappointment! and with the knowledge of your ill
opinion too! and having to relate such a thing of his sister!
It is really too distressing. I am sure you must feel it so."
|"Oh! no, my regret and compassion are all done away by seeing
you so full of both. I know you will do him such ample
justice, that I am growing every moment more unconcerned and
indifferent. Your profusion makes me saving; and if you lament
over him much longer, my heart will be as light as a feather."
|"Poor Wickham; there is such an expression of goodness in his
countenance! such an openness and gentleness in his manner."
|"There certainly was some great mismanagement in the education
of those two young men. One has got all the goodness, and the
other all the appearance of it."
|"I never thought Mr. Darcy so deficient in the appearance of
it as you used to do."
|"And yet I meant to be uncommonly clever in taking so decided a
dislike to him, without any reason. It is such a spur to one's
genius, such an opening for wit to have a dislike of that kind.
One may be continually abusive without saying any thing just;
but one cannot be always laughing at a man without now and then
stumbling on something witty."
|"Lizzy when you first read that letter, I am sure you could not
treat the matter as you do now."
|"Indeed I could not. I was uncomfortable enough. I was very
uncomfortable, I may say unhappy. And with no one to speak to
of what I felt, no Jane to comfort me and say that I had not
been so very weak and vain and nonsensical as I knew I had!
Oh! how I wanted you!"
|"How unfortunate that you should have used such very strong
expressions in speaking of Wickham to Mr. Darcy, for now they
do appear wholly undeserved."
|"Certainly. But the misfortune of speaking with bitterness
is a most natural consequence of the prejudices I had been
encouraging. There is one point on which I want your advice.
I want to be told whether I ought, or ought not, to make our
acquaintance in general understand Wickham's character."
|Miss Bennet paused a little and then replied, "Surely there can
be no occasion for exposing him so dreadfully. What is your
|"That it ought not to be attempted. Mr. Darcy has not
authorised me to make his communication public. On the
contrary, every particular relative to his sister was meant to
be kept as much as possible to myself; and if I endeavour to
undeceive people as to the rest of his conduct, who will
believe me? The general prejudice against Mr. Darcy is so
violent, that it would be the death of half the good people in
Meryton to attempt to place him in an amiable light. I am not
equal to it. Wickham will soon be gone; and therefore it will
not signify to anybody here, what he really is. Sometime hence
it will be all found out, and then we may laugh at their
stupidity in not knowing it before. At present I will say
nothing about it."
|"You are quite right. To have his errors made public might
ruin him for ever. He is now perhaps sorry for what he has
done, and anxious to re-establish a character. We must not
make him desperate."
|The tumult of Elizabeth's mind was allayed by this
conversation. She had got rid of two of the secrets which had
weighed on her for a fortnight, and was certain of a willing
listener in Jane, whenever she might wish to talk again of
either. But there was still something lurking behind, of which
prudence forbad the disclosure. She dared not relate the other
half of Mr. Darcy's letter, nor explain to her sister how
sincerely she had been valued by his friend. Here was
knowledge in which no one could partake; and she was sensible
that nothing less than a perfect understanding between the
parties could justify her in throwing off this last encumbrance
of mystery. "And then," said she, "if that very improbable
event should ever take place, I shall merely be able to tell
what Bingley may tell in a much more agreeable manner himself.
The liberty of communication cannot be mine till it has lost
all its value!"
|She was now, on being settled at home, at leisure to observe
the real state of her sister's spirits. Jane was not happy.
She still cherished a very tender affection for Bingley.
Having never even fancied herself in love before, her regard
had all the warmth of first attachment, and, from her age and
disposition, greater steadiness than first attachments often
boast; and so fervently did she value his remembrance, and
prefer him to every other man, that all her good sense, and all
her attention to the feelings of her friends, were requisite to
check the indulgence of those regrets which must have been
injurious to her own health and their tranquillity.
|"Well, Lizzy," said Mrs. Bennet one day, "what is your
opinion now of this sad business of Jane's? For my part,
I am determined never to speak of it again to anybody. I told
my sister Philips so the other day. But I cannot find out
that Jane saw any thing of him in London. Well, he is a very
undeserving young man -- and I do not suppose there is the
least chance in the world of her ever getting him now. There
is no talk of his coming to Netherfield again in the summer;
and I have enquired of every body, too, who is likely to know."
|"I do not believe that he will ever live at Netherfield any
|"Oh, well! it is just as he chooses. Nobody wants him to
come. Though I shall always say that he used my daughter
extremely ill; and if I was her, I would not have put up with
it. Well, my comfort is, I am sure Jane will die of a broken
heart, and then he will be sorry for what he has done."
|But as Elizabeth could not receive comfort from any such
expectation, she made no answer.
|"Well, Lizzy," continued her mother soon afterwards, "and so
the Collinses live very comfortable, do they? Well, well, I
only hope it will last. And what sort of table do they keep?
Charlotte is an excellent manager, I dare say. If she is half
as sharp as her mother, she is saving enough. There is nothing
extravagant in their housekeeping, I dare say."
|"No, nothing at all."
|"A great deal of good management, depend upon it. Yes, yes.
They will take care not to outrun their income. They will
never be distressed for money. Well, much good may it do them!
And so, I suppose, they often talk of having Longbourn when
your father is dead. They look upon it quite as their own,
I dare say, whenever that happens."
|"It was a subject which they could not mention before me."
|"No. It would have been strange if they had. But I make no
doubt, they often talk of it between themselves. Well, if they
can be easy with an estate that is not lawfully their own, so
much the better. I should be ashamed of having one that was
only entailed on me."
|(Vol. II, Chap. 16)
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||(Vol. II, Chap. 18)|
Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in English and Chinese