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|Chapter 47 (Vol. III, Chap. V)|
|(Vol. III, Chap. 4)
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||(Vol. III, Chap. 6)|
|Chapter 47 (Vol. III, Chap. V)
|"I have been thinking it over again, Elizabeth," said her uncle
as they drove from the town; "and really, upon serious
consideration, I am much more inclined than I was to judge as
your eldest sister does of the matter. It appears to me so
very unlikely that any young man should form such a design
against a girl who is by no means unprotected or friendless,
and who was actually staying in his colonel's family, that I am
strongly inclined to hope the best. Could he expect that her
friends would not step forward? Could he expect to be noticed
again by the regiment, after such an affront to Colonel
Forster? His temptation is not adequate to the risk."
|"Do you really think so?" cried Elizabeth, brightening up for
|"Upon my word," said Mrs. Gardiner, "I begin to be of your
uncle's opinion. It is really too great a violation of
decency, honour, and interest, for him to be guilty of it.
I cannot think so very ill of Wickham. Can you, yourself,
Lizzy, so wholly give him up as to believe him capable of it?"
|"Not perhaps of neglecting his own interest. But of every
other neglect I can believe him capable. If, indeed, it should
be so! But I dare not hope it. Why should they not go on to
Scotland, if that had been the case?"
|"In the first place," replied Mr. Gardiner, "there is no
absolute proof that they are not gone to Scotland."
|"Oh! but their removing from the chaise into an hackney coach
is such a presumption! And, besides, no traces of them were to
be found on the Barnet road."
|"Well, then -- supposing them to be in London. They may be
there, though, for the purpose of concealment, for no more
exceptionable purpose. It is not likely that money should be
very abundant on either side; and it might strike them that
they could be more economically, though less expeditiously,
married in London, than in Scotland."
|"But why all this secrecy? Why any fear of detection?
Why must their marriage be private? Oh! no, no, this is not
likely. His most particular friend, you see by Jane's account,
was persuaded of his never intending to marry her. Wickham
will never marry a woman without some money. He cannot afford
it. And what claims has Lydia, what attractions has she beyond
youth, health, and good humour, that could make him, for her
sake, forgo every chance of benefiting himself by marrying
well? As to what restraint the apprehension of disgrace in the
corps might throw on a dishonourable elopement with her, I am
not able to judge; for I know nothing of the effects that such
a step might produce. But as to your other objection, I am
afraid it will hardly hold good. Lydia has no brothers to step
forward; and he might imagine, from my father's behaviour, from
his indolence and the little attention he has ever seemed to
give to what was going forward in his family, that he would
do as little, and think as little about it, as any father could
do in such a matter."
|"But can you think that Lydia is so lost to every thing but
love of him, as to consent to live with him on any other terms
|"It does seem, and it is most shocking indeed," replied
Elizabeth, with tears in her eyes, "that a sister's sense of
decency and virtue in such a point should admit of doubt.
But, really, I know not what to say. Perhaps I am not doing
her justice. But she is very young; she has never been taught
to think on serious subjects; and for the last half year, nay,
for a twelvemonth, she has been given up to nothing but
amusement and vanity. She has been allowed to dispose of her
time in the most idle and frivolous manner, and to adopt any
opinions that came in her way. Since the ----shire were first
quartered in Meryton, nothing but love, flirtation, and
officers have been in her head. She has been doing every thing
in her power, by thinking and talking on the subject, to give
greater -- what shall I call it? -- susceptibility to her
feelings, which are naturally lively enough. And we all know
that Wickham has every charm of person and address that can
captivate a woman."
|"But you see that Jane," said her aunt, "does not think so ill
of Wickham as to believe him capable of the attempt."
|"Of whom does Jane ever think ill? And who is there, whatever
might be their former conduct, that she would believe capable
of such an attempt, till it were proved against them? But Jane
knows, as well as I do, what Wickham really is. We both know
that he has been profligate in every sense of the word. That
he has neither integrity nor honour. That he is as false and
deceitful, as he is insinuating."
|"And do you really know all this?" cried Mrs. Gardiner, whose
curiosity as to the mode of her intelligence was all alive.
|"I do, indeed," replied Elizabeth, colouring. "I told you
the other day, of his infamous behaviour to Mr. Darcy; and
you, yourself, when last at Longbourn, heard in what manner
he spoke of the man who had behaved with such forbearance
and liberality towards him. And there are other circumstances
which I am not at liberty -- which it is not worth while to
relate; but his lies about the whole Pemberley family are
endless. From what he said of Miss Darcy, I was thoroughly
prepared to see a proud, reserved, disagreeable girl. Yet he
knew to the contrary himself. He must know that she was
amiable and unpretending as we have found her."
|"But does Lydia know nothing of this? Can she be ignorant of
what you and Jane seem so well to understand?"
|"Oh, yes! -- that, that is the worst of all. Till I was in
Kent, and saw so much both of Mr. Darcy and his relation,
Colonel Fitzwilliam, I was ignorant of the truth myself. And
when I returned home, the ----shire was to leave Meryton in a
week or fortnight's time. As that was the case, neither Jane,
to whom I related the whole, nor I, thought it necessary to
make our knowledge public; for of what use could it apparently
be to any one that the good opinion which all the neighbourhood
had of him should then be overthrown? And even when it was
settled that Lydia should go with Mrs. Forster, the necessity
of opening her eyes to his character never occurred to me.
That she could be in any danger from the deception never
entered my head. That such a consequence as this should
ensue, you may easily believe was far enough from my thoughts."
|"When they all removed to Brighton, therefore, you had no
reason, I suppose, to believe them fond of each other."
|"Not the slightest. I can remember no symptom of affection on
either side; and had any thing of the kind been perceptible,
you must be aware that ours is not a family on which it could
be thrown away. When first he entered the corps, she was ready
enough to admire him; but so we all were. Every girl in or
near Meryton was out of her senses about him for the first two
months; but he never distinguished her by any particular
attention, and consequently, after a moderate period of
extravagant and wild admiration, her fancy for him gave way,
and others of the regiment who treated her with more
distinction again became her favourites."
|It may be easily believed that, however little of novelty could
be added to their fears, hopes, and conjectures, on this
interesting subject by its repeated discussion, no other could
detain them from it long, during the whole of the journey.
From Elizabeth's thoughts it was never absent. Fixed there by
the keenest of all anguish, self-reproach, she could find no
interval of ease or forgetfulness.
|They travelled as expeditiously as possible; and, sleeping one
night on the road, reached Longbourn by dinner-time the next
day. It was a comfort to Elizabeth to consider that Jane could
not have been wearied by long expectations.
|The little Gardiners, attracted by the sight of a chaise, were
standing on the steps of the house as they entered the paddock;
and when the carriage drove up to the door, the joyful surprise
that lighted up their faces, and displayed itself over their
whole bodies in a variety of capers and frisks, was the first
pleasing earnest of their welcome.
|Elizabeth jumped out; and, after giving each of them an hasty
kiss, hurried into the vestibule, where Jane, who came running
down stairs from her mother's apartment, immediately met her.
|Elizabeth, as she affectionately embraced her, whilst tears
filled the eyes of both, lost not a moment in asking whether
any thing had been heard of the fugitives.
|"Not yet," replied Jane. "But now that my dear uncle is come,
I hope every thing will be well."
|"Is my father in town?"
|"Yes, he went on Tuesday, as I wrote you word."
|"And have you heard from him often?"
|"We have heard only once. He wrote me a few lines on
Wednesday, to say that he had arrived in safety, and to give
me his directions, which I particularly begged him to do.
He merely added that he should not write again till he had
something of importance to mention."
|"And my mother -- How is she? How are you all?"
|"My mother is tolerably well, I trust; though her spirits are
greatly shaken. She is up stairs, and will have great
satisfaction in seeing you all. She does not yet leave her
dressing-room. Mary and Kitty, thank Heaven! are quite well."
|"But you -- How are you?" cried Elizabeth. "You look pale.
How much you must have gone through!"
|Her sister, however, assured her of her being perfectly well;
and their conversation, which had been passing while Mr. and
Mrs. Gardiner were engaged with their children, was now put an
end to by the approach of the whole party. Jane ran to her
uncle and aunt, and welcomed and thanked them both, with
alternate smiles and tears.
|When they were all in the drawing room, the questions which
Elizabeth had already asked were of course repeated by the
others, and they soon found that Jane had no intelligence to
give. The sanguine hope of good, however, which the
benevolence of her heart suggested, had not yet deserted her;
she still expected that it would all end well, and that every
morning would bring some letter, either from Lydia or her
father, to explain their proceedings, and perhaps announce the
|Mrs. Bennet, to whose apartment they all repaired, after a few
minutes conversation together, received them exactly as might
be expected; with tears and lamentations of regret, invectives
against the villainous conduct of Wickham, and complaints of
her own sufferings and ill usage; blaming every body but the
person to whose ill-judging indulgence the errors of her
daughter must be principally owing.
|"If I had been able," said she, "to carry my point of going to
Brighton, with all my family, this would not have happened;
but poor dear Lydia had nobody to take care of her. Why did
the Forsters ever let her go out of their sight? I am sure
there was some great neglect or other on their side, for she is
not the kind of girl to do such a thing, if she had been well
looked after. I always thought they were very unfit to have
the charge of her; but I was over-ruled, as I always am. Poor
dear child! And now here's Mr. Bennet gone away, and I know he
will fight Wickham wherever he meets him, and then he will be
killed, and what is to become of us all? The Collinses will
turn us out, before he is cold in his grave; and if you are not
kind to us, brother, I do not know what we shall do."
|They all exclaimed against such terrific ideas; and Mr.
Gardiner, after general assurances of his affection for her and
all her family, told her that he meant to be in London the very
next day, and would assist Mr. Bennet in every endeavour for
|"Do not give way to useless alarm," added he; "though it is
right to be prepared for the worst, there is no occasion to
look on it as certain. It is not quite a week since they left
Brighton. In a few days more, we may gain some news of them,
and till we know that they are not married, and have no design
of marrying, do not let us give the matter over as lost. As
soon as I get to town, I shall go to my brother and make him
come home with me to Gracechurch Street, and then we may
consult together as to what is to be done."
|"Oh! my dear brother," replied Mrs. Bennet, "that is exactly
what I could most wish for. And now do, when you get to town,
find them out, wherever they may be; and if they are not
married already, make them marry. And as for wedding clothes,
do not let them wait for that, but tell Lydia she shall have as
much money as she chooses to buy them, after they are married.
And, above all things, keep Mr. Bennet from fighting. Tell him
what a dreadful state I am in, -- that I am frightened out of
my wits; and have such tremblings, such flutterings all over me
such spasms in my side, and pains in my head, and such beatings
at heart, that I can get no rest by night nor by day. And tell
my dear Lydia, not to give any directions about her clothes
till she has seen me, for she does not know which are the best
warehouses. Oh, brother, how kind you are! I know you will
contrive it all."
|But Mr. Gardiner, though he assured her again of his earnest
endeavours in the cause, could not avoid recommending
moderation to her, as well in her hopes as her fears; and,
after talking with her in this manner till dinner was on table,
they left her to vent all her feelings on the housekeeper, who
attended in the absence of her daughters.
|Though her brother and sister were persuaded that there was no
real occasion for such a seclusion from the family, they did
not attempt to oppose it, for they knew that she had not
prudence enough to hold her tongue before the servants while
they waited at table, and judged it better that one only of
the household, and the one whom they could most trust, should
comprehend all her fears and solicitude on the subject.
|In the dining-room they were soon joined by Mary and Kitty, who
had been too busily engaged in their separate apartments, to
make their appearance before. One came from her books, and the
other from her toilette. The faces of both, however, were
tolerably calm; and no change was visible in either, except
that the loss of her favourite sister, or the anger which she
had herself incurred in the business, had given something more
of fretfulness than usual to the accents of Kitty. As for
Mary, she was mistress enough of herself to whisper to
Elizabeth, with a countenance of grave reflection, soon after
they were seated at table,
|"This is a most unfortunate affair; and will probably be much
talked of. But we must stem the tide of malice, and pour into
the wounded bosoms of each other the balm of sisterly
|Then, perceiving in Elizabeth no inclination of replying, she
added, "Unhappy as the event must be for Lydia, we may draw
from it this useful lesson: that loss of virtue in a female is
irretrievable -- that one false step involves her in endless
ruin -- that her reputation is no less brittle than it is
beautiful, -- and that she cannot be too much guarded in her
behaviour towards the undeserving of the other sex."
|Elizabeth lifted up her eyes in amazement, but was too much
oppressed to make any reply. Mary, however, continued to
console herself with such kind of moral extractions from the
evil before them.
|In the afternoon, the two elder Miss Bennets were able to be
for half an hour by themselves; and Elizabeth instantly availed
herself of the opportunity of making many enquiries, which Jane
was equally eager to satisfy. After joining in general
lamentations over the dreadful sequel of this event, which
Elizabeth considered as all but certain, and Miss Bennet could
not assert to be wholly impossible, the former continued the
subject by saying, "But tell me all and every thing about it
which I have not already heard. Give me farther particulars.
What did Colonel Forster say? Had they no apprehension of any
thing before the elopement took place? They must have seen
them together for ever."
|"Colonel Forster did own that he had often suspected some
partiality, especially on Lydia's side, but nothing to give him
any alarm. I am so grieved for him. His behaviour was
attentive and kind to the utmost. He was coming to us, in
order to assure us of his concern, before he had any idea of
their not being gone to Scotland; when that apprehension first
got abroad, it hastened his journey."
|"And was Denny convinced that Wickham would not marry? Did he
know of their intending to go off? Had Colonel Forster seen
|"Yes; but when questioned by him, Denny denied knowing any
thing of their plan, and would not give his real opinion about
it. He did not repeat his persuasion of their not marrying --
and from that, I am inclined to hope, he might have been
|"And till Colonel Forster came himself, not one of you
entertained a doubt, I suppose, of their being really married?"
|"How was it possible that such an idea should enter our brains!
I felt a little uneasy -- a little fearful of my sister's
happiness with him in marriage, because I knew that his conduct
had not been always quite right. My father and mother knew
nothing of that, they only felt how imprudent a match it must
be. Kitty then owned, with a very natural triumph on knowing
more than the rest of us, that in Lydia's last letter she had
prepared her for such a step. She had known, it seems, of
their being in love with each other many weeks."
|"But not before they went to Brighton?"
|"No, I believe not."
|"And did Colonel Forster appear to think ill of Wickham
himself? Does he know his real character?"
|"I must confess that he did not speak so well of Wickham as he
formerly did. He believed him to be imprudent and extravagant.
And since this sad affair has taken place, it is said that he
left Meryton greatly in debt; but I hope this may be false."
|"Oh, Jane, had we been less secret, had we told what we knew of
him, this could not have happened!"
|"Perhaps it would have been better," replied her sister.
"But to expose the former faults of any person, without knowing
what their present feelings were, seemed unjustifiable. We
acted with the best intentions."
|"Could Colonel Forster repeat the particulars of Lydia's note
to his wife?"
|"He brought it with him for us to see."
|Jane then took it from her pocket-book, and gave it to
Elizabeth. These were the contents:
|"MY DEAR HARRIET,
|You will laugh when you know where I am gone, and I cannot help
laughing myself at your surprise to-morrow morning, as soon as
I am missed. I am going to Gretna Green, and if you cannot
guess with who, I shall think you a simpleton, for there is but
one man in the world I love, and he is an angel. I should
never be happy without him, so think it no harm to be off. You
need not send them word at Longbourn of my going, if you do not
like it, for it will make the surprise the greater when I write
to them and sign my name Lydia Wickham. What a good joke it
will be! I can hardly write for laughing. Pray make my
excuses to Pratt, for not keeping my engagement and dancing
with him to night. Tell him I hope he will excuse me when he
knows all, and tell him I will dance with him at the next ball
we meet, with great pleasure. I shall send for my clothes when
I get to Longbourn; but I wish you would tell Sally to mend a
great slit in my worked muslin gown before they are packed up.
Good bye. Give my love to Colonel Forster. I hope you will
drink to our good journey.
|Your affectionate friend,
|"Oh! thoughtless, thoughtless Lydia!" cried Elizabeth when she
had finished it. "What a letter is this, to be written at such
a moment. But at least it shows that she was serious in the
object of her journey. Whatever he might afterwards persuade
her to, it was not on her side a scheme of infamy. My poor
father! how he must have felt it!"
|"I never saw any one so shocked. He could not speak a word for
full ten minutes. My mother was taken ill immediately, and the
whole house in such confusion!"
|"Oh! Jane!" cried Elizabeth, "was there a servant belonging to
it, who did not know the whole story before the end of the
|"I do not know. -- I hope there was. -- But to be guarded at
such a time, is very difficult. My mother was in hysterics,
and though I endeavoured to give her every assistance in my
power, I am afraid I did not do so much as I might have done!
But the horror of what might possibly happen, almost took from
me my faculties."
|"Your attendance upon her has been too much for you. You do
not look well. Oh! that I had been with you, you have had
every care and anxiety upon yourself alone."
|"Mary and Kitty have been very kind, and would have shared in
every fatigue, I am sure, but I did not think it right for
either of them. Kitty is slight and delicate, and Mary studies
so much, that her hours of repose should not be broken in on.
My aunt Phillips came to Longbourn on Tuesday, after my father
went away; and was so good as to stay till Thursday with me.
She was of great use and comfort to us all, and Lady Lucas has
been very kind; she walked here on Wednesday morning to condole
with us, and offered her services, or any of her daughters, if
they could be of use to us."
|"She had better have stayed at home," cried Elizabeth; "perhaps
she meant well, but under such a misfortune as this, one
cannot see too little of one's neighbours. Assistance is
impossible; condolence, insufferable. Let them triumph over us
at a distance, and be satisfied."
|She then proceeded to enquire into the measures which her
father had intended to pursue, while in town, for the recovery
of his daughter.
|"He meant, I believe," replied Jane, "to go to Epsom, the place
where they last changed horses, see the postillions, and try if
any thing could be made out from them. His principal object
must be to discover the number of the hackney coach which took
them from Clapham. It had come with a fare from London; and as
he thought the circumstance of a gentleman and lady's removing
from one carriage into another might be remarked, he meant to
make enquiries at Clapham. If he could any how discover at
what house the coachman had before set down his fare, he
determined to make enquiries there, and hoped it might not
be impossible to find out the stand and number of the coach.
I do not know of any other designs that he had formed: but he
was in such a hurry to be gone, and his spirits so greatly
discomposed, that I had difficulty in finding out even so much
|(Vol. III, Chap. 4)
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||(Vol. III, Chap. 6)|
Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in English and Chinese