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|Chapter 49 (Vol. III, Chap. VII)|
|(Vol. III, Chap. 6)
||Table of Contents
||(Vol. III, Chap. 8)|
|Chapter 49 (Vol. III, Chap. VII)
|Two days after Mr. Bennet's return, as Jane and Elizabeth were
walking together in the shrubbery behind the house, they saw
the housekeeper coming towards them, and concluding that she
came to call them to their mother, went forward to meet her;
but, instead of the expected summons, when they approached her
she said to Miss Bennet, "I beg your pardon, madam, for
interrupting you, but I was in hopes you might have got some
good news from town, so I took the liberty of coming to ask."
|"What do you mean, Hill? We have heard nothing from town."
|"Dear madam," cried Mrs. Hill, in great astonishment,
"don't you know there is an express come for master from
Mr. Gardiner? He has been here this half hour, and master has
had a letter."
|Away ran the girls, too eager to get in to have time for
speech. They ran through the vestibule into the breakfast
room; from thence to the library; -- their father was in
neither; and they were on the point of seeking him up stairs
with their mother, when they were met by the butler, who said,
|"If you are looking for my master, ma'am, he is walking towards
the little copse."
|Upon this information, they instantly passed through the hall
once more, and ran across the lawn after their father, who was
deliberately pursuing his way towards a small wood on one side
of the paddock.
|Jane, who was not so light, nor so much in the habit of
running, as Elizabeth, soon lagged behind, while her sister,
panting for breath, came up with him, and eagerly cried out,
|"Oh, Papa, what news? what news? Have you heard from my
|"Yes, I have had a letter from him by express."
|"Well, and what news does it bring? good or bad?"
|"What is there of good to be expected?" said he, taking the
letter from his pocket; "but perhaps you would like to read
it." Elizabeth impatiently caught it from his hand. Jane now
|"Read it aloud," said their father, "for I hardly know myself
what it is about."
|"Gracechurch-street, Monday, August 2.
|MY DEAR BROTHER,
|At last I am able to send you some tidings of my niece, and
such as, upon the whole, I hope will give you satisfaction.
Soon after you left me on Saturday, I was fortunate enough to
find out in what part of London they were. The particulars
I reserve till we meet. It is enough to know they are
discovered; I have seen them both -- "
|"Then it is as I always hoped," cried Jane; "they are married!"
|Elizabeth read on:
|"I have seen them both. They are not married, nor can I find
there was any intention of being so; but if you are willing to
perform the engagements which I have ventured to make on your
side, I hope it will not be long before they are. All that is
required of you is to assure to your daughter, by settlement,
her equal share of the five thousand pounds secured among your
children after the decease of yourself and my sister; and,
moreover, to enter into an engagement of allowing her, during
your life, one hundred pounds per annum. These are conditions
which, considering every thing, I had no hesitation in
complying with, as far as I thought myself privileged, for you.
I shall send this by express, that no time may be lost in
bringing me your answer. You will easily comprehend, from
these particulars, that Mr. Wickham's circumstances are not so
hopeless as they are generally believed to be. The world has
been deceived in that respect; and, I am happy to say, there
will be some little money, even when all his debts are
discharged, to settle on my niece, in addition to her own
fortune. If, as I conclude will be the case, you send me full
powers to act in your name throughout the whole of this
business, I will immediately give directions to Haggerston for
preparing a proper settlement. There will not be the smallest
occasion for your coming to town again; therefore, stay quietly
at Longbourn, and depend an my diligence and care. Send back
your answer as soon as you can, and be careful to write
explicitly. We have judged it best that my niece should be
married from this house, of which I hope you will approve.
She comes to us to-day. I shall write again as soon as any
thing more is determined on. Your's, &c.
|"Is it possible!" cried Elizabeth, when she had finished. --
"Can it be possible that he will marry her?"
|"Wickham is not so undeserving, then, as we have thought him!"
said her sister. "My dear father, I congratulate you."
|"And have you answered the letter?" said Elizabeth.
|"No; but it must be done soon."
|Most earnestly did she then entreat him to lose no more time
before he wrote.
|"Oh! my dear father," she cried, "come back, and write
immediately. Consider how important every moment is, in
such a case."
|"Let me write for you," said Jane, "if you dislike the trouble
|"I dislike it very much," he replied; "but it must be done."
|And so saying, he turned back with them, and walked towards the
|"And may I ask -- ?" said Elizabeth, "but the terms, I suppose,
must be complied with."
|"Complied with! I am only ashamed of his asking so little."
|"And they must marry! Yet he is such a man!"
|"Yes, yes, they must marry. There is nothing else to be done.
But there are two things that I want very much to know: -- one
is, how much money your uncle has laid down to bring it about;
and the other, how I am ever to pay him."
|"Money! my uncle!" cried Jane, "what do you mean, Sir?"
|"I mean that no man in his senses would marry Lydia on so
slight a temptation as one hundred a year during my life, and
fifty after I am gone."
|"That is very true," said Elizabeth; "though it had not
occurred to me before. His debts to be discharged, and
something still to remain! Oh! it must be my uncle's
doings! Generous, good man; I am afraid he has distressed
himself. A small sum could not do all this."
|"No," said her father, "Wickham's a fool, if he takes her with
a farthing less than ten thousand pounds. I should be sorry to
think so ill of him in the very beginning of our relationship."
|"Ten thousand pounds! Heaven forbid! How is half such a sum
to be repaid?"
|Mr. Bennet made no answer, and each of them, deep in thought,
continued silent till they reached the house. Their father
then went to the library to write, and the girls walked into
|"And they are really to be married!" cried Elizabeth, as soon
as they were by themselves. "How strange this is! And for
this we are to be thankful. That they should marry, small as
is their chance of happiness, and wretched as is his character,
we are forced to rejoice! Oh, Lydia!"
|"I comfort myself with thinking," replied Jane, "that he
certainly would not marry Lydia if he had not a real regard for
her. Though our kind uncle has done something towards clearing
him, I cannot believe that ten thousand pounds, or any thing
like it, has been advanced. He has children of his own, and
may have more. How could he spare half ten thousand pounds?"
|"If we are ever able to learn what Wickham's debts have been,"
said Elizabeth, "and how much is settled on his side on our
sister, we shall exactly know what Mr. Gardiner has done for
them, because Wickham has not sixpence of his own. The
kindness of my uncle and aunt can never be requited. Their
taking her home, and affording her their personal protection
and countenance, is such a sacrifice to her advantage as years
of gratitude cannot enough acknowledge. By this time she is
actually with them! If such goodness does not make her
miserable now, she will never deserve to be happy! What a
meeting for her, when she first sees my aunt!"
|"We must endeavour to forget all that has passed on either
side," said Jane. "I hope and trust they will yet be happy.
His consenting to marry her is a proof, I will believe, that he
is come to a right way of thinking. Their mutual affection
will steady them; and I flatter myself they will settle so
quietly, and live in so rational a manner, as may in time make
their past imprudence forgotten."
|"Their conduct has been such," replied Elizabeth, "as neither
you, nor I, nor any body, can ever forget. It is useless to
talk of it."
|It now occurred to the girls that their mother was in all
likelihood, perfectly ignorant of what had happened. They went
to the library, therefore, and asked their father whether he
would not wish them to make it known to her. He was writing,
and, without raising his head, coolly replied,
|"Just as you please."
|"May we take my uncle's letter to read to her?"
|"Take whatever you like, and get away."
|Elizabeth took the letter from his writing table, and they went
up stairs together. Mary and Kitty were both with Mrs. Bennet:
one communication would, therefore, do for all. After a slight
preparation for good news, the letter was read aloud.
Mrs. Bennet could hardly contain herself. As soon as Jane had
read Mr. Gardiner's hope of Lydia's being soon married, her joy
burst forth, and every following sentence added to its
exuberance. She was now in an irritation as violent from
delight, as she had ever been fidgety from alarm and vexation.
To know that her daughter would be married was enough. She was
disturbed by no fear for her felicity, nor humbled by any
remembrance of her misconduct.
|"My dear, dear Lydia!" she cried: "This is delightful indeed!
-- She will be married! -- I shall see her again! -- She will
be married at sixteen! -- My good, kind brother! -- I knew how
it would be -- I knew he would manage every thing. How I long
to see her! and to see dear Wickham too! But the clothes, the
wedding clothes! I will write to my sister Gardiner about them
directly. Lizzy, my dear, run down to your father, and ask him
how much he will give her. Stay, stay, I will go myself.
Ring the bell, Kitty, for Hill. I will put on my things in a
moment. My dear, dear Lydia! -- How merry we shall be together
when we meet!"
|Her eldest daughter endeavoured to give some relief to the
violence of these transports, by leading her thoughts to the
obligations which Mr. Gardiner's behaviour laid them all under.
|"For we must attribute this happy conclusion," she added, "in a
great measure to his kindness. We are persuaded that he has
pledged himself to assist Mr. Wickham with money."
|"Well," cried her mother, "it is all very right; who should do
it but her own uncle? If he had not had a family of his own,
I and my children must have had all his money, you know, and it
is the first time we have ever had any thing from him, except a
few presents. Well! I am so happy. In a short time, I shall
have a daughter married. Mrs. Wickham! How well it sounds.
And she was only sixteen last June. My dear Jane, I am in such
a flutter that I am sure I can't write; so I will dictate, and
you write for me. We will settle with your father about the
money afterwards; but the things should be ordered
|She was then proceeding to all the particulars of calico,
muslin, and cambric, and would shortly have dictated some very
plentiful orders, had not Jane, though with some difficulty,
persuaded her to wait till her father was at leisure to be
consulted. One day's delay, she observed, would be of small
importance; and her mother was too happy to be quite so
obstinate as usual. Other schemes, too, came into her head.
|"I will go to Meryton," said she, "as soon as I am dressed, and
tell the good, good news to my sister Phillips. And as I come
back, I can call on Lady Lucas and Mrs. Long. Kitty, run down
and order the carriage. An airing would do me a great deal of
good, I am sure. Girls, can I do any thing for you in Meryton?
Oh! here comes Hill. My dear Hill, have you heard the good
news? Miss Lydia is going to be married; and you shall all
have a bowl of punch to make merry at her wedding."
|Mrs. Hill began instantly to express her joy. Elizabeth
received her congratulations amongst the rest, and then, sick
of this folly, took refuge in her own room, that she might
think with freedom.
|Poor Lydia's situation must, at best, be bad enough; but that
it was no worse, she had need to be thankful. She felt it so;
and though, in looking forward, neither rational happiness nor
worldly prosperity could be justly expected for her sister, in
looking back to what they had feared, only two hours ago, she
felt all the advantages of what they had gained.
|(Vol. III, Chap. 6)
||Table of Contents
||(Vol. III, Chap. 8)|
Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in English and Chinese