||Back to contents page
Elizabeth had the
satisfaction of receiving an answer to her letter as soon as she
could. She was no
sooner in possession
of it than, hurrying into the little copse, where she was least likely
interrupted, she sat down on one of the benches and prepared to be
the length of the letter convinced her that it did not contain a denial.
MY DEAR NIECE,
I have just received
your letter, and
shall devote this whole morning to answering it, as I foresee that a
writing will not comprise what I have to tell you.
I must confess myself surprised by your
application; I did not expect it from you.
Don't think me angry, however, for I only mean to
let you know that I
had not imagined such enquiries to be necessary on your side. If you do not choose to
forgive my impertinence. Your
as much surprised as I am -- and nothing but the belief of your being a
concerned would have allowed him to act as he has done.
But if you are really innocent and ignorant,
I must be more explicit. On
the very day
of my coming home from Longbourn, your uncle had a most unexpected
visitor. Mr. Darcy
called, and was shut
up with him several hours. It
over before I arrived; so my curiosity was not so dreadfully racked as
seems to have been. He
came to tell Mr.
Gardiner that he had found out where your sister and Mr. Wickham were,
he had seen and talked with them both; Wickham repeatedly, Lydia once.
what I can collect, he left Derbyshire only one day after ourselves,
to town with the resolution of hunting for them.
The motive professed was his conviction of
its being owing to himself that Wickham's worthlessness had not been so
known as to make it impossible for any young woman of character to love
confide in him. He
the whole to his mistaken pride, and confessed that he had before
beneath him to lay his private actions open to the world. His character was to speak
for itself. He
called it, therefore, his duty to step
forward, and endeavour to remedy an evil which had been brought on by
himself. If he had
another motive, I am
sure it would never disgrace him.
been some days in town, before he was able to discover them; but he had
something to direct his search, which was more than we had; and the
consciousness of this was another reason for his resolving to follow us. There is a lady, it seems,
a Mrs. Younge, who
was some time ago governess to Miss Darcy, and was
dismissed from her
some cause of disapprobation, though he did not say what. She then took a large
house in Edward-street,
and has since maintained herself by letting lodgings.
This Mrs. Younge was, he knew, intimately
acquainted with Wickham; and he went to her for intelligence of him as
he got to town. But
it was two or three
days before he could get from her what he wanted.
She would not betray her trust, I suppose,
without bribery and corruption, for she really did know where her
friend was to
be found. Wickham
indeed had gone to her
on their first arrival in London,
and had she been able to receive them into her house, they would have
their abode with her. At
however, our kind friend procured the wished-for direction. They were in ---- street. He saw Wickham, and
afterwards insisted on
seeing Lydia. His first object with her,
had been to persuade her to quit her present disgraceful situation, and
to her friends as soon as they could be prevailed on to receive her,
his assistance, as far as it would go. But he found Lydia
absolutely resolved on
remaining where she was. She
none of her friends; she wanted no help of his; she would not hear of
Wickham. She was
sure they should be
married some time or other, and it did not much signify when. Since such were her
feelings, it only
remained, he thought, to secure and expedite a marriage, which, in his
first conversation with Wickham, he easily learnt had never been his
confessed himself obliged to
leave the regiment, on account of some debts of honour, which were very
pressing; and scrupled not to lay all the ill-consequences of Lydia's
her own folly alone. He
meant to resign
his commission immediately; and as to his future situation, he could
very little about it. He
somewhere, but he did not know where, and he knew he should have
live on. Mr. Darcy
asked him why he had
not married your sister at once. Though
Mr. Bennet was not imagined to be very rich, he would have been able to
something for him, and his situation must have been benefited by
marriage. But he
found, in reply to this question, that
Wickham still cherished the hope of more effectually making his fortune
marriage in some other country. Under
such circumstances, however, he was not likely to be proof against the
temptation of immediate relief. They met several times, for there was
be discussed. Wickham of course wanted more than he could get; but at
was reduced to be reasonable. Every
thing being settled between them, Mr. Darcy's next step was to make
acquainted with it, and he first called in Gracechurch-street the
before I came home. But
could not be seen, and Mr. Darcy found, on further enquiry, that your
was still with him, but would quit town the next morning. He did not judge your
father to be a person
whom he could so properly consult as your uncle, and therefore readily
postponed seeing him till after the departure of the former. He did not leave his name,
and till the next
day it was only known that a gentleman had called on business. On Saturday he came again.
Your father was
gone, your uncle at home, and, as I said before, they had a great deal
together. They met
again on Sunday, and
then I saw him too. It
was not all settled
before Monday: as soon as it was, the express was sent off to Longbourn. But our visitor was very
obstinate. I fancy,
Lizzy, that obstinacy is the real
defect of his character, after all.
has been accused of many faults at different times, but this is the
one. Nothing was to
be done that he did
not do himself; though I am sure (and I do not speak it to be thanked,
therefore say nothing about it), your uncle would most readily have
whole. They battled
it together for a
long time, which was more than either the gentleman or lady concerned
deserved. But at
last your uncle was
forced to yield, and instead of being allowed to be of use to his
forced to put up with only having the probable credit of it, which went
against the grain; and I really believe your letter this morning gave
pleasure, because it required an explanation that would rob him of his
feathers, and give the praise where it was due. But, Lizzy, this must
farther than yourself, or Jane at most.
You know pretty well, I suppose, what has been done
for the young
people. His debts
are to be paid,
amounting, I believe, to considerably more than a thousand pounds,
thousand in addition to her own settled upon her, and his commission
reason why all this was
to be done by him alone, was such as I have given above. It was owing to him, to
his reserve and want
of proper consideration, that Wickham's character had been so
and consequently that he had been received and noticed as he was. Perhaps there was some
truth in this; though
I doubt whether his reserve, or anybody's reserve, can be answerable
event. But in spite
of all this fine
talking, my dear Lizzy, you may rest perfectly assured that your uncle
never have yielded, if we had not given him credit for another interest
affair. When all
this was resolved on,
he returned again to his friends, who were still staying at Pemberley;
was agreed that he should be in London
once more when the wedding took place, and all money matters were then
receive the last finish. I
have now told you every thing. It
relation which you tell me is to give you great surprise; I hope at
will not afford you any displeasure. Lydia
came to us; and Wickham had
constant admission to the house. He
exactly what he had been when I knew him in Hertfordshire; but I would
you how little I was satisfied with her behaviour while she staid with
us, if I
had not perceived, by Jane's letter last Wednesday, that her conduct on
home was exactly of a piece with it, and therefore what I now tell you
you no fresh pain. I talked to her repeatedly in the most serious
representing to her all the wickedness of what she had done, and all
unhappiness she had brought on her family.
If she heard me, it was by good luck, for I am sure
she did not
listen. I was
sometimes quite provoked,
but then I recollected my dear Elizabeth and Jane, and for their sakes
patience with her. Mr.
punctual in his return, and as Lydia
informed you, attended the wedding.
dined with us the next day, and was to leave town again on Wednesday or
Thursday. Will you be very angry with me, my dear Lizzy, if I take this
opportunity of saying (what I was never bold enough to say before) how
like him. His
behaviour to us has, in
every respect, been as pleasing as when we were in Derbyshire. His understanding and
opinions all please me;
he wants nothing but a little more liveliness, and that, if he marry
his wife may teach him. I
very sly; -- he hardly ever mentioned your name.
But slyness seems the fashion.
Pray forgive me if I have been very
presuming, or at least do not punish me so far as to exclude me from P. I shall never be quite
happy till I have been
all round the park. A
low phaeton, with
a nice little pair of ponies, would be the very thing.
But I must write no more.
The children have been wanting me this half
hour. Your's, very
The contents of this
letter threw Elizabeth
into a flutter
of spirits, in which it was difficult to determine whether pleasure or
bore the greatest share. The
unsettled suspicions which uncertainty had produced of what Mr. Darcy
have been doing to forward her sister's match, which she had feared to
encourage as an exertion of goodness too great to be probable, and at
time dreaded to be just, from the pain of obligation, were proved
greatest extent to be true! He
followed them purposely to town, he had taken on himself all the
mortification attendant on such a research; in which supplication had
necessary to a woman whom he must abominate and despise, and where he
reduced to meet, frequently meet, reason with, persuade, and finally
man whom he always most wished to avoid, and whose very name it was
to him to pronounce. He
had done all this
for a girl whom he could neither regard nor esteem.
Her heart did whisper that he had done it for
her. But it was a
hope shortly checked
by other considerations, and she soon felt that even her vanity was
when required to depend on his affection for her -- for a woman who had
refused him -- as able to overcome a sentiment so natural as abhorrence
relationship with Wickham. Brother-in-law
of Wickham! Every
kind of pride must revolt from the connection.
He had, to be sure, done much.
She was ashamed to think how much.
But he had given a reason for his interference,
which asked no
extraordinary stretch of belief. It
reasonable that he should feel he had been wrong; he had liberality,
and he had
the means of exercising it; and though she would not place herself as
principal inducement, she could, perhaps, believe that remaining
her might assist his endeavours in a cause where her peace of mind must
materially concerned. It
exceedingly painful, to know that they were under obligations to a
could never receive a return. They
the restoration of Lydia,
her character, every thing, to him.
heartily did she grieve
over every ungracious sensation she had ever encouraged, every saucy
had ever directed towards him. For
herself she was humbled; but she was proud of him.
Proud that in a cause of compassion and
honour, he had been able to get the better of himself.
She read over her aunt's commendation of him
again and again. It
was hardly enough;
but it pleased her. She
sensible of some pleasure, though mixed with regret, on finding how
both she and her uncle had been persuaded that affection and confidence
subsisted between Mr. Darcy and herself.
She was roused from her
seat, and her
reflections, by some one's approach; and before she could strike into
path, she was overtaken by Wickham.
"I am afraid I interrupt
solitary ramble, my dear sister?" said he, as he joined her.
"You certainly do," she
with a smile; "but it does not follow that the interruption must be
"I should be sorry
indeed, if it
were. We were
always good friends; and
now we are better."
Are the others coming out?"
"I do not know. Mrs. Bennet and Lydia
are going in the carriage to
Meryton. And so, my
dear sister, I find,
from our uncle and aunt, that you have actually seen Pemberley."
She replied in the
"I almost envy you the
and yet I believe it would be too much for me, or else I could take it
way to Newcastle. And you saw the old
Reynolds, she was always
very fond of me. But
of course she did
not mention my name to you."
"Yes, she did."
"And what did she say?"
"That you were gone into
and she was afraid had -- not turned out well.
At such a distance as that, you know, things are
"Certainly," he replied,
biting his lips. Elizabeth
hoped she had silenced him; but he
soon afterwards said,
"I was surprised to see
town last month. We
passed each other
several times. I
wonder what he can be
"Perhaps preparing for
with Miss de Bourgh," said Elizabeth. "It must be something
take him there at this time of year."
"Undoubtedly. Did you see him while you
were at Lambton? I
thought I understood from the Gardiners that you had."
"Yes; he introduced us
"And do you like her?"
"I have heard, indeed,
that she is
uncommonly improved within this year or two.
When I last saw her, she was not very promising. I am very glad you liked
her. I hope she
will turn out well."
"I dare say she will;
she has got
over the most trying age."
"Did you go by the village
"I do not recollect that
"I mention it, because
it is the living which I ought to have had. A most
delightful place! -- Excellent Parsonage House! It would have suited me
"How should you have
"Exceedingly well. I should have considered
it as part of my
duty, and the exertion would soon have been nothing.
One ought not to repine; -- but, to be sure,
it would have been such a thing for me!
The quiet, the retirement of such a life would have
answered all my
ideas of happiness! But
it was not to
be. Did you ever hear Darcy mention the circumstance, when you were in Kent?"
"I have heard from
I thought as good, that it was left you conditionally only, and at the
the present patron."
"You have. Yes, there was something
in that; I told you
so from the first, you may remember."
"I did hear, too, that
there was a
time, when sermon-making was not so palatable to you as it seems to be
present; that you actually declared your resolution of never taking
that the business had been compromised accordingly."
"You did! and it was not wholly
foundation. You may
remember what I told
you on that point, when first we talked of it."
They were now almost at
the door of the
house, for she had walked fast to get rid of him; and unwilling, for
sister's sake, to provoke him, she only said in reply, with a
"Come, Mr. Wickham, we
and sister, you know. Do not let us quarrel about the past. In future, I hope we shall
be always of one
She held out her hand;
he kissed it with
affectionate gallantry, though he hardly knew how to look, and they
Back to contents page