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CHAPTER 59

"My dear Lizzy, where can you have been walking to?" was a
question which Elizabeth received from Jane as soon as she
entered their room, and from all the others when they sat down
to table. She had only to say in reply, that they had wandered
about, till she was beyond her own knowledge. She coloured as
she spoke; but neither that, nor any thing else, awakened a
suspicion of the truth.

The evening passed quietly, unmarked by any thing
extraordinary. The acknowledged lovers talked and laughed, the
unacknowledged were silent. Darcy was not of a disposition in
which happiness overflows in mirth; and Elizabeth, agitated and
confused, rather knew that she was happy than felt herself
to be so; for, besides the immediate embarrassment, there were
other evils before her. She anticipated what would be felt in
the family when her situation became known; she was aware that
no one liked him but Jane; and even feared that with the others
it was a dislike which not all his fortune and consequence
might do away.

At night she opened her heart to Jane. Though suspicion was
very far from Miss Bennet's general habits, she was absolutely
incredulous here.

"You are joking, Lizzy. This cannot be! -- engaged to
Mr. Darcy! No, no, you shall not deceive me. I know it
to be impossible."

"This is a wretched beginning indeed! My sole dependence was
on you; and I am sure nobody else will believe me, if you do
not. Yet, indeed, I am in earnest. I speak nothing but the
truth. He still loves me, and we are engaged."

Jane looked at her doubtingly. "Oh, Lizzy! it cannot be.
I know how much you dislike him."

"You know nothing of the matter. That is all to be forgot.
Perhaps I did not always love him so well as I do now. But in
such cases as these, a good memory is unpardonable. This is
the last time I shall ever remember it myself."

Miss Bennet still looked all amazement. Elizabeth again, and
more seriously assured her of its truth.

"Good Heaven! can it be really so! Yet now I must believe
you," cried Jane. "My dear, dear Lizzy, I would -- I do
congratulate you -- but are you certain? forgive the question
-- are you quite certain that you can be happy with him?"

"There can be no doubt of that. It is settled between us
already, that we are to be the happiest couple in the world.
But are you pleased, Jane? Shall you like to have such a
brother?"

"Very, very much. Nothing could give either Bingley or
myself more delight. But we considered it, we talked of it as
impossible. And do you really love him quite well enough?
Oh, Lizzy! do any thing rather than marry without affection.
Are you quite sure that you feel what you ought to do?"

"Oh, yes! You will only think I feel more than I ought to
do, when I tell you all."

"What do you mean?"

"Why, I must confess that I love him better than I do Bingley.
I am afraid you will be angry."

"My dearest sister, now be serious. I want to talk very
seriously. Let me know every thing that I am to know, without
delay. Will you tell me how long you have loved him?"

"It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it
began. But I believe I must date it from my first seeing his
beautiful grounds at Pemberley."

Another intreaty that she would be serious, however, produced
the desired effect; and she soon satisfied Jane by her solemn
assurances of attachment. When convinced on that article, Miss
Bennet had nothing farther to wish.

"Now I am quite happy," said she, "for you will be as happy as
myself. I always had a value for him. Were it for nothing but
his love of you, I must always have esteemed him; but now, as
Bingley's friend and your husband, there can be only Bingley
and yourself more dear to me. But Lizzy, you have been very
sly, very reserved with me. How little did you tell me of what
passed at Pemberley and Lambton! I owe all that I know of it
to another, not to you."

Elizabeth told her the motives of her secrecy. She had been
unwilling to mention Bingley; and the unsettled state of her
own feelings had made her equally avoid the name of his friend.
But now she would no longer conceal from her his share in
Lydia's marriage. All was acknowledged, and half the night
spent in conversation.


"Good gracious!" cried Mrs. Bennet, as she stood at a window
the next morning, "if that disagreeable Mr. Darcy is not coming
here again with our dear Bingley! What can he mean by being so
tiresome as to be always coming here? I had no notion but he
would go a-shooting, or something or other, and not disturb us
with his company. What shall we do with him? Lizzy, you must
walk out with him again, that he may not be in Bingley's way."

Elizabeth could hardly help laughing at so convenient a
proposal; yet was really vexed that her mother should be
always giving him such an epithet.

As soon as they entered, Bingley looked at her so expressively,
and shook hands with such warmth, as left no doubt of his good
information; and he soon afterwards said aloud, "Mrs. Bennet,
have you no more lanes hereabouts in which Lizzy may lose her
way again to-day?"

"I advise Mr. Darcy, and Lizzy, and Kitty," said Mrs. Bennet,
"to walk to Oakham Mount this morning. It is a nice long walk,
and Mr. Darcy has never seen the view."

"It may do very well for the others," replied Mr. Bingley; "but
I am sure it will be too much for Kitty. Won't it, Kitty?"
Kitty owned that she had rather stay at home. Darcy professed
a great curiosity to see the view from the Mount, and Elizabeth
silently consented. As she went up stairs to get ready,
Mrs. Bennet followed her, saying,

"I am quite sorry, Lizzy, that you should be forced to have
that disagreeable man all to yourself. But I hope you will not
mind it: it is all for Jane's sake, you know; and there is no
occasion for talking to him, except just now and then. So, do
not put yourself to inconvenience."

During their walk, it was resolved that Mr. Bennet's consent
should be asked in the course of the evening. Elizabeth
reserved to herself the application for her mother's. She
could not determine how her mother would take it; sometimes
doubting whether all his wealth and grandeur would be enough
to overcome her abhorrence of the man. But whether she were
violently set against the match, or violently delighted with
it, it was certain that her manner would be equally ill adapted
to do credit to her sense; and she could no more bear that
Mr. Darcy should hear the first raptures of her joy, than the
first vehemence of her disapprobation.


In the evening, soon after Mr. Bennet withdrew to the library,
she saw Mr. Darcy rise also and follow him, and her agitation
on seeing it was extreme. She did not fear her father's
opposition, but he was going to be made unhappy; and that it
should be through her means -- that she, his favourite child,
should be distressing him by her choice, should be filling him
with fears and regrets in disposing of her -- was a wretched
reflection, and she sat in misery till Mr. Darcy appeared
again, when, looking at him, she was a little relieved by his
smile. In a few minutes he approached the table where she was
sitting with Kitty; and, while pretending to admire her work
said in a whisper, "Go to your father, he wants you in the
library." She was gone directly.

Her father was walking about the room, looking grave and
anxious. "Lizzy," said he, "what are you doing? Are you out
of your senses, to be accepting this man? Have not you always
hated him?"

How earnestly did she then wish that her former opinions had
been more reasonable, her expressions more moderate! It would
have spared her from explanations and professions which it was
exceedingly awkward to give; but they were now necessary, and
she assured him, with some confusion, of her attachment to
Mr. Darcy.

"Or, in other words, you are determined to have him. He is
rich, to be sure, and you may have more fine clothes and fine
carriages than Jane. But will they make you happy?"

"Have you any other objection," said Elizabeth, "than your
belief of my indifference?"

"None at all. We all know him to be a proud, unpleasant sort
of man; but this would be nothing if you really liked him."

"I do, I do like him," she replied, with tears in her eyes,
"I love him. Indeed he has no improper pride. He is perfectly
amiable. You do not know what he really is; then pray do not
pain me by speaking of him in such terms."

"Lizzy," said her father, "I have given him my consent.
He is the kind of man, indeed, to whom I should never dare
refuse any thing, which he condescended to ask. I now give it
to you, if you are resolved on having him. But let me advise
you to think better of it. I know your disposition, Lizzy.
I know that you could be neither happy nor respectable, unless
you truly esteemed your husband; unless you looked up to him
as a superior. Your lively talents would place you in the
greatest danger in an unequal marriage. You could scarcely
escape discredit and misery. My child, let me not have the
grief of seeing you unable to respect your partner in life.
You know not what you are about."

Elizabeth, still more affected, was earnest and solemn in her
reply; and at length, by repeated assurances that Mr. Darcy was
really the object of her choice, by explaining the gradual
change which her estimation of him had undergone, relating her
absolute certainty that his affection was not the work of a
day, but had stood the test of many months suspense, and
enumerating with energy all his good qualities, she did conquer
her father's incredulity, and reconcile him to the match.

"Well, my dear," said he, when she ceased speaking, "I have no
more to say. If this be the case, he deserves you. I could
not have parted with you, my Lizzy, to any one less worthy."

To complete the favourable impression, she then told him what
Mr. Darcy had voluntarily done for Lydia. He heard her with
astonishment.

"This is an evening of wonders, indeed! And so, Darcy did
every thing: made up the match, gave the money, paid the
fellow's debts, and got him his commission! So much the
better. It will save me a world of trouble and economy.
Had it been your uncle's doing, I must and would have paid
him; but these violent young lovers carry every thing their
own way. I shall offer to pay him to-morrow; he will rant
and storm about his love for you, and there will be an end
of the matter."

He then recollected her embarrassment a few days before, on his
reading Mr. Collins's letter; and after laughing at her some
time, allowed her at last to go -- saying, as she quitted the
room, "If any young men come for Mary or Kitty, send them in,
for I am quite at leisure."

Elizabeth's mind was now relieved from a very heavy weight;
and, after half an hour's quiet reflection in her own room,
she was able to join the others with tolerable composure.
Every thing was too recent for gaiety, but the evening passed
tranquilly away; there was no longer any thing material to
be dreaded, and the comfort of ease and familiarity would
come in time.

When her mother went up to her dressing-room at night, she
followed her, and made the important communication. Its effect
was most extraordinary; for on first hearing it, Mrs. Bennet
sat quite still, and unable to utter a syllable. Nor was it
under many, many minutes that she could comprehend what she
heard; though not in general backward to credit what was for
the advantage of her family, or that came in the shape of a
lover to any of them. She began at length to recover, to
fidget about in her chair, get up, sit down again, wonder,
and bless herself.

"Good gracious! Lord bless me! only think! dear me!
Mr. Darcy! Who would have thought it! And is it really true?
Oh! my sweetest Lizzy! how rich and how great you will be!
What pin-money, what jewels, what carriages you will have!
Jane's is nothing to it -- nothing at all. I am so pleased --
so happy. Such a charming man! -- so handsome! so tall! --
Oh, my dear Lizzy! pray apologise for my having disliked him
so much before. I hope he will overlook it. Dear, dear Lizzy.
A house in town! Every thing that is charming! Three
daughters married! Ten thousand a year! Oh, Lord! What will
become of me. I shall go distracted."

This was enough to prove that her approbation need not be
doubted: and Elizabeth, rejoicing that such an effusion was
heard only by herself, soon went away. But before she had
been three minutes in her own room, her mother followed her.

"My dearest child," she cried, "I can think of nothing else!
Ten thousand a year, and very likely more! 'Tis as good as a
Lord! And a special licence. You must and shall be married
by a special licence. But my dearest love, tell me what dish
Mr. Darcy is particularly fond of, that I may have it
tomorrow."

This was a sad omen of what her mother's behaviour to the
gentleman himself might be; and Elizabeth found that, though in
the certain possession of his warmest affection, and secure of
her relations' consent, there was still something to be wished
for. But the morrow passed off much better than she expected;
for Mrs. Bennet luckily stood in such awe of her intended
son-in-law that she ventured not to speak to him, unless it was
in her power to offer him any attention, or mark her deference
for his opinion.

Elizabeth had the satisfaction of seeing her father taking
pains to get acquainted with him; and Mr. Bennet soon assured
her that he was rising every hour in his esteem.

"I admire all my three sons-in-law highly," said he.
"Wickham, perhaps, is my favourite; but I think I shall
like your husband quite as well as Jane's."





Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Category:
General Fiction

Social life and customs - 19th century
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