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CHAPTER 60

ELIZABETH'S spirits soon rising to playfulness again, she
wanted Mr. Darcy to account for his having ever fallen in love
with her. "How could you begin?" said she. "I can comprehend
your going on charmingly, when you had once made a beginning;
but what could set you off in the first place?"

"I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the
words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was
in the middle before I knew that I had begun."

"My beauty you had early withstood, and as for my manners --
my behaviour to you was at least always bordering on the
uncivil, and I never spoke to you without rather wishing to
give you pain than not. Now be sincere; did you admire me for
my impertinence?"

"For the liveliness of your mind, I did."

"You may as well call it impertinence at once. It was very
little less. The fact is, that you were sick of civility, of
deference, of officious attention. You were disgusted with the
women who were always speaking, and looking, and thinking for
your approbation alone. I roused, and interested you,
because I was so unlike them. Had you not been really
amiable, you would have hated me for it; but in spite of the
pains you took to disguise yourself, your feelings were always
noble and just; and in your heart, you thoroughly despised the
persons who so assiduously courted you. There -- I have saved
you the trouble of accounting for it; and really, all things
considered, I begin to think it perfectly reasonable. To be
sure, you knew no actual good of me -- but nobody thinks of
that when they fall in love."

"Was there no good in your affectionate behaviour to Jane while
she was ill at Netherfield?"

"Dearest Jane! who could have done less for her? But make a
virtue of it by all means. My good qualities are under your
protection, and you are to exaggerate them as much as possible;
and, in return, it belongs to me to find occasions for teazing
and quarrelling with you as often as may be; and I shall begin
directly by asking you what made you so unwilling to come to
the point at last. What made you so shy of me, when you first
called, and afterwards dined here? Why, especially, when you
called, did you look as if you did not care about me?"

"Because you were grave and silent, and gave me no
encouragement."

"But I was embarrassed."

"And so was I."

"You might have talked to me more when you came to dinner."

"A man who had felt less, might."

"How unlucky that you should have a reasonable answer to give,
and that I should be so reasonable as to admit it! But I
wonder how long you would have gone on, if you had been left
to yourself. I wonder when you would have spoken, if I had
not asked you! My resolution of thanking you for your kindness
to Lydia had certainly great effect. Too much, I am
afraid; for what becomes of the moral, if our comfort springs
from a breach of promise? for I ought not to have mentioned
the subject. This will never do."

"You need not distress yourself. The moral will be perfectly
fair. Lady Catherine's unjustifiable endeavours to separate us
were the means of removing all my doubts. I am not indebted
for my present happiness to your eager desire of expressing
your gratitude. I was not in a humour to wait for any opening
of your's. My aunt's intelligence had given me hope, and I was
determined at once to know every thing."

"Lady Catherine has been of infinite use, which ought to make
her happy, for she loves to be of use. But tell me, what did
you come down to Netherfield for? Was it merely to ride to
Longbourn and be embarrassed? or had you intended any more
serious consequence?"

"My real purpose was to see you, and to judge, if I could,
whether I might ever hope to make you love me. My avowed one,
or what I avowed to myself, was to see whether your sister were
still partial to Bingley, and if she were, to make the
confession to him which I have since made."

"Shall you ever have courage to announce to Lady Catherine
what is to befall her?"

"I am more likely to want more time than courage, Elizabeth.
But it ought to done, and if you will give me a sheet of paper,
it shall be done directly."

"And if I had not a letter to write myself, I might sit by you
and admire the evenness of your writing, as another young lady
once did. But I have an aunt, too, who must not be longer
neglected."

From an unwillingness to confess how much her intimacy with
Mr. Darcy had been over-rated, Elizabeth had never yet
answered Mrs. Gardiner's long letter; but now, having that
to communicate which she knew would be most welcome, she was
almost ashamed to find that her uncle and aunt had already lost
three days of happiness, and immediately wrote as follows:

"I would have thanked you before, my dear aunt, as I ought
to have done, for your long, kind, satisfactory, detail of
particulars; but to say the truth, I was too cross to write.
You supposed more than really existed. But now suppose as
much as you choose; give a loose to your fancy, indulge your
imagination in every possible flight which the subject will
afford, and unless you believe me actually married, you cannot
greatly err. You must write again very soon, and praise him a
great deal more than you did in your last. I thank you, again
and again, for not going to the Lakes. How could I be so silly
as to wish it! Your idea of the ponies is delightful. We will
go round the Park every day. I am the happiest creature in the
world. Perhaps other people have said so before, but not one
with such justice. I am happier even than Jane; she only
smiles, I laugh. Mr. Darcy sends you all the love in the world
that he can spare from me. You are all to come to Pemberley at
Christmas. Your's, &c."

Mr. Darcy's letter to Lady Catherine was in a different style;
and still different from either was what Mr. Bennet sent to
Mr. Collins, in reply to his last.

"DEAR SIR,

I must trouble you once more for congratulations. Elizabeth
will soon be the wife of Mr. Darcy. Console Lady Catherine
as well as you can. But, if I were you, I would stand by the
nephew. He has more to give.

Your's sincerely, &c."

Miss Bingley's congratulations to her brother, on his
approaching marriage, were all that was affectionate and
insincere. She wrote even to Jane on the occasion, to express
her delight, and repeat all her former professions of regard.
Jane was not deceived, but she was affected; and though feeling
no reliance on her, could not help writing her a much kinder
answer than she knew was deserved.

The joy which Miss Darcy expressed on receiving similar
information, was as sincere as her brother's in sending it.
Four sides of paper were insufficient to contain all her
delight, and all her earnest desire of being loved by her
sister.

Before any answer could arrive from Mr. Collins, or any
congratulations to Elizabeth from his wife, the Longbourn
family heard that the Collinses were come themselves to Lucas
lodge. The reason of this sudden removal was soon evident.
Lady Catherine had been rendered so exceedingly angry by
the contents of her nephew's letter, that Charlotte, really
rejoicing in the match, was anxious to get away till the
storm was blown over. At such a moment, the arrival of
her friend was a sincere pleasure to Elizabeth, though in
the course of their meetings she must sometimes think the
pleasure dearly bought, when she saw Mr. Darcy exposed to all
the parading and obsequious civility of her husband. He bore
it, however, with admirable calmness. He could even listen to
Sir William Lucas, when he complimented him on carrying away
the brightest jewel of the country, and expressed his hopes of
their all meeting frequently at St. James's, with very decent
composure. If he did shrug his shoulders, it was not till Sir
William was out of sight.

Mrs. Philips's vulgarity was another, and perhaps a greater,
tax on his forbearance; and though Mrs. Philips, as well as
her sister, stood in too much awe of him to speak with the
familiarity which Bingley's good humour encouraged, yet,
whenever she did speak, she must be vulgar. Nor was her
respect for him, though it made her more quiet, at all likely
to make her more elegant. Elizabeth did all she could to
shield him from the frequent notice of either, and was ever
anxious to keep him to herself, and to those of her family with
whom he might converse without mortification; and though the
uncomfortable feelings arising from all this took from the
season of courtship much of its pleasure, it added to the hope
of the future; and she looked forward with delight to the time
when they should be removed from society so little pleasing to
either, to all the comfort and elegance of their family party
at Pemberley.





Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Category:
General Fiction

Social life and customs - 19th century
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