their domestic circle; and, though Kitty might in time regain her
natural degree of sense, since the disturbers of her brain were
removed, her other sister, from whose disposition greater evil
might be apprehended, was likely to be hardened in all her
folly and assurance by a situation of such double danger as a
watering-place and a camp.
Upon the whole, therefore, she
found, what has been sometimes found before, that an event
to which she had been looking with impatient desire did not,
in taking place, bring all the satisfaction she had promised
herself. It was consequently necessary to name some other
period for the commencement of actual felicity - to have some
other point on which her wishes and hopes might be fixed, and
by again enjoying the pleasure of anticipation, console herself for
the present, and prepare for another disappointment. Her tour
to the Lakes was now the object of her happiest thoughts; it was
her best consolation for all the uncomfortable hours which the
discontentedness of her mother and Kitty made inevitable; and
could she have included Jane in the scheme, every part of it
would have been perfect.
"But it is fortunate," thought she, "that I have something to wish
for. Were the whole arrangement complete, my disappointment
would be certain. But here, by carrying with me one ceaseless
source of regret in my sister's absence, I may reasonably hope to
have all my expectations of pleasure realised. A scheme of
which every part promises delight can never be successful; and
general disappointment is only warded off by the defence of
some little peculiar vexation."
When Lydia went away she promised to write very often and
very minutely to her mother and Kitty; but her letters were
always long expected, and always very short. Those to her
mother contained little else than that they were just returned
from the library, where such and such officers had attended
them, and where she had seen such beautiful ornaments as made
her quite wild; that she had a new gown, or a new parasol, which
she would have described more fully, but was obliged to leave
off in a violent hurry, as Mrs. Forster called her, and they were
going off to the camp; and from her correspondence with her
sister, there was still less to be learnt - for her letters to
Kitty, though rather longer, were much too full of lines under the
words to be made public.
After the first fortnight or three weeks of her absence, health,
good humour, and cheerfulness began to reappear at Longbourn.
Everything wore a happier aspect. The families who had been in
town for the winter came back again, and summer finery and
summer engagements arose. Mrs. Bennet was restored to her
usual querulous serenity; and, by the middle of June, Kitty was
so much recovered as to be able to enter Meryton without tears;
an event of such happy promise as to make Elizabeth hope that
by the following Christmas she might be so tolerably reasonable
as not to mention an officer above once a day, unless, by some
cruel and malicious arrangement at the War Office, another
regiment should be quartered in Meryton.
The time fixed for the beginning of their northern tour was now
fast approaching, and a fortnight only was wanting of it, when
a letter arrived from Mrs. Gardiner, which at once delayed its
commencement and curtailed its extent. Mr. Gardiner would be
prevented by business from setting out till a fortnight later in
July, and must be in London again within a month, and as that
left too short a period for them to go so far, and see so much
as they had proposed, or at least to see it with the leisure and
comfort they had built on, they were obliged to give up the
Lakes, and substitute a more contracted tour, and, according
to the present plan, were to go no farther northwards than
Derbyshire. In that county there was enough to be seen to
occupy the chief of their three weeks; and to Mrs. Gardiner it
had a peculiarly strong attraction. The town where she had
formerly passed some years of her life, and where they were now
to spend a few days, was probably as great an object of her
curiosity as all the celebrated beauties of Matlock, Chatsworth,
Dovedale, or the Peak.
Elizabeth was excessively disappointed; she had set her heart on
seeing the Lakes, and still thought there might have been time
enough. But it was her business to be satisfied - and certainly
her temper to be happy; and all was soon right again.
With the mention of Derbyshire there were many ideas connected.
It was impossible for her to see the word without thinking of
Pemberley and its owner. "But surely," said she, "I may enter
his county without impunity, and rob it of a few petrified spars
without his perceiving me."
The period of expectation was now doubled. Four weeks were to
pass away before her uncle and aunt's arrival. But they did pass
away, and Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, with their four children, did
at length appear at Longbourn. The children, two girls of six
and eight years old, and two younger boys, were to be left under
the particular care of their cousin Jane, who was the general
favourite, and whose steady sense and sweetness of temper exactly
adapted her for attending to them in every way - teaching them,
playing with them, and loving them.
The Gardiners stayed only one night at Longbourn, and set off
the next morning with Elizabeth in pursuit of novelty and
amusement. One enjoyment was certain - that of suitableness
of companions; a suitableness which comprehended health and
temper to bear inconveniences - cheerfulness to enhance every
pleasure - and affection and intelligence, which might supply
it among themselves if there were disappointments abroad.
It is not the object of this work to give a description of
Derbyshire, nor of any of the remarkable places through which
their route thither lay; Oxford, Blenheim, Warwick, Kenilworth,
Birmingham, etc. are sufficiently known. A small part of
Derbyshire is all the present concern. To the little town of
Lambton, the scene of Mrs. Gardiner's former residence, and
where she had lately learned some acquaintance still remained,
they bent their steps, after having seen all the principal wonders
of the country; and within five miles of Lambton, Elizabeth
found from her aunt that Pemberley was situated. It was not in
their direct road, nor more than a mile or two out of it. In
talking over their route the evening before, Mrs. Gardiner
expressed an inclination to see the place again. Mr. Gardiner
declared his willingness, and Elizabeth was applied to for her
"My love, should not you like to see a place of which you have
heard so much?" said her aunt; "a place, too, with which so
many of your acquaintances are connected. Wickham passed all
his youth there, you know."
Elizabeth was distressed. She felt that she had no business at
Pemberley, and was obliged to assume a disinclination for seeing
it. She must own that she was tired of seeing great houses; after
going over so many, she really had no pleasure in fine carpets or
Mrs. Gardiner abused her stupidity. "If it were merely a fine
house richly furnished," said she, "I should not care about it
myself; but the grounds are delightful. They have some of the
finest woods in the country."
Elizabeth said no more - but her mind could not acquiesce.
The possibility of meeting Mr. Darcy, while viewing the place,
instantly occurred. It would be dreadful! She blushed at the
very idea, and thought it would be better to speak openly to
her aunt than to run such a risk. But against this there were
objections; and she finally resolved that it could be the last
resource, if her private inquiries to the absence of the family
were unfavourably answered.
Accordingly, when she retired at night, she asked the chambermaid
whether Pemberley were not a very fine place? what was the name
of its proprietor? and, with no little alarm, whether the family
were down for the summer? A most welcome negative followed the
last question - and her alarms now being removed, she was at
leisure to feel a great deal of curiosity to see the house herself;
and when the subject was revived the next morning, and she was
again applied to, could readily answer, and with a proper air of
indifference, that she had not really any dislike to the scheme.
To Pemberley, therefore, they were to go.
Elizabeth, as they drove along, watched for the first appearance
of Pemberley Woods with some perturbation; and when at
length they turned in at the lodge, her spirits were in a high
The park was very large, and contained great variety of ground.
They entered it in one of its lowest points, and drove for some
time through a beautiful wood stretching over a wide extent.
Elizabeth's mind was too full for conversation, but she saw and
admired every remarkable spot and point of view. They
gradually ascended for half-a-mile, and then found themselves
at the top of a considerable eminence, where the wood ceased,
and the eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House, situated
on the opposite side of a valley, into which the road with some
abruptness wound. It was a large, handsome stone building,
standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high
woody hills; and in front, a stream of some natural importance
was swelled into greater, but without any artificial appearance.
Its banks were neither formal nor falsely adorned. Elizabeth
was delighted. She had never seen a place for which nature
had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little
counteracted by an awkward taste. They were all of them warm
in their admiration; and at that moment she felt that to be
mistress of Pemberley might be something!
They descended the hill, crossed the bridge, and drove to the
door; and, while examining the nearer aspect of the house, all
her apprehension of meeting its owner returned. She dreaded
lest the chambermaid had been mistaken. On applying to see
the place, they were admitted into the hall; and Elizabeth, as
they waited for the housekeeper, had leisure to wonder at her
being where she was.
The housekeeper came; a respectable-looking elderly woman,
much less fine, and more civil, than she had any notion of
finding her. They followed her into the dining-parlour.
It was a large, well proportioned room, handsomely fitted up.
Elizabeth, after slightly surveying it, went to a window to enjoy
its prospect. The hill, crowned with wood, which they had
descended, receiving increased abruptness from the distance,
was a beautiful object. Every disposition of the ground was
good; and she looked on the whole scene, the river, the trees
scattered on its banks and the winding of the valley, as far as
she could trace it, with delight. As they passed into other
rooms these objects were taking different positions; but from
every window there were beauties to be seen. The rooms were
lofty and handsome, and their furniture suitable to the fortune
of its proprietor; but Elizabeth saw, with admiration of his taste,
that it was neither gaudy nor uselessly fine; with less of
splendour, and more real elegance, than the furniture of Rosings.
"And of this place," thought she, "I might have been mistress!
With these rooms I might now have been familiarly acquainted!
Instead of viewing them as a stranger, I might have rejoiced
in them as my own, and welcomed to them as visitors my uncle
and aunt. But no," - recollecting herself - "that could never
be; my uncle and aunt would have been lost to me; I should not
have been allowed to invite them."
This was a lucky recollection - it saved her from something
very like regret.
She longed to inquire of the housekeeper whether her master
was really absent, but had not the courage for it. At length
however, the question was asked by her uncle; and she turned
away with alarm, while Mrs. Reynolds replied that he was,
adding, "But we expect him to-morrow, with a large party of
friends." How rejoiced was Elizabeth that their own journey
had not by any circumstance been delayed a day!
Her aunt now called her to look at a picture. She approached
and saw the likeness of Mr. Wickham, suspended, amongst
several other miniatures, over the mantelpiece. Her aunt asked
her, smilingly, how she liked it. The housekeeper came forward,
and told them it was a picture of a young gentleman, the son of
her late master's steward, who had been brought up by him at
his own expense. "He is now gone into the army," she added;
"but I am afraid he has turned out very wild."
Mrs. Gardiner looked at her niece with a smile, but Elizabeth
could not return it.
"And that," said Mrs. Reynolds, pointing to another of the
miniatures, "is my master - and very like him. It was drawn at
the same time as the other - about eight years ago."
"I have heard much of your master's fine person," said Mrs.
Gardiner, looking at the picture; "it is a handsome face.
But, Lizzy, you can tell us whether it is like or not."
Mrs. Reynolds respect for Elizabeth seemed to increase on this
intimation of her knowing her master.
"Does that young lady know Mr. Darcy?"
Elizabeth coloured, and said: "A little."
"And do not you think him a very handsome gentleman, ma'am?"
"Yes, very handsome."
"I am sure I know none so handsome; but in the gallery
upstairs you will see a finer, larger picture of him than this.
This room was my late master's favourite room, and these
miniatures are just as they used to be then. He was very fond
This accounted to Elizabeth for Mr. Wickham's being among them.
Mrs. Reynolds then directed their attention to one of Miss Darcy,
drawn when she was only eight years old.
"And is Miss Darcy as handsome as her brother?" said Mrs. Gardiner.
"Oh! yes - the handsomest young lady that ever was seen; and
so accomplished! - She plays and sings all day long. In the next
room is a new instrument just come down for her - a present
from my master; she comes here to-morrow with him."
Mr. Gardiner, whose manners were very easy and pleasant,
encouraged her communicativeness by his questions and remarks;
Mrs. Reynolds, either by pride or attachment, had evidently
great pleasure in talking of her master and his sister.
"Is your master much at Pemberley in the course of the year?"
"Not so much as I could wish, sir; but I dare say he may spend
half his time here; and Miss Darcy is always down for the
"Except," thought Elizabeth, "when she goes to Ramsgate."
"If your master would marry, you might see more of him."
"Yes, sir; but I do not know when _that_ will be. I do not
know who is good enough for him."
Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner smiled. Elizabeth could not help saying,
"It is very much to his credit, I am sure, that you should think
"I say no more than the truth, and everybody will say that
knows him," replied the other. Elizabeth thought this was
going pretty far; and she listened with increasing astonishment
as the housekeeper added, "I have never known a cross word
from him in my life, and I have known him ever since he was
four years old."
This was praise, of all others most extraordinary, most opposite
to her ideas. That he was not a good-tempered man had been
her firmest opinion. Her keenest attention was awakened; she
longed to hear more, and was grateful to her uncle for saying:
"There are very few people of whom so much can be said. You
are lucky in having such a master."
"Yes, sir, I know I am. If I were to go through the world, I
could not meet with a better. But I have always observed, that
they who are good-natured when children, are good-natured
when they grow up; and he was always the sweetest-tempered,
most generous-hearted boy in the world."
Elizabeth almost stared at her. "Can this be Mr. Darcy?"
"His father was an excellent man," said Mrs. Gardiner.
"Yes, ma'am, that he was indeed; and his son will be just like
him - just as affable to the poor."
Elizabeth listened, wondered, doubted, and was impatient for
more. Mrs. Reynolds could interest her on no other point. She
related the subjects of the pictures, the dimensions of the rooms,
and the price of the furniture, in vain, Mr. Gardiner, highly
amused by the kind of family prejudice to which he attributed
her excessive commendation of her master, soon led again to
the subject; and she dwelt with energy on his many merits as
they proceeded together up the great staircase.
"He is the best landlord, and the best master," said she, "that
ever lived; not like the wild young men nowadays, who think of
nothing but themselves. There is not one of his tenants or
servants but will give him a good name. Some people call him
proud; but I am sure I never saw anything of it. To my fancy, it
is only because he does not rattle away like other young men."
"In what an amiable light does this place him!" thought
"This fine account of him," whispered her aunt as they walked,
"is not quite consistent with his behaviour to our poor friend."
"Perhaps we might be deceived."
"That is not very likely; our authority was too good."
On reaching the spacious lobby above they were shown into a
very pretty sitting-room, lately fitted up with greater elegance
and lightness than the apartments below; and were informed that
it was but just done to give pleasure to Miss Darcy, who had
taken a liking to the room when last at Pemberley.
"He is certainly a good brother," said Elizabeth, as she walked
towards one of the windows.
Mrs. Reynolds anticipated Miss Darcy's delight, when she
should enter the room. "And this is always the way with him,"
she added. "Whatever can give his sister any pleasure is sure
to be done in a moment. There is nothing he would not do for
The picture-gallery, and two or three of the principal bedrooms,
were all that remained to be shown. In the former were many
good paintings; but Elizabeth knew nothing of the art; and from
such as had been already visible below, she had willingly turned
to look at some drawings of Miss Darcy's, in crayons, whose
subjects were usually more interesting, and also more intelligible.
In the gallery there were many family portraits, but they could
have little to fix the attention of a stranger. Elizabeth walked
in quest of the only face whose features would be known to her.
At last it arrested her - and she beheld a striking resemblance
to Mr. Darcy, with such a smile over the face as she remembered
to have sometimes seen when he looked at her. She stood
several minutes before the picture, in earnest contemplation,
and returned to it again before they quitted the gallery. Mrs.
Reynolds informed them that it had been taken in his father's
There was certainly at this moment, in Elizabeth's mind, a more
gentle sensation towards the original than she had ever felt at
the height of their acquaintance. The commendation bestowed
on him by Mrs. Reynolds was of no trifling nature. What praise
is more valuable than the praise of an intelligent servant? As a
brother, a landlord, a master, she considered how many people's
happiness were in his guardianship! - how much of pleasure or
pain was it in his power to bestow! - how much of good or evil
must be done by him! Every idea that had been brought forward
by the housekeeper was favourable to his character, and as she
stood before the canvas on which he was represented, and fixed
his eyes upon herself, she thought of his regard with a deeper
sentiment of gratitude than it had ever raised before; she
remembered its warmth, and softened its impropriety of
When all of the house that was open to general inspection had
been seen, they returned downstairs, and, taking leave of the
housekeeper, were consigned over to the gardener, who met
them at the hall-door.
As they walked across the hall towards the river, Elizabeth
turned back to look again; her uncle and aunt stopped also, and
while the former was conjecturing as to the date of the building,
the owner of it himself suddenly came forward from the road,
which led behind it to the stables.
They were within twenty yards of each other, and so abrupt was
his appearance, that it was impossible to avoid his sight. Their
eyes instantly met, and the cheeks of both were overspread with
the deepest blush. He absolutely started, and for a moment
seemed immovable from surprise; but shortly recovering himself,
advanced towards the party, and spoke to Elizabeth, if not in
terms of perfect composure, at least of perfect civility.
She had instinctively turned away; but stopping on his approach,
received his compliments with an embarrassment impossible to
be overcome. Had his first appearance, or his resemblance to
the picture they had just been examining, been insufficient
to assure the other two that they now saw Mr. Darcy, the
gardener's expression of surprise, on beholding his master,
must immediately have told it. They stood a little aloof while
he was talking to their niece, who, astonished and confused,
scarcely dared lift her eyes to his face, and knew not what
answer she returned to his civil inquiries after her family.
Amazed at the alteration of his manner since they last parted,
every sentence that he uttered was increasing her embarrassment;
and every idea of the impropriety of her being found there
recurring to her mind, the few minutes in which they continued
were some of the most uncomfortable in her life. Nor did he
seem much more at ease; when he spoke, his accent had none of
its usual sedateness; and he repeated his inquiries as to the
time of her having left Longbourn, and of her having stayed in
Derbyshire, so often, and in so hurried a way, as plainly spoke
the distraction of his thoughts.
At length every idea seemed to fail him; and, after standing a
few moments without saying a word, he suddenly recollected
himself, and took leave.
The others then joined her, and expressed admiration of his
figure; but Elizabeth heard not a word, and wholly engrossed
by her own feelings, followed them in silence. She was
overpowered by shame and vexation. Her coming there was
the most unfortunate, the most ill-judged thing in the world!
How strange it must appear to him! In what a disgraceful light
might it not strike so vain a man! It might seem as if she
had purposely thrown herself in his way again! Oh! why did she
come? Or, why did he thus come a day before he was expected?
Had they been only ten minutes sooner, they should have been
beyond the reach of his discrimination; for it was plain that
he was that moment arrived - that moment alighted from his
horse or his carriage. She blushed again and again over the
perverseness of the meeting. And his behaviour, so strikingly
altered - what could it mean? That he should even speak to her
was amazing! - but to speak with such civility, to inquire after
her family! Never in her life had she seen his manners so little
dignified, never had he spoken with such gentleness as on this
unexpected meeting. What a contrast did it offer to his last
address in Rosings Park, when he put his letter into her hand!
She knew not what to think, or how to account for it.
They had now entered a beautiful walk by the side of the water,
and every step was bringing forward a nobler fall of ground, or
a finer reach of the woods to which they were approaching; but
it was some time before Elizabeth was sensible of any of it;
and, though she answered mechanically to the repeated appeals
of her uncle and aunt, and seemed to direct her eyes to such
objects as they pointed out, she distinguished no part of
the scene. Her thoughts were all fixed on that one spot of
Pemberley House, whichever it might be, where Mr. Darcy then
was. She longed to know what at the moment was passing in
his mind - in what manner he thought of her, and whether, in
defiance of everything, she was still dear to him. Perhaps he
had been civil only because he felt himself at ease; yet there
had been _that_ in his voice which was not like ease. Whether he
had felt more of pain or of pleasure in seeing her she could
not tell, but he certainly had not seen her with composure.
At length, however, the remarks of her companions on her
absence of mind aroused her, and she felt the necessity of
appearing more like herself.
They entered the woods, and bidding adieu to the river for a
while, ascended some of the higher grounds; when, in spots where
the opening of the trees gave the eye power to wander, were many
charming views of the valley, the opposite hills, with the long