saw Mr. Darcy with him, and sat down again by her sister.
"There is a gentleman with him, mamma," said Kitty; "who can it be?"
"Some acquaintance or other, my dear, I suppose; I am sure I
do not know."
"La!" replied Kitty, "it looks just like that man that used to
be with him before. Mr. what's-his-name. That tall, proud
"Good gracious! Mr. Darcy! - and so it does, I vow. Well,
any friend of Mr. Bingley's will always be welcome here, to be
sure; but else I must say that I hate the very sight of him."
Jane looked at Elizabeth with surprise and concern. She knew
but little of their meeting in Derbyshire, and therefore felt
for the awkwardness which must attend her sister, in seeing him
almost for the first time after receiving his explanatory
letter. Both sisters were uncomfortable enough. Each felt
for the other, and of course for themselves; and their mother
talked on, of her dislike of Mr. Darcy, and her resolution
to be civil to him only as Mr. Bingley's friend, without
being heard by either of them. But Elizabeth had sources of
uneasiness which could not be suspected by Jane, to whom she
had never yet had courage to shew Mrs. Gardiner's letter, or
to relate her own change of sentiment towards him. To Jane,
he could be only a man whose proposals she had refused, and
whose merit she had undervalued; but to her own more extensive
information, he was the person to whom the whole family were
indebted for the first of benefits, and whom she regarded
herself with an interest, if not quite so tender, at least
as reasonable and just as what Jane felt for Bingley. Her
astonishment at his coming - at his coming to Netherfield, to
Longbourn, and voluntarily seeking her again, was almost equal
to what she had known on first witnessing his altered behaviour
The colour which had been driven from her face, returned for
half a minute with an additional glow, and a smile of delight
added lustre to her eyes, as she thought for that space of time
that his affection and wishes must still be unshaken. But she
would not be secure.
"Let me first see how he behaves," said she; "it will then be
early enough for expectation."
She sat intently at work, striving to be composed, and without
daring to lift up her eyes, till anxious curiosity carried them
to the face of her sister as the servant was approaching the
door. Jane looked a little paler than usual, but more sedate
than Elizabeth had expected. On the gentlemen's appearing, her
colour increased; yet she received them with tolerable ease,
and with a propriety of behaviour equally free from any symptom
of resentment or any unnecessary complaisance.
Elizabeth said as little to either as civility would allow, and
sat down again to her work, with an eagerness which it did not
often command. She had ventured only one glance at Darcy. He
looked serious, as usual; and, she thought, more as he had been
used to look in Hertfordshire, than as she had seen him at
Pemberley. But, perhaps he could not in her mother's presence
be what he was before her uncle and aunt. It was a painful,
but not an improbable, conjecture.
Bingley, she had likewise seen for an instant, and in that
short period saw him looking both pleased and embarrassed. He
was received by Mrs. Bennet with a degree of civility which
made her two daughters ashamed, especially when contrasted with
the cold and ceremonious politeness of her curtsey and address
to his friend.
Elizabeth, particularly, who knew that her mother owed to the
latter the preservation of her favourite daughter from
irremediable infamy, was hurt and distressed to a most painful
degree by a distinction so ill applied.
Darcy, after inquiring of her how Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner did, a
question which she could not answer without confusion, said
scarcely anything. He was not seated by her; perhaps that
was the reason of his silence; but it had not been so in
Derbyshire. There he had talked to her friends, when he could
not to herself. But now several minutes elapsed without
bringing the sound of his voice; and when occasionally, unable
to resist the impulse of curiosity, she raised he eyes to his
face, she as often found him looking at Jane as at herself, and
frequently on no object but the ground. More thoughtfulness
and less anxiety to please, than when they last met, were
plainly expressed. She was disappointed, and angry with
herself for being so.
"Could I expect it to be otherwise!" said she. "Yet why did
She was in no humour for conversation with anyone but himself;
and to him she had hardly courage to speak.
She inquired after his sister, but could do no more.
"It is a long time, Mr. Bingley, since you went away," said
He readily agreed to it.
"I began to be afraid you would never come back again. People
_did_ say you meant to quit the place entirely at Michaelmas;
but, however, I hope it is not true. A great many changes have
happened in the neighbourhood, since you went away. Miss Lucas
is married and settled. And one of my own daughters. I suppose
you have heard of it; indeed, you must have seen it in the
papers. It was in The Times and The Courier, I know; though
it was not put in as it ought to be. It was only said, 'Lately,
George Wickham, Esq. to Miss Lydia Bennet,' without there being
a syllable said of her father, or the place where she lived, or
anything. It was my brother Gardiner's drawing up too, and I
wonder how he came to make such an awkward business of it. Did
you see it?"
Bingley replied that he did, and made his congratulations.
Elizabeth dared not lift up her eyes. How Mr. Darcy looked,
therefore, she could not tell.
"It is a delightful thing, to be sure, to have a daughter
well married," continued her mother, "but at the same time,
Mr. Bingley, it is very hard to have her taken such a way from
me. They are gone down to Newcastle, a place quite northward,
it seems, and there they are to stay I do not know how long.
His regiment is there; for I suppose you have heard of his
leaving the - - shire, and of his being gone into the regulars.
Thank Heaven! he has _some_ friends, though perhaps not so
many as he deserves."
Elizabeth, who knew this to be levelled at Mr. Darcy, was
in such misery of shame, that she could hardly keep her seat.
It drew from her, however, the exertion of speaking, which
nothing else had so effectually done before; and she asked
Bingley whether he meant to make any stay in the country at
present. A few weeks, he believed.
"When you have killed all your own birds, Mr. Bingley,"
said her mother, "I beg you will come here, and shoot as
many as you please on Mr. Bennet's manor. I am sure he
will be vastly happy to oblige you, and will save all the
best of the covies for you."
Elizabeth's misery increased, at such unnecessary, such
officious attention! Were the same fair prospect to arise at
present as had flattered them a year ago, every thing, she was
persuaded, would be hastening to the same vexatious conclusion.
At that instant, she felt that years of happiness could not
make Jane or herself amends for moments of such painful
"The first wish of my heart," said she to herself, "is never
more to be in company with either of them. Their society can
afford no pleasure that will atone for such wretchedness as
this! Let me never see either one or the other again!"
Yet the misery, for which years of happiness were to offer no
compensation, received soon afterwards material relief, from
observing how much the beauty of her sister re-kindled the
admiration of her former lover. When first he came in, he had
spoken to her but little; but every five minutes seemed to be
giving her more of his attention. He found her as handsome as
she had been last year; as good natured, and as unaffected,
though not quite so chatty. Jane was anxious that no difference
should be perceived in her at all, and was really persuaded that
she talked as much as ever. But her mind was so busily engaged,
that she did not always know when she was silent.
When the gentlemen rose to go away, Mrs. Bennet was mindful of
her intended civility, and they were invited and engaged to
dine at Longbourn in a few days time.
"You are quite a visit in my debt, Mr. Bingley," she added,
"for when you went to town last winter, you promised to take
a family dinner with us, as soon as you returned. I have not
forgot, you see; and I assure you, I was very much disappointed
that you did not come back and keep your engagement."
Bingley looked a little silly at this reflection, and said
something of his concern at having been prevented by business.
They then went away.
Mrs. Bennet had been strongly inclined to ask them to stay and
dine there that day; but, though she always kept a very good
table, she did not think anything less than two courses could
be good enough for a man on whom she had such anxious designs,
or satisfy the appetite and pride of one who had ten thousand a
As soon as they were gone, Elizabeth walked out to recover
her spirits; or in other words, to dwell without interruption
on those subjects that must deaden them more. Mr. Darcy's
behaviour astonished and vexed her.
"Why, if he came only to be silent, grave, and indifferent,"
said she, "did he come at all?"
She could settle it in no way that gave her pleasure.
"He could be still amiable, still pleasing, to my uncle and
aunt, when he was in town; and why not to me? If he fears me,
why come hither? If he no longer cares for me, why silent?
Teasing, teasing, man! I will think no more about him."
Her resolution was for a short time involuntarily kept by
the approach of her sister, who joined her with a cheerful
look, which showed her better satisfied with their visitors,
"Now," said she, "that this first meeting is over, I feel
perfectly easy. I know my own strength, and I shall never be
embarrassed again by his coming. I am glad he dines here on
Tuesday. It will then be publicly seen that, on both sides,
we meet only as common and indifferent acquaintance."
"Yes, very indifferent indeed," said Elizabeth, laughingly.
"Oh, Jane, take care."
"My dear Lizzy, you cannot think me so weak, as to be in danger
"I think you are in very great danger of making him as much
in love with you as ever."
* * * * *
They did not see the gentlemen again till Tuesday; and
Mrs. Bennet, in the meanwhile, was giving way to all the
happy schemes, which the good humour and common politeness
of Bingley, in half an hour's visit, had revived.
On Tuesday there was a large party assembled at Longbourn;
and the two who were most anxiously expected, to the credit of
their punctuality as sportsmen, were in very good time. When
they repaired to the dining-room, Elizabeth eagerly watched to
see whether Bingley would take the place, which, in all their
former parties, had belonged to him, by her sister. Her
prudent mother, occupied by the same ideas, forbore to invite
him to sit by herself. On entering the room, he seemed to
hesitate; but Jane happened to look round, and happened to
smile: it was decided. He placed himself by her.
Elizabeth, with a triumphant sensation, looked towards his
friend. He bore it with noble indifference, and she would have
imagined that Bingley had received his sanction to be happy,
had she not seen his eyes likewise turned towards Mr. Darcy,
with an expression of half-laughing alarm.
His behaviour to her sister was such, during dinner time, as
showed an admiration of her, which, though more guarded than
formerly, persuaded Elizabeth, that if left wholly to himself,
Jane's happiness, and his own, would be speedily secured.
Though she dared not depend upon the consequence, she yet
received pleasure from observing his behaviour. It gave her
all the animation that her spirits could boast; for she was in
no cheerful humour. Mr. Darcy was almost as far from her as
the table could divide them. He was on one side of her mother.
She knew how little such a situation would give pleasure to
either, or make either appear to advantage. She was not near
enough to hear any of their discourse, but she could see how
seldom they spoke to each other, and how formal and cold was
their manner whenever they did. Her mother's ungraciousness,
made the sense of what they owed him more painful to Elizabeth's
mind; and she would, at times, have given anything to be
privileged to tell him that his kindness was neither unknown
nor unfelt by the whole of the family.
She was in hopes that the evening would afford some opportunity
of bringing them together; that the whole of the visit would
not pass away without enabling them to enter into something
more of conversation than the mere ceremonious salutation
attending his entrance. Anxious and uneasy, the period which
passed in the drawing-room, before the gentlemen came, was
wearisome and dull to a degree that almost made her uncivil.
She looked forward to their entrance as the point on which all
her chance of pleasure for the evening must depend.
"If he does not come to me, _then_," said she, "I shall give
him up for ever."
The gentlemen came; and she thought he looked as if he would
have answered her hopes; but, alas! the ladies had crowded
round the table, where Miss Bennet was making tea, and
Elizabeth pouring out the coffee, in so close a confederacy
that there was not a single vacancy near her which would admit
of a chair. And on the gentlemen's approaching, one of the
girls moved closer to her than ever, and said, in a whisper:
"The men shan't come and part us, I am determined. We want
none of them; do we?"
Darcy had walked away to another part of the room. She
followed him with her eyes, envied everyone to whom he spoke,
had scarcely patience enough to help anybody to coffee; and
then was enraged against herself for being so silly!
"A man who has once been refused! How could I ever be foolish
enough to expect a renewal of his love? Is there one among the
sex, who would not protest against such a weakness as a second
proposal to the same woman? There is no indignity so abhorrent
to their feelings!"
She was a little revived, however, by his bringing back his
coffee cup himself; and she seized the opportunity of saying:
"Is your sister at Pemberley still?"
"Yes, she will remain there till Christmas."
"And quite alone? Have all her friends left her?"
"Mrs. Annesley is with her. The others have been gone on to
Scarborough, these three weeks."
She could think of nothing more to say; but if he wished to
converse with her, he might have better success. He stood by
her, however, for some minutes, in silence; and, at last, on
the young lady's whispering to Elizabeth again, he walked away.
When the tea-things were removed, and the card-tables placed,
the ladies all rose, and Elizabeth was then hoping to be soon
joined by him, when all her views were overthrown by seeing him
fall a victim to her mother's rapacity for whist players, and
in a few moments after seated with the rest of the party. She
now lost every expectation of pleasure. They were confined for
the evening at different tables, and she had nothing to hope,
but that his eyes were so often turned towards her side of the
room, as to make him play as unsuccessfully as herself.
Mrs. Bennet had designed to keep the two Netherfield gentlemen
to supper; but their carriage was unluckily ordered before any
of the others, and she had no opportunity of detaining them.
"Well girls," said she, as soon as they were left to themselves,
"What say you to the day? I think every thing has passed off
uncommonly well, I assure you. The dinner was as well dressed
as any I ever saw. The venison was roasted to a turn - and
everybody said they never saw so fat a haunch. The soup was
fifty times better than what we had at the Lucases' last week;
and even Mr. Darcy acknowledged, that the partridges were
remarkably well done; and I suppose he has two or three French
cooks at least. And, my dear Jane, I never saw you look in
greater beauty. Mrs. Long said so too, for I asked her whether
you did not. And what do you think she said besides? 'Ah! Mrs.
Bennet, we shall have her at Netherfield at last.' She did
indeed. I do think Mrs. Long is as good a creature as ever
lived - and her nieces are very pretty behaved girls, and not
at all handsome: I like them prodigiously."
Mrs. Bennet, in short, was in very great spirits; she had seen
enough of Bingley's behaviour to Jane, to be convinced that she
would get him at last; and her expectations of advantage to her
family, when in a happy humour, were so far beyond reason, that
she was quite disappointed at not seeing him there again the
next day, to make his proposals.
"It has been a very agreeable day," said Miss Bennet to
Elizabeth. "The party seemed so well selected, so suitable
one with the other. I hope we may often meet again."
"Lizzy, you must not do so. You must not suspect me. It
mortifies me. I assure you that I have now learnt to enjoy
his conversation as an agreeable and sensible young man,
without having a wish beyond it. I am perfectly satisfied,
from what his manners now are, that he never had any design
of engaging my affection. It is only that he is blessed
with greater sweetness of address, and a stronger desire of
generally pleasing, than any other man."
"You are very cruel," said her sister, "you will not let me
smile, and are provoking me to it every moment."
"How hard it is in some cases to be believed!"
"And how impossible in others!"
"But why should you wish to persuade me that I feel more than I
"That is a question which I hardly know how to answer. We all
love to instruct, though we can teach only what is not worth
knowing. Forgive me; and if you persist in indifference, do
not make me your confidante."
A few days after this visit, Mr. Bingley called again, and
alone. His friend had left him that morning for London, but
was to return home in ten days time. He sat with them above an
hour, and was in remarkably good spirits. Mrs. Bennet invited
him to dine with them; but, with many expressions of concern,
he confessed himself engaged elsewhere.
"Next time you call," said she, "I hope we shall be more
He should be particularly happy at any time, etc. etc.; and if
she would give him leave, would take an early opportunity of
waiting on them.
"Can you come to-morrow?"
Yes, he had no engagement at all for to-morrow; and her
invitation was accepted with alacrity.
He came, and in such very good time that the ladies were none
of them dressed. In ran Mrs. Bennet to her daughter's room, in
her dressing gown, and with her hair half finished, crying out:
"My dear Jane, make haste and hurry down. He is come - Mr.
Bingley is come. He is, indeed. Make haste, make haste.
Here, Sarah, come to Miss Bennet this moment, and help her
on with her gown. Never mind Miss Lizzy's hair."
"We will be down as soon as we can," said Jane; "but I dare say
Kitty is forwarder than either of us, for she went up stairs
half an hour ago."
"Oh! hang Kitty! what has she to do with it? Come be quick,
be quick! Where is your sash, my dear?"
But when her mother was gone, Jane would not be prevailed on to
go down without one of her sisters.
The same anxiety to get them by themselves was visible again
in the evening. After tea, Mr. Bennet retired to the library,
as was his custom, and Mary went up stairs to her instrument.
Two obstacles of the five being thus removed, Mrs. Bennet
sat looking and winking at Elizabeth and Catherine for a
considerable time, without making any impression on them.
Elizabeth would not observe her; and when at last Kitty did,
she very innocently said, "What is the matter mamma? What do
you keep winking at me for? What am I to do?"
"Nothing child, nothing. I did not wink at you." She then sat
still five minutes longer; but unable to waste such a precious
occasion, she suddenly got up, and saying to Kitty, "Come here,
my love, I want to speak to you," took her out of the room.
Jane instantly gave a look at Elizabeth which spoke her
distress at such premeditation, and her entreaty that _she_
would not give in to it. In a few minutes, Mrs. Bennet
half-opened the door and called out:
"Lizzy, my dear, I want to speak with you."
Elizabeth was forced to go.
"We may as well leave them by themselves you know;" said her
mother, as soon as she was in the hall. "Kitty and I are going
upstairs to sit in my dressing-room."
Elizabeth made no attempt to reason with her mother, but
remained quietly in the hall, till she and Kitty were out of
sight, then returned into the drawing-room.
Mrs. Bennet's schemes for this day were ineffectual. Bingley
was every thing that was charming, except the professed lover
of her daughter. His ease and cheerfulness rendered him a
most agreeable addition to their evening party; and he bore
with the ill-judged officiousness of the mother, and heard all
her silly remarks with a forbearance and command of countenance
particularly grateful to the daughter.
He scarcely needed an invitation to stay supper; and before he
went away, an engagement was formed, chiefly through his own
and Mrs. Bennet's means, for his coming next morning to shoot
with her husband.
After this day, Jane said no more of her indifference.
Not a word passed between the sisters concerning Bingley;
but Elizabeth went to bed in the happy belief that all must
speedily be concluded, unless Mr. Darcy returned within the
stated time. Seriously, however, she felt tolerably persuaded
that all this must have taken place with that gentleman's
Bingley was punctual to his appointment; and he and Mr. Bennet
spent the morning together, as had been agreed on. The latter
was much more agreeable than his companion expected. There was
nothing of presumption or folly in Bingley that could provoke
his ridicule, or disgust him into silence; and he was more
communicative, and less eccentric, than the other had ever seen
him. Bingley of course returned with him to dinner; and in the
evening Mrs. Bennet's invention was again at work to get every
body away from him and her daughter. Elizabeth, who had a
letter to write, went into the breakfast room for that purpose
soon after tea; for as the others were all going to sit down to
cards, she could not be wanted to counteract her mother's
But on returning to the drawing-room, when her letter was
finished, she saw, to her infinite surprise, there was
reason to fear that her mother had been too ingenious for
her. On opening the door, she perceived her sister and
Bingley standing together over the hearth, as if engaged in
earnest conversation; and had this led to no suspicion, the
faces of both, as they hastily turned round and moved away
from each other, would have told it all. Their situation
was awkward enough; but _her's_ she thought was still worse.
Not a syllable was uttered by either; and Elizabeth was on
the point of going away again, when Bingley, who as well as
the other had sat down, suddenly rose, and whispering a few
words to her sister, ran out of the room.
Jane could have no reserves from Elizabeth, where confidence
would give pleasure; and instantly embracing her, acknowledged,
with the liveliest emotion, that she was the happiest creature
in the world.
"'Tis too much!" she added, "by far too much. I do not
deserve it. Oh! why is not everybody as happy?"
Elizabeth's congratulations were given with a sincerity, a
warmth, a delight, which words could but poorly express. Every
sentence of kindness was a fresh source of happiness to Jane.
But she would not allow herself to stay with her sister, or say
half that remained to be said for the present.
"I must go instantly to my mother;" she cried. "I would not on
any account trifle with her affectionate solicitude; or allow
her to hear it from anyone but myself. He is gone to my
father already. Oh! Lizzy, to know that what I have to relate
will give such pleasure to all my dear family! how shall I
bear so much happiness!"
She then hastened away to her mother, who had purposely broken
up the card party, and was sitting up stairs with Kitty.
Elizabeth, who was left by herself, now smiled at the rapidity
and ease with which an affair was finally settled, that had