Chapter Ten: Elizabeth Learns the Truth
Elizabeth had the satisfaction of an answer soon. It read,
My dear niece,
I have just received your fetter and must say that I was surprised at it. I
did not think it necessary for you to ask for information.
Your uncle also believed that you knew what was happening at the time.
But let me explain. On the day I came home from Longbourn your uncle had
an unexpected visit from Mr Darcy. He came to say that he had found your
sister and Mr Wickham and had talked to them .
The reason he gave was that it was his fault alone that Wickham’s true
character had been unknown. If he had been more open in the past, no young
woman could have fallen in love with Wickham. Mr Darcy generously felt his
mistaken pride was the cause of all our unhappiness, and so he had to help us
now. If he had another motive, I am sure it was a good one.
When Mr Darcy spoke to Lydia, he offered to help her leave Wickham and
come home, but she would not do so. She wanted no help, and would not hear
of leaving Wickham. She was sure they would get married some day. Then he
spoke to Wickham, and found he had no intention of marrying Lydia.
Wickham told him he had to leave his regiment because of problems with
money. Mr Darcy asked him why he had not married your sister. Mr Bennet
was not very rich, but he and your uncle would have helped Wickham as much
as they could .But Wickham, it seemed,still hoped to marry some young lady
with a great fortune,perhaps in another part of England. Mr Darcy saw how
desperate Wickham’s situation was and understood that he would marry
Lydia, if offered enough money. When Mr Darcy came to us, your uncle
wanted to give him back the money he had paid Wickham, but he refused .
They talked for a long time ,but your uncle could do nothing. But,Lizzy,
nobody must know of this .only you ,or perhaps Jane. That is all. I hope the
story will cause you no displeasure. We saw Mr Darcy at the wedding and the
next day he dined with us.
Will you be angry with me ,my dear Lizzy, if I now say how much I like
him.His behaviour to us has been as pleasing as when we were in Derbyshire.
His understanding and opinions all please me. He needs nothing but a little
more liveliness and that his wife may teach him. But I must write no more .
Elizabeth did not know if she felt more pain or pleasure. Mr Darcy had
done all this. He had had to meet the man he most wished to avoid, to talk to
him and give him money. He had done this for her sister. Her heart said he
had done it for her. But this hope lasted only a moment. He could not have,
for a woman who had already refused him once, had become a relative of
Wickham's! Oh, how she suffered to remember all the impudent things she
had said in the past. She was mortified, but she was proud of him.
The day of Wickham and Lydia's journey North came. Mrs Bennet was
quite unhappy for several days until she heard that the housekeeper at
Netherfield had received word her master was coming in a day or two.
'Well, well and so Mr Bingley is coming,' she said. 'So much the better. He
is nothing to us, and I am sure I never want to see him again. But he is very
welcome to come to Netherfield if he likes. And who knows what may
Jane had not been able to hear of his coming without blushing. When they
were alone she assured Elizabeth that the news did not cause her pleasure or
suffering. She was only glad he came alone because they would see less of
Over the next days Mrs Bennet talked of nothing else till Jane told
Elizabeth she was beginning to be sorry that he was coming at all. She
would be happy when his stay at Netherfield was over.
On the third morning after Mr Bingley's arrival he came to visit.
There is a gentleman with him, mamma,' said Kitty. 'Who can it be? Oh! It
looks just like the man who was with him before, Mr... What's his name?
That tall, proud man.'
'Mr Darcy! and so it does.'
Jane looked at Elizabeth with surprise. Both sisters were uncomfortable.
Each felt for the other. Their mother talked on of her dislike for Mr Darcy
and her decision to be polite to him only as Mr Bingley's friend.
When the gentlemen came in Elizabeth said as little to either as politeness
would allow. She only looked once at Darcy who seemed as serious as usual.
Bingley, she had seen for a moment, looking both pleased and embarrassed.
He was received by Mrs Bennet with a politeness which made her daughters
ashamed, especially when contrasted with the cold politeness to Mr Darcy,
who after asking her how Mr and Mrs Gardiner were, said almost nothing.
He seemed more thoughtful and less anxious to please than when they had
last met. She asked after his sister, but could do no more.
'It is a long time, Mr Bingley, since you went away,' said Mrs Bennet.
'I began to be afraid you would never come back. A great many changes
have happened since you went away. Miss Lucas is married. And one of my
own daughters. Have you heard of it?' Bingley gave her his compliments.'It
is a delightful thing to have a daughter well married,' she continued.
Elizabeth was so ashamed she could not look up. How Mr Darcy looked
she could not tell. She only felt better when she saw Bingley, attracted again
by Jane's beauty, speak to her more and more. He found her as beautiful as
last year and as agreeable, if more silent.
When the gentlemen got up to go, Mrs Bennet invited them to dinner a
few days later.
Elizabeth was left to think about Mr Darcy's behaviour.
'Why, if he came only to be severe and silent and indifferent, did he come
at all?' she thought. 'If he could still be pleasing to my uncle and aunt, why
not to me?'
Jane soon joined her with a happy look.
'Now,' said she, 'that this first meeting is over, I feel easy. I shall never be
embarrassed again by his coming. I am glad he dines here. It will then be
seen that we meet only in a friendly manner.'
At the dinner at Longbourn, Elizabeth observed Bingley's behaviour to her
sister. He showed an admiration which made her think that Jane's happiness
and his own would soon be settled, if he could decide alone. She looked at
Mr Darcy, but he did not show his feelings. He was seated far from her, next
to her mother. She could not hear any of their conversation, but she could
see how little they spoke to each other, and how formal and cold was their
manner. Her mother's impoliteness made the thought of what he had done
for them even harder. She would have given anything to tell him that his
kindness was known and felt by her and hoped the evening would bring
After dinner she waited only for the men to return.
'If he does not come to me then,' said she, 'I shall forget him.'
The gentlemen came and she thought he looked as if he would have
answered her hopes, but there was no place around the table where she and
Jane were making tea and coffee. Darcy walked away. She followed him
with her eyes, angry with herself for her feelings. A man who had once been
refused! How could she expect a renewal of his love? When he came up to
her later she took the chance of saying,
'Is your sister at Pemberley still?'
'Yes. She will remain for some time.'
She could think of nothing more to say, and had no chance to speak to him
alone that evening.
A few days later, Mr Bingley visited again, alone because his friend had
left for London that morning for ten days. Mrs Bennet invited him to dine,
and although it was not possible that day, he accepted the invitation
immediately for the following day.
Over the next days Mr Bingley visited often. One day, Elizabeth walked
into the drawing-room and saw her sister and Bingley standing close
together speaking seriously. They quickly turned around and their faces told
it all. They did not speak, till Bingley said a few words to Jane and hurriedly
left the room. Jane immediately kissed her sister and told her she was the
happiest woman in the world.
'It is too much!' she said. 'Far too much. Oh! Why is not everybody as
happy? But I must go this minute to my mother. He has gone to my father
already. Oh! Lizzy. How is it possible to be so happy?'
When Bingley returned he came up to her and asked her for the good
wishes and affection of a sister. Elizabeth warmly expressed her delight.
When she could speak, Mrs Bennet said to her daughter, 'Oh! my dear,
dear Jane, I am so happy! I am sure I shall not sleep all night. I always said it
must be so. I was Sure you could not be so beautiful for nothing.'
Wickham and Lydia were all forgotten. Jane was her favourite.