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Pride and Prejudice- Part 9
Pride and Prejudice- Part 9
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Chapter Nine: Bad News

Elizabeth had been sorry not to find a letter from Jane on their arrival at

Lambton. On the third day two letters arrived together. They had just been

going to go for a walk, so her aunt and uncle left her and went ahead by

themselves.

Elizabeth opened the first letter. It was five days old.

Dearest Lizzy,

Something most serious has happened. It is about poor Lydia. An express

letter came at twelve last night from Colonel Forster to inform us that she

had gone off to Scotland with one of his officers, to tell the truth with

Wickham! Imagine our surprise. Only Kitty knew something of this. I am very

very sorry. such an unfortunate marriage for both! At least he has not

chosen her for her fortune. He must know my father can given her nothing.

Our poor mother is most unhappy. I must finish as I cannot leave her long.

Elizabeth immediately opened the other letter and read.


By this time you will have received my hurried letter. Dearest lizzy, I have

bad news for you. unfortunate as a marriage between Mr Wickham and our

poor Lydia would be, We are now anxious to hear it has happened. It seems

that they were not going to Scotland. Colonel Forster came yesterday.

Though Lydia's letter to Mrs Forster made them think they were going to

Gretna Green, Denny told a friend that W. never planned to go there or to

marry Lydia at all. As soon as Colonel Forster heard of this he left to go

after them, but could follow them only to Clapham, where they changed

carriage. all that is known after this is that they were seen to continue

towards London.


My father and mother believe the worst, but I cannot think so ill of him.

My poor mother is really ill and remains in her room. As for my father, I

never saw him so. He is going to London with Colonel Forster to try to find

her. What he means to do, I do not know. At such a moment my uncle's

advice and help would be everything in the world. I must ask you, dearest

Lizzy, to come here as soon as possible.

'Oh! Where, where is my uncle?' cried Elizabeth. At that moment the door

was opened by a servant and Mr Darcy appeared. Her face and manner

shocked him. Before he could speak, she cried,

'I am sorry, but I must leave you. I must find Mr Gardiner this minute on

business that cannot wait.'


'Good God, what is the matter?' cried he with more feeling than politeness.

'I will not stop you, but let me go, or the servant. You are not well enough.'

Knowing she could do nothing, she called the servant and asked him to

find her aunt and uncle. When he left the room she sat down and looked so

ill that it was impossible for Darcy to leave her.

'Is there nothing you could take?' he asked in the kindest manner. 'You are

very ill.'

'No, I thank you,' she answered. ' I am quite well. I have only had some

bad news.' She began to cry and for a few minutes could not say another

word. When she could, she told Darcy the story.

'When I think,' she said, 'that it might not have happened if I had told my

family about him! But it is all, all too late now.'


'I am shocked and sorry indeed!' cried Darcy. He walked up and down the

room, deep in thought, his manner severe. Elizabeth understood. He could

no longer feel for her after such an example of the complete impropriety

of her family. Never had she felt so sure that she could have loved him as

now, when all love must be in vain.

At length Darcy turned to her and said, 'You must be wishing me to leave.

I fear my sister will not now have the pleasure of seeing you at Pemberley.'

'Be so kind as to apologise for us to Miss Darcy. Say that important

business calls us home immediately.'

Darcy left his compliments for her relatives and, with only one serious

look, left the room. She was sorry to see him go and, with despair, saw it as

an example of the shame Lydia's behaviour must give all her family.

Mr and Mrs Gardiner soon came back, and as soon as Elizabeth had told

her story and read them Jane's letters, got ready to leave for Longbourn.

On their arrival Jane came running to meet them and tell them there was

no further news.


'Now that my dear uncle has come,' she said, 'I hope everything will be

well.'

'Is my mother well?'

'She is not too ill, and will be very satisfied to see you all.'

But how are you?' cried Elizabeth. 'You look pale. Oh! that I had been

with you. You have had every care and anxiety alone.'

The whole party were in hopes of a letter from Mr Bennet the next

morning, but nothing came. Mr Gardiner had only waited for that before he

left, promising to send Mr Bennet back to Longbourn.

When Mrs Bennet heard this she cried,


'What! Is he coming home without poor Lydia! Surely he will not leave

London before he has found them. Who is to make Wickham marry her, if

he comes away?'

When Mr Bennet arrived he looked as always. It was not till the afternoon

that Elizabeth introduced the subject, saying how sorry she was for his

suffering.

'Say nothing of that,' he answered. 'Who should suffer but me? It has been

my own fault and I should feel it.'

'You must not be too severe on yourself,' said Elizabeth.

'No Lizzy. Let me for once in my life feel how much I have been in the

wrong.'


Two days later a letter came by express from Mr Gardiner, reading

My dear brother,

At last I am able to send you news of my niece, and such as I hope will give

you satisfaction. I was fortunate enough to find out in what part of London

they were. I have seen them both. They are not married, nor can I find they

planned to be, but if you will do what I have promised, I hope it will not be

long before they are. All that you have to do is to assure your daughter the

thousand pounds she would get when you and my sister die, and to give her ,

while you live, one hundred pounds a year. I am sure you will agree to do this .

Answer me as soon as you can. Do not return to London. I will do everything

necessary. We thought it best that Lydia be married from this house. I hope

you agree .

Yours,

Edw. Gardiner


'Is it possible!' cried Elizabeth, 'Can it be possible that he will marry her?'

'Wickham is not as bad then as we have thought him,' said her sister. 'My

dear father, I congratulate you.'

'There are two things that I want very much to know. One is, how much

money your uncle has given Wickham, and the other, how can I ever give it

back.'

'Money, my uncle!' cried Jane. 'What do you mean, Sir?'

'That no man would marry Lydia for only one hundred a year.'

'That is true,' said Elizabeth.'It must be my uncle's doing.

'Generous, good man.'


The sisters quickly went to give their mother the good news and read her

Mr Gardiner's letter. As soon as she had understood, her happiness was as

violent as her despair before.

'My dear, dear Lydia!' she cried. 'This is delightful indeed. She will be

married! I shall see her again! She will be married at sixteen! Oh how I want

to see her and dear Wickham! How happy will we be together.'

That day she came down for the first time to dinner. No sense I'll shame

lessened her triumph. She talked of fashions and carriages and servants and

was busy thinking of a house good enough for the Wickhams. The marriage

of a daughter had been her greatest wish since Jane was sixteen. Her

husband let her talk on while the servants remained, but then said to her,

'Mrs Bennet, let us understand each other. In one house in this

neighbourhood, they shall not come. I will not receive them at Longbourn.'

Elizabeth was sorry that she had told Mr Darcy of their fears now that her

sister would be married. This was not from any hopes for her own happiness.

Even had Lydia's marriage been proper and honourable, Mr Darcy would not

connect himself with a family related to Mr Wickham, a man he despised.

Elizabeth wanted to hear from Darcy now that it seemed impossible. She

was sure that she could have been happy with him when it was no longer

probable that they should meet.


What a triumph for him, she thought, if he knew that the proposal she had

proudly rejected only four months ago, would now have been gladly

received.

Mr Gardiner soon wrote again to inform them that Wickham had decided

to leave his regiment and join another in the north of England. Before they

left, he continued, Lydia wanted to see her family.

Jane and Elizabeth agreed in wishing their parents to receive Lydia as soon

as she was married. At last Mr Bennet agreed, and Mrs Bennet was satisfied

that she could show her married daughter in the neighbourhood.


They came. The family were all together in the breakfast-room to receive

them, Mrs Bennet all smiles, her husband severe, her daughters uneasy.

Lydia's voice was heard, the door opened and she ran into the room. Her

mother welcomed her with delight, gave her hand to Wickham and wished

them happiness. Lydia turned from sister to sister, asking for their

congratulations. Elizabeth was disgusted and even Jane was shocked. Lydia

was Lydia still.

At dinner she walked up to sit by her mother, saying,

'Oh! Jane, I shall sit here now and you must go lower, because I am a

married woman.' She could not wait to see Mrs Philips, the Lucases and all

their other neighbours, and to hear herself called Mrs Wickham. After dinner

she said to her mother,

'Well, mama, and what do you think of my husband? Is he not a charming

man? I hope my sisters will be as lucky. They must go to Brighton. That is

the place to get husbands.' She invited them all to visit her that winter.

'I am sure there will be balls,' she said. 'I shall get husbands for them

before the winter is over.'

'I thank you,' said Elizabeth, 'but I do not like your way of getting

husbands.'

One morning Lydia said to Elizabeth, 'Lizzy,I never told you of my

wedding .You were not there when I told mama. Do you not want to hear?'

'No really,' answered Elizabeth. 'I do not think there can be too little said

on the subject.'

That did not stop Lydia who started once more to tell the story of her

wedding day, and how it had almost not happened. Her uncle was to give her

away, but had to see a man about business shortly before, and was almost

late.


'Luckily he came back in time. I remembered later that if he had not come,

the wedding could have taken place the same, for Mr Darcy would have

been as good.'

'Mr Darcy!' repeated Elizabeth.

'Oh yes! he came there with Wickham, you know. But oh dear! I quite

forgot I should not have said. I promised I would not. What will Wickham

say?'

'If you promised, I will ask you no questions.'

'Thank you ,' said Lydia, 'because if you did I would tell you all, and then

Wickham would be angry.'

Elizabeth had to leave to think it over. Mr Darcy had been at her sister's

wedding. What could it mean? She could find no explanation. Quickly

taking some paper, she wrote a short letter to her aunt, asking for an

explanation if it was possible. If not, she decided, she must find some other


Jane Austen classics story

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