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