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Pride and Prejudice - Part 11
Pride and Prejudice - Part 11
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Chapter Eleven: Triumph over Pride and Prejudice

One morning, about a week later, the family were sitting in the dining

room, when a carriage came up to the door. It was Lady Catherine de

Bourgh. She entered the room with a manner more than usually unfriendly

and sat down. After a moment she turned to Elizabeth and said,

'I hope you are well, Miss Bennet. That lady I expect is your mother.'

Elizabeth answered that it was.

'And that I expect is one of your sisters.'

Mrs Bennet said that it was. 'May 1 ask your ladyship if you left Mr and

Mrs Collins well?' she asked.

'Yes, very well. I saw them last night.'


At that Lady Catherine got up and asked Elizabeth to walk with her in the

garden where she said, 'You must understand, Miss Bennet, the motive for

my journey.' Elizabeth looked surprised and assured her that she was

mistaken.

'Miss Bennet,' answered her Ladyship in an angry tone, 'you must know

that it is in my character always to say what I think. I shall not change now. I

was told a most scandalous story two days ago. That you, that Miss

Elizabeth Bennet, would probably soon marry Mr Darcy. I knew of course

that it was not true, that he would never do such a thing. I decided to come

here immediately to tell you of my feelings on the matter.'

'If you did not believe it true,' said Elizabeth, 'why did you come?'

'I came to hear you say it is not true. Has Mr Darcy made you an offer of

marriage?'


'Your Ladyship has said that is impossible.'

'It should be so. But you may have made him forget how he should

behave.'

'If I had, I would be the last person to say so.'

'Miss Bennet! Nobody speaks to me like this. You must understand me.

This marriage can never take place. Mr Darcy is to marry my daughter. Now

what have you to say?'

'If that is so, you can have no reason to imagine he will make an offer to

me.'

Lady Catherine was silent for a moment and then said, 'From the

beginning they were meant for each other. It was the favourite wish of his

mother and mine. Are they not to be married because of a young woman of

no importance in the world?'


'Is there no other objection to my marrying Mr Darcy, but an agreement

between his mother and you? Has Mr Darcy no choice in the matter? And if

I am that choice, why may I not accept him?'

'I am ashamed of you. Is this your thanks for my attentions to you, you a

young woman without family, connections or fortune.'

'Mr Darcy is a gentleman. I am a gentleman's daughter.'

'You are a gentleman's daughter. But who was your mother? Who are your

uncles and aunts?'

'Whatever my connections may be,' said Elizabeth, 'if Mr Darcy does not

object, they can be nothing to you.'

'Tell me now. Are you to marry him?'

'I am not.'

'And will you promise me never to marry him?'

'I will make no promise of the kind.'


'Miss Bennet. I know the story of your sister's marriage to Mr Wickham. Is

such a girl to be Mr Darcy's sister?'

'You have now said everything possible to offend me. I have nothing more

to say.' Elizabeth got up and they walked back to the house.

For many hours after Lady Catherine's departure, Elizabeth could not think

clearly. She had said she would prevent their marriage. Would she now

speak to Mr Darcy? With his idea of family pride, he might feel his aunt was

not wrong. If in the next few days he wrote to Bingley saying that he could

not return to Netherfield, she would understand. She would then stop

thinking of him.


No letter came from Mr Darcy, but a few days later he came to Longbourn

himself. Bingley, who wanted to be alone with Jane, had the idea of walking

out together. They walked slowly behind while Elizabeth and Mr Darcy

walked ahead. Now was the moment to speak.

'Mr Darcy,' Elizabeth began, 'I must thank you for your great kindness to

my poor sister. Ever since I have known it, I have been anxious to tell you

how grateful I am.'

'I am very sorry that you were informed of it. I did not think Mrs Gardiner

would tell you.'

'It was Lydia who spoke thoughtlessly. Let me thank you again and again

in the name of all my family.'


'If you will thank me,' he answered, 'thank me for yourself. Much as I

respect your family, I thought only of you.'

Elizabeth was too much embarrassed to say a word. After a moment he

said, 'You are too generous to play with my feelings. My affections and

wishes are unchanged. If you feel the same as you did last April, tell me so

immediately and I will be silent.'

Elizabeth, feeling all the anxiety of his situation, told him that her feelings

had changed so much that she would now receive his proposal with gratitude

and pleasure. The happiness this caused him was greater than any he had

ever known. He spoke as intelligently and warmly as a man violently in love

can do. Elizabeth could not look at him. She could only listen in delight as

he told of his feelings for her.


They walked on, not knowing where. There was too much to be thought

and felt and said. She soon heard that they could thank his aunt for their

present happiness. She had visited him and told him of her conversation with

Elizabeth.

'It taught me to hope,' said he, 'as I had never hoped before. I knew your

character well enough to be certain that if you had decided against me, you

would have told Lady Catherine so.'

Elizabeth blushed and laughed. 'Yes. After saying the worst things to your

face, I could say them to your relatives too.'

'What did you say that was untrue? My behaviour to you was despicable.'

'We shall not disagree on who was more at fault,' said Elizabeth. r'Since

then I hope we are both changed for the better.'


'I cannot so easily forget the things I said ... my manners to you ... your

words when you said to me," ... had you behaved in a more gentleman-like

manner ... " You do not know how those words have made me suffer.'

'I had no idea you would feel them like that.'

'I can believe it. You thought me without any proper feeling, I am sure you

did. I shall never forget your face when you said that I could not propose to

you in any way that would make you accept me.'

'Oh! do not repeat what I said then. I have long been so ashamed of it.'

Darcy mentioned his letter. 'Did it,' said he, 'soon make you think better of

me?'


She explained how she had felt and how, slowly, all her prejudices had

disappeared.

They spoke about their meeting at Pemberley.

'I only wanted to show you that I was not angry about the past,' Darcy said.

'I hoped for your forgiveness. How soon I felt other wishes I cannot say,

but I believe about half an hour after I had seen you.'

After walking a long way they found at last that it was time to be at home.

Where could Bingley and Jane be? Darcy expressed his delight at the news

his friend had given him. In picturing Bingley's happiness, which would

only be less than his own, he continued the conversation till they got home.

That night Elizabeth opened her heart to her sister who could not believe

the news.


'You are not serious, Lizzy. This cannot be, to marry Mr Darcy! I know it

is not true.'

'This is a bad beginning indeed! I am sure nobody else will believe me if

you do not. But I am. speaking the truth. He still loves me and we are to be

married.'

'Oh Lizzy! It cannot be. I know how much you dislike him'

'You know nothing of the matter. Perhaps I did not always love him as

well as I do now. But that must all be forgotten.'

'I must believe you,' cried Jane. 'My dear, dear Lizzy, forgive the question,

but are you quite sure that you can be happy with him?'

'Quite. It is settled between us already that we shall be the happiest people

in the world.'


'And do you really love him well enough? Oh Lizzy, do anything, but do

not marry without affection. Are you quite sure that you feel what you

should?'

When Jane was satisfied about the strength of Elizabeth's affection for

Darcy she said, 'Now I am quite happy, for you will be as happy as myself.'

'Oh no!' cried Mrs Bennet the next morning. 'That disagreeable Mr Darcy

is here again with our dear Bingley. What shall we do with him? Lizzy, you

must walk out with him again.'

That evening when Mr Bennet left the drawing-room, Darcy got up and

followed him. When he appeared again he smiled at Elizabeth and sent her

to her father.


When Elizabeth came into the room, her father was walking around

looking anxious.

'Lizzy,' said he, 'what are you doing? Have you not always hated this

man?'

How she wished then that she had not expressed her former opinions so

strongly! She tried to assure her father of her affection for Darcy.

'Lizzy,' said he, 'I know that you could never be happy unless you truly

loved and respected your husband.'

Elizabeth explained the slow change of her feelings. She assured her father

that Darcy had loved her for many months and that he was not the proud,

disagreeable man she had thought. At last she told him what he had done for

Lydia.


'Well, my dear,' he said, 'if this is true, then he is indeed the man for you.'

Later that night Elizabeth told her mother. On hearing the news, Mrs

Bennet could not say a word. It was many, many minutes before she could

understand. Finally she said,

'Dear me! Mr Darcy! Who would have thought it! And is it really true? Oh!

My sweetest Lizzy! How rich and great you will be! Jane is nothing to it. I

am so happy - such a charming man! So handsome! So tall! Oh my dear

Lizzy, please apologise for my having disliked him so much before. I hope

he will forget it. Dear, dear Lizzy. Three daughters married!'

Happy for all her maternal feelings was the day on which Mrs Bennet

saw her two oldest daughters married. How she delighted in visiting Mrs

Bingley and talking of Mrs Darcy.

Mr Bennet missed his second daughter greatly. His affection for her often

brought him to Pemberley.


Mr Bingley and Jane stayed at Netherfield only a year. To the satisfaction

of the two sisters Mr Bingley then bought an estate only thirty miles from

Pemberley.

Pemberley was Georgiana's home now and the attachment of the two

sisters was just what Darcy had hoped. They learned to love each other very

much.

Lady Catherine sent Darcy such an angry letter on hearing about the

marriage that, for a time, all contact stopped.

With the Gardiners they were intimate. Darcy as well as Elizabeth really

loved them and they were always grateful to the people who, by bringing her

into Derbyshire, had united them.


classics Jane Austen story

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