Darcy was fixed in astonishment. "When I consider," she added, in a yet more agitated
voice, "that I might have prevented it! -- I who knew what he was. Had I but explained some part of it only -- some part of what I learnt -- to my own family! Had his character been known, this could not have happened. But it is all, all too late now."
"I am grieved
, indeed," cried Darcy; "grieved -- shocked. But is it certain, absolutely certain?"
"Oh yes! -- They left Brighton together on Sunday night, and were traced almost to London, but not beyond; they are certainly not gone to Scotland."
"And what has been done, what has been attempted, to recover her?"
"My father is gone to London, and Jane has written to beg my uncle's immediate assistance
, and we shall be off, I hope, in half an hour. But nothing can be done; I know very well that nothing can be done. How is such a man to be worked on? How are they even to be discovered? I have not the smallest hope. It is every way horrible
"When my eyes were opened to his real character. -- Oh! had I known what I ought, what I dared, to do! But I knew not -- I was afraid of doing too much. Wretched, wretched
Darcy made no answer. He seemed scarcely to hear her, and was walking up and down the room in earnest meditation
; his brow contracted
, his air gloomy
. Elizabeth soon observed and instantly understood it. Her power was sinking; every thing must sink under such a proof of family weakness, such an assurance of the deepest disgrace. She should neither wonder nor condemn
, but the belief of his self-conquest brought nothing consolatory
to her bosom
, afforded no palliation
of her distress. It was, on the contrary, exactly calculated to make her understand her own wishes; and never had she so honestly felt that she could have loved him, as now, when all love must be vain.
But self, though it would intrude, could not engross
her. Lydia -- the humiliation
, the misery
, she was bringing on them all -- soon swallowed up every private care; and covering her face with her handkerchief
, Elizabeth was soon lost to every thing else; and, after a pause of several minutes, was only recalled to a sense of her situation by the voice of her companion, who, in a manner, which though it spoke compassion, spoke likewise restraint
, said, "I am afraid you have been long desiring my absence, nor have I any thing to plead
in excuse of my stay, but real, though unavailing
, concern. Would to heaven that any thing could be either said or done on my part, that might offer consolation to such distress! -- But I will not torment you with vain wishes, which may seem purposely to ask for your thanks. This unfortunate affair will, I fear, prevent my sister's having the pleasure of seeing you at Pemberley today."
"Oh, yes. Be so kind as to apologize for us to Miss Darcy. Say that urgent business calls us home immediately. Conceal the unhappy truth as long as it is possible. -- I know it cannot be long."