The contents of this letter threw Elizabeth into a flutter
of spirits, in which it was difficult to determine whether pleasure or pain bore
the greatest share. The vague
and unsettled suspicions
which uncertainty had produced of what Mr. Darcy might have been doing to forward her sister's match, which she had feared to encourage as an exertion
of goodness too great to be probable, and at the same time dreaded to be just, from the pain of obligation, were proved beyond their greatest extent to be true! He had followed them purposely to town, he had taken on himself all the trouble and mortification attendant
on such a research; in which supplication
had been necessary to a woman whom he must abominate
, and where he was reduced to meet, frequently meet, reason with, persuade, and finally bribe, the man whom he always most wished to avoid, and whose very name it was punishment to him to pronounce. He had done all this for a girl whom he could neither regard nor esteem
. Her heart did whisper that he had done it for her.
But it was a hope shortly checked by other considerations, and she soon felt that even her vanity
was insufficient, when required to depend on his affection
for her -- for a woman who had already refused him -- as able to overcome a sentiment so natural as abhorrence
against relationship with Wickham. Brother-in-law of Wickham! Every kind of pride must revolt
from the connection. He had, to be sure, done much. She was ashamed to think how much. But he had given a reason for his interference, which asked no extraordinary stretch
of belief. It was reasonable that he should feel he had been wrong; he had liberality
, and he had the means of exercising it; and though she would not place herself as his principal inducement
, she could, perhaps, believe that remaining partiality
for her might assist his endeavours in a cause where her peace of mind must be materially
concerned. It was painful, exceedingly
painful, to know that they were under obligations to a person who could never receive a return. They owed the restoration of Lydia, her character, every thing, to him. Oh! how heartily did she grieve over every ungracious
sensation she had ever encouraged, every saucy
speech she had ever directed towards him. For herself she was humbled; but she was proud of him. Proud that in a cause of compassion and honour, he had been able to get the better of himself. She read over her aunt's commendation
of him again and again. It was hardly enough; but it pleased her. She was even sensible of some pleasure, though mixed with regret, on finding how steadfastly
both she and her uncle had been persuaded that affection and confidence subsisted
between Mr. Darcy and herself.
She was roused from her seat, and her reflections
, by some one's approach
; and before she could strike into another path, she was overtaken by Wickham.
"I am afraid I interrupt your solitary ramble
, my dear sister?" said he, as he joined her.
"You certainly do," she replied with a smile; "but it does not follow that the interruption must be unwelcome."
"I should be sorry indeed, if it were. We were always good friends; and now we are better."
"True. Are the others coming out?"
"I do not know. Mrs. Bennet and Lydia are going in the carriage to Meryton. And so, my dear sister, I find, from our uncle and aunt, that you have actually seen Pemberley."
"I almost envy you the pleasure, and yet I believe it would be too much for me, or else I could take it in my way to Newcastle. And you saw the old housekeeper, I suppose? Poor Reynolds, she was always very fond of me. But of course she did not mention my name to you."
"Yes, she did."
"And what did she say?"