"I begin to be sorry that he comes at all," said Jane to her sister. "It would be nothing; I could see him with perfect indifference
, but I can hardly bear to hear it thus perpetually
talked of. My mother means well; but she does not know, no one can know, how much I suffer from what she says. Happy shall I be, when his stay at Netherfield is over!"
"I wish I could say any thing to comfort you," replied Elizabeth; "but it is wholly out of my power. You must feel it; and the usual satisfaction of preaching
patience to a sufferer is denied me, because you have always so much."
Mr. Bingley arrived. Mrs. Bennet, through the assistance
of servants, contrived
to have the earliest tidings of it, that the period of anxiety and fretfulness
on her side might be as long as it could. She counted the days that must intervene before their invitation could be sent; hopeless of seeing him before. But on the third morning after his arrival in Hertfordshire, she saw him, from her dressing-room window, enter the paddock
and ride towards the house.
Her daughters were eagerly called to partake
of her joy. Jane resolutely kept her place at the table; but Elizabeth, to satisfy her mother, went to the window -- she looked, -- she saw Mr. Darcy with him, and sat down again by her sister.
"There is a gentleman with him, mamma," said Kitty; "who can it be?"
or other, my dear, I suppose; I am sure I do not know."
"La!" replied Kitty, "it looks just like that man that used to be with him before. Mr. what's-his-name. That tall, proud man."
! Mr. Darcy! -- and so it does, I vow. Well, any friend of Mr. Bingley's will always be welcome here, to be sure; but else I must say that I hate the very sight of him."
Jane looked at Elizabeth with surprise and concern. She knew but little of their meeting in Derbyshire, and therefore felt for the awkwardness
which must attend her sister, in seeing him almost for the first time after receiving his explanatory
letter. Both sisters were uncomfortable enough. Each felt for the other, and of course for themselves; and their mother talked on, of her dislike of Mr. Darcy, and her resolution to be civil to him only as Mr. Bingley's friend, without being heard by either of them. But Elizabeth had sources of uneasiness which could not be suspected by Jane, to whom she had never yet had courage to shew Mrs. Gardiner's letter, or to relate her own change of sentiment towards him. To Jane, he could be only a man whose proposals she had refused, and whose merit she had undervalued
; but to her own more extensive
information, he was the person to whom the whole family were indebted for the first of benefits, and whom she regarded herself with an interest, if not quite so tender, at least as reasonable and just as what Jane felt for Bingley. Her astonishment at his coming -- at his coming to Netherfield, to Longbourn, and voluntarily
seeking her again, was almost equal to what she had known on first witnessing his altered behaviour in Derbyshire.
The colour which had been driven from her face, returned for half a minute with an additional glow, and a smile of delight added lustre
to her eyes, as she thought for that space of time that his affection and wishes must still be unshaken. But she would not be secure.