Chapter 12

In consequence of an agreement between the brothers, Jonathan wrote the next morning to his father, to beg that the carriage might be sent for them in the course of the day. But Mr. Bennet, who had calculated on his sons remaining at Netherfield till the following Tuesday, which would exactly finish Luke’s week, could not bring himself to receive them with pleasure before. His answer, therefore, was not propitious, at least not to Jonathan’s wishes, for he was impatient to get home. Mr. Bennet sent them word that they could not possibly have the carriage before Tuesday; and in his postscript it was added that, if Miss Bingley and her brother pressed them to stay longer, he could spare them very well. Against staying longer, however, Jonathan was positively resolved—nor did he much expect it would be asked; and fearful, on the contrary, as being considered as intruding themselves needlessly long, he urged Luke to borrow Miss Bingley’s carriage immediately, and at length it was settled that their original design of leaving Netherfield that morning should be mentioned, and the request made.

The communication excited many professions of concern; and enough was said of wishing them to stay at least till the following day to work on Luke; and till the morrow their going was deferred. Mr. Bingley was then sorry that he had proposed the delay, for his jealousy and dislike of one brother much exceeded his affection for the other.

The mistress of the house heard with real sorrow that they were to go so soon, and repeatedly tried to persuade Mr. Luke Bennet that it would not be safe for him—that he was not enough recovered; but Luke was firm where he felt himself to be right.

To Miss Darcy it was welcome intelligence: Jonathan had been at Netherfield long enough. He attracted her more than she liked—and Mr. Bingley was uncivil to him, and more teasing than usual to herself. She wisely resolved to be particularly careful that no sign of admiration should now escape her, nothing that could elevate him with the hope of influencing her felicity; sensible that if such an idea had been suggested, her behavior during the last day must have material weight in confirming or crushing it. Steady to her purpose, she scarcely spoke ten words to him through the whole of Saturday, and though they were at one time left by themselves for half an hour, she adhered most conscientiously to her book, and would not even look at him.

On Sunday, after morning service, the separation, so agreeable to almost all, took place. Mr. Bingley’s civility to Jonathan increased at last very rapidly, as well as his affection for Luke; and when they parted, after assuring the latter of the pleasure it would always give him to see him either at Longbourn or Netherfield, and embracing him most tenderly, he even shook hands with the former. Jonathan took leave of the whole party in the liveliest spirits.

They were not welcomed home very cordially by their father. Mr. Bennet wondered at their coming, and thought them very wrong to give so much trouble, and was sure Luke would have caught cold again; but their mother, though very laconic in her expressions of pleasure, was really glad to see them; she had felt their importance in the family circle. The evening conversation, when they were all assembled, had lost much of its animation, and almost all its sense, by the absence of Luke and Jonathan.

They found Francis, as usual, deep in the study of thorough bass and human nature; and had some new extracts to admire, and some new observations of thread-bare morality to listen to. William and Nicholas had information for them of a different sort. Much had been done and much had been said in the regiment since the preceding Wednesday: several of the officers had dined lately with their aunt, a private had been flogged, and it had actually been hinted that Colonel Forster was going to be married.

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