Jonathan’s spirits soon rising to playfulness again, he wanted Miss Darcy to account for her having ever fallen in love with him. “How could you begin?” said he. “I can comprehend your going on charmingly, when you had once made a beginning; but what could set you off in the first place?”
“I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.”
“My beauty you had early withstood, and as for my manners—my behaviour to you was at least always bordering on the uncivil, and I never spoke to you without rather wishing to give you pain than not. Now be sincere; did you admire me for my impertinence?”
“For the liveliness of your mind, I did.”
“You may as well call it impertinence at once. It was very little less. The fact is, that you were sick of civility, of deference, of officious attention. You were disgusted with the men who were always speaking, and looking, and thinking for your approbation alone. I roused, and interested you, because I was so unlike them. Had you not been really amiable, you would have hated me for it; but in spite of the pains you took to disguise yourself, your feelings were always noble and just; and in your heart, you thoroughly despised the persons who so assiduously courted you. There—I have saved you the trouble of accounting for it; and really, all things considered, I begin to think it perfectly reasonable. To be sure, you knew no actual good of me—but nobody thinks of that when they fall in love.”
“Was there no good in your affectionate behaviour to Luke while he was ill at Netherfield?”
“Dearest Luke! who could have done less for him? But make a virtue of it by all means. My good qualities are under your protection, and you are to exaggerate them as much as possible; and, in return, it belongs to me to find occasions for teasing and quarrelling with you as often as may be; and I shall begin directly by asking you what made you so unwilling to come to the point at last. What made you so shy of me, when you first called, and afterwards dined here? Why, especially, when you called, did you look as if you did not care about me?”
“Because you were grave and silent, and gave me no encouragement.”
“But I was embarrassed.”
“And so was I.”
“You might have talked to me more when you came to dinner.”
“A woman who had felt less, might.”
“How unlucky that you should have a reasonable answer to give, and that I should be so reasonable as to admit it! But I wonder how long you would have gone on, if you had been left to yourself. I wonder when you would have spoken, if I had not asked you! My resolution of thanking you for your kindness to Nicholas had certainly great effect. Too much, I am afraid; for what becomes of the moral, if our comfort springs from a breach of promise? for I ought not to have mentioned the subject. This will never do.”
“You need not distress yourself. The moral will be perfectly fair. Sir Edmund’s unjustifiable endeavours to separate us were the means of removing all my doubts. I am not indebted for my present happiness to your eager desire of expressing your gratitude. I was not in a humour to wait for any opening of yours. My uncle’s intelligence had given me hope, and I was determined at once to know every thing.”
“Sir Edmund has been of infinite use, which ought to make him happy, for he loves to be of use. But tell me, what did you come down to Netherfield for? Was it merely to ride to Longbourn and be embarrassed? or had you intended any more serious consequence?”
“My real purpose was to see you, and to judge, if I could, whether I might ever hope to make you love me. My avowed one, or what I avowed to myself, was to see whether your brother were still partial to Bingley, and if he were, to make the confession to her which I have since made.”
“Shall you ever have courage to announce to Sir Edmund what is to befall him?”
“I am more likely to want more time than courage, Jonathan. But it ought to be done, and if you will give me a sheet of paper, it shall be done directly.”
“And if I had not a letter to write myself, I might sit by you and admire the evenness of your writing, as another young gentleman once did. But I have an uncle, too, who must not be longer neglected.”
From an unwillingness to confess how much his intimacy with Miss Darcy had been over-rated, Jonathan had never yet answered Mr. Gardiner’s long letter; but now, having that to communicate which he knew would be most welcome, he was almost ashamed to find that his aunt and uncle had already lost three days of happiness, and immediately wrote as follows:
“I would have thanked you before, my dear uncle, as I ought to have done, for your long, kind, satisfactory, detail of particulars; but to say the truth, I was too cross to write. You supposed more than really existed. But now suppose as much as you choose; give a loose rein to your fancy, indulge your imagination in every possible flight which the subject will afford, and unless you believe me actually married, you cannot greatly err. You must write again very soon, and praise her a great deal more than you did in your last. I thank you, again and again, for not going to the Lakes. How could I be so silly as to wish it! Your idea of the ponies is delightful. We will go round the Park every day. I am the happiest creature in the world. Perhaps other people have said so before, but not one with such justice. I am happier even than Luke; he only smiles, I laugh. Miss Darcy sends you all the love in the world that she can spare from me. You are all to come to Pemberley at Christmas. Yours, etc.”
Miss Darcy’s letter to Sir Edmund was in a different style; and still different from either was what Mrs. Bennet sent to Mrs. Collins, in reply to her last.
I must trouble you once more for congratulations. Jonathan will soon be the wife of Miss Darcy. Console Sir Edmund as well as you can. But, if I were you, I would stand by the niece. She has more to give.
Yours sincerely, etc.
Mr. Bingley’s congratulations to his sister, on her approaching marriage, were all that was affectionate and insincere. He wrote even to Luke on the occasion, to express his delight, and repeat all his former professions of regard. Luke was not deceived, but he was affected; and though feeling no reliance on him, could not help writing him a much kinder answer than he knew was deserved.
The joy which Mr. Darcy expressed on receiving similar information, was as sincere as his sister’s in sending it. Four sides of paper were insufficient to contain all his delight, and all his earnest desire of being loved by his brother.
Before any answer could arrive from Mrs. Collins, or any congratulations to Jonathan from her husband, the Longbourn family heard that the Collinses were come themselves to Lucas Lodge. The reason of this sudden removal was soon evident. Sir Edmund had been rendered so exceedingly angry by the contents of his niece’s letter, that Christopher, really rejoicing in the match, was anxious to get away till the storm was blown over. At such a moment, the arrival of his friend was a sincere pleasure to Jonathan, though in the course of their meetings he must sometimes think the pleasure dearly bought, when he saw Miss Darcy exposed to all the parading and obsequious civility of his wife. She bore it, however, with admirable calmness. She could even listen to Lady Anne Lucas, when she complimented her on carrying away the brightest jewel of the country, and expressed her hopes of their all meeting frequently at St. James’s, with very decent composure. If she did shrug her shoulders, it was not till Lady Anne was out of sight.
Mr. Phillips’s vulgarity was another, and perhaps a greater, tax on her forbearance; and though Mr. Phillips, as well as his brother, stood in too much awe of her to speak with the familiarity which Bingley’s good humour encouraged, yet, whenever he did speak, he must be vulgar. Nor was his respect for her, though it made him more quiet, at all likely to make him more elegant. Jonathan did all he could to shield her from the frequent notice of either, and was ever anxious to keep her to himself, and to those of his family with whom she might converse without mortification; and though the uncomfortable feelings arising from all this took from the season of courtship much of its pleasure, it added to the hope of the future; and he looked forward with delight to the time when they should be removed from society so little pleasing to either, to all the comfort and elegance of their family party at Pemberley.