Darcy asked the Bennets and the Gardiners to attend his family supper.
"I am happy to say that we are not engaged elsewhere. We would be pleased to be your guests," said Mr. Bennet merrily, well aware of his daughter's happiness with the situation. Mrs. Bennet was beside him, all in a flutter.
However, on the day of the supper, Mrs. Bennet was not the only person who was anticipating the event. Kitty was anxiously counting the minutes left to her first visit to a play in the city. Time passed slowly for her, and finally, at the hour appointed, their carriages left them in front of the theatre.
For Lizzy and Jane it was a moment to keep as a cherished remembrance: they had visited that theatre before, but not in the company of Darcy and Bingley. It was a happy hour for them. They could see how people looked at them, holding the arms of those gentlemen. They raised many comments of approval. Some people approached them to greet Darcy and Bingley, and thus the Bennet sisters were introduced to many new acquaintances and friends. Most of them were invited to attend the ball, and therefore were informed of the engagement in this very moment. The couples received the warmest congratulations, and those new friends amiably and kindly addressed the girls. This made Miss Bingley lose part of her composure, making disdainful comments about country people to her sister. Mrs. Hurst, aware that the rant could be heard by others, and thus would work against Caroline's future interests, led her to the seats.
After a while, the party entered the stalls room. Kitty tried not to gape, so beautiful were the interiors of the theatre. It was an old place but it had been taken care well, so time added beauty to the building. An usher showed them their seats. The older people and the Hursts sat. Mr. Bingley pointed to the ornate ceiling and Kitty exclaimed she had never imagined such a beautifully elaborated piece of decoration. Miss Bingley was bored of the girl's raptures and sat with her sister.
"It gives me vertigo to think how they painted that scene. They must have used very high scaffolding," said Kitty.
The group then admired the fine details of the balconies, until the first call that announced the play was about to begin.
The play was an old comedy, well known and a favourite to Darcy and Lizzy. The audience was having a very pleasant time. At a certain point, Lizzy turned to see Darcy laughing, a sight that warmed her heart and made her feel happy.
I love it when you laugh she thought, admiring his merry countenance.
Darcy noticed Lizzy's look, and taking her hand, held it tightly. She felt all the force of their love. Suddenly, the audience laughed again and they looked at the stage again for a moment. Then, they exchanged a short glance and a smile, and he kept her hand held in his as late as the end of the play.
After the play, they had promised to attend a supper at Hursts'. The invitation had been made the day before, and was much more a question of obligated social arrangement than the desire of the Hursts and Miss Bingley to celebrate the engagements.
The food was plentiful and rich, pleasing Mr. Hurst's tastes, and the table was heavily adorned, pleasing Mrs. Hurst's tastes. The hosts were correct but boring, and did not do much to keep their guests, with the result of the early dissolution of the party. That only pained Mrs. Bennet, who praised endlessly the furniture, the food and any other thing that met her glance. The pain of the young couples caused by the soon parting was lessened by the thought of many other meetings to follow soon. None of them felt at ease at Hursts', and even the young girls were extremely quiet.
The following day, Monday the 18th October, Bingley and Darcy spent the morning comparing their lists of guests for the ball and preparing the invitations. They decided to choose Bingley's house instead of Darcy's, which was grander, because Darcy's circle of friends and acquaintances was not only smaller than Bingley's, it was also mainly formed of friends and acquaintances of Bingley's.
Thanks to the short time the party had spent the evening before at the Hursts', the Bennets were ready early in the morning. Thus, Mrs. Bennet and her daughters arrived early at the shop of Mrs. Rhea, the seamstress who did work for Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst.
Lizzy was surprised when she saw Mrs. Rhea, because the lady was younger than she had thought, and her air was reminiscent of that of Miss Bingley, but with a desire to please, instead of to parade over. Lizzy decided not to judge on first impressions, and to wait until they were showed the fabrics and models. When she was shown the designs, she confirmed what she had suspected -- that she would not use the models the Bingley sisters used. When they had a brief moment, she expressed her views. Jane was of the same opinion: the models were too complicated and trimmed to suit her taste. Kitty was glad to hear that as she desired to favour the seamstress suggested by her new friend. However, Mrs. Bennet had found all the models of the most exquisite taste, so she decided to order her gown for the wedding, and if she did not order more work for Mrs. Rhea it was only because her daughters had restrained her until they knew the real cost of the garment.
It was not noon yet when they exited Mrs. Rhea's shop. The music shop was very near, and Mrs. Bennet was not very much interested in visiting it, so she stopped at a jewellers next door to the music shop, and immediately realised that her daughters really needed a pearl collar each, with earrings and a bracelet to match.
"You must have pearls, my dears. They are exquisite and elegant, and you can afford to wear them daily. Now, I had not thought about it, but you must have something elegant to daily wear. To suit your pearls. You can forget your dresses. They were right for girls, but you are much more than that now. A new evening dress and a new morning dress for each of you will do for the moment. Of course, you will have to have new... Oh, what a lovely necklace! You must have one, for the evening dress! ..."
Mrs. Bennet was enraptured, and none of the girls wanted to interrupt her. Kitty was delighted to hear such tales of wealth and fashion, Jane was too sweet to disappoint her mother, and Lizzy knew it was pointless to induce in her mother some sense and tell her they were happy without pearls. After all, the good woman only wished the best for them.
Mrs. Bennet decided to see more necklaces and ask the prices of the pearls. She kept Jane and Kitty, and Lizzy went to the music shop.
Lizzy saw through the shop window that there was a gentleman talking to Mr. Beresford inside the shop. When she entered, she realized with delight that the gentleman was Mr. Darcy. Lizzy expressed her surprise, and for her amusement, she noticed he was not surprised to meet her.
"I am afraid that this morning I am the object of one of your plans" she commented in a low voice while they looked on several music books.
Darcy looked intently at a book, but he was laughing very softly.
Then, Mr. Beresford produced a new book and so warmly recommended it that it was the chosen one. Outside the shop they met Mrs. Bennet and the girls.
"What a happy coincidence," shrilled Mrs. Bennet.
"I had to talk about the pianoforte with Mr. Beresford," said Darcy, with an embarrassed look that only Lizzy recognized.
"Is Georgiana coming to dinner at Gardiners' today?" asked Kitty.
"She is. Actually, I am on my way home to take Georgiana to the Gardiners'," answered Darcy.
"Happy thought, indeed!" cried Mrs. Bennet. "Where is your handsome barouche? You can take some of us to the Gardiners'. I have had enough walking today".
"I am sorry to say that I did not take the barouche this morning, madam. The weather was very inviting for a morning walk," replied Darcy hastily.
"Then your house is very near. Good! We shall see it," replied Mrs. Bennet.
"It is a pleasant walk, but it takes more than half an hour, madam," said Darcy.
"What a pity, Mr. Darcy! Anyway, in a few hours we shall see it, although a house, to be properly admired has to be visited on daylight hours." Immediately repenting her reproach to Mr. Darcy, she added. "That is why I am so sorry to be neglecting my new family so much. I am the busiest woman these days, you know, but I promise I will be the most attentive mother to you."
She turned to Lizzy saying, "If you are in the mood for more walking, dear, you may have a good look at your future house now."
"I am not tired, and I would really see it," said Lizzy.
Darcy offered her his arm, and said, "Then we should go now, to be at the Gardiners' on time."
Someone had to accompany Mrs. Bennet to the Gardiners' and neither Jane, nor Kitty would interfere in the lovers' walk, so they said goodbye to the couple and looked for a carriage.
"Well, well, Mr. Darcy, you have shown your mastery at achieving complicated plans," said Lizzy when they were round the corner.
"Dear Elizabeth, you puzzle me. What are you talking about?" said Darcy.
"You knew I intended to visit Mr. Beresford's shop at noon," she said accusingly with a smile.
"Of course I knew. I always pay attention to your words, and you said you were going there yesterday," he said, smiling too.
"So you admit you came only to see me," she teased.
"I am delighted to see you, my dear Elizabeth, but I must say that I had to discuss with Mr. Beresford some trouble Georgiana has had with the pianoforte," said Darcy.
Lizzy looked at Darcy, half believing him, half unwilling to believe him. There was something mischievous in his amiable countenance that led her to say, "I think you planned to show me the house without involvement of other people, as the only way to see it calmly. As a regard for my emotions on seeing it, It is an important moment for us both, and you do not want to miss my first impression of it paying attention to anyone else."
"I am happy that I am going to show the house to you alone," he said earnestly, stroking her hand in his arm. "But you miss the fact that I really had to go to the shop without delay and that the morning was too beautiful not to walk." He said this in a lighter tone.
"Mr. Darcy, how could you admit you have been planning again! " she laughed.
"I am admitting nothing more that things have occurred in a very favorable way this morning," he said, in triumph.
Lizzy could see very well that he was just encouraging her teasing.
They enjoyed all the features of their walk. The weather was as benevolent as it could be in late autumn in London; they strolled on elegant streets, passing by elegant people, nodding at some; they glanced at every interesting shop window. Book shops, music shops, tea-rooms, jewelers, flower shops, art shops, milliners', cobblers', print shops and galleries, which they commented as they walked past them.
The house was larger than any other Lizzy had visited in town. The square was elegant, with brown-leafed trees in front of the beautiful facade of the Darcys' home. The rooms were large and fitted up with the finest good taste, with every comfort that money could afford, but suited for people who did not want to boast about how rich they were.
Darcy was eager to know Lizzy's opinion of the house. He was very happy to have the best to offer her, as it was in some part due to his good administration. He was proud of the house but he felt also that kind of unpretentiousness that some kind-hearted men feel towards their beloved, thinking that nothing is good enough for her. He was sensible of the fact that he had been born with all the possible advantages of society. He was the first son of a very rich gentleman, which secured his comfort and that of his sister. Although Darcy abhorred the way Mrs. Bennet behaved, he admitted in his heart that had he been the mother of five girls in an entailed estate, he would have lived in anxiety for their future. Darcy was aware that his Elizabeth could have lived as a companion or governess had not she married for love. It was not in her character to marry to secure her living. She would rather had procured it herself teaching and taking care of other people's children, and this thought added more joy to the present moment, as it was in his hands, or more accurately, in his love, to protect her from a very sad life.
Georgiana was ready when they arrived but she did not want to interfere, and excused herself before they were gone. She had to find a book in the library she had promised to lend Kitty.
Lizzy was not surprised by the elegance of the furniture, nor for the beauty of the paintings. She had expected those things, and thus, the lack of surprise gave her a feeling of anticipated comfort, as she was ready to accommodate there and make dear every detail of the house.
"How beautiful!" she said, admiring a painting of Greek ruins. Then she laughed and Darcy looked at her surprised. "You w ill start to think I do not know more words than "beautiful" and "lovely""
Darcy smiled. "Not at all. I hoped that your comments were those you have made. I am happy that you approve of the house."
"How could I not? It is not only a quite elegant house, it is also a comfortable home." She paused, a little awkwardly.
Darcy noticed her contented countenance and encouraged her. "You can speak openly to me, my dear," he said, smiling.
She blushed and looked the painting intently. "I must say that if the furniture and paintings were different, I would love them with equal sentiments." She paused again, but Darcy would not interrupt her. "My partiality to any place which is your home makes it dear to me."
"I expect us to be very happy here in our home." Darcy took her hand and kissed it tenderly, and Lizzy really believed her life would be happier than she never dared to think, as she realized that her love would be deeper every day. She met his eyes in a look full of love as they walked out of the room.
It could not be said that she was not listening. It would be true to say that Mrs. Gardiner was patiently hearing, for the third time, Mrs. Bennet's tale of how surprised Mrs. Reynolds and Lady Lucas had been when they heard about the engagement between her intelligent Lizzy and Mr. Darcy. Mrs. Bennet's tale was being enhanced with comparisons of her sons-in-law. Wickham was no longer a favourite, as the fortunes of Bingley and Darcy made them much more handsome and agreeable to her eyes. She had forgotten the hours of grief poor Jane had suffered, and Darcy had been always an open and amiable gentleman to her family, according to her own record.
"Mrs. Reynolds was crying out with happiness. I almost feared for her, sister, and was about to get my salts or ask for a soothing tea. She declared Lizzy the most lucky and intelligent girl in the world. But you had to see Lady Lucas' countenance! Oh, dear! I wish her all the best in the world, but when it comes to settle a child, you have to be most serious. I am sure she has had second thoughts about having encouraged Charlotte to marry Mr. Collins. I know she will have Longbourn in time -- in a long, long time, I hope. My dear Mr. Bennet must stay with me and see the new lives of our children. But as we are very good friends, I assured Lady Lucas that her Maria will marry much better than Charlotte, and that's saying something, as Longbourn is a very good estate. I am sure that among my daughters' new friends there will prove to be more than two bachelors to settle the remaining girls. Of course, Kitty will have to marry better than Maria does, as her family will provide the society of these new rich gentlemen...
Mrs. Gardiner saw no point commenting on such well-meditated plans, as Mrs. Bennet did not care for rational conversation. She just smiled and said, "I hope the girls will marry well to fulfill your expectations of settlement and their expectations of happiness, as your elder daughters have done."
Some things must end, and the rambling of Mrs. Bennet found its end when the carriage reached Mr. Darcy's home. She was entirely disposed to be impressed by the house, and such was her admiration that she found no more words than "Dear, oh, my dear" for a long while. She was just capable of gaping and pressing her husband's arm. It was truly an expensive house in every detail, and she was not only impressed for the house itself, but for all the other things that still remained to be seen. She remembered suddenly Lizzy's trip to Derbyshire during the summer, to which she had not paid attention at all, as she had not foreseen anything interesting connected with it. But Mrs. Gardiner could say something about the estate the Darcys had there. Hours later, when Mrs. Gardiner related to her sister-in-law their visit, was one of the few times when Mrs. Bennet had listened full of attention and without interruption, just gaping again at her own good luck and placing a palm over her heart, to keep it quiet.
Lizzy was delighted to see that her mother's admiration of her future richness left her without words for a while. The party touring the house was large, but Darcy found moments, on their own, to steal a glance from Lizzy or press her hand out of the notice of others.
"Mr. Darcy, I have had an interesting conversation with Georgiana."
He smiled, as he could see she was about to tease him again. She continued. "Her pianoforte was a source of distress this morning, when you realized that it had a slight scratch on a key. It is not a surprise that you had to run to Mr. Beresford's."
He laughed softly and said, "So you approve of my diligent errand." Then, they joined the rest of the party.
The dinner was very pleasant to all, not only for the delicious food or the beautiful rooms, but also because it was beginning to dawn on everybody that they were a very comfortable and pleasant party. They began to feel more at ease in the company of the others, and really began to find real pleasure in the society of the new members of the families.
After the coffee was served, Bingley produced an envelope from his pocket and gave it to Kitty.
"Miss Catherine," he said beaming. Darcy, whoÊ was standing at his side, smiled to her too.
Kitty looked at Georgiana inquiringly, but the girl looked equally intrigued and made no answer. Kitty opened it, and read the note.
She never had such an unexpected and pleasant surprise, and she showed it, by being at first confused and without words, and then uttering many expressions of gratitude. Georgiana smiled also with gratitude to her brother, and soon the fuss attracted the attention of everybody, with several nods of approval and smiles.
Such an invitation was unnecessary, but Bingley and Darcy were already attentive elder brothers who knew Kitty might fear she would miss the possibility of attending such a ball, so the card was a meant to soothe her anxiety.
It had been Bingley who commented to Darcy on the enthusiasm of the young girl for balls and her anxiety for not to have the possibility of attending the ball they were to host. Darcy had truly a kind heart, but his disposition was introverted, so to know his new family better, he had to make an effort double that of another person would have had to make in the same circumstances. Bingley did not have to make any effort at all, as, due to his open ways and his attentive disposition to the ease of others, he already knew the Bennet family fairly well. He knew Mr. Bennet the least, as the gentleman had not given the younger man many opportunities to talk to him. They had scarcely talked together, as Mrs. Bennet had warned the old gentleman not to interfere at any time Bingley had paid a visit to Jane. Thus, Mr. Bennet had been happily confined in his library, thereby reducing his knowledge of Bingley to the meals and engagements they had enjoyed together.
Despite these circumstances, and the few words they had exchanged beyond the ones that politeness required, each one had formed a very good opinion of the other. Mr. Bennet already liked Bingley when he left Netherfield in November, but he had learned to appreciate Bingley far more after Lydia's marriage. When he had first visited Bingley in Netherfield he had found an intelligent man, of good temper and with a sense of humour that was not foolish, a man who could hold his own, somewhat clever and witty. Of course, Bingley had also been an object of Mr. Bennet's amusement and attention for some time, because his looks and his attentiveness betrayed he was very much in love with Jane. However, it was a shocking discovery for Mr. Bennet to find that Bingley's closest friend, Darcy, had as a good heart as that of Bingley. Mr. Bennet had noticed from the beginning of their acquaintance that Darcy was far less naturally gifted to engage in conversation and less inclined to please strangers than his friend, so Mr. Bennet had chosen not to seek out his company, as he seemed unlikely to enjoy Mr. Bennet's jokes. It was shocking now, indeed, to see how Darcy addressed him and Mr. Gardiner as if he really cared for their welfare and their opinions, and indeed still more shocking to see how happy was his dear Lizzy, and to know what he had done for Lydia.
The explanations that Lizzy had given him, the permission Darcy asked, had led his mind to perplexity and wonder. Hours later, the noisy happiness of Mrs. Bennet and the fuss caused for the arrangement of the travel to London, did not help to let his mind understand what had happened. Lizzy's words had been sincere, and her father was anxious to believe her. The interview with Darcy had been equally surprising, as Mr. Bennet feared Mr. Darcy was only in want of a wife, but he had expressed more depth of feeling than a mere infatuation that her beauty could warrant. He had talked about love, of an attachment on his side almost since he had met Lizzy, of deep admiration of the many good qualities of her mind and her heart.
Mr. Bennet had been most pleased to hear Lizzy spoken of thus, and still more to find it said by a wealthy man who was known to utter few words and never of appreciation. He hastened in his heart and his mind to think the best of Darcy, but it was not until they were at the Gardiners' when he reached peace on this subject, and it was thanks to Jane.
She was aware that she had been Lizzy's only confidante, and she knew how extremely surprising the engagement could be for the rest of the family. She did not fear for her mother or her sisters, as they were fast in believing everything possible with no regard to the past. But their father was different, and Jane guessed correctly that although he seemed content, he was confused. Jane intended to talk to her father after that evening, once they had returned to the Gardiners'. When the rest of the house was getting ready to bed, she went to the library, where she expected to find him alone.
"Jane! Are you not tired, dear?" said Mr. Bennet.
"Yes." She smiled sweetly, but she took a seat next to his father's. "I wanted to talk with you before I go to bed."
"All right, my dear. I guess what you want to discuss. And I will not delay your rest. I like Bingley exceedingly as he loves you like a fool. There you are"
Jane laughed softly and leaned to kiss her father's cheek. "I know and I am so glad..."
He interrupted her. "Of course I like him. He is going to pay your gowns for ever!"
She shook the head, laughing again. "You will tease me for ever, too!"
"I cannot help it, my dear. To see you so happy makes me happy too, and that irremediably puts me in a teasing mood where no other than you and your beloved are the objects of my amusement."
Jane took advantage of the comment. "I suppose you have noticed Lizzy is very happy too?"
"Certainly. Certainly. She is very happy." But his countenance had changed a little, becoming less relaxed.
"It must have been such a surprise to you," said Jane.
Mr. Bennet sighed. "It was, indeed. I would have never expected it, I confess." Then, as he noticed his melancholy tone of voice, added more cheerfully, "I am very happy for her, too." Jane smiled but did not say a word, encouraging his speech. Then, he added, as it dawned on him, "You were in the secret." He was not being reproachful. He simply wanted not to appear too unaware of everything that happened to his girls. He assumed Jane should have been the matchmaker between Mr. Darcy and Lizzy.
Jane felt relieved, as Mr. Bennet seemed not offended, just curious. "I was not." She smiled at his gesture of surprise. "For some months, I have known that Mr. Darcy was in love with Lizzy. However, Lizzy never said she returned same feelings. I hoped much more than knew that she would love him too, but this was not at all certain for me until she told me that she had accepted Mr. Darcy."
Jane paused, but her father would not interrupt her, so she went on. "I was surprised too, but it was soon overcame, as I realized that I had been misled by Lizzy in the matter. At first, I think she was too prejudiced to see how good Mr. Darcy was, and then, when she knew him better, she did not want to entertain any hope that he could return her new feelings."
Here Mr. Bennet defended his child. "Why she could not want to entertain any hope of a return of feelings? She is beautiful and intelligent, and that is something a gentleman like Mr. Darcy notices and appreciates. I cannot believe she found herself not worthy of him."
Before her father could go on, Jane made haste to explain. "I am afraid that Lydia's imprudent and disgraceful behaviour made her think she had fallen into disgrace, too."
Mr. Bennet was shocked to find out that Lizzy had suffered more from his former inconsistencies and inattention as a father. Although he was about to speak, apologize and express wonder, Jane did not let him interrupt her.
"Of course, Mr. Darcy's behaviour concerning the matter gave her a fair measure of his steady good opinion of her. This must have removed her fears, and when they met again at Longbourn, the happy result was an understanding between them, and the engagement."
"He really has shown himself to be the best friend our family could wish for in a time of trouble," he said thoughtfully. "I am afraid that we did not justice to him."
"Do not blame yourself, father. There have been faults on both sides, but it is of no importance now. They are happy and have forgiven each other and others everything. We should forget as well. The only reason I constantly had a good opinion of Mr. Darcy, is that he was the best friend of Mr. Bingley, but this good opinion was confirmed when I learnt what he had done for us," said Jane.
"I am sorry Jane. I am so sorry," he sighed. He was now aware of what worries his elder daughters had suffered due to his failings. He could not blame Lydia, as he always had known she was a foolish and witless girl.
Jane saw in dismay that her efforts to relieve his father's surprise were making him wretched. He talked again in a sad tone.
"You also suffered. I am very sorry." Jane tried to hide her distress on hearing this, but her countenance showed enough. Her father's eyes went wet and Jane, moved, sat up, reached over to her father and embraced him. She could not help crying at the sight of his pain. After a moment she had comforted and reassured him. They dried their tears, relieved, and Mr. Bennet was soon amused, realizing the humor of the situation, as he said "Look what a pair of fools we are, crying when we should be resting. Have a good rest, Jane. You are engaged now, and one of you two has to sleep, as I'm sure Mr. Bingley is so besotted that he cannot sleep at all."
That made Jane shake her head and smile, before saying good night, and climbing the stair to her room.
The schedule for purchases was being kept without delay. On Monday afternoon, they went to the seamstress suggested by Georgiana, with the satisfying outcome they wanted. Jane and Lizzy liked the place very much. The seamstress used the best fabrics and had the ability to suit the different tastes of her customers. The patterns chosen by the sisters were simple and very becoming on them. They also took some fabric for the shoemaker.
The following day, Mr. Bennet finally went to his tailor to try on his waistcoat. Kitty also had some work to do, as she had to try on not only her gown, but the one sewn for Mary, too. Kitty exclaimed, "I have not seen a more simple and boring dress in a wedding! It is quite vexing to see how Mary will lessen the air of elegance for the rest of the family!"
Jane reminded her, "We should respect Mary's wishes to have a modest appearance."
Kitty's ill mood, however, was not only caused by her sister's poor sense of fashion, for she was bound to return home that afternoon with her father, and she did not want to leave the city so soon. Her low mood was noticed by her sisters, and by the rest of the party. One of the most hateful things is to see a merry young girl sad, so every member of the party who attended the family dinner at the Gardiner's tried to soothe her mood. Mr. Bennet was not much help, "You may be of use, Kitty, helping to convince Mary not to sing at the wedding."
Neither was Mrs. Bennet, telling Kitty, "You would not enjoy the following days in London, as we only intended to attend a few gatherings, more shops and mayhap the opera."
Kitty would have been at the verge of tears if it had not been for the hasty intervention of Georgiana, who assured the girl that she would write to her every day lest Kitty miss any important news before the day of the ball arrived.
Georgiana soothed her new friend, saying, "You are not going to miss anything of consequence, as the only truly important gathering is the day of the ball, and you will attend it for sure."
Lizzy was the most sensible of them and said to Kitty, "We need you to help Mary with the music, so that she chooses happy songs. Otherwise you know she will rather practice serious songs, and tell her it is necessary to devote all her attention to the pianoforte." Lizzy agreed with Kitty in thinking that Mary could ruin the wedding breakfast.
Mr. Bennet and Kitty departed and said their farewell until the day of the ball. Kitty was a bit more comforted with the promise that Jane had made of going together to the theatre as soon as they could after the wedding trips.
Mr. Bennet bade farewell to Lizzy in his own fashion. "You and Jane are very cruel indeed, Lizzy," he said in a low voice. "After years of mocking friends and family you have found a good revenge. I cannot make fun of them," he said referring to Darcy and Bingley, "sensible and intelligent men as they are. You force me to be sensible and intelligent in my turn, and after of years of starvation of good conversation I do not know if my conversation is of the stature of theirs."
When father and daughter were accommodated in the carriage, a servant of the Hursts suddenly arrived with their excuses for being engaged elsewhere thus making impossible saying adieu to them.
The following day brought a rainy morning, on which they visited the new seamstress, where the new morning and evening gowns were ordered. In the afternoon they purchased material to curtains and net curtains to match the new upholstery.
Thursday arrived with more rain and a sore throat for Jane, so they decided to stay at the Gardiners' for the rest of the day. Hopefully, the Bennets thought, the dullness of the day would be alleviated by the arrival of Mr. Bingley, Mr. Darcy and Georgiana to dinner, which was now a settled appointment. However, the attentive and very much in love Charles Bingley excused himself and left the house after dinner, leaving the party a bit surprised, especially Jane, who hoped to get all the tender attentions of her fiancée.
But the mystery was solved within minutes, as no more than a half an hour later Bingley reappeared and with the delightful surprise of a parcel for Jane. She discovered a full set of drawing pencils, watercolors and every other thing needed for an amateur artist. Jane expressed all her delight with a few expressive words for all to hear that showed she was lately willing to draw and many more words impossible to be reproduced as they were to be heard only by Bingley.
Darcy was curious of the matter and asked Lizzy: "I thought she was not fond of drawing?"
Lizzy was beaming. "I am afraid that the close acquaintance of Mr. Bingley makes Jane want to improve in many ways." Darcy smiled. Suddenly, she added, "I wonder if your acquaintance is improving me in any way, or maybe quite the contrary?" Darcy could not help a loud laugh.
Jane distributed some drawing paper for all the girls, as all were eager to try the new paints. Mrs. Gardiner suggested they began with something easier than a natural model, so she produced several painted sheets to be copied. Jane decided to copy a bunch of roses, and Lizzy preferred the drawing of a lion. Georgiana chose a landscape.
The afternoon was rather dull outside, but they had one of the merriest afternoons, drawing and coloring, showing each other the drawings and paintings. Jane's roses were decided to be as very beautiful, and Bingley asked to keep them. Georgiana's landscape was acknowledged as pleasant to the eye, and the Gardiner children begged to keep them, imitating Mr. Bingley who they adored very much. However, the most celebrated drawing was Lizzy's, who had portrayed the fiery lion extremely poorly, to the point of making him more like a big unkempt dog with a bad toothache, due to the difference of the cheeks.
When, days later, Mr. Bennet saw it, declared he had never seen such an inspiring drawing and that it must preside at his library. Lizzy was very proud of her work, as, she said, never had a lion given so much gaiety. Georgiana had hidden a smile with her hand. Jane also smiled but hastened to say that drawing they had lost their skill due to lack of practice. Mrs. Bennet approached Darcy and assured him that Lizzy was extremely accomplished in every other way, and that drawing was not an important issue, to all which Darcy agreed heartily, realizing that it was the first time he had ever sincerely agreed to any of Mrs. Bennet's statements.
The following day Bingley brought Jane another mysterious parcel. This time it was not something to be used indoors, but outdoors, as it was a beautiful scarf made of the softest wool. The present was very highly praised by all, both for the accuracy of it's being needed and for its own value as show of exquisite taste. Bingley admitted he had liked very much the scarf above all the others of the shops, but it was not until Miss Georgiana expressed her favorable opinion, that he decided to buy it. Jane felt very much loved and taken care of, and if she ever had felt sad about Bingley in the past months, it was all reduced to something smaller than a distant and unimportant memory, gaining for happiness the little space of sadness that she had could not avoid storing in the heart.
Darcy also had brought something to Lizzy. "I have a gift for you," he said, producing a book-shaped parcel. "To alleviate the dullness of rainy days, and due to the fact that drawing is not your best skill"
She laughed. "Will you ever stop teasing me about my drawings?"
"I am afraid not, my dear, I cannot waste such an opportunity. As I agreed with your mother yesterday, you are too accomplished in so many other ways." He took her hand and kissed it.
She blushed but kept her eyes steady. "Of course I will not let you think I am perfect."
Both laughed, and then he said, "You shall receive many gifts from me in the following years and my desire was to give you a very special first one. It could not be anything else than a book. This is a book that is not in Pemberley and that cannot be found anywhere else. I am looking forward to reading it. Open it."
Lizzy unwrapped the parcel and was very surprised to find that the book cover was red leather without any letters imprinted, and the pages were not printed.
"My dear Mr. Darcy! I must have a very bad influence on you, because you are teasing me constantly!"
Darcy laughed, "You love books as much as I do, so I give you one. But this one you will have to write it. Your intelligence and wit are not to be wasted and forgotten. You must apply your knowledge of the world and write about it."
She gaped for an instant, and then she protested, "I do not know if I could..." But Darcy could see she was thrilled by the challenge. He soothed her fears with a caress on her cheek. She raised her eyes to him, surprised.
"Dear Elizabeth, I am sure you would enjoy it." At that moment, much against her will, her eyes showed how much he loved him, and she wished to be only in his company to express it to him, as he had done the day he had declared. Soon enough she understood that such words must be said after the wedding day, because of the constant presence of others and the uninviting rush of the city for words that need quietness and solitude.
The following morning the rain ceased for a few hours, which permitted, a walk to a park and a visit to a bookshop without much inconvenience, much to the delight of Darcy and Lizzy. However, the good weather never lasts long enough in late October, so they decided to delay the evening at the opera. Jane feared hard rain, as she wanted to prevent her light cold from turning into something worse. The rest of the party decided to remain with her, although she protested they should attend the very much-anticipated play. She hated to be the cause of their comparatively boring confinement when they should be at their seats in the opera palace.
"Dear, dear, it is of no consequence! There will be so many opportunities for you to go to the opera that soon you will be bored of it!" cried Mrs. Bennet, and then she laughed with pure happiness, as she did every time she thought of the secure and wealthy future of her daughters.
Jane acknowledged the truth in her mother's statement, and became more comfortable.
On Sunday, the rain could not prevent them attending to the Sunday morning service, although Jane still kept her resolution to remain at home. Monday followed much in the same fashion, and Lizzy decided to visit the seamstress with Mrs. Gardiner to explain a little change Jane wanted in the sleeves of her wedding gown, as they had discussed the possibility of her catching a cold due to the light material.
When they finished this errand, Mrs. Gardiner decided to have her gown for the celebration sewn there, and she asked Lizzy to wait in the room outside. Lizzy sat there patiently for a minute or two. Then, she decided she would rather be outside, as the rain was very scarce and thin, and she announced to the shop assistant that she would be in a bookshop nearby and would be back within minutes. The bookshop was just around the corner, but Lizzy did not get that far, as she saw Mr. Darcy himself waiting outside the shop.
"Mr. Darcy!" she exclaimed.
"Good morning," he replied. They both beamed at one another for a moment, for seeing each other and for the premeditation of him being there.
"Good morning! We met by pure chance again. We are very lucky," she teased
"We are, indeed." He offered his arm. "You are waiting for your aunt, I suppose?"
"Mr. Darcy, I am not going to ask you how do you know that." She smiled again and accepted his arm. "We could visit the bookshop around the corner."
"As you please," he said. Lizzy was extremely diverted.
Once in the shop, they examined the volumes on the bookshelves with interest.
"Ah, there, have you read this?" Darcy touched a large book with golden letters on its spine.
"No, I have not," his fiancé admitted.
"It's quite good indeed. But it should not be read hastily, it is to be read carefully."
Lizzy nodded, understanding him. They examined the nearby table. Then they exited the shop, and Lizzy stopped to look at the shop window.
" The Mysteries of Udolpho". Have you read it?" asked Lizzy.
Darcy looked the book with interest. "Do you recommend it?"
"Of course. It is silly and delusional. I think is Lydia and Kitty's favorite book. No wonder Lydia behaved as she did." She spoke quietly. "I am worried about Kitty. I am desperate when I think I must inspire her with sense. Although lately she seems to be doing well." Lizzy took his arm again.
"Do you blame yourself?" he asked with a very kind inflection.
"Somehow... Lydia never paid attention to Jane and me when we tried to correct her. It was such a hopeless task that we soon abandoned it. I think I must have devoted far much more time and efforts to her. I never tried to guide my younger sisters."
"And how is to be a good guide? I have always intended to be a guide to Georgiana and she was almost lost."
"You blame yourself, too"
"But there's hope for you because Georgiana has repented of what she did. Here is your influence. You have encouraged her good sense. She not only looks very intelligent to me, I also think she is a sensible girl. I am sure she has learned."
"She has learned too much," he said gloomily.
"After what happened to her, it was a matter of utter importance to learn. That is how her intelligence helped her. She could not remain in a state of blind innocence. I am afraid that Kitty is not so intelligent. She does not seem to regret what Lydia did."
"I am sure that you will be, that you are," he said emphatically "a very good example for Catherine, and with that of Miss Bennet she will become if not intelligent, sensible. Remember that you are not alone in this task. Bingley and I will be her brothers."
"She is a lucky girl" she smiled to him.
"As for Georgiana," he sighed and went on "I am sure she will not be in danger any more. But the damage is done. With a sensibility and shyness like hers I wonder if she would ever recover from the pain she has suffered at so delicate an age. I almost lost her. And lately, when she most needed consolation I have been of no help for her. I think I even depressed her more with my gloomy moods." He suddenly felt sorry for having said such thing because he was talking about Elizabeth's rejection.
Elizabeth was aware of it but did not feel embarrassed. She was anxious to give him some comfort. He was looking to the ground.
"You blame yourself again too much." She paused. "I must disagree with you, and very gladly so, because as I have said, I think Georgiana is intelligent and sensible. I am sure she has been in great pain, but the certainty of having escaped a most wretched life must have overcame that pain. I agree she surely needed consolation, and probably that left her in a low mood. It is natural Georgiana needing some cheering up. She is at an age where friends and laughter are sought and needed." she paused again. "I really am very glad that she and Kitty have become friends."
They were silent for a moment, Darcy's feelings soothed by Lizzy's words, and Lizzy reflecting of Georgiana. Then she spoke again. "The mutual confidence will grow and I am sure someday Georgiana will confide to me her fears, and then I will tell her how lucky she is and will encourage her hopes of finding a companion to share her life worthy of her good heart. Until then, I will not let her have a sad day if I can."
"My dear, the day I praised your heart, how short I was."
"Well, Mr. Darcy, I am not sure if you will think the same when you see that I tease you endlessly to amuse our sister."
"If it is so, my dear, Georgiana will be very shocked." But he was smiling. "Your good humor and your liveliness will be the best help for her."
He paused, squeezing the hand on his arm. "It is so easy to talk to you, dearest Elizabeth"
"Thank you," she said in a low voice. Then she added briskly "But now I realize that I should not be encouraging you to make schemes to arrange other people's lives."
They laughed softly.
Then Darcy spoke also in a light tone, "I am a man of fixed ways, but I count on you to help me to avoid any wrong action on this matter."
"Kitty and Georgiana will improve each other," he added more seriously.
They remained quiet for a while, until Darcy asked Lizzy.
"You are very silent."
She decided to share her thought. "I cannot help but wonder at the unexpected happy things that happen in life. That we are getting married soon is surprising, as it is to find that Kitty, at her present moment of life, could be of invaluable help for someone else. The conversation ended when Mrs. Gardiner joined them.
The good news of Jane's full restoration to health after her cold was joined a few days later to the arrival of Mr. Bennet and Kitty for the ball.
It can be said that the ball was a success, as it fulfilled every one's particular expectations:
Mrs. Bennet was pleased to see how, among Bingley's friends, there were three or four that could do very well for Kitty, and even for Maria, as Mrs. Bennet had now completely forgiven Charlotte for being the future mistress of Longbourn. Her future new sons' wealth made her very forgiving.
Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst were very much relieved when Mrs. Bennet did not embarrass them in front of other acquaintances and showed some fashion taste wearing colored feathers. Miss Bingley had the opportunity to dance with the several acquaintances present in the rooms and the hope of making stronger bonds.
Kitty and Georgiana were elated of being together again, and it was a delight to see the latter visibly happier in their company.
Bingley and Darcy gave their brides the rings symbolizing their engagements. And Jane and Bingley talked to family and friends and danced, while Darcy and Lizzy danced all the night together.
Mr. Bennet convinced his wife to come back to Longbourn as soon as possible, thus avoiding further expenses, as she had her eye set on more feathers, muslins, umbrellas, gloves, caps...
Two days later, the Bennets had arranged everything for the return and the party had gathered at Darcy's townhouse to say farewell until two days before the wedding.
Georgiana and Kitty counted the days until they would met again at the wedding, and the time before the return of Lizzy and Darcy from their wedding trip. In Kitty's words "it is an awfully long time". But Mrs. Bennet, who in spite of being very glad of getting rid of her daughters, also was very dependent on their company, suddenly clapped her hands and exclaimed that Miss Georgiana could stay at Longbourn, keeping also Mrs. Annesley's assistance.
Everybody agreed it was an excellent suggestion and for the second time Darcy wondered at how he agreed with Mrs. Bennet. Georgiana had not courage enough to make an open exhibition of her feelings and embrace his brother when he gave his permission, as Kitty did with her mother, but she happily held Kitty when she turned to embrace her.
The following day, the Bennets departed to Longbourn. Darcy and Georgiana traveled to Pemberley to give the good news of the wedding, arrange everything for the new mistress and their absence until they returned from the honeymoon. As he had to arrange Netherfield, Bingley felt very fortunate, as his path went along with that of Jane, so they did not have a painful parting. However, in the case of the other couple, it was hard to part. They had their thought fixed on the other, and their last words were often repeated in their minds to find some consolation.
"I will be missing your company. I will make haste to arrive to Netherfield as soon as I can."
"I will be waiting anxiously."
It is generally known that Lizzy and Jane Bennet got married on the same day late in the autumn to Mr. Darcy, from Pemberley, Derbyshire, and to Mr. Bingley, recently established at Netherfield, Hertfordshire.
Very early that morning it was cold and freezing, but the feverish activity kept the occupants of Longbourn warm. The celebration of two happy weddings in the family made apparent all the vivacious nature of the family.
The night before, Lizzy and Jane slept fewer hours than they were accustomed to, although Mrs. Bennet had given them each a cup of soothing tea to help them sleep. They had been awake for some time, exchanging confidences and making their first plans. Both were happy, there are hardly any other words to accurately describe them.
While the soon-to-be brides were carefully dressing themselves, on their wedding morning, Mrs. Bennet rushed from one room to another, saying to Jane and Lizzy, "Oh, my dear, I am so happy!" and shedding tears. She confessed to Jane, "You do not know how consoling is to have you so near. I would die if you all left me!"
Then she said to Lizzy, "Derbyshire", and she sighed heavily.
"Mama, I will be able to visit you often. Mr. Darcy keeps a very good carriage."
That brightened Mrs. Bennet's countenance. "You are right. And how magnificent it is!"
Lizzy chose not to pay much attention to this comment, but she could not hide a smile.
Her mother, who was watching her, commented, "How lovely you look, my dear Lizzy. I hope you will be very very happy." Mrs. Bennet embraced her second daughter and kissed her cheek.
Lizzy could not avoid shedding a tear. She took her mother's hand and said, "Shall we see if Jane is ready?"
They entered Jane's room and both women exclaimed at the sight of her, such was her beauty.
"Madam, I have not seen a more beautiful bride, and I have seen many in all my life," said Mrs. Hill.
"Thank you," said Jane, blushing, making her face more beautiful.
Mrs. Bennet embraced her and kissed her lovingly.
The families at Netherfield were less active, although the household was very busy and excited, preparing the wedding breakfast. It cannot be known what Darcy and Bingley thought but the insightful eye could tell they were waiting anxiously and that they were very happy, in their frequent, pointless errands throughout the house, the constant consulting of their watches, the quiet smiles that sprang from sudden reveries and the merry but short conversations they started.
"I hope we will have good weather," commented Bingley briskly.
"So do I. Rain will be present some days, but I hope we will not have snow," replied Darcy. Few times had a weather conversation had been less futile. Darcy would never talk about the weather with Bingley if it were not important to them.
Then Darcy remembered he wanted to make sure there was chocolate to be served along with the coffee, and hastened out of the room. He knew that it was Lizzy's favorite way to take her coffee. When he returned, he found Bingley looking through the window.
"Shall we go to London or stay in Longbourn for Christmas?" asked Darcy hurriedly.
Bingley stirred. "You gave me quite a start." He smiled. "I was about to ask you. I think we should gather here, and I guess our wives will think the same."
Darcy agreed and sat, but a few moments later he rose and went to ask Mrs. Annesley if Georgiana was getting ready in time or they should ask for more help from the maids.
Bingley amusedly wondered what new errand had Darcy to accomplish, when he was assaulted by the doubt whether he had in his packages a golden bracelet that he intended to give Jane in the following days. Therefore he also exited the room hurriedly.
Georgiana was elated, and impatiently waited to see Kitty again, to meet Maria Lucas whom Kitty had spoken affectionately, and to join the Bennets for the time of the wedding trip. The girl was thoroughly delighted for her brother as she saw he was very much in love with the dashing Elizabeth Bennet. She also was happy for herself at the sight of all that she had gained with the union. In her mind, any woman who could make her brother offer his hand should be admirable and that had made her extend the admiration she devoted to her brother to her new elder sister.
The elation of her heart was also caused by having such a cheerful companion of her age as Kitty Bennet, and she hoped Maria Lucas would be also amiable, and without the affected address that Bingley's sisters showed towards her.
There was also a large amount of relief for the girl in the wedding of her brother. Georgiana had heard in the summer some comments made by Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst about the acquaintance of Lizzy with George Wickham, and it had been troubling her. In those days and until the day her brother had revealed the happy news of his engagement with Miss Elizabeth Bennet, she had feared Lizzy to be in real danger. She thought Lizzy must be presented with the real character of Wickham but she did not dare to think about telling her about it. It would have been most shocking to speak in unfavorable terms of anybody to such a recent acquaintance as Lizzy. Plus Miss Darcy's peculiar relationship with Wickham added such feelings of regret and shame to the issue that the mere thought about warning Lizzy made her feel most uncomfortable, even knowing full well that Miss Bennet will never speak of it. However, in those days of summer, after some reflection, Georgiana found consolation in her brother's friendship with Miss Lizzy, as he would never let a friend find a wretched life with Wickham.
She also hoped that Lizzy would appreciate all the merits that her brother had, and accept to be his wife. She had had no doubt of her brother's attachment to Lizzy, as he never had spoken about anyone in such a way and his behavior had been really odd and changing in the last months.
It was some time after the wedding, and from an unexpected source, that she heard about Wickham. It was unavoidable that Kitty talked about Lydia and her marriage. But the topic was talked of with nonchalance by Kitty, and Georgiana made an effort to refrain her curiosity and to soothe her altered feelings, and with a steady will and the fact of Lydia's estrangement from her family, she soon gained peace and some time after she did not even feel uneasy about it at all.
It is remarkable that the Hursts and Miss Bingley avoided their company until the moment to go to the church.
The ceremony was not too long and the wedding breakfast was extremely pleasant to all. The food was good and plentiful, and the music was well chosen and played, and did not make it impossible to have a conversation.
Mary and Georgiana played in turns, and all the party paid attention to Lizzy and Jane when they sang a few songs beautifully. The deep affection of the bridegrooms showed in their countenances when they beheld their brides. Darcy noted how Lizzy's voice showed more deep emotion, more color, than when she had sang at Rosings Park, and felt proud and elated he was the cause of those emotions.
An overjoyed Sir William Lucas, who was asking him and Bingley to sing, took him out of his reverie. "Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bingley. You should sing a duet with your lovely wives." The man was sincerely glad of these particular weddings, as he had heard from his wife Jane's sad story and had wished the girl would recover from her broken heart. He was glad that it had been Bingley who had restored her heart, as he thought him one of the most excellent young men in the world, very partial to balls and to cheerful conversation. He was also fond of the marriage of Darcy and Lizzy in particular because he had tried to make that match and had been a bit disappointed by his poor results.
This would seem his folly, but Sir Lucas had proven to be much more right than anyone sensible could have ever thought, because he really had had a part in the union of Mr. Darcy and Lizzy, and he was also right when he thought that the cause of Jane's broken heart had been a misunderstanding between the gentleman and the lady, because such a man as Bingley would never broke willingly the heart of a girl.
"I am sorry, I do not know any duets," apologized Darcy, although he did not say he had no intention of learning any, nor had he sang if he knew one, due to his shyness.
"Oh, I know some, but I am afraid it will be for the better of the celebration if I just listen instead of being listened to," said Bingley, beaming.
"It is a pity, indeed. I hoped to see you side by side with your wives singing for us," replied Sir William, disappointed.
"Do not think it a pity. If we cannot have the pleasure of hearing a good duet, we will have the pleasure of not hearing a bad one," said Mr. Bennet, making all of them laugh.
Lizzy was talking animatedly with Charlotte. Each one rejoiced in the other's happiness. "Maria is making a list with names of boys and girls, and guess which name she has written on the girls list."
"Maria?" asked Lizzy.
Charlotte nodded, and they laughed. She lowered her voice "Catherine is the second in the list! I like Kitty's name but I am determined not to use it. Maria says it is for Kitty, but I know that someone else did a huge impression over her already too impressionable young mind."
"I am afraid Mr. Collins may think Catherine is the best name, or Anne."
Charlotte smiled "He can have his opinion, but I will decide," she sighed. "We agreed that I would name our daughters and he would name our sons".
Lizzy laughed again.
"You are very smart!"
Charlotte smiled "I do not think I am. I am afraid I just observe people and thus I know them well enough to tell what they think. Remember about Mr. Darcy. I told you."
"Oh, dear! Did you?"
"I just observed him. He listened to you playing, he eavesdropped on your conversations, and he visited us just to see you."
Lizzy was about to protest, and Charlotte said, "You know it was just to see you." They laughed again.
The days before Lizzy regained a great deal of the intimacy she had had with Charlotte before her marriage with Mr. Collins. They had shared all the news of the last months, so it was Lizzy who chiefly had been talking. Charlotte also had things to comment upon.
"I was very glad when I heard the news. Your mother's nerves are nothing to Lady Catherine's, I assure you. Mr. Collins was afraid she could have an apoplexy. At first I was amused, as it was only a disappointment to her pride, but after a little while, it was highly disagreeable to stand her ill moods. There were no more obstacles for us to come here and visit you than Mr. Collins' objections, so I talked to her doctor and I commented my nerves needed peace and all the rest I could get, the doctor agreed and Mr. Collins was at once convinced by him."
When Lizzy had told her friend about her ladyship's visit, Charlotte told her, "I am now so accustomed to her character that sometimes I have to make efforts not to laugh openly at some of her comments. But I admit in the first weeks it was very hard. I have not met someone as interfering and offhanded. One could expect the most exquisite behavior from someone as grand as her, but I am afraid I have met few people as disagreeable and offensive. It was quite a shock. By the way, one of the first things that Lady Catherine condescended to tell me directly was that Lady Anne was going to marry her cousin Mr. Darcy. I have always thought that her schemes of marrying her daughter to Darcy were her wish and nothing more, especially after his behavior towards you at Rosings. Now I am convinced it was all her fancy. After what you have told me I am sure that he is a man of great honor. If he chose to court a lady in front of his cousin and aunt it is because he had no intentions whatsoever towards his cousin and, of course, no previous engagement with her."
The reader might be unwilling to know how Mr. Bingley's sisters liked the day, but they must know at least that Mrs. Hurst, once that Mr. Darcy was no longer a possible object for her sister, was completely indifferent and therefore, her attention was drawn to its natural place, which was the dresses of the ladies and the wealth shown at the wedding breakfast.
As for Miss Bingley, she did not want to think better of Miss Eliza Bennet than of herself, although she had enough proof of herself being quite different from the other. Not knowing from her experience what was love, she was willing to avoid the sight of happiness of others. A sight she did not understand, did not want to behold and was unable to share. After all she had liked Mr. Darcy's position, wealth and good looks more than she loved him and she decided to think these were the things that Lizzy liked of Mr. Darcy. She was anxious to return to the city, where she could begin to build and strengthen a few friendships that could improve her life, after the one she had schemed for had become impossible. The only pleasure she could have gotten from the wedding, that was to show to all the assembly her superior taste and appearance, was ruined by being constantly bothered by Mrs. Bennet, Mrs. Long, Mrs. Philips and other tiresome women praising her gown or asking where she had got the material.
Both Bennet sisters, in their own way, had been anxious after their engagements, although less Jane than Lizzy, as Jane moved within her neighborhood. Lizzy would start her new life away from her family and specially her dear Jane and her father. However, this anxiety was lessened by Darcy, who by that time knew his Lizzy much better than in past times, guessing that at the beginning of their life together, she could feel a bit lonely. So he proposed Bingley to make the newlyweds trip together. Bingley agreed, as he would do anything to make his friends happier, and the news were gladly heard by Lizzy and Jane, and thereafter, Lizzy felt much more at ease. She warmly expressed her gratitude to her dear Darcy. She gazed him fondly, who each day grew still more in her esteem and suddenly laughed. Darcy was surprised and asked her the reason of her laughter.
"It is hilarious." She was beaming, and he was also, observing her in wonder. "I remember how Jane used to say how strongly Bingley assured her that you were the best friend one could have."
"You find that hilarious?" He asked, confused.
"I must explain this: I find hilarious my intense mistrust of his words by the time. I could not be more prejudiced! You know how I regret it, but now I also find it extremely amusing."
"One of the most painful times of my life, and yours also. But still you find its funny side. I am thankful of your good humor. You are a blessing. You are the best friend I could have".
Lizzy was so impressed by his words that she did not answer, but when the sensation of complete felicity softened, she thought she would invent some teasing way to make him pay for leaving her speechless.
© 2004 Copyright held by author