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CHAPTER 60

ELIZABETHS SPIRITS SOON rising to playfulness again, she wanted Mr. Darcy to account for his falling in love with her. How could you begin? said she. 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.

It could not have been my beauty, or my killing skills, for they are each quite equal to your own. As for my manners-my behaviour to you was at least always bordering on the uncivil, and I never spoke to you without wishing to give you pain. 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. It was very little else. The fact is, that you were sick of civility, of deference, of officious attention. You were disgusted with the women who were always speaking, and looking, and thinking for your approbation alone. I roused, and interested you, because I was so unlike them. I knew the joy of standing over a vanquished foe; of painting my face and arms with their blood, yet warm, and screaming to the heavens-begging, nay daring, God to send me more enemies to kill. The gentle ladies who so assiduously courted you knew nothing of this joy, and therefore, could never offer you true happiness. 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 Jane while she was ill at Netherfield?

Dearest Jane! Who could have done less for her? 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 man 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!

Lady Catherines unjustifiable endeavour to separate us, and your head from its perch, were the means of removing all my doubts. Your refusal to finish her had given me hope, and I was determined at once to know every thing.

Lady Catherine has been of infinite use, which ought to make her happy, for she 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 Jane was still partial to Bingley, and if she were, to make the confession to him which I have since made.

Shall you ever have courage to announce to Lady Catherine what is to befall her?

Like you, I am not wanting courage; but I am wanting time, 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 lady once did. But I have an aunt, too, who must not be longer neglected.

From an unwillingness to confess how her prospects with Mr. Darcy had been over-rated, Elizabeth had never answered Mrs. Gardiners long letter; but now, having news which she knew would be most welcome, she was almost ashamed to find that her uncle and aunt had already lost three days of happiness, and immediately wrote as follows:

I would have thanked you before, my dear aunt, 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 him 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 phaeton and zombies is delightful. We will go round the park every day, whipping them till their limbs fall off. 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 Jane; she only smiles, I laugh. Mr. Darcy sends you all the love in the world that he can spare from me. You are all to come to Pemberley at Christmas.

YOURS, ETC.


The joy which Miss Darcy expressed on receiving similar information, was as sincere as her brothers in sending it. Four sides of paper were insufficient to contain all her delight, and all her earnest desire of being loved and trained by her sister.


CHAPTER 59 | Pride and Prejudice and Zombies | CHAPTER 61