"Did Mr. Darcy give you his reasons for this interference?"
"I understood that there were some very strong objections against the lady."
"And what arts did he use to separate them?"
"He did not talk to me of his own arts," said Fitzwilliam smiling. "He only told
me what I have now told you."
Elizabeth made no answer, and walked on, her heart swelling with indignation.
After watching her a little, Fitzwilliam asked her why she was so thoughtful.
"I am thinking of what you have been telling me," said she.
"Your cousin's conduct does not suit my feelings. Why was he to be the judge?"
"You are rather disposed to call his interference officious?"
"I do not see what right Mr. Darcy had to decide on the propriety of his friend's
inclination, or why, upon his own judgment alone, he was to determine and direct
in what manner that friend was to be happy." "But," she continued, recollecting
herself, "as we know none of the particulars, it is not fair to condemn him. It
is not to be supposed that there was much affection in the case."
"That is not an unnatural surmise," said Fitzwilliam, "but it is lessening the
honour of my cousin's triumph very sadly."
This was spoken jestingly, but it appeared to her so just a picture of Mr. Darcy
that she would not trust herself with an answer; and, therefore, abruptly changing
the conversation, talked on indifferent matters till they reached the parsonage.
There, shut into her own room as soon as their visitor left them, she could think
without interruption of all that she had heard. It was not to be supposed that any
other people could be meant than those with whom she was connected. There could
not exist in the world two men over whom Mr. Darcy could have such boundless influence.
That he had been concerned in the measures taken to separate Mr. Bingley and Jane,
she had never doubted; but she had always attributed to Miss Bingley the principal
design and arrangement of them. If his own vanity, however, did not mislead him,
he was the cause, his pride and caprice were the cause, of all that Jane had suffered,
and still continued to suffer. He had ruined for a while every hope of happiness
for the most affectionate, generous heart in the world; and no one could say how
lasting an evil he might have inflicted.
"There were some very strong objections against the lady," were Colonel Fitzwilliam's
words, and these strong objections probably were, her having one uncle who was a
country attorney, and another who was in business in London.
"To Jane herself," she exclaimed, "there could be no possibility of objection.
All loveliness and goodness as she is! Her understanding excellent, her mind improved,
and her manners captivating. Neither could any thing be urged against my father,
who, though with some peculiarities, has abilities which Mr. Darcy himself need
not disdain, and respectability which he will probably never reach." When she thought
of her mother, indeed, her confidence gave way a little, but she would not allow
that any objections there had material weight with Mr. Darcy, whose pride, she
was convinced, would receive a deeper wound from the want of importance in his friend's
connections, than from their want of sense; and she was quite decided at last, that
he had been partly governed by this worst kind of pride, and partly by the wish
of retaining Mr. Bingley for his sister.
The agitation and tears which the subject occasioned brought on a headache; and
it grew so much worse towards the evening that, added to her unwillingness to see
Mr. Darcy, it determined her not to attend her cousins to Rosings, where they were
engaged to drink tea. Mrs. Collins, seeing that she was really unwell, did not press
her to go, and as much as possible prevented her husband from pressing her, but
Mr. Collins could not conceal his apprehension of Lady Catherine's being rather
displeased by her staying at home.
<CHAPTER XI (34)>
WHEN they were gone, Elizabeth, as if intending to exasperate herself as much
as possible against Mr. Darcy, chose for her employment the examination of all the
letters which Jane had written to her since her being in Kent. They contained no
actual complaint, nor was there any revival of past occurrences, or any communication
of present suffering. But in all, and in almost every line of each, there was a
want of that cheerfulness which had been used to characterize her style, and which,
proceeding from the serenity of a mind at ease with itself, and kindly disposed
towards every one, had been scarcely ever clouded. Elizabeth noticed every sentence
conveying the idea of uneasiness with an attention which it had hardly received
on the first perusal. Mr. Darcy's shameful boast of what misery he had been able
to inflict gave her a keener sense of her sister's sufferings. It was some consolation
to think that his visit to Rosings was to end on the day after the next, and a still
greater that in less than a fortnight she should herself be with Jane again, and
enabled to contribute to the recovery of her spirits by all that affection could
She could not think of Darcy's leaving Kent without remembering that his cousin
was to go with him; but Colonel Fitzwilliam had made it clear that he had no intentions
at all, and agreeable as he was, she did not mean to be unhappy about him.
While settling this point, she was suddenly roused by the sound of the door bell,
and her spirits were a little fluttered by the idea of its being Colonel Fitzwilliam
himself, who had once before called late in the evening, and might now come to enquire
particularly after her. But this idea was soon banished, and her spirits were very
differently affected, when, to her utter amazement, she saw Mr. Darcy walk into
In an hurried manner he immediately began an enquiry after her health, imputing
his visit to a wish of hearing that she were better. She answered him with cold
civility. He sat down for a few moments, and then getting up, walked about the room.
Elizabeth was surprised, but said not a word. After a silence of several minutes,
he came towards her in an agitated manner, and thus began, "In vain have I struggled.
It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you
how ardently I admire and love you."
Elizabeth's astonishment was beyond expression. She stared, coloured, doubted,
and was silent. This he considered sufficient encouragement, and the avowal of all
that he felt and had long felt for her immediately followed. He spoke well, but
there were feelings besides those of the heart to be detailed, and he was not more
eloquent on the subject of tenderness than of pride. His sense of her inferiority
-- of its being a degradation -- of the family obstacles which judgment had always
opposed to inclination, were dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence
he was wounding, but was very unlikely to recommend his suit.
In spite of her deeply-rooted dislike, she could not be insensible to the compliment
of such a man's affection, and though her intentions did not vary for an instant,
she was at first sorry for the pain he was to receive; till, roused to resentment
by his subsequent language, she lost all compassion in anger. She tried, however,
to compose herself to answer him with patience, when he should have done. He concluded
with representing to her the strength of that attachment which, in spite of all
his endeavours, he had found impossible to conquer; and with expressing his hope
that it would now be rewarded by her acceptance of his hand. As he said this, she
could easily see that he had no doubt of a favourable answer.
He spoke of apprehension and anxiety, but his countenance expressed real security.
Such a circumstance could only exasperate farther, and when he ceased, the colour
rose into her cheeks, and she said, "In such cases as this, it is, I believe, the
established mode to express a sense of obligation for the sentiments avowed, however
unequally they may be returned. It is natural that obligation should be felt, and
if I could feel gratitude, I would now thank you. But I cannot -- I have never
desired your good opinion, and you have certainly bestowed it most unwillingly.
I am sorry to have occasioned pain to any one.
It has been most unconsciously done, however, and I hope will be of short duration.
The feelings which, you tell me, have long prevented the acknowledgment of your
regard, can have little difficulty in overcoming it after this explanation."
Mr. Darcy, who was leaning against the mantle-piece with his eyes fixed on her
face, seemed to catch her words with no less resentment than surprise. His complexion
became pale with anger, and the disturbance of his mind was visible in every feature.
He was struggling for the appearance of composure, and would not open his lips,
till he believed himself to have attained it. The pause was to Elizabeth's feelings
At length, in a voice of forced calmness, he said, "And this is all the reply
which I am to have the honour of expecting! I might, perhaps, wish to be informed
why, with so little endeavour at civility, I am thus rejected. But it is of small
"I might as well enquire," replied she, "why, with so evident a design of offending
and insulting me, you chose to tell me that you liked me against your will, against
your reason, and even against your character? Was not this some excuse for incivility,
if I was uncivil? But I have other provocations.