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Maria! Cousin Elizabeth!
Mr Darcy has arrived at Rosings, and with him, his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, the youngest son of the Earl of Matlock. And the gentlemen have vouchsafed us the greatest honour. They are coming to call on us at the parsonage.
When, my dear?
Even now, Mrs Collins. Even now they are hard upon my heels. Make haste! Make haste!
I think this must be due to you, Lizzy. Mr Darcy would never have come so soon to wait upon me.
You are mistaken, Charlotte, for I know he dislikes me as much as I do him.
Oh, make haste! Make haste!
I am delighted to make your acquaintance at last, Miss Bennet.
At last, sir?
Well, I’ve heard much of you, and none of the praise has been exaggerated, I assure you.
Oh, well, I can well believe that. Mr Darcy is my severest critic.
I hope we shall see you frequently at Rosings while we’re there. I am fond of lively conversation.
Well, this you do not find at Rosings Park?
Well, my aunt does talk a great deal, but seldom requires a response. My friend there speaks hardly a word when he comes into Kent. Though he is lively enough in other places.
Nobody plays, nobody sings. I believe you play and sing, Miss Bennet.
Oh, a little, and very ill. I wouldn’t wish to excite your anticipation.
Oh, I am sure you are too modest, but any relief would be profoundly welcome, I assure you.
C–can you tell me why Mr Darcy keeps staring at me? What do you think offends him?
I hope you family is in good health.
I thank you, yes.
My sister has been in town these three months, have you never happened to see her?
No. No, I have not had that pleasure.
Mr Darcy and I, you see, are not the best of friends.
Well, I am very surprised to hear that.
Why should you be? I always believe in first impressions, and his good opinion once lost, is lost forever.
So you see, it is a hopeless case, is it not, Colonel Fitzwilliam?
Do you mean to frighten me, Mr Darcy, by coming in all this state to hear me? But I won’t be alarmed. My courage always rises with every attempt to intimidate me.
I know you find great enjoyment in professing opinions which are not your own.
Your cousin would teach you not to believe a word I say, Colonel Fitzwilliam. That is ungenerous of him, is it not?
It is, indeed, Darcy.
Impolitic too, for it provokes me to retaliate, and say somewhat of his behaviour in Hertfordshire, which may shock his relations.
I am not afraid of you.
What have you to accuse him of? I should dearly like to know how he behaves among strangers.
First time I ever saw Mr Darcy was at a ball, where he danced only four dances…
…though gentlemen were scarce, and more than one lady was in want of a partner.
I am sorry to pain you, but so it was.
I can well believe it.
I fear I am ill qualified to recommend myself to strangers.
Shall we ask him why?
Why a man of sense and education, who has lived in the world, should be ill qualified to recommend himself to strangers?
I’m…I have not that talent, which some possess, of conversing easily with strangers.
Well, I do not play this instrument so well as I should wish to, but I have always supposed that to be my own fault, because I would not take the trouble of practising.
You are perfectly right. You have employed your time much better. No one admitted to the privilege of hearing you could think anything wanting. We, neither of us, perform to strangers.
What are you talking of?
What are you telling Miss Bennet? I must have my share in the conversation.
This way, sir.
Forgive me. I hope you are feeling better.
I am, thank you.
Will you not sit down?
In vain I have 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.
In declaring myself thus, I am fully aware that I will be going expressly against the wishes of my family, my friends, and, I hardly need add, my own better judgment.
The relative situation of our families is such that any alliance between us must be regarded as a highly reprehensible connection. Indeed, as a rational man, I cannot but regard it as such myself, but it cannot be helped.
Almost from the earliest moments of our acquaintance, I have come to feel for you a passionate admiration and regard, which, despite all my struggles, has overcome every rational objection, and I beg you, most fervently, to relieve my suffering and consent to be my wife.
In such cases as these, I believe the established mode is to express a sense of obligation, but I cannot.
I have never desired your good opinion, and you have certainly bestowed it most unwillingly. I am sorry to cause pain to anyone, but it was most unconsciously done, and I hope will be of short duration.
And this is all the reply I am to expect? I might wonder why, with so little effort at civility, I am rejected.
And I might wonder why, with so evident a desire to offend and insult me, you chose to tell me that you like me against your will, against your reason, and even against your character. Was this not some excuse for incivility, if I was uncivil?
I have every reason in the world to think ill of you. Do you think any consideration would tempt me to accept the man who’s been the means of ruining the happiness of a most beloved sister? Can you deny that you have done it?
I have no wish to deny it. I did everything in my power to separate my friend from your sister, and I rejoice in my success. Towards him I have been kinder than towards myself.
But it is not merely that on which my dislike of you is founded. Long before it had taken place my dislike of you was decided when I heard Mr Wickham’s story of your dealings with him. How can you defend yourself on that subject?
And you take an eager interest in that gentleman’s concerns!
Who that knows what his misfortunes have been could help feeling an interest in him?
His misfortunes. Yes, his misfortunes have been great indeed!
And of your infliction. You have reduced him to his present state of poverty, and yet you can treat his misfortunes with contempt and ridicule.
And this is your opinion of me?
My faults by this calculation are heavy indeed.
But perhaps these offences might have been overlooked had not your pride been hurt by the honest confession of the scruples which had long prevented my forming any serious design on you. Had I concealed my struggles and flattered you. But disguise of every sort is my abhorrence. Nor am I ashamed of the feelings I related. They were natural and just. Did you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your connections?
To congratulate myself on the hope of relations whose condition in life is so decidedly below my own?
You’re mistaken, Mr Darcy. The mode of your declaration merely spared me any concern I might have felt in refusing you, had you behaved in a more gentlemanlike manner. You could not have made me the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it. From the very beginning, your manners impressed me with fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain for the feelings of others. I had not known you a month before I felt you were the last man in the world whom I could ever marry.
You have said quite enough, Madam. I perfectly comprehend your feelings. And now have only to be ashamed of what my own have been. Please forgive me for having taken up your time and accept my best wishes for your health and happiness.