With no greater events than these in the Longbourn family, and otherwis_iversified by little beyond the walks to Meryton, sometimes dirty an_ometimes cold, did January and February pass away. March was to tak_lizabeth to Hunsford. She had not at first thought very seriously of goin_hither; but Charlotte, she soon found, was depending on the plan and sh_radually learned to consider it herself with greater pleasure as well a_reater certainty. Absence had increased her desire of seeing Charlotte again,
and weakened her disgust of Mr. Collins. There was novelty in the scheme, an_s, with such a mother and such uncompanionable sisters, home could not b_aultless, a little change was not unwelcome for its own sake. The journe_ould moreover give her a peep at Jane; and, in short, as the time drew near,
she would have been very sorry for any delay. Everything, however, went o_moothly, and was finally settled according to Charlotte's first sketch. Sh_as to accompany Sir William and his second daughter. The improvement o_pending a night in London was added in time, and the plan became perfect a_lan could be.
The only pain was in leaving her father, who would certainly miss her, an_ho, when it came to the point, so little liked her going, that he told her t_rite to him, and almost promised to answer her letter.
The farewell between herself and Mr. Wickham was perfectly friendly; on hi_ide even more. His present pursuit could not make him forget that Elizabet_ad been the first to excite and to deserve his attention, the first to liste_nd to pity, the first to be admired; and in his manner of bidding her adieu,
wishing her every enjoyment, reminding her of what she was to expect in Lad_atherine de Bourgh, and trusting their opinion of her—their opinion o_verybody—would always coincide, there was a solicitude, an interest which sh_elt must ever attach her to him with a most sincere regard; and she parte_rom him convinced that, whether married or single, he must always be he_odel of the amiable and pleasing.
Her fellow-travellers the next day were not of a kind to make her think hi_ess agreeable. Sir William Lucas, and his daughter Maria, a good-humoure_irl, but as empty-headed as himself, had nothing to say that could be wort_earing, and were listened to with about as much delight as the rattle of th_haise. Elizabeth loved absurdities, but she had known Sir William's too long.
He could tell her nothing new of the wonders of his presentation an_nighthood; and his civilities were worn out, like his information.
It was a journey of only twenty-four miles, and they began it so early as t_e in Gracechurch Street by noon. As they drove to Mr. Gardiner's door, Jan_as at a drawing-room window watching their arrival; when they entered th_assage she was there to welcome them, and Elizabeth, looking earnestly in he_ace, was pleased to see it healthful and lovely as ever. On the stairs were _roop of little boys and girls, whose eagerness for their cousin's appearanc_ould not allow them to wait in the drawing-room, and whose shyness, as the_ad not seen her for a twelvemonth, prevented their coming lower. All was jo_nd kindness. The day passed most pleasantly away; the morning in bustle an_hopping, and the evening at one of the theatres.
Elizabeth then contrived to sit by her aunt. Their first object was he_ister; and she was more grieved than astonished to hear, in reply to he_inute inquiries, that though Jane always struggled to support her spirits,
there were periods of dejection. It was reasonable, however, to hope that the_ould not continue long. Mrs. Gardiner gave her the particulars also of Mis_ingley's visit in Gracechurch Street, and repeated conversations occurring a_ifferent times between Jane and herself, which proved that the former had,
from her heart, given up the acquaintance.
Mrs. Gardiner then rallied her niece on Wickham's desertion, and complimente_er on bearing it so well.
"But my dear Elizabeth," she added, "what sort of girl is Miss King? I shoul_e sorry to think our friend mercenary."
"Pray, my dear aunt, what is the difference in matrimonial affairs, betwee_he mercenary and the prudent motive? Where does discretion end, and avaric_egin? Last Christmas you were afraid of his marrying me, because it would b_mprudent; and now, because he is trying to get a girl with only ten thousan_ounds, you want to find out that he is mercenary."
"If you will only tell me what sort of girl Miss King is, I shall know what t_hink."
"She is a very good kind of girl, I believe. I know no harm of her."
"But he paid her not the smallest attention till her grandfather's death mad_er mistress of this fortune."
"No—what should he? If it were not allowable for him to gain _my_ affection_ecause I had no money, what occasion could there be for making love to a gir_hom he did not care about, and who was equally poor?"
"But there seems an indelicacy in directing his attentions towards her so soo_fter this event."
"A man in distressed circumstances has not time for all those elegant decorum_hich other people may observe. If _she_ does not object to it, why shoul_we_?"
" _Her_ not objecting does not justify _him_. It only shows her bein_eficient in something herself—sense or feeling."
"Well," cried Elizabeth, "have it as you choose. _He_ shall be mercenary,
and _she_ shall be foolish."
"No, Lizzy, that is what I do _not_ choose. I should be sorry, you know, t_hink ill of a young man who has lived so long in Derbyshire."
"Oh! if that is all, I have a very poor opinion of young men who live i_erbyshire; and their intimate friends who live in Hertfordshire are not muc_etter. I am sick of them all. Thank Heaven! I am going to-morrow where _hall find a man who has not one agreeable quality, who has neither manner no_ense to recommend him. Stupid men are the only ones worth knowing, afte_ll."
"Take care, Lizzy; that speech savours strongly of disappointment."
Before they were separated by the conclusion of the play, she had th_nexpected happiness of an invitation to accompany her uncle and aunt in _our of pleasure which they proposed taking in the summer.
"We have not determined how far it shall carry us," said Mrs. Gardiner, "but,
perhaps, to the Lakes."
No scheme could have been more agreeable to Elizabeth, and her acceptance o_he invitation was most ready and grateful. "Oh, my dear, dear aunt," sh_apturously cried, "what delight! what felicity! You give me fresh life an_igour. Adieu to disappointment and spleen. What are young men to rocks an_ountains? Oh! what hours of transport we shall spend! And when we _do_eturn, it shall not be like other travellers, without being able to give on_ccurate idea of anything. We _will_ know where we have gone—we _will_ecollect what we have seen. Lakes, mountains, and rivers shall not be jumble_ogether in our imaginations; nor when we attempt to describe any particula_cene, will we begin quarreling about its relative situation. Let _our_irst effusions be less insupportable than those of the generality o_ravellers."