Chapter 40ELIZABETH'S impatience to acquaint Jane with what had happened could no longer be overcome; and at length resolving to suppress every particular in which her sister was concerned, and preparing her to be surprised, she related to her the next morning the chief of the scene between Mr. Darcy and herself.
Miss Bennet's astonishment was soon lessened by the strong sisterly partiality which made any admiration of Elizabeth appear perfectly natural; and all surprise was shortly lost in other feelings. She was sorry that Mr. Darcy should have delivered his sentiments in a manner so little suited to recommend them; but still more was she grieved for the unhappiness which her sister's refusal must have given him.
``His being so sure of succeeding, was wrong,'' said she; ``and certainly ought not to have appeared; but consider how much it must increase his disappointment.''
``Indeed,'' replied Elizabeth, ``I am heartily sorry for him; but he has other feelings which will probably soon drive away his regard for me. You do not blame me, however, for refusing him?''
``Blame you! Oh, no.''
``But you blame me for having spoken so warmly of Wickham.''
``No -- I do not know that you were wrong in saying what you did.''
``But you will know it, when I have told you what happened the very next day.''
She then spoke of the letter, repeating the whole of its contents as far as they concerned George Wickham. What a stroke was this for poor Jane! who would willingly have gone through the world without believing that so much wickedness existed in the whole race of mankind, as was here collected in one individual. Nor was Darcy's vindication, though grateful to her feelings, capable of consoling her for such discovery. Most earnestly did she labour to prove the probability of error, and seek to clear one without involving the other.
``This will not do,'' said Elizabeth. ``You never will be able to make both of them good for any thing. Take your choice, but you must be satisfied with only one. There is but such a quantity of merit between them; just enough to make one good sort of man; and of late it has been shifting about pretty much. For my part, I am inclined to believe it all Mr. Darcy's, but you shall do as you chuse.''
It was some time, however, before a smile could be extorted from Jane.
``I do not know when I have been more shocked,'' said she. ``Wickham so very bad! It is almost past belief. And poor Mr. Darcy! dear Lizzy, only consider what he must have suffered. Such a disappointment! and with the knowledge of your ill opinion too! and having to relate such a thing of his sister! It is really too distressing. I am sure you must feel it so.''
``Oh! no, my regret and compassion are all done away by seeing you so full of both. I know you will do him such ample justice, that I am growing every moment more unconcerned and indifferent. Your profusion makes me saving; and if you lament over him much longer, my heart will be as light as a feather.''
``Poor Wickham; there is such an expression of goodness in his countenance! such an openness and gentleness in his manner.''
``There certainly was some great mismanagement in the education of those two young men. One has got all the goodness, and the other all the appearance of it.''
``I never thought Mr. Darcy so deficient in the appearance of it as you used to do.''
``And yet I meant to be uncommonly clever in taking so decided a dislike to him, without any reason. It is such a spur to one's genius, such an opening for wit to have a dislike of that kind. One may be
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