in that respect; and, I am happy to say, there will be some little money, even when all his debts are discharged, to settle on my niece, in addition to her own fortune. If, as I conclude will be the case, you send me full powers to act in your name throughout the whole of this business, I will immediately give directions to Haggerston for preparing a proper settlement. There will not be the smallest occasion for your coming to town again; therefore, stay quietly at Longbourn, and depend on my diligence and care. Send back your answer as soon as you can, and be careful to write explicitly. We have judged it best that my niece should be married from this house, of which I hope you will approve. She comes to us to-day. I shall write again as soon as any thing more is determined on. Your's, &c.
``Is it possible!'' cried Elizabeth, when she had finished. -- ``Can it be possible that he will marry her?''
``Wickham is not so undeserving, then, as we have thought him!'' said her sister. ``My dear father, I congratulate you.''
``And have you answered the letter?'' said Elizabeth.
``No; but it must be done soon.''
Most earnestly did she then intreat him to lose no more time before he wrote.
``Oh! my dear father,'' she cried, ``come back, and write immediately. Consider how important every moment is, in such a case.''
``Let me write for you,'' said Jane, ``if you dislike the trouble yourself.''
``I dislike it very much,'' he replied; ``but it must be done.''
And so saying, he turned back with them, and walked towards the house.
``And may I ask -- ?'' said Elizabeth, ``but the terms, I suppose, must be complied with.''
``Complied with! I am only ashamed of his asking so little.''
``And they must marry! Yet he is such a man!''
``Yes, yes, they must marry. There is nothing else to be done. But there are two things that I want very much to know: -- one is, how much money your uncle has laid down to bring it about; and the other, how I am ever to pay him.''
``Money! my uncle!'' cried Jane, ``what do you mean, Sir?''
``I mean that no man in his senses would marry Lydia on so slight a temptation as one hundred a year during my life, and fifty after I am gone.''
``That is very true,'' said Elizabeth; ``though it had not occurred to me before. His debts to be discharged, and something still to remain! Oh! it must be my uncle's doings! Generous, good man; I am afraid he has distressed himself. A small sum could not do all this.''
``No,'' said her father, ``Wickham's a fool, if he takes her with a farthing less than ten thousand pounds. I should be sorry to think so ill of him in the very beginning of our relationship.''
``Ten thousand pounds! Heaven forbid! How is half such a sum to be repaid?''
Mr. Bennet made no answer, and each of them, deep in thought, continued silent till they reached the house. Their father then went to the library to write, and the girls walked into the breakfast-room.
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