the young ladies in the country. Let Wickham be _your_ man. He
is a pleasant fellow, and would jilt you creditably."
"Thank you, sir, but a less agreeable man would satisfy me. We
must not all expect Jane's good fortune."
"True," said Mr. Bennet, "but it is a comfort to think that
whatever of that kind may befall you, you have an affectionate
mother who will make the most of it."
Mr. Wickham's society was of material service in dispelling the
gloom which the late perverse occurrences had thrown on many
of the Longbourn family. They saw him often, and to his other
recommendations was now added that of general unreserve.
The whole of what Elizabeth had already heard, his claims on
Mr. Darcy, and all that he had suffered from him, was now
openly acknowledged and publicly canvassed; and everybody
was pleased to know how much they had always disliked Mr.
Darcy before they had known anything of the matter.
Miss Bennet was the only creature who could suppose there might
be any extenuating circumstances in the case, unknown to the
society of Hertfordshire; her mild and steady candour always
pleaded for allowances, and urged the possibility of mistakes--but
by everybody else Mr. Darcy was condemned as the worst of men.
After a week spent in professions of love and schemes of felicity,
Mr. Collins was called from his amiable Charlotte by the arrival
of Saturday. The pain of separation, however, might be
alleviated on his side, by preparations for the reception of his