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could tell her nothing new of the wonders of his presentation and
knighthood; 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 to be in Gracechurch Street by noon. As they drove to Mr.
Gardiner’s door, Jane was at a drawing-room window watching
their arrival; when they entered the passage she was there to
welcome them, and Elizabeth, looking earnestly in her face, was
pleased to see it healthful and lovely as ever. On the stairs were a
troop of little boys and girls, whose eagerness for their cousin’s
appearance would not allow them to wait in the drawing-room,
and whose shyness, as they had not seen her
for a twelvemonth, prevented their coming lower. All was joy and
kindness. The day passed most pleasantly away; the morning in
bustle and shopping, and the evening at one of the theaters.
Elizabeth then contrived to sit by her aunt. Their first subject was
her sister; and she was more grieved than astonished to hear, in
reply to her minute inquiries, that though Jane always struggled to
support her spirits, there were periods of dejection. It was
reasonable, however, to hope that they would not continue long.
Mrs. Gardiner gave her the particulars also of Miss Bingley’s visit
in Gracechurch Street, and repeated conversations occurring at
different 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
complimented her on bearing it so well.
“But, my dear Elizabeth,” she added, “what sort of girl is Miss
King? I should be sorry to think our friend mercenary.” “Pray, my
dear aunt, what is the difference in matrimonial affairs, between
the mercenary and the prudent motive? Where does discretion end,
and avarice begin? Last Christmas you were afraid of his marrying
me, because it would be imprudent; and now, because he is trying
to get a girl with only ten thousand pounds, 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 to think.” “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 made her mistress of this fortune.” “No-why
should he? If it were not allowable for him to gain my affections
because I had no money, what occasion could there be for making
love to a girl whom he did not care about, and who was equally
poor?” “But there seems indelicacy in directing his attention
towards her so soon after this event.” “A man in distressed
circumstances has not time for all those elegant decorums which
other people may observe. If she does not object to it, why should