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THE first week of their return was soon gone. The second began. It
was the last of the regiment’s stay in Meryton, and all the young
ladies in the neighborhood were drooping apace. The dejection
was almost universal. The elder Miss Bennets alone were still able
to eat, drink, and sleep, and pursue the usual course of their
employments. Very frequently were they reproached for this
insensibility by Kitty and Lydia, whose own misery was extreme,
and who could not comprehend such hard-heartedness in any of
the family.

“Good Heaven! what is to become of us? What are we to do?”
would they often exclaim in the bitterness of woe. “How can you
be smiling so, Lizzy?” Their affectionate mother shared all their
grief; she remembered what she had herself endured on a similar
occasion, five-and-twenty years ago.

“I am sure,” said she, “I cried for two days together when Colonel
Miller’s regiment went away. I thought I should have broken my
heart.” “I am sure I shall break mine,” said Lydia.

“If one could but go to Brighton!” observed Mrs. Bennet.
“Oh, yes!- if one could but go to Brighton! But papa is so
disagreeable.” “A little sea-bathing would set me up for ever.”
“And my Aunt Philips is sure it would do me a great deal of
good,” added Kitty.

Such were the kind of lamentations resounding perpetually
through Longbourn House. Elizabeth tried to be diverted by them;
but all sense of pleasure was lost in shame. She felt anew the justice
of Mr. Darcy’s objections; and never had she before been so much
disposed to pardon his interference in the views of his friend.

But the gloom of Lydia’s prospect was shortly cleared away; for
she received an invitation from Mrs. Forster, the wife of the colonel
of the regiment, to accompany her to Brighton. This invaluable
friend was a very young woman, and very lately married. A
resemblance in good humor and good spirits had recommended
her and Lydia to each other, and out of their three months’
acquaintance they had been intimate two.

The rapture of Lydia on this occasion, her adoration of Mrs.
Forster, the delight of Mrs. Bennet, and the mortification of Kitty,
are scarcely to be described.

Wholly inattentive to her sister’s feelings, Lydia flew about the
house in restless ecstasy, calling for every one’s congratulations,
and laughing and talking with more violence than ever; whilst the
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