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apprehensive and anxious attention, while she added“When I said
that he improved on acquaintance, I did not mean that either his
mind or manners were in a state of improvement, but that, from
knowing him better, his disposition was better understood.”
Wickham’s alarm now appeared in a heightened complexion and
agitated look; for a few minutes he was silent, till, shaking off his
embarrassment, he turned to her again, and said in the gentlest of
accents“You, who so well know my feelings towards Mr. Darcy,
will readily comprehend how sincerely I must rejoice that he is
wise enough to assume even the appearance of what is right. His
pride, in that direction, may be of service, if not to himself, to many
others, for it must deter him from such foul misconduct as I have
suffered by. I only fear that the sort of cautiousness to which you, I
imagine, have been alluding, is merely adopted on his visits to his
aunt, of whose good opinion and judgment he stands much in awe.
His fear of her has always operated, I know, when they were
together; and a good deal is to be imputed to his wish of
forwarding the match with Miss de Bourgh, which I am certain he
has very much at heart.” Elizabeth could not repress a smile at this,
but she answered only by a slight inclination of the head. She saw
that he wanted to engage her on the old subject
of his grievances, and she was in no humor to indulge him. The
rest of the evening passed with the appearance, on his side, of
usual cheerfulness, but with no further attempt to distinguish
Elizabeth; and they parted at last with mutual civility, and possibly
a mutual desire of never meeting again.

When the party broke up, Lydia returned with Mrs. Forster to
Meryton, from whence they were to set out early the next morning.
The separation between her and her family was rather noisy than
pathetic. Kitty was the only one who shed tears; but she did weep
from vexation and envy. Mrs. Bennet was diffuse in her good
wishes for the felicity of her daughter, and impressive in her
injunctions that she would not miss the opportunity of enjoying
herself as much as possible-advice which there was every reason
to believe would be attended to; and in the clamorous happiness of
Lydia herself in bidding farewell, the more gentle adieus of her
sisters were uttered without being heard.
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