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He was very fond of them.” This accounted to Elizabeth for Mr.
Wickham’s being among them.

Mrs. Reynolds then directed their attention to one of Miss Darcy,
drawn when she was only eight years old.

“And is Miss Darcy as handsome as her brother?” said Mr.

“Oh! yes-the handsomest young lady that ever was seen; and so
accomplished!- She plays and sings all day long. In the next room
is a new instrument
just come down for her-a present from my master; she comes here
to-morrow with him.” Mr. Gardiner, whose manners were easy
and pleasant, encouraged her communicativeness by his questions
and remarks: Mrs. Reynolds, either from pride or attachment, had
evidently great pleasure in talking of her master and his sister.

“Is your master much at Pemberley in the course of the year?”
“Not so much as I could wish, sir; but I dare say he may spend half
his time here; and Miss Darcy is always down for the summer
months.” “Except,” thought Elizabeth, “when she goes to
Ramsgate.” “If your master would marry, you might see more of
him.” “Yes, sir; but I do not know when that will be. I do not know
who is good enough for him.” Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner smiled.
Elizabeth could not help saying, “It is very much to his credit, I am
sure, that you should think so.” “I say no more than the truth, and
what everybody will say that knows him,” replied the other.
Elizabeth thought this was going pretty far; and she listened with
increasing astonishment as the housekeeper added, “I have never
had a cross word from him in my life, and I have known him ever
since he was four years old.”

This was praise, of all others most extraordinary, most opposite to
her ideas.

That he was not a good-tempered man had been her firmest
opinion. Her keenest attention was awakened; she longed to hear
more, and was grateful to her uncle for saying“There are very few
people of whom so much can be said. You are lucky in having such
a master.” “Yes, sir, I know I am. If I were to go through the world,
I could not meet with a better. But I have always observed, that
they who are good-natured when children, are good-natured when
they grow up; and he was always the sweetesttempered, most
generous-hearted boy in the world.” Elizabeth almost stared at her.
“Can this be Mr. Darcy?” thought she.

“His father was an excellent man,” said Mrs. Gardiner.
“Yes, ma’am, that he was indeed; and his son will be just like him-
just as affable to the poor.” Elizabeth listened, wondered, doubted,
and was impatient for more. Mrs.
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