P&P200: The Wickhams Leave Longbourn
“Oh, Lord! I don’t know. Not these two or three years perhaps.”
“Write to me very often, my dear.”
“As often as I can,” Lydia replied. “But you know married women have never much time for writing. My sisters may write to me. They will have nothing better to do.”
In the wake of such a statement Mr. Bennet cast an appraising look at his second eldest daughter, unsurprised to find her lips pursed as she followed the newly-weds out of the house. Surely, he thought, his Lizzy could not repine the end of her youngest sister’s visit as their mother did, and here was his proof. He cleared his throat, anticipating the moment her eyes would meet his so they might share a conspiratorial look, but was soon met with disappointment. Her eyes, much like her somber mood, remained downcast as she stood obediently behind her mother.
Mr. Wickham’s adieus were much more affectionate than his wife’s. He smiled, looked handsome, and said many pretty things.
It was with a heavy heart that Mrs. Bennet raised her handkerchief to wave at the chaise as the driver urged the horses toward the road. Lydia leaned precariously out of the window to return her mother’s gesture, shouting her goodbyes to her sisters, and promising them she shall soon find husbands for them all should they come to her at Christmas.
“Oh, yes!” Mrs. Bennet cried. “We would love that above anything, would we not, girls?”
While Kitty responded with an affirmative, Jane and Elizabeth remained silent on the subject, opting instead to wave to their departing sister. Mary merely turned and went into the house with a huff.
Once the Wickhams were finally on their way and nearly out of sight, Longbourn’s master glanced once more at Elizabeth and said, “He is as fine a fellow as ever I saw. He simpers and smirks and makes love to us all. I am prodigiously proud of him. I defy even Sir William Lucas himself to produce a more valuable son-in-law.”
Elizabeth offered her father nothing beyond a tight smile, however, before turning to go into the house with the others. Her father followed with a frown, his eyes upon his two eldest daughters as they paused before the staircase. His wife’s shrill voice could be heard from within the front parlour, lamenting the fact that her youngest daughter was settling so far from home.
“Lizzy! Jane!” she called. “Where have you girls gotten to? Why are you all so eager to leave me alone with nothing but my nerves?”
Mr. Bennet shrugged with distaste at the same moment Elizabeth’s shoulders slumped in resignation. “Coming, Mamma,” she replied. With a sigh, she and Jane shared a look between them and quietly proceeded to the parlour.
Mr. Bennet felt for them, truly he did, but not enough to come to their rescue by waiting on his wife and two sillier daughters. Pushing the door to his library open, he went immediately to his bottle of port and his books, eager to immerse himself in their familiarity. Here, would he find quiet. Here, would he find comfort. Here, would he be able to forget the trials of the last ten days.