Touched by the conclusion of the story she had been reading for days, Elizabeth contentedly closed her book. How close she was to her journey’s end she could not say, for she had never traveled that way before. She stole a glance out of the carriage window and commenced admiring the evidence of spring’s awakening flashing by.
What a lovely day for traveling this has turned out to be, she silently considered. The bright sun on her face was pure bliss. Elizabeth smiled.
Time away from Longbourn was always met with an ardent spirit on Elizabeth’s part. Most of her time spent away from her father’s home was passed in town with her uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner. This occasion would find her in Kent. The visit could not have been better timed as far as she was concerned. Nothing of any genuine excitement was underway at home what with the militia off to Brighton.
Indeed, the militia’s recent removal from Meryton, and along with it the departure of the handsome Mr. George Wickham, had been factored into Elizabeth’s decision to visit her intimate friend Charlotte Collins, née Lucas. Even though the reasons that Elizabeth should not have been disheartened by Mr. Wickham’s leave-taking were plentiful, she was decidedly affected all the same.
For one, she had been gently advised by her aunt, Mrs. Gardiner, for whom she held a particular regard, not to fall in love with that young man. Elizabeth assured her aunt that she had not and that she would not, so convinced was she that she had been and would always be the ruler of her own heart, even though Mr. Wickham was beyond comparison the most agreeable man she had ever met.
Secondly, in courting Miss Mary King, whose grandfather’s death had made her the mistress of a fortune of ten thousand pounds, Mr. Wickham had effectively abandoned his affections for Elizabeth with scarcely a second thought. She concluded, however, that the speed with which she recovered from his defection was the surest testament to the fact that her heart had remained untouched. That did not stop her from consoling her vanity as needed every now and again in the ensuing weeks and months.
I suppose had I been the recipient of a fortune of ten thousand pounds, I might have been his only choice, Elizabeth always liked to tell herself.
Nonetheless, the memories of him were the closest symptom of love she had ever suffered, and she cherished them as keenly as would any young woman who had ever been in the throes of her first infatuation. And when remembering all the times she had spent in Mr. Wickham’s amiable company, and recounting in her mind all the honeyed words that flowed from his lips in unabashed adoration of her, she did so with a fond heart and a warm smile.
If I could but meet a gentleman who possesses half of Wickham’s charms and amiability on this trip, then I should have no cause to repine.
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