I love how utterly self-centered Elizabeth is. She has been so careful to stoke her own "dislike" of Mr Darcy that she assumes he must feel the same way about her. And although it's been some time since Austen gave us a direct indication that Darcy has feelings for Elizabeth of a romantic nature, I believe we should take a look at the "symptoms" he exhibits in this chapter:
1. On learning where Elizabeth's favorite walk is, he turns up often to join her there, despite her having told him it was her favorite walk so that he could avoid her.
2. When he joins her, he walks with her, sometimes making conversation.
3. His conversation hints that on future visits, she'd be staying at Rosings and not Hunsford. She starts to think maybe Colonel Fitzwilliam is interested in her, since she's unwilling to believe Darcy is.
4. He has put off his departure (and that of his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam) from Rosings at least once already. I think we've all figured out that it's unlikely he's extending his stay in order to court Anne De Bourgh or hang out with his aunt.
Colonel Fitzwilliam is a font of information
Colonel Fitzwilliam talks about being the younger son of an Earl, and how it means he has to take finances into account when marrying (a recurring theme in this book, yes?) We then learn that he shares guardianship of Georgianna Darcy with his cousin, Mr Darcy - just the sort of detail we can expect to have relevance. Elizabeth asks whether Miss Darcy is any trouble, based on her knowledge of the girl's age, her belief that Mr Darcy (and therefore all Darcys) are strong-willed, and (although she doesn't mention it) on Wickham's assertions that Miss Darcy is proud and unpleasant. Colonel Fitzwilliam's reaction telegraphs that they've had some sort of problem with Miss Darcy, although he doesn't openly acknowledge it.
And then, Colonel Fitzwilliam drops a bombshell.
"Oh! yes," said Elizabeth drily -- "Mr Darcy is uncommonly kind to Mr Bingley, and takes a prodigious deal of care of him."Elizabeth is understandably distressed over this news. Turns out that while she'd been thinking Darcy didn't like her (and she therefore didn't like him) on general grounds, she never thought him responsible for Bingley's decision to stay in London, but had been attributing that to Caroline Bingley's interference. She spends her afternoon thinking about the nature of the "strong objections to the lady", which Colonel Fitzwilliam does not explain; she assumes it has to do with Mrs Bennet's family being in trade. She cries herself into a headache and stays at Hunsford instead of going to Rosings for dinner along with the Collinses and Maria Lucas.
"Care of him! -- Yes, I really believe Darcy does take care of him in those points where he most wants care. From something that he told me in our journey hither, I have reason to think Bingley very much indebted to him. But I ought to beg his pardon, for I have no right to suppose that Bingley was the person meant. It was all conjecture."
"What is it you mean?"
"It is a circumstance which Darcy, of course, would not wish to be generally known, because if it were to get round to the lady's family, it would be an unpleasant thing."
"You may depend upon my not mentioning it."
"And remember that I have not much reason for supposing it to be Bingley. What he told me was merely this; that he congratulated himself on having lately saved a friend from the inconveniences of a most imprudent marriage, but without mentioning names or any other particulars, and I only suspected it to be Bingley from believing him the kind of young man to get into a scrape of that sort, and from knowing them to have been together the whole of last summer."
"Did Mr Darcy give you his reasons for this interference?"
"I understood that there were some very strong objections against the lady."
"And what arts did he use to separate them?"
"He did not talk to me of his own arts," said Fitzwilliam smiling. "He only told me what I have now told you."
Elizabeth made no answer, and walked on, her heart swelling with indignation. After watching her a little, Fitzwilliam asked her why she was so thoughtful.
"I am thinking of what you have been telling me," said she. "Your cousin's conduct does not suit my feelings. Why was he to be the judge?"
"You are rather disposed to call his interference officious?"
"I do not see what right Mr Darcy had to decide on the propriety of his friend's inclination, or why, upon his own judgment alone, he was to determine and direct in what manner that friend was to be happy."
"But," she continued, recollecting herself, "as we know none of the particulars, it is not fair to condemn him. It is not to be supposed that there was much affection in the case."
"That is not an unnatural surmise," said Fitzwilliam, "but it is lessening the honour of my cousin's triumph very sadly."
I am all atwitter over what comes next!
Tomorrow: Chapter 34
Back to Chapter 32