Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Jane Austen | Pride and Prejudice | 1813

Dear Miss Elizabeth,

When I received your latest letter, I had formed no expectation at all of its contents. But such as it was, it may well be supposed how eagerly I went through it and what a contrareity of emotion it excited.

My feelings as I read are scarcely to be defined. I read, with an eagerness which hardly left me power of comprehension, and from impatience of knowing what the next sentence might bring, I was incapable of attending to the sense of the one before my eyes.

Your kind enquiries for the health of my aunt and sisters aroused my warm appreciation, but when this subject was succeeded by your account of future engagements, my feelings were more acutely painful and more difficult of definition. Astonishment, apprehension and even horror, oppressed me. I wished to discredit it entirely, repeatedly exclaiming, "This must be false! This cannot be!"

In this perturbed state, I took a walk, with thoughts that could rest on nothing. But it would not do, in half a minute I was unfolding the letter again and, collecting myself as best I could, pursuing the mortifying perusal of the future engagements that will preclude you from joining us for tea this coming fortnight.

I do see that our humble abode, our plain manner of living, our small rooms and the little we see of the world would make us extremely dull to a young lady like yourself. But I do hope that you will believe us grateful for your company and know that we would do every thing in our power to prevent your spending your time unpleasantly.

A grain of hope remains the only solace for my wretchedness, the hope that a narrow opening in your future engagements might give us the grace of your company. This would be an extraordinary kindness to brighten the hopes of my heart.

I remain yours sincerely,
Gillian King