After a week spent in changing and power leveling professions and scheming what goods might make the server transfer, Mr. Collins was called from his amiable Charlotte by the arrival of Saturday. The pain of separation, however, might be alleviated on his side, by preparations for the reception of his healer; as he had reason to hope, that shortly after his return into his server, the day would be fixed that was to make him the happiest of tanks. He took leave of <Longbourn> with as much solemnity as before; wished them all health and epics again, and promised their GM another letter of thanks.
On the following Monday, Mrs. Bennet had the pleasure of receiving her brother and his wife, who had alts on the server and who visited from time to time. Mr. Gardiner was a sensible, gentlemanlike man, greatly superior to his sister, as well by nature as education. Caroline would have had difficulty in believing that a man who lived by trade, and never away from the AH, could have been so well-bred and agreeable. Mrs. Gardiner, who was several years younger than Mrs. Bennet and Mrs. Phillips, was an amiable, intelligent, elegant woman, and a great favourite with <Longbourn>. Between Jane and Elizabeth and herself especially, there subsisted a particular regard. They had frequently been playing on their alts on her server.
The first part of Mrs. Gardiner’s business on her arrival was to distribute her presents and describe the newest patch notes for tailoring. When this was done she had a less active part to play. It became her turn to listen. Mrs. Bennet had many grievances to relate, and much to complain of. They had all been very ill-used since she last saw her sister. Two of them had been upon the point of getting into serious raiding guilds, and after all there was nothing in it.
“I do not blame Jane,” she continued, “for Jane would have got Mr. Bingley’s guild if she could. But Lizzy! Oh, sister! It is very hard to think that she might have been Mr. Collins’s healer by this time, had it not been for her own perverseness. He made her an offer and she refused him. The consequence of it is, that Lady Lucas will have a healer raiding seriously before I have, and that the <Longbourn> guild is just as much entailed as ever. The Lucases are very artful people indeed, sister. They are all for what they can get. I am sorry to say it of them, but so it is. It makes me very nervous and poorly, to be thwarted so in my own guild, and to have persons on the server who think of themselves before anybody else. However, your coming just at this time is the greatest of comforts, and I am very glad to hear what you tell us, of the mats that will be needed for the new epic boots.”
Mrs. Gardiner, to whom the chief of this news had been given before, in the course of Jane and Elizabeth’s correspondence with her, made her sister a slight answer, and, in compassion to them, turned the conversation.
When alone with Elizabeth afterwards, she spoke more on the subject. “It seems likely to have been a desirable match for Jane,” said she. “I am sorry it went off. But these things happen so often! A geared tank, such as you describe Mr. Bingley, so easily falls in with a good healer for a few weeks, and when accident separates them, so easily forgets her, that these sort of inconsistencies are very frequent.”
“An excellent consolation in its way,” said Elizabeth, “but it will not do for us. We do not suffer by accident. It does not often happen that the interference of friends will persuade a tank of independent means to think no more of a healer whom he was desperately in need of only a few days before.”
“But that expression of ‘desperately in need of’ is so hackneyed, so doubtful, so indefinite, that it gives me very little idea. It is as often applied to feelings which arise from a half-hour’s acquaintance, as to a real, strong attachment. Pray, how desperate was Mr. Bingley’s need?”
“I never saw a more promising inclination; he was growing quite inattentive to other people, and wholly engrossed by her. Every time they met, it was more decided and remarkable. At his own raid he offended all of the healers, by insisting that Jane should get every healing item that dropped; and I spoke to him twice myself, without receiving an answer. Could there be finer symptoms? Is not general incivility the very essence of need?”
“Oh, yes!—of that kind of need which I suppose him to have felt. Poor Jane! I am sorry for her, because, with her disposition, she may not get over it immediately. It had better have happened to you, Lizzy; you would have laughed yourself out of it sooner. But do you think she would be prevailed upon to go back with us? Change of scene might be of service—and perhaps a little relief from <Longbourn> may be as useful as anything.”
Elizabeth was exceedingly pleased with this proposal, and felt persuaded of her Jane’s ready acquiescence.
“I hope,” added Mrs. Gardiner, “that no consideration with regard to this tank will influence her. We are in so different a sort of guild, all our connections are so different, and, as you well know, we raid so little, that it is very improbable that they should meet at all, unless he really comes to see her.”
“And that is quite impossible; for he is now in the custody of his friend, and Mr. Darcy would no more suffer him to call on Jane! My dear, how could you think of it? Mr. Darcy may perhaps have heard of such a guild as <Gracechurch Street>, but he would hardly think deleting all his gear enough to cleanse him from its impurities, were he once to associate with it; and depend upon it, Mr. Bingley never stirs without him.”
“So much the better. I hope they will not meet at all. But does not Jane correspond with Caroline? She will not be able to help calling.”
“She will drop the acquaintance entirely.”
But in spite of the certainty in which Elizabeth affected to place this point, as well as the still more interesting one of Bingley’s being withheld from seeing Jane, she felt a solicitude on the subject which convinced her, on examination, that she did not consider it entirely hopeless. It was possible, and sometimes she thought it probable, that his affection might be reanimated, and the influence of his friends successfully combated by the more natural influence of Jane’s attractions.
Jane accepted the invitation with pleasure; and the Bingleys were no otherwise in her thoughts at the same time, than as she hoped by Caroline’s not raiding at the same times as Mr. Bingley, she might occasionally spend a morning with her, without any danger of seeing him.
The Gardiners stayed a week at <Longbourn>; and what with the Phillipses, the Lucases, and the officers, there was not a day without its engagement. Mrs. Bennet had so carefully provided for the entertainment of her brother and sister, that they did not once run a five man heroic. When the engagement was for 10-man raids, some of the officers of the <Meryton Militia> always made part of it—of which officers Mr. Wickham was sure to be one; and on these occasions, Mrs. Gardiner, rendered suspicious by Elizabeth’s warm commendation, narrowly observed them both. Without supposing them, from what she saw, to be very seriously entangled in their roles as tank and healer, their preference of each other was plain enough to make her a little uneasy; and she resolved to speak to Elizabeth on the subject before she left the server, and represent to her the imprudence of encouraging such an attachment.
To Mrs. Gardiner, Wickham had one means of affording pleasure, unconnected with his general powers. About ten or a dozen months ago, before starting her own guild with Mr. Gardner, she had spent a considerable time in that very server to which he belonged. They had, therefore, many acquaintances in common; and though Wickham had been little there, it was yet in his power to give her fresher intelligence of her former friends than she had been in the way of procuring.
Mrs. Gardiner had seen <Pemberley>, and known the late Mr. Darcy by character perfectly well. Here consequently was an inexhaustible subject of discourse. In comparing her recollection of <Pemberley> with the minute description which Wickham could give, and in bestowing her tribute of praise on the character of its late possessor, she was delighting both him and herself. On being made acquainted with the present Mr. Darcy’s treatment of him, she tried to remember some of that gentleman’s reputed disposition when quite a lad which might agree with it, and was confident at last that she recollected having heard Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy formerly spoken of as a very proud, ill-natured tank.