The day passed much as the day before had done. Louisa and Caroline had spent some hours of the morning running dailies; and in the evening Elizabeth joined their party. The LFD screen, however, did not appear. Mr. Darcy was writing something on the forums although he was logged into Vent, and Caroline was repeatedly calling off his attention by messages to his sister. Mr. Hurst and Mr. Bingley were dueling, and Louisa was observing their game.
Elizabeth took up some tailoring, and was sufficiently amused in attending to what passed between Darcy and his companion. The perpetual commendations of the lady, either on his vocabulary, or on the conciseness of his paragraphs, or on the length of his post, with the perfect unconcern with which her praises were received, formed a curious dialogue, and was exactly in union with her opinion of each.
“How delighted everyone will be to read such a post!”
He made no answer.
“You type uncommonly fast.”
“You are mistaken. I type rather slowly.”
“How many posts you must have occasion to write in the course of a year! Posts of business, too! How odious I should think them!”
“It is fortunate, then, that they fall to my lot instead of yours.”
“Pray tell your sister that I long to see her.”
“I have already told her so once, by your desire.”
“I am afraid you do not like your keyboard. Let me get you a wireless one for you. I spend money remarkably well.”
“Thank you—but I prefer this keyboard.”
“How can you contrive to type without making many mistakes?”
He was silent.
“Tell your sister I am delighted to hear of her improvement with her offspec; and pray let her know that I am quite in raptures with her ability to choose her professions, and I think her infinitely superior to Miss Grantley.”
“Will you give me leave to defer your raptures till she is in the room again? At present she is in the kitchen.”
“Oh! it is of no consequence. I shall see her when next she logs on. But do you always write such charming long posts, Mr. Darcy?”
“They are generally long; but whether always charming it is not for me to determine.”
“It is a rule with me, that a person who can write a long post with ease, cannot write ill.”
“That will not do for a compliment to Darcy, Caroline,” cried Bingley, “because he does not write with ease. He studies too much for words of four syllables. Do not you, Darcy?”
“My style of writing is very different from yours.”
“Oh!” cried Caroline, “Bingley writes in the most careless way imaginable. He leaves out half his words, and misspells the rest.”
“My ideas flow so rapidly that I have not time to express them—by which means my posts sometimes convey no ideas at all to anyone who reads them.”
“Your humility, Mr. Bingley,” said Elizabeth, “must disarm reproof.”
“Nothing is more deceitful,” said Darcy, “than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast.”
“And which of the two do you call my little recent piece of modesty?”
“The indirect boast; for you are really proud of your defects in writing, because you consider them as proceeding from a rapidity of thought and carelessness of execution, which, if not estimable, you think at least highly interesting. The power of doing anything with quickness is always prized much by the possessor, and often without any attention to the imperfection of the performance. When you told Mrs. Bennet this morning that if you ever resolved upon quitting the server you should be gone in five minutes, you meant it to be a sort of panegyric, of compliment to yourself—and yet what is there so very laudable in a precipitance which must leave very necessary business undone, and can be of no real advantage to yourself or anyone else?”
“Nay,” cried Bingley, “this is too much, to remember at night all the foolish things that were said in the morning. And yet, upon my honour, I believe what I said of myself to be true, and I believe it at this moment. At least, therefore, I did not assume the character of needless precipitance merely to show off before the ladies.”
“I dare say you believed it; but I am by no means convinced that you would be gone with such celerity. Your conduct would be quite as dependent on chance as that of any man I know; and if, as you were entering your credit card information, a friend were to say, ‘Bingley, you had better stay till next week,’ you would probably do it, you would probably not go—and at another word, might stay a month.”
“You have only proved by this,” cried Elizabeth, “that Mr. Bingley did not do justice to his own disposition. You have shown him off now much more than he did himself.”
“I am exceedingly gratified,” said Bingley, “by your converting what my friend says into a compliment on the sweetness of my temper. But I am afraid you are giving it a turn which that gentleman did by no means intend; for he would certainly think better of me, if under such a circumstance I were to give a flat denial, and transfer as fast as I could.”
“Would Mr. Darcy then consider the rashness of your original intentions as atoned for by your obstinacy in adhering to it?”
“Upon my word, I cannot exactly explain the matter; Darcy must speak for himself.”
“You expect me to account for opinions which you choose to call mine, but which I have never acknowledged. Allowing the case, however, to stand according to your representation, you must remember, Elizabeth, that the friend who is supposed to desire his staying on the server, and the delay of his plan, has merely desired it, asked it without offering one argument in favour of its propriety.”
“To yield readily—easily—to the persuasion of a friend is no merit with you.”
“To yield without conviction is no compliment to the understanding of either.”
“You appear to me, Mr. Darcy, to allow nothing for the influence of friendship and affection. A regard for the requester would often make one readily yield to a request, without waiting for arguments to reason one into it. I am not particularly speaking of such a case as you have supposed about Mr. Bingley. We may as well wait, perhaps, till the circumstance occurs before we discuss the discretion of his behaviour thereupon. But in general and ordinary cases between friend and friend, where one of them is desired by the other to change a resolution of no very great moment, should you think ill of that person for complying with the desire, without waiting to be argued into it?”
“Will it not be advisable, before we proceed on this subject, to arrange with rather more precision the degree of importance which is to appertain to this request, as well as the degree of intimacy subsisting between the parties?”
“By all means,” cried Bingley; “let us hear all the particulars, not forgetting their comparative height and size; for that will have more weight in the argument, Elizabeth, than you may be aware of. I assure you, that if Darcy were not such a great tall fellow, in comparison with myself, I should not pay him half so much deference. I declare I do not know a more awful object than Darcy, on particular occasions, and in particular places; at a raid especially, and of a Sunday evening, when he has nothing else to do.”
Mr. Darcy did not argue further; but Elizabeth thought she could perceive that he was rather offended, and therefore checked her laugh. Caroline warmly resented the indignity he had received, in an expostulation with her brother for talking such nonsense.
“I see your design, Bingley,” said his friend. “You dislike an argument, and want to silence this.”
“Perhaps I do. Arguments are too much like disputes. If you and Elizabeth will defer yours till I am out of Vent, I shall be very thankful; and then you may say whatever you like of me.”
“What you ask,” said Elizabeth, “is no sacrifice on my side; and Mr. Darcy had much better finish his post.”
Mr. Darcy took her advice, and did finish his post.
When that business was over, he applied to Caroline and Elizabeth for an indulgence of running a random heroic. Caroline moved with some alacrity to select DPS on the LFD screen; and, after a polite request that Elizabeth would lead the way which the other as politely and more earnestly negatived, she marked herself as leader.
Louisa dps’ed with Caroline, and while they were thus employed, Elizabeth could not help observing, as she healed the party, how frequently Mr. Darcy had her character selected. She hardly knew how to suppose that she could be an object of admiration to so great a tank; and that he should look at her because he disliked her, was still more strange. She could only imagine, however, at last that she drew his notice because there was something more wrong and reprehensible, according to his ideas of right, than in any other person’s gear present. The supposition did not pain her. She liked him too little to care for his approbation.
After running Old Kingdom, Caroline varied the charm by queuing for Pit of Saron; and soon afterwards Mr. Darcy sent Elizabeth a tell:
“Do not you feel a great inclination, Elizabeth, to seize such an opportunity of going back to DPS?”
She smiled, but made no answer. He repeated the question, with some surprise at her silence.
“Oh!” typed she, “I saw your question before, but I could not immediately determine what to say in reply. You wanted me, I know, to say ‘Yes,’ that you might have the pleasure of despising my taste; but I always delight in overthrowing those kind of schemes, and cheating a person of their premeditated contempt. I have, therefore, made up my mind to tell you, that I do not want to DPS at all—and now despise me if you dare.”
“Indeed I do not dare.”
Elizabeth, having rather expected to affront him, was amazed at his gallantry; but there was a mixture of sweetness and archness in her manner which made it difficult for her to affront anybody; and Darcy had never been so bewitched by any woman as he was by her. He really believed, that were it not for the inferiority of her connections, he should be in some danger.
Caroline suspected enough to be jealous; and her great anxiety for the recovery of her dear friend Jane received some assistance from her desire of getting rid of Elizabeth.
She often tried to provoke Darcy into disliking her guest, by talking of their supposed future of raiding together, and planning his happiness in such an alliance.
“I hope,” whispered she, as they were waiting for the final boss to get done with his scripted speech, “you will give your new Recruitment Officer a few hints, when this desirable event takes place, as to the advantage of holding her tongue; and if you can compass it, do cure the other DPS of running after the <Meryton Militia>. And, if I may mention so delicate a subject, endeavour to check that little something, bordering on conceit and impertinence, which your lady possesses.”
“Have you anything else to propose for my felicity?”
Before Caroline could make a reply, Scourgelord Tyrannus at last ceased talking and all focus shifted to the encounter at hand. When the boss had died and the loot been rolled on, Caroline immediately proposed continuing on to Halls of Reflection.
Elizabeth had had some small difficulties in healing through Pit of Saron; even now, she was sitting down to regenerate some mana. Mr. Darcy felt the rudeness of asking her to heal so difficult an encounter, and immediately said:
“This instance is not suitable enough for our party. We had better go to a different dungeon.”
But Elizabeth, who had not the least inclination to remain with them, laughingly answered:
“No, no; go on without me. You are charmingly grouped, and appear to uncommon advantage. I am certain you can acquire a different healer even though it is through pugging. Good-bye.”
She then gaily dropped the party, rejoicing as she logged out of vent, in the hope of never feeling the need to assist them with healing again. Jane was already so much recovered as to intend logging back on for a couple of hours that evening.