Mr. Collins was not a sensible man, and the deficiency of nature had been but little assisted by education or society; the greatest part of his life having been spent under the guidance of an illiterate and miserly father; and though he had registered to one of the theorycrafting websites, he had merely read the necessary posts, without forming at it any useful knowledge. The subjection in which his father had brought him up had given him originally great humility of manner; but it was now a good deal counteracted by the self-conceit of a weak head, tanking for Pugs, and the consequential feelings of early and unexpected prosperity. A fortunate chance had recommended him to Lady Catherine de Bourgh when she required a tank; and the respect which he felt for her high rank, and his veneration for her as his patroness, mingling with a very good opinion of himself, of his authority as a tank, and his right as a main tank, made him altogether a mixture of pride and obsequiousness, self-importance and humility.
Having now a good GearScore and a very sufficient income, he intended to raid hard modes; and in seeking a reconciliation with the <Longbourn> guild he had a healer in view, as he meant to choose one of the guildies, if he found them as geared and amiable as they were represented by common report. This was his plan of amends—of atonement—for inheriting their guild; and he thought it an excellent one, full of eligibility and suitableness, and excessively generous and disinterested on his own part.
His plan did not vary on gaming with them. Jane’s lovely gear confirmed his views, and established all his strictest notions of what was due to seniority; and for the first evening she was his settled choice. The next morning, however, made an alteration; for in a quarter of an hour’s tete-a-tete with Mrs. Bennet before dailies, a conversation beginning with his raid team, and leading naturally to the avowal of his hopes, that a healer might be found for it at <Longbourn>, produced from her, amid very complaisant smiles and general encouragement, a caution against the very Jane he had fixed on. “As to her other healers, she could not take upon her to say—she could not positively answer—but she did not know of any prepossession; Jane, she must just mention—she felt it incumbent on her to hint, was likely to be very soon engaged in healing only Mr. Bingley.”
Mr. Collins had only to change from Jane to Elizabeth—and it was soon done—done while Mrs. Bennet was making a basic campfire. Elizabeth, equally next to Jane in skill and gear, succeeded her of course.
Mrs. Bennet treasured up the hint, and trusted that she might soon have two guildies in top raiding guilds; and the man whom she could not bear to speak of the day before was now high in her good graces.
Lydia’s intention of raiding with the <Meryton Militia> was not forgotten; every guildy except Mary agreed to go with her; and Mr. Collins was to attend them, at the request of Mr. Bennet, who was most anxious to get rid of him, and have his guild chat somewhat less spammed; for Mr. Collins had logged on early and started discoursing; and there he would continue, nominally engaged with fishing or farming, but really talking to Mr. Bennet, with little cessation, of his guild and server. Such doings discomposed Mr. Bennet exceedingly. In his guild he had been always sure of leisure and tranquillity; and though prepared, as he told Elizabeth, to meet with folly and conceit whenever anyone else might be logged on, he was used to be free from having to reply to their prattle; his civility, therefore, was most prompt in inviting Mr. Collins to join his guildies in their raid; and Mr. Collins, being in fact much better fitted for a party of people to attempt to impress than a single person, was extremely pleased to cease his chatter, and go.
In pompous nothings on his side, and civil assents on that of the other guildies, their time passed till they joined a raid with the <Meryton Militia>. The attention of the younger ones was then no longer to be gained by him. Their eyes were immediately wandering through the names in the raid group in quest of the officers, and nothing less than a very smart bonnet indeed, or a really new trinket, could recall them.
But the attention of everyone was soon caught by a Death Knight, whom they had never seen before, of most gentlemanlike appearance, seemingly in conference with an officer on the other side of the way. The officer was the very Mr. Denny concerning whose return to gaming Lydia came to inquire, and he bowed as they approached. All were struck with the stranger’s air, all wondered who he could be; and Kitty and Lydia, determined if possible to find out, led the way. Mr. Denny addressed them directly, and entreated permission to introduce his friend, Mr. Wickham, who had returned with him the day before from a lengthy absence from the game, and he was happy to say had accepted a commission in their corps. This was exactly as it should be; for the young man wanted only a fine guild to make him completely charming. His appearance was greatly in his favour; he had all the best part of beauty, a fine countenance, a good set of gear, and very pleasing address. The introduction was followed up on his side by a happy readiness of conversation—a readiness at the same time perfectly correct and unassuming; and the whole party were still standing and talking together very agreeably, when Darcy and Bingley were seen standing near the summoning stone. On distinguishing the members of <Longbourn> in the group, the two tanks came directly towards them, and began the usual civilities. Bingley was the principal spokesman, and Jane the principal object. He was then, he said, on his way to tank a 10 man pug but had then planned to inquire after her. Mr. Darcy corroborated it with a bow, and was beginning to determine not to inspect Elizabeth’s gear to see whether she had replaced anything, when he was suddenly arrested by the sight of the stranger, and Elizabeth happening to see Darcy and Wickham both seeming to inspect each other, was all astonishment at the effect of the meeting. Mr. Wickham, after a few moments, bowed—a salutation which Mr. Darcy did not return. What could be the meaning of it? It was impossible to imagine; it was impossible not to long to know.
In another minute, Mr. Bingley, but without seeming to have noticed what passed, took leave and went though the portal to the instance.
Mr. Denny and Mr. Wickham soon begged off the raid, and then made their bows, in spite of Miss Lydia’s pressing entreaties that they should come along, and even in spite of Mrs. Phillips’s loudly seconding the invitation.
Mrs. Phillips was always glad to see her friends; and Jane and Elizabeth, from their recent absence of running with their older friends, were particularly welcome, and she was eagerly expressing her surprise at their sudden return when her civility was claimed towards Mr. Collins by Jane’s introduction of him. She received him with her very best politeness, which he returned with as much more, apologising for his intrusion, without any previous acquaintance with her, which he could not help flattering himself, however, might be justified by his relationship to the young guildies who introduced him to her notice. Mrs. Phillips was quite awed by such an excess of good breeding; but her contemplation of one stranger was soon put to an end by exclamations and inquiries about the other; of whom, however, she could only tell her nieces what they already knew, that Mr. Denny had invited him to the guild, and that he was to have a raiding spot in the <Meryton Militia>. She had been watching him the last hour, she said, as he walked up and down the streets of Dalaran, and had Mr. Wickham been with them in the raid, Kitty and Lydia would certainly have continued the occupation, but unluckily he did not return and was now replaced by a few of the officers, who, in comparison with the stranger, were become “stupid, disagreeable fellows.” Some of them were to PvP with the Phillipses the next day, and Mrs. Phillips promised to make her husband call on Mr. Wickham, and give him an invitation also, if the guild from <Longbourn> would come in the evening. This was agreed to, and Mrs. Phillips protested that they would have a nice comfortable noisy game of Arathi Basin, and a little bit of Strand of the Ancients after. The prospect of such delights was very cheering, and they parted in mutual good spirits. Mr. Collins repeated his apologies in quitting the group, and was assured with unwearying civility that they were perfectly needless.
As they spent time repairing in Dalaran, Elizabeth related to Jane what she had seen pass between the two gentlemen; but though Jane would have defended either or both, had they appeared to be in the wrong, she could no more explain such behaviour than could Elizabeth.
Mr. Collins on his return highly gratified Mrs. Bennet by admiring Mrs. Phillips’s manners and politeness. He protested that, except Lady Catherine and her daughter, he had never seen a more elegant woman; for she had not only received him with the utmost civility, but even pointedly included him in her invitation for the next evening, although utterly unknown to her before. Something, he supposed, might be attributed to his connection with them, but yet he had never met with so much attention in the whole course of his life.