Mr Bennet opened the door carefully and entered in the room after doubting a while. Mrs. Bennet was laying on the bed in the center of the room. Although she was exhausted after her second birth giving, not even this could stop her usual verbiage. She had now the opportunity of talking about her two favourite subjects (her physical state and her children) and she was not going to miss it.
“Oh, Mr. Bennet! You cannot imagine how painful is birth giving! During a moment I thought I was going to faint, but luckily I have got a strong constitution and I have resisted the pain. The midwife has said I’ve been very courageous, Mr. Bennet!” she said, obviously satisfied. “Though I have suffered a lot, of course. Oh, and my poor nerves! I have almost gone into hysteria, Mr. Bennet, because… ”
“I sincerely doubt that this would have made a lot of difference, my dear” said Mr. Bennet, interrupting his wife’s monologue. “Where is he?”
“He? Oh, you mean the baby! We’ve got another daughter, Mr. Bennet. She’s in the other room, with the midwife. She really is a beautiful baby, and I am sure she will be a beautiful girl too. She will certainly have a lot of suitors. Do you think she will marry a rich man, Mr. Bennet?”
But Mr. Bennet wasn’t there anymore.
In the other room, a deeply moved Mr Bennet was holding a little baby who looked confidently at him with her dark eyes “She has an intelligent glance”, he thought, “she’s very different from her mother”She had not the kind expression of little Jane either, as her eyebrows were thin and showed strong character, and her little mouth seemed to smile humorously. “Oh, my God!” thought Mr. Bennet suddenly. “She has got the same expression than…”
“She’s a beautiful baby. How will you call her, sir? “asked then the midwife.
Mr. Bennet held his daughter against his heart and answered lowly:
“Elizabeth. Her name will be Elizabeth” He smiled at the sound of that name which brought him so many memories.
He was twenty years old then, when he met her, and he was a handsome young man. He was tall and strong, and he had curly dark hair who emphasized his deep blue eyes. However, he had never been very popular between girls. He couldn’t say that it wasn’t his fault, as he enjoied using his fine sense of humor and his sarcastic jokes against them, who were not intelligent enough to understand his humor but who could perfectly see that he was mocking them. Besides, he had never liked dancing, and that made him an impopular guest at any dance.
Girls didn’t interest him anyway: at that time he had just discovered philosophy, and he was very busy wondering which was the meaning of life.
He discovered it after a few time.
The day where he was introduced to her he was just observing a painting, his normal attitude during the dances, when he heard a voice at his back:
“Mr. Bennet?” It was Mrs. Gillies, an old friend of his mother, and also the owner of the house where the dance was celebrated.
“May I ask you why do you disturb me, milady? I was just admiring the style of this beautiful painting.” He said while he turned to face her.
“Oh, my daughter painted it, Mr Bennet. She studied Art in France, you know.” She didn’t seem to realize that the painting was in fact horrible and didn’t show any talent from the author. “I just wanted to introduce you to Miss Elizabeth Waugh, who arrived from London yesterday”.
A beautiful young woman was standing next to her. Her grey eyes went from the painting to Mr Bennet, and a nearly imperceptible spark lighted them.
“It’s nice to meet you, Mr Bennet.You seem to be enjoying the dance very much”, she said, fixing her bright eyes in his.
“Indeed, Miss Waugh, as well as I enjoy Mrs Gillies company.” was his meaning answer.
Miss Waugh giggled, but Mrs Gillies’ cheeks blushed with satisfaction.
“Oh, thank you, Mr Bennet, you are too kind. That’s exactly what I used to think when I was your age, although now youngsters don’t seem to apreciate old people company”.
“I wonder why” said Mr Bennet.
“Yes,” added Miss Waugh,” that’s a curious thing. I cannot find any reason to it”.
Mr Bennet looked at her with curiosity. Had she understood the real meaning of his words or was she just stupid? A quick glance at her mouth resolved all his questions: her lips were arched in a clear mocking smile, that, although he didn’t know it, was identical to his.
“Thank you, Miss Waugh. We old people like to hear this things, but it is not very often that we have the occasion of being so kindly eulogied.”
“I am sure about it.” said Mr Bennet and Miss Waugh at the same time.
“Yes, yes, it really is a pity. Now, if you excuse me, I should go and see Lady Carter. I think she wants to say something to me.” And Mrs Gillies, very excited, left the two young people alone, with the intention of telling Lady Carter every single word of their conversation. She was glad of their admiration and, while she crossed the large room to meet Lady Carter, she thought that Mr Bennet was a real gentleman in spite of other people’s opinion.
Miss Waugh looked at her companion.
“Are you fond of dancing, Mr Bennet?” In another occasion, his answer would have been negative and sarcastical, but for some reason, all he could say was:
“Indeed, Miss Waugh. Would you allow me the pleasure of a dance?”
“The pleasure will be mine, sir”. This time, her eyes were kind.
When the dancing recommenced, they took their places in the set and just looked at each other while dancing. But their eyes showed so many things! For example, when Mrs Copeland fell ridiculously on the floor during the dance, they shared the same amused glance, and they had exactly the same spark in their eyes when Mr Robinson talked to the air for a while, without realizing that her wife wasn’t even looking at him. In fact, she was very busy telling all the advantatges of dancing to Mr Rivers, who wasn’t interested in the question either.
Mr Bennet began to feel waves of simpaty to Miss Waugh. They had only exchanged a few words, but he felt already connected to her in some way. When the dance finished, they continued to talk, and he discovered that they had the same opinions about nearly everything and the same way to say things. This was a great surprise for both of them, and soon, in less than three months, they realised that they had deeply fallen in love one to each other.
One day, Mr Bennet asked Miss Waugh to go for a walk with him. He took her to his favourite place in the garden and there, between the trees and next to the river, he had been courageous enough to ask for her hand. And she made him the happiest of men by accepting it. When Elizabeth’s lips touched his, he just found what he had been looking for during all his twenty years: the meaning of life.
But happinness had been short. Too short, he thought with bitterness.
Unfortunately, Elizabeth contracted a terrible illness who obliged her to lay in bed. Soon, the two young fiancés had to face the horrible reality: she would never got up again.
The month after that was like a dream, a bad dream, to Mr Bennet. He had to see the woman he loved die a little more every day, and he couldn’t do nothing about it. He remembered the infinite sorrow who fulled his heart every day, and the last moments next to his love. But what he remembered the best was her: the paleness of her dear face and the weakness of her body, who were more evident every day. However, the illness didn’t took possession of her soul, and her smile and her bright eyes remained without any change since the painful day where she finally said “I love you” for the last time.
Oh, that terrible day! Mr Bennet’s heart broke. He wanted to cry, but his grief was too big and any tear could wet his eyes. All he could do was scream. And he did; that day, he howled like a wounded animal and took the resolution of never marry.
Mr Bennet lost all his faith on life after that. He stopped studying, and he became cross and sullen. Now he was indifferent to everything: all he could do was to think about her lost love, and he spent all the time remembering her and hating the rest of the world in silence. He was insensible to everything which wasn’t the memory of Elizabeth, and he became more introvert than ever. Two months of pain passed like this.
But one day, when he was walking down the street, he saw a fat woman persecuting a boy with a stick in her hand. The boy had all the face spotty with chocolate, and he winked at Mr. Bennet before disappearing between the people. The woman, very angry but very tired of running, stopped too suddenly and fell spectacularly on the floor.
Mr. Bennet had followed the incident with interest, and when the woman fell he suddenly recovered his sense of humor, bursting into laughs. The woman stared at him with indignation, still sitting on the floor, but he didn’t care at all. For the first time in a long time, life seemed nice again.
After that, Mr Bennet began to retrieve himself. He remembered now how much he loved to be alive, and he started to study again. He also began to laugh at people again, although he had more reasons to do it now: he knew that Elizabeth would have liked it, and now that she was dead, the stupidity of the rest of the world seemed more evident than ever.
One day, he met the silliest girl he had ever known. She was stupid and superficial, and her only obssessions were dresses and men. She was pretty, though, and his silly comments amused him. That’s why he decided to marry her, as a big joke to himself, and that’s how the girl became Mrs Bennet.
A lot of time had passed since that day, and he had learnt to live a life where his only friends were jokes and books. Little Jane was a big help too, and the stupidity of his wife never stopped surprising and amusing him. In general, he had recuperated his ancient pleasure of living.
And now there was a new member in his family who looked at him with ironical eyes. He knew then that she would be his favourite daughter, and he kissed her forehead tenderly.
“Elizabeth…” he repeated again in a very low voice. And for some reason, his eyes got misty.