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CHAPTER 1
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good
fortune, must be in want of a wife.
However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering
a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding
families, that he is considered the
rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.
"My dear Mr. Bennet," said his lady to him one day, "have you heard that Netherfield
Park is let at last?"
Mr. Bennet replied that he had not. "But it is," returned she; "for Mrs. Long
has just been here, and she told me all about it."
Mr. Bennet made no answer.
"Do you not want to know who has taken it?" cried his wife impatiently.
"You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it."
This was invitation enough.
"Why, my dear, you must know, Mrs. Long says that Netherfield is taken by a young
man of large fortune from the north of England; that he came down on Monday in a
chaise and four to see the place, and was
so much delighted with it, that he agreed with Mr. Morris immediately; that he is to
take possession before Michaelmas, and some of his servants are to be in the house by
the end of next week."
"What is his name?" "Bingley."
"Is he married or single?" "Oh! Single, my dear, to be sure!
A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year.
What a fine thing for our girls!" "How so?
How can it affect them?"
"My dear Mr. Bennet," replied his wife, "how can you be so tiresome!
You must know that I am thinking of his marrying one of them."
"Is that his design in settling here?"
"Design! Nonsense, how can you talk so!
But it is very likely that he may fall in love with one of them, and therefore you
must visit him as soon as he comes."
"I see no occasion for that.
You and the girls may go, or you may send them by themselves, which perhaps will be
still better, for as you are as handsome as any of them, Mr. Bingley may like you the
best of the party."
"My dear, you flatter me. I certainly have had my share of beauty,
but I do not pretend to be anything extraordinary now.
When a woman has five grown-up daughters, she ought to give over thinking of her own
beauty." "In such cases, a woman has not often much
beauty to think of."
"But, my dear, you must indeed go and see Mr. Bingley when he comes into the
neighbourhood." "It is more than I engage for, I assure
you."
"But consider your daughters. Only think what an establishment it would
be for one of them.
Sir William and Lady Lucas are determined to go, merely on that account, for in
general, you know, they visit no newcomers.
Indeed you must go, for it will be impossible for us to visit him if you do
not." "You are over-scrupulous, surely.
I dare say Mr. Bingley will be very glad to see you; and I will send a few lines by you
to assure him of my hearty consent to his marrying whichever he chooses of the girls;
though I must throw in a good word for my little Lizzy."
"I desire you will do no such thing.
Lizzy is not a bit better than the others; and I am sure she is not half so handsome
as Jane, nor half so good-humoured as Lydia.
But you are always giving her the preference."
"They have none of them much to recommend them," replied he; "they are all silly and
ignorant like other girls; but Lizzy has something more of quickness than her
sisters."
"Mr. Bennet, how can you abuse your own children in such a way?
You take delight in vexing me. You have no compassion for my poor nerves."
"You mistake me, my dear.
I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends.
I have heard you mention them with consideration these last twenty years at
least."
"Ah, you do not know what I suffer." "But I hope you will get over it, and live
to see many young men of four thousand a year come into the neighbourhood."
"It will be no use to us, if twenty such should come, since you will not visit
them." "Depend upon it, my dear, that when there
are twenty, I will visit them all."
Mr. Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve, and
caprice, that the experience of three-and- twenty years had been insufficient to make
his wife understand his character.
Her mind was less difficult to develop. She was a woman of mean understanding,
little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented, she fancied
herself nervous.
The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting
and news.
>
CHAPTER 2
Mr. Bennet was among the earliest of those who waited on Mr. Bingley.
He had always intended to visit him, though to the last always assuring his wife that
he should not go; and till the evening after the visit was paid she had no
knowledge of it.
It was then disclosed in the following manner.
Observing his second daughter employed in trimming a hat, he suddenly addressed her
with:
"I hope Mr. Bingley will like it, Lizzy." "We are not in a way to know what Mr.
Bingley likes," said her mother resentfully, "since we are not to visit."
"But you forget, mamma," said Elizabeth, "that we shall meet him at the assemblies,
and that Mrs. Long promised to introduce him."
"I do not believe Mrs. Long will do any such thing.
She has two nieces of her own. She is a selfish, hypocritical woman, and I
have no opinion of her."
"No more have I," said Mr. Bennet; "and I am glad to find that you do not depend on
her serving you."
Mrs. Bennet deigned not to make any reply, but, unable to contain herself, began
scolding one of her daughters. "Don't keep coughing so, Kitty, for
Heaven's sake!
Have a little compassion on my nerves. You tear them to pieces."
"Kitty has no discretion in her coughs," said her father; "she times them ill."
"I do not cough for my own amusement," replied Kitty fretfully.
"When is your next ball to be, Lizzy?" "To-morrow fortnight."
"Aye, so it is," cried her mother, "and Mrs. Long does not come back till the day
before; so it will be impossible for her to introduce him, for she will not know him
herself."
"Then, my dear, you may have the advantage of your friend, and introduce Mr. Bingley
to her."
"Impossible, Mr. Bennet, impossible, when I am not acquainted with him myself; how can
you be so teasing?" "I honour your circumspection.
A fortnight's acquaintance is certainly very little.
One cannot know what a man really is by the end of a fortnight.
But if we do not venture somebody else will; and after all, Mrs. Long and her
daughters must stand their chance; and, therefore, as she will think it an act of
kindness, if you decline the office, I will take it on myself."
The girls stared at their father. Mrs. Bennet said only, "Nonsense,
nonsense!"
"What can be the meaning of that emphatic exclamation?" cried he.
"Do you consider the forms of introduction, and the stress that is laid on them, as
nonsense?
I cannot quite agree with you there. What say you, Mary?
For you are a young lady of deep reflection, I know, and read great books
and make extracts."
Mary wished to say something sensible, but knew not how.
"While Mary is adjusting her ideas," he continued, "let us return to Mr. Bingley."
"I am sick of Mr. Bingley," cried his wife.
"I am sorry to hear that; but why did not you tell me that before?
If I had known as much this morning I certainly would not have called on him.
It is very unlucky; but as I have actually paid the visit, we cannot escape the
acquaintance now."
The astonishment of the ladies was just what he wished; that of Mrs. Bennet perhaps
surpassing the rest; though, when the first tumult of joy was over, she began to
declare that it was what she had expected all the while.
"How good it was in you, my dear Mr. Bennet!
But I knew I should persuade you at last.
I was sure you loved your girls too well to neglect such an acquaintance.
Well, how pleased I am! and it is such a good joke, too, that you should have gone
this morning and never said a word about it till now."
"Now, Kitty, you may cough as much as you choose," said Mr. Bennet; and, as he spoke,
he left the room, fatigued with the raptures of his wife.
"What an excellent father you have, girls!" said she, when the door was shut.
"I do not know how you will ever make him amends for his kindness; or me, either, for
that matter.
At our time of life it is not so pleasant, I can tell you, to be making new
acquaintances every day; but for your sakes, we would do anything.
Lydia, my love, though you are the youngest, I dare say Mr. Bingley will dance
with you at the next ball."
"Oh!" said Lydia stoutly, "I am not afraid; for though I am the youngest, I'm the
tallest."
The rest of the evening was spent in conjecturing how soon he would return Mr.
Bennet's visit, and determining when they should ask him to dinner.
>
CHAPTER 3
Not all that Mrs. Bennet, however, with the assistance of her five daughters, could ask
on the subject, was sufficient to draw from her husband any satisfactory description of
Mr. Bingley.
They attacked him in various ways--with barefaced questions, ingenious
suppositions, and distant surmises; but he eluded the skill of them all, and they were
at last obliged to accept the second-hand
intelligence of their neighbour, Lady Lucas.
Her report was highly favourable. Sir William had been delighted with him.
He was quite young, wonderfully handsome, extremely agreeable, and, to crown the
whole, he meant to be at the next assembly with a large party.
Nothing could be more delightful!
To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love; and very lively
hopes of Mr. Bingley's heart were entertained.
"If I can but see one of my daughters happily settled at Netherfield," said Mrs.
Bennet to her husband, "and all the others equally well married, I shall have nothing
to wish for."
In a few days Mr. Bingley returned Mr. Bennet's visit, and sat about ten minutes
with him in his library.
He had entertained hopes of being admitted to a sight of the young ladies, of whose
beauty he had heard much; but he saw only the father.
The ladies were somewhat more fortunate, for they had the advantage of ascertaining
from an upper window that he wore a blue coat, and rode a black horse.
An invitation to dinner was soon afterwards dispatched; and already had Mrs. Bennet
planned the courses that were to do credit to her housekeeping, when an answer arrived
which deferred it all.
Mr. Bingley was obliged to be in town the following day, and, consequently, unable to
accept the honour of their invitation, etc. Mrs. Bennet was quite disconcerted.
She could not imagine what business he could have in town so soon after his
arrival in Hertfordshire; and she began to fear that he might be always flying about
from one place to another, and never settled at Netherfield as he ought to be.
Lady Lucas quieted her fears a little by starting the idea of his being gone to
London only to get a large party for the ball; and a report soon followed that Mr.
Bingley was to bring twelve ladies and seven gentlemen with him to the assembly.
The girls grieved over such a number of ladies, but were comforted the day before
the ball by hearing, that instead of twelve he brought only six with him from London--
his five sisters and a cousin.
And when the party entered the assembly room it consisted of only five altogether--
Mr. Bingley, his two sisters, the husband of the eldest, and another young man.
Mr. Bingley was good-looking and gentlemanlike; he had a pleasant
countenance, and easy, unaffected manners. His sisters were fine women, with an air of
decided fashion.
His brother-in-law, Mr. Hurst, merely looked the gentleman; but his friend Mr.
Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome
features, noble mien, and the report which
was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having
ten thousand a year.
The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was
much handsomer than Mr. Bingley, and he was looked at with great admiration for about
half the evening, till his manners gave a
disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be
proud; to be above his company, and above being pleased; and not all his large estate
in Derbyshire could then save him from
having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance, and being unworthy to be
compared with his friend.
Mr. Bingley had soon made himself acquainted with all the principal people in
the room; he was lively and unreserved, danced every dance, was angry that the ball
closed so early, and talked of giving one himself at Netherfield.
Such amiable qualities must speak for themselves.
What a contrast between him and his friend!
Mr. Darcy danced only once with Mrs. Hurst and once with Miss Bingley, declined being
introduced to any other lady, and spent the rest of the evening in walking about the
room, speaking occasionally to one of his own party.
His character was decided.
He was the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world, and everybody hoped that he
would never come there again.
Amongst the most violent against him was Mrs. Bennet, whose dislike of his general
behaviour was sharpened into particular resentment by his having slighted one of
her daughters.
Elizabeth Bennet had been obliged, by the scarcity of gentlemen, to sit down for two
dances; and during part of that time, Mr. Darcy had been standing near enough for her
to hear a conversation between him and Mr.
Bingley, who came from the dance for a few minutes, to press his friend to join it.
"Come, Darcy," said he, "I must have you dance.
I hate to see you standing about by yourself in this stupid manner.
You had much better dance." "I certainly shall not.
You know how I detest it, unless I am particularly acquainted with my partner.
At such an assembly as this it would be insupportable.
Your sisters are engaged, and there is not another woman in the room whom it would not
be a punishment to me to stand up with." "I would not be so fastidious as you are,"
cried Mr. Bingley, "for a kingdom!
Upon my honour, I never met with so many pleasant girls in my life as I have this
evening; and there are several of them you see uncommonly pretty."
"You are dancing with the only handsome girl in the room," said Mr. Darcy, looking
at the eldest Miss Bennet. "Oh! She is the most beautiful creature I
ever beheld!
But there is one of her sisters sitting down just behind you, who is very pretty,
and I dare say very agreeable. Do let me ask my partner to introduce you."
"Which do you mean?" and turning round he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till
catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said: "She is tolerable, but not
handsome enough to tempt me; I am in no
humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men.
You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your
time with me."
Mr. Bingley followed his advice. Mr. Darcy walked off; and Elizabeth
remained with no very cordial feelings toward him.
She told the story, however, with great spirit among her friends; for she had a
lively, playful disposition, which delighted in anything ridiculous.
The evening altogether passed off pleasantly to the whole family.
Mrs. Bennet had seen her eldest daughter much admired by the Netherfield party.
Mr. Bingley had danced with her twice, and she had been distinguished by his sisters.
Jane was as much gratified by this as her mother could be, though in a quieter way.
Elizabeth felt Jane's pleasure.
Mary had heard herself mentioned to Miss Bingley as the most accomplished girl in
the neighbourhood; and Catherine and Lydia had been fortunate enough never to be
without partners, which was all that they had yet learnt to care for at a ball.
They returned, therefore, in good spirits to Longbourn, the village where they lived,
and of which they were the principal inhabitants.
They found Mr. Bennet still up.
With a book he was regardless of time; and on the present occasion he had a good deal
of curiosity as to the event of an evening which had raised such splendid
expectations.
He had rather hoped that his wife's views on the stranger would be disappointed; but
he soon found out that he had a different story to hear.
"Oh! my dear Mr. Bennet," as she entered the room, "we have had a most delightful
evening, a most excellent ball. I wish you had been there.
Jane was so admired, nothing could be like it.
Everybody said how well she looked; and Mr. Bingley thought her quite beautiful, and
danced with her twice!
Only think of that, my dear; he actually danced with her twice! and she was the only
creature in the room that he asked a second time.
First of all, he asked Miss Lucas.
I was so vexed to see him stand up with her!
But, however, he did not admire her at all; indeed, nobody can, you know; and he seemed
quite struck with Jane as she was going down the dance.
So he inquired who she was, and got introduced, and asked her for the two next.
Then the two third he danced with Miss King, and the two fourth with Maria Lucas,
and the two fifth with Jane again, and the two sixth with Lizzy, and the Boulanger--"
"If he had had any compassion for me," cried her husband impatiently, "he would
not have danced half so much! For God's sake, say no more of his
partners.
O that he had sprained his ankle in the first dance!"
"Oh! my dear, I am quite delighted with him.
He is so excessively handsome!
And his sisters are charming women. I never in my life saw anything more
elegant than their dresses. I dare say the lace upon Mrs. Hurst's gown-
-"
Here she was interrupted again. Mr. Bennet protested against any
description of finery.
She was therefore obliged to seek another branch of the subject, and related, with
much bitterness of spirit and some exaggeration, the shocking rudeness of Mr.
Darcy.
"But I can assure you," she added, "that Lizzy does not lose much by not suiting his
fancy; for he is a most disagreeable, horrid man, not at all worth pleasing.
So high and so conceited that there was no enduring him!
He walked here, and he walked there, fancying himself so very great!
Not handsome enough to dance with!
I wish you had been there, my dear, to have given him one of your set-downs.
I quite detest the man."
>
CHAPTER 4
When Jane and Elizabeth were alone, the former, who had been cautious in her praise
of Mr. Bingley before, expressed to her sister just how very much she admired him.
"He is just what a young man ought to be," said she, "sensible, good-humoured, lively;
and I never saw such happy manners!--so much ease, with such perfect good
breeding!"
"He is also handsome," replied Elizabeth, "which a young man ought likewise to be, if
he possibly can. His character is thereby complete."
"I was very much flattered by his asking me to dance a second time.
I did not expect such a compliment." "Did not you?
I did for you.
But that is one great difference between us.
Compliments always take you by surprise, and me never.
What could be more natural than his asking you again?
He could not help seeing that you were about five times as pretty as every other
woman in the room.
No thanks to his gallantry for that. Well, he certainly is very agreeable, and I
give you leave to like him. You have liked many a stupider person."
"Dear Lizzy!"
"Oh! you are a great deal too apt, you know, to like people in general.
You never see a fault in anybody. All the world are good and agreeable in
your eyes.
I never heard you speak ill of a human being in your life."
"I would not wish to be hasty in censuring anyone; but I always speak what I think."
"I know you do; and it is that which makes the wonder.
With your good sense, to be so honestly blind to the follies and nonsense of
others!
Affectation of candour is common enough-- one meets with it everywhere.
But to be candid without ostentation or design--to take the good of everybody's
character and make it still better, and say nothing of the bad--belongs to you alone.
And so you like this man's sisters, too, do you?
Their manners are not equal to his." "Certainly not--at first.
But they are very pleasing women when you converse with them.
Miss Bingley is to live with her brother, and keep his house; and I am much mistaken
if we shall not find a very charming neighbour in her."
Elizabeth listened in silence, but was not convinced; their behaviour at the assembly
had not been calculated to please in general; and with more quickness of
observation and less pliancy of temper than
her sister, and with a judgement too unassailed by any attention to herself, she
was very little disposed to approve them.
They were in fact very fine ladies; not deficient in good humour when they were
pleased, nor in the power of making themselves agreeable when they chose it,
but proud and conceited.
They were rather handsome, had been educated in one of the first private
seminaries in town, had a fortune of twenty thousand pounds, were in the habit of
spending more than they ought, and of
associating with people of rank, and were therefore in every respect entitled to
think well of themselves, and meanly of others.
They were of a respectable family in the north of England; a circumstance more
deeply impressed on their memories than that their brother's fortune and their own
had been acquired by trade.
Mr. Bingley inherited property to the amount of nearly a hundred thousand pounds
from his father, who had intended to purchase an estate, but did not live to do
it.
Mr. Bingley intended it likewise, and sometimes made choice of his county; but as
he was now provided with a good house and the liberty of a manor, it was doubtful to
many of those who best knew the easiness of
his temper, whether he might not spend the remainder of his days at Netherfield, and
leave the next generation to purchase.
His sisters were anxious for his having an estate of his own; but, though he was now
only established as a tenant, Miss Bingley was by no means unwilling to preside at his
table--nor was Mrs. Hurst, who had married
a man of more fashion than fortune, less disposed to consider his house as her home
when it suited her.
Mr. Bingley had not been of age two years, when he was tempted by an accidental
recommendation to look at Netherfield House.
He did look at it, and into it for half-an- hour--was pleased with the situation and
the principal rooms, satisfied with what the owner said in its praise, and took it
immediately.
Between him and Darcy there was a very steady friendship, in spite of great
opposition of character.
Bingley was endeared to Darcy by the easiness, openness, and ductility of his
temper, though no disposition could offer a greater contrast to his own, and though
with his own he never appeared dissatisfied.
On the strength of Darcy's regard, Bingley had the firmest reliance, and of his
judgement the highest opinion.
In understanding, Darcy was the superior. Bingley was by no means deficient, but
Darcy was clever.
He was at the same time haughty, reserved, and fastidious, and his manners, though
well-bred, were not inviting. In that respect his friend had greatly the
advantage.
Bingley was sure of being liked wherever he appeared, Darcy was continually giving
offense.
The manner in which they spoke of the Meryton assembly was sufficiently
characteristic.
Bingley had never met with more pleasant people or prettier girls in his life;
everybody had been most kind and attentive to him; there had been no formality, no
stiffness; he had soon felt acquainted with
all the room; and, as to Miss Bennet, he could not conceive an angel more beautiful.
Darcy, on the contrary, had seen a collection of people in whom there was
little beauty and no fashion, for none of whom he had felt the smallest interest, and
from none received either attention or pleasure.
Miss Bennet he acknowledged to be pretty, but she smiled too much.
Mrs. Hurst and her sister allowed it to be so--but still they admired her and liked
her, and pronounced her to be a sweet girl, and one whom they would not object to know
more of.
Miss Bennet was therefore established as a sweet girl, and their brother felt
authorized by such commendation to think of her as he chose.
>
CHAPTER 5
Within a short walk of Longbourn lived a family with whom the Bennets were
particularly intimate.
Sir William Lucas had been formerly in trade in Meryton, where he had made a
tolerable fortune, and risen to the honour of knighthood by an address to the king
during his mayoralty.
The distinction had perhaps been felt too strongly.
It had given him a disgust to his business, and to his residence in a small market
town; and, in quitting them both, he had removed with his family to a house about a
mile from Meryton, denominated from that
period Lucas Lodge, where he could think with pleasure of his own importance, and,
unshackled by business, occupy himself solely in being civil to all the world.
For, though elated by his rank, it did not render him supercilious; on the contrary,
he was all attention to everybody.
By nature inoffensive, friendly, and obliging, his presentation at St. James's
had made him courteous.
Lady Lucas was a very good kind of woman, not too clever to be a valuable neighbour
to Mrs. Bennet. They had several children.
The eldest of them, a sensible, intelligent young woman, about twenty-seven, was
Elizabeth's intimate friend.
That the Miss Lucases and the Miss Bennets should meet to talk over a ball was
absolutely necessary; and the morning after the assembly brought the former to
Longbourn to hear and to communicate.
"You began the evening well, Charlotte," said Mrs. Bennet with civil self-command to
Miss Lucas. "You were Mr. Bingley's first choice."
"Yes; but he seemed to like his second better."
"Oh! you mean Jane, I suppose, because he danced with her twice.
To be sure that did seem as if he admired her--indeed I rather believe he did--I
heard something about it--but I hardly know what--something about Mr. Robinson."
"Perhaps you mean what I overheard between him and Mr. Robinson; did not I mention it
to you?
Mr. Robinson's asking him how he liked our Meryton assemblies, and whether he did not
think there were a great many pretty women in the room, and which he thought the
prettiest? and his answering immediately to
the last question: 'Oh! the eldest Miss Bennet, beyond a doubt; there cannot be two
opinions on that point.'" "Upon my word!
Well, that is very decided indeed--that does seem as if--but, however, it may all
come to nothing, you know." "My overhearings were more to the purpose
than yours, Eliza," said Charlotte.
"Mr. Darcy is not so well worth listening to as his friend, is he?--poor Eliza!--to
be only just tolerable."
"I beg you would not put it into Lizzy's head to be vexed by his ill-treatment, for
he is such a disagreeable man, that it would be quite a misfortune to be liked by
him.
Mrs. Long told me last night that he sat close to her for half-an-hour without once
opening his lips." "Are you quite sure, ma'am?--is not there a
little mistake?" said Jane.
"I certainly saw Mr. Darcy speaking to her."
"Aye--because she asked him at last how he liked Netherfield, and he could not help
answering her; but she said he seemed quite angry at being spoke to."
"Miss Bingley told me," said Jane, "that he never speaks much, unless among his
intimate acquaintances. With them he is remarkably agreeable."
"I do not believe a word of it, my dear.
If he had been so very agreeable, he would have talked to Mrs. Long.
But I can guess how it was; everybody says that he is eat up with pride, and I dare
say he had heard somehow that Mrs. Long does not keep a carriage, and had come to
the ball in a hack chaise."
"I do not mind his not talking to Mrs. Long," said Miss Lucas, "but I wish he had
danced with Eliza." "Another time, Lizzy," said her mother, "I
would not dance with him, if I were you."
"I believe, ma'am, I may safely promise you never to dance with him."
"His pride," said Miss Lucas, "does not offend me so much as pride often does,
because there is an excuse for it.
One cannot wonder that so very fine a young man, with family, fortune, everything in
his favour, should think highly of himself. If I may so express it, he has a right to
be proud."
"That is very true," replied Elizabeth, "and I could easily forgive his pride, if
he had not mortified mine."
"Pride," observed Mary, who piqued herself upon the solidity of her reflections, "is a
very common failing, I believe.
By all that I have ever read, I am convinced that it is very common indeed;
that human nature is particularly prone to it, and that there are very few of us who
do not cherish a feeling of self-
complacency on the score of some quality or other, real or imaginary.
Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used
synonymously.
A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of
ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us."
"If I were as rich as Mr. Darcy," cried a young Lucas, who came with his sisters, "I
should not care how proud I was. I would keep a pack of foxhounds, and drink
a bottle of wine a day."
"Then you would drink a great deal more than you ought," said Mrs. Bennet; "and if
I were to see you at it, I should take away your bottle directly."
The boy protested that she should not; she continued to declare that she would, and
the argument ended only with the visit.
>
CHAPTER 6
The ladies of Longbourn soon waited on those of Netherfield.
The visit was soon returned in due form.
Miss Bennet's pleasing manners grew on the goodwill of Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley;
and though the mother was found to be intolerable, and the younger sisters not
worth speaking to, a wish of being better
acquainted with them was expressed towards the two eldest.
By Jane, this attention was received with the greatest pleasure, but Elizabeth still
saw superciliousness in their treatment of everybody, hardly excepting even her
sister, and could not like them; though
their kindness to Jane, such as it was, had a value as arising in all probability from
the influence of their brother's admiration.
It was generally evident whenever they met, that he did admire her and to her it was
equally evident that Jane was yielding to the preference which she had begun to
entertain for him from the first, and was
in a way to be very much in love; but she considered with pleasure that it was not
likely to be discovered by the world in general, since Jane united, with great
strength of feeling, a composure of temper
and a uniform cheerfulness of manner which would guard her from the suspicions of the
impertinent. She mentioned this to her friend Miss
Lucas.
"It may perhaps be pleasant," replied Charlotte, "to be able to impose on the
public in such a case; but it is sometimes a disadvantage to be so very guarded.
If a woman conceals her affection with the same skill from the object of it, she may
lose the opportunity of fixing him; and it will then be but poor consolation to
believe the world equally in the dark.
There is so much of gratitude or vanity in almost every attachment, that it is not
safe to leave any to itself.
We can all begin freely--a slight preference is natural enough; but there are
very few of us who have heart enough to be really in love without encouragement.
In nine cases out of ten a women had better show more affection than she feels.
Bingley likes your sister undoubtedly; but he may never do more than like her, if she
does not help him on."
"But she does help him on, as much as her nature will allow.
If I can perceive her regard for him, he must be a simpleton, indeed, not to
discover it too."
"Remember, Eliza, that he does not know Jane's disposition as you do."
"But if a woman is partial to a man, and does not endeavour to conceal it, he must
find it out."
"Perhaps he must, if he sees enough of her.
But, though Bingley and Jane meet tolerably often, it is never for many hours together;
and, as they always see each other in large mixed parties, it is impossible that every
moment should be employed in conversing together.
Jane should therefore make the most of every half-hour in which she can command
his attention.
When she is secure of him, there will be more leisure for falling in love as much as
she chooses."
"Your plan is a good one," replied Elizabeth, "where nothing is in question
but the desire of being well married, and if I were determined to get a rich husband,
or any husband, I dare say I should adopt it.
But these are not Jane's feelings; she is not acting by design.
As yet, she cannot even be certain of the degree of her own regard nor of its
reasonableness. She has known him only a fortnight.
She danced four dances with him at Meryton; she saw him one morning at his own house,
and has since dined with him in company four times.
This is not quite enough to make her understand his character."
"Not as you represent it.
Had she merely dined with him, she might only have discovered whether he had a good
appetite; but you must remember that four evenings have also been spent together--and
four evenings may do a great deal."
"Yes; these four evenings have enabled them to ascertain that they both like Vingt-un
better than Commerce; but with respect to any other leading characteristic, I do not
imagine that much has been unfolded."
"Well," said Charlotte, "I wish Jane success with all my heart; and if she were
married to him to-morrow, I should think she had as good a chance of happiness as if
she were to be studying his character for a twelvemonth.
Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance.
If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other or ever so
similar beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in the least.
They always continue to grow sufficiently unlike afterwards to have their share of
vexation; and it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the
person with whom you are to pass your life."
"You make me laugh, Charlotte; but it is not sound.
You know it is not sound, and that you would never act in this way yourself."
Occupied in observing Mr. Bingley's attentions to her sister, Elizabeth was far
from suspecting that she was herself becoming an object of some interest in the
eyes of his friend.
Mr. Darcy had at first scarcely allowed her to be pretty; he had looked at her without
admiration at the ball; and when they next met, he looked at her only to criticise.
But no sooner had he made it clear to himself and his friends that she hardly had
a good feature in her face, than he began to find it was rendered uncommonly
intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes.
To this discovery succeeded some others equally mortifying.
Though he had detected with a critical eye more than one failure of perfect symmetry
in her form, he was forced to acknowledge her figure to be light and pleasing; and in
spite of his asserting that her manners
were not those of the fashionable world, he was caught by their easy playfulness.
Of this she was perfectly unaware; to her he was only the man who made himself
agreeable nowhere, and who had not thought her handsome enough to dance with.
He began to wish to know more of her, and as a step towards conversing with her
himself, attended to her conversation with others.
His doing so drew her notice.
It was at Sir William Lucas's, where a large party were assembled.
"What does Mr. Darcy mean," said she to Charlotte, "by listening to my conversation
with Colonel Forster?"
"That is a question which Mr. Darcy only can answer."
"But if he does it any more I shall certainly let him know that I see what he
is about.
He has a very satirical eye, and if I do not begin by being impertinent myself, I
shall soon grow afraid of him."
On his approaching them soon afterwards, though without seeming to have any
intention of speaking, Miss Lucas defied her friend to mention such a subject to
him; which immediately provoking Elizabeth to do it, she turned to him and said:
"Did you not think, Mr. Darcy, that I expressed myself uncommonly well just now,
when I was teasing Colonel Forster to give us a ball at Meryton?"
"With great energy; but it is always a subject which makes a lady energetic."
"You are severe on us." "It will be her turn soon to be teased,"
said Miss Lucas.
"I am going to open the instrument, Eliza, and you know what follows."
"You are a very strange creature by way of a friend!--always wanting me to play and
sing before anybody and everybody!
If my vanity had taken a musical turn, you would have been invaluable; but as it is, I
would really rather not sit down before those who must be in the habit of hearing
the very best performers."
On Miss Lucas's persevering, however, she added, "Very well, if it must be so, it
must."
And gravely glancing at Mr. Darcy, "There is a fine old saying, which everybody here
is of course familiar with: 'Keep your breath to cool your porridge'; and I shall
keep mine to swell my song."
Her performance was pleasing, though by no means capital.
After a song or two, and before she could reply to the entreaties of several that she
would sing again, she was eagerly succeeded at the instrument by her sister Mary, who
having, in consequence of being the only
plain one in the family, worked hard for knowledge and accomplishments, was always
impatient for display.
Mary had neither genius nor taste; and though vanity had given her application, it
had given her likewise a pedantic air and conceited manner, which would have injured
a higher degree of excellence than she had reached.
Elizabeth, easy and unaffected, had been listened to with much more pleasure, though
not playing half so well; and Mary, at the end of a long concerto, was glad to
purchase praise and gratitude by Scotch and
Irish airs, at the request of her younger sisters, who, with some of the Lucases, and
two or three officers, joined eagerly in dancing at one end of the room.
Mr. Darcy stood near them in silent indignation at such a mode of passing the
evening, to the exclusion of all conversation, and was too much engrossed by
his thoughts to perceive that Sir William
Lucas was his neighbour, till Sir William thus began:
"What a charming amusement for young people this is, Mr. Darcy!
There is nothing like dancing after all.
I consider it as one of the first refinements of polished society."
"Certainly, sir; and it has the advantage also of being in vogue amongst the less
polished societies of the world.
Every savage can dance." Sir William only smiled.
"Your friend performs delightfully," he continued after a pause, on seeing Bingley
join the group; "and I doubt not that you are an adept in the science yourself, Mr.
Darcy."
"You saw me dance at Meryton, I believe, sir."
"Yes, indeed, and received no inconsiderable pleasure from the sight.
Do you often dance at St. James's?"
"Never, sir." "Do you not think it would be a proper
compliment to the place?" "It is a compliment which I never pay to
any place if I can avoid it."
"You have a house in town, I conclude?" Mr. Darcy bowed.
"I had once had some thought of fixing in town myself--for I am fond of superior
society; but I did not feel quite certain that the air of London would agree with
Lady Lucas."
He paused in hopes of an answer; but his companion was not disposed to make any; and
Elizabeth at that instant moving towards them, he was struck with the action of
doing a very gallant thing, and called out to her:
"My dear Miss Eliza, why are you not dancing?
Mr. Darcy, you must allow me to present this young lady to you as a very desirable
partner. You cannot refuse to dance, I am sure when
so much beauty is before you."
And, taking her hand, he would have given it to Mr. Darcy who, though extremely
surprised, was not unwilling to receive it, when she instantly drew back, and said with
some discomposure to Sir William:
"Indeed, sir, I have not the least intention of dancing.
I entreat you not to suppose that I moved this way in order to beg for a partner."
Mr. Darcy, with grave propriety, requested to be allowed the honour of her hand, but
in vain.
Elizabeth was determined; nor did Sir William at all shake her purpose by his
attempt at persuasion.
"You excel so much in the dance, Miss Eliza, that it is cruel to deny me the
happiness of seeing you; and though this gentleman dislikes the amusement in
general, he can have no objection, I am sure, to oblige us for one half-hour."
"Mr. Darcy is all politeness," said Elizabeth, smiling.
"He is, indeed; but, considering the inducement, my dear Miss Eliza, we cannot
wonder at his complaisance--for who would object to such a partner?"
Elizabeth looked archly, and turned away.
Her resistance had not injured her with the gentleman, and he was thinking of her with
some complacency, when thus accosted by Miss Bingley:
"I can guess the subject of your reverie."
"I should imagine not." "You are considering how insupportable it
would be to pass many evenings in this manner--in such society; and indeed I am
quite of your opinion.
I was never more annoyed! The insipidity, and yet the noise--the
nothingness, and yet the self-importance of all those people!
What would I give to hear your strictures on them!"
"Your conjecture is totally wrong, I assure you.
My mind was more agreeably engaged.
I have been meditating on the very great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the
face of a pretty woman can bestow."
Miss Bingley immediately fixed her eyes on his face, and desired he would tell her
what lady had the credit of inspiring such reflections.
Mr. Darcy replied with great intrepidity:
"Miss Elizabeth Bennet." "Miss Elizabeth Bennet!" repeated Miss
Bingley. "I am all astonishment.
How long has she been such a favourite?-- and pray, when am I to wish you joy?"
"That is exactly the question which I expected you to ask.
A lady's imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to
matrimony, in a moment. I knew you would be wishing me joy."
"Nay, if you are serious about it, I shall consider the matter is absolutely settled.
You will be having a charming mother-in- law, indeed; and, of course, she will
always be at Pemberley with you."
He listened to her with perfect indifference while she chose to entertain
herself in this manner; and as his composure convinced her that all was safe,
her wit flowed long.
>
CHAPTER 7
Mr. Bennet's property consisted almost entirely in an estate of two thousand a
year, which, unfortunately for his daughters, was entailed, in default of
heirs male, on a distant relation; and
their mother's fortune, though ample for her situation in life, could but ill supply
the deficiency of his. Her father had been an attorney in Meryton,
and had left her four thousand pounds.
She had a sister married to a Mr. Phillips, who had been a clerk to their father and
succeeded him in the business, and a brother settled in London in a respectable
line of trade.
The village of Longbourn was only one mile from Meryton; a most convenient distance
for the young ladies, who were usually tempted thither three or four times a week,
to pay their duty to their aunt and to a milliner's shop just over the way.
The two youngest of the family, Catherine and Lydia, were particularly frequent in
these attentions; their minds were more vacant than their sisters', and when
nothing better offered, a walk to Meryton
was necessary to amuse their morning hours and furnish conversation for the evening;
and however bare of news the country in general might be, they always contrived to
learn some from their aunt.
At present, indeed, they were well supplied both with news and happiness by the recent
arrival of a militia regiment in the neighbourhood; it was to remain the whole
winter, and Meryton was the headquarters.
Their visits to Mrs. Phillips were now productive of the most interesting
intelligence.
Every day added something to their knowledge of the officers' names and
connections.
Their lodgings were not long a secret, and at length they began to know the officers
themselves.
Mr. Phillips visited them all, and this opened to his nieces a store of felicity
unknown before.
They could talk of nothing but officers; and Mr. Bingley's large fortune, the
mention of which gave animation to their mother, was worthless in their eyes when
opposed to the regimentals of an ensign.
After listening one morning to their effusions on this subject, Mr. Bennet
coolly observed:
"From all that I can collect by your manner of talking, you must be two of the silliest
girls in the country. I have suspected it some time, but I am now
convinced."
Catherine was disconcerted, and made no answer; but Lydia, with perfect
indifference, continued to express her admiration of Captain Carter, and her hope
of seeing him in the course of the day, as he was going the next morning to London.
"I am astonished, my dear," said Mrs. Bennet, "that you should be so ready to
think your own children silly.
If I wished to think slightingly of anybody's children, it should not be of my
own, however." "If my children are silly, I must hope to
be always sensible of it."
"Yes--but as it happens, they are all of them very clever."
"This is the only point, I flatter myself, on which we do not agree.
I had hoped that our sentiments coincided in every particular, but I must so far
differ from you as to think our two youngest daughters uncommonly foolish."
"My dear Mr. Bennet, you must not expect such girls to have the sense of their
father and mother.
When they get to our age, I dare say they will not think about officers any more than
we do.
I remember the time when I liked a red coat myself very well--and, indeed, so I do
still at my heart; and if a smart young colonel, with five or six thousand a year,
should want one of my girls I shall not say
nay to him; and I thought Colonel Forster looked very becoming the other night at Sir
William's in his regimentals."
"Mamma," cried Lydia, "my aunt says that Colonel Forster and Captain Carter do not
go so often to Miss Watson's as they did when they first came; she sees them now
very often standing in Clarke's library."
Mrs. Bennet was prevented replying by the entrance of the footman with a note for
Miss Bennet; it came from Netherfield, and the servant waited for an answer.
Mrs. Bennet's eyes sparkled with pleasure, and she was eagerly calling out, while her
daughter read, "Well, Jane, who is it from?
What is it about?
What does he say? Well, Jane, make haste and tell us; make
haste, my love." "It is from Miss Bingley," said Jane, and
then read it aloud.
"MY DEAR FRIEND,--
"If you are not so compassionate as to dine to-day with Louisa and me, we shall be in
danger of hating each other for the rest of our lives, for a whole day's tete-a-tete
between two women can never end without a quarrel.
Come as soon as you can on receipt of this. My brother and the gentlemen are to dine
with the officers.--Yours ever,
"CAROLINE BINGLEY" "With the officers!" cried Lydia.
"I wonder my aunt did not tell us of that." "Dining out," said Mrs. Bennet, "that is
very unlucky."
"Can I have the carriage?" said Jane. "No, my dear, you had better go on
horseback, because it seems likely to rain; and then you must stay all night."
"That would be a good scheme," said Elizabeth, "if you were sure that they
would not offer to send her home."
"Oh! but the gentlemen will have Mr. Bingley's chaise to go to Meryton, and the
Hursts have no horses to theirs." "I had much rather go in the coach."
"But, my dear, your father cannot spare the horses, I am sure.
They are wanted in the farm, Mr. Bennet, are they not?"
"They are wanted in the farm much oftener than I can get them."
"But if you have got them to-day," said Elizabeth, "my mother's purpose will be
answered."
She did at last extort from her father an acknowledgment that the horses were
engaged.
Jane was therefore obliged to go on horseback, and her mother attended her to
the door with many cheerful prognostics of a bad day.
Her hopes were answered; Jane had not been gone long before it rained hard.
Her sisters were uneasy for her, but her mother was delighted.
The rain continued the whole evening without intermission; Jane certainly could
not come back.
"This was a lucky idea of mine, indeed!" said Mrs. Bennet more than once, as if the
credit of making it rain were all her own.
Till the next morning, however, she was not aware of all the felicity of her
contrivance.
Breakfast was scarcely over when a servant from Netherfield brought the following note
for Elizabeth: "MY DEAREST LIZZY,--
"I find myself very unwell this morning, which, I suppose, is to be imputed to my
getting wet through yesterday. My kind friends will not hear of my
returning till I am better.
They insist also on my seeing Mr. Jones-- therefore do not be alarmed if you should
hear of his having been to me--and, excepting a sore throat and headache, there
is not much the matter with me.--Yours, etc."
"Well, my dear," said Mr. Bennet, when Elizabeth had read the note aloud, "if your
daughter should have a dangerous fit of illness--if she should die, it would be a
comfort to know that it was all in pursuit of Mr. Bingley, and under your orders."
"Oh! I am not afraid of her dying. People do not die of little trifling colds.
She will be taken good care of.
As long as she stays there, it is all very well.
I would go and see her if I could have the carriage."
Elizabeth, feeling really anxious, was determined to go to her, though the
carriage was not to be had; and as she was no horsewoman, walking was her only
alternative.
She declared her resolution. "How can you be so silly," cried her
mother, "as to think of such a thing, in all this dirt!
You will not be fit to be seen when you get there."
"I shall be very fit to see Jane--which is all I want."
"Is this a hint to me, Lizzy," said her father, "to send for the horses?"
"No, indeed, I do not wish to avoid the walk.
The distance is nothing when one has a motive; only three miles.
I shall be back by dinner."
"I admire the activity of your benevolence," observed Mary, "but every
impulse of feeling should be guided by reason; and, in my opinion, exertion should
always be in proportion to what is required."
"We will go as far as Meryton with you," said Catherine and Lydia.
Elizabeth accepted their company, and the three young ladies set off together.
"If we make haste," said Lydia, as they walked along, "perhaps we may see something
of Captain Carter before he goes."
In Meryton they parted; the two youngest repaired to the lodgings of one of the
officers' wives, and Elizabeth continued her walk alone, crossing field after field
at a quick pace, jumping over stiles and
springing over puddles with impatient activity, and finding herself at last
within view of the house, with weary ankles, dirty stockings, and a face glowing
with the warmth of exercise.
She was shown into the breakfast-parlour, where all but Jane were assembled, and
where her appearance created a great deal of surprise.
That she should have walked three miles so early in the day, in such dirty weather,
and by herself, was almost incredible to Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley; and Elizabeth
was convinced that they held her in contempt for it.
She was received, however, very politely by them; and in their brother's manners there
was something better than politeness; there was good humour and kindness.
Mr. Darcy said very little, and Mr. Hurst nothing at all.
The former was divided between admiration of the brilliancy which exercise had given
to her complexion, and doubt as to the occasion's justifying her coming so far
alone.
The latter was thinking only of his breakfast.
Her inquiries after her sister were not very favourably answered.
Miss Bennet had slept ill, and though up, was very feverish, and not well enough to
leave her room.
Elizabeth was glad to be taken to her immediately; and Jane, who had only been
withheld by the fear of giving alarm or inconvenience from expressing in her note
how much she longed for such a visit, was delighted at her entrance.
She was not equal, however, to much conversation, and when Miss Bingley left
them together, could attempt little besides expressions of gratitude for the
extraordinary kindness she was treated with.
Elizabeth silently attended her.
When breakfast was over they were joined by the sisters; and Elizabeth began to like
them herself, when she saw how much affection and solicitude they showed for
Jane.
The apothecary came, and having examined his patient, said, as might be supposed,
that she had caught a violent cold, and that they must endeavour to get the better
of it; advised her to return to bed, and promised her some draughts.
The advice was followed readily, for the feverish symptoms increased, and her head
ached acutely.
Elizabeth did not quit her room for a moment; nor were the other ladies often
absent; the gentlemen being out, they had, in fact, nothing to do elsewhere.
When the clock struck three, Elizabeth felt that she must go, and very unwillingly said
so.
Miss Bingley offered her the carriage, and she only wanted a little pressing to accept
it, when Jane testified such concern in parting with her, that Miss Bingley was
obliged to convert the offer of the chaise
to an invitation to remain at Netherfield for the present.
Elizabeth most thankfully consented, and a servant was dispatched to Longbourn to
acquaint the family with her stay and bring back a supply of clothes.
>
CHAPTER 8
At five o'clock the two ladies retired to dress, and at half-past six Elizabeth was
summoned to dinner.
To the civil inquiries which then poured in, and amongst which she had the pleasure
of distinguishing the much superior solicitude of Mr. Bingley's, she could not
make a very favourable answer.
Jane was by no means better.
The sisters, on hearing this, repeated three or four times how much they were
grieved, how shocking it was to have a bad cold, and how excessively they disliked
being ill themselves; and then thought no
more of the matter: and their indifference towards Jane when not immediately before
them restored Elizabeth to the enjoyment of all her former dislike.
Their brother, indeed, was the only one of the party whom she could regard with any
complacency.
His anxiety for Jane was evident, and his attentions to herself most pleasing, and
they prevented her feeling herself so much an intruder as she believed she was
considered by the others.
She had very little notice from any but him.
Miss Bingley was engrossed by Mr. Darcy, her sister scarcely less so; and as for Mr.
Hurst, by whom Elizabeth sat, he was an indolent man, who lived only to eat, drink,
and play at cards; who, when he found her
to prefer a plain dish to a ragout, had nothing to say to her.
When dinner was over, she returned directly to Jane, and Miss Bingley began abusing her
as soon as she was out of the room.
Her manners were pronounced to be very bad indeed, a mixture of pride and
impertinence; she had no conversation, no style, no beauty.
Mrs. Hurst thought the same, and added:
"She has nothing, in short, to recommend her, but being an excellent walker.
I shall never forget her appearance this morning.
She really looked almost wild."
"She did, indeed, Louisa. I could hardly keep my countenance.
Very nonsensical to come at all! Why must she be scampering about the
country, because her sister had a cold?
Her hair, so untidy, so blowsy!"
"Yes, and her petticoat; I hope you saw her petticoat, six inches deep in mud, I am
absolutely certain; and the gown which had been let down to hide it not doing its
office."
"Your picture may be very exact, Louisa," said Bingley; "but this was all lost upon
me.
I thought Miss Elizabeth Bennet looked remarkably well when she came into the room
this morning. Her dirty petticoat quite escaped my
notice."
"You observed it, Mr. Darcy, I am sure," said Miss Bingley; "and I am inclined to
think that you would not wish to see your sister make such an exhibition."
"Certainly not."
"To walk three miles, or four miles, or five miles, or whatever it is, above her
ankles in dirt, and alone, quite alone! What could she mean by it?
It seems to me to show an abominable sort of conceited independence, a most country-
town indifference to decorum." "It shows an affection for her sister that
is very pleasing," said Bingley.
"I am afraid, Mr. Darcy," observed Miss Bingley in a half whisper, "that this
adventure has rather affected your admiration of her fine eyes."
"Not at all," he replied; "they were brightened by the exercise."
A short pause followed this speech, and Mrs. Hurst began again:
"I have an excessive regard for Miss Jane Bennet, she is really a very sweet girl,
and I wish with all my heart she were well settled.
But with such a father and mother, and such low connections, I am afraid there is no
chance of it." "I think I have heard you say that their
uncle is an attorney on Meryton."
"Yes; and they have another, who lives somewhere near Cheapside."
"That is capital," added her sister, and they both laughed heartily.
"If they had uncles enough to fill all Cheapside," cried Bingley, "it would not
make them one jot less agreeable."
"But it must very materially lessen their chance of marrying men of any consideration
in the world," replied Darcy.
To this speech Bingley made no answer; but his sisters gave it their hearty assent,
and indulged their mirth for some time at the expense of their dear friend's vulgar
relations.
With a renewal of tenderness, however, they returned to her room on leaving the dining-
parlour, and sat with her till summoned to coffee.
She was still very poorly, and Elizabeth would not quit her at all, till late in the
evening, when she had the comfort of seeing her sleep, and when it seemed to her rather
right than pleasant that she should go downstairs herself.
On entering the drawing-room she found the whole party at loo, and was immediately
invited to join them; but suspecting them to be playing high she declined it, and
making her sister the excuse, said she
would amuse herself for the short time she could stay below, with a book.
Mr. Hurst looked at her with astonishment. "Do you prefer reading to cards?" said he;
"that is rather singular."
"Miss Eliza Bennet," said Miss Bingley, "despises cards.
She is a great reader, and has no pleasure in anything else."
"I deserve neither such praise nor such censure," cried Elizabeth; "I am not a
great reader, and I have pleasure in many things."
"In nursing your sister I am sure you have pleasure," said Bingley; "and I hope it
will be soon increased by seeing her quite well."
Elizabeth thanked him from her heart, and then walked towards the table where a few
books were lying. He immediately offered to fetch her others-
-all that his library afforded.
"And I wish my collection were larger for your benefit and my own credit; but I am an
idle fellow, and though I have not many, I have more than I ever looked into."
Elizabeth assured him that she could suit herself perfectly with those in the room.
"I am astonished," said Miss Bingley, "that my father should have left so small a
collection of books.
What a delightful library you have at Pemberley, Mr. Darcy!"
"It ought to be good," he replied, "it has been the work of many generations."
"And then you have added so much to it yourself, you are always buying books."
"I cannot comprehend the neglect of a family library in such days as these."
"Neglect!
I am sure you neglect nothing that can add to the beauties of that noble place.
Charles, when you build your house, I wish it may be half as delightful as Pemberley."
"I wish it may."
"But I would really advise you to make your purchase in that neighbourhood, and take
Pemberley for a kind of model. There is not a finer county in England than
Derbyshire."
"With all my heart; I will buy Pemberley itself if Darcy will sell it."
"I am talking of possibilities, Charles."
"Upon my word, Caroline, I should think it more possible to get Pemberley by purchase
than by imitation."
Elizabeth was so much caught with what passed, as to leave her very little
attention for her book; and soon laying it wholly aside, she drew near the card-table,
and stationed herself between Mr. Bingley and his eldest sister, to observe the game.
"Is Miss Darcy much grown since the spring?" said Miss Bingley; "will she be as
tall as I am?"
"I think she will. She is now about Miss Elizabeth Bennet's
height, or rather taller." "How I long to see her again!
I never met with anybody who delighted me so much.
Such a countenance, such manners! And so extremely accomplished for her age!
Her performance on the pianoforte is exquisite."
"It is amazing to me," said Bingley, "how young ladies can have patience to be so
very accomplished as they all are."
"All young ladies accomplished! My dear Charles, what do you mean?"
"Yes, all of them, I think. They all paint tables, cover screens, and
net purses.
I scarcely know anyone who cannot do all this, and I am sure I never heard a young
lady spoken of for the first time, without being informed that she was very
accomplished."
"Your list of the common extent of accomplishments," said Darcy, "has too much
truth.
The word is applied to many a woman who deserves it no otherwise than by netting a
purse or covering a screen. But I am very far from agreeing with you in
your estimation of ladies in general.
I cannot boast of knowing more than half-a- dozen, in the whole range of my
acquaintance, that are really accomplished."
"Nor I, I am sure," said Miss Bingley.
"Then," observed Elizabeth, "you must comprehend a great deal in your idea of an
accomplished woman." "Yes, I do comprehend a great deal in it."
"Oh! certainly," cried his faithful assistant, "no one can be really esteemed
accomplished who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with.
A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the
modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a
certain something in her air and manner of
walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but
half-deserved."
"All this she must possess," added Darcy, "and to all this she must yet add something
more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading."
"I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women.
I rather wonder now at your knowing any." "Are you so severe upon your own sex as to
doubt the possibility of all this?"
"I never saw such a woman. I never saw such capacity, and taste, and
application, and elegance, as you describe united."
Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley both cried out against the injustice of her implied doubt,
and were both protesting that they knew many women who answered this description,
when Mr. Hurst called them to order, with
bitter complaints of their inattention to what was going forward.
As all conversation was thereby at an end, Elizabeth soon afterwards left the room.
"Elizabeth Bennet," said Miss Bingley, when the door was closed on her, "is one of
those young ladies who seek to recommend themselves to the other sex by undervaluing
their own; and with many men, I dare say, it succeeds.
But, in my opinion, it is a paltry device, a very mean art."
"Undoubtedly," replied Darcy, to whom this remark was chiefly addressed, "there is a
meanness in all the arts which ladies sometimes condescend to employ for
captivation.
Whatever bears affinity to cunning is despicable."
Miss Bingley was not so entirely satisfied with this reply as to continue the subject.
Elizabeth joined them again only to say that her sister was worse, and that she
could not leave her.
Bingley urged Mr. Jones being sent for immediately; while his sisters, convinced
that no country advice could be of any service, recommended an express to town for
one of the most eminent physicians.
This she would not hear of; but she was not so unwilling to comply with their brother's
proposal; and it was settled that Mr. Jones should be sent for early in the morning, if
Miss Bennet were not decidedly better.
Bingley was quite uncomfortable; his sisters declared that they were miserable.
They solaced their wretchedness, however, by duets after supper, while he could find
no better relief to his feelings than by giving his housekeeper directions that
every attention might be paid to the sick lady and her sister.
>
CHAPTER 9
Elizabeth passed the chief of the night in her sister's room, and in the morning had
the pleasure of being able to send a tolerable answer to the inquiries which she
very early received from Mr. Bingley by a
housemaid, and some time afterwards from the two elegant ladies who waited on his
sisters.
In spite of this amendment, however, she requested to have a note sent to Longbourn,
desiring her mother to visit Jane, and form her own judgement of her situation.
The note was immediately dispatched, and its contents as quickly complied with.
Mrs. Bennet, accompanied by her two youngest girls, reached Netherfield soon
after the family breakfast.
Had she found Jane in any apparent danger, Mrs. Bennet would have been very miserable;
but being satisfied on seeing her that her illness was not alarming, she had no wish
of her recovering immediately, as her
restoration to health would probably remove her from Netherfield.
She would not listen, therefore, to her daughter's proposal of being carried home;
neither did the apothecary, who arrived about the same time, think it at all
advisable.
After sitting a little while with Jane, on Miss Bingley's appearance and invitation,
the mother and three daughters all attended her into the breakfast parlour.
Bingley met them with hopes that Mrs. Bennet had not found Miss Bennet worse than
she expected. "Indeed I have, sir," was her answer.
"She is a great deal too ill to be moved.
Mr. Jones says we must not think of moving her.
We must trespass a little longer on your kindness."
"Removed!" cried Bingley.
"It must not be thought of. My sister, I am sure, will not hear of her
removal."
"You may depend upon it, Madam," said Miss Bingley, with cold civility, "that Miss
Bennet will receive every possible attention while she remains with us."
Mrs. Bennet was profuse in her acknowledgments.
"I am sure," she added, "if it was not for such good friends I do not know what would
become of her, for she is very ill indeed, and suffers a vast deal, though with the
greatest patience in the world, which is
always the way with her, for she has, without exception, the sweetest temper I
have ever met with. I often tell my other girls they are
nothing to her.
You have a sweet room here, Mr. Bingley, and a charming prospect over the gravel
walk. I do not know a place in the country that
is equal to Netherfield.
You will not think of quitting it in a hurry, I hope, though you have but a short
lease."
"Whatever I do is done in a hurry," replied he; "and therefore if I should resolve to
quit Netherfield, I should probably be off in five minutes.
At present, however, I consider myself as quite fixed here."
"That is exactly what I should have supposed of you," said Elizabeth.
"You begin to comprehend me, do you?" cried he, turning towards her.
"Oh! yes--I understand you perfectly."
"I wish I might take this for a compliment; but to be so easily seen through I am
afraid is pitiful." "That is as it happens.
It does not follow that a deep, intricate character is more or less estimable than
such a one as yours."
"Lizzy," cried her mother, "remember where you are, and do not run on in the wild
manner that you are suffered to do at home."
"I did not know before," continued Bingley immediately, "that you were a studier of
character. It must be an amusing study."
"Yes, but intricate characters are the most amusing.
They have at least that advantage." "The country," said Darcy, "can in general
supply but a few subjects for such a study.
In a country neighbourhood you move in a very confined and unvarying society."
"But people themselves alter so much, that there is something new to be observed in
them for ever."
"Yes, indeed," cried Mrs. Bennet, offended by his manner of mentioning a country
neighbourhood. "I assure you there is quite as much of
that going on in the country as in town."
Everybody was surprised, and Darcy, after looking at her for a moment, turned
silently away.
Mrs. Bennet, who fancied she had gained a complete victory over him, continued her
triumph.
"I cannot see that London has any great advantage over the country, for my part,
except the shops and public places. The country is a vast deal pleasanter, is
it not, Mr. Bingley?"
"When I am in the country," he replied, "I never wish to leave it; and when I am in
town it is pretty much the same. They have each their advantages, and I can
be equally happy in either."
"Aye--that is because you have the right disposition.
But that gentleman," looking at Darcy, "seemed to think the country was nothing at
all."
"Indeed, Mamma, you are mistaken," said Elizabeth, blushing for her mother.
"You quite mistook Mr. Darcy.
He only meant that there was not such a variety of people to be met with in the
country as in the town, which you must acknowledge to be true."
"Certainly, my dear, nobody said there were; but as to not meeting with many
people in this neighbourhood, I believe there are few neighbourhoods larger.
I know we dine with four-and-twenty families."
Nothing but concern for Elizabeth could enable Bingley to keep his countenance.
His sister was less delicate, and directed her eyes towards Mr. Darcy with a very
expressive smile.
Elizabeth, for the sake of saying something that might turn her mother's thoughts, now
asked her if Charlotte Lucas had been at Longbourn since her coming away.
"Yes, she called yesterday with her father.
What an agreeable man Sir William is, Mr. Bingley, is not he?
So much the man of fashion! So genteel and easy!
He had always something to say to everybody.
That is my idea of good breeding; and those persons who fancy themselves very
important, and never open their mouths, quite mistake the matter."
"Did Charlotte dine with you?"
"No, she would go home. I fancy she was wanted about the mince-
pies.
For my part, Mr. Bingley, I always keep servants that can do their own work; my
daughters are brought up very differently.
But everybody is to judge for themselves, and the Lucases are a very good sort of
girls, I assure you. It is a pity they are not handsome!
Not that I think Charlotte so very plain-- but then she is our particular friend."
"She seems a very pleasant young woman." "Oh! dear, yes; but you must own she is
very plain.
Lady Lucas herself has often said so, and envied me Jane's beauty.
I do not like to boast of my own child, but to be sure, Jane--one does not often see
anybody better looking.
It is what everybody says. I do not trust my own partiality.
When she was only fifteen, there was a man at my brother Gardiner's in town so much in
love with her that my sister-in-law was sure he would make her an offer before we
came away.
But, however, he did not. Perhaps he thought her too young.
However, he wrote some verses on her, and very pretty they were."
"And so ended his affection," said Elizabeth impatiently.
"There has been many a one, I fancy, overcome in the same way.
I wonder who first discovered the efficacy of poetry in driving away love!"
"I have been used to consider poetry as the food of love," said Darcy.
"Of a fine, stout, healthy love it may.
Everything nourishes what is strong already.
But if it be only a slight, thin sort of inclination, I am convinced that one good
sonnet will starve it entirely away."
Darcy only smiled; and the general pause which ensued made Elizabeth tremble lest
her mother should be exposing herself again.
She longed to speak, but could think of nothing to say; and after a short silence
Mrs. Bennet began repeating her thanks to Mr. Bingley for his kindness to Jane, with
an apology for troubling him also with Lizzy.
Mr. Bingley was unaffectedly civil in his answer, and forced his younger sister to be
civil also, and say what the occasion required.
She performed her part indeed without much graciousness, but Mrs. Bennet was
satisfied, and soon afterwards ordered her carriage.
Upon this signal, the youngest of her daughters put herself forward.
The two girls had been whispering to each other during the whole visit, and the
result of it was, that the youngest should tax Mr. Bingley with having promised on his
first coming into the country to give a ball at Netherfield.
Lydia was a stout, well-grown girl of fifteen, with a fine complexion and good-
humoured countenance; a favourite with her mother, whose affection had brought her
into public at an early age.
She had high animal spirits, and a sort of natural self-consequence, which the
attention of the officers, to whom her uncle's good dinners, and her own easy
manners recommended her, had increased into assurance.
She was very equal, therefore, to address Mr. Bingley on the subject of the ball, and
abruptly reminded him of his promise; adding, that it would be the most shameful
thing in the world if he did not keep it.
His answer to this sudden attack was delightful to their mother's ear:
"I am perfectly ready, I assure you, to keep my engagement; and when your sister is
recovered, you shall, if you please, name the very day of the ball.
But you would not wish to be dancing when she is ill."
Lydia declared herself satisfied.
"Oh! yes--it would be much better to wait till Jane was well, and by that time most
likely Captain Carter would be at Meryton again.
And when you have given your ball," she added, "I shall insist on their giving one
also. I shall tell Colonel Forster it will be
quite a shame if he does not."
Mrs. Bennet and her daughters then departed, and Elizabeth returned instantly
to Jane, leaving her own and her relations' behaviour to the remarks of the two ladies
and Mr. Darcy; the latter of whom, however,
could not be prevailed on to join in their censure of her, in spite of all Miss
Bingley's witticisms on fine eyes.
>
CHAPTER 10
The day passed much as the day before had done.
Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley had spent some hours of the morning with the invalid, who
continued, though slowly, to mend; and in the evening Elizabeth joined their party in
the drawing-room.
The loo-table, however, did not appear. Mr. Darcy was writing, and Miss Bingley,
seated near him, was watching the progress of his letter and repeatedly calling off
his attention by messages to his sister.
Mr. Hurst and Mr. Bingley were at piquet, and Mrs. Hurst was observing their game.
Elizabeth took up some needlework, and was sufficiently amused in attending to what
passed between Darcy and his companion.
The perpetual commendations of the lady, either on his handwriting, or on the
evenness of his lines, or on the length of his letter, 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 Miss Darcy will be to receive such a letter!"
He made no answer.
"You write uncommonly fast." "You are mistaken.
I write rather slowly." "How many letters you must have occasion to
write in the course of a year!
Letters 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 pen.
Let me mend it for you. I mend pens remarkably well."
"Thank you--but I always mend my own." "How can you contrive to write so even?"
He was silent.
"Tell your sister I am delighted to hear of her improvement on the harp; and pray let
her know that I am quite in raptures with her beautiful little design for a table,
and I think it infinitely superior to Miss Grantley's."
"Will you give me leave to defer your raptures till I write again?
At present I have not room to do them justice."
"Oh! it is of no consequence. I shall see her in January.
But do you always write such charming long letters to her, 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 letter with ease, cannot
write ill."
"That will not do for a compliment to Darcy, Caroline," cried her brother,
"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 Miss Bingley, "Charles writes
in the most careless way imaginable.
He leaves out half his words, and blots the rest."
"My ideas flow so rapidly that I have not time to express them--by which means my
letters sometimes convey no ideas at all to my correspondents."
"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
Netherfield 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 mounting your horse, 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 ride off 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, Miss Bennet, that the friend who is supposed to desire his return to the
house, 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, Miss
Bennet, 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 his own house especially, and of a Sunday evening, when
he has nothing to do."
Mr. Darcy smiled; but Elizabeth thought she could perceive that he was rather offended,
and therefore checked her laugh.
Miss Bingley 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 Miss Bennet will defer yours till I am out of the room, 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 letter." Mr. Darcy took her advice, and did finish
his letter.
When that business was over, he applied to Miss Bingley and Elizabeth for an
indulgence of some music.
Miss Bingley moved with some alacrity to the pianoforte; and, after a polite request
that Elizabeth would lead the way which the other as politely and more earnestly
negatived, she seated herself.
Mrs. Hurst sang with her sister, and while they were thus employed, Elizabeth could
not help observing, as she turned over some music-books that lay on the instrument, how
frequently Mr. Darcy's eyes were fixed on her.
She hardly knew how to suppose that she could be an object of admiration to so
great a man; and yet 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 present.
The supposition did not pain her. She liked him too little to care for his
approbation.
After playing some Italian songs, Miss Bingley varied the charm by a lively Scotch
air; and soon afterwards Mr. Darcy, drawing near Elizabeth, said to her:
"Do not you feel a great inclination, Miss Bennet, to seize such an opportunity of
dancing a reel?" She smiled, but made no answer.
He repeated the question, with some surprise at her silence.
"Oh!" said she, "I heard you 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 dance a reel 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.
Miss Bingley saw, or 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 marriage, and planning his happiness in such an alliance.
"I hope," said she, as they were walking together in the shrubbery the next day,
"you will give your mother-in-law 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 younger girls of running after
officers.
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 domestic felicity?"
"Oh! yes.
Do let the portraits of your uncle and aunt Phillips be placed in the gallery at
Pemberley. Put them next to your great-uncle the
judge.
They are in the same profession, you know, only in different lines.
As for your Elizabeth's picture, you must not have it taken, for what painter could
do justice to those beautiful eyes?"
"It would not be easy, indeed, to catch their expression, but their colour and
shape, and the eyelashes, so remarkably fine, might be copied."
At that moment they were met from another walk by Mrs. Hurst and Elizabeth herself.
"I did not know that you intended to walk," said Miss Bingley, in some confusion, lest
they had been overheard.
"You used us abominably ill," answered Mrs. Hurst, "running away without telling us
that you were coming out."
Then taking the disengaged arm of Mr. Darcy, she left Elizabeth to walk by
herself. The path just admitted three.
Mr. Darcy felt their rudeness, and immediately said:
"This walk is not wide enough for our party.
We had better go into the avenue."
But Elizabeth, who had not the least inclination to remain with them, laughingly
answered: "No, no; stay where you are.
You are charmingly grouped, and appear to uncommon advantage.
The picturesque would be spoilt by admitting a fourth.
Good-bye."
She then ran gaily off, rejoicing as she rambled about, in the hope of being at home
again in a day or two.
Jane was already so much recovered as to intend leaving her room for a couple of
hours that evening.
>
CHAPTER 11
When the ladies removed after dinner, Elizabeth ran up to her sister, and seeing
her well guarded from cold, attended her into the drawing-room, where she was
welcomed by her two friends with many
professions of pleasure; and Elizabeth had never seen them so agreeable as they were
during the hour which passed before the gentlemen appeared.
Their powers of conversation were considerable.
They could describe an entertainment with accuracy, relate an anecdote with humour,
and laugh at their acquaintance with spirit.
But when the gentlemen entered, Jane was no longer the first object; Miss Bingley's
eyes were instantly turned toward Darcy, and she had something to say to him before
he had advanced many steps.
He addressed himself to Miss Bennet, with a polite congratulation; Mr. Hurst also made
her a slight bow, and said he was "very glad;" but diffuseness and warmth remained
for Bingley's salutation.
He was full of joy and attention.
The first half-hour was spent in piling up the fire, lest she should suffer from the
change of room; and she removed at his desire to the other side of the fireplace,
that she might be further from the door.
He then sat down by her, and talked scarcely to anyone else.
Elizabeth, at work in the opposite corner, saw it all with great delight.
When tea was over, Mr. Hurst reminded his sister-in-law of the card-table--but in
vain.
She had obtained private intelligence that Mr. Darcy did not wish for cards; and Mr.
Hurst soon found even his open petition rejected.
She assured him that no one intended to play, and the silence of the whole party on
the subject seemed to justify her.
Mr. Hurst had therefore nothing to do, but to stretch himself on one of the sofas and
go to sleep.
Darcy took up a book; Miss Bingley did the same; and Mrs. Hurst, principally occupied
in playing with her bracelets and rings, joined now and then in her brother's
conversation with Miss Bennet.
Miss Bingley's attention was quite as much engaged in watching Mr. Darcy's progress
through his book, as in reading her own; and she was perpetually either making some
inquiry, or looking at his page.
She could not win him, however, to any conversation; he merely answered her
question, and read on.
At length, quite exhausted by the attempt to be amused with her own book, which she
had only chosen because it was the second volume of his, she gave a great yawn and
said, "How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way!
I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!
How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book!
When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent
library."
No one made any reply.
She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and cast her eyes round the room in
quest for some amusement; when hearing her brother mentioning a ball to Miss Bennet,
she turned suddenly towards him and said:
"By the bye, Charles, are you really serious in meditating a dance at
Netherfield?
I would advise you, before you determine on it, to consult the wishes of the present
party; I am much mistaken if there are not some among us to whom a ball would be
rather a punishment than a pleasure."
"If you mean Darcy," cried her brother, "he may go to bed, if he chooses, before it
begins--but as for the ball, it is quite a settled thing; and as soon as Nicholls has
made white soup enough, I shall send round my cards."
"I should like balls infinitely better," she replied, "if they were carried on in a
different manner; but there is something insufferably tedious in the usual process
of such a meeting.
It would surely be much more rational if conversation instead of dancing were made
the order of the day."
"Much more rational, my dear Caroline, I dare say, but it would not be near so much
like a ball."
Miss Bingley made no answer, and soon afterwards she got up and walked about the
room.
Her figure was elegant, and she walked well; but Darcy, at whom it was all aimed,
was still inflexibly studious.
In the desperation of her feelings, she resolved on one effort more, and, turning
to Elizabeth, said:
"Miss Eliza Bennet, let me persuade you to follow my example, and take a turn about
the room. I assure you it is very refreshing after
sitting so long in one attitude."
Elizabeth was surprised, but agreed to it immediately.
Miss Bingley succeeded no less in the real object of her civility; Mr. Darcy looked
up.
He was as much awake to the novelty of attention in that quarter as Elizabeth
herself could be, and unconsciously closed his book.
He was directly invited to join their party, but he declined it, observing that
he could imagine but two motives for their choosing to walk up and down the room
together, with either of which motives his joining them would interfere.
"What could he mean?
She was dying to know what could be his meaning?"--and asked Elizabeth whether she
could at all understand him?
"Not at all," was her answer; "but depend upon it, he means to be severe on us, and
our surest way of disappointing him will be to ask nothing about it."
Miss Bingley, however, was incapable of disappointing Mr. Darcy in anything, and
persevered therefore in requiring an explanation of his two motives.
"I have not the smallest objection to explaining them," said he, as soon as she
allowed him to speak.
"You either choose this method of passing the evening because you are in each other's
confidence, and have secret affairs to discuss, or because you are conscious that
your figures appear to the greatest
advantage in walking; if the first, I would be completely in your way, and if the
second, I can admire you much better as I sit by the fire."
"Oh! shocking!" cried Miss Bingley.
"I never heard anything so abominable. How shall we punish him for such a speech?"
"Nothing so easy, if you have but the inclination," said Elizabeth.
"We can all plague and punish one another.
Tease him--laugh at him. Intimate as you are, you must know how it
is to be done." "But upon my honour, I do not.
I do assure you that my intimacy has not yet taught me that.
Tease calmness of manner and presence of mind!
No, no--feel he may defy us there.
And as to laughter, we will not expose ourselves, if you please, by attempting to
laugh without a subject. Mr. Darcy may hug himself."
"Mr. Darcy is not to be laughed at!" cried Elizabeth.
"That is an uncommon advantage, and uncommon I hope it will continue, for it
would be a great loss to me to have many such acquaintances.
I dearly love a laugh."
"Miss Bingley," said he, "has given me more credit than can be.
The wisest and the best of men--nay, the wisest and best of their actions--may be
rendered ridiculous by a person whose first object in life is a joke."
"Certainly," replied Elizabeth--"there are such people, but I hope I am not one of
them. I hope I never ridicule what is wise and
good.
Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies, do divert me, I own, and I
laugh at them whenever I can. But these, I suppose, are precisely what
you are without."
"Perhaps that is not possible for anyone. But it has been the study of my life to
avoid those weaknesses which often expose a strong understanding to ridicule."
"Such as vanity and pride."
"Yes, vanity is a weakness indeed. But pride--where there is a real
superiority of mind, pride will be always under good regulation."
Elizabeth turned away to hide a smile.
"Your examination of Mr. Darcy is over, I presume," said Miss Bingley; "and pray what
is the result?" "I am perfectly convinced by it that Mr.
Darcy has no defect.
He owns it himself without disguise." "No," said Darcy, "I have made no such
pretension. I have faults enough, but they are not, I
hope, of understanding.
My temper I dare not vouch for. It is, I believe, too little yielding--
certainly too little for the convenience of the world.
I cannot forget the follies and vices of others so soon as I ought, nor their
offenses against myself. My feelings are not puffed about with every
attempt to move them.
My temper would perhaps be called resentful.
My good opinion once lost, is lost forever."
"That is a failing indeed!" cried Elizabeth.
"Implacable resentment is a shade in a character.
But you have chosen your fault well.
I really cannot laugh at it. You are safe from me."
"There is, I believe, in every disposition a tendency to some particular evil--a
natural defect, which not even the best education can overcome."
"And your defect is to hate everybody."
"And yours," he replied with a smile, "is willfully to misunderstand them."
"Do let us have a little music," cried Miss Bingley, tired of a conversation in which
she had no share.
"Louisa, you will not mind my waking Mr. Hurst?"
Her sister had not the smallest objection, and the pianoforte was opened; and Darcy,
after a few moments' recollection, was not sorry for it.
He began to feel the danger of paying Elizabeth too much attention.
>
CHAPTER 12
In consequence of an agreement between the sisters, Elizabeth wrote the next morning
to their mother, to beg that the carriage might be sent for them in the course of the
day.
But Mrs. Bennet, who had calculated on her daughters remaining at Netherfield till the
following Tuesday, which would exactly finish Jane's week, could not bring herself
to receive them with pleasure before.
Her answer, therefore, was not propitious, at least not to Elizabeth's wishes, for she
was impatient to get home.
Mrs. Bennet sent them word that they could not possibly have the carriage before
Tuesday; and in her postscript it was added, that if Mr. Bingley and his sister
pressed them to stay longer, she could spare them very well.
Against staying longer, however, Elizabeth was positively resolved--nor did she much
expect it would be asked; and fearful, on the contrary, as being considered as
intruding themselves needlessly long, she
urged Jane to borrow Mr. Bingley's carriage immediately, and at length it was settled
that their original design of leaving Netherfield that morning should be
mentioned, and the request made.
The communication excited many professions of concern; and enough was said of wishing
them to stay at least till the following day to work on Jane; and till the morrow
their going was deferred.
Miss Bingley was then sorry that she had proposed the delay, for her jealousy and
dislike of one sister much exceeded her affection for the other.
The master of the house heard with real sorrow that they were to go so soon, and
repeatedly tried to persuade Miss Bennet that it would not be safe for her--that she
was not enough recovered; but Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right.
To Mr. Darcy it was welcome intelligence-- Elizabeth had been at Netherfield long
enough.
She attracted him more than he liked--and Miss Bingley was uncivil to her, and more
teasing than usual to himself.
He wisely resolved to be particularly careful that no sign of admiration should
now escape him, nothing that could elevate her with the hope of influencing his
felicity; sensible that if such an idea had
been suggested, his behaviour during the last day must have material weight in
confirming or crushing it.
Steady to his purpose, he scarcely spoke ten words to her through the whole of
Saturday, and though they were at one time left by themselves for half-an-hour, he
adhered most conscientiously to his book, and would not even look at her.
On Sunday, after morning service, the separation, so agreeable to almost all,
took place.
Miss Bingley's civility to Elizabeth increased at last very rapidly, as well as
her affection for Jane; and when they parted, after assuring the latter of the
pleasure it would always give her to see
her either at Longbourn or Netherfield, and embracing her most tenderly, she even shook
hands with the former. Elizabeth took leave of the whole party in
the liveliest of spirits.
They were not welcomed home very cordially by their mother.
Mrs. Bennet wondered at their coming, and thought them very wrong to give so much
trouble, and was sure Jane would have caught cold again.
But their father, though very laconic in his expressions of pleasure, was really
glad to see them; he had felt their importance in the family circle.
The evening conversation, when they were all assembled, had lost much of its
animation, and almost all its sense by the absence of Jane and Elizabeth.
They found Mary, as usual, deep in the study of thorough-bass and human nature;
and had some extracts to admire, and some new observations of threadbare morality to
listen to.
Catherine and Lydia had information for them of a different sort.
Much had been done and much had been said in the regiment since the preceding
Wednesday; several of the officers had dined lately with their uncle, a private
had been flogged, and it had actually been
hinted that Colonel Forster was going to be married.
>
CHAPTER 13
"I hope, my dear," said Mr. Bennet to his wife, as they were at breakfast the next
morning, "that you have ordered a good dinner to-day, because I have reason to
expect an addition to our family party."
"Who do you mean, my dear? I know of nobody that is coming, I am sure,
unless Charlotte Lucas should happen to call in--and I hope my dinners are good
enough for her.
I do not believe she often sees such at home."
"The person of whom I speak is a gentleman, and a stranger."
Mrs. Bennet's eyes sparkled.
"A gentleman and a stranger! It is Mr. Bingley, I am sure!
Well, I am sure I shall be extremely glad to see Mr. Bingley.
But--good Lord! how unlucky!
There is not a bit of fish to be got to- day.
Lydia, my love, ring the bell--I must speak to Hill this moment."
"It is not Mr. Bingley," said her husband; "it is a person whom I never saw in the
whole course of my life."
This roused a general astonishment; and he had the pleasure of being eagerly
questioned by his wife and his five daughters at once.
After amusing himself some time with their curiosity, he thus explained:
"About a month ago I received this letter; and about a fortnight ago I answered it,
for I thought it a case of some delicacy, and requiring early attention.
It is from my cousin, Mr. Collins, who, when I am dead, may turn you all out of
this house as soon as he pleases." "Oh! my dear," cried his wife, "I cannot
bear to hear that mentioned.
Pray do not talk of that odious man.
I do think it is the hardest thing in the world, that your estate should be entailed
away from your own children; and I am sure, if I had been you, I should have tried long
ago to do something or other about it."
Jane and Elizabeth tried to explain to her the nature of an entail.
They had often attempted to do it before, but it was a subject on which Mrs. Bennet
was beyond the reach of reason, and she continued to rail bitterly against the
cruelty of settling an estate away from a
family of five daughters, in favour of a man whom nobody cared anything about.
"It certainly is a most iniquitous affair," said Mr. Bennet, "and nothing can clear Mr.
Collins from the guilt of inheriting Longbourn.
But if you will listen to his letter, you may perhaps be a little softened by his
manner of expressing himself."
"No, that I am sure I shall not; and I think it is very impertinent of him to
write to you at all, and very hypocritical. I hate such false friends.
Why could he not keep on quarreling with you, as his father did before him?"
"Why, indeed; he does seem to have had some filial scruples on that head, as you will
hear."
"Hunsford, near Westerham, Kent, 15th October.
"Dear Sir,--
"The disagreement subsisting between yourself and my late honoured father always
gave me much uneasiness, and since I have had the misfortune to lose him, I have
frequently wished to heal the breach; but
for some time I was kept back by my own doubts, fearing lest it might seem
disrespectful to his memory for me to be on good terms with anyone with whom it had
always pleased him to be at variance.--
'There, Mrs. Bennet.'--My mind, however, is now made up on the subject, for having
received ordination at Easter, I have been so fortunate as to be distinguished by the
patronage of the Right Honourable Lady
Catherine de Bourgh, widow of Sir Lewis de Bourgh, whose bounty and beneficence has
preferred me to the valuable rectory of this parish, where it shall be my earnest
endeavour to demean myself with grateful
respect towards her ladyship, and be ever ready to perform those rites and ceremonies
which are instituted by the Church of England.
As a clergyman, moreover, I feel it my duty to promote and establish the blessing of
peace in all families within the reach of my influence; and on these grounds I
flatter myself that my present overtures
are highly commendable, and that the circumstance of my being next in the entail
of Longbourn estate will be kindly overlooked on your side, and not lead you
to reject the offered olive-branch.
I cannot be otherwise than concerned at being the means of injuring your amiable
daughters, and beg leave to apologise for it, as well as to assure you of my
readiness to make them every possible amends--but of this hereafter.
If you should have no objection to receive me into your house, I propose myself the
satisfaction of waiting on you and your family, Monday, November 18th, by four
o'clock, and shall probably trespass on
your hospitality till the Saturday se'ennight following, which I can do
without any inconvenience, as Lady Catherine is far from objecting to my
occasional absence on a Sunday, provided
that some other clergyman is engaged to do the duty of the day.--I remain, dear sir,
with respectful compliments to your lady and daughters, your well-wisher and friend,
"WILLIAM COLLINS"
"At four o'clock, therefore, we may expect this peace-making gentleman," said Mr.
Bennet, as he folded up the letter.
"He seems to be a most conscientious and polite young man, upon my word, and I doubt
not will prove a valuable acquaintance, especially if Lady Catherine should be so
indulgent as to let him come to us again."
"There is some sense in what he says about the girls, however, and if he is disposed
to make them any amends, I shall not be the person to discourage him."
"Though it is difficult," said Jane, "to guess in what way he can mean to make us
the atonement he thinks our due, the wish is certainly to his credit."
Elizabeth was chiefly struck by his extraordinary deference for Lady Catherine,
and his kind intention of christening, marrying, and burying his parishioners
whenever it were required.
"He must be an oddity, I think," said she.
"I cannot make him out.--There is something very pompous in his style.--And what can he
mean by apologising for being next in the entail?--We cannot suppose he would help it
if he could.--Could he be a sensible man, sir?"
"No, my dear, I think not. I have great hopes of finding him quite the
reverse.
There is a mixture of servility and self- importance in his letter, which promises
well. I am impatient to see him."
"In point of composition," said Mary, "the letter does not seem defective.
The idea of the olive-branch perhaps is not wholly new, yet I think it is well
expressed."
To Catherine and Lydia, neither the letter nor its writer were in any degree
interesting.
It was next to impossible that their cousin should come in a scarlet coat, and it was
now some weeks since they had received pleasure from the society of a man in any
other colour.
As for their mother, Mr. Collins's letter had done away much of her ill-will, and she
was preparing to see him with a degree of composure which astonished her husband and
daughters.
Mr. Collins was punctual to his time, and was received with great politeness by the
whole family.
Mr. Bennet indeed said little; but the ladies were ready enough to talk, and Mr.
Collins seemed neither in need of encouragement, nor inclined to be silent
himself.
He was a tall, heavy-looking young man of five-and-twenty.
His air was grave and stately, and his manners were very formal.
He had not been long seated before he complimented Mrs. Bennet on having so fine
a family of daughters; said he had heard much of their beauty, but that in this
instance fame had fallen short of the
truth; and added, that he did not doubt her seeing them all in due time disposed of in
marriage.
This gallantry was not much to the taste of some of his hearers; but Mrs. Bennet, who
quarreled with no compliments, answered most readily.
"You are very kind, I am sure; and I wish with all my heart it may prove so, for else
they will be destitute enough. Things are settled so oddly."
"You allude, perhaps, to the entail of this estate."
"Ah! sir, I do indeed. It is a grievous affair to my poor girls,
you must confess.
Not that I mean to find fault with you, for such things I know are all chance in this
world. There is no knowing how estates will go
when once they come to be entailed."
"I am very sensible, madam, of the hardship to my fair cousins, and could say much on
the subject, but that I am cautious of appearing forward and precipitate.
But I can assure the young ladies that I come prepared to admire them.
At present I will not say more; but, perhaps, when we are better acquainted--"
He was interrupted by a summons to dinner; and the girls smiled on each other.
They were not the only objects of Mr. Collins's admiration.
The hall, the dining-room, and all its furniture, were examined and praised; and
his commendation of everything would have touched Mrs. Bennet's heart, but for the
mortifying supposition of his viewing it all as his own future property.
The dinner too in its turn was highly admired; and he begged to know to which of
his fair cousins the excellency of its cooking was owing.
But he was set right there by Mrs. Bennet, who assured him with some asperity that
they were very well able to keep a good cook, and that her daughters had nothing to
do in the kitchen.
He begged pardon for having displeased her. In a softened tone she declared herself not
at all offended; but he continued to apologise for about a quarter of an hour.
>
CHAPTER 14
During dinner, Mr. Bennet scarcely spoke at all; but when the servants were withdrawn,
he thought it time to have some conversation with his guest, and therefore
started a subject in which he expected him
to shine, by observing that he seemed very fortunate in his patroness.
Lady Catherine de Bourgh's attention to his wishes, and consideration for his comfort,
appeared very remarkable.
Mr. Bennet could not have chosen better. Mr. Collins was eloquent in her praise.
The subject elevated him to more than usual solemnity of manner, and with a most
important aspect he protested that "he had never in his life witnessed such behaviour
in a person of rank--such affability and
condescension, as he had himself experienced from Lady Catherine.
She had been graciously pleased to approve of both of the discourses which he had
already had the honour of preaching before her.
She had also asked him twice to dine at Rosings, and had sent for him only the
Saturday before, to make up her pool of quadrille in the evening.
Lady Catherine was reckoned proud by many people he knew, but he had never seen
anything but affability in her.
She had always spoken to him as she would to any other gentleman; she made not the
smallest objection to his joining in the society of the neighbourhood nor to his
leaving the parish occasionally for a week or two, to visit his relations.
She had even condescended to advise him to marry as soon as he could, provided he
chose with discretion; and had once paid him a visit in his humble parsonage, where
she had perfectly approved all the
alterations he had been making, and had even vouchsafed to suggest some herself--
some shelves in the closet upstairs."
"That is all very proper and civil, I am sure," said Mrs. Bennet, "and I dare say
she is a very agreeable woman. It is a pity that great ladies in general
are not more like her.
Does she live near you, sir?" "The garden in which stands my humble abode
is separated only by a lane from Rosings Park, her ladyship's residence."
"I think you said she was a widow, sir?
Has she any family?" "She has only one daughter, the heiress of
Rosings, and of very extensive property." "Ah!" said Mrs. Bennet, shaking her head,
"then she is better off than many girls.
And what sort of young lady is she? Is she handsome?"
"She is a most charming young lady indeed.
Lady Catherine herself says that, in point of true beauty, Miss de Bourgh is far
superior to the handsomest of her sex, because there is that in her features which
marks the young lady of distinguished birth.
She is unfortunately of a sickly constitution, which has prevented her from
making that progress in many accomplishments which she could not have
otherwise failed of, as I am informed by
the lady who superintended her education, and who still resides with them.
But she is perfectly amiable, and often condescends to drive by my humble abode in
her little phaeton and ponies."
"Has she been presented? I do not remember her name among the ladies
at court."
"Her indifferent state of health unhappily prevents her being in town; and by that
means, as I told Lady Catherine one day, has deprived the British court of its
brightest ornaments.
Her ladyship seemed pleased with the idea; and you may imagine that I am happy on
every occasion to offer those little delicate compliments which are always
acceptable to ladies.
I have more than once observed to Lady Catherine, that her charming daughter
seemed born to be a duchess, and that the most elevated rank, instead of giving her
consequence, would be adorned by her.
These are the kind of little things which please her ladyship, and it is a sort of
attention which I conceive myself peculiarly bound to pay."
"You judge very properly," said Mr. Bennet, "and it is happy for you that you possess
the talent of flattering with delicacy.
May I ask whether these pleasing attentions proceed from the impulse of the moment, or
are the result of previous study?"
"They arise chiefly from what is passing at the time, and though I sometimes amuse
myself with suggesting and arranging such little elegant compliments as may be
adapted to ordinary occasions, I always
wish to give them as unstudied an air as possible."
Mr. Bennet's expectations were fully answered.
His cousin was as absurd as he had hoped, and he listened to him with the keenest
enjoyment, maintaining at the same time the most resolute composure of countenance,
and, except in an occasional glance at
Elizabeth, requiring no partner in his pleasure.
By tea-time, however, the dose had been enough, and Mr. Bennet was glad to take his
guest into the drawing-room again, and, when tea was over, glad to invite him to
read aloud to the ladies.
Mr. Collins readily assented, and a book was produced; but, on beholding it (for
everything announced it to be from a circulating library), he started back, and
begging pardon, protested that he never read novels.
Kitty stared at him, and Lydia exclaimed. Other books were produced, and after some
deliberation he chose Fordyce's Sermons.
Lydia gaped as he opened the volume, and before he had, with very monotonous
solemnity, read three pages, she interrupted him with:
"Do you know, mamma, that my uncle Phillips talks of turning away Richard; and if he
does, Colonel Forster will hire him. My aunt told me so herself on Saturday.
I shall walk to Meryton to-morrow to hear more about it, and to ask when Mr. Denny
comes back from town."
Lydia was bid by her two eldest sisters to hold her tongue; but Mr. Collins, much
offended, laid aside his book, and said:
"I have often observed how little young ladies are interested by books of a serious
stamp, though written solely for their benefit.
It amazes me, I confess; for, certainly, there can be nothing so advantageous to
them as instruction. But I will no longer importune my young
cousin."
Then turning to Mr. Bennet, he offered himself as his antagonist at backgammon.
Mr. Bennet accepted the challenge, observing that he acted very wisely in
leaving the girls to their own trifling amusements.
Mrs. Bennet and her daughters apologised most civilly for Lydia's interruption, and
promised that it should not occur again, if he would resume his book; but Mr. Collins,
after assuring them that he bore his young
cousin no ill-will, and should never resent her behaviour as any affront, seated
himself at another table with Mr. Bennet, and prepared for backgammon.
>
CHAPTER 15
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 belonged to one of the universities, he had merely kept
the necessary terms, without forming at it any useful acquaintance.
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, living in retirement, and
the consequential feelings of early and unexpected prosperity.
A fortunate chance had recommended him to Lady Catherine de Bourgh when the living of
Hunsford was vacant; 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 clergyman,
and his right as a rector, made him altogether a mixture of pride and
obsequiousness, self-importance and humility.
Having now a good house and a very sufficient income, he intended to marry;
and in seeking a reconciliation with the Longbourn family he had a wife in view, as
he meant to choose one of the daughters, if
he found them as handsome and amiable as they were represented by common report.
This was his plan of amends--of atonement-- for inheriting their father's estate; 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 seeing them.
Miss Bennet's lovely face 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 breakfast, a conversation beginning with
his parsonage-house, and leading naturally
to the avowal of his hopes, that a mistress 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 younger daughters, she could not take upon her to say--she could not
positively answer--but she did not know of any prepossession; her eldest daughter, she
must just mention--she felt it incumbent on
her to hint, was likely to be very soon engaged."
Mr. Collins had only to change from Jane to Elizabeth--and it was soon done--done while
Mrs. Bennet was stirring the fire.
Elizabeth, equally next to Jane in birth and beauty, succeeded her of course.
Mrs. Bennet treasured up the hint, and trusted that she might soon have two
daughters married; 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 walking to Meryton was not forgotten; every sister 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 library to himself; for thither Mr. Collins had followed him after
breakfast; and there he would continue, nominally engaged with one of the largest
folios in the collection, but really
talking to Mr. Bennet, with little cessation, of his house and garden at
Hunsford. Such doings discomposed Mr. Bennet
exceedingly.
In his library he had been always sure of leisure and tranquillity; and though
prepared, as he told Elizabeth, to meet with folly and conceit in every other room
of the house, he was used to be free from
them there; his civility, therefore, was most prompt in inviting Mr. Collins to join
his daughters in their walk; and Mr. Collins, being in fact much better fitted
for a walker than a reader, was extremely pleased to close his large book, and go.
In pompous nothings on his side, and civil assents on that of his cousins, their time
passed till they entered Meryton.
The attention of the younger ones was then no longer to be gained by him.
Their eyes were immediately wandering up in the street in quest of the officers, and
nothing less than a very smart bonnet indeed, or a really new muslin in a shop
window, could recall them.
But the attention of every lady was soon caught by a young man, whom they had never
seen before, of most gentlemanlike appearance, walking with another officer on
the other side of the way.
The officer was the very Mr. Denny concerning whose return from London Lydia
came to inquire, and he bowed as they passed.
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 across the street, under
pretense of wanting something in an
opposite shop, and fortunately had just gained the pavement when the two gentlemen,
turning back, had reached the same spot.
Mr. Denny addressed them directly, and entreated permission to introduce his
friend, Mr. Wickham, who had returned with him the day before from town, 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 regimentals 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 figure, 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 the sound of horses drew their notice, and Darcy and Bingley
were seen riding down the street.
On distinguishing the ladies of the group, the two gentlemen came directly towards
them, and began the usual civilities. Bingley was the principal spokesman, and
Miss Bennet the principal object.
He was then, he said, on his way to Longbourn on purpose to inquire after her.
Mr. Darcy corroborated it with a bow, and was beginning to determine not to fix his
eyes on Elizabeth, when they were suddenly arrested by the sight of the stranger, and
Elizabeth happening to see the countenance
of both as they looked at each other, was all astonishment at the effect of the
meeting. Both changed colour, one looked white, the
other red.
Mr. Wickham, after a few moments, touched his hat--a salutation which Mr. Darcy just
deigned to 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 rode on with his friend.
Mr. Denny and Mr. Wickham walked with the young ladies to the door of Mr. Phillip's
house, and then made their bows, in spite of Miss Lydia's pressing entreaties that
they should come in, and even in spite of
Mrs. Phillips's throwing up the parlour window and loudly seconding the invitation.
Mrs. Phillips was always glad to see her nieces; and the two eldest, from their
recent absence, were particularly welcome, and she was eagerly expressing her surprise
at their sudden return home, which, as
their own carriage had not fetched them, she should have known nothing about, if she
had not happened to see Mr. Jones's shop- boy in the street, who had told her that
they were not to send any more draughts to
Netherfield because the Miss Bennets were come away, 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 ladies 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 brought
him from London, and that he was to have a lieutenant's commission in the ----shire.
She had been watching him the last hour, she said, as he walked up and down the
street, and had Mr. Wickham appeared, Kitty and Lydia would certainly have continued
the occupation, but unluckily no one passed
windows now except a few of the officers, who, in comparison with the stranger, were
become "stupid, disagreeable fellows."
Some of them were to dine with the Phillipses the next day, and their aunt
promised to make her husband call on Mr. Wickham, and give him an invitation also,
if the family 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 lottery tickets, and a little bit of hot supper afterwards.
The prospect of such delights was very cheering, and they parted in mutual good
spirits.
Mr. Collins repeated his apologies in quitting the room, and was assured with
unwearying civility that they were perfectly needless.
As they walked home, 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 her sister.
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.
>
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高慢と偏見Part 1 (Chs 01-15) (Part 1 - Pride and Prejudice Audiobook by Jane Austen (Chs 01-15))

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吉兒 2013 年 6 月 10 日 に公開
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