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|Chapter 3 (Vol. I, Chap. III)|
|(Vol. I, Chap. 2)
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||(Vol. I, Chap. 4)|
|Chapter 3 (Vol. I, Chap. III)
|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
|"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, &c. 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 large number of ladies; but were comforted
the day before the ball by hearing that, instead of twelve, he
had 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 oldest, and another young man.
|Mr. Bingley was good looking and gentlemanlike; he had a
pleasant countenance, and easy, unaffected manners. 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 every body 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 overhear 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 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; and 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 towards him.
She told the story however with great spirit among her friends;
for she had a lively, playful disposition, which delighted in
any thing 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 to be never 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 all his wife's
views on the stranger would be disappointed; but he soon found
that he had a very 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. Every body 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
enquired 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. Oh! that he had sprained
his ankle in the first dance!"
|"Oh! my dear," continued Mrs. Bennet, "I am quite delighted
with him. He is so excessively handsome! and his sisters are
charming women. I never in my life saw any thing 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."
|(Vol. I, Chap. 2)
||Table of Contents
||(Vol. I, Chap. 4)|
Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in English and Chinese