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|Chapter 6 (Vol. I, Chap. VI)|
|(Vol. I, Chap. 5)
||Table of Contents
||(Vol. I, Chap. 7)|
|Chapter 6 (Vol. I, Chap. VI)
|The ladies of Longbourn soon waited on those of Netherfield.
The visit was returned in due form. Miss Bennet's pleasing
manners grew on the good will 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
every body, 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
woman 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
|"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 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 in company with him 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 been also 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 before-hand, it does not advance their felicity in the
least. They always contrive 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
|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 had
hardly 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 no where, 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 not you 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 a subject which always makes a
|"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
|"You are a very strange creature by way of a friend! -- always
wanting me to play and sing before any body and every body! --
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 every body
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 own thoughts to perceive that
Sir William Lucas was his neighbour, till Sir William thus
|"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 societies."
|"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?"
|"Do you not think it would be a proper compliment to the
|"It is a compliment which I never pay to any place, if I can
|"You have a house in town, I conclude?"
|Mr. Darcy bowed.
|"I had once some thoughts 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 notion of doing a very
gallant thing, and called out to her,
|"My dear Miss Eliza, why are not you 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
|"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 these 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 so serious about it, I shall consider the
matter as absolutely settled. You will have a charming
mother-in-law, indeed, and of course she will be always 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.
|(Vol. I, Chap. 5)
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||(Vol. I, Chap. 7)|
Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in English and Chinese