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|Chapter 9 (Vol. I, Chap. IX)|
|(Vol. I, Chap. 8)
||Table of Contents
||(Vol. I, Chap. 10)|
|Chapter 9 (Vol. I, Chap. IX)
|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 enquiries 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 judgment 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 shall 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 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 that 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
|"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
|"You begin to comprehend me, do you?" cried he, turning
|"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 necessarily 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
|"Yes; but intricate characters are the most amusing. They
have at least that advantage."
|"The country," said Darcy, "can in general supply but 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."
|Every body 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
|"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 not it, 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
|"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, Mama, you are mistaken," said Elizabeth, blushing for
her mother. "You quite mistook Mr. Darcy. He only meant that
there were not such a variety of people to be met with in the
country as in 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
|Nothing but concern for Elizabeth could enable Bingley
to keep his countenance. His sister was less delicate, and
directed her eye 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 so easy! -- He has always something
to say to every body. -- 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
differently. But every body is to judge for themselves, and
the Lucases are 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," said Bingley.
|"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 any body better looking. It is what
every body says. I do not trust my own partiality. When she
was only fifteen, there was a gentleman 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
|"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
|"I have been used to consider poetry as the food of love,"
|"Of a fine, stout, healthy love it may. Every thing 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 attentions 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
|"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 while 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.
|(Vol. I, Chap. 8)
||Table of Contents
||(Vol. I, Chap. 10)|
Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in English and Chinese