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|Chapter 10 (Vol. I, Chap. X)|
|(Vol. I, Chap. 9)
||Table of Contents
||(Vol. I, Chap. 11)|
|Chapter 10 (Vol. I, Chap. X)
|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 hand-writing, 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 unison 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 the year! Letters of business too! How odious I should
|"It is fortunate, then, that they fall to my lot instead of
|"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,
|"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,
|"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
|"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
|"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
|"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 any thing with quickness is always much
prized 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 on 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 any one 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 believed 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 dependant 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
the 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
intention 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 aweful 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
|"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 the indulgence of some music. Miss Bingley moved
with alacrity to the piano-forte, 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 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 a
something about her 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
|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 the 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 any thing else to propose for my domestic felicity?"
|"Oh! yes. -- Do let the portraits of your uncle and aunt
Philips 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 attempt to 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 eye-lashes, 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, "in 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 group'd, 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.
|(Vol. I, Chap. 9)
||Table of Contents
||(Vol. I, Chap. 11)|
Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in English and Chinese