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|Chapter 11 (Vol. I, Chap. XI)|
|(Vol. I, Chap. 10)
||Table of Contents
||(Vol. I, Chap. 12)|
|Chapter 11 (Vol. I, Chap. XI)
|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 towards
Darcy, and she had something to say to him before he had
advanced many steps. He addressed himself directly 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 farther from the door. He then sat down by her,
and talked scarcely to any one 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 any
thing 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 of 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 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 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 any thing, 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 should 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 any thing
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
temper and presence of mind! No, no -- I 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
acquaintance. I dearly love a laugh."
|"Miss Bingley," said he, "has given me credit for more 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 or 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 any one. 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
|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 offences 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 for ever."
|"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
|"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 a propensity to hate every body."
|"And yours," he replied with a smile, "is wilfully to
|"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 made not the smallest objection, and the piano-forte
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.
|(Vol. I, Chap. 10)
||Table of Contents
||(Vol. I, Chap. 12)|
Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in English and Chinese