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  • CHAPTER 6

  • The ladies of Longbourn soon waited on those of Netherfield.

  • The visit was soon returned in due form.

  • Miss Bennet's pleasing manners grew on the goodwill 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 everybody, 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 women 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 you do."

  • "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 more 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 with him in company 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 also been 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 beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in the least.

  • They always continue 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 yourself."

  • 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 hardly had

  • 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 nowhere, 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 you not 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 always a subject which makes a lady energetic."

  • "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 follows."

  • "You are a very strange creature by way of a friend!--always wanting me to play and

  • sing before anybody and everybody!

  • 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 everybody 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 thoughts to perceive that Sir William

  • Lucas was his neighbour, till Sir William thus began:

  • "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 society."

  • "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?"

  • "Never, sir." "Do you not think it would be a proper

  • compliment to the place?" "It is a compliment which I never pay to

  • any place if I can avoid it."

  • "You have a house in town, I conclude?" Mr. Darcy bowed.

  • "I had once had some thought 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 action of

  • doing a very gallant thing, and called out to her:

  • "My dear Miss Eliza, why are you not 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 persuasion.

  • "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 those 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 serious about it, I shall consider the matter is absolutely settled.

  • You will be having a charming mother-in- law, indeed; and, of course, she will

  • always be 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.

CHAPTER 6

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B1 UK darcy elizabeth jane bingley lucas eliza

Chapter 06 - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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    羅致 posted on 2014/06/03
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