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  • CHAPTER 9

  • 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 inquiries 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 judgement 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 will 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

  • have 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 the 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

  • lease."

  • "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 Elizabeth.

  • "You begin to comprehend me, do you?" cried he, turning towards her.

  • "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 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 study."

  • "Yes, but intricate characters are the most amusing.

  • They have at least that advantage." "The country," said Darcy, "can in general

  • supply but a 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."

  • Everybody 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

  • triumph.

  • "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

  • it not, 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 in either."

  • "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, Mamma, you are mistaken," said Elizabeth, blushing for her mother.

  • "You quite mistook Mr. Darcy.

  • He only meant that there was not such a variety of people to be met with in the

  • country as in the 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-twenty families."

  • Nothing but concern for Elizabeth could enable Bingley to keep his countenance.

  • His sister was less delicate, and directed her eyes 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 easy!

  • He had always something to say to everybody.

  • 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 very differently.

  • But everybody is to judge for themselves, and the Lucases are a 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." "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

  • anybody better looking.

  • It is what everybody says. I do not trust my own partiality.

  • When she was only fifteen, there was a man 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 they were."

  • "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 away love!"

  • "I have been used to consider poetry as the food of love," said Darcy.

  • "Of a fine, stout, healthy love it may.

  • Everything 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

  • attention 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 mother's ear:

  • "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 when 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.

CHAPTER 9

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Chapter 09 - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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    羅致 posted on 2014/06/03
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