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  • CHAPTER 1

  • It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good

  • fortune, must be in want of a wife.

  • However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering

  • a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding

  • families, that he is considered the

  • rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.

  • "My dear Mr. Bennet," said his lady to him one day, "have you heard that Netherfield

  • Park is let at last?"

  • Mr. Bennet replied that he had not. "But it is," returned she; "for Mrs. Long

  • has just been here, and she told me all about it."

  • Mr. Bennet made no answer.

  • "Do you not want to know who has taken it?" cried his wife impatiently.

  • "You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it."

  • This was invitation enough.

  • "Why, my dear, you must know, Mrs. Long says that Netherfield is taken by a young

  • man of large fortune from the north of England; that he came down on Monday in a

  • chaise and four to see the place, and was

  • so much delighted with it, that he agreed with Mr. Morris immediately; that he is to

  • take possession before Michaelmas, and some of his servants are to be in the house by

  • the end of next week."

  • "What is his name?" "Bingley."

  • "Is he married or single?" "Oh! Single, my dear, to be sure!

  • A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year.

  • What a fine thing for our girls!" "How so?

  • How can it affect them?"

  • "My dear Mr. Bennet," replied his wife, "how can you be so tiresome!

  • You must know that I am thinking of his marrying one of them."

  • "Is that his design in settling here?"

  • "Design! Nonsense, how can you talk so!

  • But it is very likely that he may fall in love with one of them, and therefore you

  • must visit him as soon as he comes."

  • "I see no occasion for that.

  • You and the girls may go, or you may send them by themselves, which perhaps will be

  • still better, for as you are as handsome as any of them, Mr. Bingley may like you the

  • best of the party."

  • "My dear, you flatter me. I certainly have had my share of beauty,

  • but I do not pretend to be anything extraordinary now.

  • When a woman has five grown-up daughters, she ought to give over thinking of her own

  • beauty." "In such cases, a woman has not often much

  • beauty to think of."

  • "But, my dear, you must indeed go and see Mr. Bingley when he comes into the

  • neighbourhood." "It is more than I engage for, I assure

  • you."

  • "But consider your daughters. Only think what an establishment it would

  • be for one of them.

  • Sir William and Lady Lucas are determined to go, merely on that account, for in

  • general, you know, they visit no newcomers.

  • Indeed you must go, for it will be impossible for us to visit him if you do

  • not." "You are over-scrupulous, surely.

  • I dare say Mr. Bingley will be very glad to see you; and I will send a few lines by you

  • to assure him of my hearty consent to his marrying whichever he chooses of the girls;

  • though I must throw in a good word for my little Lizzy."

  • "I desire you will do no such thing.

  • Lizzy is not a bit better than the others; and I am sure she is not half so handsome

  • as Jane, nor half so good-humoured as Lydia.

  • But you are always giving her the preference."

  • "They have none of them much to recommend them," replied he; "they are all silly and

  • ignorant like other girls; but Lizzy has something more of quickness than her

  • sisters."

  • "Mr. Bennet, how can you abuse your own children in such a way?

  • You take delight in vexing me. You have no compassion for my poor nerves."

  • "You mistake me, my dear.

  • I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends.

  • I have heard you mention them with consideration these last twenty years at

  • least."

  • "Ah, you do not know what I suffer." "But I hope you will get over it, and live

  • to see many young men of four thousand a year come into the neighbourhood."

  • "It will be no use to us, if twenty such should come, since you will not visit

  • them." "Depend upon it, my dear, that when there

  • are twenty, I will visit them all."

  • Mr. Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve, and

  • caprice, that the experience of three-and- twenty years had been insufficient to make

  • his wife understand his character.

  • Her mind was less difficult to develop. She was a woman of mean understanding,

  • little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented, she fancied

  • herself nervous.

  • The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting

  • and news.

  • >

  • CHAPTER 2

  • Mr. Bennet was among the earliest of those who waited on Mr. Bingley.

  • He had always intended to visit him, though to the last always assuring his wife that

  • he should not go; and till the evening after the visit was paid she had no

  • knowledge of it.

  • It was then disclosed in the following manner.

  • Observing his second daughter employed in trimming a hat, he suddenly addressed her

  • with:

  • "I hope Mr. Bingley will like it, Lizzy." "We are not in a way to know what Mr.

  • Bingley likes," said her mother resentfully, "since we are not to visit."

  • "But you forget, mamma," said Elizabeth, "that we shall meet him at the assemblies,

  • and that Mrs. Long promised to introduce him."

  • "I do not believe Mrs. Long will do any such thing.

  • She has two nieces of her own. She is a selfish, hypocritical woman, and I

  • have no opinion of her."

  • "No more have I," said Mr. Bennet; "and I am glad to find that you do not depend on

  • her serving you."

  • Mrs. Bennet deigned not to make any reply, but, unable to contain herself, began

  • scolding one of her daughters. "Don't keep coughing so, Kitty, for

  • Heaven's sake!

  • Have a little compassion on my nerves. You tear them to pieces."

  • "Kitty has no discretion in her coughs," said her father; "she times them ill."

  • "I do not cough for my own amusement," replied Kitty fretfully.

  • "When is your next ball to be, Lizzy?" "To-morrow fortnight."

  • "Aye, so it is," cried her mother, "and Mrs. Long does not come back till the day

  • before; so it will be impossible for her to introduce him, for she will not know him

  • herself."

  • "Then, my dear, you may have the advantage of your friend, and introduce Mr. Bingley

  • to her."

  • "Impossible, Mr. Bennet, impossible, when I am not acquainted with him myself; how can

  • you be so teasing?" "I honour your circumspection.

  • A fortnight's acquaintance is certainly very little.

  • One cannot know what a man really is by the end of a fortnight.

  • But if we do not venture somebody else will; and after all, Mrs. Long and her

  • daughters must stand their chance; and, therefore, as she will think it an act of

  • kindness, if you decline the office, I will take it on myself."

  • The girls stared at their father. Mrs. Bennet said only, "Nonsense,

  • nonsense!"

  • "What can be the meaning of that emphatic exclamation?" cried he.

  • "Do you consider the forms of introduction, and the stress that is laid on them, as

  • nonsense?

  • I cannot quite agree with you there. What say you, Mary?

  • For you are a young lady of deep reflection, I know, and read great books

  • and make extracts."

  • Mary wished to say something sensible, but knew not how.

  • "While Mary is adjusting her ideas," he continued, "let us return to Mr. Bingley."

  • "I am sick of Mr. Bingley," cried his wife.

  • "I am sorry to hear that; but why did not you tell me that before?

  • If I had known as much this morning I certainly would not have called on him.

  • It is very unlucky; but as I have actually paid the visit, we cannot escape the

  • acquaintance now."

  • The astonishment of the ladies was just what he wished; that of Mrs. Bennet perhaps

  • surpassing the rest; though, when the first tumult of joy was over, she began to

  • declare that it was what she had expected all the while.

  • "How good it was in you, my dear Mr. Bennet!

  • But I knew I should persuade you at last.

  • I was sure you loved your girls too well to neglect such an acquaintance.

  • Well, how pleased I am! and it is such a good joke, too, that you should have gone

  • this morning and never said a word about it till now."

  • "Now, Kitty, you may cough as much as you choose," said Mr. Bennet; and, as he spoke,

  • he left the room, fatigued with the raptures of his wife.

  • "What an excellent father you have, girls!" said she, when the door was shut.

  • "I do not know how you will ever make him amends for his kindness; or me, either, for

  • that matter.

  • At our time of life it is not so pleasant, I can tell you, to be making new

  • acquaintances every day; but for your sakes, we would do anything.

  • Lydia, my love, though you are the youngest, I dare say Mr. Bingley will dance

  • with you at the next ball."

  • "Oh!" said Lydia stoutly, "I am not afraid; for though I am the youngest, I'm the

  • tallest."

  • The rest of the evening was spent in conjecturing how soon he would return Mr.

  • Bennet's visit, and determining when they should ask him to dinner.

  • >

  • CHAPTER 3

  • Not all that Mrs. Bennet, however, with the assistance of her five daughters, could ask

  • on the subject, was sufficient to draw from her husband any satisfactory description of

  • Mr. Bingley.

  • They attacked him in various ways--with barefaced questions, ingenious

  • suppositions, and distant surmises; but he eluded the skill of them all, and they were

  • at last obliged to accept the second-hand

  • intelligence of their neighbour, Lady Lucas.

  • Her report was highly favourable. Sir William had been delighted with him.

  • He was quite young, wonderfully handsome, extremely agreeable, and, to crown the

  • whole, he meant to be at the next assembly with a large party.

  • Nothing could be more delightful!

  • To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love; and very lively

  • hopes of Mr. Bingley's heart were entertained.

  • "If I can but see one of my daughters happily settled at Netherfield," said Mrs.

  • Bennet to her husband, "and all the others equally well married, I shall have nothing

  • to wish for."

  • In a few days Mr. Bingley returned Mr. Bennet's visit, and sat about ten minutes

  • with him in his library.

  • He had entertained hopes of being admitted to a sight of the young ladies, of whose

  • beauty he had heard much; but he saw only the father.

  • The ladies were somewhat more fortunate, for they had the advantage of ascertaining

  • from an upper window that he wore a blue coat, and rode a black horse.

  • An invitation to dinner was soon afterwards dispatched; and already had Mrs. Bennet

  • planned the courses that were to do credit to her housekeeping, when an answer arrived

  • which deferred it all.

  • Mr. Bingley was obliged to be in town the following day, and, consequently, unable to

  • accept the honour of their invitation, etc. Mrs. Bennet was quite disconcerted.

  • She could not imagine what business he could have in town so soon after his

  • arrival in Hertfordshire; and she began to fear that he might be always flying about

  • from one place to another, and never settled at Netherfield as he ought to be.

  • Lady Lucas quieted her fears a little by starting the idea of his being gone to

  • London only to get a large party for the ball; and a report soon followed that Mr.

  • Bingley was to bring twelve ladies and seven gentlemen with him to the assembly.

  • The girls grieved over such a number of ladies, but were comforted the day before

  • the ball by hearing, that instead of twelve he brought only six with him from London--

  • his five sisters and a cousin.

  • And when the party entered the assembly room it consisted of only five altogether--

  • Mr. Bingley, his two sisters, the husband of the eldest, and another young man.

  • Mr. Bingley was good-looking and gentlemanlike; he had a pleasant

  • countenance, and easy, unaffected manners. His sisters were fine women, with an air of

  • decided fashion.

  • His brother-in-law, Mr. Hurst, merely looked the gentleman; but his friend Mr.

  • Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome

  • features, noble mien, and the report which

  • was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having

  • ten thousand a year.

  • The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was

  • much handsomer than Mr. Bingley, and he was looked at with great admiration for about

  • half the evening, till his manners gave a

  • disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be

  • proud; to be above his company, and above being pleased; and not all his large estate

  • in Derbyshire could then save him from

  • having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance, and being unworthy to be

  • compared with his friend.

  • Mr. Bingley had soon made himself acquainted with all the principal people in

  • the room; he was lively and unreserved, danced every dance, was angry that the ball

  • closed so early, and talked of giving one himself at Netherfield.

  • Such amiable qualities must speak for themselves.

  • What a contrast between him and his friend!

  • Mr. Darcy danced only once with Mrs. Hurst and once with Miss Bingley, declined being

  • introduced to any other lady, and spent the rest of the evening in walking about the

  • room, speaking occasionally to one of his own party.

  • His character was decided.

  • He was the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world, and everybody hoped that he

  • would never come there again.

  • Amongst the most violent against him was Mrs. Bennet, whose dislike of his general

  • behaviour was sharpened into particular resentment by his having slighted one of

  • her daughters.

  • Elizabeth Bennet had been obliged, by the scarcity of gentlemen, to sit down for two

  • dances; and during part of that time, Mr. Darcy had been standing near enough for her

  • to hear a conversation between him and Mr.

  • Bingley, who came from the dance for a few minutes, to press his friend to join it.

  • "Come, Darcy," said he, "I must have you dance.

  • I hate to see you standing about by yourself in this stupid manner.

  • You had much better dance." "I certainly shall not.

  • You know how I detest it, unless I am particularly acquainted with my partner.

  • At such an assembly as this it would be insupportable.

  • Your sisters are engaged, and there is not another woman in the room whom it would not

  • be a punishment to me to stand up with." "I would not be so fastidious as you are,"

  • cried Mr. Bingley, "for a kingdom!

  • Upon my honour, I never met with so many pleasant girls in my life as I have this

  • evening; and there are several of them you see uncommonly pretty."

  • "You are dancing with the only handsome girl in the room," said Mr. Darcy, looking

  • at the eldest Miss Bennet. "Oh! She is the most beautiful creature I

  • ever beheld!

  • But there is one of her sisters sitting down just behind you, who is very pretty,

  • and I dare say very agreeable. Do let me