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  • PRIDE AND PREJUDICE

  • By Jane Austen

  • Chapter 11

  • 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 toward Darcy, and she had

  • something to say to him before he had advanced many steps. He addressed

  • himself 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 further from

  • the door. He then sat down by her, and talked scarcely to anyone

  • 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 anything 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 for 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 were 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 she 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

  • anything, 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 would 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 anything 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 manner 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 acquaintances. I dearly love a

  • laugh."

  • "Miss Bingley," said he, "has given me more credit 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 and 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 anyone. 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 regulation."

  • 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 offenses 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

  • forever."

  • "_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 from me."

  • "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 to hate everybody."

  • "And yours," he replied with a smile, "is willfully to misunderstand

  • them."

  • "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 had not the smallest objection, and the pianoforte 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.

  • Chapter 12

  • In consequence of an agreement between the sisters, Elizabeth wrote the

  • next morning to their mother, to beg that the carriage might be sent for

  • them in the course of the day. But Mrs. Bennet, who had calculated on

  • her daughters remaining at Netherfield till the following Tuesday, which

  • would exactly finish Jane's week, could not bring herself to receive

  • them with pleasure before. Her answer, therefore, was not propitious, at

  • least not to Elizabeth's wishes, for she was impatient to get home. Mrs.

  • Bennet sent them word that they could not possibly have the carriage

  • before Tuesday; and in her postscript it was added, that if Mr. Bingley

  • and his sister pressed them to stay longer, she could spare them

  • very well. Against staying longer, however, Elizabeth was positively

  • resolved--nor did she much expect it would be asked; and fearful, on the

  • contrary, as being considered as intruding themselves needlessly long,

  • she urged Jane to borrow Mr. Bingley's carriage immediately, and at

  • length it was settled that their original design of leaving Netherfield