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  • PRIDE AND PREJUDICE

  • By Jane Austen

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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 herif 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 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

  • chance of happiness as if she were  to be studying his character for

  • twelve months. 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 friendMr. 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. Darcythat 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, Elizaand 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 tasteand though vanity had given her 

  • application, it had given her  likewise a pedantic air and conceited 

  • manner, which would have injuredhigher 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 Lucasesand 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 beproper 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 answerbut 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