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  • PRIDE AND PREJUDICE

  • By Jane Austen

  • 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 amendmenthowever, she requested to have

  • 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 invitationthe 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

  • charming prospect over the gravel  walk. I do not know a place in the 

  • country that is equal to NetherfieldYou 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

  • 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

  • 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. Bennetoffended 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 Darcyafter looking at her for a moment

  • turned silently away. Mrs. Bennetwho 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. DarcyHe 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 sureJane--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 onlyslight, 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 answerand 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 MrBingley on the subject of the ball, and 

  • abruptly reminded him of his promiseadding, 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 shallif 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 MrDarcy; 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 10

  • The day passed much as the day  before had done. Mrs. Hurst and Miss 

  • Bingley had spent some hours of  the morning with the invalid, who 

  • continued, though slowly, to mendand in the evening Elizabeth joined 

  • their party in the drawing-room. The  loo-table, however, did not appear

  • Mr. Darcy was writing, and Miss  Bingley, seated near him, was watching 

  • the progress of his letter and repeatedly calling  

  • off his attention by messages to his sister.  

  • Mr. Hurst and Mr. Bingley were at piquet, and Mrs. Hurst was observing their game.

  • Elizabeth took up some needleworkand was sufficiently amused in 

  • attending to what passed between  Darcy and his companion. The perpetual