Chapter 6 the Ladies of Longbourn Soon Waited on Those

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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 treatme
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  Chapter 6The ladies of Longbourn soon waited on those of Netherfield. The visitwas soon returned in due form. Miss Bennet's pleasing manners grew onthe goodwill of Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley; and though the mother wasfound to be intolerable, and the younger sisters not worth speaking to,a wish of being better acquainted with _them_ was expressed towardsthe two eldest. By Jane, this attention was received with the greatestpleasure, but Elizabeth still saw superciliousness in their treatmentof 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 inall probability from the influence of their brother's admiration. Itwas generally evident whenever they met, that he _did_ admire her andto _her_ it was equally evident that Jane was yielding to the preferencewhich she had begun to entertain for him from the first, and was in away to be very much in love; but she considered with pleasure that itwas not likely to be discovered by the world in general, since Janeunited, with great strength of feeling, a composure of temper and auniform cheerfulness of manner which would guard her from the suspicionsof the impertinent. She mentioned this to her friend Miss Lucas. It may perhaps be pleasant, replied Charlotte, to be able to imposeon the public in such a case; but it is sometimes a disadvantage to beso very guarded. If a woman conceals her affection with the same skillfrom the object of it, she may lose the opportunity of fixing him; andit will then be but poor consolation to believe the world equally inthe dark. There is so much of gratitude or vanity in almost everyattachment, that it is not safe to leave any to itself. We can all_begin_ freely--a slight preference is natural enough; but there arevery few of us who have heart enough to be really in love withoutencouragement. In nine cases out of ten a women had better show _more_affection than she feels. Bingley likes your sister undoubtedly; but hemay never do more than like her, if she does not help him on. But she does help him on, as much as her nature will allow. If I canperceive her regard for him, he must be a simpleton, indeed, not todiscover 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 concealit, he must find it out. Perhaps he must, if he sees enough of her. But, though Bingley and Janemeet tolerably often, it is never for many hours together; and, as theyalways see each other in large mixed parties, it is impossible thatevery moment should be employed in conversing together. Jane shouldtherefore make the most of every half-hour in which she can command hisattention. When she is secure of him, there will be more leisure forfalling in love as much as she chooses. Your plan is a good one, replied Elizabeth, where nothing is inquestion but the desire of being well married, and if I were determinedto get a rich husband, or any husband, I dare say I should adopt it. Butthese 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 itsreasonableness. 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 quiteenough to make her understand his character. e Not as you represent it. Had she merely _dined_ with him, she mightonly have discovered whether he had a good appetite; but you mustremember that four evenings have also been spent together--and fourevenings may do a great deal. e Yes; these four evenings have enabled them to ascertain that theyboth like Vingt-un better than Commerce; but with respect to any otherleading characteristic, I do not imagine that much has been unfolded. l Well, said Charlotte, I wish Jane success with all my heart; andif she were married to him to-morrow, I should think she had as good achance of happiness as if she were to be studying his character for atwelvemonth. Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. Ifthe dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other orever so similar beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in theleast. They always continue to grow sufficiently unlike afterwards tohave their share of vexation; and it is better to know as little aspossible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass yourlife. l You make me laugh, Charlotte; but it is not sound. You know it is notsound, and that you would never act in this way yourself. sOccupied in observing Mr. Bingley's attentions to her sister, Elizabethwas far from suspecting that she was herself becoming an object of someinterest in the eyes of his friend. Mr. Darcy had at first scarcelyallowed her to be pretty; he had looked at her without admiration at theball; and when they next met, he looked at her only to criticise. But nosooner had he made it clear to himself and his friends that she hardlyhad a good feature in her face, than he began to find it was rendereduncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes. Tothis discovery succeeded some others equally mortifying. Though he haddetected with a critical eye more than one failure of perfect symmetryin her form, he was forced to acknowledge her figure to be light andpleasing; and in spite of his asserting that her manners were not thoseof the fashionable world, he was caught by their easy playfulness. Ofthis she was perfectly unaware; to her he was only the man who madehimself agreeable nowhere, and who had not thought her handsome enoughto dance with.tHe began to wish to know more of her, and as a step towards conversingwith her himself, attended to her conversation with others. His doing sodrew her notice. It was at Sir William Lucas's, where a large party wereassembled.a What does Mr. Darcy mean, said she to Charlotte, by listening to myconversation with Colonel Forster? c 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 seewhat he is about. He has a very satirical eye, and if I do not begin bybeing impertinent myself, I shall soon grow afraid of him. b  On his approaching them soon afterwards, though without seeming to haveany intention of speaking, Miss Lucas defied her friend to mention sucha subject to him; which immediately provoking Elizabeth to do it, sheturned to him and said:t Did you not think, Mr. Darcy, that I expressed myself uncommonlywell just now, when I was teasing Colonel Forster to give us a ball atMeryton? M With great energy; but it is always a subject which makes a ladyenergetic. e You are severe on us. It will be _her_ turn soon to be teased, said Miss Lucas. I am goingto open the instrument, Eliza, and you know what follows. t You are a very strange creature by way of a friend!--always wanting meto play and sing before anybody and everybody! If my vanity had takena musical turn, you would have been invaluable; but as it is, I wouldreally rather not sit down before those who must be in the habit ofhearing the very best performers. On Miss Lucas's persevering, however,she added, Very well, if it must be so, it must. And gravely glancingat Mr. Darcy, There is a fine old saying, which everybody here is ofcourse familiar with: 'Keep your breath to cool your porridge'; and Ishall keep mine to swell my song. sHer performance was pleasing, though by no means capital. After a songor two, and before she could reply to the entreaties of several thatshe would sing again, she was eagerly succeeded at the instrument by hersister Mary, who having, in consequence of being the only plain one inthe family, worked hard for knowledge and accomplishments, was alwaysimpatient for display.iMary had neither genius nor taste; and though vanity had given herapplication, it had given her likewise a pedantic air and conceitedmanner, which would have injured a higher degree of excellence than shehad reached. Elizabeth, easy and unaffected, had been listened to withmuch more pleasure, though not playing half so well; and Mary, at theend of a long concerto, was glad to purchase praise and gratitude byScotch and Irish airs, at the request of her younger sisters, who,with some of the Lucases, and two or three officers, joined eagerly indancing at one end of the room.dMr. Darcy stood near them in silent indignation at such a mode ofpassing the evening, to the exclusion of all conversation, and was toomuch engrossed by his thoughts to perceive that Sir William Lucas washis neighbour, till Sir William thus began:h What a charming amusement for young people this is, Mr. Darcy! Thereis nothing like dancing after all. I consider it as one of the firstrefinements of polished society. r Certainly, sir; and it has the advantage also of being in vogue amongstthe less polished societies of the world. Every savage can dance. tSir William only smiled. Your friend performs delightfully, hecontinued after a pause, on seeing Bingley join the group; and I doubt  not that you are an adept in the science yourself, Mr. Darcy. n You saw me dance at Meryton, I believe, sir. Yes, indeed, and received no inconsiderable pleasure from the sight. Doyou often dance at St. James's? y Never, sir. Do you not think it would be a proper 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.M I had once had some thought of fixing in town myself--for I am fondof superior society; but I did not feel quite certain that the air ofLondon would agree with Lady Lucas. LHe paused in hopes of an answer; but his companion was not disposedto make any; and Elizabeth at that instant moving towards them, he wasstruck with the action of doing a very gallant thing, and called out toher:h My dear Miss Eliza, why are you not dancing? Mr. Darcy, you must allowme to present this young lady to you as a very desirable partner. Youcannot refuse to dance, I am sure when so much beauty is before you. And, taking her hand, he would have given it to Mr. Darcy who, thoughextremely surprised, was not unwilling to receive it, when she instantlydrew back, and said with some discomposure to Sir William:d Indeed, sir, I have not the least intention of dancing. I entreat younot to suppose that I moved this way in order to beg for a partner. nMr. Darcy, with grave propriety, requested to be allowed the honour ofher hand, but in vain. Elizabeth was determined; nor did Sir William atall shake her purpose by his attempt at persuasion.a You excel so much in the dance, Miss Eliza, that it is cruel to denyme the happiness of seeing you; and though this gentleman dislikes theamusement in general, he can have no objection, I am sure, to oblige usfor one half-hour. f Mr. Darcy is all politeness, said Elizabeth, smiling. He is, indeed; but, considering the inducement, my dear Miss Eliza,we cannot wonder at his complaisance--for who would object to such apartner? pElizabeth looked archly, and turned away. Her resistance had notinjured her with the gentleman, and he was thinking of her with somecomplacency, when thus accosted by Miss Bingley:c I can guess the subject of your reverie. I should imagine not.
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