"She did indeed, Louisa. I could hardly keep my countenance.
Very nonsensical to come at all! Why must she be scampering about the country,
because her sister had a cold? Her hair so untidy, so blowsy!"
"Yes, and her petticoat; I hope you saw her petticoat, six inches deep in mud,
I am absolutely certain; and the gown which had been let down to hide it not doing
"Your picture may be very exact, Louisa," said Bingley; "but this was all lost
upon me. I thought Miss Elizabeth Bennet looked remarkably well, when she came into
the room this morning. Her dirty petticoat quite escaped my notice."
"You observed it, Mr. Darcy, I am sure," said Miss Bingley, "and I am inclined
to think that you would not wish to see your sister make such an exhibition."
"To walk three miles, or four miles, or five miles, or whatever it is, above
her ancles in dirt, and alone, quite alone! what could she mean by it? It seems
to me to shew an abominable sort of conceited independence, a most country town
indifference to decorum."
"It shews an affection for her sister that is very pleasing,"
"I am afraid, Mr. Darcy," observed Miss Bingley in a half whisper, "that this
adventure has rather affected your admiration of her fine eyes."
"Not at all," he replied; "they were brightened by the exercise." -- A short
pause followed this speech, and Mrs. Hurst began again.
"I have an excessive regard for Jane Bennet, she is really a very sweet girl,
and I wish with all my heart she were well settled. But with such a father and mother,
and such low connections, I am afraid there is no chance of it."
"I think I have heard you say, that their uncle is an attorney in Meryton."
"Yes; and they have another, who lives somewhere near Cheapside."
"That is capital," added her sister, and they both laughed heartily.
"If they had uncles enough to fill all Cheapside," cried Bingley, "it would
not make them one jot less agreeable."
"But it must very materially lessen their chance of marrying men of any consideration
in the world," replied Darcy.
To this speech Bingley made no answer; but his sisters gave it their hearty assent,
and indulged their mirth for some time at the expense of their dear friend's vulgar
With a renewal of tenderness, however, they repaired to her room on leaving the
dining-parlour, and sat with her till summoned to coffee. She was still very poorly,
and Elizabeth would not quit her at all till late in the evening, when she had the
comfort of seeing her asleep, and when it appeared to her rather right than pleasant
that she should go down stairs herself. On entering the drawing-room she found the
whole party at loo, and was immediately invited to join them; but suspecting them
to be playing high she declined it, and making her sister the excuse, said she would
amuse herself for the short time she could stay below with a book. Mr. Hurst looked
at her with astonishment.
"Do you prefer reading to cards?" said he; "that is rather singular."
"Miss Eliza Bennet," said Miss Bingley, "despises cards She is a great reader
and has no pleasure in anything else."
"I deserve neither such praise nor such censure," cried Elizabeth; "I am not
a great reader, and I have pleasure in many things."
"In nursing your sister I am sure you have pleasure," said Bingley; "and I hope
it will soon be increased by seeing her quite well."
Elizabeth thanked him from her heart, and then walked towards a table where a
few books were lying. He immediately offered to fetch her others; all that his library
"And I wish my collection were larger for your benefit and my own credit; but
I am an idle fellow, and though I have not many, I have more than I ever look into."
Elizabeth assured him that she could suit herself perfectly with those in the
"I am astonished," said Miss Bingley, "that my father should have left so small
a collection of books. -- What a delightful library you have at Pemberley, Mr. Darcy!"
"It ought to be good," he replied, "it has been the work of many generations."
"And then you have added so much to it yourself, you are always buying books."
"I cannot comprehend the neglect of a family library in such days as these,"
"Neglect! I am sure you neglect nothing that can add to the beauties of that
noble place. Charles, when you build your house, I wish it may be half as delightful
"I wish it may."
"But I would really advise you to make your purchase in that neighbourhood, and
take Pemberley for a kind of model.
There is not a finer county in England than Derbyshire."
"With all my heart; I will buy Pemberley itself if Darcy will sell it."
"I am talking of possibilities, Charles."
"Upon my word, Caroline, I should think it more possible to get Pemberley by
purchase than by imitation."
Elizabeth was so much caught by what passed, as to leave her very little attention
for her book; and soon laying it wholly aside, she drew near the card-table, and
stationed herself between Mr. Bingley and his eldest sister to observe the game.
"Is Miss Darcy much grown since the spring?" said Miss Bingley; "will she be
as tall as I am?"
"I think she will. She is now about Miss Elizabeth Bennet's height, or rather
"How I long to see her again! I never met with anybody who delighted me so much.
Such a countenance, such manners, and so extremely accomplished for her age! Her
performance on the piano-forte is exquisite."
"It is amazing to me," said Bingley, "how young ladies can have patience to be
so very accomplished as they all are."
"All young ladies accomplished! My dear Charles, what do you mean?"
"Yes all of them, I think. They all paint tables, cover skreens, and net purses.
I scarcely know any one who cannot do all this, and I am sure I never heard a young
lady spoken of for the first time, without being informed that she was very accomplished."
"Your list of the common extent of accomplishments," said Darcy, "has too much
truth. The word is applied to many a woman who deserves it no otherwise than by
netting a purse, or covering a skreen. But I am very far from agreeing with you
in your estimation of ladies in general. I cannot boast of knowing more than half
a dozen, in the whole range of my acquaintance, that are really accomplished."
"Nor I, I am sure," said Miss Bingley.
"Then," observed Elizabeth, "you must comprehend a great deal in your idea of
an accomplished women."
"Yes; I do comprehend a great deal in it."
"Oh! certainly," cried his faithful assistant, "no one can be really esteemed
accomplished, who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with. A woman must
have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages,
to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something
in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions,
or the word will be but half deserved."
"All this she must possess," added Darcy, "and to all this she must yet add something
more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading."
"I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women. I rather
wonder now at your knowing any."
"Are you so severe upon your own sex, as to doubt the possibility of all this?"
"I never saw such a woman, I never saw such capacity, and taste, and application,
and elegance, as you describe, united."
Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley both cried out against the injustice of her implied
doubt, and were both protesting that they knew many women who answered this description,
when Mr. Hurst called them to order, with bitter complaints of their inattention
to what was going forward. As all conversation was thereby at an end, Elizabeth
soon afterwards left the room.
"Eliza Bennet," said Miss Bingley, when the door was closed on her, "is one of
those young ladies who seek to recommend themselves to the other sex by undervaluing
their own, and with many men, I dare say, it succeeds. But, in my opinion, it is
a paltry device, a very mean art."
"Undoubtedly," replied Darcy, to whom this remark was chiefly addressed, "there
is meanness in all the arts which ladies sometimes condescend to employ for captivation.
Whatever bears affinity to cunning is despicable."
Miss Bingley was not so entirely satisfied with this reply as to continue the
Elizabeth joined them again only to say that her sister was worse, and that she
could not leave her. Bingley urged Mr.
Jones's being sent for immediately; while his sisters, convinced that no country
advice could be of any service, recommended an express to town for one of the most
eminent physicians. This she would not hear of, but she was not so unwilling to
comply with their brother's proposal; and it was settled that Mr. Jones should be
sent for early in the morning if Miss Bennet were not decidedly better. Bingley
was quite uncomfortable; his sisters declared that they were miserable.