When the gentlemen rose to go away, Mrs. Bennet was mindful of her intended civility,
and they were invited and engaged to dine at Longbourn in a few days time.
"You are quite a visit in my debt, Mr. Bingley," she added, "for when you went
to town last winter, you promised to take a family dinner with us, as soon as you
returned. I have not forgot, you see; and I assure you, I was very much disappointed
that you did not come back and keep your engagement."
Bingley looked a little silly at this reflection, and said something of his concern
at having been prevented by business.
They then went away.
Mrs. Bennet had been strongly inclined to ask them to stay and dine there that
day; but, though she always kept a very good table, she did not think any thing
less than two courses could be good enough for a man on whom she had such anxious
designs, or satisfy the appetite and pride of one who had ten thousand a year.
<CHAPTER XII (54)>
AS soon as they were gone, Elizabeth walked out to recover her spirits; or in
other words, to dwell without interruption on those subjects that must deaden them
more. Mr. Darcy's behaviour astonished and vexed her.
"Why, if he came only to be silent, grave, and indifferent,"
said she, "did he come at all?"
She could settle it in no way that gave her pleasure.
"He could be still amiable, still pleasing, to my uncle and aunt, when he was
in town; and why not to me? If he fears me, why come hither? If he no longer cares
for me, why silent?
Teazing, teazing, man! I will think no more about him."
Her resolution was for a short time involuntarily kept by the approach of her
sister, who joined her with a cheerful look, which shewed her better satisfied with
their visitors, than Elizabeth.
"Now," said she, "that this first meeting is over, I feel perfectly easy. I know
my own strength, and I shall never be embarrassed again by his coming. I am glad
he dines here on Tuesday. It will then be publicly seen that, on both sides, we
meet only as common and indifferent acquaintance."
"Yes, very indifferent indeed," said Elizabeth, laughingly.
"Oh, Jane, take care."
"My dear Lizzy, you cannot think me so weak, as to be in danger now?"
"I think you are in very great danger of making him as much in love with you
They did not see the gentlemen again till Tuesday; and Mrs. Bennet, in the
meanwhile, was giving way to all the happy schemes, which the good humour and common
politeness of Bingley, in half an hour's visit, had revived.
On Tuesday there was a large party assembled at Longbourn; and the two who were
most anxiously expected, to the credit of their punctuality as sportsmen, were in
very good time. When they repaired to the dining-room, Elizabeth eagerly watched
to see whether Bingley would take the place, which, in all their former parties,
had belonged to him, by her sister. Her prudent mother, occupied by the same ideas,
forbore to invite him to sit by herself. On entering the room, he seemed to hesitate;
but Jane happened to look round, and happened to smile: it was decided. He placed
himself by her.
Elizabeth, with a triumphant sensation, looked towards his friend. He bore it
with noble indifference, and she would have imagined that Bingley had received his
sanction to be happy, had she not seen his eyes likewise turned towards Mr. Darcy,
with an expression of half-laughing alarm.
His behaviour to her sister was such, during dinner time, as shewed an admiration
of her, which, though more guarded than formerly, persuaded Elizabeth, that if left
wholly to himself, Jane's happiness, and his own, would be speedily secured.
Though she dared not depend upon the consequence, she yet received pleasure from
observing his behaviour. It gave her all the animation that her spirits could boast;
for she was in no cheerful humour. Mr. Darcy was almost as far from her as the table
could divide them. He was on one side of her mother.
She knew how little such a situation would give pleasure to either, or make either
appear to advantage. She was not near enough to hear any of their discourse, but
she could see how seldom they spoke to each other, and how formal and cold was their
manner whenever they did. Her mother's ungraciousness, made the sense of what they
owed him more painful to Elizabeth's mind; and she would, at times, have given any
thing to be privileged to tell him that his kindness was neither unknown nor unfelt
by the whole of the family.
She was in hopes that the evening would afford some opportunity of bringing them
together; that the whole of the visit would not pass away without enabling them
to enter into something more of conversation than the mere ceremonious salutation
attending his entrance. Anxious and uneasy, the period which passed in the drawing-room,
before the gentlemen came, was wearisome and dull to a degree that almost made her
She looked forward to their entrance as the point on which all her chance of
pleasure for the evening must depend.
"If he does not come to me, then," said she, "I shall give him up for ever."
The gentlemen came; and she thought he looked as if he would have answered her
hopes; but, alas! the ladies had crowded round the table, where Miss Bennet was
making tea, and Elizabeth pouring out the coffee, in so close a confederacy that
there was not a single vacancy near her which would admit of a chair. And on the
gentlemen's approaching, one of the girls moved closer to her than ever, and said,
in a whisper, "The men shan't come and part us, I am determined. We want none of
them; do we?"
Darcy had walked away to another part of the room. She followed him with her
eyes, envied every one to whom he spoke, had scarcely patience enough to help anybody
to coffee; and then was enraged against herself for being so silly! "A man who has
once been refused! How could I ever be foolish enough to expect a renewal of his
love? Is there one among the sex, who would not protest against such a weakness
as a second proposal to the same woman? There is no indignity so abhorrent to their
She was a little revived, however, by his bringing back his coffee cup himself;
and she seized the opportunity of saying, "Is your sister at Pemberley still?"
"Yes, she will remain there till Christmas."
"And quite alone? Have all her friends left her?"
"Mrs. Annesley is with her. The others have been gone on to Scarborough, these
She could think of nothing more to say; but if he wished to converse with her,
he might have better success. He stood by her, however, for some minutes, in silence;
and, at last, on the young lady's whispering to Elizabeth again, he walked away.
When the tea-things were removed, and the card tables placed, the ladies all
rose, and Elizabeth was then hoping to be soon joined by him, when all her views
were overthrown by seeing him fall a victim to her mother's rapacity for whist players,
and in a few moments after seated with the rest of the party. She now lost every
expectation of pleasure. They were confined for the evening at different tables,
and she had nothing to hope, but that his eyes were so often turned towards her
side of the room, as to make him play as unsuccessfully as herself.
Mrs. Bennet had designed to keep the two Netherfield gentlemen to supper; but
their carriage was unluckily ordered before any of the others, and she had no opportunity
of detaining them.
"Well girls," said she, as soon as they were left to themselves, "What say you
to the day? I think every thing has passed off uncommonly well, I assure you. The
dinner was as well dressed as any I ever saw. The venison was roasted to a turn
-- and everybody said they never saw so fat a haunch. The soup was fifty times better
than what we had at the Lucases' last week; and even Mr. Darcy acknowledged, that
the partridges were remarkably well done; and I suppose he has two or three French
cooks at least. And, my dear Jane, I never saw you look in greater beauty. Mrs.
Long said so too, for I asked her whether you did not. And what do you think she
``Ah! Mrs. Bennet, we shall have her at Netherfield at last.'' She did indeed.
I do think Mrs. Long is as good a creature as ever lived -- and her nieces are very
pretty behaved girls, and not at all handsome: I like them prodigiously."
Mrs. Bennet, in short, was in very great spirits; she had seen enough of Bingley's
behaviour to Jane, to be convinced that she would get him at last; and her expectations
of advantage to her family, when in a happy humour, were so far beyond reason, that
she was quite disappointed at not seeing him there again the next day, to make his
"It has been a very agreeable day," said Miss Bennet to Elizabeth. "The party
seemed so well selected, so suitable one with the other. I hope we may often meet
"Lizzy, you must not do so. You must not suspect me. It mortifies me. I assure
you that I have now learnt to enjoy his conversation as an agreeable and sensible
young man, without having a wish beyond it. I am perfectly satisfied, from what
his manners now are, that he never had any design of engaging my affection. It is
only that he is blessed with greater sweetness of address, and a stronger desire
of generally pleasing, than any other man."