FictionForest

Chapter 4

Jane AustenAug 15, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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When Jane and Elizabeth were alone,
the former, who had been cautious in her praise of
Mr. Bingley before, expressed to her sister just how
very much she admired him.

“He is just what a young man
ought to be,” said she, “sensible, good-humoured,
lively; and I never saw such happy manners! ­so
much ease, with such perfect good breeding!”

“He is also handsome,”
replied Elizabeth, “which a young man ought
likewise to be, if he possibly can.  His character
is thereby complete.”

“I was very much flattered by
his asking me to dance a second time.  I did not
expect such a compliment.”

“Did not you?  I did for
you.  But that is one great difference between
us.  Compliments always take you by surprise,
and me never.  What could be more natural
than his asking you again?  He could not help
seeing that you were about five times as pretty as
every other woman in the room.  No thanks to his
gallantry for that.  Well, he certainly is very
agreeable, and I give you leave to like him.  You
have liked many a stupider person.”

“Dear Lizzy!”

“Oh! you are a great deal too
apt, you know, to like people in general.  You
never see a fault in anybody.  All the world are
good and agreeable in your eyes.  I never heard
you speak ill of a human being in your life.”

“I would not wish to be hasty
in censuring anyone; but I always speak what I think.”

“I know you do; and it is that
which makes the wonder.  With your good
sense, to be so honestly blind to the follies and nonsense
of others!  Affectation of candour is common enough ­one
meets with it everywhere.  But to be candid without
ostentation or design ­to take the good
of everybody’s character and make it still better,
and say nothing of the bad ­belongs to you
alone.  And so you like this man’s sisters,
too, do you?  Their manners are not equal to his.”

“Certainly not ­at
first.  But they are very pleasing women when you
converse with them.  Miss Bingley is to live with
her brother, and keep his house; and I am much mistaken
if we shall not find a very charming neighbour in
her.”

Elizabeth listened in silence, but
was not convinced; their behaviour at the assembly
had not been calculated to please in general; and with
more quickness of observation and less pliancy of
temper than her sister, and with a judgement too unassailed
by any attention to herself, she was very little disposed
to approve them.  They were in fact very fine
ladies; not deficient in good humour when they were
pleased, nor in the power of making themselves agreeable
when they chose it, but proud and conceited. 
They were rather handsome, had been educated in one
of the first private seminaries in town, had a fortune
of twenty thousand pounds, were in the habit of spending
more than they ought, and of associating with people
of rank, and were therefore in every respect entitled
to think well of themselves, and meanly of others. 
They were of a respectable family in the north of
England; a circumstance more deeply impressed on their
memories than that their brother’s fortune and
their own had been acquired by trade.

Mr. Bingley inherited property to
the amount of nearly a hundred thousand pounds from
his father, who had intended to purchase an estate,
but did not live to do it.  Mr. Bingley intended
it likewise, and sometimes made choice of his county;
but as he was now provided with a good house and the
liberty of a manor, it was doubtful to many of those
who best knew the easiness of his temper, whether he
might not spend the remainder of his days at Netherfield,
and leave the next generation to purchase.

His sisters were anxious for his having
an estate of his own; but, though he was now only
established as a tenant, Miss Bingley was by no means
unwilling to preside at his table ­nor was
Mrs. Hurst, who had married a man of more fashion
than fortune, less disposed to consider his house
as her home when it suited her.  Mr. Bingley had
not been of age two years, when he was tempted by
an accidental recommendation to look at Netherfield
House.  He did look at it, and into it for half-an-hour ­was
pleased with the situation and the principal rooms,
satisfied with what the owner said in its praise, and
took it immediately.

Between him and Darcy there was a
very steady friendship, in spite of great opposition
of character.  Bingley was endeared to Darcy by
the easiness, openness, and ductility of his temper,
though no disposition could offer a greater contrast
to his own, and though with his own he never appeared
dissatisfied.  On the strength of Darcy’s
regard, Bingley had the firmest reliance, and of his
judgement the highest opinion.  In understanding,
Darcy was the superior.  Bingley was by no means
deficient, but Darcy was clever.  He was at the
same time haughty, reserved, and fastidious, and his
manners, though well-bred, were not inviting. 
In that respect his friend had greatly the advantage. 
Bingley was sure of being liked wherever he appeared,
Darcy was continually giving offense.

The manner in which they spoke of
the Meryton assembly was sufficiently characteristic. 
Bingley had never met with more pleasant people or
prettier girls in his life; everybody had been most
kind and attentive to him; there had been no formality,
no stiffness; he had soon felt acquainted with all
the room; and, as to Miss Bennet, he could not conceive
an angel more beautiful.  Darcy, on the contrary,
had seen a collection of people in whom there was
little beauty and no fashion, for none of whom he
had felt the smallest interest, and from none received
either attention or pleasure.  Miss Bennet he acknowledged
to be pretty, but she smiled too much.

Mrs. Hurst and her sister allowed
it to be so ­but still they admired her
and liked her, and pronounced her to be a sweet girl,
and one whom they would not object to know more of. 
Miss Bennet was therefore established as a sweet girl,
and their brother felt authorized by such commendation
to think of her as he chose.

 

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