FictionForest

Chapter 5

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

Light off Small Medium Large

Within a short walk of Longbourn lived
a family with whom the Bennets were particularly intimate. 
Sir William Lucas had been formerly in trade in Meryton,
where he had made a tolerable fortune, and risen to
the honour of knighthood by an address to the king
during his mayoralty.  The distinction had perhaps
been felt too strongly.  It had given him a disgust
to his business, and to his residence in a small market
town; and, in quitting them both, he had removed with
his family to a house about a mile from Meryton, denominated
from that period Lucas Lodge, where he could think
with pleasure of his own importance, and, unshackled
by business, occupy himself solely in being civil to
all the world.  For, though elated by his rank,
it did not render him supercilious; on the contrary,
he was all attention to everybody.  By nature
inoffensive, friendly, and obliging, his presentation
at St. James’s had made him courteous.

Lady Lucas was a very good kind of
woman, not too clever to be a valuable neighbour to
Mrs. Bennet.  They had several children.  The
eldest of them, a sensible, intelligent young woman,
about twenty-seven, was Elizabeth’s intimate
friend.

That the Miss Lucases and the Miss
Bennets should meet to talk over a ball was absolutely
necessary; and the morning after the assembly brought
the former to Longbourn to hear and to communicate.

You began the evening
well, Charlotte,” said Mrs. Bennet with civil
self-command to Miss Lucas. “You were
Mr. Bingley’s first choice.”

“Yes; but he seemed to like his second better.”

“Oh! you mean Jane, I suppose,
because he danced with her twice.  To be sure
that did seem as if he admired her ­indeed
I rather believe he did ­I heard
something about it ­but I hardly know what ­something
about Mr. Robinson.”

“Perhaps you mean what I overheard
between him and Mr. Robinson; did not I mention it
to you?  Mr. Robinson’s asking him how he
liked our Meryton assemblies, and whether he did not
think there were a great many pretty women in the
room, and which he thought the prettiest? and
his answering immediately to the last question: 
’Oh! the eldest Miss Bennet, beyond a doubt;
there cannot be two opinions on that point.’”

“Upon my word!  Well, that
is very decided indeed ­that does seem as
if ­but, however, it may all come to nothing,
you know.”

My overhearings were
more to the purpose than yours, Eliza,”
said Charlotte.  “Mr. Darcy is not so well
worth listening to as his friend, is he? ­poor
Eliza! ­to be only just tolerable.”

“I beg you would not put it
into Lizzy’s head to be vexed by his ill-treatment,
for he is such a disagreeable man, that it would be
quite a misfortune to be liked by him.  Mrs. Long
told me last night that he sat close to her for half-an-hour
without once opening his lips.”

“Are you quite sure, ma’am? ­is
not there a little mistake?” said Jane. 
“I certainly saw Mr. Darcy speaking to her.”

“Aye ­because she
asked him at last how he liked Netherfield, and he
could not help answering her; but she said he seemed
quite angry at being spoke to.”

“Miss Bingley told me,”
said Jane, “that he never speaks much, unless
among his intimate acquaintances.  With them
he is remarkably agreeable.”

“I do not believe a word of
it, my dear.  If he had been so very agreeable,
he would have talked to Mrs. Long.  But I can guess
how it was; everybody says that he is eat up with
pride, and I dare say he had heard somehow that Mrs.
Long does not keep a carriage, and had come to the
ball in a hack chaise.”

“I do not mind his not talking
to Mrs. Long,” said Miss Lucas, “but I
wish he had danced with Eliza.”

“Another time, Lizzy,”
said her mother, “I would not dance with him,
if I were you.”

“I believe, ma’am, I may
safely promise you never to dance with him.”

“His pride,” said Miss
Lucas, “does not offend me so much as
pride often does, because there is an excuse for it. 
One cannot wonder that so very fine a young man, with
family, fortune, everything in his favour, should
think highly of himself.  If I may so express it,
he has a right to be proud.”

“That is very true,” replied
Elizabeth, “and I could easily forgive his
pride, if he had not mortified mine.”

“Pride,” observed Mary,
who piqued herself upon the solidity of her reflections,
“is a very common failing, I believe.  By
all that I have ever read, I am convinced that it
is very common indeed; that human nature is particularly
prone to it, and that there are very few of us who
do not cherish a feeling of self-complacency on the
score of some quality or other, real or imaginary. 
Vanity and pride are different things, though the
words are often used synonymously.  A person may
be proud without being vain.  Pride relates more
to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would
have others think of us.”

“If I were as rich as Mr. Darcy,”
cried a young Lucas, who came with his sisters, “I
should not care how proud I was.  I would keep
a pack of foxhounds, and drink a bottle of wine a
day.”

“Then you would drink a great
deal more than you ought,” said Mrs. Bennet;
“and if I were to see you at it, I should take
away your bottle directly.”

The boy protested that she should
not; she continued to declare that she would, and
the argument ended only with the visit.

 

Leave a Reply