FictionForest

Chapter 2

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

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Mr. Bennet was among the earliest
of those who waited on Mr. Bingley.  He had always
intended to visit him, though to the last always assuring
his wife that he should not go; and till the evening
after the visit was paid she had no knowledge of it. 
It was then disclosed in the following manner. 
Observing his second daughter employed in trimming
a hat, he suddenly addressed her with: 

“I hope Mr. Bingley will like it, Lizzy.”

“We are not in a way to know
what Mr. Bingley likes,” said her mother
resentfully, “since we are not to visit.”

“But you forget, mamma,”
said Elizabeth, “that we shall meet him at the
assemblies, and that Mrs. Long promised to introduce
him.”

“I do not believe Mrs. Long
will do any such thing.  She has two nieces of
her own.  She is a selfish, hypocritical woman,
and I have no opinion of her.”

“No more have I,” said
Mr. Bennet; “and I am glad to find that you do
not depend on her serving you.”

Mrs. Bennet deigned not to make any
reply, but, unable to contain herself, began scolding
one of her daughters.

“Don’t keep coughing so,
Kitty, for Heaven’s sake!  Have a little
compassion on my nerves.  You tear them to pieces.”

“Kitty has no discretion in
her coughs,” said her father; “she times
them ill.”

“I do not cough for my own amusement,”
replied Kitty fretfully.  “When is your
next ball to be, Lizzy?”

“To-morrow fortnight.”

“Aye, so it is,” cried
her mother, “and Mrs. Long does not come back
till the day before; so it will be impossible for her
to introduce him, for she will not know him herself.”

“Then, my dear, you may have
the advantage of your friend, and introduce Mr. Bingley
to her.”

“Impossible, Mr. Bennet, impossible,
when I am not acquainted with him myself; how can
you be so teasing?”

“I honour your circumspection. 
A fortnight’s acquaintance is certainly very
little.  One cannot know what a man really is by
the end of a fortnight.  But if we do not
venture somebody else will; and after all, Mrs. Long
and her daughters must stand their chance; and, therefore,
as she will think it an act of kindness, if you decline
the office, I will take it on myself.”

The girls stared at their father. 
Mrs. Bennet said only, “Nonsense, nonsense!”

“What can be the meaning of
that emphatic exclamation?” cried he.  “Do
you consider the forms of introduction, and the stress
that is laid on them, as nonsense?  I cannot quite
agree with you there.  What say you, Mary? 
For you are a young lady of deep reflection, I know,
and read great books and make extracts.”

Mary wished to say something sensible, but knew not
how.

“While Mary is adjusting her
ideas,” he continued, “let us return to
Mr. Bingley.”

“I am sick of Mr. Bingley,” cried his
wife.

“I am sorry to hear that;
but why did not you tell me that before?  If I
had known as much this morning I certainly would not
have called on him.  It is very unlucky; but as
I have actually paid the visit, we cannot escape the
acquaintance now.”

The astonishment of the ladies was
just what he wished; that of Mrs. Bennet perhaps surpassing
the rest; though, when the first tumult of joy was
over, she began to declare that it was what she had
expected all the while.

“How good it was in you, my
dear Mr. Bennet!  But I knew I should persuade
you at last.  I was sure you loved your girls too
well to neglect such an acquaintance.  Well, how
pleased I am! and it is such a good joke, too, that
you should have gone this morning and never said a
word about it till now.”

“Now, Kitty, you may cough as
much as you choose,” said Mr. Bennet; and, as
he spoke, he left the room, fatigued with the raptures
of his wife.

“What an excellent father you
have, girls!” said she, when the door was shut. 
“I do not know how you will ever make him amends
for his kindness; or me, either, for that matter. 
At our time of life it is not so pleasant, I can tell
you, to be making new acquaintances every day; but
for your sakes, we would do anything.  Lydia, my
love, though you are the youngest, I dare say
Mr. Bingley will dance with you at the next ball.”

“Oh!” said Lydia stoutly,
“I am not afraid; for though I am the
youngest, I’m the tallest.”

The rest of the evening was spent
in conjecturing how soon he would return Mr. Bennet’s
visit, and determining when they should ask him to
dinner.

 

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