Elizabeth dines at Netherfield with the Bingley’s and Darcy. Her hosts inquire about Jane, but for Mr. Bingley, the sister’s shallow concern confirmed Elizabeth’s dislike of them. Elizabeth feels an intruder. As soon as Elizabeth returned to Jane, Miss Bingley began abusing her. “Her manners were pronounced to be very bad indeed, a mixture of pride and impertinence; she had no conversation, no style, no taste, no beauty.” Nothing to recommend herself, but being an excellent walker. Nonsensical to be scampering about the countryside arriving with her petticoat three inches in mud. Bingley did not notice. Caroline thinks her walking the distance alone reveals a conceited independence. Bingley disagrees. Caroline asks Mr. Darcy if this adventure had affected his admiration of her fine eyes. “Not at all,” he replied; “they were brightened by the exercise.” Louisa has a regard for Jane and wishes her well settled even though her chances are slim because of her low connections of an uncle in Meryton is an attorney and another in Cheapside. Darcy agrees that it will lessen their chance of marrying any man of consideration in the world. Elizabeth rejoins the party who invite her to playing cards. She declines to read a book. Caroline chides her pronouncing to all she “despises card and is a great reader and no pleasure in anything”. On the contrary, she takes pleasure in many things. Bingley complements her on her attention to her sister. Bingley offers her the use of his books, but apologizes for the selection. Caroline praises the Pemberley library a work of generations. She wants Charles to build a house as noble as Pemberley. She asks Darcy about his sister Georgiana who she feels is accomplished. Bingley is amazed that young ladies have the patience to be accomplished. Caroline does not think all young ladies accomplished. Mr. Darcy agrees. He does not know half a dozen ladies that are really accomplished. Caroline proclaims that “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.” Darcy adds they must also improve their mind with extensive reading. Elizabeth is surprised at them knowing anyone to fill that list. She has never seen such a woman. The Bingley sisters protest knowing many who answer the description. Elizabeth departs, and Caroline claims that Elizabeth 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.” Darcy agrees adding that there is a meanness in all the arts ladies use to captivate men. Elizabeth returns to tell them her sister was worse. Sending for a doctor in Town is discussed, but the local apothecary will be sent for in the morning.
Elizabeth stays with Jane in Her room. Mrs. Bennet is sent for to give her opinion of Jane’s condition. She arrives with Kitty and Lydia. She is not alarmed but cognoscente of the advantage of Jane staying as long as she can. She tells Bingley she is too ill to be moved. She compliments Bingley on Netherfield and hopes he will not leave soon. He assures her he is quite fixed. Elizabeth guessed as much and Bingley complements her on her perception of personality. She reveals that she is a studier of character, intricate ones being the most amusing. People alter so that something new can be observed forever. Darcy thinks there are few subjects for such study in the country. Mrs. Bennet disagrees and defends the pleasure of the country asking Bingley if does not agree. The Town and country have equal charms to him. Mrs. Bennet tells Bingley he has the right disposition but Darcy does not because he does not like the country. Elizabeth tells her mother that she is has mistaken Mr. Darcy’s meaning. Mrs. Bennet continues to defend their neighborhood dining with four and twenty families. Caroline Bingley looks at Darcy with a knowing smile. Mrs. Bennet continues indirectly chiding Darcy by complementing Sir William Lucas’ affable manners as her idea of good breeding unlike those who fancy themselves very important and never open their mouths. She mentions Charlotte Lucas’ plainness in comparison to Jane’s beauty, but does not like to boast about her own children. Jane Bennet once had a beau who wrote her lines of poetry. Elizabeth thinks poetry drives love away. Darcy disagrees thinking poetry is the food of love. A stout love yes, but a slight love no. Mrs. Bennet thanks Mr. Bingley for his kindness to her daughters. Lydia reminds Bingley of his promise of a ball at Netherfield. Bingley offers for them to name the day. The Bennet’s departure allowed Lizzy to visit Jane and leave the two ladies to remark on her relations bad behavior, though they did not succeed in getting Mr. Darcy to join in.
Jane is slowly on the mend. Elizabeth joins the party in the drawing-room where she finds Mr. Darcy writing a letter observed and coached by Miss Bingley. The Hursts were at piquet. Elizabeth took up her needlework. Caroline over praises Mr. Darcy’s letter writing. She wants to mend his pen and for him to insert her comments. He begs off that he has no more room though the letter is long. Caroline claims “It is a rule with me that a person who can write a long letter with ease cannot write ill.” Caroline tells her brother that he writes carelessly, omitting words and blotting the rest. He admits it, but his ideas flow too rapidly. Elizabeth thinks his humility disarms reproof. Darcy believes the appearance of humility is only carelessness of opinion or an indirect boast. Analyzing Bingley he thinks he is proud of his indirect boast. Darcy then gives a short sermon on yielding to others wishes as a weakness. “To yield without conviction is no compliment to the understanding of either.” Bingley thinks there is nothing worse than being with Mr. Darcy on a Sunday night when he has nothing to do. Mr. Darcy was slightly offended and finished his letter. Later he asked Miss Bingley and Elizabeth to play at the pianoforte. Elizabeth observes Darcy watching her. She liked him too little to care about his approbation. Miss Bingley played a Scotch air and Darcy asked Elizabeth if it did not inspire her to dance a reel. She smiles but does not reply. He repeats himself. Elizabeth replies in a classic putdown claiming to have heard him the first time but not responded because if she said yes, he could despise her taste. She prefers to cheat a person out of that satisfaction and dares him to despise her. He does not. Elizabeth is surprised by his gallantry. He on the other hand is bewitched, and if it were not for the inferiority of her family he would be in serious danger in falling in love. Caroline notices Darcy’s attraction to Elizabeth and reminds him of her and her family’s short comings. Will he be able to make his mother-in-law hold her tongue or keep the younger sister from chasing officers? Or, check his ladies conceit and impertinence? He must not attempt a portrait of her. Who could capture those fine eyes? Mrs. Hurst and Elizabeth join them in their walk. The path is only wide enough for three and Darcy suggests they attempt another avenue. Elizabeth has the final say. “No, no; stay where you are. You are charmingly grouped, and appear to uncommon advantage. The picturesque would be spoilt by admitting a fourth. Good-bye.” Jane was on the mend and Elizabeth is anxious to be home.
Jane improves enough to visit in the drawing-room where the Bingley sisters act very agreeably to her until the gentlemen arrive and they change their focus changes to them. Elizabeth watches Bingley’s attentions to Jane. Miss Bingley pesters Mr. Darcy while he is reading a book trying to engage him in conversation. He politely answers her questions and continues reading. She declares that there is no finer enjoyment than reading though she has no interest in reading the book in her hand. Mr. Bingley is discussing the ball with Jane. Caroline thinks it unadvisable considering that it could be more of a pain than a pleasure to Darcy. He replies that he can go to bed when it begins. The Ball was a settled thing. She thinks balls are tedious and conversation over dancing should be the order of the day. She walks about exhibiting her figure for Darcy’s benefit and asks Elizabeth to join her. It drew Mr. Darcy attention and he closes his book. She invites him to join them which he is declines. He can guess only two motives in their walking. They are in each other confidence or they are conscience that their figures appear to the greatest advantage in walking. Shocking, abominable. “How shall we punish him for such a speech?” Elizabeth suggests that they tease him, laugh at him. Caroline disagrees. How can one tease calmness of temper and presence of mind? We cannot laugh at him without a subject. Elizabeth is disappointed because she dearly loves to laugh. Caroline believes the wisest and best of men may be rendered ridiculous by a joke. Elizabeth hopes to never ridicule what is wise and good. She will laugh at follies and nonsense instead. Mr. Darcy claims to have endeavored throughout his life to avoid weaknesses which expose ridicule. Elizabeth inquires of his vanity and pride? He states that vanity is a weakness, but pride with superiority is always under good regulation. Elizabeth thinks Mr. Darcy was no defects. He owns himself without disguise. He disagrees. He has faults. He does not yield to the convenience of the world and cannot forgive the follies and vices of others as soon as he ought. His “good opinion once lost is lost forever.” Elizabeth cannot laugh at him for being implacably resentful. He thinks people have a tendency toward defects which education cannot overcome. She tells him his defect is to hate everybody. He replies that hers is to “willfully misunderstand them.” Darcy began to feel the danger of paying Elizabeth too much attention.
Elizabeth writes begging her mother to send the carriage so they may return home. This does not fit into Mrs. Bennet’s plans of them staying a full week and says the carriage is not available. Elizabeth asks Jane to inquiry if Bingley’s carriage was available. Yes, they can leave the next day. Caroline proposes a delay, but regrets it. Her jealousy and dislike for one sister exceed the affection for the other. Bingley was deeply sorry that they were leaving. Mr. Darcy was not. Elizabeth had been too long at Netherfield. “She attracted him more than he liked.” Miss Bingley was uncivil to her and teased him even more. He resolved to not give her any reason to suspect his admiration one way or the other. He scarcely spoke ten words to her on the last day even though they were alone together for half an hour. Miss Bingley was civil to Elizabeth only on her parting. Their mother was not pleased to see them at home, but their father was. The conversation at Longbourn had lost all sense. Mary was deep in study with some new thread-bare morality to share. Kitty and Lydia had news of officers. Colonel Forster might get married.
The Bennet’s are to receive a houseguest, their cousin Mr. Collins who is Mr. Bennet’s heir to Longbourn. This displeases Mrs. Bennet. Although she has never met him, she thinks him an odious man he being the heir by entail. Jane and Elizabeth attempt again to explain the nature of the entail to Mrs. Bennet to no avail. Mr. Bennet reads Mr. Collins’ letter to his family. He wishes to heal the breach between them hesitating to contact him earlier out of respect for his father’s memory. To be on good terms with someone his father preferred to be in variance with was unsettling. He had been ordained at Easter and his bountiful and beneficent benefactress Lady Catherine de Bourgh had installed him as rectory of her parish. As a clergyman he thinks it his duty to promote and establish the blessing of peace within families and offers the olive-branch to the Bennet’s. He will be arriving at Longbourn on November 18th at four o’clock and staying until the following se’nnight. He wishes to make amends to the Bennet daughters. Elizabeth thinks him odd and pompous asking her father if he is a sensible man? He thinks not and is hopefully of finding him quite the reverse. Mary thought his letter was well expressed, Catherine and Lydia thought it uninteresting since he did not wear a scarlet coat, and Mrs. Bennet’s reaction astonished her family. She now harbored no ill-will toward him and looked forward to his visit. Mr. Collins punctually arrives. He was tall, heavy-looking and about five-and-twenty. “His air was grave and stately, and his manners were very formal.” He compliments Mrs. Bennet on the beauty of her daughters who should all in due time be well disposed of in marriage. She hopes so because the entail is so grievous. He is sensible of the hardship on his cousins and has come to admire them. He also admired the hall, the dinning-room and all the furniture. Usually Mrs. Bennet would have been flattered, but she was mortified by his close inspection of his future property.
Mr. Bennet compliments Mr. Collins on his good fortune in his patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Mr. Collins is eloquent in her praise, “such affability and condescension” from a person of rank was not common. He dines at Rosings and she treats him as a gentleman. Some reckon her proud, but he has not seen it. She even advised him to marry as soon as he could with discretion. She visited him at the parsonage and suggested shelves in the closet. She is a widow with one daughter, the heiress of Rosings with very extensive property. She is very charming and a true beauty, but of a sickly constitution preventing her from being as accomplished as she could be. Her health has prevented her from being presented to the King depriving the British court of its brightest ornament. He is happy to pay such little compliments because they please her ladyship. Mr. Bennet commends his talent of flattery asking if they arise from the impulse of the moment or previous study? He does write and collect them, but tries to give them an unstudied response. Mr. Collins is as absurd as Mr. Bennet had hoped. He listened with keen enjoyment and composure glancing at Elizabeth for her reaction. He had had enough of him and asked him to read to the ladies. Mr. Collins is given a novel which he declines to read. Choosing Fordyce’s Sermons instead, he read it solemnly for three pages until Lydia interrupted to talk with her mother about officers. Mr. Collins was offended. Such instructive books are often neglected by those that they were intended for. Mr. Collins proposes a game of backgammon to Mr. Bennet who agrees that the ladies should be left to their own trifling amusements.
© 2010 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose