PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 45


Author: Jane Austen

Format: online reading

Category: Novel


Posted on 2007-05-10, updated at 2007-05-27. By anonymous.

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  • Author: Jane Austen
CONVINCED as Elizabeth
now was that Miss Bingley's dislike of her had originated in jealousy,
she could not help feeling how very unwelcome her appearance at Pemberley
must be to her, and was curious to know with how much civility on that
lady's side the acquaintance would now be renewed.

On reaching the house, they were shewn through the hall into the saloon,
whose northern aspect rendered it delightful for summer. Its windows,
opening to the ground, admitted a most refreshing view of the high woody
hills behind the house, and of the beautiful oaks and Spanish chesnuts
which were scattered over the intermediate lawn.

In this room they were received by Miss Darcy, who was sitting there
  with Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley, and the lady with whom she lived in
  London. Georgiana's reception of them was very civil; but attended with
  all that embarrassment which, though proceeding from shyness and the
  fear of doing wrong, would easily give to those who felt themselves
  inferior the belief of her being proud and reserved. Mrs. Gardiner and
  her niece, however, did her justice, and pitied her.


By Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley, they were noticed only by a curtsey;
  and on their being seated, a pause, awkward as such pauses must always
  be, succeeded for a few moments. It was first broken by Mrs. Annesley,
  a genteel, agreeable looking woman, whose endeavour to introduce some
  kind of discourse proved her to be more truly well bred than either
  of the others; and between her and Mrs. Gardiner, with occasional help
  from Elizabeth, the conversation was carried on. Miss Darcy looked as
  if she wished for courage enough to join in it; and sometimes did venture
  a short sentence, when there was least danger of its being heard.


Elizabeth soon saw that she was herself closely watched by Miss Bingley,
  and that she could not speak a word, especially to Miss Darcy, without
  calling her attention. This observation would not have prevented her
  from trying to talk to the latter, had they not been seated at an inconvenient
  distance; but she was not sorry to be spared the necessity of saying
  much. Her own thoughts were employing her. She expected every moment
  that some of the gentlemen would enter the room. She wished, she feared,
  that the master of the house might be amongst them; and whether she
  wished or feared it most, she could scarcely determine. After sitting
  in this manner a quarter of an hour without hearing Miss Bingley's voice,
  Elizabeth was roused by receiving from her a cold enquiry after the
  health of her family. She answered with equal indifference and brevity,
  and the other said no more.


The next variation which their visit afforded was produced by the
  entrance of servants with cold meat, cake, and a variety of all the
  finest fruits in season; but this did not take place till after many
  a significant look and smile from Mrs. Annesley to Miss Darcy had been
  given, to remind her of her post. There was now employment for the whole
  party; for though they could not all talk, they could all eat; and the
  beautiful pyramids of grapes, nectarines, and peaches soon collected
  them round the table.


While thus engaged, Elizabeth had a fair opportunity of deciding whether
  she most feared or wished for the appearance of Mr. Darcy, by the feelings
  which prevailed on his entering the room; and then, though but a moment
  before she had believed her wishes to predominate, she began to regret
  that he came.


He had been some time with Mr. Gardiner, who, with two or three other
  gentlemen from the house, was engaged by the river, and had left him
  only on learning that the ladies of the family intended a visit to Georgiana
  that morning. No sooner did he appear, than Elizabeth wisely resolved
  to be perfectly easy and unembarrassed; -- a resolution the more necessary
  to be made, but perhaps not the more easily kept, because she saw that
  the suspicions of the whole party were awakened against them, and that
  there was scarcely an eye which did not watch his behaviour when he
  first came into the room. In no countenance was attentive curiosity
  so strongly marked as in Miss Bingley's, in spite of the smiles which
  overspread her face whenever she spoke to one of its objects; for jealousy
  had not yet made her desperate, and her attentions to Mr. Darcy were
  by no means over. Miss Darcy, on her brother's entrance, exerted herself
  much more to talk; and Elizabeth saw that he was anxious for his sister
  and herself to get acquainted, and forwarded, as much as possible, every
  attempt at conversation on either side. Miss Bingley saw all this likewise;
  and, in the imprudence of anger, took the first opportunity of saying,
  with sneering civility,


"Pray, Miss Eliza, are not the ----shire militia removed from Meryton?
  They must be a great loss to your family."


In Darcy's presence she dared not mention Wickham's name; but Elizabeth
  instantly comprehended that he was uppermost in her thoughts; and the
  various recollections connected with him gave her a moment's distress;
  but, exerting herself vigorously to repel the ill-natured attack, she
  presently answered the question in a tolerably disengaged tone. While
  she spoke, an involuntary glance shewed her Darcy with an heightened
  complexion, earnestly looking at her, and his sister overcome with confusion
  and unable to lift up her eyes. Had Miss Bingley known what pain she
  was then giving her beloved friend, she undoubtedly would have refrained
  from the hint; but she had merely intended to discompose Elizabeth,
  by bringing forward the idea of a man to whom she believed her partial,
  to make her betray a sensibility which might injure her in Darcy's opinion,
  and perhaps to remind the latter of all the follies and absurdities
  by which some part of her family were connected with that corps. Not
  a syllable had ever reached her of Miss Darcy's meditated elopement.
  To no creature had it been revealed, where secrecy was possible, except
  to Elizabeth; and from all Bingley's connections her brother was particularly
  anxious to conceal it, from that very wish which Elizabeth had long
  ago attributed to him, of their becoming hereafter her own. He had certainly
  formed such a plan, and without meaning that it should affect his endeavour
  to separate him from Miss Bennet, it is probable that it might add something
  to his lively concern for the welfare of his friend.


Elizabeth's collected behaviour, however, soon quieted his emotion;
  and as Miss Bingley, vexed and disappointed, dared not approach nearer
  to Wickham, Georgiana also recovered in time, though not enough to be
  able to speak any more. Her brother, whose eye she feared to meet, scarcely
  recollected her interest in the affair, and the very circumstance which
  had been designed to turn his thoughts from Elizabeth, seemed to have
  fixed them on her more, and more cheerfully.


Their visit did not continue long after the question and answer above-mentioned;
  and while Mr. Darcy was attending them to their carriage, Miss Bingley
  was venting her feelings in criticisms on Elizabeth's person, behaviour,
  and dress. But Georgiana would not join her. Her brother's recommendation
  was enough to ensure her favour: his judgment could not err, and he
  had spoken in such terms of Elizabeth as to leave Georgiana without
  the power of finding her otherwise than lovely and amiable. When Darcy
  returned to the saloon, Miss Bingley could not help repeating to him
  some part of what she had been saying to his sister.


"How very ill Eliza Bennet looks this morning, Mr. Darcy," she cried;
  "I never in my life saw any one so much altered as she is since the
  winter. She is grown so brown and coarse! Louisa and I were agreeing
  that we should not have known her again."


However little Mr. Darcy might have liked such an address, he contented
  himself with coolly replying that he perceived no other alteration than
  her being rather tanned -- no miraculous consequence of travelling in
  the summer.


"For my own part," she rejoined, "I must confess that I never could
  see any beauty in her. Her face is too thin; her complexion has no brilliancy;
  and her features are not at all handsome. Her nose wants character;
  there is nothing marked in its lines. Her teeth are tolerable, but not
  out of the common way; and as for her eyes, which have sometimes been
  called so fine, I never could perceive any thing extraordinary in them.
  They have a sharp, shrewish look, which I do not like at all; and in
  her air altogether, there is a self-sufficiency without fashion which
  is intolerable."


Persuaded as Miss Bingley was that Darcy admired Elizabeth, this was
  not the best method of recommending herself; but angry people are not
  always wise; and in seeing him at last look somewhat nettled, she had
  all the success she expected. He was resolutely silent however; and,
  from a determination of making him speak she continued,


"I remember, when we first knew her in Hertfordshire, how amazed
  we all were to find that she was a reputed beauty; and I particularly
  recollect your saying one night, after they had been dining at Netherfield,
  "She a beauty! -- I should as soon call her mother a wit."
  But afterwards she seemed to improve on you, and I believe you thought
  her rather pretty at one time."


"Yes," replied Darcy, who could contain himself no longer, "but
  that was only when I first knew her, for it is many months since I have
  considered her as one of the handsomest women of my acquaintance."


He then went away, and Miss Bingley was left to all the satisfaction
  of having forced him to say what gave no one any pain but herself.


Mrs. Gardiner and Elizabeth talked of all that had occurred during
  their visit, as they returned, except what had particularly interested
  them both. The looks and behaviour of every body they had seen were
  discussed, except of the person who had mostly engaged their attention.
  They talked of his sister, his friends, his house, his fruit, of every
  thing but himself; yet Elizabeth was longing to know what Mrs. Gardiner
  thought of him, and Mrs. Gardiner would have been highly gratified by
  her niece's beginning the subject.


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  14. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 46
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  16. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 42
  17. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 41
  18. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 40
  19. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 39
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  27. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 34
  28. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 32
  29. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 29
  30. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 27
  31. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 28
  32. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 26
  33. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 25
  34. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 24
  35. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 22
  36. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 23
  37. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 21
  38. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 20
  39. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 19
  40. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 18
  41. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 17
  42. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 16
  43. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 15
  44. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 14
  45. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 13
  46. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 12
  47. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 11
  48. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 10
  49. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 9
  50. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 8
  51. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 7
  52. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 6
  53. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 5
  54. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 4
  55. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 3
  56. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 2
  57. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Chapter 1

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