During the next few weeks, it became clear to Elizabeth that Mr Charles Bingley was becoming very fond of Jane; and that Jane, for her part, returned his affection. While observing these attentions to her sister, at various parties and dances, Elizabeth was far from suspecting that she herself had become an object of interest in the eyes of his friend. Mr Darcy had looked at her without admiration at the ball; and when they next met, he looked at her only to criticise. But he began to find her face was made uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes. He was forced to acknowledge her figure to be light and pleasing; and he was caught by the easy playfulness of her manners. Of all this she was quite unaware.
One night there was a large party assembled at Sir William Lucas’s, and Mr Darcy was standing near Elizabeth when Sir William approached.
“What a charming amusement for young people dancing is,” said Sir William. “It is one of the first refinements of polished societies.”
“Certainly, sir; and it has the advantage also of being in vogue among the less polished societies of the world. Every savage can dance.”
Sir William only smiled. At that moment Elizabeth turned toward them, and he called to her.
“My dear Miss Elizabeth, why are you not dancing? Mr Darcy, you must allow me to present this young lady to you as a very desirable partner.” And taking her hand, he would have given it to Mr Darcy, when Elizabeth instantly drew back.
“Indeed, sir, I have not the least intention of dancing. You must not suppose that I moved this
way in order to beg for a partner.”
Mr Darcy gravely asked her to dance; but in vain. Elizabeth was determined and turned away. Mr Darcy was intrigued by her indifference and stood looking after her.
“You are thinking how boring it would be to pass many evenings among these country people.” He turned to find Miss Caroline Bingley at his side.
“You are quite wrong, I assure you. I was meditating on the very great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can bestow.”
“Oh!” said Miss Bingley, astonished. “Which lady has inspired such reflections?”
“Miss Elizabeth Bennet.”
“I am all astonishment. How long has she been such a favourite? – and when am I to wish you joy?”
“A lady’s imagination is very rapid,” replied Darcy coldly. “It jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.”
“You will have a charming mother-in-law, indeed,” said Miss Bingley spitefully.
He listened to her with perfect indifference, while his eyes continued to study Elizabeth across the room.
- be forced to acknowledge – have to admit
- bestow – confer or present (an honour, right, or gift)
- determined – if you are determined to do something, you have made a firm decision to do it and will not let anything stop you.
- in vain – without success or a result
- in vogue – if something is in vogue, is very popular and fashionable. If it comes into vogue, it becomes very popular and fashionable.
- polished society – exquisite and elegant society
- refinement – sophisticated and superior good taste
- return affection – express reciprocal feelings