In a few days Mr Bingley returned Mr Bennet’s visit, and sat about ten minutes with him in his library. He had hoped to see the young ladies, of whose beauty he had heard much, but he saw only the father.
Mr Bennet could not be drawn to give a satisfactory description of the young man, but they had a report from Elizabeth’s friend, Charlotte Lucas. He was wonderfully handsome, it seemed, and extremely agreeable; and, to crown the whole, he meant to come to the next ball at the assembly rooms in Meryton. To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love.
On the night of the ball, Mr Bingley entered the assembly room with his single sister, Caroline, his married sister, Mrs Hurst, and another young man. Charles Bingley was, indeed, good-looking, and had easy, unaffected manners. His sisters were fine women, but his friend Mr Darcy drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features and noble bearing. Moreover there was a whispered report that he owned a large estate at Pemberley, in Derbyshire. He was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till it was discovered that he was proud, haughty, and above his company.
Mr Bingley was lively and unreserved, danced every dance, was angry that the ball closed so early. What a contrast between him and his friend! Mr Darcy danced once with Mrs Hurst and once with Miss Bingley and did not ask to be introduced to any other lady. It was generally decided that he was the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world.
Elizabeth had been obliged by the scarcity of gentlemen to sit down for two dances. During part of that time, Mr Darcy had been standing near enough for her to overhear a conversation between him and Mr Bingley.
“Come, Darcy,” he said. “Don’t stand about by yourself. You had much better dance.”
“I certainly shall not. Your sisters are engaged, and you are dancing with the only handsome girl in the room,” said Mr Darcy, looking across at Jane.
“Oh, she is the most beautiful creature! But there is one of her sisters sitting behind you, who is very pretty. Let me ask my partner to introduce you.”
Turning round, Darcy looked at Elizabeth, till, catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said, “She is not handsome enough to tempt me.”
Mr Darcy walked off; and Elizabeth remained with no very friendly feelings towards him. Mrs Bennet, who also had overheard, was furious.
The whole evening passed off pleasantly enough for the rest of the family. Mrs Bennet had seen her eldest daughter much admired by the Netherfield party. Mary had heard herself mentioned as the most accomplished girl in the neighbourhood; and Kitty and Lydia had never been without partners. They returned therefore in good spirits to Longbourn.
“Oh, my dear Mr Bennet,” cried his wife as she entered the room, “we have had a most delightful evening. Jane was so admired. Mr Bingley thought her quite beautiful and danced with her twice. She was the only creature in the room that he asked a second time.
Mrs Bennet then went on to tell of the shocking rudeness of the abominable Mr Darcy. “I wish you had been there, my dear, to give him a piece of your mind!”
- to crown the whole – on top of all that/of everything else (в довершение всего).
- unaffected – if you describe someone as unaffected, you mean that they are natural and genuine in their behaviour, and do not act as though they are more important than other people.
- bearing – someone’s bearing is the way in which they move or stand.
- haughty – You use haughty to describe someone’s behaviour or appearance when you disapprove of the fact that they seem to be very proud and to think that they are better than other people.
- unreserved – frank and open.
- stand about – stand doing nothing
- pass off – get to the end little by little
- the most accomplished – the most successful
- abominable – something that is abominable is very unpleasant or bad.