Chapter One: A Newcomer at Netherfield
Everyone knows that a single man with a fortune must want a wife. His
feelings may be unknown, but when such a man first enters a neighbourhood,
all the families there immediately consider him the property of one of their
'My dear Mr Bennet,' said his lady one day, 'have you heard that
Netherfield Park is let at last?'
Mr Bennet answered that he had not.
'But it is,' she said. 'Mrs Long has just been there and she told me all about
it.' Mr Bennet didn't answer.
'Do you not want to know who has taken it?' cried his wife.
'You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it.'
This was invitation enough.
'Why, my dear, you must know that Mrs Long says that Netherfield is
taken by a rich young man from the north of England; that he came down on
Monday to see the place, and was so happy with it he agreed to take it. His
servants will be in the house by the end of next week.'
'What is his name?'
'Is he married or single?'
'Oh! single, my dear! A single man of large fortune. What a good thing for
'My dear Mr Bennet,' answered his wife. 'You must know that I am
thinking of his marrying one of them.'
'Is that why he is coming here?'
'Nonsense! But it is very probable that he will fall in love with one of them
so you must visit him as soon as he comes.'
'Why me? You and the girls can go, or you can send them alone, which
will be even better. You are as handsome as any of them. Mr Bingley might
like you best.'
'My dear, you flatter me. When a woman has five daughters she ought to
stop thinking of her own beauty. But you must go and see Mr Bingley when
'I cannot promise that.'
'But think of your daughters. Think of Jane and Elizabeth. Think of Mary,
Catherine and Lydia. Think what a fortune it would be for one of them. That
is why Sir William and Lady Lucas are going. You must go, for it will be
impossible for us to visit him if you do not.'
'I am sure Mr Bingley will be very glad to see you, and I will write to give
him my permission to marry one of the girls, though I must say a good word
for my little Lizzy.'
'I desire you will do no such thing. Lizzy is no better than the others. She
is not half as handsome as Jane nor half as good-ill-humoured as Lydia, but
you always prefer her.'
'They are all silly like other girls, but Lizzy is more intelligent than her
'Mr Bennet, how can you speak so of your own children? You have no
compassion on my poor nerves.'
'You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nervous. They
are my old friends. You have mentioned them with feeling for twenty years
'Ah! You do not know what I suffer.'
I hope you will get over it and see many rich young men come into the
'It will be no use since you will not visit them.'
'My dear, when there are twenty, I will visit them all.'
Mr Bennet was one of the first to visit Mr Bingley as he had always
planned. The surprise of his family when they heard was just what he had
Not all the questions that Mrs Bennet and her five daughters asked could
get a description of Mr Bingley from her husband. They had to hear the
news from their neighbour Lady Lucas. Her report was very favourable. He
was young, handsome, friendly, and best of all he was coming to the next
ball with a party of friends. Nothing could be better! To like dancing was a
certain step to falling in love.
'If one of my daughters settles at Netherfield,' said Mrs Bennet to her
husband, 'and the others are equally well married, I shall have no more to
A few days later Mr Bingley returned Mr Bennet's visit. He had hoped to
meet the young ladies, but he saw only Mr Bennet. An invitation to dinner
was sent, but an answer soon arrived that Mr Bingley had to go to town the
next day. He was to return for the ball with his two sisters, the husband of
the oldest, and another young man.
At the ball they discovered that Mr Bingley was a handsome gentleman
with a simple, friendly manner and his sisters were elegant women. Mr
Hurst, his brother-in-law, was just a gentleman, but his friend Mr Darcy was
a tall, handsome man with a noble appearance. A report soon went round
that he had a very large fortune. Everyone looked at him with great
admiration for half the evening until he disgusted them all with his proud,
unfriendly manners. Not all his large estate in Derbyshire could save him
then. He could not be compared with his friend.
Mr Bingley soon met most of the people in the room. He was lively and
unreserved, danced every dance, and talked about giving a ball at
Netherfield. Mr Darcy danced once with Mrs Hurst and once with Miss
Bingley, refused to meet other ladies and spoke only to his friends all
evening. He was the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world, and
everybody hoped he would never come back. Mrs Bennet was particularly
angry with him for offending one of her daughters.
Because there were few gentlemen, Elizabeth Bennet had been obliged to
sit down for two dances. She had overheard a conversation between Mr
Bingley and his friend.
''Come, Darcy,' said he, 'you must dance.'
''Certainly not. You know how much I despise it when I do not know my
partner. Your sisters are not free and you are dancing with the only
handsome girl here.' Mr Darcy looked at Jane Bennet.
'Jane is the most beautiful girl I ever saw, but one of her sisters is very
pretty. I can ask my partner to introduce you.'
'Which one?' Darcy turned around and looked at Elizabeth.
'She is tolerable, but not handsome enough for me.'
When Darcy walked off, Elizabeth told her friends the story. She had a
playful character and enjoyed anything ridiculous.
Later, when the sisters were alone, Jane told Elizabeth how much she liked
'He is just what a young man should be,' she said. 'Intelligent, agreeable,
lively. I never saw such a happy manner.'
'He is also handsome,' said Elizabeth, 'which a young man should be if he
'I was surprised that he asked me to dance twice. I did not expect such a
'I did for you. It was natural. You were five times as pretty as every other
woman in the room.'
'You know you like people in general too much. You never see a fault in
anyone. And so, do you like this man's sisters too?'
'They are friendly women when you speak to them. I think they will be
Elizabeth was not convinced. The Bingleys were from a good family. The
sisters were handsome and well educated, but proud and conceited. They
liked to think well of themselves and badly of others.