Chapter Two: A Violent Cold
Near Longbourn, the Bennets'house, there lived a family they were
particularly intimate with: Sir William, Lady Lucas and their children,
Charlotte and Maria. Charlotte, the eldest, an intelligent young woman of
about twenty-seven, was Elizabeth's friend. The morning after the ball the
'You began the evening well, Charlotte,' said Mrs Bennet. 'You were Mr
Bingley's first choice.'
'He liked his second better.'
' Oh! You mean Jane, because he danced with her twice?'
'When he was asked which woman he thought the prettiest he
immediately answered - Oh! The eldest Miss Bennet of course.'
'Well that was very decided, but you never know how things end.'
'I overheard better things than you, Eliza,' said Charlotte, 'Mr Darcy is less
gallant than his friend, Poor Eliza! - to be only tolerable.'
'He is a disagreeable man. Mrs Long told me last night that he sat near her
for half an hour without speaking once,' said Mrs Bennet. '
Miss Bingley told me that he never speaks much unless among friends,'
said Jane. 'With them he is quite agreeable.'
'I do not mind his not talking to Mrs Long,' said Miss Lucas, 'but I wish he
had danced with Eliza.'
'Another time, Lizzy,' said her mother, 'I would not dance with him.'
'I think I can promise you never to dance with him.'
'His pride,' said Miss Lucas, 'does not offend me so much, because there is
an excuse for it. It is natural that a fine young man with family, fortune,
everything in his favour will be proud.'
'That is very true,' said Elizabeth, 'and I could forgive his pride, if he had
not mortified mine.'
The ladies of Longbourn and Netherfield soon visited each other. Mrs
Hurst and Miss Bingley liked Jane's pleasing manners. They considered her
mother insupportable and the younger sisters uninteresting, but wished to
see the two oldest again. Jane was pleased to have this attention, but
Elizabeth could not like them. It was evident to all that Mr Bingley admired
Jane. To Elizabeth it was also evident that Jane was falling very much in
Elizabeth did not suspect that Mr Darcy was interested in her. At the ball
he had not admired her. He had criticised her to his friends, but later
discovered the beautiful expression of her dark eyes. He saw that her figure
was light and pleasing and her manners playful. He began to want to know
One evening, at a party held at his house, Sir William Lucas was speaking
to Darcy when he saw Elizabeth. Gallantly he said to her, 'My dear Miss
Eliza, why are you not dancing? - Mr Darcy, you must permit me to present
this young lady to you as a partner.' He took her hand to give to Mr Darcy
who looked surprised, but happy to take it, when she said to Sir William,
'Sir, I have no intention of dancing. Please do not believe that I came here
for a partner.'
Mr Darcy asked her to dance in vain. Elizabeth was determined. She left
and he was thinking about her when Miss Bingley spoke to him.
'I can tell the subject of your thoughts.'
'I imagine not.'
'You are thinking how insupportable it is to spend evenings in this manner
- in such a society, and I am of your opinion. The insipidity of all these
'You are wrong. My mind was more agreeably occupied. I was thinking of
the great pleasure a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can give.'
Miss Bingley immediately asked which lady he was speaking about.
'Miss Elizabeth Bennet.'
'Miss Elizabeth Bennet!' repeated Miss Bingley.
'I am surprised. How long has she been such a favourite? And when can
wish you joy?'
'I knew you would ask that. A lady's imagination is very rapid. It jumps
from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment. I knew you
would wish me joy.'
'You are so serious, I consider the matter certain. You will have a
charming mother-in-law. Of course she will live at Pemberley with you.'
Mr Bennet's property consisted of little more than his estate.
Unfortunately for his daughters, as there was no male heir, a distant relative
would get this when their father died. Mr Bennet was a gentleman, but he
had married an uneducated woman from a much simpler family. Mrs
Bennet's fortune was not very large either. Her father had been in business in
Meryton. She had a sister married to a Mr Philips who now worked in her
father's business, and a brother in London.
Longbourn was only one mile from Meryton. Three or four times a week
the young ladies went there to visit their aunt and go shopping. Catherine
and Lydia went most frequently. An army Regiment had recently arrived
for the winter and the girls were delighted. Mr Philips visited the officers
and soon the girls got to know them too. From then on, they could talk of
nothing but officers.
One morning they were doing so when a note came for Jane from Miss
Bingley, inviting her to Netherfield.
'Can I have the carriage?' said Jane.
'No, my dear. Take your horse. I think it will rain and then you must stay
all night,' her mother said.
Her hopes were answered. Soon after Jane left it began to rain hard. Her
mother was delighted. It rained all evening without stopping. Jane certainly
could not come back. After breakfast a servant from Netherfield brought a
note for Elizabeth. Jane wrote that she was not very well because she had got
wet in the rain, but that her friends had called the doctor to visit her.
'Well, my dear,' said Mr Bennet when Elizabeth read the note,
'if your daughter dies, it will be a comfort to know that it is all in pursuit of
Mr Bingley and under your orders.'
'Oh! People do not die of little colds. If she stays there it is all very well.'
Elizabeth was not satisfied and determined to go to her.
"The distance is nothing,' she said, 'only three miles. I shall be back by
When she arrived at Netherfield everybody but Jane was in the breakfast
parlour. They were very surprised to see her and to hear that she had
walked in the bad weather alone. Mrs Hurst and Miss Bingley clearly
disapproved, although they were polite. When Elizabeth heard that Jane was
still not well she went to her immediately. Jane was delighted, but could not
After breakfast the sisters came in. Elizabeth began to like them when she
saw how kind they were to Jane.
The doctor visited and said that Jane had caught a violent cold and must
stay in bed. Elizabeth did not leave her room for a moment, until at three
o'clock, she unwillingly said she had to go. Jane was so unhappy to see her
sister depart that Miss Bingley had to invite her to stay at Netherfield.
When Elizabeth came to dinner she had to answer Mr Bingley's questions
about Jane unfavourably. The sisters said three or four times how shocking it
was to have a bad cold and then thought no more about the matter. Only
their brother was clearly anxious about Jane.
When dinner was over Elizabeth returned to Jane. Miss Bingley began
abusing her as soon as she left the room. She said that her manners were a
mixture of pride and impertinence; she had no conversation, no style, no
beauty. Mrs Hurst agreed and added, ' I shall never forget her appearance
this morning. She looked almost wild.'
'I thought Miss Elizabeth Bennet looked very well when she came into the
room this morning,' said Bingley.
'To walk three or four miles in the dirt and alone, quite alone! It shows a
country town indifference to propriety.'
'It shows an affection for her sister that is very pleasing.'
'I am afraid, Mr Darcy,' said Miss Bingley very quietly, ' that after this you
have stopped admiring her fine eyes.'
'Not at all,' he answered, 'they were brilliant with exercise.'
'I like Miss Jane Bennet very much,' said Mrs Burst. 'She is a sweet girl
and I wish she were well married. But with such a father and mother, and
such low connections, I think there is no chance of it.'
Miss Bingley agreed with her and the sisters spent some time ridiculing
their friend's vulgar relations until Bingley said that their relatives did not
make the Bennet sisters less agreeable. '
But it must very greatly lessen their chances of marrying men of any
importance in the world,' answered Darcy.
The ladies went to sit with Jane until coffee. She was still not well and
Elizabeth would not leave her until she fell asleep. Late in the evening she
went down to say that Jane was worse. Although Bingley wanted to call the
doctor immediately, they decided to wait until the morning.