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On reaching the house, they were shown 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 chestnuts which were scattered over the intermediate lawn.
In this house they were
received by Miss
Darcy, who was sitting there with Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley, and the lady
with whom she lived in
By Mrs. Hurst and Miss
Bingley they were
noticed only by a curtsey; and, on their being seated, a pause, awkward
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
discourse proved her to be more truly well-bred than either of the
between her and Mrs. Gardiner, with occasional help from
The next variation which their visit afforded was produced by the entrance of the 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,
He had been some time
with Mr. Gardiner,
who, with two or three other gentlemen from the house, was engaged by
river, and had left him only on learning that the ladies of the family
a visit to Georgiana that morning.
sooner did he appear than Elizabeth wisely resolved to be perfectly
unembarrassed; a resolution the more necessary to be made, but perhaps
more easily kept, because she saw that the suspicions of the whole
awakened against them, and that there was scarcely an eye which did not
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
to one of its objects; for jealousy had not yet made her desperate, and
attentions to Mr. Darcy were by no means over.
Miss Darcy, on her brother's entrance, exerted
herself much more to
"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
mention Wickham's name; but
however, soon quieted his emotion; and as Miss Bingley, vexed and
dared not approach nearer to Wickham, Georgiana also recovered in time,
not enough to be able to speak any more. Her brother, whose eye she
meet, scarcely recollected her interest in the affair, and the very
circumstance which had been designed to turn his thoughts from
Their visit did not
continue long after
the question and answer above mentioned; and while Mr. Darcy was
to their carriage Miss Bingley was venting her feelings in criticisms
"How very ill Miss Eliza Bennet looks this morning, Mr. Darcy," she cried; "I never in my life saw anyone 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 could never see anything 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
"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 saw 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 look and behaviour of everybody 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 everything 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.