Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pride & Prejudice, Volume I, chapter 11

Jane is improving

Jane Bennet was able to join the party when the ladies withdrew to the parlor after dinner, leaving the men behind to drink port (almost certainly), smoke cheroots (possibly), and use the chamber pot (pretty much definitely - although it's never written about in period novels, it was apparently common practice for folks to use the privy or, in the case of men in the dining room, to use some sort of vessel for that purpose - again, The More You Know*).

Mr Darcy promptly greets Jane, politely congratulating her on her recovery. Mr Hurst grunts something at her, then takes a nap when he learns there are to be no cards played, and Bingley dances attendance on her for the rest of the evening. So much for Jane.

"How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book!"

That is one fabulous quote, Caroline - too bad you tire so quickly of reading! She spends a great deal of time trying to get Darcy to talk with her, then gives up and spends her time trying to get him to look at her as she walks about the room. Which is when she plays her trump card:

"Miss Eliza Bennet, let me persuade you to follow my example, and take a turn about the room. -- I assure you it is very refreshing after sitting so long in one attitude."

Elizabeth was surprised, but agreed to it immediately. Miss Bingley succeeded no less in the real object of her civility; Mr Darcy looked up. He was as much awake to the novelty of attention in that quarter as Elizabeth herself could be, and unconsciously closed his book. He was directly invited to join their party, but he declined it, observing that he could imagine but two motives for their chusing to walk up and down the room together, with either of which motives his joining them would interfere. "What could he mean? she was dying to know what could be his meaning" -- and asked Elizabeth whether she could at all understand him?

"Not at all," was her answer; "but depend upon it, he means to be severe on us, and our surest way of disappointing him will be to ask nothing about it."

Miss Bingley, however, was incapable of disappointing Mr Darcy in any thing, and persevered therefore in requiring an explanation of his two motives.

"I have not the smallest objection to explaining them," said he, as soon as she allowed him to speak. "You either chuse this method of passing the evening because you are in each other's confidence, and have secret affairs to discuss, or because you are conscious that your figures appear to the greatest advantage in walking; -- if the first, I should be completely in your way; -- and if the second, I can admire you much better as I sit by the fire."
Oh, Mr Darcy - a display of wit! How shocking! I love how he teases the womenfolk in this scene, and in the exchange which follows, Elizabeth matches his wit and it's all very flirtatious and adorable and Darcy is quite close to being entirely bewitched by Elizabeth and Caroline is miffed at being excluded from the tense little world that Darcy and Elizabeth has created, so she plays the piano.

Tomorrow: Chapter Twelve
Back to Chapter Ten

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