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Chapter 5

Within a short walk of Longbourn lived a family with whom
the Bennets were particularly intimate. Sir William Lucas had
been formerly in trade in Meryton, where he had made a
tolerable fortune, and risen to the honour of knighthood by an
address to the king during his mayoralty. The distinction had
perhaps been felt too strongly. It had given him a disgust to
his business, and to his residence in a small market town; and,
in quitting them both, he had removed with his family to a
house about a mile from Meryton, denominated from that
period Lucas Lodge, where he could think with pleasure of his
own importance, and, unshackled by business, occupy himself
solely in being civil to all the world. For, though elated by his
rank, it did not render him supercilious; on the contrary, he was
all attention to everybody. By nature inoffensive, friendly, and
obliging, his presentation at St. James's had made him
courteous.

Lady Lucas was a very good kind of woman, not too clever to
be a valuable neighbour to Mrs. Bennet. They had several
children. The eldest of them, a sensible, intelligent young
woman, about twenty-seven, was Elizabeth's intimate friend.

That the Miss Lucases and the Miss Bennets should meet to
talk over a ball was absolutely necessary; and the morning after
the assembly brought the former to Longbourn to hear and to
communicate. "YOU began the evening well, Charlotte," said
Mrs. Bennet with civil self-command to Miss Lucas. "YOU
were Mr. Bingley's first choice."

"Yes; but he seemed to like his second better."

"Oh! you mean Jane, I suppose, because he danced with her
twice. To be sure that DID seem as if he admired her-- indeed I
rather believe he DID-- I heard something about it-- but I
hardly know what-- something about Mr. Robinson."

"Perhaps you mean what I overheard between him and Mr.
Robinson; did not I mention it to you? Mr. Robinson's asking
him how he liked our Meryton assemblies, and whether he did
not think there were a great many pretty women in the room,
and WHICH he thought the prettiest? and his answering
immediately to the last question: 'Oh! the eldest Miss Bennet,
beyond a doubt; there cannot be two opinions on that point.' "

"Upon my word! Well, that is very decided indeed-- that does
seem as if-- but, however, it may all come to nothing, you
know."

"MY overhearings were more to the purpose than YOURS,
Eliza," said Charlotte. "Mr. Darcy is not so well worth
listening to as his friend, is he?-- poor Eliza!-- to be only just
TOLERABLE."

"I beg you would not put it into Lizzy's head to be vexed by
his ill-treatment, for he is such a disagreeable man, that it
would be quite a misfortune to be liked by him. Mrs. Long
told me last night that he sat close to her for half-an-hour
without once opening his lips."

"Are you quite sure, ma'am?-- is not there a little mistake?"
said Jane. "I certainly saw Mr. Darcy speaking to her."

"Aye-- because she asked him at last how he liked Netherfield,
and he could not help answering her; but she said he seemed
quite angry at being spoke to."

"Miss Bingley told me," said Jane, "that he never speaks much,
unless among his intimate acquaintances. With THEM he is
remarkably agreeable."

"I do not believe a word of it, my dear. If he had been so very
agreeable, he would have talked to Mrs. Long. But I can guess
how it was; everybody says that he is eat up with pride, and I
dare say he had heard somehow that Mrs. Long does not keep
a carriage, and had come to the ball in a hack chaise."

"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, if I were you."

"I believe, ma'am, I may safely promise you NEVER to dance
with him."

"His pride," said Miss Lucas, "does not offend ME so much as
pride often does, because there is an excuse for it. One cannot
wonder that so very fine a young man, with family, fortune,
everything in his favour, should think highly of himself. If I
may so express it, he has a RIGHT to be proud."

"That is very true," replied Elizabeth, "and I could easily
forgive HIS pride, if he had not mortified MINE."

"Pride," observed Mary, who piqued herself upon the solidity
of her reflections, "is a very common failing, I believe. By all
that I have ever read, I am convinced that it is very common
indeed; that human nature is particularly prone to it, and that
there are very few of us who do not cherish a feeling of
self-complacency on the score of some quality or other, real or
imaginary. Vanity a pride are different things, though the
words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud
without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of
ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us."

"If I were as rich as Mr. Darcy," cried a young Lucas, who
came with his sisters, "I should not care how proud I was. I
would keep a pack of foxhounds, and drink a bottle of wine a
day."

"Then you would drink a great deal more than you ought," said
Mrs. Bennet; "and if I were to see you at it, I should take away
your bottle directly."

The boy protested that she should not; she continued to declare
that she would, and the argument ended only with the visit.





Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Category:
General Fiction

Social life and customs - 19th century
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