Ever wondered what it would be like to become Mr Bennet, if only for a moment? Read on, imagining yourself as Mr Bennet; then, based on your knowledge of Pride & Prejudice, decide what you will do at the end of this chapter.
The evening following your secret visit to Netherfield Park, you notice your second daughter trimming a hat. "I hope Mr Bingley will like it, Lizzy," you say, mischievously.
A shriek of resentment from Mrs Bennet. "We are not in a way to know what Mr. Bingley likes, since we are not to visit."
"But you forget, mama," Lizzy says calmly, "that we shall meet him at the assemblies, and that Mrs Long has promised to introduce him."
"I do not believe Mrs Long will do any such thing. She has two nieces of her own. She is a selfish, hypocritical woman, and I have no opinion of her."
"No more have I," you observe; "and I am glad to find that you do not depend on her serving you."
Mrs Bennet does not reply to this; but, unable to contain herself, begins scolding one of her daughters. "Don't keep coughing so, Kitty, for heaven's sake! Have a little compassion on my nerves. You tear them to pieces."
The Poor Nerves again - unbelievably fragile at home, yet mysteriously robust in the company of the Meryton gossips. "Kitty has no discretion in her coughs," you say; "she times them ill."
"I do not cough for my own amusement," Kitty says fretfully.
Another in the family who would not recognise sarcastic wit if it came up and kicked her! You change the subject. "When is your next ball to be, Lizzy?"
"Aye, so it is," her mother remarks bitterly, "and Mrs Long does not come back till the day before; so it will be impossible for her to introduce him, for she will not know him herself."
I deliver my coup de grâce. "Then, my dear, you may have the advantage of your friend, and introduce Mr Bingley to her."
"Impossible, Mr Bennet, impossible, when I am not acquainted with him myself; how can you be so teazing?"
The woman is a dimwit. "I honour your circumspection. A fortnight's acquaintance is certainly very little. One cannot know what a man really is by the end of a fortnight. But if we do not venture, somebody else will; and after all, Mrs Long and her nieces must stand their chance; and therefore, as she will think it an act of kindness, if you decline the office, I will take it on myself."
The girls stare at you while Mrs Bennet shrieks, "Nonsense, nonsense!"
"What can be the meaning of that emphatic exclamation?" you cry. "Do you consider the forms of introduction, and the stress that is laid on them, as nonsense? I cannot quite agree with you there. What say you, Mary? for you are a young lady of deep reflection I know, and read great books, and make extracts."
Mary is silent, as though she wishes to say something very sensible, but knows not how.
"While Mary is adjusting her ideas," you continue, "let us return to Mr Bingley."
"I am sick of Mr Bingley," your wife shrieks.
Which would Mr Bennet choose? Click on the link above and see if you're right, and come back next week for the next chapter!