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.
On the night of the Meryton assembly, you wait up for your wife and daughters, full of curiosity about an event which has raised such splendid expectations. You rather hope that all your wife's views on the stranger have been disappointed; but you soon find that you have a very different story to hear.
“Oh! my dear Mr. Bennet,” she shrieks as she enters the room, “we have had a most delightful evening, a most excellent ball. I wish you had been there. Jane was so admired, nothing could be like it. Every body said how well she looked; and Mr Bingley thought her quite beautiful, and danced with her twice. Only think of that, my dear; he actually danced with her twice; and she was the only creature in the room that he asked a second time. First of all, he asked Miss Lucas. I was so vexed to see him stand up with her; but, however, he did not admire her at all: indeed, nobody can, you know; and he seemed quite struck with Jane as she was going down the dance. So, he enquired who she was, and got introduced, and asked her for the two next. Then, the two third he danced with Miss King, and the two fourth with Maria Lucas, and the two fifth with Jane again, and the two sixth with Lizzy, and the Boulanger --”
You can stand it no longer. “If he had had any compassion for me, he would not have danced half so much! For God's sake, say no more of his partners. Oh! that he had sprained his ancle in the first dance!”
“Oh! my dear,” she continues, “I am quite delighted with him. He is so excessively handsome! and his sisters are charming women. I never in my life saw any thing more elegant than their dresses. I dare say the lace upon Mrs. Hurst's gown --”
There are very few four-letter words in the English language that fill you with dread, but one of them is “lace”. “Enough!” you protest. “I will not have that word uttered in my presence. Before we know it, we will have talk of silk and other finery, and I will be expected to estimate the cost of Miss Bingley’s feather headdress to within one halfpenny.”
Without pausing for breath, your dear wife embarks on another branch of the same subject. It appears that Mr Bingley - obviously a stupid man - brought a friend who was even richer and handsomer than himself. But wait! perhaps he deserves more credit than you have given him. It turns out that this friend, Mr Darcy of Darcyshire, has been shockingly rude - and to your darling Lizzy, no less.
Mrs Bennet continues, “But I can assure you that Lizzy does not lose much by not suiting his fancy; for he is a most disagreeable, horrid man, not at all worth pleasing. So high and so conceited that there was no enduring him! He walked here, and he walked there, fancying himself so very great! Not handsome enough to dance with! I wish you had been there, my dear, to have given him one of your set downs. I quite detest the man.”
In contrast, you quite admire the man. In a single evening he has achieved what you have been attempting for five and twenty years: to be left in peace by the local simpletons. But there is still the slight to Lizzy to consider ...
You decide to forbid your family to have any further dealings with Mr Darcy and therefore Mr Bingley OR you allow the acquaintance to continue.
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!