You pretend to consider the matter, then give a deep sigh. “You presume too much, Mr Bingley. I withhold my consent. This is the third time in almost as many days that I have expected your offer – a man of more action and fewer scruples, such as Wickham, would have seduced the girl and come to me with a blackmail proposition. I fear that you, however, are both dilatory and honest. With a wife as sweet and gentle as Jane, you will be ruined by your servants. They will take advantage of your good natures at every turn, and your four thousand a year will soon dwindle to a mere two. I bid you good day, Sir, and beg you never to return – with or without your disagreeable friend.”

Mr Bingley is all astonishment, and obeys. Mrs Bennet shrieks the house down, while Jane consoles herself with a lifelong study of Fordyce’s Sermons.

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