Chapter Ten, Part 2
Originally published 3/25/2006.
When that business was over, he applied to Miss Bingley and Elizabeth for an indulgence of some music. Miss Bingley moved with some alacrity to the pianoforte; and, after a polite request that Elizabeth would lead the way which the other as politely and more earnestly negatived, she seated herself.
The "he" here is Darcy. I can just see this scene in my mind: the interplay between Lizzy and Miss Bingley. Lizzy, of course, doesn't want loads of these snobs downplaying her performance, so she really declines to play. This might be an over-reaction on her part; generally I would consider it better manners to go ahead and play.
Mrs. Hurst sang with her sister, and while they were thus employed, Elizabeth could not help observing, as she turned over some music-books that lay on the instrument, how frequently Mr. Darcy's eyes were fixed on her. She hardly knew how to suppose that she could be an object of admiration to so great a man;...
A bit naive, and also perhaps a touch of false modesty. If Lizzy is pretty, and we know she is, then it would more behoove her to assume that the gentlemen will look at her. It puts her in a much better position to be modest, than if she did otherwise.
...and yet that he should look at her because he disliked her, was still more strange. She could only imagine, however, at last that she drew his notice because there was something more wrong and reprehensible, according to his ideas of right, than in any other person present. The supposition did not pain her. She liked him too little to care for his approbation.
Quite the logical conclusion, considering that she is assuming because she doesn't like him, he won't like her. O, how wrong that is so frequently!
After playing some Italian songs, Miss Bingley varied the charm by a lively Scotch air; and soon afterwards Mr. Darcy, drawing near Elizabeth, said to her:
"Do not you feel a great inclination, Miss Bennet, to seize such an opportunity of dancing a reel?"
This is the ultimate compliment, coming from him. We know he doesn't like to dance, and refused her before. However, he should have accepted her the first time. It's too late now.
She smiled, but made no answer. He repeated the question, with some surprise at her silence.
"Oh!" said she, "I heard you before, but I could not immediately determine what to say in reply. You wanted me, I know, to say 'Yes,' that you might have the pleasure of despising my taste; but I always delight in overthrowing those kind of schemes, and cheating a person of their meditated contempt. I have, therefore, made up my mind to tell you, that I do not want to dance a reel at all-- and now despise me if you dare."
She is being rather unreasonable here. She is impugning motives to Darcy, something which in my opinion should almost never be done. You might be inclined, on a first reading, to think that there is a good bit of sauciness and maybe even a little spite in Lizzy's tone of voice. However, the paragraph after next contradicts that notion.
"Indeed I do not dare."
This is Darcy saying something really grand, finally. He says exactly the right thing. Bravo, at last.
Elizabeth, having rather expected to affront him, was amazed at his gallantry; but there was a mixture of sweetness and archness in her manner which made it difficult for her to affront anybody; and Darcy had never been so bewitched by any woman as he was by her. He really believed, that were it not for the inferiority of her connections, he should be in some danger.
And yet he is still the snob.
Miss Bingley saw, or suspected enough to be jealous; and her great anxiety for the recovery of her dear friend Jane received some assistance from her desire of getting rid of Elizabeth.
Typical behavior of insecure people.
She often tried to provoke Darcy into disliking her guest, by talking of their supposed marriage, and planning his happiness in such an alliance.
"I hope," said she, as they were walking together in the shrubbery the next day, "you will give your mother-in-law a few hints, when this desirable event takes place, as to the advantage of holding her tongue; and if you can compass it, do cure the younger girls of running after officers. And, if I may mention so delicate a subject, endeavour to check that little something, bordering on conceit and impertinence, which your lady possesses."
"Have you anything else to propose for my domestic felicity?"
I love this one; Darcy's sarcasm is completely lost on poor Miss Bingley, as she just plows on:
"Oh! yes. Do let the portraits of your uncle and aunt Phillips get placed in the gallery at Pemberley. Put them next to your great-uncle the judge. They are in the same profession, you know, only in different lines. As for your Elizabeth's picture, you must not have it taken, for what painter could do justice to those beautiful eyes?"
This sort of teasing we all know, I think. But in this case, I think it's pretty safe to say that Miss Bingley is putting rather a bit more into this than normal. I think spite is definitely present.
"It would not be easy, indeed, to catch their expression, but their colour and shape, and the eyelashes, so remarkably fine, might be copied."
I had to laugh at this one. Such a comment would surely not be considered very romantic in this modern day and age. Darcy, though, is being very truthful and exact. I think in the long run, Darcy's attitude is more romantic. "Love rejoices with the truth."
At that moment they were met from another walk by Mrs. Hurst and Elizabeth herself.
"I did not know that you intended to walk," said Miss Bingley, in some confusion, lest they had been overheard.
Well, it's your fault, Miss Bingley. If you don't want to run the risk of someone overhearing something they shouldn't, then maybe you shouldn't say it in the first place!
"You used us abominably ill, "answered Mrs. Hurst, "running away without telling us that you were coming out."
Then taking the disengaged arm of Mr. Darcy, she left Elizabeth to walk by herself. The path just admitted three. Mr. Darcy felt their rudeness, and immediately said:
"This walk is not wide enough for our party. We had better go into the avenue."
Another shining moment for Darcy. Alas, his desire to be polite to Lizzy because he admires her is not allowed to rest its effort on the intended recipient, as Lizzy skips out.
But Elizabeth, who had not the least inclination to remain with them, laughingly answered:
"No, no; stay where you are. You are charmingly grouped, and appear to uncommon advantage. The picturesque would be spoilt by admitting a fourth. Good-bye."
She then ran gaily off, rejoicing, as she rambled about, in the hope of being at home again in a day or two. Jane was already so much recovered as to intend leaving her room for a couple of hours that evening.
And so this chapter ends. A rather interesting chapter, I think.