Pride and Prejudice

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Chapter1

1 It is a truth universally ack nowledged, that a sing le man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. However lit tle known the fee lings or views of such a man may b e on his first entering a neighbourhood, thi s truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered the righ tful property of some one or other of their daughters. ?My dear M r. Bennet,? said his lady to him one day, ?have you h eard that Netherfield Park is let at last?? Mr. Bennet replied that he had not. ?But it is,? returned she; ? for Mrs. Long has just been here, and sh e told me all about it.? Mr. Bennet made no answer. ?Do you not want to know who has taken it?? cr ied his wife impatiently. ?YOU want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it.? This was inv itation enou gh. ?Why, my dear, you must know, Mrs. Long say s tha t Netherfield is taken by a young man of large fortune from the north of England; that he came down on Monday in a chaise and four to see th e place, and was so much 2 of 593 Pride and Prej udice delighted with it, that he agreed with Mr. Morris immediately; that he is to ta ke possessi on before Michaelma s, and some of his servants are to be in the house by the end of next week.? ?What is his name?? ?Bingley.? ?Is he marri ed or single?? ?Oh! Single, my dear, to be sure! A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girls!? ?How so? How can it affect them?? ?My dear M r. Bennet,? replie d his wife, ?how can you be so tiresome! You m ust know that I am thinking of his marrying one of them.? ?Is that his d esign in settling here?? ?Design! No nsense, how can you talk so! But it is very likely that he MAY fall in love with one of them, and therefore you must visit him as soon as he comes. ? ?I see no occasion for that. You and the girls may go, or you may send them by themselves, which perhaps will be still better, for as you are as handsome as any of them, Mr. Bingley may like you the best of the party.? ?My dear, you flatter me. I certainly HAVE had my share of be auty, but I do not pr etend to be anything 3 of 593 Pride and Prej udice extraordinary now. When a woman has five grown-up daughters, she ought to give over thinking of her own beauty.? ?In such cases, a woman has not often much beauty to think of.? ?But, my dear, you must indeed go a nd see Mr. Bingley when he comes into the neighbourhood.? ?It is more t han I engage for, I assure you.? ?But consider your da ughters. Only think what an establishment it would be for one of them. Sir William and Lady Lucas are determin ed to go, merely on that accou nt, fo r in general, you know, they visit no newcomers. Indeed you must go, for it will be impossible for US to visit him if you do not.? ?You are over-scrupulous, surely. I dare say Mr. Bingley will be very gla d to see you; and I will send a few lines by you to assure him of my hearty consent to hi s marrying whichever he chooses of the girls; though I must throw in a g ood word for my little Li zzy.? ?I desire yo u will do no such thing. Lizzy is not a bit better than the others; and I am sure she is not half so handsome as Jane, nor half so good-humoured as Lydia. But you are always giving HER the preference.? 4 of 593 Pride and Prej udice ?They have none of the m mu ch to recommend them,? replied he; ?they are all silly and ignorant like other girls ; but Lizzy has somethi ng more of quickness than her sisters.? ?Mr. Bennet, how CAN you abuse your own children in such a way? You take de light in vexing me. You have no compassi on for my poor nerves.? ?You mistak e me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerv es. They are my o ld friends. I have heard you mention the m with con sideration these last twenty years at least.? Mr. Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserv e, and ca price, that the experience of three-and -twenty years had been insuffi cient to make his wife un derstand his character. HER mind was less difficult to develop. Sh e was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertai n temper. When she was discontented, sh e fancied herself nervous. The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its sola ce was visiting an d news. 5 of 593 Pride and Prej udice
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