Mr. Bennet was among the earliest of those who waited on Mr. Bingley. He ha_lways intended to visit him, though to the last always assuring his wife tha_e should not go; and till the evening after the visit was paid she had n_nowledge of it. It was then disclosed in the following manner. Observing hi_econd daughter employed in trimming a hat, he suddenly addressed her with:
"I hope Mr. Bingley will like it, Lizzy."
"We are not in a way to know _what_ Mr. Bingley likes," said her mothe_esentfully, "since we are not to visit."
"But you forget, mamma," said Elizabeth, "that we shall meet him at th_ssemblies, and that Mrs. Long promised to introduce him."
"I do not believe Mrs. Long will do any such thing. She has two nieces of he_wn. She is a selfish, hypocritical woman, and I have no opinion of her."
"No more have I," said Mr. Bennet; "and I am glad to find that you do no_epend on her serving you."
Mrs. Bennet deigned not to make any reply, but, unable to contain herself,
began scolding one of her daughters.
"Don't keep coughing so, Kitty, for Heaven's sake! Have a little compassion o_y nerves. You tear them to pieces."
"Kitty has no discretion in her coughs," said her father; "she times the_ll."
"I do not cough for my own amusement," replied Kitty fretfully. "When is you_ext ball to be, Lizzy?"
"Aye, so it is," cried her mother, "and Mrs. Long does not come back till th_ay before; so it will be impossible for her to introduce him, for she wil_ot know him herself."
"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 teasing?"
"I honour your circumspection. A fortnight's acquaintance is certainly ver_ittle. One cannot know what a man really is by the end of a fortnight. But i_we_ do not venture somebody else will; and after all, Mrs. Long and he_aughters must stand their chance; and, therefore, as she will think it an ac_f kindness, if you decline the office, I will take it on myself."
The girls stared at their father. Mrs. Bennet said only, "Nonsense, nonsense!"
"What can be the meaning of that emphatic exclamation?" cried he. "Do yo_onsider the forms of introduction, and the stress that is laid on them, a_onsense? I cannot quite agree with you _there_. What say you, Mary? For yo_re a young lady of deep reflection, I know, and read great books and mak_xtracts."
Mary wished to say something sensible, but knew not how.
"While Mary is adjusting her ideas," he continued, "let us return to Mr.
"I am sick of Mr. Bingley," cried his wife.
"I am sorry to hear _that_ ; but why did not you tell me that before? If _ad known as much this morning I certainly would not have called on him. It i_ery unlucky; but as I have actually paid the visit, we cannot escape th_cquaintance now."
The astonishment of the ladies was just what he wished; that of Mrs. Benne_erhaps surpassing the rest; though, when the first tumult of joy was over,
she began to declare that it was what she had expected all the while.
"How good it was in you, my dear Mr. Bennet! But I knew I should persuade yo_t last. I was sure you loved your girls too well to neglect such a_cquaintance. Well, how pleased I am! and it is such a good joke, too, tha_ou should have gone this morning and never said a word about it till now."
"Now, Kitty, you may cough as much as you choose," said Mr. Bennet; and, as h_poke, he left the room, fatigued with the raptures of his wife.
"What an excellent father you have, girls!" said she, when the door was shut.
"I do not know how you will ever make him amends for his kindness; or me,
either, for that matter. At our time of life it is not so pleasant, I can tel_ou, to be making new acquaintances every day; but for your sakes, we would d_nything. Lydia, my love, though you _are_ the youngest, I dare say Mr.
Bingley will dance with you at the next ball."
"Oh!" said Lydia stoutly, "I am not afraid; for though I _am_ the youngest,
I'm the tallest."
The rest of the evening was spent in conjecturing how soon he would return Mr.
Bennet's visit, and determining when they should ask him to dinner.