Pride and Prejudice > Chapter 12
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Pride and Prejudice
- by Jane Austen
In consequence of an agreement between the sisters, Elizabeth
wrote the next morning to their mother, to beg that the carriage
might be sent for them in the course of the day. But Mrs.
Bennet, who had calculated on her daughters remaining at
Netherfield till the following Tuesday, which would exactly
finish Jane's week, could not bring herself to receive them with
pleasure before. Her answer, therefore, was not propitious, at
least not to Elizabeth's wishes, for she was impatient to get
home. Mrs. Bennet sent them word that they could not possibly
have the carriage before Tuesday; and in her postscript it was
added, that if Mr. Bingley and his sister pressed them to stay
longer, she could spare them very well. Against staying longer,
however, Elizabeth was positively resolved — nor did she much
expect it would be asked; and fearful, on the contrary, as being
considered as intruding themselves needlessly long, she urged
Jane to borrow Mr. Bingley's carriage immediately, and at
length it was settled that their original design of leaving
Netherfield that morning should be mentioned, and the request
The communication excited many professions of concern; and
enough was said of wishing them to stay at least till the
following day to work on Jane; and till the morrow their going
was deferred. Miss Bingley was then sorry that she had
proposed the delay, for her jealousy and dislike of one sister
much exceeded her affection for the other.
The master of the house heard with real sorrow that they were
to go so soon, and repeatedly tried to persuade Miss Bennet that
it would not be safe for her — that she was not enough recovered;
but Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right.
To Mr. Darcy it was welcome intelligence — Elizabeth had been
at Netherfield long enough. She attracted him more than he
liked — and Miss Bingley was uncivil to her, and more teasing
than usual to himself. He wisely resolved to be particularly
careful that no sign of admiration should now escape him,
nothing that could elevate her with the hope of influencing his
felicity; sensible that if such an idea had been suggested,
his behaviour during the last day must have material weight in
confirming or crushing it. Steady to his purpose, he scarcely
spoke ten words to her through the whole of Saturday, and
though they were at one time left by themselves for half-an-hour,
he adhered most conscientiously to his book, and would not
even look at her.
On Sunday, after morning service, the separation, so agreeable
to almost all, took place. Miss Bingley's civility to Elizabeth
increased at last very rapidly, as well as her affection for Jane;
and when they parted, after assuring the latter of the pleasure
it would always give her to see her either at Longbourn or
Netherfield, and embracing her most tenderly, she even shook
hands with the former. Elizabeth took leave of the whole party
in the liveliest of spirits.
They were not welcomed home very cordially by their mother.
Mrs. Bennet wondered at their coming, and thought them very
wrong to give so much trouble, and was sure Jane would have
caught cold again. But their father, though very laconic in his
expressions of pleasure, was really glad to see them; he had felt
their importance in the family circle. The evening conversation,
when they were all assembled, had lost much of its animation,
and almost all its sense by the absence of Jane and Elizabeth.
They found Mary, as usual, deep in the study of thorough-bass
and human nature; and had some extracts to admire, and some
new observations of threadbare morality to listen to. Catherine
and Lydia had information for them of a different sort. Much
had been done and much had been said in the regiment since the
preceding Wednesday; several of the officers had dined lately
with their uncle, a private had been flogged, and it had actually
been hinted that Colonel Forster was going to be married.