Skep's Place

 

Chapter 3: Much Ado From Darcy


The Bennet ladies get more and more hyped for Mr. Bingley over the coming days; first, a family friend provides a very favorable description of the man, and then later, he even stops by to visit with Mr. Bennet for a few minutes, during which time he is eagerly invited over for dinner.

However, it turns out that Mr. Bingley has to decline the invitation, as he will be into town on that particular day. Turning down an invitation to go gallivanting about so soon after arriving is worrisome enough, but then rumor gets around that he's actually picking up a huge entourage for the upcoming ball, including a dozen other women!

When he actually arrives at the party, though, this entourage is quite small. With Mr. Bingley are his two sisters, along with the husband of the older sister, Mr. Hurst—who fits a trope I've seen among a couple of Austen's novels, wherein a husband exists but has no personality and contributes absolutely nothing to the plot. I can only assume these men exist solely to prevent multiple ladies in a scene from all being addressed by the same last name.

Also accompanying Mr. Bingley is a close friend, whose presence and demeanor quickly captures everybody's attention. His name is Mr. Darcy.

Within five minutes, everybody at the party has learned that Mr. Darcy is twice as rich as Mr. Bingley. However, they learn nearly as quickly that he's a very unpleasant man. Where Mr. Bingley is upbeat, sociable, and fun, Mr. Darcy spends the night looking dour, not making conversation with anybody outside of the entourage, and only dancing twice, with Mr. Bingley's sisters, despite there not being enough men at the party for all the women in attendance to dance with.

a picture of Mr. Darcy

Mr. Darcy

At once point, the lack of males forces Elizabeth to sit out of a dance, during which she overhears Mr. Bingley pleading with Mr. Darcy to, you know, maybe have some fun, since it's a great party and all, and all the girls are very pretty. Mr. Darcy remarks, that's a lie; the only looker here is Jane Bennet, and Mr. Bingley has been dancing with her all evening. Still, Mr Bingley suggests that Elizabeth is also an attractive Bennet, and she could use a partner, after all. After his eyes catch Elizabeth's, Mr. Darcy replies, eh, I could hit that if I had to, but fortunately I don't have to; and anyway, it's not my problem if nobody wants to dance with her.

Although this is all quite an insult to Elizabeth's person, she just laughs off this idiot, joking with her friends later about how ridiculous he is for calling her "passable" when she's going to be portrayed by Keira Knightly one day.

Despite this, the Bennets do well overall. Jane, of course, was the only woman Mr. Bingley danced with twice; the youngest girls, Kitty and Lydia, had dancing partners all night; and the last daughter, Mary, is even paid a compliment at one point. Which doesn't sound like a lot, but it's a great outcome for Mary, who perpetually suffers from middle-child syndrome.

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