Skep's Place

 

Chapter 6: A Hint of Ado About Eyes


The Bennet sisters and the Bingley sisters take turns having playdates at each other's houses. In the moments that Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley get to hang out, it's clear that they're pretty into each other. At least, it's clear to Elizabeth; Jane is generally cheerful but subtle with her emotions—which Elizabeth uses as a boasting point, because Jane isn't acting like a lovestruck little girl.

Elizabeth talks with her friend Charlotte Lucas about this; but Charlotte warns that Jane might not be giving off enough signals (because men are dense as rocks). She says that Jane needs to put the moves on Bingley now and lock the marriage down, telling Elizabeth, look, they'll have plenty of time to get to know each other after the wedding. In Charlotte's mind, whether or not a marriage is happy comes down to a coin flip anyway, so there's no point in dating for a while; just take the opportunity while you have it.

Meanwhile, Austen tells us that the reproachable Mr. Darcy is inwardly coming around on his dislike for Elizabeth Bennet. Mostly for the same reasons she's Mr. Bennet's favorite: she's clever, and she's got some chill. Rather than talk to her directly, though, he starts creeping on the conversations she has with other people.

Elizabeth notices this at a party, unsure what his game is; but she figures, if one of us is going to behave improperly toward the other, I'd rather it be me who does it, because I'm afraid of what will happen if it's him.

Charlotte tells her to put up or shut up; and when Mr. Darcy comes awkwardly hanging around again, Elizabeth playfully asks him, hey, did you like how I teased the local colonel into throwing a ball?

Mr. Darcy says, you were very enthusiastic, but I guess all girls are when it comes to balls.

Charlotte interjects, saying it's her turn to tease Elizabeth now; she's going to make Elizabeth play the piano for everyone. Elizabeth isn't enthused, insisting that she's not very skilled; but since she can't get out of it, she tells Mr. Darcy that she's going to save her breath for singing rather than talking with him.

Elizabeth plays a couple songs before passing the piano over to Middle-Child Mary, who is more skilled but somehow less enjoyable to listen to. However, Mary is in unusually good form this evening, and a few folks at the party begin an impromptu dance.

Mr. Darcy finds himself standing next to Mr. Lucas, who tries to make conversation by remarking that dancing is a fancy, high-society amusement. To this, Mr. Darcy replies, sure, but also all savages enjoy dancing in some form, and of course by "savages" I mean "poor people".

Seeing Elizabeth walking by, Mr. Lucas grabs her hand and says, here, you ought to dance with Mr. Darcy! Darcy doesn't object, but Elizabeth verbally swats his hand away, claiming that she's not in the mood for dancing. She eventually walks away after Mr. Lucas gets a little too weird about how happy it would make him to see her dance.

Mr. Darcy is lost in thought as Elizabeth walks off, which doesn't escape the notice of the younger Bingley sister. She asks Mr. Darcy, hey, whatcha thinking about? I bet you're thinking about how we have to keep being subjected to all these awful country parties.

But Mr. Darcy says, shut up, I'm actually fine; just got a bit distracted by a lady's eyes is all. When she presses the matter, Miss Bingley is pretty amused to hear that this lady is Elizabeth, and asks when they're getting married. Mr. Darcy says, see, I knew that was the first thing you would ask, you women always jump to conclusions.

Finding this quite funny, Miss Bingley jabs at him a bit, suggesting that if he's that serious about it, that means it's true. She also jokes that she's sure he'll enjoy it when Elizabeth's mother eventually moves in to his place.

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