Skep's Place


Chapter 7: No Ado, Only Breakfast

Starting out the chapter, Austen finally clues us in to the reason why Mrs. Bennet might be so eager to see her daughters married off: their estate doesn't bring in enough money to put anything aside for them to live comfortably on their own. On top of that, the contract for the estate itself stipulates it can only be passed to a male heir.

Of course, Mr. Bennet doesn't have a son, and he's no spring chicken. If something happened to him, the courts would give the estate to some random relation, who would be under no obligation to provide for the women. Better to marry a man with money, then, because who knows what the alternative might be.

The youngest Bennet daughters, Kitty and Lydia, return from their thrice-weekly trip to town with some hot goss: a military regiment will be stationed in town all winter. What's more, their uncle has been making introductions to all the officers—giving the girls an in on potential marriage material. Of course, there's always the appeal of a man in uniform; but an officer's salary is nothing to sneeze at, either.

Mr. Bennet says he's now finally convinced that Kitty and Lydia are idiots.

As Mr. and Mrs. Bennet have a disagreement over his perceived foolishness of their daughters, a note arrives for Jane, from Miss Bingley, inviting her over to Netherfield for dinner. However, it will just be Jane and the sisters; Mr. Bingley and his male entourage will be out dining with the officers.

Jane asks to borrow the carriage, but Mrs. Bennet refuses, saying, it looks like it's going to rain soon. You'd better go on horseback so that you'll be forced to stay over, wink wink.

a picture of Jane Bennet

Jane Bennet

This scheme works a little too well, because the rain hits a bit sooner than expected. The next morning, the Bennets receive a note from Jane saying she's caught a cold, and the Bingleys are insisting that she stay at Netherfield until she's recovered.

Mr. Bennet quips that it's a comfort to have to face his daughter's mortality in her quest for Mr. Bingley.

Elizabeth is determined to go visit Jane, but the carriage is unavailable, and she doesn't ride, so her only choice is to walk. It's a three-mile trek, and fresh with mud from the previous day's rain, but she can't be talked out of it.

She's flushed and dirty by the time she arrives at Netherfield; if the Bingley sisters have any derision to her showing up in this manner, they don't show it. Mr. Bingley, of course, is impressed and inviting as always. Meanwhile:

Mr. Darcy said very little, and Mr. Hurst nothing at all. The former was divided between admiration of the brilliancy which exercise had given to her complexion and doubt as to the occasion’s justifying her coming so far alone. The latter was thinking only of his breakfast.

I told you Mr. Hurst was basically a filler character.

Elizabeth begins to warm to the Bingley sisters after seeing how much they actually seem to care for Jane. This is especially true after Jane pleads for Elizabeth not to leave, and Miss Bingley arranges for Elizabeth to stay at Netherfield as well.

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