Skep's Place


Chapter 10: Much Ado Over Penmanship

The Netherfield party, still minus Jane, is passing the evening absorbed in various activities. While Elizabeth knits, she finds great amusement in watching Miss Bingley and Mr. Darcy; the latter is attempting to write a letter, while the former interrupts every few moments in what is clearly a desperate plea for attention. Mr Darcy only gives her the barest amount possible.

Eventually, Miss Bingley remarks on the length of Mr. Darcy's letter, and supposes that anybody who can write that much that easily can surely only be saying nice things. Mr. Bingley interjects, assuring his sister that, actually, Darcy's writing doesn't come easily, because he spends so much time learning unnecessarily big words.

Miss Bingley assures Mr. Darcy that her brother's style of writing is far less appealing, equating it to rushed chicken scratch. Mr. Bingley claims that he thinks so quickly that he barely has time to get his ideas to paper.

Elizabeth remarks that it is very humble of Mr. Bingley to admit his shortcomings; but Mr. Darcy calls him out, saying Mr. Bingley was clearly just boasting about how quickly he does things, which is something people only boast about when they don't care about the quality of their output. He goes on to reference the conversation with Mrs. Bennet from last chapter, about how Mr. Bingley would leave Netherfield in a heartbeat if he made up his mind to do so, noting that there's no benefit to acting so quickly and risking your affairs not being squared away.

Mr. Bingley wonders how he's supposed to remember every little thing he said that morning, and pouting a little, adds that at the very least he believed what he said, and wasn't just trying to show off for the ladies. Mr. Darcy doesn't fight him on this, but points out that Mr. Bingley would basically do whatever any friend told him to do, saying that if he was getting on his horse to leave Netherfield, and a friend came up right then and told him not to go, he wouldn't.

Elizabeth remarks that Mr. Darcy just spoke more highly of Mr. Bingley's character than Bingley did; but Mr. Bingley tells her, nope, I guarantee he's not complimenting me. Darcy says, of course I'm not; you'd put all of your plans on hold just because a friend asked you to, without him making any sort of case for why you should do it? Where's the sense in that?

This continues a short while until Mr. Bingley finally gives up the argument, and Mr. Darcy goes back to writing his letters.

Eventually, Mr. Darcy asks Miss Bingley and Elizabeth for some music, and they take turns on the piano. Elizabeth is confused when she notices Mr. Darcy staring and her, and eventually decides it must be because he finds something about her particularly repugnant; although since she doesn't like him, she doesn't very much care.

Miss Bingley switches to a lively Scottish song, prompting Mr. Darcy to cross the room and ask Elizabeth if it makes her feel like dancing. After some thought, Elizabeth slyly guesses that he wants her to say "yes" so that he can make fun of her taste in music; so instead, she's going to say "no", har har, haven't I frustrated you nicely, Mr. Darcy? But Darcy claims not to be frustrated at this; and Elizabeth, thinking him and Miss Bingley to be absolutely ridiculous, actively avoids their company the next morning.

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