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Barron's Booknotes-Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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CHAPTER FIFTY-THREE

News comes that Bingley is returning to Netherfield. Mrs. Bennet rattles on about it, protesting that of course it is nothing to her and yet insisting on talking about nothing else. Jane is clearly uneasy, but she tells Elizabeth she no longer has any interest in Bingley.

Bingley arrives at Netherfield. Very soon afterwards, he comes to call on the Bennets, and Darcy is with him. Elizabeth struggles to stay calm when she first sees him. He asks about the Gardiners, then is silent.

Mrs. Bennet chatters on about Lydia's marriage to Wickham, and Elizabeth is overcome with embarrassment, knowing what she does of Darcy's role in Lydia's rescue. She wishes at that moment that she never had to see him again, never had to live through another such scene. In the next moment she forgets her own misery, though-seeing how warmly attentive Bingley is to Jane. Mrs. Bennet invites both men to dinner, and they accept.

It is clear to Elizabeth that Darcy has changed his mind about Bingley's courtship of Jane. But what of Darcy, and his interest in Elizabeth? If he still cares for her, why his silence? Has Darcy come calling merely to make certain of his friend's happiness? Or has he come on his own account, to see her?



CHAPTER FIFTY-FOUR

Elizabeth is annoyed at Darcy's silence, but amused at Jane's insistence that she and Bingley are now no more than acquaintances.

The two gentlemen arrive for dinner. They are part of a large party. Bingley "happens" to sit next to Jane, but Darcy is seated beside Mrs. Bennet. Elizabeth trembles at her thoughts of their conversation. It seems to her that everything that went wrong before is going wrong again.

She hopes that after dinner Darcy will come over to her. She is pouring the coffee, and he approaches, but as he does a little girl comes up to Elizabeth and whispers to her; Darcy turns away. In the next moment Mrs. Bennet captures him again, and Elizabeth's evening comes to nothing. But Jane, still professing friendly calm toward Bingley, is glowing with happiness.

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Barron's Booknotes-Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
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