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Pride & Prejudice, Volume I, chapter 11

Jane is improving

Jane Bennet was able to join the party when the ladies withdrew to the parlor after dinner, leaving the men behind to drink port (almost certainly), smoke cheroots (possibly), and use the chamber pot (pretty much definitely - although it's never written about in period novels, it was apparently common practice for folks to use the privy or, in the case of men in the dining room, to use some sort of vessel for that purpose - again, The More You Know*).

Mr Darcy promptly greets Jane, politely congratulating her on her recovery. Mr Hurst grunts something at her, then takes a nap when he learns there are to be no cards played, and Bingley dances attendance on her for the rest of the evening. So much for Jane.

"How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book!"

That is one fabulous quote, Caroline - too bad you tire so quickly of reading! She spends a great deal of time trying to get Darcy to talk with her, then gives up and spends her time trying to get him to look at her as she walks about the room. Which is when she plays her trump card:

"Miss Eliza Bennet, let me persuade you to follow my example, and take a turn about the room. -- I assure you it is very refreshing after sitting so long in one attitude."

Elizabeth was surprised, but agreed to it immediately. Miss Bingley succeeded no less in the real object of her civility; Mr Darcy looked up. He was as much awake to the novelty of attention in that quarter as Elizabeth herself could be, and unconsciously closed his book. He was directly invited to join their party, but he declined it, observing that he could imagine but two motives for their chusing to walk up and down the room together, with either of which motives his joining them would interfere. "What could he mean? she was dying to know what could be his meaning" -- and asked Elizabeth whether she could at all understand him?

"Not at all," was her answer; "but depend upon it, he means to be severe on us, and our surest way of disappointing him will be to ask nothing about it."

Miss Bingley, however, was incapable of disappointing Mr Darcy in any thing, and persevered therefore in requiring an explanation of his two motives.

"I have not the smallest objection to explaining them," said he, as soon as she allowed him to speak. "You either chuse this method of passing the evening because you are in each other's confidence, and have secret affairs to discuss, or because you are conscious that your figures appear to the greatest advantage in walking; -- if the first, I should be completely in your way; -- and if the second, I can admire you much better as I sit by the fire."

Oh, Mr Darcy - a display of wit! How shocking! I love how he teases the womenfolk in this scene, and in the exchange which follows, Elizabeth matches his wit and it's all very flirtatious and adorable and Darcy is quite close to being entirely bewitched by Elizabeth and Caroline is miffed at being excluded from the tense little world that Darcy and Elizabeth has created, so she plays the piano.

Tomorrow: Chapter Twelve
Back to Chapter Ten

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( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 11th, 2011 10:31 pm (UTC)
One of my favorite scenes in the book (and the movies!) Poor Caroline. All her maneuvering for naught!
Jan. 11th, 2011 10:40 pm (UTC)
She's so conniving that it's no wonder Darcy isn't attracted to her!
Jan. 11th, 2011 10:32 pm (UTC)
'So she plays the piano'
I love that last line! :)
Jan. 11th, 2011 10:41 pm (UTC)
Re: 'So she plays the piano'
I am so very glad someone else finds me amusing! (I have a tendency to laugh at my own jokes . . . )
Jan. 11th, 2011 11:13 pm (UTC)
"or, in the case of men in the dining room, to use some sort of vessel for that purpose - again, The More You Know*)."

eek- does that mean what i think it means?!

and i'm in agreement with MLBrown on this scene- it's so fab. :)
Jan. 12th, 2011 12:26 am (UTC)
They peed into a pot/jug of some sort. Is that what you thought? Because that's what I meant.
Jan. 12th, 2011 12:32 am (UTC)
yes! good lord!
Jan. 12th, 2011 12:46 am (UTC)
And then it was some servant's job to carry it outside and dump it down the privy. Or chuck it out the window into the gutter. Depending on where you lived, etc.

There were cabinets for the women that look like a chest of drawers, but they swung open to reveal a seat with a pot underneath. Again, you could use that and rely on a servant to do the cleanup afterwards. I had the pleasure of seeing such a cabinet in St. Johns, New Brunswick. It still smelled funky, after quite a lot of years without use.
Jan. 12th, 2011 04:46 am (UTC)
Like, with each other in the room? A pee party?
Jan. 12th, 2011 05:55 pm (UTC)
Yes. Quite possibly while still at the table. So much for modesty.
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 14th, 2011 01:03 am (UTC)
It was AFTER dinner, silly. So you'd already have eaten.
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 14th, 2011 01:17 am (UTC)
Not really. They weren't going to the bathroom on the table. You forget that I had two babies, and changed diapers - sometimes in rather strange places, including in the middle of rooms or on furniture (such as a sofa or bed, for instance). So . . . not that big of a deal, really.
Jan. 12th, 2011 12:29 am (UTC)
Argh! I've been away for 3 days and have missed out on P&P fun, I took the book with me, but am still a chapter behind, will have to read and catch up on the posts : )
Jan. 12th, 2011 12:47 am (UTC)
Catch up when you can - the book is there and the posts are here, and all is well. Hope you had a happy time away!
Jan. 12th, 2011 10:50 pm (UTC)
Yay it's turn about the room time! I love this scene both written and in the '95 version (I haven't seen the 2005 version)I also adore this exchange in this chapter:
Lizzy: 'And your defect is a propensity to hate every body'
Darcy: 'And yours' he replied with a smile, 'is wilfully to misunderstand them'
Caroline: 'Do let us have a little music' LOL!
Jan. 12th, 2011 10:58 pm (UTC)
I forgot to say, the link to chapter ten doesn't work, it just reloads chapter eleven : /
Jan. 12th, 2011 11:18 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Fixed it!
Jan. 12th, 2011 11:17 pm (UTC)
It's actually done pretty well in the 2005 movie. I love Caroline Bingley in that production - she's snarky in a dry sort of way, and I really love Matthew MacFadyen. (I am not, however, so much a fan of some of the choices made by the director, including set design, costuming and what he left in/took out - he initially wanted to drop the Lydia/Wickham story line entirely (!) and he gives the Bennets a happy marrriage (!)).
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 14th, 2011 01:20 am (UTC)
I really wish I had a spouse with whom I could sit and read aloud. Or friends with whom to do so. It would be so much fun.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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