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Elizabeth is worried about Jane and sends word to her mother to come and judge for herself how sick Jane is. Mrs. Bennet finds Jane in no danger, but sees no reason to end the visit before her plan to hook Bingley has run its course. She declares that Jane is still too ill to risk the journey home. Bingley agrees: Jane must not take chances, she must stay. Mrs. Bennet and her two youngest daughters stay only a short while, but it is long enough for Elizabeth to be embarrassed by her mother's crude and tactless remarks. Lydia adds to Elizabeth's embarrassment by boldly demanding a promise from Bingley that he will give a ball at Netherfield as soon as Jane is better.
NOTE: Elizabeth can't avoid the realization that her mother and Lydia are social handicaps to both herself and Jane. Mrs. Bennet is too dim-witted to understand Darcy's most casual remark, too self-important to keep from making idiotic answers, and without the social grace to hide her dislike of him. This scene, comic to us as readers, is painful to Elizabeth. She wishes herself a thousand miles away; this is obviously the kind of embarrassment she is doomed to suffer often.
In the Netherfield drawing room, Elizabeth bends over her needlework, quietly amused by Caroline Bingley's attentions to Darcy, who is writing a letter to his young sister. Caroline just can't hold her tongue. She keeps pouring out compliments and messages for him to tell his sister. He simply goes on writing.
Then follows one of the novel's lively scenes completely constructed in dialogue. The conversation reveals the personalities of Darcy, Bingley, Caroline Bingley, and Elizabeth-and shows Jane Austen at her dramatic best. Wit and repartee flow-and Darcy is so charmed by Elizabeth that he fears falling in love.