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NOT all that Mrs. Bennet, however, with the assistance of her five
daughters, could ask on the subject, was sufficient to draw from
her husband any satisfactory description of Mr. Bingley. They
attacked him in various ways-with barefaced questions, ingenious
suppositions, and distant surmises; but he eluded the skill of them
all, and they were at last obliged to accept the second-hand
intelligence of their neighbor, Lady Lucas. Her report was highly
favorable. Sir William had been delighted with him. He was quite
young, wonderfully handsome, extremely agreeable, and, to crown
the whole, he meant to be at the next assembly with a large party.
Nothing could be more delightful! To be fond of dancing was a
certain step towards falling in love; and very lively hopes of Mr.
Bingley’s heart were entertained.
“If I can but see one of my daughters happily settled at
Netherfield,” said Mrs. Bennet to her husband, “and all the others
equally well married, I shall have nothing to wish for.” In a few
days Mr. Bingley returned Mr. Bennet’s visit, and sat about ten
minutes with him in his library. He had entertained hopes of being
admitted to a sight of the young ladies, of whose beauty he had
heard much; but he saw only the father. The ladies were somewhat
more fortunate, for they had the advantage of ascertaining from an
upper window that he wore a blue coat, and rode a black horse.
An invitation to dinner was soon afterwards dispatched; and
already had Mrs.
Bennet planned the courses that were to do credit to her
housekeeping, when an answer arrived which deferred it all. Mr.
Bingley was obliged to be in town the following day, and,
consequently, unable to accept the honor of their invitation, &c.
Mrs. Bennet was quite disconcerted. She could not imagine what
business he could have in town so soon after his arrival in
Hertfordshire; and she began to fear that he might be always flying
about from one place to another, and never settled at Netherfield as
he ought to be. Lady Lucas quieted her fears a little by starting the
idea of his being gone to London only to get a large party for the
ball; and a report soon followed, that Mr. Bingley was to bring
twelve ladies and seven gentlemen with him to the assembly. The
girls grieved over such a number of ladies, but were comforted the
day before the ball by hearing, that instead of twelve he had
brought only six with him from London,- his five sisters and a
cousin. And when the party entered the assembly room it consisted