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‘you have given me a treasure.’ Are any of your younger sisters
out, Miss Bennet?” “Yes, ma’am, all.” “All!- What, all five out at
once? Very odd!- And you only the second.- The younger ones out
before the elder are married!- Your younger sisters must be very
young?” “Yes, my youngest is not sixteen. Perhaps she is full
young to be much in company. But really, ma’am, I think it would
be very hard upon younger sisters, that they should not have their
share of society and amusement, because the elder may not have
the means or inclination to marry early. The last-born has as good a
right to the pleasures of youth as the first. And to be kept back on
such a motive! I think it would not be very likely to promote
sisterly affection or delicacy of mind.” “Upon my word,” said her
ladyship, “you give your opinion very decidedly for so young a
person. Pray, what is your age?” “With three younger sisters
grown up,” replied Elizabeth, smiling, “your ladyship can hardly
expect me to own it.” Lady Catherine seemed quite astonished at
not receiving a direct answer; and Elizabeth suspected herself to be
the first creature who had ever dared to trifle with so much
dignified impertinence.

“You cannot be more than twenty, I am sure,- therefore you need
not conceal your age.” “I am not one-and-twenty.” When the
gentlemen had joined them, and tea was over, the card-tables were
placed. Lady Catherine, Sir William, and Mr. and Mrs. Collins sat
down to quadrille; and as Miss de Bourgh chose to play at cassino,
the two girls had the honor of assisting Mrs. Jenkinson to make up
her party. Their table was superlatively stupid. Scarcely a syllable
was uttered that did not relate to the game, except when Mrs.
Jenkinson expressed her fears of Miss de Bourgh’s being too hot or
too cold, or having too much or too little light. A great deal more
passed at the other table. Lady Catherine was generally speaking-
stating the mistakes of the three others, or relating some anecdote
of herself. Mr. Collins was employed in agreeing to everything her
ladyship said, thanking her for every fish he won, and apologizing
if he thought he won too many. Sir William did not say much. He
was storing his memory with anecdotes and noble names.

When Lady Catherine and her daughter had played as long as they
chose, the tables were broken up, the carriage was offered to Mrs.
Collins, gratefully accepted, and immediately ordered. The party
then gathered round the fire to hear Lady Catherine determine
what weather they were to have on the morrow. From these
instructions they were summoned by the arrival of the coach; and
with many speeches of thankfulness on Mr. Collins’s side, and as
many bows on Sir William’s, they departed. As soon as they had
driven from the door, Elizabeth
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