作者：Jane Austen 2011-05-19 10:00
He paused in hopes of an answer; but his companion was not disposed to make any; and Elizabeth at that instant moving towards them, he was struck with the notion of doing a very gallant thing, and called out to her,
"My dear Miss Eliza, why are not you dancing? -- Mr. Darcy, you must allow me to present this young lady to you as a very desirable partner. -- You cannot refuse to dance, I am sure, when so much beauty is before you." And taking her hand, he would have given it to Mr. Darcy, who, though extremely surprised, was not unwilling to receive it, when she instantly drew back, and said with some discomposure to Sir William, "Indeed, Sir, I have not the least intention of dancing. -- I entreat you not to suppose that I moved this way in order to beg for a partner."
Mr. Darcy with grave propriety requested to be allowed the honour of her hand; but in vain. Elizabeth was determined; nor did Sir William at all shake her purpose by his attempt at persuasion.
"You excel so much in the dance, Miss Eliza, that it is cruel to deny me the happiness of seeing you; and though this gentleman dislikes the amusement in general, he can have no objection, I am sure, to oblige us for one half hour."
"Mr. Darcy is all politeness," said Elizabeth, smiling.
"He is indeed -- but considering the inducement, my dear Miss Eliza, we cannot wonder at his complaisance; for who would object to such a partner?"
Elizabeth looked archly, and turned away. Her resistance had not injured her with the gentleman, and he was thinking of her with some complacency, when thus accosted by Miss Bingley. "I can guess the subject of your reverie."
"I should imagine not."
"You are considering how insupportable it would be to pass many evenings in this manner -- in such society; and indeed I am quite of your opinion. I was never more annoyed! The insipidity and yet the noise; the nothingness and yet the self-importance of all these people! -- What would I give to hear your strictures on them!"
"Your conjecture is totally wrong, I assure you. My mind was more agreeably engaged. I have been meditating on the very great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can bestow."
Miss Bingley immediately fixed her eyes on his face, and desired he would tell her what lady had the credit of inspiring such reflections. Mr. Darcy replied with great intrepidity, "Miss Elizabeth Bennet."
"Miss Elizabeth Bennet!" repeated Miss Bingley. "I am all astonishment. How long has she been such a favourite? -- and pray when am I to wish you joy?"
"That is exactly the question which I expected you to ask. A lady's imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony, in a moment. I knew you would be wishing me joy."
"Nay, if you are so serious about it, I shall consider the matter as absolutely settled. You will have a charming mother-in-law, indeed, and of course she will be always at Pemberley with you."
He listened to her with perfect indifference while she chose to entertain herself in this manner, and as his composure convinced her that all was safe, her wit flowed long.