Are you enjoying my book, Miss Elizabeth?
“It is amazing to me,” Mr. Bingley said with a fond look toward Jane, “how many ladies can have the patience to be so very accomplished as they all are.”
“All young ladies are accomplished! My dear Charles, whatever do you mean?” Miss Bingley asked. She did not hide the derisive glance she sent toward Elizabeth.
“Yes, all ladies. Why they paint tables, cover screens, and net purses. I scarcely know anyone who cannot do this.”
“Your list of the common extent of accomplishments,” said Darcy, “is all too true. The word is ascribed to many a woman who deserves it for nothing more than having painted a small table. I find that I’m far from agreeing with your estimation as I cannot boast of knowing more than a half dozen women, in the whole range of my acquaintance, that are truly accomplished.”
You arrogant prat!
“Jane?” Lizzy turned to her sister and asked sweetly. “Have you ever painted a table?”
“You know I haven’t.
Just as Lizzy suspected, Caroline pounced.
“Never painted a table?” At Jane’s shake of her head, she continued. “Do you have a thorough knowledge of music, or play the pianoforte?”
“Do you speak any of the modern languages?”
“I do not, although my French is passable.”
Elizabeth fumed at Miss Bingley’s condescending manner. Jane and all her sisters read and spoke French fluently, as well as Italian, German, Greek, and Latin. Their knowledge of music surpassed most of the young ladies in Meryton as they’d had Masters for the pianoforte, harp and voice attend Longbourn for many years as well as intense instruction whenever they’d visited their Aunt and Uncle Gardiner in London. She surmised this was Jane’s way to test Mr. Bingley’s affection. How surprised he’d be when the truth came out.
“Well, a lady must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word.” Miss Bingley continued in an undisguised haughty tone. “And, besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word is half deserved.”
“All this she must possess,” Darcy added from the writing desk, “and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.”
“I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women,” Lizzy cried out, astonished at their arrogance. “I rather wonder at your knowing any.”
By now, Mr. Hurst had decided they would play cards and called his sisters to the table. This time, Mr. Darcy joined them. Elizabeth, fuming at their treatment, grabbed the first book she found on one of the side tables and sat close to Jane and Mr. Bingley. Soon she was engrossed with her reading and only raised her head when Mr. Darcy commented from where he sat playing cards.
“Are you enjoying my book, Miss Elizabeth?”
“I am. It is one of my favorites.”
“You’ve read it before?”
“Oh yes, several times in fact. It is so much better…”
She shut the book and replaced it on the table. Mr. Darcy’s eyes glittered in the light of the candles and he looked from the book to her and back to the book. Too late she realized she’d been reading the Ilead, written in its original Homeric Greek.
Oh, horse feathers!