I haven’t read Pride and Prejudice in about 25 years. I always liked Mr. Bennett, though now that I have been married for more than 20 years, I can more fully appreciate his line from Chapter 1:
“You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration these last twenty years at least.”
I love how Austen, who at times lets us into the interior thoughts of her characters, knows when to back out of the story, as in Chapter 31, where first of all we have to deduce Elizabeth’s private feelings based on the zinger she chooses to hurl at Darcy, and then we have to do even more work to deduce her feelings when, after being prompted to speak by the domineering, Lady Catherine, Elizabeth instead returns to the piano.
“I certainly have not the talent which some people possess,” said Darcy, “of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done.”
“My fingers,” said Elizabeth, “do not move over this instrument in the masterly manner which I see so many women’s do. They have not the same force or rapidity, and do not produce the same expression. But then I have always supposed it to be my own fault — because I would not take the trouble of practising. It is not that I do not believe my fingers as capable as any other woman’s of superior execution.”
Darcy smiled and said, “You are perfectly right. You have employed your time much better. No one admitted to the privilege of hearing you can think anything wanting. We neither of us perform to strangers.”
Here they were interrupted by Lady Catherine, who called out to know what they were talking of. Elizabeth immediately began playing again. —Pride and Prejudice