Mr. Bennet receives 2,000 a year and upon his death, this will be inherited by a distant male relation. Mrs. Bennet’s father had been an attorney and had left her 4,000 lbs. This was plenty for her, but neither parent is going to be able to provide for their daughters.
Mrs. Bennet’s sister married their father’s clerk, who took over the business. The Bennet daughters frequently visit her, particularly Catherine and Lydia. They were more inclined to be bored, being rather vacuous. They find interesting news in the infantry coming to Meryton for the winter. They learn about the different officers and soon begin to entertain them.
They lose interest very quickly in Mr. Bingley. Mr. Bennet criticizes them for being silly. Mrs. Bennet chides her husband for admonishing his own children. Mr. Bennet wants to be aware of their flaws.
Mrs. Bennet thinks her daughters are all clever. She believes it is their youth that makes them foolish. She used to be partial for a man in uniform herself. If an officer makes a good enough income, she wouldn’t oppose the match.
A note comes for Jane from Netherfield. It is from Mr. Bingley’s sister, who has invited her to dinner. They plan to dine out with the officers. Mrs. Bennet doesn’t approve, for it is unlucky. Jane wants the coach, but her father can’t spare the horses. Mrs. Bennet tells her it wouldn’t be practical in the rain anyway.
Jane gets caught in the rain while going to Netherfield. Mrs. Bennet is pleased, for it will force her to stay with the Bingleys. They receive a letTer the next day that Jane cannot return, for she is ill. Mr. Bennet criticizes his wife for endangering their daughter’s health in pursuit of a man. Mrs. Bennet counters that people do not die of colds.
Elizabeth is worried and plans to visit. Catherine and Lydia accompany her as far as Meryton. Elizabeth is not very presentable when she arrives, much to the contempt of Mr. Bingley’s two sisters. Mr. Darcy admires how the exercise has given her complexion some color.
Jane is glad to see her. Elizabeth nurses her. She is more inclined to have a better view of Mr. Bingley’s sisters when she sees how kind they are to Jane. Jane’s symptoms worsen, causing all three women to be preoccupied with tending to her.
Jane desires Elizabeth to stay, and Miss Bingley offers Elizabeth an invitation to stay.