Infomotions, Inc.Sense and Sensibility / Austen, Jane, 1775-1817



Author: Austen, Jane, 1775-1817
Title: Sense and Sensibility
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): elinor; marianne; dashwood; colonel brandon; jennings; willoughby; miss dashwood; lucy; lady middleton; edward; colonel; john dashwood; colonel brandon's; miss dashwoods
Contributor(s): Hunt, Margaret, 1831-1912 [Translator]
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SENSE AND SENSIBILITY

by Jane Austen
(1811)




CHAPTER 1


The family of Dashwood had long been settled in Sussex.
Their estate was large, and their residence was at Norland Park,
in the centre of their property, where, for many generations,
they had lived in so respectable a manner as to engage
the general good opinion of their surrounding acquaintance.
The late owner of this estate was a single man, who lived
to a very advanced age, and who for many years of his life,
had a constant companion and housekeeper in his sister.
But her death, which happened ten years before his own,
produced a great alteration in his home; for to supply
her loss, he invited and received into his house the family
of his nephew Mr. Henry Dashwood, the legal inheritor
of the Norland estate, and the person to whom he intended
to bequeath it.  In the society of his nephew and niece,
and their children, the old Gentleman's days were
comfortably spent.  His attachment to them all increased.
The constant attention of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Dashwood
to his wishes, which proceeded not merely from interest,
but from goodness of heart, gave him every degree of solid
comfort which his age could receive; and the cheerfulness
of the children added a relish to his existence.

By a former marriage, Mr. Henry Dashwood had one
son: by his present lady, three daughters.  The son,
a steady respectable young man, was amply provided
for by the fortune of his mother, which had been large,
and half of which devolved on him on his coming of age.
By his own marriage, likewise, which happened soon afterwards,
he added to his wealth.  To him therefore the succession
to the Norland estate was not so really important as to
his sisters; for their fortune, independent of what might
arise to them from their father's inheriting that property,
could be but small.  Their mother had nothing, and their
father only seven thousand pounds in his own disposal;
for the remaining moiety of his first wife's fortune was
also secured to her child, and he had only a life-interest
in it.

The old gentleman died: his will was read, and
like almost every other will, gave as much disappointment
as pleasure.  He was neither so unjust, nor so ungrateful,
as to leave his estate from his nephew;--but he left it to him
on such terms as destroyed half the value of the bequest.
Mr. Dashwood had wished for it more for the sake of his
wife and daughters than for himself or his son;--but to
his son, and his son's son, a child of four years old,
it was secured, in such a way, as to leave to himself
no power of providing for those who were most dear
to him, and who most needed a provision by any charge
on the estate, or by any sale of its valuable woods.
The whole was tied up for the benefit of this child, who,
in occasional visits with his father and mother at Norland,
had so far gained on the affections of his uncle,
by such attractions as are by no means unusual in children
of two or three years old; an imperfect articulation,
an earnest desire of having his own way, many cunning tricks,
and a great deal of noise, as to outweigh all the value
of all the attention which, for years, he had received
from his niece and her daughters.  He meant not to
be unkind, however, and, as a mark of his affection
for the three girls, he left them a thousand pounds a-piece.

Mr. Dashwood's disappointment was, at first, severe;
but his temper was cheerful and sanguine; and he might
reasonably hope to live many years, and by living economically,
lay by a considerable sum from the produce of an estate
already large, and capable of almost immediate improvement.
But the fortune, which had been so tardy in coming, was his
only one twelvemonth.  He survived his uncle no longer;
and ten thousand pounds, including the late legacies,
was all that remained for his widow and daughters.

His son was sent for as soon as his danger was known,
and to him Mr. Dashwood recommended, with all the strength
and urgency which illness could command, the interest
of his mother-in-law and sisters.

Mr. John Dashwood had not the strong feelings of the
rest of the family; but he was affected by a recommendation
of such a nature at such a time, and he promised to do
every thing in his power to make them comfortable.
His father was rendered easy by such an assurance,
and Mr. John Dashwood had then leisure to consider how
much there might prudently be in his power to do for them.

He was not an ill-disposed young man, unless to
be rather cold hearted and rather selfish is to be
ill-disposed: but he was, in general, well respected;
for he conducted himself with propriety in the discharge
of his ordinary duties.  Had he married a more amiable woman,
he might have been made still more respectable than he
was:--he might even have been made amiable himself; for he
was very young when he married, and very fond of his wife.
But Mrs. John Dashwood was a strong caricature of himself;--
more narrow-minded and selfish.

When he gave his promise to his father, he meditated
within himself to increase the fortunes of his sisters
by the present of a thousand pounds a-piece.  He then
really thought himself equal to it.  The prospect of four
thousand a-year, in addition to his present income,
besides the remaining half of his own mother's fortune,
warmed his heart, and made him feel capable of generosity.--
"Yes, he would give them three thousand pounds: it would
be liberal and handsome! It would be enough to make
them completely easy.  Three thousand pounds! he could
spare so considerable a sum with little inconvenience."--
He thought of it all day long, and for many days successively,
and he did not repent.

No sooner was his father's funeral over, than Mrs. John
Dashwood, without sending any notice of her intention to her
mother-in-law, arrived with her child and their attendants.
No one could dispute her right to come; the house was
her husband's from the moment of his father's decease;
but the indelicacy of her conduct was so much the greater,
and to a woman in Mrs. Dashwood's situation, with only
common feelings, must have been highly unpleasing;--
but in HER mind there was a sense of honor so keen,
a generosity so romantic, that any offence of the kind,
by whomsoever given or received, was to her a source
of immoveable disgust.  Mrs. John Dashwood had never
been a favourite with any of her husband's family;
but she had had no opportunity, till the present,
of shewing them with how little attention to the comfort
of other people she could act when occasion required it.

So acutely did Mrs. Dashwood feel this ungracious
behaviour, and so earnestly did she despise her
daughter-in-law for it, that, on the arrival of the latter,
she would have quitted the house for ever, had not the
entreaty of her eldest girl induced her first to reflect
on the propriety of going, and her own tender love for all
her three children determined her afterwards to stay,
and for their sakes avoid a breach with their brother.

Elinor, this eldest daughter, whose advice was
so effectual, possessed a strength of understanding,
and coolness of judgment, which qualified her,
though only nineteen, to be the counsellor of her mother,
and enabled her frequently to counteract, to the advantage
of them all, that eagerness of mind in Mrs. Dashwood
which must generally have led to imprudence.  She had
an excellent heart;--her disposition was affectionate,
and her feelings were strong; but she knew how to govern
them: it was a knowledge which her mother had yet to learn;
and which one of her sisters had resolved never to be taught.

Marianne's abilities were, in many respects,
quite equal to Elinor's. She was sensible and clever;
but eager in everything: her sorrows, her joys, could have
no moderation.  She was generous, amiable, interesting: she
was everything but prudent.  The resemblance between
her and her mother was strikingly great.

Elinor saw, with concern, the excess of her
sister's sensibility; but by Mrs. Dashwood it was valued
and cherished.  They encouraged each other now in the
violence of their affliction.  The agony of grief
which overpowered them at first, was voluntarily renewed,
was sought for, was created again and again.  They gave
themselves up wholly to their sorrow, seeking increase
of wretchedness in every reflection that could afford it,
and resolved against ever admitting consolation
in future.  Elinor, too, was deeply afflicted; but still
she could struggle, she could exert herself.  She could
consult with her brother, could receive her sister-in-law
on her arrival, and treat her with proper attention;
and could strive to rouse her mother to similar exertion,
and encourage her to similar forbearance.

Margaret, the other sister, was a good-humored,
well-disposed girl; but as she had already imbibed
a good deal of Marianne's romance, without having
much of her sense, she did not, at thirteen, bid fair
to equal her sisters at a more advanced period of life.



CHAPTER 2


Mrs. John Dashwood now installed herself mistress
of Norland; and her mother and sisters-in-law were degraded
to the condition of visitors.  As such, however, they were
treated by her with quiet civility; and by her husband
with as much kindness as he could feel towards anybody
beyond himself, his wife, and their child.  He really
pressed them, with some earnestness, to consider Norland
as their home; and, as no plan appeared so eligible
to Mrs. Dashwood as remaining there till she could
accommodate herself with a house in the neighbourhood,
his invitation was accepted.

A continuance in a place where everything reminded
her of former delight, was exactly what suited her mind.
In seasons of cheerfulness, no temper could be more cheerful
than hers, or possess, in a greater degree, that sanguine
expectation of happiness which is happiness itself.
But in sorrow she must be equally carried away by her fancy,
and as far beyond consolation as in pleasure she was
beyond alloy.

Mrs. John Dashwood did not at all approve of what her
husband intended to do for his sisters.  To take three
thousand pounds from the fortune of their dear little boy
would be impoverishing him to the most dreadful degree.
She begged him to think again on the subject.  How could
he answer it to himself to rob his child, and his only
child too, of so large a sum?  And what possible claim
could the Miss Dashwoods, who were related to him only by
half blood, which she considered as no relationship at all,
have on his generosity to so large an amount.  It was very
well known that no affection was ever supposed to exist
between the children of any man by different marriages;
and why was he to ruin himself, and their poor little Harry,
by giving away all his money to his half sisters?

"It was my father's last request to me," replied
her husband, "that I should assist his widow and daughters."

"He did not know what he was talking of, I dare say;
ten to one but he was light-headed at the time.
Had he been in his right senses, he could not have thought
of such a thing as begging you to give away half your
fortune from your own child."

"He did not stipulate for any particular sum,
my dear Fanny; he only requested me, in general terms,
to assist them, and make their situation more comfortable
than it was in his power to do.  Perhaps it would
have been as well if he had left it wholly to myself.
He could hardly suppose I should neglect them.
But as he required the promise, I could not do less
than give it; at least I thought so at the time.
The promise, therefore, was given, and must be performed.
Something must be done for them whenever they leave Norland
and settle in a new home."

"Well, then, LET something be done for them;
but THAT something need not be three thousand pounds.
Consider," she added, "that when the money is once
parted with, it never can return.  Your sisters will marry,
and it will be gone for ever.  If, indeed, it could
be restored to our poor little boy--"

"Why, to be sure," said her husband, very gravely,
"that would make great difference.  The time may come when
Harry will regret that so large a sum was parted with.
If he should have a numerous family, for instance, it would
be a very convenient addition."

"To be sure it would."

"Perhaps, then, it would be better for all parties,
if the sum were diminished one half.--Five hundred pounds
would be a prodigious increase to their fortunes!"

"Oh! beyond anything great!  What brother on earth
would do half so much for his sisters, even if REALLY
his sisters!  And as it is--only half blood!--But you
have such a generous spirit!"

"I would not wish to do any thing mean," he replied.
"One had rather, on such occasions, do too much than
too little.  No one, at least, can think I have not
done enough for them: even themselves, they can hardly
expect more."

"There is no knowing what THEY may expect,"
said the lady, "but we are not to think of their
expectations: the question is, what you can afford to do."

"Certainly--and I think I may afford to give them five
hundred pounds a-piece.  As it is, without any addition
of mine, they will each have about three thousand pounds
on their mother's death--a very comfortable fortune
for any young woman."

"To be sure it is; and, indeed, it strikes me that
they can want no addition at all.  They will have ten
thousand pounds divided amongst them.  If they marry,
they will be sure of doing well, and if they do not,
they may all live very comfortably together on the interest
of ten thousand pounds."

"That is very true, and, therefore, I do not know whether,
upon the whole, it would not be more advisable to do
something for their mother while she lives, rather than
for them--something of the annuity kind I mean.--My sisters
would feel the good effects of it as well as herself.
A hundred a year would make them all perfectly comfortable."

His wife hesitated a little, however, in giving
her consent to this plan.

"To be sure," said she, "it is better than parting with
fifteen hundred pounds at once.  But, then, if Mrs. Dashwood
should live fifteen years we shall be completely taken in."

"Fifteen years! my dear Fanny; her life cannot
be worth half that purchase."

"Certainly not; but if you observe, people always
live for ever when there is an annuity to be paid them;
and she is very stout and healthy, and hardly forty.
An annuity is a very serious business; it comes over
and over every year, and there is no getting rid
of it.  You are not aware of what you are doing.
I have known a great deal of the trouble of annuities;
for my mother was clogged with the payment of three
to old superannuated servants by my father's will,
and it is amazing how disagreeable she found it.
Twice every year these annuities were to be paid; and then
there was the trouble of getting it to them; and then one
of them was said to have died, and afterwards it turned
out to be no such thing.  My mother was quite sick of it.
Her income was not her own, she said, with such perpetual
claims on it; and it was the more unkind in my father,
because, otherwise, the money would have been entirely at
my mother's disposal, without any restriction whatever.
It has given me such an abhorrence of annuities, that I am
sure I would not pin myself down to the payment of one for
all the world."

"It is certainly an unpleasant thing," replied Mr. Dashwood,
"to have those kind of yearly drains on one's income.
One's fortune, as your mother justly says, is NOT one's own.
To be tied down to the regular payment of such a sum,
on every rent day, is by no means desirable: it takes away
one's independence."

"Undoubtedly; and after all you have no thanks for it.
They think themselves secure, you do no more than what
is expected, and it raises no gratitude at all.  If I were you,
whatever I did should be done at my own discretion entirely.
I would not bind myself to allow them any thing yearly.
It may be very inconvenient some years to spare a hundred,
or even fifty pounds from our own expenses."

"I believe you are right, my love; it will be better
that there should by no annuity in the case; whatever I
may give them occasionally will be of far greater assistance
than a yearly allowance, because they would only enlarge
their style of living if they felt sure of a larger income,
and would not be sixpence the richer for it at the end
of the year.  It will certainly be much the best way.
A present of fifty pounds, now and then, will prevent
their ever being distressed for money, and will, I think,
be amply discharging my promise to my father."

"To be sure it will.  Indeed, to say the truth,
I am convinced within myself that your father had no idea
of your giving them any money at all.  The assistance
he thought of, I dare say, was only such as might be
reasonably expected of you; for instance, such as looking
out for a comfortable small house for them, helping them
to move their things, and sending them presents of fish
and game, and so forth, whenever they are in season.
I'll lay my life that he meant nothing farther; indeed,
it would be very strange and unreasonable if he did.
Do but consider, my dear Mr. Dashwood, how excessively
comfortable your mother-in-law and her daughters may live
on the interest of seven thousand pounds, besides the
thousand pounds belonging to each of the girls, which brings
them in fifty pounds a year a-piece, and, of course,
they will pay their mother for their board out of it.
Altogether, they will have five hundred a-year amongst them,
and what on earth can four women want for more than
that?--They will live so cheap! Their housekeeping will
be nothing at all.  They will have no carriage, no horses,
and hardly any servants; they will keep no company,
and can have no expenses of any kind!  Only conceive
how comfortable they will be!  Five hundred a year! I am
sure I cannot imagine how they will spend half of it;
and as to your giving them more, it is quite absurd to think
of it.  They will be much more able to give YOU something."

"Upon my word," said Mr. Dashwood, "I believe you
are perfectly right.  My father certainly could mean
nothing more by his request to me than what you say.
I clearly understand it now, and I will strictly fulfil
my engagement by such acts of assistance and kindness
to them as you have described.  When my mother removes
into another house my services shall be readily given
to accommodate her as far as I can.  Some little present
of furniture too may be acceptable then."

"Certainly," returned Mrs. John Dashwood.  "But, however,
ONE thing must be considered.  When your father and mother
moved to Norland, though the furniture of Stanhill
was sold, all the china, plate, and linen was saved,
and is now left to your mother.  Her house will therefore
be almost completely fitted up as soon as she takes it."

"That is a material consideration undoubtedly.
A valuable legacy indeed! And yet some of the plate would
have been a very pleasant addition to our own stock here."

"Yes; and the set of breakfast china is twice
as handsome as what belongs to this house.  A great
deal too handsome, in my opinion, for any place THEY
can ever afford to live in.  But, however, so it is.
Your father thought only of THEM.  And I must say this:
that you owe no particular gratitude to him, nor attention
to his wishes; for we very well know that if he could,
he would have left almost everything in the world to THEM."

This argument was irresistible.  It gave to his
intentions whatever of decision was wanting before; and he
finally resolved, that it would be absolutely unnecessary,
if not highly indecorous, to do more for the widow
and children of his father, than such kind of neighbourly
acts as his own wife pointed out.



CHAPTER 3


Mrs. Dashwood remained at Norland several months;
not from any disinclination to move when the sight of every
well known spot ceased to raise the violent emotion which it
produced for a while; for when her spirits began to revive,
and her mind became capable of some other exertion than that
of heightening its affliction by melancholy remembrances,
she was impatient to be gone, and indefatigable in her inquiries
for a suitable dwelling in the neighbourhood of Norland;
for to remove far from that beloved spot was impossible.
But she could hear of no situation that at once answered
her notions of comfort and ease, and suited the prudence
of her eldest daughter, whose steadier judgment rejected
several houses as too large for their income, which her
mother would have approved.

Mrs. Dashwood had been informed by her husband of the
solemn promise on the part of his son in their favour,
which gave comfort to his last earthly reflections.
She doubted the sincerity of this assurance no more than he
had doubted it himself, and she thought of it for her daughters'
sake with satisfaction, though as for herself she was
persuaded that a much smaller provision than 7000L would
support her in affluence.  For their brother's sake, too,
for the sake of his own heart, she rejoiced; and she
reproached herself for being unjust to his merit before,
in believing him incapable of generosity.  His attentive
behaviour to herself and his sisters convinced her that
their welfare was dear to him, and, for a long time,
she firmly relied on the liberality of his intentions.

The contempt which she had, very early in their acquaintance,
felt for her daughter-in-law, was very much increased
by the farther knowledge of her character, which half
a year's residence in her family afforded; and perhaps
in spite of every consideration of politeness or maternal
affection on the side of the former, the two ladies might
have found it impossible to have lived together so long,
had not a particular circumstance occurred to give
still greater eligibility, according to the opinions
of Mrs. Dashwood, to her daughters' continuance at Norland.

This circumstance was a growing attachment between
her eldest girl and the brother of Mrs. John Dashwood,
a gentleman-like and pleasing young man, who was introduced
to their acquaintance soon after his sister's establishment
at Norland, and who had since spent the greatest part
of his time there.

Some mothers might have encouraged the intimacy from
motives of interest, for Edward Ferrars was the eldest son
of a man who had died very rich; and some might have repressed
it from motives of prudence, for, except a trifling sum,
the whole of his fortune depended on the will of his mother.
But Mrs. Dashwood was alike uninfluenced by either consideration.
It was enough for her that he appeared to be amiable,
that he loved her daughter, and that Elinor returned
the partiality.  It was contrary to every doctrine of
her's that difference of fortune should keep any couple
asunder who were attracted by resemblance of disposition;
and that Elinor's merit should not be acknowledged
by every one who knew her, was to her comprehension impossible.

Edward Ferrars was not recommended to their good
opinion by any peculiar graces of person or address.
He was not handsome, and his manners required intimacy
to make them pleasing.  He was too diffident to do justice
to himself; but when his natural shyness was overcome,
his behaviour gave every indication of an open,
affectionate heart.  His understanding was good,
and his education had given it solid improvement.
But he was neither fitted by abilities nor disposition
to answer the wishes of his mother and sister, who longed
to see him distinguished--as--they hardly knew what.
They wanted him to make a fine figure in the world in some
manner or other.  His mother wished to interest him in
political concerns, to get him into parliament, or to see
him connected with some of the great men of the day.
Mrs. John Dashwood wished it likewise; but in the mean while,
till one of these superior blessings could be attained, it would
have quieted her ambition to see him driving a barouche.
But Edward had no turn for great men or barouches.
All his wishes centered in domestic comfort and the quiet
of private life.  Fortunately he had a younger brother
who was more promising.

Edward had been staying several weeks in the house
before he engaged much of Mrs. Dashwood's attention;
for she was, at that time, in such affliction as rendered
her careless of surrounding objects.  She saw only that he
was quiet and unobtrusive, and she liked him for it.
He did not disturb the wretchedness of her mind by
ill-timed conversation.  She was first called to observe
and approve him farther, by a reflection which Elinor
chanced one day to make on the difference between him
and his sister.  It was a contrast which recommended him
most forcibly to her mother.

"It is enough," said she; "to say that he is unlike
Fanny is enough.  It implies everything amiable.
I love him already."

"I think you will like him," said Elinor, "when you
know more of him."

"Like him!" replied her mother with a smile.
"I feel no sentiment of approbation inferior to love."

"You may esteem him."

"I have never yet known what it was to separate
esteem and love."

Mrs. Dashwood now took pains to get acquainted with him.
Her manners were attaching, and soon banished his reserve.
She speedily comprehended all his merits; the persuasion
of his regard for Elinor perhaps assisted her penetration;
but she really felt assured of his worth: and even that
quietness of manner, which militated against all her
established ideas of what a young man's address ought to be,
was no longer uninteresting when she knew his heart to be
warm and his temper affectionate.

No sooner did she perceive any symptom of love
in his behaviour to Elinor, than she considered their
serious attachment as certain, and looked forward
to their marriage as rapidly approaching.

"In a few months, my dear Marianne." said she,
"Elinor will, in all probability be settled for life.
We shall miss her; but SHE will be happy."

"Oh! Mamma, how shall we do without her?"

"My love, it will be scarcely a separation.
We shall live within a few miles of each other, and shall
meet every day of our lives.  You will gain a brother,
a real, affectionate brother.  I have the highest opinion
in the world of Edward's heart.  But you look grave,
Marianne; do you disapprove your sister's choice?"

"Perhaps," said Marianne, "I may consider it
with some surprise.  Edward is very amiable, and I love
him tenderly.  But yet--he is not the kind of young
man--there is something wanting--his figure is not striking;
it has none of that grace which I should expect
in the man who could seriously attach my sister.
His eyes want all that spirit, that fire, which at once
announce virtue and intelligence.  And besides all this,
I am afraid, Mamma, he has no real taste.  Music seems
scarcely to attract him, and though he admires Elinor's
drawings very much, it is not the admiration of a person
who can understand their worth.  It is evident, in spite of
his frequent attention to her while she draws, that in fact
he knows nothing of the matter.  He admires as a lover,
not as a connoisseur.  To satisfy me, those characters
must be united.  I could not be happy with a man whose
taste did not in every point coincide with my own.
He must enter into all my feelings; the same books,
the same music must charm us both.  Oh! mama, how spiritless,
how tame was Edward's manner in reading to us last night!
I felt for my sister most severely.  Yet she bore it
with so much composure, she seemed scarcely to notice it.
I could hardly keep my seat.  To hear those beautiful lines
which have frequently almost driven me wild, pronounced
with such impenetrable calmness, such dreadful indifference!"--

"He would certainly have done more justice to
simple and elegant prose.  I thought so at the time;
but you WOULD give him Cowper."

"Nay, Mamma, if he is not to be animated by Cowper!--
but we must allow for difference of taste.  Elinor has
not my feelings, and therefore she may overlook it, and
be happy with him.  But it would have broke MY heart,
had I loved him, to hear him read with so little sensibility.
Mama, the more I know of the world, the more am I convinced
that I shall never see a man whom I can really love.
I require so much!  He must have all Edward's virtues,
and his person and manners must ornament his goodness
with every possible charm."

"Remember, my love, that you are not seventeen.
It is yet too early in life to despair of such a happiness.
Why should you be less fortunate than your mother?  In
one circumstance only, my Marianne, may your destiny be
different from her's!"



CHAPTER 4


"What a pity it is, Elinor," said Marianne,
"that Edward should have no taste for drawing."

"No taste for drawing!" replied Elinor, "why should
you think so? He does not draw himself, indeed, but he has
great pleasure in seeing the performances of other people,
and I assure you he is by no means deficient in natural taste,
though he has not had opportunities of improving it.
Had he ever been in the way of learning, I think he would
have drawn very well.  He distrusts his own judgment
in such matters so much, that he is always unwilling
to give his opinion on any picture; but he has an innate
propriety and simplicity of taste, which in general
direct him perfectly right."

Marianne was afraid of offending, and said no more
on the subject; but the kind of approbation which Elinor
described as excited in him by the drawings of other
people, was very far from that rapturous delight, which,
in her opinion, could alone be called taste.  Yet, though
smiling within herself at the mistake, she honoured
her sister for that blind partiality to Edward which produced it.

"I hope, Marianne," continued Elinor, "you do not
consider him as deficient in general taste.  Indeed, I think
I may say that you cannot, for your behaviour to him
is perfectly cordial, and if THAT were your opinion,
I am sure you could never be civil to him."

Marianne hardly knew what to say.  She would
not wound the feelings of her sister on any account,
and yet to say what she did not believe was impossible.
At length she replied:

"Do not be offended, Elinor, if my praise of him
is not in every thing equal to your sense of his merits.
I have not had so many opportunities of estimating the minuter
propensities of his mind, his inclinations and tastes,
as you have; but I have the highest opinion in the world
of his goodness and sense.  I think him every thing that is
worthy and amiable."

"I am sure," replied Elinor, with a smile,
"that his dearest friends could not be dissatisfied
with such commendation as that.  I do not perceive
how you could express yourself more warmly."

Marianne was rejoiced to find her sister so easily pleased.

"Of his sense and his goodness," continued Elinor,
"no one can, I think, be in doubt, who has seen him
often enough to engage him in unreserved conversation.
The excellence of his understanding and his principles
can be concealed only by that shyness which too often
keeps him silent.  You know enough of him to do justice
to his solid worth.  But of his minuter propensities,
as you call them you have from peculiar circumstances
been kept more ignorant than myself.  He and I have
been at times thrown a good deal together, while you
have been wholly engrossed on the most affectionate
principle by my mother.  I have seen a great deal of him,
have studied his sentiments and heard his opinion on
subjects of literature and taste; and, upon the whole,
I venture to pronounce that his mind is well-informed,
enjoyment of books exceedingly great, his imagination lively,
his observation just and correct, and his taste delicate
and pure.  His abilities in every respect improve
as much upon acquaintance as his manners and person.
At first sight, his address is certainly not striking;
and his person can hardly be called handsome, till the
expression of his eyes, which are uncommonly good,
and the general sweetness of his countenance, is perceived.
At present, I know him so well, that I think him
really handsome; or at least, almost so.  What say you,
Marianne?"

"I shall very soon think him handsome, Elinor, if I
do not now.  When you tell me to love him as a brother,
I shall no more see imperfection in his face, than I now do
in his heart."

Elinor started at this declaration, and was sorry for
the warmth she had been betrayed into, in speaking of him.
She felt that Edward stood very high in her opinion.
She believed the regard to be mutual; but she required
greater certainty of it to make Marianne's conviction
of their attachment agreeable to her.  She knew that
what Marianne and her mother conjectured one moment,
they believed the next--that with them, to wish was to hope,
and to hope was to expect.  She tried to explain the real
state of the case to her sister.

"I do not attempt to deny," said she, "that I think
very highly of him--that I greatly esteem, that I like him."

Marianne here burst forth with indignation--

"Esteem him! Like him! Cold-hearted Elinor! Oh!
worse than cold-hearted! Ashamed of being otherwise.
Use those words again, and I will leave the room this moment."

Elinor could not help laughing.  "Excuse me,"
said she; "and be assured that I meant no offence to you,
by speaking, in so quiet a way, of my own feelings.
Believe them to be stronger than I have declared;
believe them, in short, to be such as his merit, and the
suspicion--the hope of his affection for me may warrant,
without imprudence or folly.  But farther than this you must
not believe.  I am by no means assured of his regard for me.
There are moments when the extent of it seems doubtful;
and till his sentiments are fully known, you cannot wonder
at my wishing to avoid any encouragement of my own partiality,
by believing or calling it more than it is.  In my heart
I feel little--scarcely any doubt of his preference.
But there are other points to be considered besides
his inclination.  He is very far from being independent.
What his mother really is we cannot know; but, from Fanny's
occasional mention of her conduct and opinions, we have
never been disposed to think her amiable; and I am very
much mistaken if Edward is not himself aware that there
would be many difficulties in his way, if he were to wish
to marry a woman who had not either a great fortune or
high rank."

Marianne was astonished to find how much the imagination
of her mother and herself had outstripped the truth.

"And you really are not engaged to him!" said she.
"Yet it certainly soon will happen.  But two advantages
will proceed from this delay.  I shall not lose you so soon,
and Edward will have greater opportunity of improving
that natural taste for your favourite pursuit which must
be so indispensably necessary to your future felicity.
Oh! if he should be so far stimulated by your genius as to
learn to draw himself, how delightful it would be!"

Elinor had given her real opinion to her sister.
She could not consider her partiality for Edward
in so prosperous a state as Marianne had believed it.
There was, at times, a want of spirits about him which,
if it did not denote indifference, spoke of something almost
as unpromising.  A doubt of her regard, supposing him
to feel it, need not give him more than inquietude.
It would not be likely to produce that dejection of mind
which frequently attended him.  A more reasonable cause
might be found in the dependent situation which forbade
the indulgence of his affection.  She knew that his mother
neither behaved to him so as to make his home comfortable
at present, nor to give him any assurance that he might form
a home for himself, without strictly attending to her views
for his aggrandizement.  With such a knowledge as this,
it was impossible for Elinor to feel easy on the subject.
She was far from depending on that result of his preference
of her, which her mother and sister still considered
as certain.  Nay, the longer they were together the more
doubtful seemed the nature of his regard; and sometimes,
for a few painful minutes, she believed it to be no more
than friendship.

But, whatever might really be its limits, it was enough,
when perceived by his sister, to make her uneasy,
and at the same time, (which was still more common,)
to make her uncivil.  She took the first opportunity of
affronting her mother-in-law on the occasion, talking to
her so expressively of her brother's great expectations,
of Mrs. Ferrars's resolution that both her sons should
marry well, and of the danger attending any young woman
who attempted to DRAW HIM IN; that Mrs. Dashwood could
neither pretend to be unconscious, nor endeavor to be calm.
She gave her an answer which marked her contempt,
and instantly left the room, resolving that, whatever might
be the inconvenience or expense of so sudden a removal,
her beloved Elinor should not be exposed another week
to such insinuations.

In this state of her spirits, a letter was delivered
to her from the post, which contained a proposal
particularly well timed.  It was the offer of a small house,
on very easy terms, belonging to a relation of her own,
a gentleman of consequence and property in Devonshire.
The letter was from this gentleman himself, and written
in the true spirit of friendly accommodation.
He understood that she was in need of a dwelling;
and though the house he now offered her was merely a cottage,
he assured her that everything should be done to it which
she might think necessary, if the situation pleased her.
He earnestly pressed her, after giving the particulars
of the house and garden, to come with her daughters to
Barton Park, the place of his own residence, from whence
she might judge, herself, whether Barton Cottage, for the
houses were in the same parish, could, by any alteration,
be made comfortable to her.  He seemed really anxious to
accommodate them and the whole of his letter was written
in so friendly a style as could not fail of giving pleasure
to his cousin; more especially at a moment when she was
suffering under the cold and unfeeling behaviour of her
nearer connections.  She needed no time for deliberation
or inquiry.  Her resolution was formed as she read.
The situation of Barton, in a county so far distant from
Sussex as Devonshire, which, but a few hours before,
would have been a sufficient objection to outweigh every
possible advantage belonging to the place, was now its
first recommendation.  To quit the neighbourhood of Norland
was no longer an evil; it was an object of desire;
it was a blessing, in comparison of the misery of continuing
her daughter-in-law's guest; and to remove for ever
from that beloved place would be less painful than to
inhabit or visit it while such a woman was its mistress.
She instantly wrote Sir John Middleton her acknowledgment
of his kindness, and her acceptance of his proposal;
and then hastened to shew both letters to her daughters,
that she might be secure of their approbation before her
answer were sent.

Elinor had always thought it would be more prudent
for them to settle at some distance from Norland,
than immediately amongst their present acquaintance.
On THAT head, therefore, it was not for her to oppose
her mother's intention of removing into Devonshire.
The house, too, as described by Sir John, was on so
simple a scale, and the rent so uncommonly moderate,
as to leave her no right of objection on either point;
and, therefore, though it was not a plan which brought
any charm to her fancy, though it was a removal from
the vicinity of Norland beyond her wishes, she made
no attempt to dissuade her mother from sending a letter
of acquiescence.



CHAPTER 5


No sooner was her answer dispatched, than Mrs. Dashwood
indulged herself in the pleasure of announcing to her
son-in-law and his wife that she was provided with a house,
and should incommode them no longer than till every thing were
ready for her inhabiting it.  They heard her with surprise.
Mrs. John Dashwood said nothing; but her husband civilly
hoped that she would not be settled far from Norland.
She had great satisfaction in replying that she was going
into Devonshire.--Edward turned hastily towards her,
on hearing this, and, in a voice of surprise and concern,
which required no explanation to her, repeated,
"Devonshire! Are you, indeed, going there?  So far from hence!
And to what part of it?"  She explained the situation.
It was within four miles northward of Exeter.

"It is but a cottage," she continued, "but I hope
to see many of my friends in it.  A room or two can
easily be added; and if my friends find no difficulty
in travelling so far to see me, I am sure I will find
none in accommodating them."

She concluded with a very kind invitation to
Mr. and Mrs. John Dashwood to visit her at Barton;
and to Edward she gave one with still greater affection.
Though her late conversation with her daughter-in-law had
made her resolve on remaining at Norland no longer than
was unavoidable, it had not produced the smallest effect
on her in that point to which it principally tended.
To separate Edward and Elinor was as far from being her
object as ever; and she wished to show Mrs. John Dashwood,
by this pointed invitation to her brother, how totally she
disregarded her disapprobation of the match.

Mr. John Dashwood told his mother again and again
how exceedingly sorry he was that she had taken a house at
such a distance from Norland as to prevent his being of any
service to her in removing her furniture.  He really felt
conscientiously vexed on the occasion; for the very exertion
to which he had limited the performance of his promise to
his father was by this arrangement rendered impracticable.--
The furniture was all sent around by water.  It chiefly
consisted of household linen, plate, china, and books,
with a handsome pianoforte of Marianne's.  Mrs. John
Dashwood saw the packages depart with a sigh: she could
not help feeling it hard that as Mrs. Dashwood's income
would be so trifling in comparison with their own,
she should have any handsome article of furniture.

Mrs. Dashwood took the house for a twelvemonth; it was
ready furnished, and she might have immediate possession.
No difficulty arose on either side in the agreement; and she
waited only for the disposal of her effects at Norland,
and to determine her future household, before she set
off for the west; and this, as she was exceedingly rapid
in the performance of everything that interested her,
was soon done.--The horses which were left her by her husband
had been sold soon after his death, and an opportunity
now offering of disposing of her carriage, she agreed
to sell that likewise at the earnest advice of her
eldest daughter.  For the comfort of her children, had she
consulted only her own wishes, she would have kept it;
but the discretion of Elinor prevailed.  HER wisdom
too limited the number of their servants to three;
two maids and a man, with whom they were speedily provided
from amongst those who had formed their establishment
at Norland.

The man and one of the maids were sent off immediately
into Devonshire, to prepare the house for their mistress's
arrival; for as Lady Middleton was entirely unknown
to Mrs. Dashwood, she preferred going directly to the
cottage to being a visitor at Barton Park; and she relied
so undoubtingly on Sir John's description of the house,
as to feel no curiosity to examine it herself till she
entered it as her own.  Her eagerness to be gone from Norland
was preserved from diminution by the evident satisfaction
of her daughter-in-law in the prospect of her removal;
a satisfaction which was but feebly attempted to be concealed
under a cold invitation to her to defer her departure.
Now was the time when her son-in-law's promise to his
father might with particular propriety be fulfilled.
Since he had neglected to do it on first coming to
the estate, their quitting his house might be looked
on as the most suitable period for its accomplishment.
But Mrs. Dashwood began shortly to give over every
hope of the kind, and to be convinced, from the general
drift of his discourse, that his assistance extended no
farther than their maintenance for six months at Norland.
He so frequently talked of the increasing expenses
of housekeeping, and of the perpetual demands upon his purse,
which a man of any consequence in the world was beyond
calculation exposed to, that he seemed rather to stand
in need of more money himself than to have any design of
giving money away.

In a very few weeks from the day which brought Sir
John Middleton's first letter to Norland, every thing was
so far settled in their future abode as to enable
Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters to begin their journey.

Many were the tears shed by them in their last
adieus to a place so much beloved.  "Dear, dear Norland!"
said Marianne, as she wandered alone before the house,
on the last evening of their being there; "when shall I cease
to regret you!--when learn to feel a home elsewhere!--Oh!
happy house, could you know what I suffer in now viewing
you from this spot, from whence perhaps I may view
you no more!--And you, ye well-known trees!--but you
will continue the same.--No leaf will decay because we
are removed, nor any branch become motionless although we
can observe you no longer!--No; you will continue the same;
unconscious of the pleasure or the regret you occasion,
and insensible of any change in those who walk under your
shade!--But who will remain to enjoy you?"



CHAPTER 6


The first part of their journey was performed in too
melancholy a disposition to be otherwise than tedious
and unpleasant.  But as they drew towards the end of it,
their interest in the appearance of a country which they
were to inhabit overcame their dejection, and a view of
Barton Valley as they entered it gave them cheerfulness.
It was a pleasant fertile spot, well wooded, and rich
in pasture.  After winding along it for more than a mile,
they reached their own house.  A small green court was
the whole of its demesne in front; and a neat wicket gate
admitted them into it.

As a house, Barton Cottage, though small, was comfortable
and compact; but as a cottage it was defective, for the
building was regular, the roof was tiled, the window
shutters were not painted green, nor were the walls covered
with honeysuckles.  A narrow passage led directly through
the house into the garden behind.  On each side of the
entrance was a sitting room, about sixteen feet square;
and beyond them were the offices and the stairs.
Four bed-rooms and two garrets formed the rest of the house.
It had not been built many years and was in good repair.
In comparison of Norland, it was poor and small indeed!--but
the tears which recollection called forth as they entered
the house were soon dried away.  They were cheered
by the joy of the servants on their arrival, and each
for the sake of the others resolved to appear happy.
It was very early in September; the season was fine,
and from first seeing the place under the advantage
of good weather, they received an impression in its
favour which was of material service in recommending
it to their lasting approbation.

The situation of the house was good.  High hills rose
immediately behind, and at no great distance on each side;
some of which were open downs, the others cultivated and woody.
The village of Barton was chiefly on one of these hills,
and formed a pleasant view from the cottage windows.
The prospect in front was more extensive; it commanded the
whole of the valley, and reached into the country beyond.
The hills which surrounded the cottage terminated
the valley in that direction; under another name,
and in another course, it branched out again between two
of the steepest of them.

With the size and furniture of the house Mrs. Dashwood
was upon the whole well satisfied; for though her former
style of life rendered many additions to the latter
indispensable, yet to add and improve was a delight to her;
and she had at this time ready money enough to supply all
that was wanted of greater elegance to the apartments.
"As for the house itself, to be sure," said she, "it is
too small for our family, but we will make ourselves
tolerably comfortable for the present, as it is too late
in the year for improvements.  Perhaps in the spring,
if I have plenty of money, as I dare say I shall, we may
think about building.  These parlors are both too small
for such parties of our friends as I hope to see often
collected here; and I have some thoughts of throwing the
passage into one of them with perhaps a part of the other,
and so leave the remainder of that other for an entrance;
this, with a new drawing room which may be easily added,
and a bed-chamber and garret above, will make it a very snug
little cottage.  I could wish the stairs were handsome.
But one must not expect every thing; though I suppose it
would be no difficult matter to widen them.  I shall see
how much I am before-hand with the world in the spring,
and we will plan our improvements accordingly."

In the mean time, till all these alterations could
be made from the savings of an income of five hundred
a-year by a woman who never saved in her life, they were
wise enough to be contented with the house as it was;
and each of them was busy in arranging their particular
concerns, and endeavoring, by placing around them books
and other possessions, to form themselves a home.
Marianne's pianoforte was unpacked and properly disposed of;
and Elinor's drawings were affixed to the walls of their
sitting room.

In such employments as these they were interrupted
soon after breakfast the next day by the entrance of
their landlord, who called to welcome them to Barton,
and to offer them every accommodation from his own house
and garden in which theirs might at present be deficient.
Sir John Middleton was a good looking man about forty.
He had formerly visited at Stanhill, but it was too long
for his young cousins to remember him.  His countenance
was thoroughly good-humoured; and his manners were
as friendly as the style of his letter.  Their arrival
seemed to afford him real satisfaction, and their comfort
to be an object of real solicitude to him.  He said much
of his earnest desire of their living in the most sociable
terms with his family, and pressed them so cordially
to dine at Barton Park every day till they were better
settled at home, that, though his entreaties were carried
to a point of perseverance beyond civility, they could
not give offence.  His kindness was not confined to words;
for within an hour after he left them, a large basket
full of garden stuff and fruit arrived from the park,
which was followed before the end of the day by a present
of game.  He insisted, moreover, on conveying all their
letters to and from the post for them, and would not be
denied the satisfaction of sending them his newspaper
every day.

Lady Middleton had sent a very civil message by him,
denoting her intention of waiting on Mrs. Dashwood as soon as
she could be assured that her visit would be no inconvenience;
and as this message was answered by an invitation
equally polite, her ladyship was introduced to them the next day.

They were, of course, very anxious to see a person on
whom so much of their comfort at Barton must depend; and the
elegance of her appearance was favourable to their wishes.
Lady Middleton was not more than six or seven and twenty;
her face was handsome, her figure tall and striking,
and her address graceful.  Her manners had all the elegance
which her husband's wanted.  But they would have been
improved by some share of his frankness and warmth;
and her visit was long enough to detract something from
their first admiration, by shewing that, though perfectly
well-bred, she was reserved, cold, and had nothing to say
for herself beyond the most common-place inquiry or remark.

Conversation however was not wanted, for Sir John
was very chatty, and Lady Middleton had taken the wise
precaution of bringing with her their eldest child, a fine
little boy about six years old, by which means there was
one subject always to be recurred to by the ladies in case
of extremity, for they had to enquire his name and age,
admire his beauty, and ask him questions which his mother
answered for him, while he hung about her and held
down his head, to the great surprise of her ladyship,
who wondered at his being so shy before company, as he
could make noise enough at home.  On every formal visit
a child ought to be of the party, by way of provision
for discourse.  In the present case it took up ten minutes
to determine whether the boy were most like his father
or mother, and in what particular he resembled either,
for of course every body differed, and every body was
astonished at the opinion of the others.

An opportunity was soon to be given to the Dashwoods
of debating on the rest of the children, as Sir John
would not leave the house without securing their promise
of dining at the park the next day.



CHAPTER 7


Barton Park was about half a mile from the cottage.
The ladies had passed near it in their way along the valley,
but it was screened from their view at home by the
projection of a hill.  The house was large and handsome;
and the Middletons lived in a style of equal hospitality
and elegance.  The former was for Sir John's gratification,
the latter for that of his lady.  They were scarcely
ever without some friends staying with them in the house,
and they kept more company of every kind than any other
family in the neighbourhood.  It was necessary to the
happiness of both; for however dissimilar in temper
and outward behaviour, they strongly resembled each other
in that total want of talent and taste which confined
their employments, unconnected with such as society produced,
within a very narrow compass.  Sir John was a sportsman,
Lady Middleton a mother.  He hunted and shot, and she
humoured her children; and these were their only resources.
Lady Middleton had the advantage of being able to spoil her
children all the year round, while Sir John's independent
employments were in existence only half the time.
Continual engagements at home and abroad, however,
supplied all the deficiencies of nature and education;
supported the good spirits of Sir John, and gave exercise
to the good breeding of his wife.

Lady Middleton piqued herself upon the elegance
of her table, and of all her domestic arrangements;
and from this kind of vanity was her greatest enjoyment
in any of their parties.  But Sir John's satisfaction
in society was much more real; he delighted in collecting
about him more young people than his house would hold,
and the noisier they were the better was he pleased.
He was a blessing to all the juvenile part of the neighbourhood,
for in summer he was for ever forming parties to eat cold
ham and chicken out of doors, and in winter his private
balls were numerous enough for any young lady who was not
suffering under the unsatiable appetite of fifteen.

The arrival of a new family in the country was always
a matter of joy to him, and in every point of view he was
charmed with the inhabitants he had now procured for his
cottage at Barton.  The Miss Dashwoods were young, pretty,
and unaffected.  It was enough to secure his good opinion;
for to be unaffected was all that a pretty girl could
want to make her mind as captivating as her person.
The friendliness of his disposition made him happy in
accommodating those, whose situation might be considered,
in comparison with the past, as unfortunate.  In showing
kindness to his cousins therefore he had the real satisfaction
of a good heart; and in settling a family of females only
in his cottage, he had all the satisfaction of a sportsman;
for a sportsman, though he esteems only those of his sex who
are sportsmen likewise, is not often desirous of encouraging
their taste by admitting them to a residence within his own
manor.

Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters were met at the door
of the house by Sir John, who welcomed them to Barton
Park with unaffected sincerity; and as he attended them
to the drawing room repeated to the young ladies the concern
which the same subject had drawn from him the day before,
at being unable to get any smart young men to meet them.
They would see, he said, only one gentleman there
besides himself; a particular friend who was staying at
the park, but who was neither very young nor very gay.
He hoped they would all excuse the smallness of the party,
and could assure them it should never happen so again.
He had been to several families that morning in hopes
of procuring some addition to their number, but it
was moonlight and every body was full of engagements.
Luckily Lady Middleton's mother had arrived at Barton
within the last hour, and as she was a very cheerful
agreeable woman, he hoped the young ladies would not find
it so very dull as they might imagine.  The young ladies,
as well as their mother, were perfectly satisfied with
having two entire strangers of the party, and wished for
no more.

Mrs. Jennings, Lady Middleton's mother, was a
good-humoured, merry, fat, elderly woman, who talked a
great deal, seemed very happy, and rather vulgar.  She was full
of jokes and laughter, and before dinner was over had said
many witty things on the subject of lovers and husbands;
hoped they had not left their hearts behind them in Sussex,
and pretended to see them blush whether they did or not.
Marianne was vexed at it for her sister's sake, and turned
her eyes towards Elinor to see how she bore these attacks,
with an earnestness which gave Elinor far more pain than
could arise from such common-place raillery as Mrs. Jennings's.

Colonel Brandon, the friend of Sir John, seemed no
more adapted by resemblance of manner to be his friend,
than Lady Middleton was to be his wife, or Mrs. Jennings
to be Lady Middleton's mother.  He was silent and grave.
His appearance however was not unpleasing, in spite
of his being in the opinion of Marianne and Margaret
an absolute old bachelor, for he was on the wrong side
of five and thirty; but though his face was not handsome,
his countenance was sensible, and his address was
particularly gentlemanlike.

There was nothing in any of the party which could
recommend them as companions to the Dashwoods; but the cold
insipidity of Lady Middleton was so particularly repulsive,
that in comparison of it the gravity of Colonel Brandon,
and even the boisterous mirth of Sir John and his
mother-in-law was interesting.  Lady Middleton seemed
to be roused to enjoyment only by the entrance of her
four noisy children after dinner, who pulled her about,
tore her clothes, and put an end to every kind of discourse
except what related to themselves.

In the evening, as Marianne was discovered to be musical,
she was invited to play.  The instrument was unlocked,
every body prepared to be charmed, and Marianne,
who sang very well, at their request went through the
chief of the songs which Lady Middleton had brought into
the family on her marriage, and which perhaps had lain
ever since in the same position on the pianoforte,
for her ladyship had celebrated that event by giving
up music, although by her mother's account, she had
played extremely well, and by her own was very fond of it.

Marianne's performance was highly applauded.
Sir John was loud in his admiration at the end of every song,
and as loud in his conversation with the others while every
song lasted.  Lady Middleton frequently called him to order,
wondered how any one's attention could be diverted from music
for a moment, and asked Marianne to sing a particular song
which Marianne had just finished.  Colonel Brandon alone,
of all the party, heard her without being in raptures.
He paid her only the compliment of attention; and she felt
a respect for him on the occasion, which the others had
reasonably forfeited by their shameless want of taste.
His pleasure in music, though it amounted not to that
ecstatic delight which alone could sympathize with her own,
was estimable when contrasted against the horrible
insensibility of the others; and she was reasonable enough
to allow that a man of five and thirty might well have
outlived all acuteness of feeling and every exquisite
power of enjoyment.  She was perfectly disposed to make
every allowance for the colonel's advanced state of life
which humanity required.



CHAPTER 8


Mrs. Jennings was a widow with an ample jointure.
She had only two daughters, both of whom she had lived
to see respectably married, and she had now therefore
nothing to do but to marry all the rest of the world.
In the promotion of this object she was zealously active,
as far as her ability reached; and missed no opportunity
of projecting weddings among all the young people
of her acquaintance.  She was remarkably quick in the
discovery of attachments, and had enjoyed the advantage
of raising the blushes and the vanity of many a young
lady by insinuations of her power over such a young man;
and this kind of discernment enabled her soon after her
arrival at Barton decisively to pronounce that Colonel
Brandon was very much in love with Marianne Dashwood.
She rather suspected it to be so, on the very first
evening of their being together, from his listening
so attentively while she sang to them; and when the visit
was returned by the Middletons' dining at the cottage,
the fact was ascertained by his listening to her again.
It must be so.  She was perfectly convinced of it.
It would be an excellent match, for HE was rich, and SHE
was handsome.  Mrs. Jennings had been anxious to see
Colonel Brandon well married, ever since her connection
with Sir John first brought him to her knowledge;
and she was always anxious to get a good husband for every
pretty girl.

The immediate advantage to herself was by no means
inconsiderable, for it supplied her with endless jokes
against them both.  At the park she laughed at the colonel,
and in the cottage at Marianne.  To the former her
raillery was probably, as far as it regarded only himself,
perfectly indifferent; but to the latter it was at
first incomprehensible; and when its object was understood,
she hardly knew whether most to laugh at its absurdity,
or censure its impertinence, for she considered it as an
unfeeling reflection on the colonel's advanced years,
and on his forlorn condition as an old bachelor.

Mrs. Dashwood, who could not think a man five years
younger than herself, so exceedingly ancient as he appeared
to the youthful fancy of her daughter, ventured to clear
Mrs. Jennings from the probability of wishing to throw
ridicule on his age.

"But at least, Mamma, you cannot deny the absurdity
of the accusation, though you may not think it intentionally
ill-natured.  Colonel Brandon is certainly younger than
Mrs. Jennings, but he is old enough to be MY father;
and if he were ever animated enough to be in love,
must have long outlived every sensation of the kind.
It is too ridiculous!  When is a man to be safe from such wit,
if age and infirmity will not protect him?"

"Infirmity!" said Elinor, "do you call Colonel Brandon
infirm?  I can easily suppose that his age may appear much
greater to you than to my mother; but you can hardly
deceive yourself as to his having the use of his limbs!"

"Did not you hear him complain of the rheumatism?
and is not that the commonest infirmity of declining life?"

"My dearest child," said her mother, laughing,
"at this rate you must be in continual terror of MY decay;
and it must seem to you a miracle that my life has been
extended to the advanced age of forty."

"Mamma, you are not doing me justice.  I know very well
that Colonel Brandon is not old enough to make his friends
yet apprehensive of losing him in the course of nature.
He may live twenty years longer.  But thirty-five has
nothing to do with matrimony."

"Perhaps," said Elinor, "thirty-five and seventeen had
better not have any thing to do with matrimony together.
But if there should by any chance happen to be a woman
who is single at seven and twenty, I should not think
Colonel Brandon's being thirty-five any objection to his
marrying HER."

"A woman of seven and twenty," said Marianne,
after pausing a moment, "can never hope to feel or inspire
affection again, and if her home be uncomfortable,
or her fortune small, I can suppose that she might
bring herself to submit to the offices of a nurse,
for the sake of the provision and security of a wife.
In his marrying such a woman therefore there would be
nothing unsuitable.  It would be a compact of convenience,
and the world would be satisfied.  In my eyes it would
be no marriage at all, but that would be nothing.
To me it would seem only a commercial exchange, in which
each wished to be benefited at the expense of the other."

"It would be impossible, I know," replied Elinor,
"to convince you that a woman of seven and twenty could
feel for a man of thirty-five anything near enough
to love, to make him a desirable companion to her.
But I must object to your dooming Colonel Brandon and
his wife to the constant confinement of a sick chamber,
merely because he chanced to complain yesterday (a
very cold damp day) of a slight rheumatic feel in one
of his shoulders."

"But he talked of flannel waistcoats," said Marianne;
"and with me a flannel waistcoat is invariably connected
with aches, cramps, rheumatisms, and every species of
ailment that can afflict the old and the feeble."

"Had he been only in a violent fever, you would not
have despised him half so much.  Confess, Marianne, is not
there something interesting to you in the flushed cheek,
hollow eye, and quick pulse of a fever?"

Soon after this, upon Elinor's leaving the room,
"Mamma," said Marianne, "I have an alarm on the subject
of illness which I cannot conceal from you.  I am sure
Edward Ferrars is not well.  We have now been here almost
a fortnight, and yet he does not come.  Nothing but real
indisposition could occasion this extraordinary delay.
What else can detain him at Norland?"

"Had you any idea of his coming so soon?"
said Mrs. Dashwood.  "I had none.  On the contrary,
if I have felt any anxiety at all on the subject, it has
been in recollecting that he sometimes showed a want
of pleasure and readiness in accepting my invitation,
when I talked of his coming to Barton.  Does Elinor
expect him already?"

"I have never mentioned it to her, but of course
she must."

"I rather think you are mistaken, for when I
was talking to her yesterday of getting a new grate
for the spare bedchamber, she observed that there
was no immediate hurry for it, as it was not likely
that the room would be wanted for some time."

"How strange this is! what can be the meaning of it!
But the whole of their behaviour to each other has been
unaccountable! How cold, how composed were their last
adieus! How languid their conversation the last evening
of their being together! In Edward's farewell there was no
distinction between Elinor and me: it was the good wishes
of an affectionate brother to both.  Twice did I leave
them purposely together in the course of the last morning,
and each time did he most unaccountably follow me out
of the room.  And Elinor, in quitting Norland and Edward,
cried not as I did.  Even now her self-command is invariable.
When is she dejected or melancholy? When does she try
to avoid society, or appear restless and dissatisfied
in it?"



CHAPTER 9


The Dashwoods were now settled at Barton with tolerable
comfort to themselves.  The house and the garden, with all
the objects surrounding them, were now become familiar,
and the ordinary pursuits which had given to Norland
half its charms were engaged in again with far greater
enjoyment than Norland had been able to afford, since the
loss of their father.  Sir John Middleton, who called
on them every day for the first fortnight, and who was
not in the habit of seeing much occupation at home,
could not conceal his amazement on finding them always employed.

Their visitors, except those from Barton Park,
were not many; for, in spite of Sir John's urgent entreaties
that they would mix more in the neighbourhood, and repeated
assurances of his carriage being always at their service,
the independence of Mrs. Dashwood's spirit overcame the
wish of society for her children; and she was resolute
in declining to visit any family beyond the distance
of a walk.  There were but few who could be so classed;
and it was not all of them that were attainable.
About a mile and a half from the cottage, along the narrow
winding valley of Allenham, which issued from that of Barton,
as formerly described, the girls had, in one of their
earliest walks, discovered an ancient respectable looking
mansion which, by reminding them a little of Norland,
interested their imagination and made them wish to be
better acquainted with it.  But they learnt, on enquiry,
that its possessor, an elderly lady of very good character,
was unfortunately too infirm to mix with the world,
and never stirred from home.

The whole country about them abounded in beautiful walks.
The high downs which invited them from almost every window
of the cottage to seek the exquisite enjoyment of air
on their summits, were a happy alternative when the dirt
of the valleys beneath shut up their superior beauties;
and towards one of these hills did Marianne and Margaret
one memorable morning direct their steps, attracted by the
partial sunshine of a showery sky, and unable longer to bear
the confinement which the settled rain of the two preceding
days had occasioned.  The weather was not tempting enough
to draw the two others from their pencil and their book,
in spite of Marianne's declaration that the day would
be lastingly fair, and that every threatening cloud would
be drawn off from their hills; and the two girls set off
together.

They gaily ascended the downs, rejoicing in their own
penetration at every glimpse of blue sky; and when they
caught in their faces the animating gales of a high
south-westerly wind, they pitied the fears which had prevented
their mother and Elinor from sharing such delightful sensations.

"Is there a felicity in the world," said Marianne,
"superior to this?--Margaret, we will walk here at least
two hours."

Margaret agreed, and they pursued their way against
the wind, resisting it with laughing delight for about
twenty minutes longer, when suddenly the clouds united over
their heads, and a driving rain set full in their face.--
Chagrined and surprised, they were obliged, though unwillingly,
to turn back, for no shelter was nearer than their own house.
One consolation however remained for them, to which the
exigence of the moment gave more than usual propriety;
it was that of running with all possible speed down the steep
side of the hill which led immediately to their garden gate.

They set off.  Marianne had at first the advantage,
but a false step brought her suddenly to the ground;
and Margaret, unable to stop herself to assist her,
was involuntarily hurried along, and reached the bottom
in safety.

A gentleman carrying a gun, with two pointers
playing round him, was passing up the hill and within
a few yards of Marianne, when her accident happened.
He put down his gun and ran to her assistance.  She had
raised herself from the ground, but her foot had been
twisted in her fall, and she was scarcely able to stand.
The gentleman offered his services; and perceiving that her
modesty declined what her situation rendered necessary,
took her up in his arms without farther delay, and carried
her down the hill.  Then passing through the garden,
the gate of which had been left open by Margaret, he bore her
directly into the house, whither Margaret was just arrived,
and quitted not his hold till he had seated her in a chair
in the parlour.

Elinor and her mother rose up in amazement at
their entrance, and while the eyes of both were fixed
on him with an evident wonder and a secret admiration
which equally sprung from his appearance, he apologized
for his intrusion by relating its cause, in a manner
so frank and so graceful that his person, which was
uncommonly handsome, received additional charms from his voice
and expression.  Had he been even old, ugly, and vulgar,
the gratitude and kindness of Mrs. Dashwood would
have been secured by any act of attention to her child;
but the influence of youth, beauty, and elegance,
gave an interest to the action which came home to her feelings.

She thanked him again and again; and, with a sweetness
of address which always attended her, invited him to
be seated.  But this he declined, as he was dirty and wet.
Mrs. Dashwood then begged to know to whom she was obliged.
His name, he replied, was Willoughby, and his present
home was at Allenham, from whence he hoped she would
allow him the honour of calling tomorrow to enquire
after Miss Dashwood.  The honour was readily granted,
and he then departed, to make himself still more interesting,
in the midst of a heavy rain.

His manly beauty and more than common gracefulness
were instantly the theme of general admiration,
and the laugh which his gallantry raised against Marianne
received particular spirit from his exterior attractions.--
Marianne herself had seen less of his person that the rest,
for the confusion which crimsoned over her face, on his
lifting her up, had robbed her of the power of regarding
him after their entering the house.  But she had seen
enough of him to join in all the admiration of the others,
and with an energy which always adorned her praise.
His person and air were equal to what her fancy had ever
drawn for the hero of a favourite story; and in his carrying
her into the house with so little previous formality, there
was a rapidity of thought which particularly recommended
the action to her.  Every circumstance belonging to him
was interesting.  His name was good, his residence was in
their favourite village, and she soon found out that of all
manly dresses a shooting-jacket was the most becoming.
Her imagination was busy, her reflections were pleasant,
and the pain of a sprained ankle was disregarded.

Sir John called on them as soon as the next interval
of fair weather that morning allowed him to get out
of doors; and Marianne's accident being related to him,
he was eagerly asked whether he knew any gentleman
of the name of Willoughby at Allenham.

"Willoughby!" cried Sir John; "what, is HE
in the country? That is good news however; I will
ride over tomorrow, and ask him to dinner on Thursday."

"You know him then," said Mrs. Dashwood.

"Know him! to be sure I do.  Why, he is down here
every year."

"And what sort of a young man is he?"

"As good a kind of fellow as ever lived, I assure you.
A very decent shot, and there is not a bolder rider
in England."

"And is that all you can say for him?" cried Marianne,
indignantly.  "But what are his manners on more intimate
acquaintance? What his pursuits, his talents, and genius?"

Sir John was rather puzzled.

"Upon my soul," said he, "I do not know much about him
as to all THAT.  But he is a pleasant, good humoured fellow,
and has got the nicest little black bitch of a pointer
I ever saw.  Was she out with him today?"

But Marianne could no more satisfy him as to the
colour of Mr. Willoughby's pointer, than he could
describe to her the shades of his mind.

"But who is he?" said Elinor.  "Where does he come
from?  Has he a house at Allenham?"

On this point Sir John could give more certain intelligence;
and he told them that Mr. Willoughby had no property
of his own in the country; that he resided there only
while he was visiting the old lady at Allenham Court,
to whom he was related, and whose possessions he was
to inherit; adding, "Yes, yes, he is very well worth
catching I can tell you, Miss Dashwood; he has a pretty
little estate of his own in Somersetshire besides;
and if I were you, I would not give him up to my
younger sister, in spite of all this tumbling down hills.
Miss Marianne must not expect to have all the men to herself.
Brandon will be jealous, if she does not take care."

"I do not believe," said Mrs. Dashwood, with a
good humoured smile, "that Mr. Willoughby will be incommoded
by the attempts of either of MY daughters towards what
you call CATCHING him.  It is not an employment to which
they have been brought up.  Men are very safe with us,
let them be ever so rich.  I am glad to find, however,
from what you say, that he is a respectable young man,
and one whose acquaintance will not be ineligible."

"He is as good a sort of fellow, I believe,
as ever lived," repeated Sir John.  "I remember
last Christmas at a little hop at the park, he danced
from eight o'clock till four, without once sitting down."

"Did he indeed?" cried Marianne with sparkling eyes,
"and with elegance, with spirit?"

"Yes; and he was up again at eight to ride to covert."

"That is what I like; that is what a young man ought
to be.  Whatever be his pursuits, his eagerness in them
should know no moderation, and leave him no sense of fatigue."

"Aye, aye, I see how it will be," said Sir John, "I see
how it will be.  You will be setting your cap at him now,
and never think of poor Brandon."

"That is an expression, Sir John," said Marianne,
warmly, "which I particularly dislike.  I abhor every
common-place phrase by which wit is intended; and 'setting
one's cap at a man,' or 'making a conquest,' are the most
odious of all.  Their tendency is gross and illiberal;
and if their construction could ever be deemed clever,
time has long ago destroyed all its ingenuity."

Sir John did not much understand this reproof;
but he laughed as heartily as if he did, and then replied,

"Ay, you will make conquests enough, I dare say,
one way or other.  Poor Brandon! he is quite smitten already,
and he is very well worth setting your cap at, I can
tell you, in spite of all this tumbling about and spraining
of ankles."



CHAPTER 10


Marianne's preserver, as Margaret, with more elegance
than precision, styled Willoughby, called at the cottage
early the next morning to make his personal enquiries.
He was received by Mrs. Dashwood with more than politeness;
with a kindness which Sir John's account of him and her own
gratitude prompted; and every thing that passed during
the visit tended to assure him of the sense, elegance,
mutual affection, and domestic comfort of the family
to whom accident had now introduced him.  Of their
personal charms he had not required a second interview
to be convinced.

Miss Dashwood had a delicate complexion,
regular features, and a remarkably pretty figure.
Marianne was still handsomer.  Her form, though not so
correct as her sister's, in having the advantage of height,
was more striking; and her face was so lovely, that when
in the common cant of praise, she was called a beautiful girl,
truth was less violently outraged than usually happens.
Her skin was very brown, but, from its transparency,
her complexion was uncommonly brilliant; her features
were all good; her smile was sweet and attractive;
and in her eyes, which were very dark, there was a life,
a spirit, an eagerness, which could hardily be seen
without delight.  From Willoughby their expression was at
first held back, by the embarrassment which the remembrance
of his assistance created.  But when this passed away,
when her spirits became collected, when she saw that to the
perfect good-breeding of the gentleman, he united frankness
and vivacity, and above all, when she heard him declare,
that of music and dancing he was passionately fond,
she gave him such a look of approbation as secured the
largest share of his discourse to herself for the rest
of his stay.

It was only necessary to mention any favourite
amusement to engage her to talk.  She could not be
silent when such points were introduced, and she
had neither shyness nor reserve in their discussion.
They speedily discovered that their enjoyment of dancing
and music was mutual, and that it arose from a general
conformity of judgment in all that related to either.
Encouraged by this to a further examination of his opinions,
she proceeded to question him on the subject of books;
her favourite authors were brought forward and dwelt
upon with so rapturous a delight, that any young man of
five and twenty must have been insensible indeed, not to
become an immediate convert to the excellence of such works,
however disregarded before.  Their taste was strikingly alike.
The same books, the same passages were idolized by each--
or if any difference appeared, any objection arose,
it lasted no longer than till the force of her arguments
and the brightness of her eyes could be displayed.
He acquiesced in all her decisions, caught all her enthusiasm;
and long before his visit concluded, they conversed
with the familiarity of a long-established acquaintance.

"Well, Marianne," said Elinor, as soon as he had left them,
"for ONE morning I think you have done pretty well.
You have already ascertained Mr. Willoughby's opinion in
almost every matter of importance.  You know what he thinks
of Cowper and Scott; you are certain of his estimating
their beauties as he ought, and you have received every
assurance of his admiring Pope no more than is proper.
But how is your acquaintance to be long supported, under such
extraordinary despatch of every subject for discourse?
You will soon have exhausted each favourite topic.
Another meeting will suffice to explain his sentiments
on picturesque beauty, and second marriages, and then
you can have nothing farther to ask."--

"Elinor," cried Marianne, "is this fair? is this
just? are my ideas so scanty?  But I see what you mean.
I have been too much at my ease, too happy, too frank.
I have erred against every common-place notion of decorum;
I have been open and sincere where I ought to have
been reserved, spiritless, dull, and deceitful--had
I talked only of the weather and the roads, and had I
spoken only once in ten minutes, this reproach would have
been spared."

"My love," said her mother, "you must not be offended
with Elinor--she was only in jest.  I should scold
her myself, if she were capable of wishing to check
the delight of your conversation with our new friend."--
Marianne was softened in a moment.

Willoughby, on his side, gave every proof of his
pleasure in their acquaintance, which an evident wish
of improving it could offer.  He came to them every day.
To enquire after Marianne was at first his excuse; but the
encouragement of his reception, to which every day gave
greater kindness, made such an excuse unnecessary before it
had ceased to be possible, by Marianne's perfect recovery.
She was confined for some days to the house; but never had
any confinement been less irksome.  Willoughby was a young
man of good abilities, quick imagination, lively spirits,
and open, affectionate manners.  He was exactly formed
to engage Marianne's heart, for with all this, he joined
not only a captivating person, but a natural ardour
of mind which was now roused and increased by the example
of her own, and which recommended him to her affection
beyond every thing else.

His society became gradually her most exquisite enjoyment.
They read, they talked, they sang together; his musical
talents were considerable; and he read with all the
sensibility and spirit which Edward had unfortunately wanted.

In Mrs. Dashwood's estimation he was as faultless
as in Marianne's; and Elinor saw nothing to censure in him
but a propensity, in which he strongly resembled and peculiarly
delighted her sister, of saying too much what he thought on
every occasion, without attention to persons or circumstances.
In hastily forming and giving his opinion of other people,
in sacrificing general politeness to the enjoyment
of undivided attention where his heart was engaged,
and in slighting too easily the forms of worldly propriety,
he displayed a want of caution which Elinor could not approve,
in spite of all that he and Marianne could say in its support.

Marianne began now to perceive that the desperation
which had seized her at sixteen and a half, of ever
seeing a man who could satisfy her ideas of perfection,
had been rash and unjustifiable.  Willoughby was all
that her fancy had delineated in that unhappy hour
and in every brighter period, as capable of attaching her;
and his behaviour declared his wishes to be in that respect
as earnest, as his abilities were strong.

Her mother too, in whose mind not one speculative
thought of their marriage had been raised, by his prospect
of riches, was led before the end of a week to hope and
expect it; and secretly to congratulate herself on having
gained two such sons-in-law as Edward and Willoughby.

Colonel Brandon's partiality for Marianne, which had
so early been discovered by his friends, now first became
perceptible to Elinor, when it ceased to be noticed
by them.  Their attention and wit were drawn off to his
more fortunate rival; and the raillery which the other
had incurred before any partiality arose, was removed
when his feelings began really to call for the ridicule
so justly annexed to sensibility.  Elinor was obliged,
though unwillingly, to believe that the sentiments which
Mrs. Jennings had assigned him for her own satisfaction,
were now actually excited by her sister; and that however
a general resemblance of disposition between the parties
might forward the affection of Mr. Willoughby, an equally
striking opposition of character was no hindrance to the
regard of Colonel Brandon.  She saw it with concern;
for what could a silent man of five and thirty hope,
when opposed to a very lively one of five and twenty? and as
she could not even wish him successful, she heartily wished
him indifferent.  She liked him--in spite of his gravity
and reserve, she beheld in him an object of interest.
His manners, though serious, were mild; and his reserve
appeared rather the result of some oppression of spirits
than of any natural gloominess of temper.  Sir John
had dropped hints of past injuries and disappointments,
which justified her belief of his being an unfortunate man,
and she regarded him with respect and compassion.

Perhaps she pitied and esteemed him the more
because he was slighted by Willoughby and Marianne,
who, prejudiced against him for being neither lively
nor young, seemed resolved to undervalue his merits.

"Brandon is just the kind of man," said Willoughby
one day, when they were talking of him together,
"whom every body speaks well of, and nobody cares about;
whom all are delighted to see, and nobody remembers
to talk to."

"That is exactly what I think of him," cried Marianne.

"Do not boast of it, however," said Elinor, "for it
is injustice in both of you.  He is highly esteemed
by all the family at the park, and I never see him myself
without taking pains to converse with him."

"That he is patronised by YOU," replied Willoughby,
"is certainly in his favour; but as for the esteem
of the others, it is a reproach in itself.  Who would
submit to the indignity of being approved by such a woman
as Lady Middleton and Mrs. Jennings, that could command
the indifference of any body else?"

"But perhaps the abuse of such people as yourself
and Marianne will make amends for the regard of Lady
Middleton and her mother.  If their praise is censure,
your censure may be praise, for they are not more undiscerning,
than you are prejudiced and unjust."

"In defence of your protege you can even be saucy."

"My protege, as you call him, is a sensible man;
and sense will always have attractions for me.
Yes, Marianne, even in a man between thirty and forty.
He has seen a great deal of the world; has been abroad,
has read, and has a thinking mind.  I have found him
capable of giving me much information on various subjects;
and he has always answered my inquiries with readiness of
good-breeding and good nature."

"That is to say," cried Marianne contemptuously,
"he has told you, that in the East Indies the climate is hot,
and the mosquitoes are troublesome."

"He WOULD have told me so, I doubt not, had I made
any such inquiries, but they happened to be points
on which I had been previously informed."

"Perhaps," said Willoughby, "his observations may
have extended to the existence of nabobs, gold mohrs,
and palanquins."

"I may venture to say that HIS observations
have stretched much further than your candour.
But why should you dislike him?"

"I do not dislike him.  I consider him, on the contrary,
as a very respectable man, who has every body's good word,
and nobody's notice; who, has more money than he can spend,
more time than he knows how to employ, and two new coats
every year."

"Add to which," cried Marianne, "that he has
neither genius, taste, nor spirit.  That his understanding
has no brilliancy, his feelings no ardour, and his voice
no expression."

"You decide on his imperfections so much in the mass,"
replied Elinor, "and so much on the strength of your
own imagination, that the commendation I am able to give
of him is comparatively cold and insipid.  I can only
pronounce him to be a sensible man, well-bred, well-informed,
of gentle address, and, I believe, possessing an amiable heart."

"Miss Dashwood," cried Willoughby, "you are now using
me unkindly.  You are endeavouring to disarm me by reason,
and to convince me against my will.  But it will not do.
You shall find me as stubborn as you can be artful.  I have
three unanswerable reasons for disliking Colonel Brandon;
he threatened me with rain when I wanted it to be fine;
he has found fault with the hanging of my curricle,
and I cannot persuade him to buy my brown mare.  If it
will be any satisfaction to you, however, to be told,
that I believe his character to be in other respects
irreproachable, I am ready to confess it.  And in return
for an acknowledgment, which must give me some pain,
you cannot deny me the privilege of disliking him as much
as ever."



CHAPTER 11


Little had Mrs. Dashwood or her daughters imagined
when they first came into Devonshire, that so many
engagements would arise to occupy their time as shortly
presented themselves, or that they should have such frequent
invitations and such constant visitors as to leave them little
leisure for serious employment.  Yet such was the case.
When Marianne was recovered, the schemes of amusement at home
and abroad, which Sir John had been previously forming,
were put into execution.  The private balls at the park
then began; and parties on the water were made and
accomplished as often as a showery October would allow.
In every meeting of the kind Willoughby was included;
and the ease and familiarity which naturally attended
these parties were exactly calculated to give increasing
intimacy to his acquaintance with the Dashwoods, to afford
him opportunity of witnessing the excellencies of Marianne,
of marking his animated admiration of her, and of receiving,
in her behaviour to himself, the most pointed assurance
of her affection.

Elinor could not be surprised at their attachment.
She only wished that it were less openly shewn; and once
or twice did venture to suggest the propriety of some
self-command to Marianne.  But Marianne abhorred all
concealment where no real disgrace could attend unreserve;
and to aim at the restraint of sentiments which were not
in themselves illaudable, appeared to her not merely
an unnecessary effort, but a disgraceful subjection
of reason to common-place and mistaken notions.
Willoughby thought the same; and their behaviour at
all times, was an illustration of their opinions.

When he was present she had no eyes for any one else.
Every thing he did, was right.  Every thing he said, was clever.
If their evenings at the park were concluded with cards,
he cheated himself and all the rest of the party to get
her a good hand.  If dancing formed the amusement
of the night, they were partners for half the time;
and when obliged to separate for a couple of dances,
were careful to stand together and scarcely spoke a word
to any body else.  Such conduct made them of course
most exceedingly laughed at; but ridicule could not shame,
and seemed hardly to provoke them.

Mrs. Dashwood entered into all their feelings with
a warmth which left her no inclination for checking this
excessive display of them.  To her it was but the natural
consequence of a strong affection in a young and ardent mind.

This was the season of happiness to Marianne.
Her heart was devoted to Willoughby, and the fond attachment
to Norland, which she brought with her from Sussex,
was more likely to be softened than she had thought it
possible before, by the charms which his society bestowed
on her present home.

Elinor's happiness was not so great.  Her heart was not
so much at ease, nor her satisfaction in their amusements
so pure.  They afforded her no companion that could make
amends for what she had left behind, nor that could teach
her to think of Norland with less regret than ever.
Neither Lady Middleton nor Mrs. Jennings could supply
to her the conversation she missed; although the latter
was an everlasting talker, and from the first had regarded
her with a kindness which ensured her a large share of
her discourse.  She had already repeated her own history
to Elinor three or four times; and had Elinor's memory been
equal to her means of improvement, she might have known
very early in their acquaintance all the particulars of
Mr. Jenning's last illness, and what he said to his wife
a few minutes before he died.  Lady Middleton was more
agreeable than her mother only in being more silent.
Elinor needed little observation to perceive that her
reserve was a mere calmness of manner with which sense
had nothing to do.  Towards her husband and mother she
was the same as to them; and intimacy was therefore
neither to be looked for nor desired.  She had nothing
to say one day that she had not said the day before.
Her insipidity was invariable, for even her spirits were
always the same; and though she did not oppose the parties
arranged by her husband, provided every thing were conducted
in style and her two eldest children attended her,
she never appeared to receive more enjoyment from them
than she might have experienced in sitting at home;--
and so little did her presence add to the pleasure
of the others, by any share in their conversation,
that they were sometimes only reminded of her being
amongst them by her solicitude about her troublesome boys.

In Colonel Brandon alone, of all her new acquaintance,
did Elinor find a person who could in any degree claim the
respect of abilities, excite the interest of friendship,
or give pleasure as a companion.  Willoughby was out
of the question.  Her admiration and regard, even her
sisterly regard, was all his own; but he was a lover;
his attentions were wholly Marianne's, and a far less
agreeable man might have been more generally pleasing.
Colonel Brandon, unfortunately for himself, had no such
encouragement to think only of Marianne, and in conversing
with Elinor he found the greatest consolation for the
indifference of her sister.

Elinor's compassion for him increased, as she had reason
to suspect that the misery of disappointed love had already
been known to him.  This suspicion was given by some words
which accidently dropped from him one evening at the park,
when they were sitting down together by mutual consent,
while the others were dancing.  His eyes were fixed
on Marianne, and, after a silence of some minutes,
he said, with a faint smile, "Your sister, I understand,
does not approve of second attachments."

"No," replied Elinor, "her opinions are all romantic."

"Or rather, as I believe, she considers them
impossible to exist."

"I believe she does.  But how she contrives it
without reflecting on the character of her own father,
who had himself two wives, I know not.  A few years
however will settle her opinions on the reasonable basis
of common sense and observation; and then they may be
more easy to define and to justify than they now are,
by any body but herself."

"This will probably be the case," he replied;
"and yet there is something so amiable in the prejudices
of a young mind, that one is sorry to see them give way
to the reception of more general opinions."

"I cannot agree with you there," said Elinor.
"There are inconveniences attending such feelings
as Marianne's, which all the charms of enthusiasm and
ignorance of the world cannot atone for.  Her systems have
all the unfortunate tendency of setting propriety at nought;
and a better acquaintance with the world is what I look
forward to as her greatest possible advantage."

After a short pause he resumed the conversation
by saying,--

"Does your sister make no distinction in her objections
against a second attachment? or is it equally criminal
in every body?  Are those who have been disappointed
in their first choice, whether from the inconstancy
of its object, or the perverseness of circumstances,
to be equally indifferent during the rest of their lives?"

"Upon my word, I am not acquainted with the minutiae
of her principles.  I only know that I never yet heard her
admit any instance of a second attachment's being pardonable."

"This," said he, "cannot hold; but a change,
a total change of sentiments--No, no, do not desire it;
for when the romantic refinements of a young mind
are obliged to give way, how frequently are they
succeeded by such opinions as are but too common, and too
dangerous!  I speak from experience.  I once knew a lady
who in temper and mind greatly resembled your sister,
who thought and judged like her, but who from an inforced
change--from a series of unfortunate circumstances"--
Here he stopt suddenly; appeared to think that he had said
too much, and by his countenance gave rise to conjectures,
which might not otherwise have entered Elinor's head.
The lady would probably have passed without suspicion,
had he not convinced Miss Dashwood that what concerned
her ought not to escape his lips.  As it was,
it required but a slight effort of fancy to connect his
emotion with the tender recollection of past regard.
Elinor attempted no more.  But Marianne, in her place,
would not have done so little.  The whole story would
have been speedily formed under her active imagination;
and every thing established in the most melancholy order
of disastrous love.



CHAPTER 12


As Elinor and Marianne were walking together the
next morning the latter communicated a piece of news
to her sister, which in spite of all that she knew
before of Marianne's imprudence and want of thought,
surprised her by its extravagant testimony of both.
Marianne told her, with the greatest delight, that
Willoughby had given her a horse, one that he had bred
himself on his estate in Somersetshire, and which was
exactly calculated to carry a woman.  Without considering
that it was not in her mother's plan to keep any horse,
that if she were to alter her resolution in favour of
this gift, she must buy another for the servant, and
keep a servant to ride it, and after all, build a stable
to receive them, she had accepted the present without
hesitation, and told her sister of it in raptures.

"He intends to send his groom into Somersetshire
immediately for it," she added, "and when it arrives we
will ride every day.  You shall share its use with me.
Imagine to yourself, my dear Elinor, the delight of a gallop
on some of these downs."

Most unwilling was she to awaken from such a dream of
felicity to comprehend all the unhappy truths which attended
the affair; and for some time she refused to submit to them.
As to an additional servant, the expense would be a trifle;
Mamma she was sure would never object to it; and any horse
would do for HIM; he might always get one at the park;
as to a stable, the merest shed would be sufficient.
Elinor then ventured to doubt the propriety of her receiving
such a present from a man so little, or at least so lately
known to her.  This was too much.

"You are mistaken, Elinor," said she warmly,
"in supposing I know very little of Willoughby.
I have not known him long indeed, but I am much better
acquainted with him, than I am with any other creature
in the world, except yourself and mama.  It is not
time or opportunity that is to determine intimacy;--
it is disposition alone.  Seven years would be insufficient
to make some people acquainted with each other, and seven
days are more than enough for others.  I should hold
myself guilty of greater impropriety in accepting a horse
from my brother, than from Willoughby.  Of John I know
very little, though we have lived together for years;
but of Willoughby my judgment has long been formed."

Elinor thought it wisest to touch that point no more.
She knew her sister's temper.  Opposition on so tender a
subject would only attach her the more to her own opinion.
But by an appeal to her affection for her mother,
by representing the inconveniences which that indulgent
mother must draw on herself, if (as would probably be
the case) she consented to this increase of establishment,
Marianne was shortly subdued; and she promised not to
tempt her mother to such imprudent kindness by mentioning
the offer, and to tell Willoughby when she saw him next,
that it must be declined.

She was faithful to her word; and when Willoughby
called at the cottage, the same day, Elinor heard her
express her disappointment to him in a low voice, on
being obliged to forego the acceptance of his present.
The reasons for this alteration were at the same time related,
and they were such as to make further entreaty on his
side impossible.  His concern however was very apparent;
and after expressing it with earnestness, he added,
in the same low voice,--"But, Marianne, the horse is
still yours, though you cannot use it now.  I shall keep
it only till you can claim it.  When you leave Barton
to form your own establishment in a more lasting home,
Queen Mab shall receive you."

This was all overheard by Miss Dashwood; and in the
whole of the sentence, in his manner of pronouncing it,
and in his addressing her sister by her Christian name alone,
she instantly saw an intimacy so decided, a meaning
so direct, as marked a perfect agreement between them.
From that moment she doubted not of their being engaged
to each other; and the belief of it created no other surprise
than that she, or any of their friends, should be left
by tempers so frank, to discover it by accident.

Margaret related something to her the next day,
which placed this matter in a still clearer light.
Willoughby had spent the preceding evening with them,
and Margaret, by being left some time in the parlour
with only him and Marianne, had had opportunity
for observations, which, with a most important face,
she communicated to her eldest sister, when they were
next by themselves.

"Oh, Elinor!" she cried, "I have such a secret to
tell you about Marianne.  I am sure she will be married
to Mr. Willoughby very soon."

"You have said so," replied Elinor, "almost every
day since they first met on High-church Down; and they
had not known each other a week, I believe, before you
were certain that Marianne wore his picture round her neck;
but it turned out to be only the miniature of our great uncle."

"But indeed this is quite another thing.  I am sure
they will be married very soon, for he has got a lock
of her hair."

"Take care, Margaret.  It may be only the hair
of some great uncle of HIS."

"But, indeed, Elinor, it is Marianne's. I am almost
sure it is, for I saw him cut it off.  Last night
after tea, when you and mama went out of the room,
they were whispering and talking together as fast as
could be, and he seemed to be begging something of her,
and presently he took up her scissors and cut off a long
lock of her hair, for it was all tumbled down her back;
and he kissed it, and folded it up in a piece of white paper;
and put it into his pocket-book."

For such particulars, stated on such authority,
Elinor could not withhold her credit; nor was she disposed
to it, for the circumstance was in perfect unison with
what she had heard and seen herself.

Margaret's sagacity was not always displayed in a
way so satisfactory to her sister.  When Mrs. Jennings
attacked her one evening at the park, to give the name
of the young man who was Elinor's particular favourite,
which had been long a matter of great curiosity to her,
Margaret answered by looking at her sister, and saying,
"I must not tell, may I, Elinor?"

This of course made every body laugh; and Elinor
tried to laugh too.  But the effort was painful.
She was convinced that Margaret had fixed on a person
whose name she could not bear with composure to become
a standing joke with Mrs. Jennings.

Marianne felt for her most sincerely; but she did
more harm than good to the cause, by turning very red
and saying in an angry manner to Margaret,

"Remember that whatever your conjectures may be,
you have no right to repeat them."

"I never had any conjectures about it," replied Margaret;
"it was you who told me of it yourself."

This increased the mirth of the company, and Margaret
was eagerly pressed to say something more.

"Oh! pray, Miss Margaret, let us know all about it,"
said Mrs. Jennings.  "What is the gentleman's name?"

"I must not tell, ma'am. But I know very well what it is;
and I know where he is too."

"Yes, yes, we can guess where he is; at his own house
at Norland to be sure.  He is the curate of the parish
I dare say."

"No, THAT he is not.  He is of no profession at all."

"Margaret," said Marianne with great warmth,
"you know that all this is an invention of your own,
and that there is no such person in existence."

"Well, then, he is lately dead, Marianne, for I
am sure there was such a man once, and his name begins
with an F."

Most grateful did Elinor feel to Lady Middleton
for observing, at this moment, "that it rained very hard,"
though she believed the interruption to proceed less from
any attention to her, than from her ladyship's great dislike
of all such inelegant subjects of raillery as delighted
her husband and mother.  The idea however started by her,
was immediately pursued by Colonel Brandon, who was
on every occasion mindful of the feelings of others;
and much was said on the subject of rain by both of them.
Willoughby opened the piano-forte, and asked Marianne
to sit down to it; and thus amidst the various endeavours
of different people to quit the topic, it fell to the ground.
But not so easily did Elinor recover from the alarm into
which it had thrown her.

A party was formed this evening for going on the
following day to see a very fine place about twelve miles
from Barton, belonging to a brother-in-law of Colonel Brandon,
without whose interest it could not be seen, as the proprietor,
who was then abroad, had left strict orders on that head.
The grounds were declared to be highly beautiful,
and Sir John, who was particularly warm in their praise,
might be allowed to be a tolerable judge, for he had
formed parties to visit them, at least, twice every summer
for the last ten years.  They contained a noble piece
of water; a sail on which was to a form a great part of
the morning's amusement; cold provisions were to be taken,
open carriages only to be employed, and every thing
conducted in the usual style of a complete party of pleasure.

To some few of the company it appeared rather
a bold undertaking, considering the time of year,
and that it had rained every day for the last fortnight;--
and Mrs. Dashwood, who had already a cold, was persuaded
by Elinor to stay at home.



CHAPTER 13


Their intended excursion to Whitwell turned out
very different from what Elinor had expected.  She was
prepared to be wet through, fatigued, and frightened;
but the event was still more unfortunate, for they did
not go at all.

By ten o'clock the whole party was assembled at
the park, where they were to breakfast.  The morning
was rather favourable, though it had rained all night,
as the clouds were then dispersing across the sky,
and the sun frequently appeared.  They were all in high
spirits and good humour, eager to be happy, and determined
to submit to the greatest inconveniences and hardships
rather than be otherwise.

While they were at breakfast the letters were brought in.
Among the rest there was one for Colonel Brandon;--he
took it, looked at the direction, changed colour,
and immediately left the room.

"What is the matter with Brandon?" said Sir John.

Nobody could tell.

"I hope he has had no bad news," said Lady Middleton.
"It must be something extraordinary that could make Colonel
Brandon leave my breakfast table so suddenly."

In about five minutes he returned.

"No bad news, Colonel, I hope;" said Mrs. Jennings,
as soon as he entered the room.

"None at all, ma'am, I thank you."

"Was it from Avignon?  I hope it is not to say
that your sister is worse."

"No, ma'am. It came from town, and is merely
a letter of business."

"But how came the hand to discompose you so much,
if it was only a letter of business?  Come, come,
this won't do, Colonel; so let us hear the truth of it."

"My dear madam," said Lady Middleton, "recollect what
you are saying."

"Perhaps it is to tell you that your cousin Fanny
is married?" said Mrs. Jennings, without attending
to her daughter's reproof.

"No, indeed, it is not."

"Well, then, I know who it is from, Colonel.  And I
hope she is well."

"Whom do you mean, ma'am?" said he, colouring a little.

"Oh! you know who I mean."

"I am particularly sorry, ma'am," said he,
addressing Lady Middleton, "that I should receive this
letter today, for it is on business which requires
my immediate attendance in town."

"In town!" cried Mrs. Jennings.  "What can you
have to do in town at this time of year?"

"My own loss is great," he continued, "in being obliged
to leave so agreeable a party; but I am the more concerned,
as I fear my presence is necessary to gain your admittance
at Whitwell."

What a blow upon them all was this!

"But if you write a note to the housekeeper, Mr. Brandon,"
said Marianne, eagerly, "will it not be sufficient?"

He shook his head.

"We must go," said Sir John.--"It shall not be put
off when we are so near it.  You cannot go to town till
tomorrow, Brandon, that is all."

"I wish it could be so easily settled.  But it
is not in my power to delay my journey for one day!"

"If you would but let us know what your business is,"
said Mrs. Jennings, "we might see whether it could be put
off or not."

"You would not be six hours later," said Willoughby,
"if you were to defer your journey till our return."

"I cannot afford to lose ONE hour."--

Elinor then heard Willoughby say, in a low voice to Marianne,
"There are some people who cannot bear a party of pleasure.
Brandon is one of them.  He was afraid of catching cold
I dare say, and invented this trick for getting out of it.
I would lay fifty guineas the letter was of his own writing."

"I have no doubt of it," replied Marianne.

"There is no persuading you to change your mind,
Brandon, I know of old," said Sir John, "when once you
are determined on anything.  But, however, I hope you
will think better of it.  Consider, here are the two Miss
Careys come over from Newton, the three Miss Dashwoods
walked up from the cottage, and Mr. Willoughby got up
two hours before his usual time, on purpose to go to Whitwell."

Colonel Brandon again repeated his sorrow at being
the cause of disappointing the party; but at the same
time declared it to be unavoidable.

"Well, then, when will you come back again?"

"I hope we shall see you at Barton," added her ladyship,
"as soon as you can conveniently leave town; and we must
put off the party to Whitwell till you return."

"You are very obliging.  But it is so uncertain,
when I may have it in my power to return, that I dare
not engage for it at all."

"Oh! he must and shall come back," cried Sir John.
"If he is not here by the end of the week, I shall go
after him."

"Ay, so do, Sir John," cried Mrs. Jennings, "and then
perhaps you may find out what his business is."

"I do not want to pry into other men's concerns.
I suppose it is something he is ashamed of."

Colonel Brandon's horses were announced.

"You do not go to town on horseback, do you?"
added Sir John.

"No. Only to Honiton.  I shall then go post."

"Well, as you are resolved to go, I wish you
a good journey.  But you had better change your mind."

"I assure you it is not in my power."

He then took leave of the whole party.

"Is there no chance of my seeing you and your sisters
in town this winter, Miss Dashwood?"

"I am afraid, none at all."

"Then I must bid you farewell for a longer time
than I should wish to do."

To Marianne, he merely bowed and said nothing.

"Come Colonel," said Mrs. Jennings, "before you go,
do let us know what you are going about."

He wished her a good morning, and, attended by Sir John,
left the room.

The complaints and lamentations which politeness
had hitherto restrained, now burst forth universally;
and they all agreed again and again how provoking it was
to be so disappointed.

"I can guess what his business is, however,"
said Mrs. Jennings exultingly.

"Can you, ma'am?" said almost every body.

"Yes; it is about Miss Williams, I am sure."

"And who is Miss Williams?" asked Marianne.

"What! do not you know who Miss Williams is? I am
sure you must have heard of her before.  She is a relation
of the Colonel's, my dear; a very near relation.  We will
not say how near, for fear of shocking the young ladies."
Then, lowering her voice a little, she said to Elinor,
"She is his natural daughter."

"Indeed!"

"Oh, yes; and as like him as she can stare.
I dare say the Colonel will leave her all his fortune."

When Sir John returned, he joined most heartily
in the general regret on so unfortunate an event;
concluding however by observing, that as they were
all got together, they must do something by way of
being happy; and after some consultation it was agreed,
that although happiness could only be enjoyed at Whitwell,
they might procure a tolerable composure of mind by driving
about the country.  The carriages were then ordered;
Willoughby's was first, and Marianne never looked
happier than when she got into it.  He drove through
the park very fast, and they were soon out of sight;
and nothing more of them was seen till their return,
which did not happen till after the return of all the rest.
They both seemed delighted with their drive; but said
only in general terms that they had kept in the lanes,
while the others went on the downs.

It was settled that there should be a dance in the evening,
and that every body should be extremely merry all day long.
Some more of the Careys came to dinner, and they had the
pleasure of sitting down nearly twenty to table, which Sir
John observed with great contentment.  Willoughby took
his usual place between the two elder Miss Dashwoods.
Mrs. Jennings sat on Elinor's right hand; and they had not
been long seated, before she leant behind her and Willoughby,
and said to Marianne, loud enough for them both to hear,
"I have found you out in spite of all your tricks.
I know where you spent the morning."

Marianne coloured, and replied very hastily,
"Where, pray?"--

"Did not you know," said Willoughby, "that we had
been out in my curricle?"

"Yes, yes, Mr. Impudence, I know that very well,
and I was determined to find out WHERE you had been to.--
I hope you like your house, Miss Marianne.  It is a very
large one, I know; and when I come to see you, I hope you
will have new-furnished it, for it wanted it very much
when I was there six years ago."

Marianne turned away in great confusion.
Mrs. Jennings laughed heartily; and Elinor found that in her
resolution to know where they had been, she had actually
made her own woman enquire of Mr. Willoughby's groom;
and that she had by that method been informed that they
had gone to Allenham, and spent a considerable time there
in walking about the garden and going all over the house.

Elinor could hardly believe this to be true,
as it seemed very unlikely that Willoughby should propose,
or Marianne consent, to enter the house while Mrs. Smith was
in it, with whom Marianne had not the smallest acquaintance.

As soon as they left the dining-room, Elinor enquired
of her about it; and great was her surprise when she
found that every circumstance related by Mrs. Jennings
was perfectly true.  Marianne was quite angry with her
for doubting it.

"Why should you imagine, Elinor, that we did not
go there, or that we did not see the house?  Is not it
what you have often wished to do yourself?"

"Yes, Marianne, but I would not go while Mrs. Smith
was there, and with no other companion than Mr. Willoughby."

"Mr. Willoughby however is the only person who can
have a right to shew that house; and as he went in an open
carriage, it was impossible to have any other companion.
I never spent a pleasanter morning in my life."

"I am afraid," replied Elinor, "that the pleasantness
of an employment does not always evince its propriety."

"On the contrary, nothing can be a stronger proof
of it, Elinor; for if there had been any real impropriety
in what I did, I should have been sensible of it at
the time, for we always know when we are acting wrong,
and with such a conviction I could have had no pleasure."

"But, my dear Marianne, as it has already exposed you
to some very impertinent remarks, do you not now begin
to doubt the discretion of your own conduct?"

"If the impertinent remarks of Mrs. Jennings are
to be the proof of impropriety in conduct, we are all
offending every moment of our lives.  I value not her
censure any more than I should do her commendation.
I am not sensible of having done anything wrong in walking
over Mrs. Smith's grounds, or in seeing her house.
They will one day be Mr. Willoughby's, and--"

"If they were one day to be your own, Marianne,
you would not be justified in what you have done."

She blushed at this hint; but it was even visibly
gratifying to her; and after a ten minutes' interval of
earnest thought, she came to her sister again, and said
with great good humour, "Perhaps, Elinor, it WAS rather
ill-judged in me to go to Allenham; but Mr. Willoughby wanted
particularly to shew me the place; and it is a charming house,
I assure you.--There is one remarkably pretty sitting room
up stairs; of a nice comfortable size for constant use,
and with modern furniture it would be delightful.
It is a corner room, and has windows on two sides.
On one side you look across the bowling-green, behind
the house, to a beautiful hanging wood, and on the other you
have a view of the church and village, and, beyond them,
of those fine bold hills that we have so often admired.
I did not see it to advantage, for nothing could be
more forlorn than the furniture,--but if it were newly
fitted up--a couple of hundred pounds, Willoughby says,
would make it one of the pleasantest summer-rooms
in England."

Could Elinor have listened to her without interruption
from the others, she would have described every room
in the house with equal delight.



CHAPTER 14


The sudden termination of Colonel Brandon's visit
at the park, with his steadiness in concealing its cause,
filled the mind, and raised the wonder of Mrs. Jennings
for two or three days; she was a great wonderer, as every
one must be who takes a very lively interest in all the
comings and goings of all their acquaintance.  She wondered,
with little intermission what could be the reason of it;
was sure there must be some bad news, and thought over
every kind of distress that could have befallen him,
with a fixed determination that he should not escape
them all.

"Something very melancholy must be the matter,
I am sure," said she.  "I could see it in his face.
Poor man!  I am afraid his circumstances may be bad.
The estate at Delaford was never reckoned more than two thousand
a year, and his brother left everything sadly involved.
I do think he must have been sent for about money matters,
for what else can it be?  I wonder whether it is so.
I would give anything to know the truth of it.  Perhaps it
is about Miss Williams and, by the bye, I dare say it is,
because he looked so conscious when I mentioned her.
May be she is ill in town; nothing in the world more likely,
for I have a notion she is always rather sickly.
I would lay any wager it is about Miss Williams.
It is not so very likely he should be distressed in
his circumstances NOW, for he is a very prudent man,
and to be sure must have cleared the estate by this time.
I wonder what it can be!  May be his sister is worse
at Avignon, and has sent for him over.  His setting off
in such a hurry seems very like it.  Well, I wish him out
of all his trouble with all my heart, and a good wife into
the bargain."

So wondered, so talked Mrs. Jennings.  Her opinion
varying with every fresh conjecture, and all seeming
equally probable as they arose.  Elinor, though she felt
really interested in the welfare of Colonel Brandon,
could not bestow all the wonder on his going so suddenly
away, which Mrs. Jennings was desirous of her feeling;
for besides that the circumstance did not in her opinion
justify such lasting amazement or variety of speculation,
her wonder was otherwise disposed of.  It was engrossed
by the extraordinary silence of her sister and Willoughby
on the subject, which they must know to be peculiarly
interesting to them all.  As this silence continued,
every day made it appear more strange and more incompatible
with the disposition of both.  Why they should not openly
acknowledge to her mother and herself, what their constant
behaviour to each other declared to have taken place,
Elinor could not imagine.

She could easily conceive that marriage might not
be immediately in their power; for though Willoughby
was independent, there was no reason to believe him rich.
His estate had been rated by Sir John at about six or seven
hundred a year; but he lived at an expense to which that income
could hardly be equal, and he had himself often complained
of his poverty.  But for this strange kind of secrecy
maintained by them relative to their engagement, which
in fact concealed nothing at all, she could not account;
and it was so wholly contradictory to their general
opinions and practice, that a doubt sometimes entered
her mind of their being really engaged, and this doubt
was enough to prevent her making any inquiry of Marianne.

Nothing could be more expressive of attachment
to them all, than Willoughby's behaviour.  To Marianne
it had all the distinguishing tenderness which a lover's
heart could give, and to the rest of the family it was the
affectionate attention of a son and a brother.  The cottage
seemed to be considered and loved by him as his home;
many more of his hours were spent there than at Allenham;
and if no general engagement collected them at the park,
the exercise which called him out in the morning was
almost certain of ending there, where the rest of the day
was spent by himself at the side of Marianne, and by his
favourite pointer at her feet.

One evening in particular, about a week after
Colonel Brandon left the country, his heart seemed
more than usually open to every feeling of attachment
to the objects around him; and on Mrs. Dashwood's
happening to mention her design of improving the cottage
in the spring, he warmly opposed every alteration
of a place which affection had established as perfect with him.

"What!" he exclaimed--"Improve this dear cottage!
No. THAT I will never consent to.  Not a stone must
be added to its walls, not an inch to its size,
if my feelings are regarded."

"Do not be alarmed," said Miss Dashwood,
"nothing of the kind will be done; for my mother
will never have money enough to attempt it."

"I am heartily glad of it," he cried.  "May she
always be poor, if she can employ her riches no better."

"Thank you, Willoughby.  But you may be assured that I
would not sacrifice one sentiment of local attachment
of yours, or of any one whom I loved, for all the improvements
in the world.  Depend upon it that whatever unemployed
sum may remain, when I make up my accounts in the spring,
I would even rather lay it uselessly by than dispose
of it in a manner so painful to you.  But are you really
so attached to this place as to see no defect in it?"

"I am," said he.  "To me it is faultless.  Nay, more,
I consider it as the only form of building in which happiness
is attainable, and were I rich enough I would instantly pull
Combe down, and build it up again in the exact plan of this
cottage."

"With dark narrow stairs and a kitchen that smokes,
I suppose," said Elinor.

"Yes," cried he in the same eager tone, "with all
and every thing belonging to it;--in no one convenience
or INconvenience about it, should the least variation
be perceptible.  Then, and then only, under such a roof, I
might perhaps be as happy at Combe as I have been at Barton."

"I flatter myself," replied Elinor, "that even under
the disadvantage of better rooms and a broader staircase,
you will hereafter find your own house as faultless as you
now do this."

"There certainly are circumstances," said Willoughby,
"which might greatly endear it to me; but this place will
always have one claim of my affection, which no other can
possibly share."

Mrs. Dashwood looked with pleasure at Marianne,
whose fine eyes were fixed so expressively on Willoughby,
as plainly denoted how well she understood him.

"How often did I wish," added he, "when I was at
Allenham this time twelvemonth, that Barton cottage were
inhabited!  I never passed within view of it without admiring
its situation, and grieving that no one should live in it.
How little did I then think that the very first news
I should hear from Mrs. Smith, when I next came into
the country, would be that Barton cottage was taken: and I
felt an immediate satisfaction and interest in the event,
which nothing but a kind of prescience of what happiness I
should experience from it, can account for.  Must it not have
been so, Marianne?" speaking to her in a lowered voice.
Then continuing his former tone, he said, "And yet this
house you would spoil, Mrs. Dashwood?  You would rob it
of its simplicity by imaginary improvement! and this dear
parlour in which our acquaintance first began, and in which
so many happy hours have been since spent by us together,
you would degrade to the condition of a common entrance,
and every body would be eager to pass through the room
which has hitherto contained within itself more real
accommodation and comfort than any other apartment of
the handsomest dimensions in the world could possibly afford."

Mrs. Dashwood again assured him that no alteration
of the kind should be attempted.

"You are a good woman," he warmly replied.
"Your promise makes me easy.  Extend it a little farther,
and it will make me happy.  Tell me that not only your
house will remain the same, but that I shall ever find
you and yours as unchanged as your dwelling; and that you
will always consider me with the kindness which has made
everything belonging to you so dear to me."

The promise was readily given, and Willoughby's
behaviour during the whole of the evening declared
at once his affection and happiness.

"Shall we see you tomorrow to dinner?" said Mrs. Dashwood,
when he was leaving them.  "I do not ask you to come in
the morning, for we must walk to the park, to call on Lady
Middleton."

He engaged to be with them by four o'clock.



CHAPTER 15


Mrs. Dashwood's visit to Lady Middleton took place
the next day, and two of her daughters went with her;
but Marianne excused herself from being of the party,
under some trifling pretext of employment; and her mother,
who concluded that a promise had been made by Willoughby
the night before of calling on her while they were absent,
was perfectly satisfied with her remaining at home.

On their return from the park they found Willoughby's
curricle and servant in waiting at the cottage,
and Mrs. Dashwood was convinced that her conjecture
had been just.  So far it was all as she had foreseen;
but on entering the house she beheld what no foresight
had taught her to expect.  They were no sooner in the
passage than Marianne came hastily out of the parlour
apparently in violent affliction, with her handkerchief
at her eyes; and without noticing them ran up stairs.
Surprised and alarmed they proceeded directly into the room
she had just quitted, where they found only Willoughby,
who was leaning against the mantel-piece with his back
towards them.  He turned round on their coming in,
and his countenance shewed that he strongly partook
of the emotion which over-powered Marianne.

"Is anything the matter with her?" cried Mrs. Dashwood
as she entered--"is she ill?"

"I hope not," he replied, trying to look cheerful;
and with a forced smile presently added, "It is I who may
rather expect to be ill--for I am now suffering under a
very heavy disappointment!"

"Disappointment?"

"Yes, for I am unable to keep my engagement with you.
Mrs. Smith has this morning exercised the privilege
of riches upon a poor dependent cousin, by sending me on
business to London.  I have just received my dispatches,
and taken my farewell of Allenham; and by way of exhilaration
I am now come to take my farewell of you."

"To London!--and are you going this morning?"

"Almost this moment."

"This is very unfortunate.  But Mrs. Smith must
be obliged;--and her business will not detain you from
us long I hope."

He coloured as he replied, "You are very kind, but I
have no idea of returning into Devonshire immediately.
My visits to Mrs. Smith are never repeated within
the twelvemonth."

"And is Mrs. Smith your only friend?  Is Allenham the only
house in the neighbourhood to which you will be welcome?
For shame, Willoughby, can you wait for an invitation here?"

His colour increased; and with his eyes fixed
on the ground he only replied, "You are too good."

Mrs. Dashwood looked at Elinor with surprise.
Elinor felt equal amazement.  For a few moments every one
was silent.  Mrs. Dashwood first spoke.

"I have only to add, my dear Willoughby, that at
Barton cottage you will always be welcome; for I will not
press you to return here immediately, because you only
can judge how far THAT might be pleasing to Mrs. Smith;
and on this head I shall be no more disposed to question
your judgment than to doubt your inclination."

"My engagements at present," replied Willoughby,
confusedly, "are of such a nature--that--I dare not flatter
myself"--

He stopt.  Mrs. Dashwood was too much astonished
to speak, and another pause succeeded.  This was broken
by Willoughby, who said with a faint smile, "It is folly
to linger in this manner.  I will not torment myself
any longer by remaining among friends whose society
it is impossible for me now to enjoy."

He then hastily took leave of them all and left
the room.  They saw him step into his carriage,
and in a minute it was out of sight.

Mrs. Dashwood felt too much for speech, and instantly
quitted the parlour to give way in solitude to the concern
and alarm which this sudden departure occasioned.

Elinor's uneasiness was at least equal to her mother's.
She thought of what had just passed with anxiety and distrust.
Willoughby's behaviour in taking leave of them, his
embarrassment,
and affectation of cheerfulness, and, above all, his
unwillingness
to accept her mother's invitation, a backwardness so unlike a
lover,
so unlike himself, greatly disturbed her.  One moment she feared
that no serious design had ever been formed on his side; and the
next that some unfortunate quarrel had taken place between him
and
her sister;--the distress in which Marianne had quitted the room
was such as a serious quarrel could most reasonably account for,
though when she considered what Marianne's love for him was,
a quarrel seemed almost impossible.

But whatever might be the particulars of their separation,
her sister's affliction was indubitable; and she thought
with the tenderest compassion of that violent sorrow
which Marianne was in all probability not merely giving
way to as a relief, but feeding and encouraging as a duty.

In about half an hour her mother returned, and though
her eyes were red, her countenance was not uncheerful.

"Our dear Willoughby is now some miles from Barton, Elinor,"
said she, as she sat down to work, "and with how heavy a heart
does he travel?"

"It is all very strange.  So suddenly to be gone! It
seems but the work of a moment.  And last night he was
with us so happy, so cheerful, so affectionate?  And now,
after only ten minutes notice--Gone too without intending
to return!--Something more than what he owned to us must
have happened.  He did not speak, he did not behave
like himself.  YOU must have seen the difference as well as I.
What can it be?  Can they have quarrelled?  Why else should he
have shewn such unwillingness to accept your invitation here?"--

"It was not inclination that he wanted, Elinor; I could
plainly see THAT.  He had not the power of accepting it.
I have thought it all over I assure you, and I can
perfectly account for every thing that at first seemed
strange to me as well as to you."

"Can you, indeed!"

"Yes. I have explained it to myself in the most
satisfactory way;--but you, Elinor, who love to doubt
where you can--it will not satisfy YOU, I know; but you
shall not talk ME out of my trust in it.  I am persuaded
that Mrs. Smith suspects his regard for Marianne,
disapproves of it, (perhaps because she has other views
for him,) and on that account is eager to get him away;--
and that the business which she sends him off to transact
is invented as an excuse to dismiss him.  This is what I
believe to have happened.  He is, moreover, aware that she
DOES disapprove the connection, he dares not therefore
at present confess to her his engagement with Marianne,
and he feels himself obliged, from his dependent situation,
to give into her schemes, and absent himself from
Devonshire for a while.  You will tell me, I know,
that this may or may NOT have happened; but I will listen
to no cavil, unless you can point out any other method
of understanding the affair as satisfactory at this.
And now, Elinor, what have you to say?"

"Nothing, for you have anticipated my answer."

"Then you would have told me, that it might or might not
have happened.  Oh, Elinor, how incomprehensible are your
feelings!  You had rather take evil upon credit than good.
You had rather look out for misery for Marianne, and guilt
for poor Willoughby, than an apology for the latter.
You are resolved to think him blameable, because he took
leave of us with less affection than his usual behaviour
has shewn.  And is no allowance to be made for inadvertence,
or for spirits depressed by recent disappointment?  Are
no probabilities to be accepted, merely because they
are not certainties?  Is nothing due to the man whom we
have all such reason to love, and no reason in the world
to think ill of?  To the possibility of motives unanswerable
in themselves, though unavoidably secret for a while?  And,
after all, what is it you suspect him of?"

"I can hardly tell myself.  But suspicion of
something unpleasant is the inevitable consequence
of such an alteration as we just witnessed in him.
There is great truth, however, in what you have now urged
of the allowances which ought to be made for him, and it
is my wish to be candid in my judgment of every body.
Willoughby may undoubtedly have very sufficient
reasons for his conduct, and I will hope that he has.
But it would have been more like Willoughby to acknowledge
them at once.  Secrecy may be advisable; but still I
cannot help wondering at its being practiced by him."

"Do not blame him, however, for departing from
his character, where the deviation is necessary.
But you really do admit the justice of what I have said
in his defence?--I am happy--and he is acquitted."

"Not entirely.  It may be proper to conceal their
engagement (if they ARE engaged) from Mrs. Smith--
and if that is the case, it must be highly expedient
for Willoughby to be but little in Devonshire at present.
But this is no excuse for their concealing it from us."

"Concealing it from us! my dear child, do you accuse
Willoughby and Marianne of concealment? This is strange
indeed, when your eyes have been reproaching them every day
for incautiousness."

"I want no proof of their affection," said Elinor;
"but of their engagement I do."

"I am perfectly satisfied of both."

"Yet not a syllable has been said to you on the
subject, by either of them."

"I have not wanted syllables where actions have
spoken so plainly.  Has not his behaviour to Marianne
and to all of us, for at least the last fortnight,
declared that he loved and considered her as his future wife,
and that he felt for us the attachment of the nearest
relation?  Have we not perfectly understood each other?
Has not my consent been daily asked by his looks, his manner,
his attentive and affectionate respect?  My Elinor,
is it possible to doubt their engagement?  How could
such a thought occur to you?  How is it to be supposed
that Willoughby, persuaded as he must be of your
sister's love, should leave her, and leave her perhaps
for months, without telling her of his affection;--that
they should part without a mutual exchange of confidence?"

"I confess," replied Elinor, "that every circumstance
except ONE is in favour of their engagement;
but that ONE is the total silence of both on the subject,
and with me it almost outweighs every other."

"How strange this is!  You must think wretchedly indeed
of Willoughby, if, after all that has openly passed between them,
you can doubt the nature of the terms on which they are together.
Has he been acting a part in his behaviour to your sister
all this time?  Do you suppose him really indifferent to her?"

"No, I cannot think that.  He must and does love her
I am sure."

"But with a strange kind of tenderness, if he can
leave her with such indifference, such carelessness
of the future, as you attribute to him."

"You must remember, my dear mother, that I have never
considered this matter as certain.  I have had my doubts,
I confess; but they are fainter than they were, and they
may soon be entirely done away.  If we find they correspond,
every fear of mine will be removed."

"A mighty concession indeed!  If you were to see
them at the altar, you would suppose they were going to
be married.  Ungracious girl!  But I require no such proof.
Nothing in my opinion has ever passed to justify doubt;
no secrecy has been attempted; all has been uniformly open
and unreserved.  You cannot doubt your sister's wishes.
It must be Willoughby therefore whom you suspect.  But why?
Is he not a man of honour and feeling? Has there been any
inconsistency on his side to create alarm? can he be deceitful?"

"I hope not, I believe not," cried Elinor.
"I love Willoughby, sincerely love him; and suspicion of his
integrity cannot be more painful to yourself than to me.
It has been involuntary, and I will not encourage it.
I was startled, I confess, by the alteration in his
manners this morning;--he did not speak like himself,
and did not return your kindness with any cordiality.
But all this may be explained by such a situation of his
affairs as you have supposed.  He had just parted from
my sister, had seen her leave him in the greatest affliction;
and if he felt obliged, from a fear of offending Mrs. Smith,
to resist the temptation of returning here soon, and yet
aware that by declining your invitation, by saying
that he was going away for some time, he should seem
to act an ungenerous, a suspicious part by our family,
he might well be embarrassed and disturbed.  In such a case,
a plain and open avowal of his difficulties would have been
more to his honour I think, as well as more consistent
with his general character;--but I will not raise objections
against any one's conduct on so illiberal a foundation,
as a difference in judgment from myself, or a deviation from
what I may think right and consistent."

"You speak very properly.  Willoughby certainly does
not deserve to be suspected.  Though WE have not known
him long, he is no stranger in this part of the world;
and who has ever spoken to his disadvantage?  Had he been
in a situation to act independently and marry immediately,
it might have been odd that he should leave us without
acknowledging everything to me at once: but this is not the case.
It is an engagement in some respects not prosperously begun,
for their marriage must be at a very uncertain distance;
and even secrecy, as far as it can be observed, may now
be very advisable."

They were interrupted by the entrance of Margaret;
and Elinor was then at liberty to think over the representations
of her mother, to acknowledge the probability of many,
and hope for the justice of all.

They saw nothing of Marianne till dinner time,
when she entered the room and took her place at the table
without saying a word.  Her eyes were red and swollen;
and it seemed as if her tears were even then restrained
with difficulty.  She avoided the looks of them all,
could neither eat nor speak, and after some time, on her
mother's silently pressing her hand with tender compassion,
her small degree of fortitude was quite overcome, she burst
into tears and left the room.

This violent oppression of spirits continued the
whole evening.  She was without any power, because she
was without any desire of command over herself.
The slightest mention of anything relative to Willoughby
overpowered her in an instant; and though her family
were most anxiously attentive to her comfort, it was
impossible for them, if they spoke at all, to keep clear
of every subject which her feelings connected with him.



CHAPTER 16


Marianne would have thought herself very inexcusable
had she been able to sleep at all the first night
after parting from Willoughby.  She would have been
ashamed to look her family in the face the next morning,
had she not risen from her bed in more need of repose
than when she lay down in it.  But the feelings which
made such composure a disgrace, left her in no danger
of incurring it.  She was awake the whole night, and she
wept the greatest part of it.  She got up with a headache,
was unable to talk, and unwilling to take any nourishment;
giving pain every moment to her mother and sisters,
and forbidding all attempt at consolation from either.
Her sensibility was potent enough!

When breakfast was over she walked out by herself,
and wandered about the village of Allenham, indulging the
recollection of past enjoyment and crying over the present
reverse for the chief of the morning.

The evening passed off in the equal indulgence of feeling.
She played over every favourite song that she had been used
to play to Willoughby, every air in which their voices
had been oftenest joined, and sat at the instrument gazing
on every line of music that he had written out for her,
till her heart was so heavy that no farther sadness
could be gained; and this nourishment of grief was every
day applied.  She spent whole hours at the pianoforte
alternately singing and crying; her voice often totally
suspended by her tears.  In books too, as well as in music,
she courted the misery which a contrast between the past
and present was certain of giving.  She read nothing
but what they had been used to read together.

Such violence of affliction indeed could not be supported
for ever; it sunk within a few days into a calmer melancholy;
but these employments, to which she daily recurred,
her solitary walks and silent meditations, still produced
occasional effusions of sorrow as lively as ever.

No letter from Willoughby came; and none seemed expected
by Marianne.  Her mother was surprised, and Elinor again
became uneasy.  But Mrs. Dashwood could find explanations
whenever she wanted them, which at least satisfied herself.

"Remember, Elinor," said she, "how very often Sir John
fetches our letters himself from the post, and carries them
to it.  We have already agreed that secrecy may be necessary,
and we must acknowledge that it could not be maintained if
their correspondence were to pass through Sir John's hands."

Elinor could not deny the truth of this, and she tried
to find in it a motive sufficient for their silence.
But there was one method so direct, so simple, and in
her opinion so eligible of knowing the real state
of the affair, and of instantly removing all mystery,
that she could not help suggesting it to her mother.

"Why do you not ask Marianne at once," said she,
"whether she is or she is not engaged to Willoughby?  From you,
her mother, and so kind, so indulgent a mother, the question
could not give offence.  It would be the natural result
of your affection for her.  She used to be all unreserve,
and to you more especially."

"I would not ask such a question for the world.
Supposing it possible that they are not engaged,
what distress would not such an enquiry inflict!  At any
rate it would be most ungenerous.  I should never deserve
her confidence again, after forcing from her a confession
of what is meant at present to be unacknowledged to any one.
I know Marianne's heart: I know that she dearly loves me,
and that I shall not be the last to whom the affair is made
known,
when circumstances make the revealment of it eligible.
I would not attempt to force the confidence of any one;
of a child much less; because a sense of duty would prevent
the denial which her wishes might direct."

Elinor thought this generosity overstrained,
considering her sister's youth, and urged the matter farther,
but in vain; common sense, common care, common prudence,
were all sunk in Mrs. Dashwood's romantic delicacy.

It was several days before Willoughby's name
was mentioned before Marianne by any of her family;
Sir John and Mrs. Jennings, indeed, were not so nice;
their witticisms added pain to many a painful hour;--
but one evening, Mrs. Dashwood, accidentally taking up a
volume of Shakespeare, exclaimed,

"We have never finished Hamlet, Marianne; our dear
Willoughby went away before we could get through it.
We will put it by, that when he comes again...But it may
be months, perhaps, before THAT happens."

"Months!" cried Marianne, with strong surprise.
"No--nor many weeks."

Mrs. Dashwood was sorry for what she had said;
but it gave Elinor pleasure, as it produced a reply
from Marianne so expressive of confidence in Willoughby
and knowledge of his intentions.

One morning, about a week after his leaving the country,
Marianne was prevailed on to join her sisters in their
usual walk, instead of wandering away by herself.
Hitherto she had carefully avoided every companion in
her rambles.  If her sisters intended to walk on the downs,
she directly stole away towards the lanes; if they talked
of the valley, she was as speedy in climbing the hills,
and could never be found when the others set off.
But at length she was secured by the exertions of Elinor,
who greatly disapproved such continual seclusion.  They walked
along the road through the valley, and chiefly in silence,
for Marianne's MIND could not be controlled, and Elinor,
satisfied with gaining one point, would not then attempt more.
Beyond the entrance of the valley, where the country,
though still rich, was less wild and more open, a long
stretch of the road which they had travelled on first coming
to Barton, lay before them; and on reaching that point,
they stopped to look around them, and examine a prospect
which formed the distance of their view from the cottage,
from a spot which they had never happened to reach in any
of their walks before.

Amongst the objects in the scene, they soon discovered
an animated one; it was a man on horseback riding towards them.
In a few minutes they could distinguish him to be a gentleman;
and in a moment afterwards Marianne rapturously exclaimed,

"It is he; it is indeed;--I know it is!"--and was
hastening to meet him, when Elinor cried out,

"Indeed, Marianne, I think you are mistaken.  It is
not Willoughby.  The person is not tall enough for him,
and has not his air."

"He has, he has," cried Marianne, "I am sure he has.
His air, his coat, his horse.  I knew how soon he would come."

She walked eagerly on as she spoke; and Elinor,
to screen Marianne from particularity, as she felt almost
certain of its not being Willoughby, quickened her
pace and kept up with her.  They were soon within
thirty yards of the gentleman.  Marianne looked again;
her heart sunk within her; and abruptly turning round,
she was hurrying back, when the voices of both her sisters
were raised to detain her; a third, almost as well known
as Willoughby's, joined them in begging her to stop,
and she turned round with surprise to see and welcome
Edward Ferrars.

He was the only person in the world who could
at that moment be forgiven for not being Willoughby;
the only one who could have gained a smile from her;
but she dispersed her tears to smile on HIM, and in her
sister's happiness forgot for a time her own disappointment.

He dismounted, and giving his horse to his servant,
walked back with them to Barton, whither he was purposely
coming to visit them.

He was welcomed by them all with great cordiality,
but especially by Marianne, who showed more warmth of
regard in her reception of him than even Elinor herself.
To Marianne, indeed, the meeting between Edward and her sister
was but a continuation of that unaccountable coldness which she
had often observed at Norland in their mutual behaviour.
On Edward's side, more particularly, there was a deficiency
of all that a lover ought to look and say on such an occasion.
He was confused, seemed scarcely sensible of pleasure
in seeing them, looked neither rapturous nor gay,
said little but what was forced from him by questions,
and distinguished Elinor by no mark of affection.
Marianne saw and listened with increasing surprise.
She began almost to feel a dislike of Edward; and it ended,
as every feeling must end with her, by carrying back her
thoughts to Willoughby, whose manners formed a contrast
sufficiently striking to those of his brother elect.

After a short silence which succeeded the first
surprise and enquiries of meeting, Marianne asked
Edward if he came directly from London.  No, he had
been in Devonshire a fortnight.

"A fortnight!" she repeated, surprised at his being
so long in the same county with Elinor without seeing
her before.

He looked rather distressed as he added, that he
had been staying with some friends near Plymouth.

"Have you been lately in Sussex?" said Elinor.

"I was at Norland about a month ago."

"And how does dear, dear Norland look?" cried Marianne.

"Dear, dear Norland," said Elinor, "probably looks
much as it always does at this time of the year.
The woods and walks thickly covered with dead leaves."

"Oh," cried Marianne, "with what transporting sensation
have I formerly seen them fall!  How have I delighted,
as I walked, to see them driven in showers about me
by the wind!  What feelings have they, the season, the air
altogether inspired!  Now there is no one to regard them.
They are seen only as a nuisance, swept hastily off,
and driven as much as possible from the sight."

"It is not every one," said Elinor, "who has your
passion for dead leaves."

"No; my feelings are not often shared, not often
understood.  But SOMETIMES they are."--As she said this,
she sunk into a reverie for a few moments;--but rousing
herself again, "Now, Edward," said she, calling his attention
to the prospect, "here is Barton valley.  Look up to it,
and be tranquil if you can.  Look at those hills!
Did you ever see their equals?  To the left is Barton park,
amongst those woods and plantations.  You may see the end
of the house.  And there, beneath that farthest hill,
which rises with such grandeur, is our cottage."

"It is a beautiful country," he replied; "but these
bottoms must be dirty in winter."

"How can you think of dirt, with such objects before you?"

"Because," replied he, smiling, "among the rest of the
objects before me, I see a very dirty lane."

"How strange!" said Marianne to herself as she walked on.

"Have you an agreeable neighbourhood here?  Are the
Middletons pleasant people?"

"No, not all," answered Marianne; "we could not
be more unfortunately situated."

"Marianne," cried her sister, "how can you say so? How can
you be so unjust?  They are a very respectable family, Mr.
Ferrars;
and towards us have behaved in the friendliest manner.  Have you
forgot, Marianne, how many pleasant days we have owed to them?"

"No," said Marianne, in a low voice, "nor how many
painful moments."

Elinor took no notice of this; and directing
her attention to their visitor, endeavoured to support
something like discourse with him, by talking of their
present residence, its conveniences, &c. extorting from him
occasional questions and remarks.  His coldness and reserve
mortified her severely; she was vexed and half angry;
but resolving to regulate her behaviour to him by the past
rather than the present, she avoided every appearance
of resentment or displeasure, and treated him as she
thought he ought to be treated from the family connection.



CHAPTER 17


Mrs. Dashwood was surprised only for a moment at
seeing him; for his coming to Barton was, in her opinion,
of all things the most natural.  Her joy and expression
of regard long outlived her wonder.  He received the kindest
welcome from her; and shyness, coldness, reserve could not
stand against such a reception.  They had begun to fail him
before he entered the house, and they were quite overcome
by the captivating manners of Mrs. Dashwood.  Indeed a man
could not very well be in love with either of her daughters,
without extending the passion to her; and Elinor had the
satisfaction of seeing him soon become more like himself.
His affections seemed to reanimate towards them all,
and his interest in their welfare again became perceptible.
He was not in spirits, however; he praised their house,
admired its prospect, was attentive, and kind; but still
he was not in spirits.  The whole family perceived it,
and Mrs. Dashwood, attributing it to some want of liberality
in his mother, sat down to table indignant against all
selfish parents.

"What are Mrs. Ferrars's views for you at present, Edward?"
said she, when dinner was over and they had drawn round
the fire; "are you still to be a great orator in spite of
yourself?"

"No. I hope my mother is now convinced that I have
no more talents than inclination for a public life!"

"But how is your fame to be established? for famous you
must be to satisfy all your family; and with no inclination
for expense, no affection for strangers, no profession,
and no assurance, you may find it a difficult matter."

"I shall not attempt it.  I have no wish to be
distinguished; and have every reason to hope I never shall.
Thank Heaven! I cannot be forced into genius and eloquence."

"You have no ambition, I well know.  Your wishes
are all moderate."

"As moderate as those of the rest of the world,
I believe.  I wish as well as every body else to be
perfectly happy; but, like every body else it must be
in my own way.  Greatness will not make me so."

"Strange that it would!" cried Marianne.  "What have
wealth or grandeur to do with happiness?"

"Grandeur has but little," said Elinor, "but wealth
has much to do with it."

"Elinor, for shame!" said Marianne, "money can only
give happiness where there is nothing else to give it.
Beyond a competence, it can afford no real satisfaction,
as far as mere self is concerned."

"Perhaps," said Elinor, smiling, "we may come
to the same point.  YOUR competence and MY wealth
are very much alike, I dare say; and without them,
as the world goes now, we shall both agree that every
kind of external comfort must be wanting.  Your ideas
are only more noble than mine.  Come, what is your competence?"

"About eighteen hundred or two thousand a year;
not more than THAT."

Elinor laughed.  "TWO thousand a year! ONE is my
wealth! I guessed how it would end."

"And yet two thousand a-year is a very moderate income,"
said Marianne.  "A family cannot well be maintained on
a smaller.  I am sure I am not extravagant in my demands.
A proper establishment of servants, a carriage, perhaps two,
and hunters, cannot be supported on less."

Elinor smiled again, to hear her sister describing
so accurately their future expenses at Combe Magna.

"Hunters!" repeated Edward--"but why must you have
hunters?  Every body does not hunt."

Marianne coloured as she replied, "But most people do."

"I wish," said Margaret, striking out a novel thought,
"that somebody would give us all a large fortune apiece!"

"Oh that they would!" cried Marianne, her eyes
sparkling with animation, and her cheeks glowing
with the delight of such imaginary happiness.

"We are all unanimous in that wish, I suppose,"
said Elinor, "in spite of the insufficiency of wealth."

"Oh dear!" cried Margaret, "how happy I should be!
I wonder what I should do with it!"

Marianne looked as if she had no doubt on that point.

"I should be puzzled to spend so large a fortune myself,"
said Mrs. Dashwood, "if my children were all to be rich
my help."

"You must begin your improvements on this house,"
observed Elinor, "and your difficulties will soon vanish."

"What magnificent orders would travel from this family
to London," said Edward, "in such an event!  What a happy
day for booksellers, music-sellers, and print-shops!  You,
Miss Dashwood, would give a general commission for every
new print of merit to be sent you--and as for Marianne,
I know her greatness of soul, there would not be music enough
in London to content her.  And books!--Thomson, Cowper,
Scott--she would buy them all over and over again: she
would buy up every copy, I believe, to prevent their
falling into unworthy hands; and she would have every
book that tells her how to admire an old twisted tree.
Should not you, Marianne?  Forgive me, if I am very saucy.
But I was willing to shew you that I had not forgot our
old disputes."

"I love to be reminded of the past, Edward--whether it
be melancholy or gay, I love to recall it--and you
will never offend me by talking of former times.
You are very right in supposing how my money would be
spent--some of it, at least--my loose cash would certainly
be employed in improving my collection of music and books."

"And the bulk of your fortune would be laid out
in annuities on the authors or their heirs."

"No, Edward, I should have something else to do
with it."

"Perhaps, then, you would bestow it as a reward on that
person who wrote the ablest defence of your favourite maxim,
that no one can ever be in love more than once in their
life--your opinion on that point is unchanged, I presume?"

"Undoubtedly. At my time of life opinions are tolerably fixed.
It is not likely that I should now see or hear any thing to
change them."

"Marianne is as steadfast as ever, you see," said Elinor,
"she is not at all altered."

"She is only grown a little more grave than she was."

"Nay, Edward," said Marianne, "you need not reproach me.
You are not very gay yourself."

"Why should you think so!" replied he, with a sigh.
"But gaiety never was a part of MY character."

"Nor do I think it a part of Marianne's," said Elinor;
"I should hardly call her a lively girl--she is very earnest,
very eager in all she does--sometimes talks a great deal
and always with animation--but she is not often really merry."

"I believe you are right," he replied, "and yet I
have always set her down as a lively girl."

"I have frequently detected myself in such kind of mistakes,"
said Elinor, "in a total misapprehension of character in some
point or other: fancying people so much more gay or grave,
or ingenious or stupid than they really are, and I can
hardly tell why or in what the deception originated.
Sometimes one is guided by what they say of themselves,
and very frequently by what other people say of them,
without giving oneself time to deliberate and judge."

"But I thought it was right, Elinor," said Marianne,
"to be guided wholly by the opinion of other people.
I thought our judgments were given us merely to be subservient
to those of neighbours.  This has always been your doctrine,
I am sure."

"No, Marianne, never.  My doctrine has never aimed
at the subjection of the understanding.  All I have
ever attempted to influence has been the behaviour.
You must not confound my meaning.  I am guilty, I confess,
of having often wished you to treat our acquaintance
in general with greater attention; but when have I advised
you to adopt their sentiments or to conform to their
judgment in serious matters?"

"You have not been able to bring your sister over to your
plan of general civility," said Edward to Elinor, "Do you gain
no ground?"

"Quite the contrary," replied Elinor,
looking expressively at Marianne.

"My judgment," he returned, "is all on your side
of the question; but I am afraid my practice is much
more on your sister's.  I never wish to offend, but I
am so foolishly shy, that I often seem negligent,
when I am only kept back by my natural awkwardness.
I have frequently thought that I must have been intended
by nature to be fond of low company, I am so little at
my ease among strangers of gentility!"

"Marianne has not shyness to excuse any inattention
of hers," said Elinor.

"She knows her own worth too well for false shame,"
replied Edward.  "Shyness is only the effect of a sense
of inferiority in some way or other.  If I could persuade
myself that my manners were perfectly easy and graceful,
I should not be shy."

"But you would still be reserved," said Marianne,
"and that is worse."

Edward started--"Reserved! Am I reserved, Marianne?"

"Yes, very."

"I do not understand you," replied he, colouring.
"Reserved!--how, in what manner?  What am I to tell you?
What can you suppose?"

Elinor looked surprised at his emotion; but trying
to laugh off the subject, she said to him, "Do not you
know my sister well enough to understand what she means?
Do not you know she calls every one reserved who does not
talk as fast, and admire what she admires as rapturously
as herself?"

Edward made no answer.  His gravity and thoughtfulness
returned on him in their fullest extent--and he sat
for some time silent and dull.



CHAPTER 18


Elinor saw, with great uneasiness the low spirits
of her friend.  His visit afforded her but a very
partial satisfaction, while his own enjoyment in it
appeared so imperfect.  It was evident that he was unhappy;
she wished it were equally evident that he still
distinguished her by the same affection which once
she had felt no doubt of inspiring; but hitherto the
continuance of his preference seemed very uncertain;
and the reservedness of his manner towards her contradicted
one moment what a more animated look had intimated the preceding
one.

He joined her and Marianne in the breakfast-room
the next morning before the others were down; and Marianne,
who was always eager to promote their happiness as far
as she could, soon left them to themselves.  But before she
was half way upstairs she heard the parlour door open, and,
turning round, was astonished to see Edward himself come out.

"I am going into the village to see my horses,"
said he, "as you are not yet ready for breakfast; I shall
be back again presently."

                    ***

Edward returned to them with fresh admiration
of the surrounding country; in his walk to the village,
he had seen many parts of the valley to advantage;
and the village itself, in a much higher situation than
the cottage, afforded a general view of the whole, which had
exceedingly pleased him.  This was a subject which ensured
Marianne's attention, and she was beginning to describe
her own admiration of these scenes, and to question him more
minutely on the objects that had particularly struck him,
when Edward interrupted her by saying, "You must not
enquire too far, Marianne--remember I have no knowledge
in the picturesque, and I shall offend you by my ignorance
and want of taste if we come to particulars.  I shall call
hills steep, which ought to be bold; surfaces strange
and uncouth, which ought to be irregular and rugged;
and distant objects out of sight, which ought only to be
indistinct through the soft medium of a hazy atmosphere.
You must be satisfied with such admiration as I can
honestly give.  I call it a very fine country--the
hills are steep, the woods seem full of fine timber,
and the valley looks comfortable and snug--with rich
meadows and several neat farm houses scattered here
and there.  It exactly answers my idea of a fine country,
because it unites beauty with utility--and I dare say it
is a picturesque one too, because you admire it; I can
easily believe it to be full of rocks and promontories,
grey moss and brush wood, but these are all lost on me.
I know nothing of the picturesque."

"I am afraid it is but too true," said Marianne;
"but why should you boast of it?"

"I suspect," said Elinor, "that to avoid one kind
of affectation, Edward here falls into another.  Because he
believes many people pretend to more admiration of the beauties
of nature than they really feel, and is disgusted with
such pretensions, he affects greater indifference and less
discrimination in viewing them himself than he possesses.
He is fastidious and will have an affectation of his own."

"It is very true," said Marianne, "that admiration
of landscape scenery is become a mere jargon.
Every body pretends to feel and tries to describe with
the taste and elegance of him who first defined what
picturesque beauty was.  I detest jargon of every kind,
and sometimes I have kept my feelings to myself,
because I could find no language to describe them
in but what was worn and hackneyed out of all sense and meaning."

"I am convinced," said Edward, "that you really feel
all the delight in a fine prospect which you profess
to feel.  But, in return, your sister must allow me
to feel no more than I profess.  I like a fine prospect,
but not on picturesque principles.  I do not like crooked,
twisted, blasted trees.  I admire them much more if they
are tall, straight, and flourishing.  I do not like ruined,
tattered cottages.  I am not fond of nettles or thistles,
or heath blossoms.  I have more pleasure in a snug
farm-house than a watch-tower--and a troop of tidy,
happy villages please me better than the finest banditti
in the world."

Marianne looked with amazement at Edward,
with compassion at her sister.  Elinor only laughed.

The subject was continued no farther; and Marianne
remained thoughtfully silent, till a new object suddenly
engaged her attention.  She was sitting by Edward, and
in taking his tea from Mrs. Dashwood, his hand passed
so directly before her, as to make a ring, with a plait
of hair in the centre, very conspicuous on one of his fingers.

"I never saw you wear a ring before, Edward," she cried.
"Is that Fanny's hair? I remember her promising to give
you some.  But I should have thought her hair had been darker."

Marianne spoke inconsiderately what she really felt--
but when she saw how much she had pained Edward, her own
vexation at her want of thought could not be surpassed
by his.  He coloured very deeply, and giving a momentary
glance at Elinor, replied, "Yes; it is my sister's hair.
The setting always casts a different shade on it,
you know."

Elinor had met his eye, and looked conscious likewise.
That the hair was her own, she instantaneously felt as
well satisfied as Marianne; the only difference in their
conclusions was, that what Marianne considered as a free
gift from her sister, Elinor was conscious must have been
procured by some theft or contrivance unknown to herself.
She was not in a humour, however, to regard it as an affront,
and affecting to take no notice of what passed,
by instantly talking of something else, she internally
resolved henceforward to catch every opportunity of eyeing
the hair and of satisfying herself, beyond all doubt,
that it was exactly the shade of her own.

Edward's embarrassment lasted some time, and it
ended in an absence of mind still more settled.
He was particularly grave the whole morning.
Marianne severely censured herself for what she had said;
but her own forgiveness might have been more speedy,
had she known how little offence it had given her sister.

Before the middle of the day, they were visited by Sir
John and Mrs. Jennings, who, having heard of the arrival
of a gentleman at the cottage, came to take a survey
of the guest.  With the assistance of his mother-in-law,
Sir John was not long in discovering that the name of
Ferrars began with an F. and this prepared a future mine
of raillery against the devoted Elinor, which nothing but
the newness of their acquaintance with Edward could have
prevented from being immediately sprung.  But, as it was,
she only learned, from some very significant looks, how far
their penetration, founded on Margaret's instructions, extended.

Sir John never came to the Dashwoods without either
inviting them to dine at the park the next day, or to drink
tea with them that evening.  On the present occasion,
for the better entertainment of their visitor, towards
whose amusement he felt himself bound to contribute,
he wished to engage them for both.

"You MUST drink tea with us to night," said he,
"for we shall be quite alone--and tomorrow you must
absolutely dine with us, for we shall be a large party."

Mrs. Jennings enforced the necessity.  "And who knows
but you may raise a dance," said she.  "And that will
tempt YOU, Miss Marianne."

"A dance!" cried Marianne.  "Impossible! Who is to dance?"

"Who! why yourselves, and the Careys, and Whitakers
to be sure.--What! you thought nobody could dance
because a certain person that shall be nameless is gone!"

"I wish with all my soul," cried Sir John,
"that Willoughby were among us again."

This, and Marianne's blushing, gave new suspicions
to Edward.  "And who is Willoughby?" said he, in a low voice,
to Miss Dashwood, by whom he was sitting.

She gave him a brief reply.  Marianne's countenance
was more communicative.  Edward saw enough to comprehend,
not only the meaning of others, but such of Marianne's
expressions as had puzzled him before; and when their
visitors left them, he went immediately round her, and said,
in a whisper, "I have been guessing.  Shall I tell you
my guess?"

"What do you mean?"

"Shall I tell you."

"Certainly."

"Well then; I guess that Mr. Willoughby hunts."

Marianne was surprised and confused, yet she could
not help smiling at the quiet archness of his manner,
and after a moment's silence, said,

"Oh, Edward! How can you?--But the time will come
I hope...I am sure you will like him."

"I do not doubt it," replied he, rather astonished
at her earnestness and warmth; for had he not imagined it
to be a joke for the good of her acquaintance in general,
founded only on a something or a nothing between Mr. Willoughby
and herself, he would not have ventured to mention it.



CHAPTER 19


Edward remained a week at the cottage; he was earnestly
pressed by Mrs. Dashwood to stay longer; but, as if he
were bent only on self-mortification, he seemed resolved
to be gone when his enjoyment among his friends was at
the height.  His spirits, during the last two or three days,
though still very unequal, were greatly improved--he grew
more and more partial to the house and environs--never
spoke of going away without a sigh--declared his time
to be wholly disengaged--even doubted to what place he
should go when he left them--but still, go he must.
Never had any week passed so quickly--he could hardly
believe it to be gone.  He said so repeatedly; other things
he said too, which marked the turn of his feelings and gave
the lie to his actions.  He had no pleasure at Norland;
he detested being in town; but either to Norland or London,
he must go.  He valued their kindness beyond any thing,
and his greatest happiness was in being with them.
Yet, he must leave them at the end of a week, in spite
of their wishes and his own, and without any restraint
on his time.

Elinor placed all that was astonishing in this
way of acting to his mother's account; and it was
happy for her that he had a mother whose character
was so imperfectly known to her, as to be the general
excuse for every thing strange on the part of her son.
Disappointed, however, and vexed as she was, and sometimes
displeased with his uncertain behaviour to herself,
she was very well disposed on the whole to regard his actions
with all the candid allowances and generous qualifications,
which had been rather more painfully extorted from her,
for Willoughby's service, by her mother.  His want of spirits,
of openness, and of consistency, were most usually
attributed to his want of independence, and his better
knowledge of Mrs. Ferrars's disposition and designs.
The shortness of his visit, the steadiness of his purpose
in leaving them, originated in the same fettered inclination,
the same inevitable necessity of temporizing with his mother.
The old well-established grievance of duty against will,
parent against child, was the cause of all.  She would have
been glad to know when these difficulties were to cease,
this opposition was to yield,--when Mrs. Ferrars would
be reformed, and her son be at liberty to be happy.
But from such vain wishes she was forced to turn for comfort
to the renewal of her confidence in Edward's affection,
to the remembrance of every mark of regard in look or word
which fell from him while at Barton, and above all
to that flattering proof of it which he constantly wore
round his finger.

"I think, Edward," said Mrs. Dashwood, as they were
at breakfast the last morning, "you would be a happier man
if you had any profession to engage your time and give
an interest to your plans and actions.  Some inconvenience
to your friends, indeed, might result from it--you
would not be able to give them so much of your time.
But (with a smile) you would be materially benefited
in one particular at least--you would know where to go
when you left them."

"I do assure you," he replied, "that I have long
thought on this point, as you think now.  It has been,
and is, and probably will always be a heavy misfortune
to me, that I have had no necessary business to engage me,
no profession to give me employment, or afford me any
thing like independence.  But unfortunately my own nicety,
and the nicety of my friends, have made me what I am,
an idle, helpless being.  We never could agree in our
choice of a profession.  I always preferred the church,
as I still do.  But that was not smart enough for my family.
They recommended the army.  That was a great deal
too smart for me.  The law was allowed to be genteel
enough; many young men, who had chambers in the Temple,
made a very good appearance in the first circles,
and drove about town in very knowing gigs.  But I had
no inclination for the law, even in this less abstruse
study of it, which my family approved.  As for the navy,
it had fashion on its side, but I was too old when the
subject was first started to enter it--and, at length,
as there was no necessity for my having any profession
at all, as I might be as dashing and expensive without
a red coat on my back as with one, idleness was pronounced
on the whole to be most advantageous and honourable,
and a young man of eighteen is not in general so earnestly
bent on being busy as to resist the solicitations of his
friends to do nothing.  I was therefore entered at Oxford
and have been properly idle ever since."

"The consequence of which, I suppose, will be,"
said Mrs. Dashwood, "since leisure has not promoted
your own happiness, that your sons will be brought up
to as many pursuits, employments, professions, and trades
as Columella's."

"They will be brought up," said he, in a serious accent,
"to be as unlike myself as is possible.  In feeling,
in action, in condition, in every thing."

"Come, come; this is all an effusion of immediate
want of spirits, Edward.  You are in a melancholy humour,
and fancy that any one unlike yourself must be happy.
But remember that the pain of parting from friends
will be felt by every body at times, whatever be their
education or state.  Know your own happiness.  You want
nothing but patience--or give it a more fascinating name,
call it hope.  Your mother will secure to you, in time,
that independence you are so anxious for; it is her duty,
and it will, it must ere long become her happiness to
prevent your whole youth from being wasted in discontent.
How much may not a few months do?"

"I think," replied Edward, "that I may defy many
months to produce any good to me."

This desponding turn of mind, though it could not
be communicated to Mrs. Dashwood, gave additional pain
to them all in the parting, which shortly took place,
and left an uncomfortable impression on Elinor's
feelings especially, which required some trouble and time
to subdue.  But as it was her determination to subdue it,
and to prevent herself from appearing to suffer more than
what all her family suffered on his going away, she did
not adopt the method so judiciously employed by Marianne,
on a similar occasion, to augment and fix her sorrow,
by seeking silence, solitude and idleness.  Their means
were as different as their objects, and equally suited
to the advancement of each.

Elinor sat down to her drawing-table as soon as he
was out of the house, busily employed herself the whole day,
neither sought nor avoided the mention of his name,
appeared to interest herself almost as much as ever in the
general concerns of the family, and if, by this conduct,
she did not lessen her own grief, it was at least prevented
from unnecessary increase, and her mother and sisters
were spared much solicitude on her account.

Such behaviour as this, so exactly the reverse
of her own, appeared no more meritorious to Marianne,
than her own had seemed faulty to her.  The business
of self-command she settled very easily;--with strong
affections it was impossible, with calm ones it could
have no merit.  That her sister's affections WERE calm,
she dared not deny, though she blushed to acknowledge it;
and of the strength of her own, she gave a very striking proof,
by still loving and respecting that sister, in spite
of this mortifying conviction.

Without shutting herself up from her family,
or leaving the house in determined solitude to avoid them,
or lying awake the whole night to indulge meditation,
Elinor found every day afforded her leisure enough
to think of Edward, and of Edward's behaviour, in every
possible variety which the different state of her spirits
at different times could produce,--with tenderness,
pity, approbation, censure, and doubt.  There were moments
in abundance, when, if not by the absence of her mother
and sisters, at least by the nature of their employments,
conversation was forbidden among them, and every effect
of solitude was produced.  Her mind was inevitably
at liberty; her thoughts could not be chained elsewhere;
and the past and the future, on a subject so interesting,
must be before her, must force her attention, and engross
her memory, her reflection, and her fancy.

From a reverie of this kind, as she sat at her
drawing-table, she was roused one morning, soon after
Edward's leaving them, by the arrival of company.
She happened to be quite alone.  The closing of the
little gate, at the entrance of the green court in front
of the house, drew her eyes to the window, and she saw
a large party walking up to the door.  Amongst them
were Sir John and Lady Middleton and Mrs. Jennings,
but there were two others, a gentleman and lady, who were
quite unknown to her.  She was sitting near the window,
and as soon as Sir John perceived her, he left the rest
of the party to the ceremony of knocking at the door,
and stepping across the turf, obliged her to open the
casement to speak to him, though the space was so short
between the door and the window, as to make it hardly
possible to speak at one without being heard at the other.

"Well," said he, "we have brought you some strangers.
How do you like them?"

"Hush! they will hear you."

"Never mind if they do.  It is only the Palmers.
Charlotte is very pretty, I can tell you.  You may see her
if you look this way."

As Elinor was certain of seeing her in a couple
of minutes, without taking that liberty, she begged
to be excused.

"Where is Marianne? Has she run away because we
are come? I see her instrument is open."

"She is walking, I believe."

They were now joined by Mrs. Jennings, who had not
patience enough to wait till the door was opened before
she told HER story.  She came hallooing to the window,
"How do you do, my dear?  How does Mrs. Dashwood do?
And where are your sisters?  What! all alone! you
will be glad of a little company to sit with you.
I have brought my other son and daughter to see you.
Only think of their coming so suddenly!  I thought I heard
a carriage last night, while we were drinking our tea,
but it never entered my head that it could be them.
I thought of nothing but whether it might not be Colonel
Brandon come back again; so I said to Sir John, I do think
I hear a carriage; perhaps it is Colonel Brandon come
back again"--

Elinor was obliged to turn from her, in the middle
of her story, to receive the rest of the party; Lady
Middleton introduced the two strangers; Mrs. Dashwood
and Margaret came down stairs at the same time, and they
all sat down to look at one another, while Mrs. Jennings
continued her story as she walked through the passage
into the parlour, attended by Sir John.

Mrs. Palmer was several years younger than Lady
Middleton, and totally unlike her in every respect.
She was short and plump, had a very pretty face,
and the finest expression of good humour in it that could
possibly be.  Her manners were by no means so elegant
as her sister's, but they were much more prepossessing.
She came in with a smile, smiled all the time of her visit,
except when she laughed, and smiled when she went away.
Her husband was a grave looking young man of five or six
and twenty, with an air of more fashion and sense than
his wife, but of less willingness to please or be pleased.
He entered the room with a look of self-consequence,
slightly bowed to the ladies, without speaking a word,
and, after briefly surveying them and their apartments,
took up a newspaper from the table, and continued to read it
as long as he staid.

Mrs. Palmer, on the contrary, who was strongly endowed
by nature with a turn for being uniformly civil and happy,
was hardly seated before her admiration of the parlour
and every thing in it burst forth.

"Well! what a delightful room this is! I never
saw anything so charming!  Only think, Mamma, how it
is improved since I was here last! I always thought it
such a sweet place, ma'am! (turning to Mrs. Dashwood)
but you have made it so charming!  Only look, sister,
how delightful every thing is! How I should like such
a house for myself!  Should not you, Mr. Palmer?"

Mr. Palmer made her no answer, and did not even raise
his eyes from the newspaper.

"Mr. Palmer does not hear me," said she, laughing;
"he never does sometimes.  It is so ridiculous!"

This was quite a new idea to Mrs. Dashwood; she had
never been used to find wit in the inattention of any one,
and could not help looking with surprise at them both.

Mrs. Jennings, in the meantime, talked on as loud
as she could, and continued her account of their surprise,
the evening before, on seeing their friends, without
ceasing till every thing was told.  Mrs. Palmer laughed
heartily at the recollection of their astonishment,
and every body agreed, two or three times over, that it
had been quite an agreeable surprise.

"You may believe how glad we all were to see them,"
added Mrs. Jennings, leaning forward towards Elinor,
and speaking in a low voice as if she meant to be heard
by no one else, though they were seated on different sides
of the room; "but, however, I can't help wishing they had
not travelled quite so fast, nor made such a long journey
of it, for they came all round by London upon account
of some business, for you know (nodding significantly and
pointing to her daughter) it was wrong in her situation.
I wanted her to stay at home and rest this morning,
but she would come with us; she longed so much to see
you all!"

Mrs. Palmer laughed, and said it would not do her
any harm.

"She expects to be confined in February,"
continued Mrs. Jennings.

Lady Middleton could no longer endure such a conversation,
and therefore exerted herself to ask Mr. Palmer if there
was any news in the paper.

"No, none at all," he replied, and read on.

"Here comes Marianne," cried Sir John.  "Now, Palmer,
you shall see a monstrous pretty girl."

He immediately went into the passage, opened the front door,
and ushered her in himself.  Mrs. Jennings asked her,
as soon as she appeared, if she had not been to Allenham;
and Mrs. Palmer laughed so heartily at the question,
as to show she understood it.  Mr. Palmer looked up
on her entering the room, stared at her some minutes,
and then returned to his newspaper.  Mrs. Palmer's eye
was now caught by the drawings which hung round the room.
She got up to examine them.

"Oh! dear, how beautiful these are!  Well! how delightful!
Do but look, mama, how sweet! I declare they are quite charming;
I could look at them for ever." And then sitting down again,
she very soon forgot that there were any such things in the room.

When Lady Middleton rose to go away, Mr. Palmer
rose also, laid down the newspaper, stretched himself
and looked at them all around.

"My love, have you been asleep?" said his wife, laughing.

He made her no answer; and only observed, after again
examining the room, that it was very low pitched,
and that the ceiling was crooked.  He then made his bow,
and departed with the rest.

Sir John had been very urgent with them all to
spend the next day at the park.  Mrs. Dashwood, who did
not chuse to dine with them oftener than they dined
at the cottage, absolutely refused on her own account;
her daughters might do as they pleased.  But they had no
curiosity to see how Mr. and Mrs. Palmer ate their dinner,
and no expectation of pleasure from them in any other way.
They attempted, therefore, likewise, to excuse themselves;
the weather was uncertain, and not likely to be good.
But Sir John would not be satisfied--the carriage should
be sent for them and they must come.  Lady Middleton too,
though she did not press their mother, pressed them.
Mrs. Jennings and Mrs. Palmer joined their entreaties, all
seemed equally anxious to avoid a family party; and the young
ladies were obliged to yield.

"Why should they ask us?" said Marianne, as soon as they
were gone.  "The rent of this cottage is said to be low;
but we have it on very hard terms, if we are to dine
at the park whenever any one is staying either with them,
or with us."

"They mean no less to be civil and kind to us now,"
said Elinor, "by these frequent invitations, than by
those which we received from them a few weeks ago.
The alteration is not in them, if their parties are grown
tedious and dull.  We must look for the change elsewhere."



CHAPTER 20


As the Miss Dashwoods entered the drawing-room of the park
the next day, at one door, Mrs. Palmer came running in at
the other, looking as good humoured and merry as before.
She took them all most affectionately by the hand,
and expressed great delight in seeing them again.

"I am so glad to see you!" said she, seating herself
between Elinor and Marianne, "for it is so bad a day I was
afraid you might not come, which would be a shocking thing,
as we go away again tomorrow. We must go, for the Westons
come to us next week you know.  It was quite a sudden thing
our coming at all, and I knew nothing of it till the carriage
was coming to the door, and then Mr. Palmer asked me if I
would go with him to Barton.  He is so droll! He never
tells me any thing! I am so sorry we cannot stay longer;
however we shall meet again in town very soon, I hope."

They were obliged to put an end to such an expectation.

"Not go to town!" cried Mrs. Palmer, with a laugh,
"I shall be quite disappointed if you do not.  I could
get the nicest house in world for you, next door to ours,
in Hanover-square.  You must come, indeed.  I am sure
I shall be very happy to chaperon you at any time till
I am confined, if Mrs. Dashwood should not like to go
into public."

They thanked her; but were obliged to resist all
her entreaties.

"Oh, my love," cried Mrs. Palmer to her husband,
who just then entered the room--"you must help me to
persuade the Miss Dashwoods to go to town this winter."

Her love made no answer; and after slightly bowing
to the ladies, began complaining of the weather.

"How horrid all this is!" said he.  "Such weather
makes every thing and every body disgusting.  Dullness
is as much produced within doors as without, by rain.
It makes one detest all one's acquaintance.  What the
devil does Sir John mean by not having a billiard room
in his house?  How few people know what comfort is!  Sir
John is as stupid as the weather."

The rest of the company soon dropt in.

"I am afraid, Miss Marianne," said Sir John, "you have
not been able to take your usual walk to Allenham today."

Marianne looked very grave and said nothing.

"Oh, don't be so sly before us," said Mrs. Palmer;
"for we know all about it, I assure you; and I admire your
taste very much, for I think he is extremely handsome.
We do not live a great way from him in the country, you know.
Not above ten miles, I dare say."

"Much nearer thirty," said her husband.

"Ah, well! there is not much difference.
I never was at his house; but they say it is a sweet
pretty place."

"As vile a spot as I ever saw in my life,"
said Mr. Palmer.

Marianne remained perfectly silent, though her
countenance betrayed her interest in what was said.

"Is it very ugly?" continued Mrs. Palmer--"then it
must be some other place that is so pretty I suppose."

When they were seated in the dining room, Sir John
observed with regret that they were only eight all together.

"My dear," said he to his lady, "it is very provoking
that we should be so few.  Why did not you ask the Gilberts
to come to us today?"

"Did not I tell you, Sir John, when you spoke to me
about it before, that it could not be done?  They dined
with us last."

"You and I, Sir John," said Mrs. Jennings,
"should not stand upon such ceremony."

"Then you would be very ill-bred," cried Mr. Palmer.

"My love you contradict every body," said his wife
with her usual laugh.  "Do you know that you are quite rude?"

"I did not know I contradicted any body in calling
your mother ill-bred."

"Ay, you may abuse me as you please," said the good-natured
old lady, "you have taken Charlotte off my hands, and cannot
give her back again.  So there I have the whip hand of you."

Charlotte laughed heartily to think that her
husband could not get rid of her; and exultingly said,
she did not care how cross he was to her, as they must
live together.  It was impossible for any one to be more
thoroughly good-natured, or more determined to be happy
than Mrs. Palmer.  The studied indifference, insolence,
and discontent of her husband gave her no pain;
and when he scolded or abused her, she was highly diverted.

"Mr. Palmer is so droll!" said she, in a whisper,
to Elinor.  "He is always out of humour."

Elinor was not inclined, after a little observation,
to give him credit for being so genuinely and unaffectedly
ill-natured or ill-bred as he wished to appear.
His temper might perhaps be a little soured by finding,
like many others of his sex, that through some unaccountable
bias in favour of beauty, he was the husband of a very silly
woman,--but she knew that this kind of blunder was too
common for any sensible man to be lastingly hurt by it.--
It was rather a wish of distinction, she believed,
which produced his contemptuous treatment of every body,
and his general abuse of every thing before him.
It was the desire of appearing superior to other people.
The motive was too common to be wondered at; but the means,
however they might succeed by establishing his superiority
in ill-breeding, were not likely to attach any one to him
except his wife.

"Oh, my dear Miss Dashwood," said Mrs. Palmer soon afterwards,
"I have got such a favour to ask of you and your sister.
Will you come and spend some time at Cleveland this
Christmas?  Now, pray do,--and come while the Westons are
with us.  You cannot think how happy I shall be!  It will
be quite delightful!--My love," applying to her husband,
"don't you long to have the Miss Dashwoods come to Cleveland?"

"Certainly," he replied, with a sneer--"I came
into Devonshire with no other view."

"There now,"--said his lady, "you see Mr. Palmer
expects you; so you cannot refuse to come."

They both eagerly and resolutely declined her invitation.

"But indeed you must and shall come.  I am sure you
will like it of all things.  The Westons will be with us,
and it will be quite delightful.  You cannot think
what a sweet place Cleveland is; and we are so gay now,
for Mr. Palmer is always going about the country canvassing
against the election; and so many people came to dine
with us that I never saw before, it is quite charming!  But,
poor fellow! it is very fatiguing to him! for he is forced
to make every body like him."

Elinor could hardly keep her countenance as she
assented to the hardship of such an obligation.

"How charming it will be," said Charlotte, "when he
is in Parliament!--won't it? How I shall laugh!  It will
be so ridiculous to see all his letters directed to him
with an M.P.--But do you know, he says, he will never frank
for me?  He declares he won't.  Don't you, Mr. Palmer?"

Mr. Palmer took no notice of her.

"He cannot bear writing, you know," she continued--
"he says it is quite shocking."

"No," said he, "I never said any thing so irrational.
Don't palm all your abuses of languages upon me."

"There now; you see how droll he is.  This is always
the way with him!  Sometimes he won't speak to me for half
a day together, and then he comes out with something
so droll--all about any thing in the world."

She surprised Elinor very much as they returned
into the drawing-room, by asking her whether she did
not like Mr. Palmer excessively.

"Certainly," said Elinor; "he seems very agreeable."

"Well--I am so glad you do.  I thought you would,
he is so pleasant; and Mr. Palmer is excessively pleased
with you and your sisters I can tell you, and you can't
think how disappointed he will be if you don't come
to Cleveland.--I can't imagine why you should object
to it."

Elinor was again obliged to decline her invitation;
and by changing the subject, put a stop to her entreaties.
She thought it probable that as they lived in the
same county, Mrs. Palmer might be able to give some
more particular account of Willoughby's general
character, than could be gathered from the Middletons'
partial acquaintance with him; and she was eager to gain
from any one, such a confirmation of his merits as might
remove the possibility of fear from Marianne.  She began
by inquiring if they saw much of Mr. Willoughby at Cleveland,
and whether they were intimately acquainted with him.

"Oh dear, yes; I know him extremely well,"
replied Mrs. Palmer;--"Not that I ever spoke
to him, indeed; but I have seen him for ever in town.
Somehow or other I never happened to be staying at Barton
while he was at Allenham.  Mama saw him here once before;--
but I was with my uncle at Weymouth.  However, I dare say
we should have seen a great deal of him in Somersetshire,
if it had not happened very unluckily that we should never
have been in the country together.  He is very little
at Combe, I believe; but if he were ever so much there,
I do not think Mr. Palmer would visit him, for he is
in the opposition, you know, and besides it is such a
way off.  I know why you inquire about him, very well;
your sister is to marry him.  I am monstrous glad of it,
for then I shall have her for a neighbour you know."

"Upon my word," replied Elinor, "you know much
more of the matter than I do, if you have any reason
to expect such a match."

"Don't pretend to deny it, because you know it is
what every body talks of.  I assure you I heard of it
in my way through town."

"My dear Mrs. Palmer!"

"Upon my honour I did.--I met Colonel Brandon
Monday morning in Bond-street, just before we left town,
and he told me of it directly."

"You surprise me very much.  Colonel Brandon tell
you of it!  Surely you must be mistaken.  To give such
intelligence to a person who could not be interested in it,
even if it were true, is not what I should expect Colonel
Brandon to do."

"But I do assure you it was so, for all that,
and I will tell you how it happened.  When we met him,
he turned back and walked with us; and so we began talking
of my brother and sister, and one thing and another,
and I said to him, 'So, Colonel, there is a new family
come to Barton cottage, I hear, and mama sends me word
they are very pretty, and that one of them is going to be
married to Mr. Willoughby of Combe Magna.  Is it true,
pray? for of course you must know, as you have been in
Devonshire so lately.'"

"And what did the Colonel say?"

"Oh--he did not say much; but he looked as if he
knew it to be true, so from that moment I set it down
as certain.  It will be quite delightful, I declare!
When is it to take place?"

"Mr. Brandon was very well I hope?"

"Oh! yes, quite well; and so full of your praises,
he did nothing but say fine things of you."

"I am flattered by his commendation.  He seems
an excellent man; and I think him uncommonly pleasing."

"So do I.--He is such a charming man, that it
is quite a pity he should be so grave and so dull.
Mamma says HE was in love with your sister too.--
I assure you it was a great compliment if he was, for he
hardly ever falls in love with any body."

"Is Mr. Willoughby much known in your part
of Somersetshire?" said Elinor.

"Oh! yes, extremely well; that is, I do not believe
many people are acquainted with him, because Combe Magna
is so far off; but they all think him extremely agreeable
I assure you.  Nobody is more liked than Mr. Willoughby
wherever he goes, and so you may tell your sister.
She is a monstrous lucky girl to get him, upon my honour;
not but that he is much more lucky in getting her,
because she is so very handsome and agreeable, that nothing
can be good enough for her.  However, I don't think
her hardly at all handsomer than you, I assure you;
for I think you both excessively pretty, and so does
Mr. Palmer too I am sure, though we could not get him
to own it last night."

Mrs. Palmer's information respecting Willoughby
was not very material; but any testimony in his favour,
however small, was pleasing to her.

"I am so glad we are got acquainted at last,"
continued Charlotte.--"And now I hope we shall always be
great friends.  You can't think how much I longed to see you!
It is so delightful that you should live at the cottage!
Nothing can be like it, to be sure!  And I am so glad
your sister is going to be well married!  I hope you will
be a great deal at Combe Magna.  It is a sweet place,
by all accounts."

"You have been long acquainted with Colonel Brandon,
have not you?"

"Yes, a great while; ever since my sister married.--
He was a particular friend of Sir John's. I believe,"
she added in a low voice, "he would have been very
glad to have had me, if he could.  Sir John and Lady
Middleton wished it very much.  But mama did not think
the match good enough for me, otherwise Sir John would
have mentioned it to the Colonel, and we should have been
married immediately."

"Did not Colonel Brandon know of Sir John's proposal
to your mother before it was made?  Had he never owned
his affection to yourself?"

"Oh, no; but if mama had not objected to it,
I dare say he would have liked it of all things.
He had not seen me then above twice, for it was before
I left school.  However, I am much happier as I am.
Mr. Palmer is the kind of man I like."



CHAPTER 21


The Palmers returned to Cleveland the next day,
and the two families at Barton were again left to entertain
each other.  But this did not last long; Elinor had hardly
got their last visitors out of her head, had hardly done
wondering at Charlotte's being so happy without a cause,
at Mr. Palmer's acting so simply, with good abilities,
and at the strange unsuitableness which often existed between
husband and wife, before Sir John's and Mrs. Jennings's
active zeal in the cause of society, procured her some
other new acquaintance to see and observe.

In a morning's excursion to Exeter, they had met with
two young ladies, whom Mrs. Jennings had the satisfaction
of discovering to be her relations, and this was enough
for Sir John to invite them directly to the park,
as soon as their present engagements at Exeter were over.
Their engagements at Exeter instantly gave way before
such an invitation, and Lady Middleton was thrown into
no little alarm on the return of Sir John, by hearing
that she was very soon to receive a visit from two girls
whom she had never seen in her life, and of whose elegance,--
whose tolerable gentility even, she could have no proof;
for the assurances of her husband and mother on that subject
went for nothing at all.  Their being her relations too
made it so much the worse; and Mrs. Jennings's attempts
at consolation were therefore unfortunately founded,
when she advised her daughter not to care about their being
so fashionable; because they were all cousins and must put
up with one another.  As it was impossible, however, now to
prevent their coming, Lady Middleton resigned herself to the
idea of it, with all the philosophy of a well-bred woman,
contenting herself with merely giving her husband a gentle
reprimand on the subject five or six times every day.

The young ladies arrived: their appearance was by
no means ungenteel or unfashionable.  Their dress was
very smart, their manners very civil, they were delighted
with the house, and in raptures with the furniture,
and they happened to be so doatingly fond of children
that Lady Middleton's good opinion was engaged in their
favour before they had been an hour at the Park.
She declared them to be very agreeable girls indeed,
which for her ladyship was enthusiastic admiration.
Sir John's confidence in his own judgment rose with this
animated praise, and he set off directly for the cottage
to tell the Miss Dashwoods of the Miss Steeles' arrival,
and to assure them of their being the sweetest girls
in the world.  From such commendation as this, however,
there was not much to be learned; Elinor well knew
that the sweetest girls in the world were to be met
with in every part of England, under every possible
variation of form, face, temper and understanding.
Sir John wanted the whole family to walk to the Park directly
and look at his guests.  Benevolent, philanthropic man!  It
was painful to him even to keep a third cousin to himself.

"Do come now," said he--"pray come--you must come--I
declare you shall come--You can't think how you will
like them.  Lucy is monstrous pretty, and so good humoured
and agreeable!  The children are all hanging about her already,
as if she was an old acquaintance.  And they both long
to see you of all things, for they have heard at Exeter
that you are the most beautiful creatures in the world;
and I have told them it is all very true, and a great
deal more.  You will be delighted with them I am sure.
They have brought the whole coach full of playthings
for the children.  How can you be so cross as not to come?
Why they are your cousins, you know, after a fashion.
YOU are my cousins, and they are my wife's, so you must
be related."

But Sir John could not prevail.  He could only obtain
a promise of their calling at the Park within a day or two,
and then left them in amazement at their indifference,
to walk home and boast anew of their attractions to the
Miss Steeles, as he had been already boasting of the Miss
Steeles to them.

When their promised visit to the Park and consequent
introduction to these young ladies took place, they found
in the appearance of the eldest, who was nearly thirty,
with a very plain and not a sensible face, nothing to admire;
but in the other, who was not more than two or three
and twenty, they acknowledged considerable beauty; her
features were pretty, and she had a sharp quick eye,
and a smartness of air, which though it did not give
actual elegance or grace, gave distinction to her person.--
Their manners were particularly civil, and Elinor soon
allowed them credit for some kind of sense, when she
saw with what constant and judicious attention they
were making themselves agreeable to Lady Middleton.
With her children they were in continual raptures,
extolling their beauty, courting their notice, and humouring
their whims; and such of their time as could be spared from
the importunate demands which this politeness made on it,
was spent in admiration of whatever her ladyship was doing,
if she happened to be doing any thing, or in taking patterns
of some elegant new dress, in which her appearance
the day before had thrown them into unceasing delight.
Fortunately for those who pay their court through
such foibles, a fond mother, though, in pursuit of praise
for her children, the most rapacious of human beings,
is likewise the most credulous; her demands are exorbitant;
but she will swallow any thing; and the excessive
affection and endurance of the Miss Steeles towards
her offspring were viewed therefore by Lady Middleton
without the smallest surprise or distrust.  She saw with
maternal complacency all the impertinent encroachments
and mischievous tricks to which her cousins submitted.
She saw their sashes untied, their hair pulled about
their ears, their work-bags searched, and their knives
and scissors stolen away, and felt no doubt of its being
a reciprocal enjoyment.  It suggested no other surprise
than that Elinor and Marianne should sit so composedly by,
without claiming a share in what was passing.

"John is in such spirits today!" said she, on his
taking Miss Steeles's pocket handkerchief, and throwing
it out of window--"He is full of monkey tricks."

And soon afterwards, on the second boy's violently
pinching one of the same lady's fingers, she fondly observed,
"How playful William is!"

"And here is my sweet little Annamaria," she added,
tenderly caressing a little girl of three years old,
who had not made a noise for the last two minutes;
"And she is always so gentle and quiet--Never was there
such a quiet little thing!"

But unfortunately in bestowing these embraces,
a pin in her ladyship's head dress slightly scratching
the child's neck, produced from this pattern of gentleness
such violent screams, as could hardly be outdone by any
creature professedly noisy.  The mother's consternation
was excessive; but it could not surpass the alarm of the
Miss Steeles, and every thing was done by all three,
in so critical an emergency, which affection could suggest
as likely to assuage the agonies of the little sufferer.
She was seated in her mother's lap, covered with kisses,
her wound bathed with lavender-water, by one of the
Miss Steeles, who was on her knees to attend her,
and her mouth stuffed with sugar plums by the other.
With such a reward for her tears, the child was too wise
to cease crying.  She still screamed and sobbed lustily,
kicked her two brothers for offering to touch her, and all
their united soothings were ineffectual till Lady Middleton
luckily remembering that in a scene of similar distress
last week, some apricot marmalade had been successfully
applied for a bruised temple, the same remedy was eagerly
proposed for this unfortunate scratch, and a slight
intermission of screams in the young lady on hearing it,
gave them reason to hope that it would not be rejected.--
She was carried out of the room therefore in her
mother's arms, in quest of this medicine, and as the
two boys chose to follow, though earnestly entreated
by their mother to stay behind, the four young ladies
were left in a quietness which the room had not known for
many hours.

"Poor little creatures!" said Miss Steele, as soon
as they were gone.  "It might have been a very sad accident."

"Yet I hardly know how," cried Marianne, "unless it
had been under totally different circumstances.
But this is the usual way of heightening alarm, where there
is nothing to be alarmed at in reality."

"What a sweet woman Lady Middleton is!" said Lucy Steele.

Marianne was silent; it was impossible for her to say
what she did not feel, however trivial the occasion;
and upon Elinor therefore the whole task of telling lies
when politeness required it, always fell.  She did her
best when thus called on, by speaking of Lady Middleton
with more warmth than she felt, though with far less than
Miss Lucy.

"And Sir John too," cried the elder sister,
"what a charming man he is!"

Here too, Miss Dashwood's commendation, being only
simple and just, came in without any eclat.  She merely
observed that he was perfectly good humoured and friendly.

"And what a charming little family they have!  I
never saw such fine children in my life.--I declare I
quite doat upon them already, and indeed I am always
distractedly fond of children."

"I should guess so," said Elinor, with a smile,
"from what I have witnessed this morning."

"I have a notion," said Lucy, "you think the little
Middletons rather too much indulged; perhaps they may be the
outside of enough; but it is so natural in Lady Middleton;
and for my part, I love to see children full of life
and spirits; I cannot bear them if they are tame and quiet."

"I confess," replied Elinor, "that while I am at
Barton Park, I never think of tame and quiet children
with any abhorrence."

A short pause succeeded this speech, which was first
broken by Miss Steele, who seemed very much disposed
for conversation, and who now said rather abruptly,
"And how do you like Devonshire, Miss Dashwood?  I suppose
you were very sorry to leave Sussex."

In some surprise at the familiarity of this question,
or at least of the manner in which it was spoken,
Elinor replied that she was.

"Norland is a prodigious beautiful place, is not it?"
added Miss Steele.

"We have heard Sir John admire it excessively,"
said Lucy, who seemed to think some apology necessary
for the freedom of her sister.

"I think every one MUST admire it," replied Elinor,
"who ever saw the place; though it is not to be supposed
that any one can estimate its beauties as we do."

"And had you a great many smart beaux there?  I
suppose you have not so many in this part of the world;
for my part, I think they are a vast addition always."

"But why should you think," said Lucy, looking ashamed
of her sister, "that there are not as many genteel young
men in Devonshire as Sussex?"

"Nay, my dear, I'm sure I don't pretend to say that there
an't.  I'm sure there's a vast many smart beaux in Exeter;
but you know, how could I tell what smart beaux there
might be about Norland; and I was only afraid the Miss
Dashwoods might find it dull at Barton, if they had not
so many as they used to have.  But perhaps you young ladies
may not care about the beaux, and had as lief be without
them as with them.  For my part, I think they are vastly
agreeable, provided they dress smart and behave civil.
But I can't bear to see them dirty and nasty.  Now there's
Mr. Rose at Exeter, a prodigious smart young man,
quite a beau, clerk to Mr. Simpson, you know, and yet if you
do but meet him of a morning, he is not fit to be seen.--
I suppose your brother was quite a beau, Miss Dashwood,
before he married, as he was so rich?"

"Upon my word," replied Elinor, "I cannot tell you,
for I do not perfectly comprehend the meaning of the word.
But this I can say, that if he ever was a beau before
he married, he is one still for there is not the smallest
alteration in him."

"Oh! dear! one never thinks of married men's being
beaux--they have something else to do."

"Lord! Anne," cried her sister, "you can talk of
nothing but beaux;--you will make Miss Dashwood believe you
think of nothing else." And then to turn the discourse,
she began admiring the house and the furniture.

This specimen of the Miss Steeles was enough.
The vulgar freedom and folly of the eldest left
her no recommendation, and as Elinor was not blinded
by the beauty, or the shrewd look of the youngest,
to her want of real elegance and artlessness, she left
the house without any wish of knowing them better.

Not so the Miss Steeles.--They came from Exeter, well
provided with admiration for the use of Sir John Middleton,
his family, and all his relations, and no niggardly
proportion was now dealt out to his fair cousins, whom they
declared to be the most beautiful, elegant, accomplished,
and agreeable girls they had ever beheld, and with whom
they were particularly anxious to be better acquainted.--
And to be better acquainted therefore, Elinor soon found
was their inevitable lot, for as Sir John was entirely
on the side of the Miss Steeles, their party would be
too strong for opposition, and that kind of intimacy
must be submitted to, which consists of sitting an hour
or two together in the same room almost every day.
Sir John could do no more; but he did not know that any
more was required: to be together was, in his opinion,
to be intimate, and while his continual schemes for their
meeting were effectual, he had not a doubt of their being
established friends.

To do him justice, he did every thing in his power
to promote their unreserve, by making the Miss Steeles
acquainted with whatever he knew or supposed of his cousins'
situations in the most delicate particulars,--and Elinor
had not seen them more than twice, before the eldest of
them wished her joy on her sister's having been so lucky
as to make a conquest of a very smart beau since she
came to Barton.

"'Twill be a fine thing to have her married so young
to be sure," said she, "and I hear he is quite a beau,
and prodigious handsome.  And I hope you may have as good
luck yourself soon,--but perhaps you may have a friend
in the corner already."

Elinor could not suppose that Sir John would be more
nice in proclaiming his suspicions of her regard for Edward,
than he had been with respect to Marianne; indeed it was
rather his favourite joke of the two, as being somewhat
newer and more conjectural; and since Edward's visit,
they had never dined together without his drinking to her
best affections with so much significancy and so many nods
and winks, as to excite general attention.  The letter F--
had been likewise invariably brought forward, and found
productive of such countless jokes, that its character
as the wittiest letter in the alphabet had been long
established with Elinor.

The Miss Steeles, as she expected, had now all the
benefit of these jokes, and in the eldest of them they
raised a curiosity to know the name of the gentleman
alluded to, which, though often impertinently expressed,
was perfectly of a piece with her general inquisitiveness
into the concerns of their family.  But Sir John did not
sport long with the curiosity which he delighted to raise,
for he had at least as much pleasure in telling the name,
as Miss Steele had in hearing it.

"His name is Ferrars," said he, in a very audible whisper;
"but pray do not tell it, for it's a great secret."

"Ferrars!" repeated Miss Steele; "Mr. Ferrars is
the happy man, is he? What! your sister-in-law's brother,
Miss Dashwood? a very agreeable young man to be sure;
I know him very well."

"How can you say so, Anne?" cried Lucy, who generally
made an amendment to all her sister's assertions.
"Though we have seen him once or twice at my uncle's, it
is rather too much to pretend to know him very well."

Elinor heard all this with attention and surprise.
"And who was this uncle?  Where did he live?  How came
they acquainted?"  She wished very much to have the subject
continued, though she did not chuse to join in it herself;
but nothing more of it was said, and for the first time
in her life, she thought Mrs. Jennings deficient either
in curiosity after petty information, or in a disposition
to communicate it.  The manner in which Miss Steele had
spoken of Edward, increased her curiosity; for it struck
her as being rather ill-natured, and suggested the suspicion
of that lady's knowing, or fancying herself to know something
to his disadvantage.--But her curiosity was unavailing,
for no farther notice was taken of Mr. Ferrars's name by
Miss Steele when alluded to, or even openly mentioned by Sir
John.



CHAPTER 22


Marianne, who had never much toleration for any
thing like impertinence, vulgarity, inferiority of parts,
or even difference of taste from herself, was at
this time particularly ill-disposed, from the state
of her spirits, to be pleased with the Miss Steeles,
or to encourage their advances; and to the invariable
coldness of her behaviour towards them, which checked every
endeavour at intimacy on their side, Elinor principally
attributed that preference of herself which soon became
evident in the manners of both, but especially of Lucy,
who missed no opportunity of engaging her in conversation,
or of striving to improve their acquaintance by an easy
and frank communication of her sentiments.

Lucy was naturally clever; her remarks were often
just and amusing; and as a companion for half an hour
Elinor frequently found her agreeable; but her powers
had received no aid from education: she was ignorant
and illiterate; and her deficiency of all mental improvement,
her want of information in the most common particulars,
could not be concealed from Miss Dashwood, in spite of her
constant endeavour to appear to advantage.  Elinor saw,
and pitied her for, the neglect of abilities which education
might have rendered so respectable; but she saw, with less
tenderness of feeling, the thorough want of delicacy,
of rectitude, and integrity of mind, which her attentions,
her assiduities, her flatteries at the Park betrayed;
and she could have no lasting satisfaction in the company
of a person who joined insincerity with ignorance;
whose want of instruction prevented their meeting
in conversation on terms of equality, and whose conduct
toward others made every shew of attention and deference
towards herself perfectly valueless.

"You will think my question an odd one, I dare say,"
said Lucy to her one day, as they were walking together
from the park to the cottage--"but pray, are you
personally acquainted with your sister-in-law's mother,
Mrs. Ferrars?"

Elinor DID think the question a very odd one,
and her countenance expressed it, as she answered that she
had never seen Mrs. Ferrars.

"Indeed!" replied Lucy; "I wonder at that, for I
thought you must have seen her at Norland sometimes.
Then, perhaps, you cannot tell me what sort of a woman
she is?"

"No," returned Elinor, cautious of giving her real
opinion of Edward's mother, and not very desirous
of satisfying what seemed impertinent curiosity--
"I know nothing of her."

"I am sure you think me very strange, for enquiring
about her in such a way," said Lucy, eyeing Elinor attentively
as she spoke; "but perhaps there may be reasons--I wish
I might venture; but however I hope you will do me the justice
of believing that I do not mean to be impertinent."

Elinor made her a civil reply, and they walked on
for a few minutes in silence.  It was broken by Lucy,
who renewed the subject again by saying, with some
hesitation,

"I cannot bear to have you think me impertinently curious.
I am sure I would rather do any thing in the world than be
thought so by a person whose good opinion is so well worth
having as yours.  And I am sure I should not have the smallest
fear of trusting YOU; indeed, I should be very glad of your
advice how to manage in such and uncomfortable situation
as I am; but, however, there is no occasion to trouble YOU.
I am sorry you do not happen to know Mrs. Ferrars."

"I am sorry I do NOT," said Elinor, in great astonishment,
"if it could be of any use to YOU to know my opinion of her.
But really I never understood that you were at all connected
with that family, and therefore I am a little surprised,
I confess, at so serious an inquiry into her character."

"I dare say you are, and I am sure I do not at all
wonder at it.  But if I dared tell you all, you would not be
so much surprised.  Mrs. Ferrars is certainly nothing to me
at present--but the time MAY come--how soon it will come
must depend upon herself--when we may be very intimately
connected."

She looked down as she said this, amiably bashful,
with only one side glance at her companion to observe its
effect on her.

"Good heavens!" cried Elinor, "what do you mean?
Are you acquainted with Mr. Robert Ferrars?  Can you be?"
And she did not feel much delighted with the idea of such
a sister-in-law.

"No," replied Lucy, "not to Mr. ROBERT Ferrars--I
never saw him in my life; but," fixing her eyes upon Elinor,
"to his eldest brother."

What felt Elinor at that moment? Astonishment,
that would have been as painful as it was strong, had not
an immediate disbelief of the assertion attended it.
She turned towards Lucy in silent amazement, unable to divine
the reason or object of such a declaration; and though
her complexion varied, she stood firm in incredulity,
and felt in no danger of an hysterical fit, or a swoon.

"You may well be surprised," continued Lucy;
"for to be sure you could have had no idea of it before;
for I dare say he never dropped the smallest hint of it
to you or any of your family; because it was always meant
to be a great secret, and I am sure has been faithfully
kept so by me to this hour.  Not a soul of all my relations
know of it but Anne, and I never should have mentioned
it to you, if I had not felt the greatest dependence
in the world upon your secrecy; and I really thought my
behaviour in asking so many questions about Mrs. Ferrars
must seem so odd, that it ought to be explained.
And I do not think Mr. Ferrars can be displeased,
when he knows I have trusted you, because I know he has
the highest opinion in the world of all your family,
and looks upon yourself and the other Miss Dashwoods quite
as his own sisters."--She paused.

Elinor for a few moments remained silent.
Her astonishment at what she heard was at first too
great for words; but at length forcing herself to speak,
and to speak cautiously, she said, with calmness of manner,
which tolerably well concealed her surprise and solicitude--
"May I ask if your engagement is of long standing?"

"We have been engaged these four years."

"Four years!"

"Yes."

Elinor, though greatly shocked, still felt unable
to believe it.

"I did not know," said she, "that you were even
acquainted till the other day."

"Our acquaintance, however, is of many years date.
He was under my uncle's care, you know, a considerable while."

"Your uncle!"

"Yes; Mr. Pratt.  Did you never hear him talk
of Mr. Pratt?"

"I think I have," replied Elinor, with an exertion
of spirits, which increased with her increase of emotion.

"He was four years with my uncle, who lives at Longstaple,
near Plymouth.  It was there our acquaintance begun,
for my sister and me was often staying with my uncle,
and it was there our engagement was formed, though not till
a year after he had quitted as a pupil; but he was almost
always with us afterwards.  I was very unwilling to enter
into it, as you may imagine, without the knowledge and
approbation of his mother; but I was too young, and loved
him too well, to be so prudent as I ought to have been.--
Though you do not know him so well as me, Miss Dashwood,
you must have seen enough of him to be sensible he is
very capable of making a woman sincerely attached to him."

"Certainly," answered Elinor, without knowing what
she said; but after a moment's reflection, she added,
with revived security of Edward's honour and love,
and her companion's falsehood--"Engaged to Mr. Edward
Ferrars!--I confess myself so totally surprised at
what you tell me, that really--I beg your pardon;
but surely there must be some mistake of person or name.
We cannot mean the same Mr. Ferrars."

"We can mean no other," cried Lucy, smiling.  "Mr. Edward
Ferrars, the eldest son of Mrs. Ferrars, of Park Street,
and brother of your sister-in-law, Mrs. John Dashwood,
is the person I mean; you must allow that I am not likely
to be deceived as to the name of the man on who all my happiness
depends."

"It is strange," replied Elinor, in a most painful perplexity,
"that I should never have heard him even mention your name."

"No; considering our situation, it was not strange.
Our first care has been to keep the matter secret.--
You knew nothing of me, or my family, and, therefore,
there could be no OCCASION for ever mentioning my name
to you; and, as he was always particularly afraid of his
sister's suspecting any thing, THAT was reason enough
for his not mentioning it."

She was silent.--Elinor's security sunk; but her
self-command did not sink with it.

"Four years you have been engaged," said she
with a firm voice.

"Yes; and heaven knows how much longer we may have
to wait.  Poor Edward!  It puts him quite out of heart."
Then taking a small miniature from her pocket, she added,
"To prevent the possibility of mistake, be so good as to look
at this face.  It does not do him justice, to be sure,
but yet I think you cannot be deceived as to the person
it was drew for.--I have had it above these three years."

She put it into her hands as she spoke; and when Elinor
saw the painting, whatever other doubts her fear of a
too hasty decision, or her wish of detecting falsehood
might suffer to linger in her mind, she could have none of
its being Edward's face.  She returned it almost instantly,
acknowledging the likeness.

"I have never been able," continued Lucy, "to give
him my picture in return, which I am very much vexed at,
for he has been always so anxious to get it!  But I am
determined to set for it the very first opportunity."

"You are quite in the right," replied Elinor calmly.
They then proceeded a few paces in silence.  Lucy spoke first.

"I am sure," said she, "I have no doubt in the world
of your faithfully keeping this secret, because you must
know of what importance it is to us, not to have it reach
his mother; for she would never approve of it, I dare say.
I shall have no fortune, and I fancy she is an exceeding
proud woman."

"I certainly did not seek your confidence," said Elinor;
"but you do me no more than justice in imagining that I
may be depended on.  Your secret is safe with me;
but pardon me if I express some surprise at so unnecessary
a communication.  You must at least have felt that my
being acquainted with it could not add to its safety."

As she said this, she looked earnestly at Lucy,
hoping to discover something in her countenance; perhaps the
falsehood of the greatest part of what she had been saying;
but Lucy's countenance suffered no change.

"I was afraid you would think I was taking a great
liberty with you," said she, "in telling you all this.
I have not known you long to be sure, personally at least,
but I have known you and all your family by description
a great while; and as soon as I saw you, I felt almost as if
you was an old acquaintance.  Besides in the present case,
I really thought some explanation was due to you after my
making such particular inquiries about Edward's mother;
and I am so unfortunate, that I have not a creature whose
advice I can ask.  Anne is the only person that knows of it,
and she has no judgment at all; indeed, she does me a great
deal more harm than good, for I am in constant fear of her
betraying me.  She does not know how to hold her tongue,
as you must perceive, and I am sure I was in the greatest
fright in the world t'other day, when Edward's name was
mentioned by Sir John, lest she should out with it all.
You can't think how much I go through in my mind from
it altogether.  I only wonder that I am alive after what
I have suffered for Edward's sake these last four years.
Every thing in such suspense and uncertainty; and seeing
him so seldom--we can hardly meet above twice a-year.
I am sure I wonder my heart is not quite broke."

Here she took out her handkerchief; but Elinor did
not feel very compassionate.

"Sometimes." continued Lucy, after wiping her eyes,
"I think whether it would not be better for us both
to break off the matter entirely."  As she said this,
she looked directly at her companion.  "But then
at other times I have not resolution enough for it.--
I cannot bear the thoughts of making him so miserable,
as I know the very mention of such a thing would do.
And on my own account too--so dear as he is to me--I don't
think I could be equal to it.  What would you advise
me to do in such a case, Miss Dashwood?  What would you
do yourself?"

"Pardon me," replied Elinor, startled by the question;
"but I can give you no advice under such circumstances.
Your own judgment must direct you."

"To be sure," continued Lucy, after a few minutes
silence on both sides, "his mother must provide for him
sometime or other; but poor Edward is so cast down by it!
Did you not think him dreadful low-spirited when he was at
Barton?  He was so miserable when he left us at Longstaple,
to go to you, that I was afraid you would think him quite ill."

"Did he come from your uncle's, then, when he visited us?"

"Oh, yes; he had been staying a fortnight with us.
Did you think he came directly from town?"

"No," replied Elinor, most feelingly sensible of
every fresh circumstance in favour of Lucy's veracity;
"I remember he told us, that he had been staying
a fortnight with some friends near Plymouth."
She remembered too, her own surprise at the time,
at his mentioning nothing farther of those friends,
at his total silence with respect even to their names.

"Did not you think him sadly out of spirits?"
repeated Lucy.

"We did, indeed, particularly so when he first arrived."

"I begged him to exert himself for fear you
should suspect what was the matter; but it made him
so melancholy, not being able to stay more than a
fortnight with us, and seeing me so much affected.--
Poor fellow!--I am afraid it is just the same with him now;
for he writes in wretched spirits.  I heard from him just
before I left Exeter;" taking a letter from her pocket
and carelessly showing the direction to Elinor.
"You know his hand, I dare say, a charming one it is;
but that is not written so well as usual.--He was tired,
I dare say, for he had just filled the sheet to me as full
as possible."

Elinor saw that it WAS his hand, and she could doubt
no longer.  This picture, she had allowed herself to believe,
might have been accidentally obtained; it might not have
been Edward's gift; but a correspondence between them
by letter, could subsist only under a positive engagement,
could be authorised by nothing else; for a few moments, she
was almost overcome--her heart sunk within her, and she could
hardly stand; but exertion was indispensably necessary;
and she struggled so resolutely against the oppression
of her feelings, that her success was speedy, and for
the time complete.

"Writing to each other," said Lucy, returning the
letter into her pocket, "is the only comfort we have
in such long separations.  Yes, I have one other comfort
in his picture, but poor Edward has not even THAT.
If he had but my picture, he says he should be easy.
I gave him a lock of my hair set in a ring when he was at
Longstaple last, and that was some comfort to him, he said,
but not equal to a picture.  Perhaps you might notice
the ring when you saw him?"

"I did," said Elinor, with a composure of voice,
under which was concealed an emotion and distress beyond
any thing she had ever felt before.  She was mortified,
shocked, confounded.

Fortunately for her, they had now reached the cottage,
and the conversation could be continued no farther.
After sitting with them a few minutes, the Miss Steeles
returned to the Park, and Elinor was then at liberty
to think and be wretched.





[At this point in the first and second editions, Volume 1 ends.]





CHAPTER 23


However small Elinor's general dependence on
Lucy's veracity might be, it was impossible for her
on serious reflection to suspect it in the present case,
where no temptation could be answerable to the folly
of inventing a falsehood of such a description.  What Lucy
had asserted to be true, therefore, Elinor could not,
dared not longer doubt; supported as it was too on every
side by such probabilities and proofs, and contradicted
by nothing but her own wishes.  Their opportunity of
acquaintance in the house of Mr. Pratt was a foundation
for the rest, at once indisputable and alarming; and Edward's
visit near Plymouth, his melancholy state of mind,
his dissatisfaction at his own prospects, his uncertain
behaviour towards herself, the intimate knowledge of the
Miss Steeles as to Norland and their family connections,
which had often surprised her, the picture, the letter,
the ring, formed altogether such a body of evidence,
as overcame every fear of condemning him unfairly,
and established as a fact, which no partiality could
set aside, his ill-treatment of herself.--Her resentment
of such behaviour, her indignation at having been its dupe,
for a short time made her feel only for herself;
but other ideas, other considerations, soon arose.
Had Edward been intentionally deceiving her?  Had he feigned
a regard for her which he did not feel?  Was his engagement
to Lucy an engagement of the heart?  No; whatever it might
once have been, she could not believe it such at present.
His affection was all her own.  She could not be deceived
in that.  Her mother, sisters, Fanny, all had been
conscious of his regard for her at Norland; it was not
an illusion of her own vanity.  He certainly loved her.
What a softener of the heart was this persuasion!  How much
could it not tempt her to forgive!  He had been blamable,
highly blamable, in remaining at Norland after he first
felt her influence over him to be more than it ought
to be.  In that, he could not be defended; but if he
had injured her, how much more had he injured himself;
if her case were pitiable, his was hopeless.
His imprudence had made her miserable for a while; but it
seemed to have deprived himself of all chance of ever
being otherwise.  She might in time regain tranquillity;
but HE, what had he to look forward to?  Could he
ever be tolerably happy with Lucy Steele; could he,
were his affection for herself out of the question,
with his integrity, his delicacy, and well-informed mind,
be satisfied with a wife like her--illiterate, artful,
and selfish?

The youthful infatuation of nineteen would naturally
blind him to every thing but her beauty and good nature;
but the four succeeding years--years, which if rationally
spent, give such improvement to the understanding, must
have opened his eyes to her defects of education,
while the same period of time, spent on her side
in inferior society and more frivolous pursuits,
had perhaps robbed her of that simplicity which might
once have given an interesting character to her beauty.

If in the supposition of his seeking to marry herself,
his difficulties from his mother had seemed great,
how much greater were they now likely to be, when
the object of his engagement was undoubtedly inferior
in connections, and probably inferior in fortune to herself.
These difficulties, indeed, with a heart so alienated
from Lucy, might not press very hard upon his patience;
but melancholy was the state of the person by whom the
expectation of family opposition and unkindness, could
be felt as a relief!

As these considerations occurred to her in painful
succession, she wept for him, more than for herself.
Supported by the conviction of having done nothing to
merit her present unhappiness, and consoled by the belief
that Edward had done nothing to forfeit her esteem,
she thought she could even now, under the first smart
of the heavy blow, command herself enough to guard every
suspicion of the truth from her mother and sisters.
And so well was she able to answer her own expectations,
that when she joined them at dinner only two hours
after she had first suffered the extinction of all her
dearest hopes, no one would have supposed from the
appearance of the sisters, that Elinor was mourning
in secret over obstacles which must divide her for ever
from the object of her love, and that Marianne was
internally dwelling on the perfections of a man, of whose
whole heart she felt thoroughly possessed, and whom she
expected to see in every carriage which drove near their house.

The necessity of concealing from her mother and
Marianne, what had been entrusted in confidence to herself,
though it obliged her to unceasing exertion, was no
aggravation of Elinor's distress.  On the contrary
it was a relief to her, to be spared the communication
of what would give such affliction to them, and to be
saved likewise from hearing that condemnation of Edward,
which would probably flow from the excess of their partial
affection for herself, and which was more than she felt
equal to support.

From their counsel, or their conversation, she knew
she could receive no assistance, their tenderness and
sorrow must add to her distress, while her self-command
would neither receive encouragement from their example
nor from their praise.  She was stronger alone,
and her own good sense so well supported her, that her
firmness was as unshaken, her appearance of cheerfulness
as invariable, as with regrets so poignant and so fresh,
it was possible for them to be.

Much as she had suffered from her first conversation
with Lucy on the subject, she soon felt an earnest wish
of renewing it; and this for more reasons than one.
She wanted to hear many particulars of their engagement
repeated again, she wanted more clearly to understand
what Lucy really felt for Edward, whether there were any
sincerity in her declaration of tender regard for him,
and she particularly wanted to convince Lucy, by her
readiness to enter on the matter again, and her calmness
in conversing on it, that she was no otherwise interested
in it than as a friend, which she very much feared
her involuntary agitation, in their morning discourse,
must have left at least doubtful.  That Lucy was disposed
to be jealous of her appeared very probable: it was plain
that Edward had always spoken highly in her praise,
not merely from Lucy's assertion, but from her venturing
to trust her on so short a personal acquaintance,
with a secret so confessedly and evidently important.
And even Sir John's joking intelligence must have had
some weight.  But indeed, while Elinor remained so well
assured within herself of being really beloved by Edward,
it required no other consideration of probabilities
to make it natural that Lucy should be jealous;
and that she was so, her very confidence was a proof.
What other reason for the disclosure of the affair could
there be, but that Elinor might be informed by it of Lucy's
superior claims on Edward, and be taught to avoid him
in future?  She had little difficulty in understanding thus
much of her rival's intentions, and while she was firmly
resolved to act by her as every principle of honour and
honesty directed, to combat her own affection for Edward
and to see him as little as possible; she could not deny
herself the comfort of endeavouring to convince Lucy
that her heart was unwounded.  And as she could now have
nothing more painful to hear on the subject than had already
been told, she did not mistrust her own ability of going
through a repetition of particulars with composure.

But it was not immediately that an opportunity
of doing so could be commanded, though Lucy was as well
disposed as herself to take advantage of any that occurred;
for the weather was not often fine enough to allow
of their joining in a walk, where they might most easily
separate themselves from the others; and though they
met at least every other evening either at the park
or cottage, and chiefly at the former, they could
not be supposed to meet for the sake of conversation.
Such a thought would never enter either Sir John or Lady
Middleton's head; and therefore very little leisure
was ever given for a general chat, and none at all for
particular discourse.  They met for the sake of eating,
drinking, and laughing together, playing at cards,
or consequences, or any other game that was sufficiently noisy.

One or two meetings of this kind had taken place,
without affording Elinor any chance of engaging Lucy
in private, when Sir John called at the cottage one morning,
to beg, in the name of charity, that they would all
dine with Lady Middleton that day, as he was obliged
to attend the club at Exeter, and she would otherwise be
quite alone, except her mother and the two Miss Steeles.
Elinor, who foresaw a fairer opening for the point she
had in view, in such a party as this was likely to be,
more at liberty among themselves under the tranquil
and well-bred direction of Lady Middleton than when
her husband united them together in one noisy purpose,
immediately accepted the invitation; Margaret, with her
mother's permission, was equally compliant, and Marianne,
though always unwilling to join any of their parties,
was persuaded by her mother, who could not bear to have her
seclude herself from any chance of amusement, to go likewise.

The young ladies went, and Lady Middleton was happily
preserved from the frightful solitude which had threatened her.
The insipidity of the meeting was exactly such as Elinor
had expected; it produced not one novelty of thought
or expression, and nothing could be less interesting
than the whole of their discourse both in the dining
parlour and drawing room: to the latter, the children
accompanied them, and while they remained there, she was
too well convinced of the impossibility of engaging Lucy's
attention to attempt it.  They quitted it only with the
removal of the tea-things.  The card-table was then placed,
and Elinor began to wonder at herself for having ever
entertained a hope of finding time for conversation
at the park.  They all rose up in preparation for a round game.

"I am glad," said Lady Middleton to Lucy,
"you are not going to finish poor little Annamaria's
basket this evening; for I am sure it must hurt your
eyes to work filigree by candlelight.  And we will make
the dear little love some amends for her disappointment
to-morrow, and then I hope she will not much mind it."

This hint was enough, Lucy recollected herself instantly
and replied, "Indeed you are very much mistaken,
Lady Middleton; I am only waiting to know whether you can
make your party without me, or I should have been at my
filigree already.  I would not disappoint the little angel
for all the world: and if you want me at the card-table now,
I am resolved to finish the basket after supper."

"You are very good, I hope it won't hurt your eyes--
will you ring the bell for some working candles?
My poor little girl would be sadly disappointed, I know,
if the basket was not finished tomorrow, for though I
told her it certainly would not, I am sure she depends
upon having it done."

Lucy directly drew her work table near her
and reseated herself with an alacrity and cheerfulness
which seemed to infer that she could taste no greater
delight than in making a filigree basket for a spoilt child.

Lady Middleton proposed a rubber of Casino to the others.
No one made any objection but Marianne, who with her usual
inattention to the forms of general civility, exclaimed,
"Your Ladyship will have the goodness to excuse ME--you
know I detest cards.  I shall go to the piano-forte;
I have not touched it since it was tuned."  And without
farther ceremony, she turned away and walked to the instrument.

Lady Middleton looked as if she thanked heaven
that SHE had never made so rude a speech.

"Marianne can never keep long from that instrument
you know, ma'am," said Elinor, endeavouring to smooth
away the offence; "and I do not much wonder at it; for it
is the very best toned piano-forte I ever heard."

The remaining five were now to draw their cards.

"Perhaps," continued Elinor, "if I should happen
to cut out, I may be of some use to Miss Lucy Steele,
in rolling her papers for her; and there is so much still
to be done to the basket, that it must be impossible
I think for her labour singly, to finish it this evening.
I should like the work exceedingly, if she would allow
me a share in it."

"Indeed I shall be very much obliged to you
for your help," cried Lucy, "for I find there is more
to be done to it than I thought there was; and it would
be a shocking thing to disappoint dear Annamaria after all."

"Oh! that would be terrible, indeed," said Miss Steele--
"Dear little soul, how I do love her!"

"You are very kind," said Lady Middleton to Elinor;
"and as you really like the work, perhaps you will be
as well pleased not to cut in till another rubber,
or will you take your chance now?"

Elinor joyfully profited by the first of these proposals,
and thus by a little of that address which Marianne
could never condescend to practise, gained her own end,
and pleased Lady Middleton at the same time.  Lucy made room
for her with ready attention, and the two fair rivals were
thus seated side by side at the same table, and, with the
utmost harmony, engaged in forwarding the same work.
The pianoforte at which Marianne, wrapped up in her own
music and her own thoughts, had by this time forgotten
that any body was in the room besides herself, was luckily
so near them that Miss Dashwood now judged she might safely,
under the shelter of its noise, introduce the interesting
subject, without any risk of being heard at the card-table.



CHAPTER 24


In a firm, though cautious tone, Elinor thus began.

"I should be undeserving of the confidence you have
honoured me with, if I felt no desire for its continuance,
or no farther curiosity on its subject.  I will
not apologize therefore for bringing it forward again."

"Thank you," cried Lucy warmly, "for breaking
the ice; you have set my heart at ease by it; for I was
somehow or other afraid I had offended you by what I
told you that Monday."

"Offended me! How could you suppose so? Believe me,"
and Elinor spoke it with the truest sincerity,
"nothing could be farther from my intention than to give
you such an idea.  Could you have a motive for the trust,
that was not honourable and flattering to me?"

"And yet I do assure you," replied Lucy, her little
sharp eyes full of meaning, "there seemed to me to be
a coldness and displeasure in your manner that made me
quite uncomfortable.  I felt sure that you was angry with me;
and have been quarrelling with myself ever since, for having
took such a liberty as to trouble you with my affairs.
But I am very glad to find it was only my own fancy,
and that you really do not blame me.  If you knew what a
consolation it was to me to relieve my heart speaking to you
of what I am always thinking of every moment of my life,
your compassion would make you overlook every thing else
I am sure."

"Indeed, I can easily believe that it was a very great
relief to you, to acknowledge your situation to me, and be
assured that you shall never have reason to repent it.
Your case is a very unfortunate one; you seem to me to
be surrounded with difficulties, and you will have need
of all your mutual affection to support you under them.
Mr. Ferrars, I believe, is entirely dependent on his mother."

"He has only two thousand pounds of his own; it would
be madness to marry upon that, though for my own part,
I could give up every prospect of more without a sigh.
I have been always used to a very small income, and could
struggle with any poverty for him; but I love him too well
to be the selfish means of robbing him, perhaps, of all that
his mother might give him if he married to please her.
We must wait, it may be for many years.  With almost every
other man in the world, it would be an alarming prospect;
but Edward's affection and constancy nothing can deprive me of
I know."

"That conviction must be every thing to you;
and he is undoubtedly supported by the same trust in your's.
If the strength of your reciprocal attachment had failed,
as between many people, and under many circumstances
it naturally would during a four years' engagement,
your situation would have been pitiable, indeed."

Lucy here looked up; but Elinor was careful
in guarding her countenance from every expression
that could give her words a suspicious tendency.

"Edward's love for me," said Lucy, "has been pretty
well put to the test, by our long, very long absence
since we were first engaged, and it has stood the trial
so well, that I should be unpardonable to doubt it now.
I can safely say that he has never gave me one moment's
alarm on that account from the first."

Elinor hardly knew whether to smile or sigh
at this assertion.

Lucy went on.  "I am rather of a jealous temper too
by nature, and from our different situations in life,
from his being so much more in the world than me, and our
continual separation, I was enough inclined for suspicion,
to have found out the truth in an instant, if there had been
the slightest alteration in his behaviour to me when we met,
or any lowness of spirits that I could not account for,
or if he had talked more of one lady than another,
or seemed in any respect less happy at Longstaple than he
used to be.  I do not mean to say that I am particularly
observant or quick-sighted in general, but in such a case
I am sure I could not be deceived."

"All this," thought Elinor, "is very pretty;
but it can impose upon neither of us."

"But what," said she after a short silence,
"are your views? or have you none but that of waiting for
Mrs. Ferrars's death, which is a melancholy and shocking
extremity?--Is her son determined to submit to this,
and to all the tediousness of the many years of suspense
in which it may involve you, rather than run the risk
of her displeasure for a while by owning the truth?"

"If we could be certain that it would be only
for a while!  But Mrs. Ferrars is a very headstrong
proud woman, and in her first fit of anger upon hearing
it, would very likely secure every thing to Robert,
and the idea of that, for Edward's sake, frightens away
all my inclination for hasty measures."

"And for your own sake too, or you are carrying
your disinterestedness beyond reason."

Lucy looked at Elinor again, and was silent.

"Do you know Mr. Robert Ferrars?" asked Elinor.

"Not at all--I never saw him; but I fancy he
is very unlike his brother--silly and a great coxcomb."

"A great coxcomb!" repeated Miss Steele, whose ear had
caught those words by a sudden pause in Marianne's music.--
"Oh, they are talking of their favourite beaux, I dare say."

"No sister," cried Lucy, "you are mistaken there, our
favourite beaux are NOT great coxcombs."

"I can answer for it that Miss Dashwood's is not,"
said Mrs. Jennings, laughing heartily; "for he is one
of the modestest, prettiest behaved young men I ever saw;
but as for Lucy, she is such a sly little creature,
there is no finding out who SHE likes."

"Oh," cried Miss Steele, looking significantly round
at them, "I dare say Lucy's beau is quite as modest
and pretty behaved as Miss Dashwood's."

Elinor blushed in spite of herself.  Lucy bit her lip,
and looked angrily at her sister.  A mutual silence took
place for some time.  Lucy first put an end to it by saying
in a lower tone, though Marianne was then giving them
the powerful protection of a very magnificent concerto--

"I will honestly tell you of one scheme which has
lately come into my head, for bringing matters to bear;
indeed I am bound to let you into the secret, for you
are a party concerned.  I dare say you have seen enough
of Edward to know that he would prefer the church to every
other profession; now my plan is that he should take
orders as soon as he can, and then through your interest,
which I am sure you would be kind enough to use out of
friendship for him, and I hope out of some regard to me,
your brother might be persuaded to give him Norland living;
which I understand is a very good one, and the present
incumbent not likely to live a great while.  That would
be enough for us to marry upon, and we might trust to time
and chance for the rest."

"I should always be happy," replied Elinor, "to show
any mark of my esteem and friendship for Mr. Ferrars;
but do you not perceive that my interest on such an
occasion would be perfectly unnecessary?  He is brother
to Mrs. John Dashwood--THAT must be recommendation enough
to her husband."

"But Mrs. John Dashwood would not much approve
of Edward's going into orders."

"Then I rather suspect that my interest would
do very little."

They were again silent for many minutes.  At length
Lucy exclaimed with a deep sigh,

"I believe it would be the wisest way to put an end
to the business at once by dissolving the engagement.
We seem so beset with difficulties on every side,
that though it would make us miserable for a time,
we should be happier perhaps in the end.  But you will
not give me your advice, Miss Dashwood?"

"No," answered Elinor, with a smile, which concealed
very agitated feelings, "on such a subject I certainly
will not.  You know very well that my opinion would have
no weight with you, unless it were on the side of your wishes."

"Indeed you wrong me," replied Lucy, with great
solemnity; "I know nobody of whose judgment I think
so highly as I do of yours; and I do really believe,
that if you was to say to me, 'I advise you by all means
to put an end to your engagement with Edward Ferrars,
it will be more for the happiness of both of you,'
I should resolve upon doing it immediately."

Elinor blushed for the insincerity of Edward's
future wife, and replied, "This compliment would effectually
frighten me from giving any opinion on the subject
had I formed one.  It raises my influence much too high;
the power of dividing two people so tenderly attached
is too much for an indifferent person."

"'Tis because you are an indifferent person," said Lucy,
with some pique, and laying a particular stress on those words,
"that your judgment might justly have such weight with me.
If you could be supposed to be biased in any respect
by your own feelings, your opinion would not be worth having."

Elinor thought it wisest to make no answer to this,
lest they might provoke each other to an unsuitable increase
of ease and unreserve; and was even partly determined
never to mention the subject again.  Another pause
therefore of many minutes' duration, succeeded this speech,
and Lucy was still the first to end it.

"Shall you be in town this winter, Miss Dashwood?"
said she with all her accustomary complacency.

"Certainly not."

"I am sorry for that," returned the other,
while her eyes brightened at the information,
"it would have gave me such pleasure to meet you there!
But I dare say you will go for all that.  To be sure,
your brother and sister will ask you to come to them."

"It will not be in my power to accept their invitation
if they do."

"How unlucky that is! I had quite depended upon
meeting you there.  Anne and me are to go the latter end
of January to some relations who have been wanting us to
visit them these several years!  But I only go for the sake
of seeing Edward.  He will be there in February, otherwise
London would have no charms for me; I have not spirits for it."

Elinor was soon called to the card-table by the
conclusion of the first rubber, and the confidential
discourse of the two ladies was therefore at an end,
to which both of them submitted without any reluctance,
for nothing had been said on either side to make them
dislike each other less than they had done before;
and Elinor sat down to the card table with the melancholy
persuasion that Edward was not only without affection
for the person who was to be his wife; but that he had
not even the chance of being tolerably happy in marriage,
which sincere affection on HER side would have given,
for self-interest alone could induce a woman to keep a man
to an engagement, of which she seemed so thoroughly aware
that he was weary.

From this time the subject was never revived by Elinor,
and when entered on by Lucy, who seldom missed an opportunity
of introducing it, and was particularly careful to inform
her confidante, of her happiness whenever she received a letter
from Edward, it was treated by the former with calmness
and caution, and dismissed as soon as civility would allow;
for she felt such conversations to be an indulgence which
Lucy did not deserve, and which were dangerous to herself.

The visit of the Miss Steeles at Barton Park was
lengthened far beyond what the first invitation implied.
Their favour increased; they could not be spared;
Sir John would not hear of their going; and in spite
of their numerous and long arranged engagements in Exeter,
in spite of the absolute necessity of returning to fulfill
them immediately, which was in full force at the end
of every week, they were prevailed on to stay nearly two
months at the park, and to assist in the due celebration
of that festival which requires a more than ordinary
share of private balls and large dinners to proclaim
its importance.



CHAPTER 25


Though Mrs. Jennings was in the habit of spending a large
portion of the year at the houses of her children and friends,
she was not without a settled habitation of her own.
Since the death of her husband, who had traded with success
in a less elegant part of the town, she had resided every
winter in a house in one of the streets near Portman Square.
Towards this home, she began on the approach of January
to turn her thoughts, and thither she one day abruptly,
and very unexpectedly by them, asked the elder Misses
Dashwood to accompany her.  Elinor, without observing
the varying complexion of her sister, and the animated look
which spoke no indifference to the plan, immediately gave
a grateful but absolute denial for both, in which she
believed herself to be speaking their united inclinations.
The reason alleged was their determined resolution
of not leaving their mother at that time of the year.
Mrs. Jennings received the refusal with some surprise,
and repeated her invitation immediately.

"Oh, Lord! I am sure your mother can spare you
very well, and I DO beg you will favour me with
your company, for I've quite set my heart upon it.
Don't fancy that you will be any inconvenience to me,
for I shan't put myself at all out of my way for you.
It will only be sending Betty by the coach, and I
hope I can afford THAT.  We three shall be able to go
very well in my chaise; and when we are in town,
if you do not like to go wherever I do, well and good,
you may always go with one of my daughters.  I am sure
your mother will not object to it; for I have had such
good luck in getting my own children off my hands that she
will think me a very fit person to have the charge of you;
and if I don't get one of you at least well married
before I have done with you, it shall not be my fault.
I shall speak a good word for you to all the young men,
you may depend upon it."

"I have a notion," said Sir John, "that Miss Marianne
would not object to such a scheme, if her elder sister
would come into it.  It is very hard indeed that she
should not have a little pleasure, because Miss Dashwood
does not wish it.  So I would advise you two, to set off
for town, when you are tired of Barton, without saying
a word to Miss Dashwood about it."

"Nay," cried Mrs. Jennings, "I am sure I shall be
monstrous glad of Miss Marianne's company, whether Miss
Dashwood will go or not, only the more the merrier say I,
and I thought it would be more comfortable for them to
be together; because, if they got tired of me, they might talk
to one another, and laugh at my old ways behind my back.
But one or the other, if not both of them, I must have.
Lord bless me! how do you think I can live poking by myself,
I who have been always used till this winter to have
Charlotte with me.  Come, Miss Marianne, let us strike
hands upon the bargain, and if Miss Dashwood will change
her mind by and bye, why so much the better."

"I thank you, ma'am, sincerely thank you," said Marianne,
with warmth: "your invitation has insured my gratitude for ever,
and it would give me such happiness, yes, almost the greatest
happiness I am capable of, to be able to accept it.
But my mother, my dearest, kindest mother,--I feel the
justice of what Elinor has urged, and if she were to be
made less happy, less comfortable by our absence--Oh! no,
nothing should tempt me to leave her.  It should not,
must not be a struggle."

Mrs. Jennings repeated her assurance that Mrs. Dashwood
could spare them perfectly well; and Elinor, who now
understood her sister, and saw to what indifference to
almost every thing else she was carried by her eagerness
to be with Willoughby again, made no farther direct
opposition to the plan, and merely referred it to her
mother's decision, from whom however she scarcely expected
to receive any support in her endeavour to prevent a visit,
which she could not approve of for Marianne, and which
on her own account she had particular reasons to avoid.
Whatever Marianne was desirous of, her mother would be eager
to promote--she could not expect to influence the latter
to cautiousness of conduct in an affair respecting which she
had never been able to inspire her with distrust; and she
dared not explain the motive of her own disinclination
for going to London.  That Marianne, fastidious as she was,
thoroughly acquainted with Mrs. Jennings' manners,
and invariably disgusted by them, should overlook every
inconvenience of that kind, should disregard whatever
must be most wounding to her irritable feelings, in her
pursuit of one object, was such a proof, so strong,
so full, of the importance of that object to her, as Elinor,
in spite of all that had passed, was not prepared to witness.

On being informed of the invitation, Mrs. Dashwood,
persuaded that such an excursion would be productive
of much amusement to both her daughters, and perceiving
through all her affectionate attention to herself,
how much the heart of Marianne was in it, would not hear
of their declining the offer upon HER account; insisted on
their both accepting it directly; and then began to foresee,
with her usual cheerfulness, a variety of advantages that
would accrue to them all, from this separation.

"I am delighted with the plan," she cried,
"it is exactly what I could wish.  Margaret and I shall
be as much benefited by it as yourselves.  When you
and the Middletons are gone, we shall go on so quietly
and happily together with our books and our music! You
will find Margaret so improved when you come back again!
I have a little plan of alteration for your bedrooms too,
which may now be performed without any inconvenience
to any one.  It is very right that you SHOULD go to town;
I would have every young woman of your condition in life
acquainted with the manners and amusements of London.
You will be under the care of a motherly good sort
of woman, of whose kindness to you I can have no doubt.
And in all probability you will see your brother,
and whatever may be his faults, or the faults of his wife,
when I consider whose son he is, I cannot bear to have you so
wholly estranged from each other."

"Though with your usual anxiety for our happiness,"
said Elinor, "you have been obviating every impediment
to the present scheme which occurred to you, there is
still one objection which, in my opinion, cannot be so
easily removed."

Marianne's countenance sunk.

"And what," said Mrs. Dashwood, "is my dear prudent
Elinor going to suggest?  What formidable obstacle is she
now to bring forward?  Do let me hear a word about the
expense of it."

"My objection is this; though I think very well of
Mrs. Jennings's heart, she is not a woman whose society
can afford us pleasure, or whose protection will give
us consequence."

"That is very true," replied her mother, "but of
her society, separately from that of other people,
you will scarcely have any thing at all, and you will
almost always appear in public with Lady Middleton."

"If Elinor is frightened away by her dislike of
Mrs. Jennings," said Marianne, "at least it need not prevent
MY accepting her invitation.  I have no such scruples,
and I am sure I could put up with every unpleasantness
of that kind with very little effort."

Elinor could not help smiling at this display of
indifference towards the manners of a person, to whom she
had often had difficulty in persuading Marianne to behave
with tolerable politeness; and resolved within herself,
that if her sister persisted in going, she would
go likewise, as she did not think it proper that Marianne
should be left to the sole guidance of her own judgment,
or that Mrs. Jennings should be abandoned to the mercy
of Marianne for all the comfort of her domestic hours.
To this determination she was the more easily reconciled,
by recollecting that Edward Ferrars, by Lucy's account,
was not to be in town before February; and that
their visit, without any unreasonable abridgement,
might be previously finished.

"I will have you BOTH go," said Mrs. Dashwood;
"these objections are nonsensical.  You will have much
pleasure in being in London, and especially in being together;
and if Elinor would ever condescend to anticipate enjoyment,
she would foresee it there from a variety of sources;
she would, perhaps, expect some from improving her
acquaintance with her sister-in-law's family."

Elinor had often wished for an opportunity of
attempting to weaken her mother's dependence on the
attachment of Edward and herself, that the shock might
be less when the whole truth were revealed, and now
on this attack, though almost hopeless of success,
she forced herself to begin her design by saying,
as calmly as she could, "I like Edward Ferrars very much,
and shall always be glad to see him; but as to the rest
of the family, it is a matter of perfect indifference
to me, whether I am ever known to them or not."

Mrs. Dashwood smiled, and said nothing.
Marianne lifted up her eyes in astonishment, and Elinor
conjectured that she might as well have held her tongue.

After very little farther discourse, it was finally
settled that the invitation should be fully accepted.
Mrs. Jennings received the information with a great
deal of joy, and many assurances of kindness and care;
nor was it a matter of pleasure merely to her.  Sir John
was delighted; for to a man, whose prevailing anxiety
was the dread of being alone, the acquisition of two,
to the number of inhabitants in London, was something.
Even Lady Middleton took the trouble of being delighted,
which was putting herself rather out of her way;
and as for the Miss Steeles, especially Lucy, they had
never been so happy in their lives as this intelligence
made them.

Elinor submitted to the arrangement which counteracted
her wishes with less reluctance than she had expected
to feel.  With regard to herself, it was now a matter
of unconcern whether she went to town or not, and when
she saw her mother so thoroughly pleased with the plan,
and her sister exhilarated by it in look, voice, and manner,
restored to all her usual animation, and elevated to more
than her usual gaiety, she could not be dissatisfied
with the cause, and would hardly allow herself to distrust
the consequence.

Marianne's joy was almost a degree beyond happiness,
so great was the perturbation of her spirits and her
impatience to be gone.  Her unwillingness to quit her
mother was her only restorative to calmness; and at the
moment of parting her grief on that score was excessive.
Her mother's affliction was hardly less, and Elinor
was the only one of the three, who seemed to consider
the separation as any thing short of eternal.

Their departure took place in the first week in January.
The Middletons were to follow in about a week.  The Miss
Steeles kept their station at the park, and were to quit
it only with the rest of the family.



CHAPTER 26


Elinor could not find herself in the carriage with Mrs. Jennings,
and beginning a journey to London under her protection,
and as her guest, without wondering at her own situation,
so short had their acquaintance with that lady been,
so wholly unsuited were they in age and disposition,
and so many had been her objections against such a measure
only a few days before! But these objections had all,
with that happy ardour of youth which Marianne and her mother
equally shared, been overcome or overlooked; and Elinor,
in spite of every occasional doubt of Willoughby's constancy,
could not witness the rapture of delightful expectation
which filled the whole soul and beamed in the eyes
of Marianne, without feeling how blank was her own prospect,
how cheerless her own state of mind in the comparison,
and how gladly she would engage in the solicitude of
Marianne's situation to have the same animating object
in view, the same possibility of hope.  A short, a very
short time however must now decide what Willoughby's
intentions were; in all probability he was already in town.
Marianne's eagerness to be gone declared her dependence
on finding him there; and Elinor was resolved not only upon
gaining every new light as to his character which her
own observation or the intelligence of others could give her,
but likewise upon watching his behaviour to her sister
with such zealous attention, as to ascertain what he was
and what he meant, before many meetings had taken place.
Should the result of her observations be unfavourable,
she was determined at all events to open the eyes
of her sister; should it be otherwise, her exertions
would be of a different nature--she must then learn
to avoid every selfish comparison, and banish every regret
which might lessen her satisfaction in the happiness of Marianne.

They were three days on their journey, and Marianne's
behaviour as they travelled was a happy specimen of what
future complaisance and companionableness to Mrs. Jennings
might be expected to be.  She sat in silence almost all
the way, wrapt in her own meditations, and scarcely ever
voluntarily speaking, except when any object of picturesque
beauty within their view drew from her an exclamation
of delight exclusively addressed to her sister.  To atone
for this conduct therefore, Elinor took immediate possession
of the post of civility which she had assigned herself,
behaved with the greatest attention to Mrs. Jennings,
talked with her, laughed with her, and listened to her
whenever she could; and Mrs. Jennings on her side
treated them both with all possible kindness, was solicitous
on every occasion for their ease and enjoyment, and only
disturbed that she could not make them choose their own
dinners at the inn, nor extort a confession of their
preferring salmon to cod, or boiled fowls to veal cutlets.
They reached town by three o'clock the third day, glad to
be released, after such a journey, from the confinement
of a carriage, and ready to enjoy all the luxury of a good fire.

The house was handsome, and handsomely fitted up,
and the young ladies were immediately put in possession
of a very comfortable apartment.  It had formerly
been Charlotte's, and over the mantelpiece still hung
a landscape in coloured silks of her performance,
in proof of her having spent seven years at a great school
in town to some effect.

As dinner was not to be ready in less than two
hours from their arrival, Elinor determined to employ
the interval in writing to her mother, and sat down for
that purpose.  In a few moments Marianne did the same.
"I am writing home, Marianne," said Elinor; "had not you
better defer your letter for a day or two?"

"I am NOT going to write to my mother,"
replied Marianne, hastily, and as if wishing to avoid
any farther inquiry.  Elinor said no more; it immediately
struck her that she must then be writing to Willoughby;
and the conclusion which as instantly followed was,
that, however mysteriously they might wish to conduct
the affair, they must be engaged.  This conviction,
though not entirely satisfactory, gave her pleasure,
and she continued her letter with greater alacrity.
Marianne's was finished in a very few minutes;
in length it could be no more than a note; it was then
folded up, sealed, and directed with eager rapidity.
Elinor thought she could distinguish a large W in
the direction; and no sooner was it complete than Marianne,
ringing the bell, requested the footman who answered it
to get that letter conveyed for her to the two-penny post.
This decided the matter at once.

Her spirits still continued very high; but there
was a flutter in them which prevented their giving much
pleasure to her sister, and this agitation increased as
the evening drew on.  She could scarcely eat any dinner,
and when they afterwards returned to the drawing room,
seemed anxiously listening to the sound of every carriage.

It was a great satisfaction to Elinor that Mrs. Jennings,
by being much engaged in her own room, could see little
of what was passing.  The tea things were brought in,
and already had Marianne been disappointed more than once
by a rap at a neighbouring door, when a loud one was suddenly
heard which could not be mistaken for one at any other house,
Elinor felt secure of its announcing Willoughby's approach,
and Marianne, starting up, moved towards the door.
Every thing was silent; this could not be borne many seconds;
she opened the door, advanced a few steps towards the stairs,
and after listening half a minute, returned into the room
in all the agitation which a conviction of having heard
him would naturally produce; in the ecstasy of her
feelings at that instant she could not help exclaiming,
"Oh, Elinor, it is Willoughby, indeed it is!" and seemed
almost ready to throw herself into his arms, when Colonel
Brandon appeared.

It was too great a shock to be borne with calmness,
and she immediately left the room.  Elinor was disappointed too;
but at the same time her regard for Colonel Brandon ensured
his welcome with her; and she felt particularly hurt that
a man so partial to her sister should perceive that she
experienced nothing but grief and disappointment in seeing him.
She instantly saw that it was not unnoticed by him,
that he even observed Marianne as she quitted the room,
with such astonishment and concern, as hardly left him
the recollection of what civility demanded towards herself.

"Is your sister ill?" said he.

Elinor answered in some distress that she was,
and then talked of head-aches, low spirits, and over fatigues;
and of every thing to which she could decently attribute
her sister's behaviour.

He heard her with the most earnest attention,
but seeming to recollect himself, said no more on the subject,
and began directly to speak of his pleasure at seeing them
in London, making the usual inquiries about their journey,
and the friends they had left behind.

In this calm kind of way, with very little interest
on either side, they continued to talk, both of them out
of spirits, and the thoughts of both engaged elsewhere.
Elinor wished very much to ask whether Willoughby were
then in town, but she was afraid of giving him pain
by any enquiry after his rival; and at length, by way
of saying something, she asked if he had been in London
ever since she had seen him last.  "Yes," he replied,
with some embarrassment, "almost ever since; I have been
once or twice at Delaford for a few days, but it has never
been in my power to return to Barton."

This, and the manner in which it was said,
immediately brought back to her remembrance all the
circumstances of his quitting that place, with the
uneasiness and suspicions they had caused to Mrs. Jennings,
and she was fearful that her question had implied
much more curiosity on the subject than she had ever felt.

Mrs. Jennings soon came in.  "Oh! Colonel," said she,
with her usual noisy cheerfulness, "I am monstrous glad
to see you--sorry I could not come before--beg your
pardon, but I have been forced to look about me a little,
and settle my matters; for it is a long while since I
have been at home, and you know one has always a world
of little odd things to do after one has been away for
any time; and then I have had Cartwright to settle with--
Lord, I have been as busy as a bee ever since dinner!
But pray, Colonel, how came you to conjure out that I should
be in town today?"

"I had the pleasure of hearing it at Mr. Palmer's,
where I have been dining."

"Oh, you did; well, and how do they all do at their
house?  How does Charlotte do?  I warrant you she is a fine
size by this time."

"Mrs. Palmer appeared quite well, and I am commissioned
to tell you, that you will certainly see her to-morrow."

"Ay, to be sure, I thought as much.  Well, Colonel,
I have brought two young ladies with me, you see--that is,
you see but one of them now, but there is another somewhere.
Your friend, Miss Marianne, too--which you will not be
sorry to hear.  I do not know what you and Mr. Willoughby
will do between you about her.  Ay, it is a fine thing
to be young and handsome.  Well! I was young once, but I
never was very handsome--worse luck for me.  However, I got
a very good husband, and I don't know what the greatest
beauty can do more.  Ah! poor man! he has been dead
these eight years and better.  But Colonel, where have
you been to since we parted?  And how does your business
go on?  Come, come, let's have no secrets among friends."

He replied with his accustomary mildness to all
her inquiries, but without satisfying her in any.
Elinor now began to make the tea, and Marianne was
obliged to appear again.

After her entrance, Colonel Brandon became
more thoughtful and silent than he had been before,
and Mrs. Jennings could not prevail on him to stay long.
No other visitor appeared that evening, and the ladies
were unanimous in agreeing to go early to bed.

Marianne rose the next morning with recovered spirits
and happy looks.  The disappointment of the evening before
seemed forgotten in the expectation of what was to happen
that day.  They had not long finished their breakfast before
Mrs. Palmer's barouche stopped at the door, and in a few
minutes she came laughing into the room: so delighted
to see them all, that it was hard to say whether she
received most pleasure from meeting her mother or the Miss
Dashwoods again.  So surprised at their coming to town,
though it was what she had rather expected all along;
so angry at their accepting her mother's invitation
after having declined her own, though at the same time
she would never have forgiven them if they had not come!

"Mr. Palmer will be so happy to see you,"
said she; "What do you think he said when he heard
of your coming with Mamma?  I forget what it was now,
but it was something so droll!"

After an hour or two spent in what her mother called
comfortable chat, or in other words, in every variety of inquiry
concerning all their acquaintance on Mrs. Jennings's side,
and in laughter without cause on Mrs. Palmer's, it was
proposed by the latter that they should all accompany
her to some shops where she had business that morning,
to which Mrs. Jennings and Elinor readily consented,
as having likewise some purchases to make themselves;
and Marianne, though declining it at first was induced
to go likewise.

Wherever they went, she was evidently always on
the watch.  In Bond Street especially, where much of
their business lay, her eyes were in constant inquiry;
and in whatever shop the party were engaged, her mind was
equally abstracted from every thing actually before them,
from all that interested and occupied the others.
Restless and dissatisfied every where, her sister could
never obtain her opinion of any article of purchase,
however it might equally concern them both: she received
no pleasure from anything; was only impatient to be at
home again, and could with difficulty govern her vexation
at the tediousness of Mrs. Palmer, whose eye was caught
by every thing pretty, expensive, or new; who was wild
to buy all, could determine on none, and dawdled away her
time in rapture and indecision.

It was late in the morning before they returned home;
and no sooner had they entered the house than Marianne flew
eagerly up stairs, and when Elinor followed, she found
her turning from the table with a sorrowful countenance,
which declared that no Willoughby had been there.

"Has no letter been left here for me since we went out?"
said she to the footman who then entered with the parcels.
She was answered in the negative.  "Are you quite sure
of it?" she replied.  "Are you certain that no servant,
no porter has left any letter or note?"

The man replied that none had.

"How very odd!" said she, in a low and disappointed
voice, as she turned away to the window.

"How odd, indeed!" repeated Elinor within herself,
regarding her sister with uneasiness.  "If she had not
known him to be in town she would not have written to him,
as she did; she would have written to Combe Magna;
and if he is in town, how odd that he should neither
come nor write!  Oh! my dear mother, you must be wrong
in permitting an engagement between a daughter so young,
a man so little known, to be carried on in so doubtful,
so mysterious a manner!  I long to inquire; and how will MY
interference be borne."

She determined, after some consideration, that if
appearances continued many days longer as unpleasant as they
now were, she would represent in the strongest manner
to her mother the necessity of some serious enquiry into the
affair.

Mrs. Palmer and two elderly ladies of Mrs. Jennings's
intimate acquaintance, whom she had met and invited
in the morning, dined with them.  The former left them
soon after tea to fulfill her evening engagements;
and Elinor was obliged to assist in making a whist table
for the others.  Marianne was of no use on these occasions,
as she would never learn the game; but though her time
was therefore at her own disposal, the evening was by no
means more productive of pleasure to her than to Elinor,
for it was spent in all the anxiety of expectation and the
pain of disappointment.  She sometimes endeavoured for a
few minutes to read; but the book was soon thrown aside,
and she returned to the more interesting employment
of walking backwards and forwards across the room,
pausing for a moment whenever she came to the window,
in hopes of distinguishing the long-expected rap.



CHAPTER 27


"If this open weather holds much longer," said Mrs. Jennings,
when they met at breakfast the following morning,
"Sir John will not like leaving Barton next week;
'tis a sad thing for sportsmen to lose a day's pleasure.
Poor souls!  I always pity them when they do; they seem
to take it so much to heart."

"That is true," cried Marianne, in a cheerful voice,
and walking to the window as she spoke, to examine the day.
"I had not thought of that.  This weather will keep many
sportsmen in the country."

It was a lucky recollection, all her good spirits were
restored by it.  "It is charming weather for THEM indeed,"
she continued, as she sat down to the breakfast table
with a happy countenance.  "How much they must enjoy
it! But" (with a little return of anxiety) "it cannot
be expected to last long.  At this time of the year,
and after such a series of rain, we shall certainly
have very little more of it.  Frosts will soon set in,
and in all probability with severity.  In another day
or two perhaps; this extreme mildness can hardly last
longer--nay, perhaps it may freeze tonight!"

"At any rate," said Elinor, wishing to prevent
Mrs. Jennings from seeing her sister's thoughts as clearly
as she did, "I dare say we shall have Sir John and Lady
Middleton in town by the end of next week."

"Ay, my dear, I'll warrant you we do.  Mary always
has her own way."

"And now," silently conjectured Elinor, "she will
write to Combe by this day's post."

But if she DID, the letter was written and sent away
with a privacy which eluded all her watchfulness to ascertain
the fact.  Whatever the truth of it might be, and far
as Elinor was from feeling thorough contentment about it,
yet while she saw Marianne in spirits, she could not be
very uncomfortable herself.  And Marianne was in spirits;
happy in the mildness of the weather, and still happier
in her expectation of a frost.

The morning was chiefly spent in leaving cards at
the houses of Mrs. Jennings's acquaintance to inform
them of her being in town; and Marianne was all the time
busy in observing the direction of the wind, watching the
variations of the sky and imagining an alteration in the air.

"Don't you find it colder than it was in the morning,
Elinor? There seems to me a very decided difference.
I can hardly keep my hands warm even in my muff.  It was
not so yesterday, I think.  The clouds seem parting too,
the sun will be out in a moment, and we shall have a
clear afternoon."

Elinor was alternately diverted and pained;
but Marianne persevered, and saw every night in the
brightness of the fire, and every morning in the appearance
of the atmosphere, the certain symptoms of approaching frost.

The Miss Dashwoods had no greater reason to be
dissatisfied with Mrs. Jennings's style of living, and set
of acquaintance, than with her behaviour to themselves,
which was invariably kind.  Every thing in her household
arrangements was conducted on the most liberal plan,
and excepting a few old city friends, whom, to Lady
Middleton's regret, she had never dropped, she visited
no one to whom an introduction could at all discompose
the feelings of her young companions.  Pleased to find
herself more comfortably situated in that particular than
she had expected, Elinor was very willing to compound
for the want of much real enjoyment from any of their
evening parties, which, whether at home or abroad,
formed only for cards, could have little to amuse her.

Colonel Brandon, who had a general invitation
to the house, was with them almost every day; he came
to look at Marianne and talk to Elinor, who often derived
more satisfaction from conversing with him than from any
other daily occurrence, but who saw at the same time
with much concern his continued regard for her sister.
She feared it was a strengthening regard.  It grieved her
to see the earnestness with which he often watched Marianne,
and his spirits were certainly worse than when at Barton.

About a week after their arrival, it became
certain that Willoughby was also arrived.  His card
was on the table when they came in from the morning's drive.

"Good God!" cried Marianne, "he has been here while
we were out."  Elinor, rejoiced to be assured of his
being in London, now ventured to say, "Depend upon it,
he will call again tomorrow."  But Marianne seemed
hardly to hear her, and on Mrs. Jenning's entrance,
escaped with the precious card.

This event, while it raised the spirits of Elinor,
restored to those of her sister all, and more than all,
their former agitation.  From this moment her mind was
never quiet; the expectation of seeing him every hour
of the day, made her unfit for any thing.  She insisted
on being left behind, the next morning, when the others
went out.

Elinor's thoughts were full of what might be passing
in Berkeley Street during their absence; but a moment's
glance at her sister when they returned was enough to
inform her, that Willoughby had paid no second visit there.
A note was just then brought in, and laid on the table,

"For me!" cried Marianne, stepping hastily forward.

"No, ma'am, for my mistress."

But Marianne, not convinced, took it instantly up.

"It is indeed for Mrs. Jennings; how provoking!"

"You are expecting a letter, then?" said Elinor,
unable to be longer silent.

"Yes, a little--not much."

After a short pause.  "You have no confidence
in me, Marianne."

"Nay, Elinor, this reproach from YOU--you who have
confidence in no one!"

"Me!" returned Elinor in some confusion; "indeed,
Marianne, I have nothing to tell."

"Nor I," answered Marianne with energy, "our situations
then are alike.  We have neither of us any thing to tell;
you, because you do not communicate, and I, because
I conceal nothing."

Elinor, distressed by this charge of reserve in herself,
which she was not at liberty to do away, knew not how,
under such circumstances, to press for greater openness
in Marianne.

Mrs. Jennings soon appeared, and the note being
given her, she read it aloud.  It was from Lady Middleton,
announcing their arrival in Conduit Street the night before,
and requesting the company of her mother and cousins
the following evening.  Business on Sir John's part,
and a violent cold on her own, prevented their calling
in Berkeley Street.  The invitation was accepted;
but when the hour of appointment drew near, necessary as
it was in common civility to Mrs. Jennings, that they
should both attend her on such a visit, Elinor had some
difficulty in persuading her sister to go, for still
she had seen nothing of Willoughby; and therefore was
not more indisposed for amusement abroad, than unwilling
to run the risk of his calling again in her absence.

Elinor found, when the evening was over,
that disposition is not materially altered by a change
of abode, for although scarcely settled in town,
Sir John had contrived to collect around him, nearly twenty
young people, and to amuse them with a ball.  This was
an affair, however, of which Lady Middleton did not approve.
In the country, an unpremeditated dance was very allowable;
but in London, where the reputation of elegance was more
important and less easily attained, it was risking too much
for the gratification of a few girls, to have it known that
Lady Middleton had given a small dance of eight or nine couple,
with two violins, and a mere side-board collation.

Mr. and Mrs. Palmer were of the party; from the former,
whom they had not seen before since their arrival in town,
as he was careful to avoid the appearance of any attention
to his mother-in-law, and therefore never came near her,
they received no mark of recognition on their entrance.
He looked at them slightly, without seeming to know
who they were, and merely nodded to Mrs. Jennings from
the other side of the room.  Marianne gave one glance
round the apartment as she entered: it was enough--HE
was not there--and she sat down, equally ill-disposed
to receive or communicate pleasure.  After they had been
assembled about an hour, Mr. Palmer sauntered towards
the Miss Dashwoods to express his surprise on seeing them
in town, though Colonel Brandon had been first informed
of their arrival at his house, and he had himself said
something very droll on hearing that they were to come.

"I thought you were both in Devonshire," said he.

"Did you?" replied Elinor.

"When do you go back again?"

"I do not know." And thus ended their discourse.

Never had Marianne been so unwilling to dance
in her life, as she was that evening, and never so much
fatigued by the exercise.  She complained of it
as they returned to Berkeley Street.

"Aye, aye," said Mrs. Jennings, "we know the reason
of all that very well; if a certain person who shall
be nameless, had been there, you would not have been a
bit tired: and to say the truth it was not very pretty
of him not to give you the meeting when he was invited."

"Invited!" cried Marianne.

"So my daughter Middleton told me, for it seems Sir
John met him somewhere in the street this morning."
Marianne said no more, but looked exceedingly hurt.
Impatient in this situation to be doing something
that might lead to her sister's relief, Elinor resolved
to write the next morning to her mother, and hoped
by awakening her fears for the health of Marianne,
to procure those inquiries which had been so long delayed;
and she was still more eagerly bent on this measure
by perceiving after breakfast on the morrow, that Marianne
was again writing to Willoughby, for she could not suppose
it to be to any other person.

About the middle of the day, Mrs. Jennings went out by
herself on business, and Elinor began her letter directly,
while Marianne, too restless for employment, too anxious
for conversation, walked from one window to the other,
or sat down by the fire in melancholy meditation.
Elinor was very earnest in her application to her mother,
relating all that had passed, her suspicions of
Willoughby's inconstancy, urging her by every plea
of duty and affection to demand from Marianne an account
of her real situation with respect to him.

Her letter was scarcely finished, when a rap
foretold a visitor, and Colonel Brandon was announced.
Marianne, who had seen him from the window, and who hated
company of any kind, left the room before he entered it.
He looked more than usually grave, and though expressing
satisfaction at finding Miss Dashwood alone, as if he
had somewhat in particular to tell her, sat for some
time without saying a word.  Elinor, persuaded that he
had some communication to make in which her sister
was concerned, impatiently expected its opening.
It was not the first time of her feeling the same kind
of conviction; for, more than once before, beginning with
the observation of "your sister looks unwell to-day,"
or "your sister seems out of spirits," he had appeared
on the point, either of disclosing, or of inquiring,
something particular about her.  After a pause of several
minutes, their silence was broken, by his asking her
in a voice of some agitation, when he was to congratulate
her on the acquisition of a brother?  Elinor was not
prepared for such a question, and having no answer ready,
was obliged to adopt the simple and common expedient,
of asking what he meant?  He tried to smile as he replied,
"your sister's engagement to Mr. Willoughby is very generally
known."

"It cannot be generally known," returned Elinor,
"for her own family do not know it."

He looked surprised and said, "I beg your pardon,
I am afraid my inquiry has been impertinent; but I had not
supposed any secrecy intended, as they openly correspond,
and their marriage is universally talked of."

"How can that be? By whom can you have heard
it mentioned?"

"By many--by some of whom you know nothing, by others
with whom you are most intimate, Mrs. Jennings, Mrs. Palmer,
and the Middletons.  But still I might not have believed it,
for where the mind is perhaps rather unwilling to
be convinced, it will always find something to support
its doubts, if I had not, when the servant let me in today,
accidentally seen a letter in his hand, directed to
Mr. Willoughby in your sister's writing.  I came to inquire,
but I was convinced before I could ask the question.
Is every thing finally settled?  Is it impossible to-?
But I have no right, and I could have no chance of succeeding.
Excuse me, Miss Dashwood.  I believe I have been wrong
in saying so much, but I hardly know what to do, and on
your prudence I have the strongest dependence.  Tell me
that it is all absolutely resolved on, that any attempt,
that in short concealment, if concealment be possible,
is all that remains."

These words, which conveyed to Elinor a direct avowal
of his love for her sister, affected her very much.
She was not immediately able to say anything, and even
when her spirits were recovered, she debated for a short
time, on the answer it would be most proper to give.
The real state of things between Willoughby and her sister
was so little known to herself, that in endeavouring
to explain it, she might be as liable to say too much
as too little.  Yet as she was convinced that Marianne's
affection for Willoughby, could leave no hope of Colonel
Brandon's success, whatever the event of that affection
might be, and at the same time wished to shield her conduct
from censure, she thought it most prudent and kind,
after some consideration, to say more than she really knew
or believed.  She acknowledged, therefore, that though
she had never been informed by themselves of the terms
on which they stood with each other, of their mutual
affection she had no doubt, and of their correspondence
she was not astonished to hear.

He listened to her with silent attention, and on
her ceasing to speak, rose directly from his seat,
and after saying in a voice of emotion, "to your sister
I wish all imaginable happiness; to Willoughby that he
may endeavour to deserve her,"--took leave, and went away.

Elinor derived no comfortable feelings from this
conversation, to lessen the uneasiness of her mind on
other points; she was left, on the contrary, with a
melancholy impression of Colonel Brandon's unhappiness,
and was prevented even from wishing it removed,
by her anxiety for the very event that must confirm it.



CHAPTER 28


Nothing occurred during the next three or four days,
to make Elinor regret what she had done, in applying
to her mother; for Willoughby neither came nor wrote.
They were engaged about the end of that time to attend
Lady Middleton to a party, from which Mrs. Jennings was
kept away by the indisposition of her youngest daughter;
and for this party, Marianne, wholly dispirited,
careless of her appearance, and seeming equally indifferent
whether she went or staid, prepared, without one look
of hope or one expression of pleasure.  She sat by the
drawing-room fire after tea, till the moment of Lady
Middleton's arrival, without once stirring from her seat,
or altering her attitude, lost in her own thoughts,
and insensible of her sister's presence; and when at
last they were told that Lady Middleton waited for them
at the door, she started as if she had forgotten that
any one was expected.

They arrived in due time at the place of destination,
and as soon as the string of carriages before them
would allow, alighted, ascended the stairs, heard their
names announced from one landing-place to another in an
audible voice, and entered a room splendidly lit up,
quite full of company, and insufferably hot.  When they had
paid their tribute of politeness by curtsying to the lady
of the house, they were permitted to mingle in the crowd,
and take their share of the heat and inconvenience, to
which their arrival must necessarily add.  After some time
spent in saying little or doing less, Lady Middleton sat
down to Cassino, and as Marianne was not in spirits for
moving about, she and Elinor luckily succeeding to chairs,
placed themselves at no great distance from the table.

They had not remained in this manner long, before Elinor
perceived Willoughby, standing within a few yards
of them, in earnest conversation with a very fashionable
looking young woman.  She soon caught his eye, and he
immediately bowed, but without attempting to speak to her,
or to approach Marianne, though he could not but see her;
and then continued his discourse with the same lady.
Elinor turned involuntarily to Marianne, to see whether
it could be unobserved by her.  At that moment she first
perceived him, and her whole countenance glowing with
sudden delight, she would have moved towards him instantly,
had not her sister caught hold of her.

"Good heavens!" she exclaimed, "he is there--he
is there--Oh! why does he not look at me? why cannot
I speak to him?"

"Pray, pray be composed," cried Elinor, "and do
not betray what you feel to every body present.
Perhaps he has not observed you yet."

This however was more than she could believe herself;
and to be composed at such a moment was not only beyond
the reach of Marianne, it was beyond her wish.  She sat
in an agony of impatience which affected every feature.

At last he turned round again, and regarded them both;
she started up, and pronouncing his name in a tone
of affection, held out her hand to him.  He approached,
and addressing himself rather to Elinor than Marianne,
as if wishing to avoid her eye, and determined not to
observe her attitude, inquired in a hurried manner after
Mrs. Dashwood, and asked how long they had been in town.
Elinor was robbed of all presence of mind by such an address,
and was unable to say a word.  But the feelings of her sister
were instantly expressed.  Her face was crimsoned over,
and she exclaimed, in a voice of the greatest emotion,
"Good God! Willoughby, what is the meaning of this?
Have you not received my letters?  Will you not shake
hands with me?"

He could not then avoid it, but her touch seemed
painful to him, and he held her hand only for a moment.
During all this time he was evidently struggling for composure.
Elinor watched his countenance and saw its expression
becoming more tranquil.  After a moment's pause, he spoke
with calmness.

"I did myself the honour of calling in Berkeley
Street last Tuesday, and very much regretted that I was
not fortunate enough to find yourselves and Mrs. Jennings
at home.  My card was not lost, I hope."

"But have you not received my notes?" cried Marianne
in the wildest anxiety.  "Here is some mistake I am
sure--some dreadful mistake.  What can be the meaning
of it?  Tell me, Willoughby; for heaven's sake tell me,
what is the matter?"

He made no reply; his complexion changed and all his
embarrassment returned; but as if, on catching the eye
of the young lady with whom he had been previously talking,
he felt the necessity of instant exertion, he recovered
himself again, and after saying, "Yes, I had the pleasure
of receiving the information of your arrival in town,
which you were so good as to send me," turned hastily away
with a slight bow and joined his friend.

Marianne, now looking dreadfully white, and unable
to stand, sunk into her chair, and Elinor, expecting every
moment to see her faint, tried to screen her from the
observation of others, while reviving her with lavender water.

"Go to him, Elinor," she cried, as soon as she
could speak, "and force him to come to me.  Tell him
I must see him again--must speak to him instantly.--
I cannot rest--I shall not have a moment's peace till this
is explained--some dreadful misapprehension or other.--
Oh go to him this moment."

"How can that be done? No, my dearest Marianne,
you must wait.  This is not the place for explanations.
Wait only till tomorrow."

With difficulty however could she prevent her
from following him herself; and to persuade her to check
her agitation, to wait, at least, with the appearance
of composure, till she might speak to him with more privacy
and more effect, was impossible; for Marianne continued
incessantly to give way in a low voice to the misery
of her feelings, by exclamations of wretchedness.
In a short time Elinor saw Willoughby quit the room by the
door towards the staircase, and telling Marianne that he
was gone, urged the impossibility of speaking to him again
that evening, as a fresh argument for her to be calm.
She instantly begged her sister would entreat Lady
Middleton to take them home, as she was too miserable
to stay a minute longer.

Lady Middleton, though in the middle of a rubber,
on being informed that Marianne was unwell, was too
polite to object for a moment to her wish of going away,
and making over her cards to a friend, they departed
as soon the carriage could be found.  Scarcely a word
was spoken during their return to Berkeley Street.
Marianne was in a silent agony, too much oppressed even
for tears; but as Mrs. Jennings was luckily not come home,
they could go directly to their own room, where hartshorn
restored her a little to herself.  She was soon undressed
and in bed, and as she seemed desirous of being alone,
her sister then left her, and while she waited the return
of Mrs. Jennings, had leisure enough for thinking over
the past.

That some kind of engagement had subsisted
between Willoughby and Marianne she could not doubt,
and that Willoughby was weary of it, seemed equally clear;
for however Marianne might still feed her own wishes,
SHE could not attribute such behaviour to mistake
or misapprehension of any kind.  Nothing but a thorough
change of sentiment could account for it.  Her indignation
would have been still stronger than it was, had she
not witnessed that embarrassment which seemed to speak
a consciousness of his own misconduct, and prevented
her from believing him so unprincipled as to have been
sporting with the affections of her sister from the first,
without any design that would bear investigation.
Absence might have weakened his regard, and convenience
might have determined him to overcome it, but that such
a regard had formerly existed she could not bring herself
to doubt.

As for Marianne, on the pangs which so unhappy a meeting
must already have given her, and on those still more
severe which might await her in its probable consequence,
she could not reflect without the deepest concern.
Her own situation gained in the comparison; for while she
could ESTEEM Edward as much as ever, however they might be
divided in future, her mind might be always supported.
But every circumstance that could embitter such an evil
seemed uniting to heighten the misery of Marianne
in a final separation from Willoughby--in an immediate
and irreconcilable rupture with him.



CHAPTER 29


Before the house-maid had lit their fire the next day,
or the sun gained any power over a cold, gloomy morning
in January, Marianne, only half dressed, was kneeling
against one of the window-seats for the sake of all
the little light she could command from it, and writing
as fast as a continual flow of tears would permit her.
In this situation, Elinor, roused from sleep by her agitation
and sobs, first perceived her; and after observing her
for a few moments with silent anxiety, said, in a tone
of the most considerate gentleness,

"Marianne, may I ask-?"

"No, Elinor," she replied, "ask nothing; you will
soon know all."

The sort of desperate calmness with which this was said,
lasted no longer than while she spoke, and was immediately
followed by a return of the same excessive affliction.
It was some minutes before she could go on with her letter,
and the frequent bursts of grief which still obliged her,
at intervals, to withhold her pen, were proofs enough of her
feeling how more than probable it was that she was writing
for the last time to Willoughby.

Elinor paid her every quiet and unobtrusive attention
in her power; and she would have tried to sooth and
tranquilize her still more, had not Marianne entreated her,
with all the eagerness of the most nervous irritability,
not to speak to her for the world.  In such circumstances,
it was better for both that they should not be long together;
and the restless state of Marianne's mind not only prevented
her from remaining in the room a moment after she was dressed,
but requiring at once solitude and continual change of place,
made her wander about the house till breakfast time, avoiding
the sight of every body.

At breakfast she neither ate, nor attempted to eat
any thing; and Elinor's attention was then all employed,
not in urging her, not in pitying her, nor in appearing
to regard her, but in endeavouring to engage Mrs. Jenning's
notice entirely to herself.

As this was a favourite meal with Mrs. Jennings,
it lasted a considerable time, and they were just setting
themselves, after it, round the common working table, when a
letter was delivered to Marianne, which she eagerly caught
from the servant, and, turning of a death-like paleness,
instantly ran out of the room.  Elinor, who saw as plainly
by this, as if she had seen the direction, that it must
come from Willoughby, felt immediately such a sickness
at heart as made her hardly able to hold up her head,
and sat in such a general tremour as made her fear it
impossible to escape Mrs. Jenning's notice.  That good lady,
however, saw only that Marianne had received a letter
from Willoughby, which appeared to her a very good joke,
and which she treated accordingly, by hoping, with a laugh,
that she would find it to her liking.  Of Elinor's distress,
she was too busily employed in measuring lengths of worsted
for her rug, to see any thing at all; and calmly continuing
her talk, as soon as Marianne disappeared, she said,

"Upon my word, I never saw a young woman so
desperately in love in my life!  MY girls were nothing
to her, and yet they used to be foolish enough; but as
for Miss Marianne, she is quite an altered creature.
I hope, from the bottom of my heart, he won't keep her
waiting much longer, for it is quite grievous to see her
look so ill and forlorn.  Pray, when are they to be married?"

Elinor, though never less disposed to speak than at
that moment, obliged herself to answer such an attack
as this, and, therefore, trying to smile, replied, "And have
you really, Ma'am, talked yourself into a persuasion
of my sister's being engaged to Mr. Willoughby?  I thought
it had been only a joke, but so serious a question seems
to imply more; and I must beg, therefore, that you will not
deceive yourself any longer.  I do assure you that nothing
would surprise me more than to hear of their being going
to be married."

"For shame, for shame, Miss Dashwood! how can you
talk so?  Don't we all know that it must be a match, that
they were over head and ears in love with each other from
the first moment they met?  Did not I see them together
in Devonshire every day, and all day long; and did not I
know that your sister came to town with me on purpose
to buy wedding clothes?  Come, come, this won't do.
Because you are so sly about it yourself, you think nobody
else has any senses; but it is no such thing, I can tell you,
for it has been known all over town this ever so long.
I tell every body of it and so does Charlotte."

"Indeed, Ma'am," said Elinor, very seriously,
"you are mistaken.  Indeed, you are doing a very unkind thing
in spreading the report, and you will find that you have
though you will not believe me now."

Mrs. Jennings laughed again, but Elinor had not
spirits to say more, and eager at all events to know
what Willoughby had written, hurried away to their room,
where, on opening the door, she saw Marianne stretched on
the bed, almost choked by grief, one letter in her hand,
and two or three others laying by her.  Elinor drew near,
but without saying a word; and seating herself on the bed,
took her hand, kissed her affectionately several times,
and then gave way to a burst of tears, which at first
was scarcely less violent than Marianne's. The latter,
though unable to speak, seemed to feel all the tenderness
of this behaviour, and after some time thus spent in
joint affliction, she put all the letters into Elinor's hands;
and then covering her face with her handkerchief,
almost screamed with agony.  Elinor, who knew that such grief,
shocking as it was to witness it, must have its course,
watched by her till this excess of suffering had somewhat
spent itself, and then turning eagerly to Willoughby's letter,
read as follows:

                              "Bond Street, January.
     "MY DEAR MADAM,

     "I have just had the honour of receiving your
     letter, for which I beg to return my sincere
     acknowledgments.  I am much concerned to find there
     was anything in my behaviour last night that did
     not meet your approbation; and though I am quite at
     a loss to discover in what point I could be so
     unfortunate as to offend you, I entreat your
     forgiveness of what I can assure you to have been
     perfectly unintentional.  I shall never reflect on
     my former acquaintance with your family in Devonshire
     without the most grateful pleasure, and flatter
     myself it will not be broken by any mistake or
     misapprehension of my actions.  My esteem for your
     whole family is very sincere; but if I have been so
     unfortunate as to give rise to a belief of more than
     I felt, or meant to express, I shall reproach myself
     for not having been more guarded in my professions
     of that esteem.  That I should ever have meant more
     you will allow to be impossible, when you understand
     that my affections have been long engaged elsewhere,
     and it will not be many weeks, I believe, before
     this engagement is fulfilled.  It is with great
     regret that I obey your commands in returning the
     letters with which I have been honoured from you,
     and the lock of hair, which you so obligingly bestowed
     on me.

     "I am, dear Madam,
               "Your most obedient
                    "humble servant,
                                        "JOHN WILLOUGHBY."


With what indignation such a letter as this must
be read by Miss Dashwood, may be imagined.  Though aware,
before she began it, that it must bring a confession
of his inconstancy, and confirm their separation for ever,
she was not aware that such language could be suffered
to announce it; nor could she have supposed Willoughby
capable of departing so far from the appearance of every
honourable and delicate feeling--so far from the common
decorum of a gentleman, as to send a letter so impudently
cruel: a letter which, instead of bringing with his desire
of a release any professions of regret, acknowledged no
breach of faith, denied all peculiar affection whatever--
a letter of which every line was an insult, and which
proclaimed its writer to be deep in hardened villainy.

She paused over it for some time with indignant
astonishment; then read it again and again; but every
perusal only served to increase her abhorrence of the man,
and so bitter were her feelings against him, that she
dared not trust herself to speak, lest she might wound
Marianne still deeper by treating their disengagement,
not as a loss to her of any possible good but as an
escape from the worst and most irremediable of all
evils, a connection, for life, with an unprincipled man,
as a deliverance the most real, a blessing the most important.

In her earnest meditations on the contents of the letter,
on the depravity of that mind which could dictate it,
and probably, on the very different mind of a very different
person, who had no other connection whatever with the affair
than what her heart gave him with every thing that passed,
Elinor forgot the immediate distress of her sister,
forgot that she had three letters on her lap yet unread,
and so entirely forgot how long she had been in the room,
that when on hearing a carriage drive up to the door,
she went to the window to see who could be coming so
unreasonably early, she was all astonishment to perceive
Mrs. Jennings's chariot, which she knew had not been
ordered till one.  Determined not to quit Marianne,
though hopeless of contributing, at present, to her ease,
she hurried away to excuse herself from attending
Mrs. Jennings, on account of her sister being indisposed.
Mrs. Jennings, with a thoroughly good-humoured concern
for its cause, admitted the excuse most readily, and Elinor,
after seeing her safe off, returned to Marianne, whom she
found attempting to rise from the bed, and whom she reached
just in time to prevent her from falling on the floor,
faint and giddy from a long want of proper rest and food;
for it was many days since she had any appetite, and many
nights since she had really slept; and now, when her
mind was no longer supported by the fever of suspense,
the consequence of all this was felt in an aching head,
a weakened stomach, and a general nervous faintness.
A glass of wine, which Elinor procured for her directly,
made her more comfortable, and she was at last able to express
some sense of her kindness, by saying,

"Poor Elinor! how unhappy I make you!"

"I only wish," replied her sister, "there were
any thing I COULD do, which might be of comfort to you."

This, as every thing else would have been,
was too much for Marianne, who could only exclaim,
in the anguish of her heart, "Oh! Elinor, I am miserable,
indeed," before her voice was entirely lost in sobs.

Elinor could no longer witness this torrent
of unresisted grief in silence.

"Exert yourself, dear Marianne," she cried,
"if you would not kill yourself and all who love you.
Think of your mother; think of her misery while YOU suffer:
for her sake you must exert yourself."

"I cannot, I cannot," cried Marianne; "leave me,
leave me, if I distress you; leave me, hate me, forget me!
but do not torture me so.  Oh! how easy for those,
who have no sorrow of their own to talk of exertion!  Happy,
happy Elinor, YOU cannot have an idea of what I suffer."

"Do you call ME happy, Marianne?  Ah! if you knew!--And
can you believe me to be so, while I see you so wretched!"

"Forgive me, forgive me," throwing her arms round
her sister's neck; "I know you feel for me; I know what
a heart you have; but yet you are--you must be happy;
Edward loves you--what, oh what, can do away such happiness
as that?"

"Many, many circumstances," said Elinor, solemnly.

"No, no, no," cried Marianne wildly, "he loves you,
and only you.  You CAN have no grief."

"I can have no pleasure while I see you in this state."

"And you will never see me otherwise.  Mine is
a misery which nothing can do away."

"You must not talk so, Marianne.  Have you no
comforts? no friends?  Is your loss such as leaves
no opening for consolation?  Much as you suffer now,
think of what you would have suffered if the discovery
of his character had been delayed to a later period--
if your engagement had been carried on for months and months,
as it might have been, before he chose to put an end to it.
Every additional day of unhappy confidence, on your side,
would have made the blow more dreadful."

"Engagement!" cried Marianne, "there has been
no engagement."

"No engagement!"

"No, he is not so unworthy as you believe him.
He has broken no faith with me."

"But he told you that he loved you."

"Yes--no--never absolutely.  It was every day implied,
but never professedly declared.  Sometimes I thought it
had been--but it never was."

"Yet you wrote to him?"--

"Yes--could that be wrong after all that had passed?--
But I cannot talk."

Elinor said no more, and turning again to the three
letters which now raised a much stronger curiosity
than before, directly ran over the contents of all.
The first, which was what her sister had sent him
on their arrival in town, was to this effect.

                         Berkeley Street, January.

     "How surprised you will be, Willoughby, on
     receiving this; and I think you will feel something
     more than surprise, when you know that I am in town.
     An opportunity of coming hither, though with Mrs.
     Jennings, was a temptation we could not resist.
     I wish you may receive this in time to come here
     to-night, but I will not depend on it.  At any rate
     I shall expect you to-morrow. For the present, adieu.

                                             "M.D."

Her second note, which had been written on the morning
after the dance at the Middletons', was in these words:--

     "I cannot express my disappointment in having
     missed you the day before yesterday, nor my astonishment
     at not having received any answer to a note which
     I sent you above a week ago.  I have been expecting
     to hear from you, and still more to see you, every
     hour of the day.  Pray call again as soon as possible,
     and explain the reason of my having expected this
     in vain.  You had better come earlier another time,
     because we are generally out by one.  We were last
     night at Lady Middleton's, where there was a dance.
     I have been told that you were asked to be of the
     party.  But could it be so?  You must be very much
     altered indeed since we parted, if that could be
     the case, and you not there.  But I will not suppose
     this possible, and I hope very soon to receive your
     personal assurance of its being otherwise.

                                            "M.D."

The contents of her last note to him were these:--

     "What am I to imagine, Willoughby, by your
     behaviour last night?  Again I demand an explanation
     of it.  I was prepared to meet you with the pleasure
     which our separation naturally produced, with the
     familiarity which our intimacy at Barton appeared
     to me to justify.  I was repulsed indeed! I have
     passed a wretched night in endeavouring to excuse
     a conduct which can scarcely be called less than
     insulting; but though I have not yet been able to
     form any reasonable apology for your behaviour,
     I am perfectly ready to hear your justification of
     it.  You have perhaps been misinformed, or purposely
     deceived, in something concerning me, which may have
     lowered me in your opinion.  Tell me what it is,
     explain the grounds on which you acted, and I shall
     be satisfied, in being able to satisfy you.  It
     would grieve me indeed to be obliged to think ill
     of you; but if I am to do it, if I am to learn that
     you are not what we have hitherto believed you, that
     your regard for us all was insincere, that your
     behaviour to me was intended only to deceive, let
     it be told as soon as possible.  My feelings are at
     present in a state of dreadful indecision; I wish
     to acquit you, but certainty on either side will be
     ease to what I now suffer.  If your sentiments are
     no longer what they were, you will return my notes,
     and the lock of my hair which is in your possession.

                                             "M.D."

That such letters, so full of affection and confidence,
could have been so answered, Elinor, for Willoughby's sake,
would have been unwilling to believe.  But her condemnation
of him did not blind her to the impropriety of their
having been written at all; and she was silently grieving
over the imprudence which had hazarded such unsolicited
proofs of tenderness, not warranted by anything preceding,
and most severely condemned by the event, when Marianne,
perceiving that she had finished the letters, observed to
her that they contained nothing but what any one would
have written in the same situation.

"I felt myself," she added, "to be as solemnly
engaged to him, as if the strictest legal covenant
had bound us to each other."

"I can believe it," said Elinor; "but unfortunately
he did not feel the same."

"He DID feel the same, Elinor--for weeks and weeks he
felt it.  I know he did.  Whatever may have changed him now, (and
nothing but the blackest art employed against me can have done
it), I was once as dear to him as my own soul could wish.
This lock of hair, which now he can so readily give up,
was begged of me with the most earnest supplication.
Had you seen his look, his manner, had you heard his voice
at that moment!  Have you forgot the last evening of our
being together at Barton?  The morning that we parted
too!  When he told me that it might be many weeks before
we met again--his distress--can I ever forget his distress?"

For a moment or two she could say no more;
but when this emotion had passed away, she added,
in a firmer tone,

"Elinor, I have been cruelly used; but not by Willoughby."

"Dearest Marianne, who but himself?  By whom can he
have been instigated?"

"By all the world, rather than by his own heart.
I could rather believe every creature of my acquaintance
leagued together to ruin me in his opinion, than believe
his nature capable of such cruelty.  This woman of whom he
writes--whoever she be--or any one, in short, but your own
dear self, mama, and Edward, may have been so barbarous
to bely me.  Beyond you three, is there a creature
in the world whom I would not rather suspect of evil
than Willoughby, whose heart I know so well?"

Elinor would not contend, and only replied,
"Whoever may have been so detestably your enemy, let them
be cheated of their malignant triumph, my dear sister,
by seeing how nobly the consciousness of your own
innocence and good intentions supports your spirits.
It is a reasonable and laudable pride which resists
such malevolence."

"No, no," cried Marianne, "misery such as mine has
no pride.  I care not who knows that I am wretched.
The triumph of seeing me so may be open to all the world.
Elinor, Elinor, they who suffer little may be proud and
independent as they like--may resist insult, or return
mortification--but I cannot.  I must feel--I must be
wretched--and they are welcome to enjoy the consciousness
of it that can."

"But for my mother's sake and mine--"

"I would do more than for my own.  But to appear
happy when I am so miserable--Oh! who can require it?"

Again they were both silent.  Elinor was employed
in walking thoughtfully from the fire to the window,
from the window to the fire, without knowing that she
received warmth from one, or discerning objects through
the other; and Marianne, seated at the foot of the bed,
with her head leaning against one of its posts,
again took up Willoughby's letter, and, after shuddering
over every sentence, exclaimed--

"It is too much! Oh, Willoughby, Willoughby, could this
be yours!  Cruel, cruel--nothing can acquit you.  Elinor,
nothing can.  Whatever he might have heard against me--
ought he not to have suspended his belief? ought he not to
have told me of it, to have given me the power of clearing
myself? 'The lock of hair, (repeating it from the letter,)
which you so obligingly bestowed on me'--That is unpardonable.
Willoughby, where was your heart when you wrote those words?
Oh, barbarously insolent!--Elinor, can he be justified?"

"No, Marianne, in no possible way."

"And yet this woman--who knows what her art may
have been?--how long it may have been premeditated,
and how deeply contrived by her!--Who is she?--Who can
she be?--Whom did I ever hear him talk of as young and
attractive among his female acquaintance?--Oh! no one,
no one--he talked to me only of myself."

Another pause ensued; Marianne was greatly agitated,
and it ended thus.

"Elinor, I must go home.  I must go and comfort mama.
Can not we be gone to-morrow?"

"To-morrow, Marianne!"

"Yes, why should I stay here? I came only for
Willoughby's sake--and now who cares for me? Who regards me?"

"It would be impossible to go to-morrow. We owe
Mrs. Jennings much more than civility; and civility of
the commonest kind must prevent such a hasty removal as that."

"Well then, another day or two, perhaps; but I cannot
stay here long, I cannot stay to endure the questions
and remarks of all these people.  The Middletons and
Palmers--how am I to bear their pity?  The pity of such
a woman as Lady Middleton!  Oh, what would HE say to that!"

Elinor advised her to lie down again, and for a
moment she did so; but no attitude could give her ease;
and in restless pain of mind and body she moved from one
posture to another, till growing more and more hysterical,
her sister could with difficulty keep her on the bed at all,
and for some time was fearful of being constrained to call
for assistance.  Some lavender drops, however, which she
was at length persuaded to take, were of use; and from
that time till Mrs. Jennings returned, she continued
on the bed quiet and motionless.



CHAPTER 30


Mrs. Jennings came immediately to their room on her return,
and without waiting to have her request of admittance answered,
opened the door and walked in with a look of real concern.

"How do you do my dear?"--said she in a voice of great
compassion to Marianne, who turned away her face without
attempting to answer.

"How is she, Miss Dashwood?--Poor thing! she looks very bad.--
No wonder.  Ay, it is but too true.  He is to be married
very soon--a good-for-nothing fellow!  I have no patience
with him.  Mrs. Taylor told me of it half an hour ago,
and she was told it by a particular friend of Miss
Grey herself, else I am sure I should not have believed it;
and I was almost ready to sink as it was.  Well, said I,
all I can say is, that if this be true, he has used
a young lady of my acquaintance abominably ill, and I
wish with all my soul his wife may plague his heart out.
And so I shall always say, my dear, you may depend on it.
I have no notion of men's going on in this way; and if ever
I meet him again, I will give him such a dressing as he
has not had this many a day.  But there is one comfort,
my dear Miss Marianne; he is not the only young man
in the world worth having; and with your pretty face
you will never want admirers.  Well, poor thing!  I won't
disturb her any longer, for she had better have her cry
out at once and have done with.  The Parrys and Sandersons
luckily are coming tonight you know, and that will amuse her."

She then went away, walking on tiptoe out of the room,
as if she supposed her young friend's affliction could
be increased by noise.

Marianne, to the surprise of her sister,
determined on dining with them.  Elinor even advised
her against it.  But "no, she would go down; she could
bear it very well, and the bustle about her would
be less."  Elinor, pleased to have her governed for a
moment by such a motive, though believing it hardly
possible that she could sit out the dinner, said no more;
and adjusting her dress for her as well as she could,
while Marianne still remained on the bed, was ready
to assist her into the dining room as soon as they were
summoned to it.

When there, though looking most wretchedly,
she ate more and was calmer than her sister had expected.
Had she tried to speak, or had she been conscious of half
Mrs. Jennings's well-meant but ill-judged attentions
to her, this calmness could not have been maintained;
but not a syllable escaped her lips; and the abstraction
of her thoughts preserved her in ignorance of every thing
that was passing before her.

Elinor, who did justice to Mrs. Jennings's kindness,
though its effusions were often distressing, and sometimes
almost ridiculous, made her those acknowledgments,
and returned her those civilities, which her sister could
not make or return for herself.  Their good friend saw
that Marianne was unhappy, and felt that every thing
was due to her which might make her at all less so.
She treated her therefore, with all the indulgent fondness
of a parent towards a favourite child on the last day of
its holidays.  Marianne was to have the best place by the fire,
was to be tempted to eat by every delicacy in the house,
and to be amused by the relation of all the news of the day.
Had not Elinor, in the sad countenance of her sister,
seen a check to all mirth, she could have been entertained
by Mrs. Jennings's endeavours to cure a disappointment in love,
by a variety of sweetmeats and olives, and a good fire.
As soon, however, as the consciousness of all this was
forced by continual repetition on Marianne, she could
stay no longer.  With a hasty exclamation of Misery,
and a sign to her sister not to follow her, she directly got
up and hurried out of the room.

"Poor soul!" cried Mrs. Jennings, as soon as she was gone,
"how it grieves me to see her!  And I declare if she is
not gone away without finishing her wine!  And the dried
cherries too!  Lord! nothing seems to do her any good.
I am sure if I knew of any thing she would like, I would
send all over the town for it.  Well, it is the oddest
thing to me, that a man should use such a pretty girl
so ill!  But when there is plenty of money on one side,
and next to none on the other, Lord bless you! they care
no more about such things!--"

"The lady then--Miss Grey I think you called her--
is very rich?"

"Fifty thousand pounds, my dear.  Did you ever see
her? a smart, stylish girl they say, but not handsome.
I remember her aunt very well, Biddy Henshawe; she married
a very wealthy man.  But the family are all rich together.
Fifty thousand pounds! and by all accounts, it won't come
before it's wanted; for they say he is all to pieces.
No wonder! dashing about with his curricle and hunters!
Well, it don't signify talking; but when a young man,
be who he will, comes and makes love to a pretty girl,
and promises marriage, he has no business to fly off
from his word only because he grows poor, and a richer
girl is ready to have him.  Why don't he, in such a case,
sell his horses, let his house, turn off his servants,
and make a thorough reform at once? I warrant you,
Miss Marianne would have been ready to wait till matters
came round.  But that won't do now-a-days; nothing in the
way of pleasure can ever be given up by the young men of
this age."

"Do you know what kind of a girl Miss Grey is?
Is she said to be amiable?"

"I never heard any harm of her; indeed I hardly ever
heard her mentioned; except that Mrs. Taylor did say
this morning, that one day Miss Walker hinted to her,
that she believed Mr. and Mrs. Ellison would not be sorry
to have Miss Grey married, for she and Mrs. Ellison could
never agree."--

"And who are the Ellisons?"

"Her guardians, my dear.  But now she is of age
and may choose for herself; and a pretty choice she has
made!--What now," after pausing a moment--"your poor sister
is gone to her own room, I suppose, to moan by herself.
Is there nothing one can get to comfort her?  Poor dear,
it seems quite cruel to let her be alone.  Well, by-and-by we
shall have a few friends, and that will amuse her a little.
What shall we play at?  She hates whist I know; but is there
no round game she cares for?"

"Dear ma'am, this kindness is quite unnecessary.
Marianne, I dare say, will not leave her room again
this evening.  I shall persuade her if I can to go
early to bed, for I am sure she wants rest."

"Aye, I believe that will be best for her.  Let her name
her own supper, and go to bed.  Lord! no wonder she has
been looking so bad and so cast down this last week or two,
for this matter I suppose has been hanging over her head as
long as that.  And so the letter that came today finished it!
Poor soul!  I am sure if I had had a notion of it,
I would not have joked her about it for all my money.
But then you know, how should I guess such a thing?  I made
sure of its being nothing but a common love letter, and
you know young people like to be laughed at about them.  Lord!
how concerned Sir John and my daughters will be when they
hear it!  If I had my senses about me I might have called
in Conduit Street in my way home, and told them of it.
But I shall see them tomorrow."

"It would be unnecessary I am sure, for you to caution
Mrs. Palmer and Sir John against ever naming Mr. Willoughby,
or making the slightest allusion to what has passed,
before my sister.  Their own good-nature must point out
to them the real cruelty of appearing to know any thing
about it when she is present; and the less that may ever
be said to myself on the subject, the more my feelings
will be spared, as you my dear madam will easily believe."

"Oh! Lord! yes, that I do indeed.  It must be terrible
for you to hear it talked of; and as for your sister,
I am sure I would not mention a word about it to her
for the world.  You saw I did not all dinner time.
No more would Sir John, nor my daughters, for they are
all very thoughtful and considerate; especially if I
give them a hint, as I certainly will.  For my part,
I think the less that is said about such things, the better,
the sooner 'tis blown over and forgot.  And what does
talking ever do you know?"

"In this affair it can only do harm; more so
perhaps than in many cases of a similar kind, for it
has been attended by circumstances which, for the sake
of every one concerned in it, make it unfit to become
the public conversation.  I must do THIS justice to
Mr. Willoughby--he has broken no positive engagement
with my sister."

"Law, my dear!  Don't pretend to defend him.
No positive engagement indeed! after taking her all
over Allenham House, and fixing on the very rooms they
were to live in hereafter!"

Elinor, for her sister's sake, could not press the
subject farther, and she hoped it was not required of her
for Willoughby's; since, though Marianne might lose much,
he could gain very little by the enforcement of the real truth.
After a short silence on both sides, Mrs. Jennings,
with all her natural hilarity, burst forth again.

"Well, my dear, 'tis a true saying about an ill-wind,
for it will be all the better for Colonel Brandon.
He will have her at last; aye, that he will.  Mind me,
now, if they an't married by Mid-summer.  Lord! how he'll
chuckle over this news!  I hope he will come tonight.
It will be all to one a better match for your sister.
Two thousand a year without debt or drawback--except
the little love-child, indeed; aye, I had forgot her;
but she may be 'prenticed out at a small cost, and then
what does it signify?  Delaford is a nice place, I can
tell you; exactly what I call a nice old fashioned place,
full of comforts and conveniences; quite shut in with great
garden walls that are covered with the best fruit-trees
in the country; and such a mulberry tree in one corner!
Lord! how Charlotte and I did stuff the only time we
were there!  Then, there is a dove-cote, some delightful
stew-ponds, and a very pretty canal; and every thing,
in short, that one could wish for; and, moreover, it is
close to the church, and only a quarter of a mile from
the turnpike-road, so 'tis never dull, for if you only
go and sit up in an old yew arbour behind the house,
you may see all the carriages that pass along.
Oh! 'tis a nice place!  A butcher hard by in the village,
and the parsonage-house within a stone's throw.
To my fancy, a thousand times prettier than Barton Park,
where they are forced to send three miles for their meat,
and have not a neighbour nearer than your mother.
Well, I shall spirit up the Colonel as soon as I can.
One shoulder of mutton, you know, drives another down.
If we CAN but put Willoughby out of her head!"

"Ay, if we can do THAT, Ma'am," said Elinor,
"we shall do very well with or without Colonel Brandon."
And then rising, she went away to join Marianne,
whom she found, as she expected, in her own room, leaning,
in silent misery, over the small remains of a fire,
which, till Elinor's entrance, had been her only light.

"You had better leave me," was all the notice
that her sister received from her.

"I will leave you," said Elinor, "if you will go
to bed." But this, from the momentary perverseness
of impatient suffering, she at first refused to do.
Her sister's earnest, though gentle persuasion, however,
soon softened her to compliance, and Elinor saw her
lay her aching head on the pillow, and as she hoped,
in a way to get some quiet rest before she left her.

In the drawing-room, whither she then repaired,
she was soon joined by Mrs. Jennings, with a wine-glass,
full of something, in her hand.

"My dear," said she, entering, "I have just recollected
that I have some of the finest old Constantia wine in the
house that ever was tasted, so I have brought a glass of it
for your sister.  My poor husband! how fond he was of it!
Whenever he had a touch of his old colicky gout, he said
it did him more good than any thing else in the world.
Do take it to your sister."

"Dear Ma'am," replied Elinor, smiling at the difference
of the complaints for which it was recommended, "how good
you are!  But I have just left Marianne in bed, and, I hope,
almost asleep; and as I think nothing will be of so much
service to her as rest, if you will give me leave,
I will drink the wine myself."

Mrs. Jennings, though regretting that she had not been
five minutes earlier, was satisfied with the compromise;
and Elinor, as she swallowed the chief of it, reflected,
that though its effects on a colicky gout were, at present,
of little importance to her, its healing powers,
on a disappointed heart might be as reasonably tried
on herself as on her sister.

Colonel Brandon came in while the party were at tea,
and by his manner of looking round the room for Marianne,
Elinor immediately fancied that he neither expected
nor wished to see her there, and, in short, that he
was already aware of what occasioned her absence.
Mrs. Jennings was not struck by the same thought;
for soon after his entrance, she walked across the room
to the tea-table where Elinor presided, and whispered--
"The Colonel looks as grave as ever you see.  He knows
nothing of it; do tell him, my dear."

He shortly afterwards drew a chair close to her's,
and, with a look which perfectly assured her of his
good information, inquired after her sister.

"Marianne is not well," said she.  "She has been
indisposed all day, and we have persuaded her to go to bed."

"Perhaps, then," he hesitatingly replied, "what I
heard this morning may be--there may be more truth in it
than I could believe possible at first."

"What did you hear?"

"That a gentleman, whom I had reason to think--in short,
that a man, whom I KNEW to be engaged--but how shall I
tell you?  If you know it already, as surely you must,
I may be spared."

"You mean," answered Elinor, with forced calmness,
"Mr. Willoughby's marriage with Miss Grey.  Yes, we DO
know it all.  This seems to have been a day of general
elucidation, for this very morning first unfolded it to us.
Mr. Willoughby is unfathomable!  Where did you hear it?"

"In a stationer's shop in Pall Mall, where I
had business.  Two ladies were waiting for their carriage,
and one of them was giving the other an account of the
intended match, in a voice so little attempting concealment,
that it was impossible for me not to hear all.  The name
of Willoughby, John Willoughby, frequently repeated,
first caught my attention; and what followed was a positive
assertion that every thing was now finally settled
respecting his marriage with Miss Grey--it was no longer
to be a secret--it would take place even within a few weeks,
with many particulars of preparations and other matters.
One thing, especially, I remember, because it served
to identify the man still more:--as soon as the ceremony
was over, they were to go to Combe Magna, his seat
in Somersetshire.  My astonishment!--but it would be
impossible to describe what I felt.  The communicative
lady I learnt, on inquiry, for I stayed in the shop
till they were gone, was a Mrs. Ellison, and that, as I
have been since informed, is the name of Miss Grey's guardian."

"It is.  But have you likewise heard that Miss Grey
has fifty thousand pounds?  In that, if in any thing,
we may find an explanation."

"It may be so; but Willoughby is capable--at least
I think"--he stopped a moment; then added in a voice
which seemed to distrust itself, "And your sister--
how did she--"

"Her sufferings have been very severe.  I have
only to hope that they may be proportionately short.
It has been, it is a most cruel affliction.  Till yesterday,
I believe, she never doubted his regard; and even now,
perhaps--but I am almost convinced that he never was
really attached to her.  He has been very deceitful! and,
in some points, there seems a hardness of heart about him."

"Ah!" said Colonel Brandon, "there is, indeed!  But
your sister does not--I think you said so--she does
not consider quite as you do?"

"You know her disposition, and may believe how eagerly
she would still justify him if she could."

He made no answer; and soon afterwards, by the removal
of the tea-things, and the arrangement of the card parties,
the subject was necessarily dropped.  Mrs. Jennings, who had
watched them with pleasure while they were talking, and who
expected to see the effect of Miss Dashwood's communication,
in such an instantaneous gaiety on Colonel Brandon's side,
as might have become a man in the bloom of youth, of hope
and happiness, saw him, with amazement, remain the whole
evening more serious and thoughtful than usual.



CHAPTER 31


From a night of more sleep than she had expected,
Marianne awoke the next morning to the same consciousness
of misery in which she had closed her eyes.

Elinor encouraged her as much as possible to talk
of what she felt; and before breakfast was ready, they had
gone through the subject again and again; and with the same
steady conviction and affectionate counsel on Elinor's side,
the same impetuous feelings and varying opinions on
Marianne's, as before.  Sometimes she could believe
Willoughby to be as unfortunate and as innocent as herself,
and at others, lost every consolation in the impossibility
of acquitting him.  At one moment she was absolutely
indifferent to the observation of all the world, at another
she would seclude herself from it for ever, and at a third
could resist it with energy.  In one thing, however,
she was uniform, when it came to the point, in avoiding,
where it was possible, the presence of Mrs. Jennings,
and in a determined silence when obliged to endure it.
Her heart was hardened against the belief of Mrs. Jennings's
entering into her sorrows with any compassion.

"No, no, no, it cannot be," she cried;
"she cannot feel.  Her kindness is not sympathy;
her good-nature is not tenderness.  All that she wants
is gossip, and she only likes me now because I supply it."

Elinor had not needed this to be assured of the injustice
to which her sister was often led in her opinion of others,
by the irritable refinement of her own mind, and the too
great importance placed by her on the delicacies of a
strong sensibility, and the graces of a polished manner.
Like half the rest of the world, if more than half there
be that are clever and good, Marianne, with excellent
abilities and an excellent disposition, was neither
reasonable nor candid.  She expected from other people
the same opinions and feelings as her own, and she judged
of their motives by the immediate effect of their actions
on herself.  Thus a circumstance occurred, while the
sisters were together in their own room after breakfast,
which sunk the heart of Mrs. Jennings still lower
in her estimation; because, through her own weakness,
it chanced to prove a source of fresh pain to herself,
though Mrs. Jennings was governed in it by an impulse
of the utmost goodwill.

With a letter in her outstretched hand, and countenance
gaily smiling, from the persuasion of bringing comfort,
she entered their room, saying,

"Now, my dear, I bring you something that I am sure
will do you good."

Marianne heard enough.  In one moment her imagination
placed before her a letter from Willoughby, full of tenderness
and contrition, explanatory of all that had passed, satisfactory,
convincing; and instantly followed by Willoughby himself,
rushing eagerly into the room to inforce, at her feet,
by the eloquence of his eyes, the assurances of his letter.
The work of one moment was destroyed by the next.
The hand writing of her mother, never till then unwelcome,
was before her; and, in the acuteness of the disappointment
which followed such an ecstasy of more than hope,
she felt as if, till that instant, she had never suffered.

The cruelty of Mrs. Jennings no language, within
her reach in her moments of happiest eloquence,
could have expressed; and now she could reproach her
only by the tears which streamed from her eyes with
passionate violence--a reproach, however, so entirely
lost on its object, that after many expressions of pity,
she withdrew, still referring her to the letter of comfort.
But the letter, when she was calm enough to read it,
brought little comfort.  Willoughby filled every page.
Her mother, still confident of their engagement, and relying
as warmly as ever on his constancy, had only been roused
by Elinor's application, to intreat from Marianne greater
openness towards them both; and this, with such tenderness
towards her, such affection for Willoughby, and such
a conviction of their future happiness in each other,
that she wept with agony through the whole of it.

All her impatience to be at home again now returned;
her mother was dearer to her than ever; dearer through
the very excess of her mistaken confidence in Willoughby,
and she was wildly urgent to be gone.  Elinor, unable herself
to determine whether it were better for Marianne to be
in London or at Barton, offered no counsel of her own
except of patience till their mother's wishes could be known;
and at length she obtained her sister's consent to wait
for that knowledge.

Mrs. Jennings left them earlier than usual; for she
could not be easy till the Middletons and Palmers were able
to grieve as much as herself; and positively refusing
Elinor's offered attendance, went out alone for the rest
of the morning.  Elinor, with a very heavy heart, aware of
the pain she was going to communicate, and perceiving,
by Marianne's letter, how ill she had succeeded in laying
any foundation for it, then sat down to write her mother
an account of what had passed, and entreat her directions
for the future; while Marianne, who came into the drawing-room
on Mrs. Jennings's going away, remained fixed at the table
where Elinor wrote, watching the advancement of her pen,
grieving over her for the hardship of such a task,
and grieving still more fondly over its effect on her mother.

In this manner they had continued about a quarter
of an hour, when Marianne, whose nerves could not then
bear any sudden noise, was startled by a rap at the door.

"Who can this be?" cried Elinor.  "So early too! I
thought we HAD been safe."

Marianne moved to the window--

"It is Colonel Brandon!" said she, with vexation.
"We are never safe from HIM."

"He will not come in, as Mrs. Jennings is from home."

"I will not trust to THAT," retreating to her own room.
"A man who has nothing to do with his own time has no
conscience in his intrusion on that of others."

The event proved her conjecture right, though it
was founded on injustice and error; for Colonel Brandon
DID come in; and Elinor, who was convinced that
solicitude for Marianne brought him thither, and who saw
THAT solicitude in his disturbed and melancholy look,
and in his anxious though brief inquiry after her,
could not forgive her sister for esteeming him so lightly.

"I met Mrs. Jennings in Bond Street," said he,
after the first salutation, "and she encouraged me
to come on; and I was the more easily encouraged,
because I thought it probable that I might find you alone,
which I was very desirous of doing.  My object--my
wish--my sole wish in desiring it--I hope, I believe
it is--is to be a means of giving comfort;--no, I must
not say comfort--not present comfort--but conviction,
lasting conviction to your sister's mind.  My regard for her,
for yourself, for your mother--will you allow me to prove it,
by relating some circumstances which nothing but a VERY
sincere regard--nothing but an earnest desire of being
useful--I think I am justified--though where so many hours
have been spent in convincing myself that I am right,
is there not some reason to fear I may be wrong?"
He stopped.

"I understand you," said Elinor.  "You have something
to tell me of Mr. Willoughby, that will open his character
farther.  Your telling it will be the greatest act of friendship
that can be shewn Marianne.  MY gratitude will be insured
immediately by any information tending to that end, and HERS
must be gained by it in time.  Pray, pray let me hear it."

"You shall; and, to be brief, when I quitted Barton
last October,--but this will give you no idea--I must go
farther back.  You will find me a very awkward narrator,
Miss Dashwood; I hardly know where to begin.  A short
account of myself, I believe, will be necessary, and it
SHALL be a short one.  On such a subject," sighing heavily,
"can I have little temptation to be diffuse."

He stopt a moment for recollection, and then,
with another sigh, went on.

"You have probably entirely forgotten a conversation--
(it is not to be supposed that it could make any impression
on you)--a conversation between us one evening at Barton
Park--it was the evening of a dance--in which I alluded
to a lady I had once known, as resembling, in some measure,
your sister Marianne."

"Indeed," answered Elinor, "I have NOT forgotten it."
He looked pleased by this remembrance, and added,

"If I am not deceived by the uncertainty, the partiality
of tender recollection, there is a very strong resemblance
between them, as well in mind as person.  The same warmth
of heart, the same eagerness of fancy and spirits.
This lady was one of my nearest relations, an orphan from
her infancy, and under the guardianship of my father.
Our ages were nearly the same, and from our earliest years
we were playfellows and friends.  I cannot remember the
time when I did not love Eliza; and my affection for her,
as we grew up, was such, as perhaps, judging from my
present forlorn and cheerless gravity, you might think me
incapable of having ever felt.  Her's, for me, was, I believe,
fervent as the attachment of your sister to Mr. Willoughby
and it was, though from a different cause, no less unfortunate.
At seventeen she was lost to me for ever.  She was
married--married against her inclination to my brother.
Her fortune was large, and our family estate much encumbered.
And this, I fear, is all that can be said for the
conduct of one, who was at once her uncle and guardian.
My brother did not deserve her; he did not even love her.
I had hoped that her regard for me would support her
under any difficulty, and for some time it did; but at
last the misery of her situation, for she experienced
great unkindness, overcame all her resolution, and though
she had promised me that nothing--but how blindly I
relate!  I have never told you how this was brought on.
We were within a few hours of eloping together for Scotland.
The treachery, or the folly, of my cousin's maid betrayed us.
I was banished to the house of a relation far distant,
and she was allowed no liberty, no society, no amusement,
till my father's point was gained.  I had depended on her
fortitude too far, and the blow was a severe one--
but had her marriage been happy, so young as I then was,
a few months must have reconciled me to it, or at least
I should not have now to lament it.  This however
was not the case.  My brother had no regard for her;
his pleasures were not what they ought to have been,
and from the first he treated her unkindly.  The consequence
of this, upon a mind so young, so lively, so inexperienced
as Mrs. Brandon's, was but too natural.  She resigned
herself at first to all the misery of her situation;
and happy had it been if she had not lived to overcome those
regrets which the remembrance of me occasioned.  But can we
wonder that, with such a husband to provoke inconstancy,
and without a friend to advise or restrain her (for
my father lived only a few months after their marriage,
and I was with my regiment in the East Indies) she
should fall?  Had I remained in England, perhaps--but I
meant to promote the happiness of both by removing
from her for years, and for that purpose had procured
my exchange.  The shock which her marriage had given me,"
he continued, in a voice of great agitation, "was of
trifling weight--was nothing to what I felt when I heard,
about two years afterwards, of her divorce.  It was
THAT which threw this gloom,--even now the recollection
of what I suffered--"

He could say no more, and rising hastily walked for a few
minutes about the room.  Elinor, affected by his relation,
and still more by his distress, could not speak.  He saw
her concern, and coming to her, took her hand, pressed it,
and kissed it with grateful respect.  A few minutes more
of silent exertion enabled him to proceed with composure.

"It was nearly three years after this unhappy
period before I returned to England.  My first care,
when I DID arrive, was of course to seek for her;
but the search was as fruitless as it was melancholy.
I could not trace her beyond her first seducer, and there
was every reason to fear that she had removed from him
only to sink deeper in a life of sin.  Her legal allowance
was not adequate to her fortune, nor sufficient for her
comfortable maintenance, and I learnt from my brother that
the power of receiving it had been made over some months
before to another person.  He imagined, and calmly could he
imagine it, that her extravagance, and consequent distress,
had obliged her to dispose of it for some immediate relief.
At last, however, and after I had been six months in England,
I DID find her.  Regard for a former servant of my own,
who had since fallen into misfortune, carried me to visit
him in a spunging-house, where he was confined for debt;
and there, the same house, under a similar confinement,
was my unfortunate sister.  So altered--so faded--worn
down by acute suffering of every kind! hardly could I
believe the melancholy and sickly figure before me,
to be the remains of the lovely, blooming, healthful girl,
on whom I had once doted.  What I endured in so beholding
her--but I have no right to wound your feelings by attempting
to describe it--I have pained you too much already.
That she was, to all appearance, in the last stage
of a consumption, was--yes, in such a situation it was
my greatest comfort.  Life could do nothing for her,
beyond giving time for a better preparation for death;
and that was given.  I saw her placed in comfortable lodgings,
and under proper attendants; I visited her every day
during the rest of her short life: I was with her in her
last moments."

Again he stopped to recover himself; and Elinor
spoke her feelings in an exclamation of tender concern,
at the fate of his unfortunate friend.

"Your sister, I hope, cannot be offended," said he,
"by the resemblance I have fancied between her and my
poor disgraced relation.  Their fates, their fortunes,
cannot be the same; and had the natural sweet
disposition of the one been guarded by a firmer mind,
or a happier marriage, she might have been all that you
will live to see the other be.  But to what does all this
lead?  I seem to have been distressing you for nothing.
Ah! Miss Dashwood--a subject such as this--untouched
for fourteen years--it is dangerous to handle it at all!
I WILL be more collected--more concise.  She left to my care
her only child, a little girl, the offspring of her first
guilty connection, who was then about three years old.
She loved the child, and had always kept it with her.
It was a valued, a precious trust to me; and gladly
would I have discharged it in the strictest sense,
by watching over her education myself, had the nature
of our situations allowed it; but I had no family, no home;
and my little Eliza was therefore placed at school.
I saw her there whenever I could, and after the death of my
brother, (which happened about five years ago, and which
left to me the possession of the family property,) she
visited me at Delaford.  I called her a distant relation;
but I am well aware that I have in general been suspected
of a much nearer connection with her.  It is now three
years ago (she had just reached her fourteenth year,)
that I removed her from school, to place her under the care
of a very respectable woman, residing in Dorsetshire,
who had the charge of four or five other girls of about
the same time of life; and for two years I had every reason
to be pleased with her situation.  But last February,
almost a twelvemonth back, she suddenly disappeared.
I had allowed her, (imprudently, as it has since turned
out,) at her earnest desire, to go to Bath with one of
her young friends, who was attending her father there
for his health.  I knew him to be a very good sort of man,
and I thought well of his daughter--better than she deserved,
for, with a most obstinate and ill-judged secrecy,
she would tell nothing, would give no clue, though she
certainly knew all.  He, her father, a well-meaning,
but not a quick-sighted man, could really, I believe,
give no information; for he had been generally confined
to the house, while the girls were ranging over the town
and making what acquaintance they chose; and he tried
to convince me, as thoroughly as he was convinced himself,
of his daughter's being entirely unconcerned in the business.
In short, I could learn nothing but that she was gone;
all the rest, for eight long months, was left to conjecture.
What I thought, what I feared, may be imagined; and what I
suffered too."

"Good heavens!" cried Elinor, "could it be--could
Willoughby!"--

"The first news that reached me of her," he continued,
"came in a letter from herself, last October.
It was forwarded to me from Delaford, and I received it
on the very morning of our intended party to Whitwell;
and this was the reason of my leaving Barton so suddenly,
which I am sure must at the time have appeared strange
to every body, and which I believe gave offence to some.
Little did Mr. Willoughby imagine, I suppose, when his
looks censured me for incivility in breaking up the party,
that I was called away to the relief of one whom he
had made poor and miserable; but HAD he known it,
what would it have availed?  Would he have been less
gay or less happy in the smiles of your sister?  No,
he had already done that, which no man who CAN feel
for another would do.  He had left the girl whose
youth and innocence he had seduced, in a situation of
the utmost distress, with no creditable home, no help,
no friends, ignorant of his address!  He had left her,
promising to return; he neither returned, nor wrote,
nor relieved her."

"This is beyond every thing!" exclaimed Elinor.

"His character is now before you; expensive, dissipated,
and worse than both.  Knowing all this, as I have now
known it many weeks, guess what I must have felt on seeing
your sister as fond of him as ever, and on being assured
that she was to marry him: guess what I must have felt
for all your sakes.  When I came to you last week and
found you alone, I came determined to know the truth;
though irresolute what to do when it WAS known.
My behaviour must have seemed strange to you then;
but now you will comprehend it.  To suffer you all to be
so deceived; to see your sister--but what could I do?
I had no hope of interfering with success; and sometimes
I thought your sister's influence might yet reclaim him.
But now, after such dishonorable usage, who can tell what
were his designs on her.  Whatever they may have been,
however, she may now, and hereafter doubtless WILL
turn with gratitude towards her own condition, when she
compares it with that of my poor Eliza, when she considers
the wretched and hopeless situation of this poor girl,
and pictures her to herself, with an affection for him so strong,
still as strong as her own, and with a mind tormented
by self-reproach, which must attend her through life.
Surely this comparison must have its use with her.
She will feel her own sufferings to be nothing.  They
proceed from no misconduct, and can bring no disgrace.
On the contrary, every friend must be made still more
her friend by them.  Concern for her unhappiness,
and respect for her fortitude under it, must strengthen
every attachment.  Use your own discretion, however,
in communicating to her what I have told you.  You must
know best what will be its effect; but had I not seriously,
and from my heart believed it might be of service,
might lessen her regrets, I would not have suffered
myself to trouble you with this account of my family
afflictions, with a recital which may seem to have been
intended to raise myself at the expense of others."

Elinor's thanks followed this speech with grateful
earnestness; attended too with the assurance of her
expecting material advantage to Marianne, from the
communication of what had passed.

"I have been more pained," said she, "by her
endeavors to acquit him than by all the rest; for it
irritates her mind more than the most perfect conviction
of his unworthiness can do.  Now, though at first she
will suffer much, I am sure she will soon become easier.
Have you," she continued, after a short silence,
"ever seen Mr. Willoughby since you left him at Barton?"

"Yes," he replied gravely, "once I have.  One meeting
was unavoidable."

Elinor, startled by his manner, looked at him anxiously,
saying,

"What? have you met him to--"

"I could meet him no other way.  Eliza had confessed
to me, though most reluctantly, the name of her lover;
and when he returned to town, which was within a fortnight
after myself, we met by appointment, he to defend,
I to punish his conduct.  We returned unwounded,
and the meeting, therefore, never got abroad."

Elinor sighed over the fancied necessity of this;
but to a man and a soldier she presumed not to censure it.

"Such," said Colonel Brandon, after a pause,
"has been the unhappy resemblance between the fate of mother
and daughter! and so imperfectly have I discharged my trust!"

"Is she still in town?"

"No; as soon as she recovered from her lying-in,
for I found her near her delivery, I removed her and her
child into the country, and there she remains."

Recollecting, soon afterwards, that he was probably
dividing Elinor from her sister, he put an end to his visit,
receiving from her again the same grateful acknowledgments,
and leaving her full of compassion and esteem for him.



CHAPTER 32


When the particulars of this conversation were repeated
by Miss Dashwood to her sister, as they very soon were,
the effect on her was not entirely such as the former
had hoped to see.  Not that Marianne appeared to distrust
the truth of any part of it, for she listened to it all
with the most steady and submissive attention, made neither
objection nor remark, attempted no vindication of Willoughby,
and seemed to shew by her tears that she felt it to
be impossible.  But though this behaviour assured Elinor
that the conviction of this guilt WAS carried home to
her mind, though she saw with satisfaction the effect of it,
in her no longer avoiding Colonel Brandon when he called,
in her speaking to him, even voluntarily speaking,
with a kind of compassionate respect, and though she
saw her spirits less violently irritated than before,
she did not see her less wretched.  Her mind did become
settled, but it was settled in a gloomy dejection.
She felt the loss of Willoughby's character yet more heavily
than she had felt the loss of his heart; his seduction and
desertion of Miss Williams, the misery of that poor girl,
and the doubt of what his designs might ONCE have been
on herself, preyed altogether so much on her spirits,
that she could not bring herself to speak of what she felt
even to Elinor; and, brooding over her sorrows in silence,
gave more pain to her sister than could have been communicated
by the most open and most frequent confession of them.

To give the feelings or the language of Mrs. Dashwood
on receiving and answering Elinor's letter would be only
to give a repetition of what her daughters had already felt
and said; of a disappointment hardly less painful than
Marianne's, and an indignation even greater than Elinor's.
Long letters from her, quickly succeeding each other,
arrived to tell all that she suffered and thought;
to express her anxious solicitude for Marianne, and entreat
she would bear up with fortitude under this misfortune.
Bad indeed must the nature of Marianne's affliction be,
when her mother could talk of fortitude! mortifying
and humiliating must be the origin of those regrets,
which SHE could wish her not to indulge!

Against the interest of her own individual comfort,
Mrs. Dashwood had determined that it would be better for
Marianne to be any where, at that time, than at Barton,
where every thing within her view would be bringing back
the past in the strongest and most afflicting manner,
by constantly placing Willoughby before her, such as
she had always seen him there.  She recommended it to
her daughters, therefore, by all means not to shorten their
visit to Mrs. Jennings; the length of which, though never
exactly fixed, had been expected by all to comprise at least
five or six weeks.  A variety of occupations, of objects,
and of company, which could not be procured at Barton,
would be inevitable there, and might yet, she hoped,
cheat Marianne, at times, into some interest beyond herself,
and even into some amusement, much as the ideas of both
might now be spurned by her.

From all danger of seeing Willoughby again,
her mother considered her to be at least equally safe
in town as in the country, since his acquaintance must
now be dropped by all who called themselves her friends.
Design could never bring them in each other's way:
negligence could never leave them exposed to a surprise;
and chance had less in its favour in the crowd of London
than even in the retirement of Barton, where it might
force him before her while paying that visit at Allenham
on his marriage, which Mrs. Dashwood, from foreseeing at
first as a probable event, had brought herself to expect
as a certain one.

She had yet another reason for wishing her children
to remain where they were; a letter from her son-in-law
had told her that he and his wife were to be in town
before the middle of February, and she judged it right
that they should sometimes see their brother.

Marianne had promised to be guided by her mother's opinion,
and she submitted to it therefore without opposition,
though it proved perfectly different from what she wished
and expected, though she felt it to be entirely wrong,
formed on mistaken grounds, and that by requiring her
longer continuance in London it deprived her of the only
possible alleviation of her wretchedness, the personal
sympathy of her mother, and doomed her to such society and
such scenes as must prevent her ever knowing a moment's rest.

But it was a matter of great consolation to her,
that what brought evil to herself would bring good to
her sister; and Elinor, on the other hand, suspecting that
it would not be in her power to avoid Edward entirely,
comforted herself by thinking, that though their longer
stay would therefore militate against her own happiness,
it would be better for Marianne than an immediate return
into Devonshire.

Her carefulness in guarding her sister from ever
hearing Willoughby's name mentioned, was not thrown away.
Marianne, though without knowing it herself, reaped all
its advantage; for neither Mrs. Jennings, nor Sir John,
nor even Mrs. Palmer herself, ever spoke of him before her.
Elinor wished that the same forbearance could have extended
towards herself, but that was impossible, and she was
obliged to listen day after day to the indignation of them all.

Sir John, could not have thought it possible.
"A man of whom he had always had such reason to think well!
Such a good-natured fellow!  He did not believe there was a
bolder rider in England!  It was an unaccountable business.
He wished him at the devil with all his heart.  He would
not speak another word to him, meet him where he might,
for all the world!  No, not if it were to be by the side
of Barton covert, and they were kept watching for two
hours together.  Such a scoundrel of a fellow! such
a deceitful dog!  It was only the last time they met
that he had offered him one of Folly's puppies! and this
was the end of it!"

Mrs. Palmer, in her way, was equally angry.
"She was determined to drop his acquaintance immediately,
and she was very thankful that she had never been acquainted
with him at all.  She wished with all her heart Combe
Magna was not so near Cleveland; but it did not signify,
for it was a great deal too far off to visit; she hated
him so much that she was resolved never to mention
his name again, and she should tell everybody she saw,
how good-for-nothing he was."

The rest of Mrs. Palmer's sympathy was shewn in procuring
all the particulars in her power of the approaching marriage,
and communicating them to Elinor.  She could soon tell
at what coachmaker's the new carriage was building,
by what painter Mr. Willoughby's portrait was drawn,
and at what warehouse Miss Grey's clothes might be seen.

The calm and polite unconcern of Lady Middleton
on the occasion was a happy relief to Elinor's spirits,
oppressed as they often were by the clamorous kindness
of the others.  It was a great comfort to her to be sure
of exciting no interest in ONE person at least among their
circle of friends: a great comfort to know that there
was ONE who would meet her without feeling any curiosity
after particulars, or any anxiety for her sister's health.

Every qualification is raised at times, by the
circumstances of the moment, to more than its real value;
and she was sometimes worried down by officious condolence
to rate good-breeding as more indispensable to comfort
than good-nature.

Lady Middleton expressed her sense of the affair
about once every day, or twice, if the subject occurred
very often, by saying, "It is very shocking, indeed!"
and by the means of this continual though gentle vent,
was able not only to see the Miss Dashwoods from the
first without the smallest emotion, but very soon
to see them without recollecting a word of the matter;
and having thus supported the dignity of her own sex,
and spoken her decided censure of what was wrong
in the other, she thought herself at liberty to attend
to the interest of her own assemblies, and therefore
determined (though rather against the opinion of Sir John)
that as Mrs. Willoughby would at once be a woman of elegance
and fortune, to leave her card with her as soon as she married.

Colonel Brandon's delicate, unobtrusive enquiries
were never unwelcome to Miss Dashwood.  He had abundantly
earned the privilege of intimate discussion of her
sister's disappointment, by the friendly zeal with
which he had endeavoured to soften it, and they always
conversed with confidence.  His chief reward for the
painful exertion of disclosing past sorrows and present
humiliations, was given in the pitying eye with which
Marianne sometimes observed him, and the gentleness
of her voice whenever (though it did not often happen)
she was obliged, or could oblige herself to speak to him.
THESE assured him that his exertion had produced an
increase of good-will towards himself, and THESE gave
Elinor hopes of its being farther augmented hereafter;
but Mrs. Jennings, who knew nothing of all this, who knew
only that the Colonel continued as grave as ever, and that
she could neither prevail on him to make the offer himself,
nor commission her to make it for him, began, at the
end of two days, to think that, instead of Midsummer,
they would not be married till Michaelmas, and by the
end of a week that it would not be a match at all.
The good understanding between the Colonel and Miss
Dashwood seemed rather to declare that the honours
of the mulberry-tree, the canal, and the yew arbour,
would all be made over to HER; and Mrs. Jennings had,
for some time ceased to think at all of Mrs. Ferrars.

Early in February, within a fortnight from the
receipt of Willoughby's letter, Elinor had the painful
office of informing her sister that he was married.
She had taken care to have the intelligence conveyed
to herself, as soon as it was known that the ceremony
was over, as she was desirous that Marianne should not
receive the first notice of it from the public papers,
which she saw her eagerly examining every morning.

She received the news with resolute composure;
made no observation on it, and at first shed no tears;
but after a short time they would burst out, and for the
rest of the day, she was in a state hardly less pitiable
than when she first learnt to expect the event.

The Willoughbys left town as soon as they were married;
and Elinor now hoped, as there could be no danger
of her seeing either of them, to prevail on her sister,
who had never yet left the house since the blow first fell,
to go out again by degrees as she had done before.

About this time the two Miss Steeles, lately arrived
at their cousin's house in Bartlett's Buildings,
Holburn, presented themselves again before their more
grand relations in Conduit and Berkeley Streets;
and were welcomed by them all with great cordiality.

Elinor only was sorry to see them.  Their presence
always gave her pain, and she hardly knew how to make
a very gracious return to the overpowering delight of Lucy
in finding her STILL in town.

"I should have been quite disappointed if I had not
found you here STILL," said she repeatedly, with a strong
emphasis on the word.  "But I always thought I SHOULD.
I was almost sure you would not leave London yet awhile;
though you TOLD me, you know, at Barton, that you should
not stay above a MONTH.  But I thought, at the time,
that you would most likely change your mind when it came
to the point.  It would have been such a great pity
to have went away before your brother and sister came.
And now to be sure you will be in no hurry to be gone.
I am amazingly glad you did not keep to YOUR WORD."

Elinor perfectly understood her, and was forced
to use all her self-command to make it appear that she
did NOT.

"Well, my dear," said Mrs. Jennings, "and how did
you travel?"

"Not in the stage, I assure you," replied Miss Steele,
with quick exultation; "we came post all the way, and had
a very smart beau to attend us.  Dr. Davies was coming
to town, and so we thought we'd join him in a post-chaise;
and he behaved very genteelly, and paid ten or twelve
shillings more than we did."

"Oh, oh!" cried Mrs. Jennings; "very pretty,
indeed! and the Doctor is a single man, I warrant you."

"There now," said Miss Steele, affectedly simpering,
"everybody laughs at me so about the Doctor, and I
cannot think why.  My cousins say they are sure I have
made a conquest; but for my part I declare I never think
about him from one hour's end to another.  'Lord! here
comes your beau, Nancy,' my cousin said t'other day,
when she saw him crossing the street to the house.
My beau, indeed! said I--I cannot think who you mean.
The Doctor is no beau of mine."

"Aye, aye, that is very pretty talking--but it won't do--
the Doctor is the man, I see."

"No, indeed!" replied her cousin, with affected earnestness,
"and I beg you will contradict it, if you ever hear it talked
of."

Mrs. Jennings directly gave her the gratifying
assurance that she certainly would NOT, and Miss Steele
was made completely happy.

"I suppose you will go and stay with your brother
and sister, Miss Dashwood, when they come to town,"
said Lucy, returning, after a cessation of hostile hints,
to the charge.

"No, I do not think we shall."

"Oh, yes, I dare say you will."

Elinor would not humour her by farther opposition.

"What a charming thing it is that Mrs. Dashwood can
spare you both for so long a time together!"

"Long a time, indeed!" interposed Mrs. Jennings.
"Why, their visit is but just begun!"

Lucy was silenced.

"I am sorry we cannot see your sister, Miss Dashwood,"
said Miss Steele.  "I am sorry she is not well--"
for Marianne had left the room on their arrival.

"You are very good.  My sister will be equally
sorry to miss the pleasure of seeing you; but she has
been very much plagued lately with nervous head-aches,
which make her unfit for company or conversation."

"Oh, dear, that is a great pity! but such old
friends as Lucy and me!--I think she might see US;
and I am sure we would not speak a word."

Elinor, with great civility, declined the proposal.
Her sister was perhaps laid down upon the bed, or in her
dressing gown, and therefore not able to come to them.

"Oh, if that's all," cried Miss Steele, "we can
just as well go and see HER."

Elinor began to find this impertinence too much for
her temper; but she was saved the trouble of checking it,
by Lucy's sharp reprimand, which now, as on many occasions,
though it did not give much sweetness to the manners
of one sister, was of advantage in governing those of
the other.



CHAPTER 33


After some opposition, Marianne yielded to her
sister's entreaties, and consented to go out with her
and Mrs. Jennings one morning for half an hour. She
expressly conditioned, however, for paying no visits,
and would do no more than accompany them to Gray's in
Sackville Street, where Elinor was carrying on a negotiation
for the exchange of a few old-fashioned jewels of her mother.

When they stopped at the door, Mrs. Jennings recollected
that there was a lady at the other end of the street
on whom she ought to call; and as she had no business
at Gray's, it was resolved, that while her young friends
transacted their's, she should pay her visit and
return for them.

On ascending the stairs, the Miss Dashwoods found
so many people before them in the room, that there was
not a person at liberty to tend to their orders; and they
were obliged to wait.  All that could be done was, to sit
down at that end of the counter which seemed to promise the
quickest succession; one gentleman only was standing there,
and it is probable that Elinor was not without hope
of exciting his politeness to a quicker despatch.
But the correctness of his eye, and the delicacy
of his taste, proved to be beyond his politeness.
He was giving orders for a toothpick-case for himself,
and till its size, shape, and ornaments were determined,
all of which, after examining and debating for a quarter
of an hour over every toothpick-case in the shop,
were finally arranged by his own inventive fancy, he had
no leisure to bestow any other attention on the two ladies,
than what was comprised in three or four very broad stares;
a kind of notice which served to imprint on Elinor
the remembrance of a person and face, of strong,
natural, sterling insignificance, though adorned in
the first style of fashion.

Marianne was spared from the troublesome feelings
of contempt and resentment, on this impertinent examination
of their features, and on the puppyism of his manner
in deciding on all the different horrors of the different
toothpick-cases presented to his inspection, by remaining
unconscious of it all; for she was as well able to collect
her thoughts within herself, and be as ignorant of what was
passing around her, in Mr. Gray's shop, as in her own bedroom.

At last the affair was decided.  The ivory,
the gold, and the pearls, all received their appointment,
and the gentleman having named the last day on which his
existence could be continued without the possession of the
toothpick-case, drew on his gloves with leisurely care,
and bestowing another glance on the Miss Dashwoods, but such
a one as seemed rather to demand than express admiration,
walked off with a happy air of real conceit and affected
indifference.

Elinor lost no time in bringing her business forward,
was on the point of concluding it, when another gentleman
presented himself at her side.  She turned her eyes towards
his face, and found him with some surprise to be her brother.

Their affection and pleasure in meeting was just enough
to make a very creditable appearance in Mr. Gray's shop.
John Dashwood was really far from being sorry to see
his sisters again; it rather gave them satisfaction;
and his inquiries after their mother were respectful
and attentive.

Elinor found that he and Fanny had been in town
two days.

"I wished very much to call upon you yesterday,"
said he, "but it was impossible, for we were obliged
to take Harry to see the wild beasts at Exeter Exchange;
and we spent the rest of the day with Mrs. Ferrars.
Harry was vastly pleased.  THIS morning I had fully intended
to call on you, if I could possibly find a spare half hour,
but one has always so much to do on first coming to town.
I am come here to bespeak Fanny a seal.  But tomorrow I
think I shall certainly be able to call in Berkeley Street,
and be introduced to your friend Mrs. Jennings.
I understand she is a woman of very good fortune.
And the Middletons too, you must introduce me to THEM.
As my mother-in-law's relations, I shall be happy to show
them every respect.  They are excellent neighbours to you in
the country, I understand."

"Excellent indeed.  Their attention to our comfort,
their friendliness in every particular, is more than I
can express."

"I am extremely glad to hear it, upon my word;
extremely glad indeed.  But so it ought to be; they are
people of large fortune, they are related to you, and
every civility and accommodation that can serve to make
your situation pleasant might be reasonably expected.
And so you are most comfortably settled in your little cottage
and want for nothing!  Edward brought us a most charming
account of the place: the most complete thing of its kind,
he said, that ever was, and you all seemed to enjoy it beyond
any thing.  It was a great satisfaction to us to hear it,
I assure you."

Elinor did feel a little ashamed of her brother;
and was not sorry to be spared the necessity of answering him,
by the arrival of Mrs. Jennings's servant, who came to tell
her that his mistress waited for them at the door.

Mr. Dashwood attended them down stairs, was introduced
to Mrs. Jennings at the door of her carriage, and repeating
his hope of being able to call on them the next day,
took leave.

His visit was duly paid.  He came with a pretence at
an apology from their sister-in-law, for not coming too;
"but she was so much engaged with her mother, that really
she had no leisure for going any where."  Mrs. Jennings,
however, assured him directly, that she should not stand
upon ceremony, for they were all cousins, or something
like it, and she should certainly wait on Mrs. John
Dashwood very soon, and bring her sisters to see her.
His manners to THEM, though calm, were perfectly kind;
to Mrs. Jennings, most attentively civil; and on Colonel
Brandon's coming in soon after himself, he eyed him with a
curiosity which seemed to say, that he only wanted to know
him to be rich, to be equally civil to HIM.

After staying with them half an hour, he asked
Elinor to walk with him to Conduit Street, and introduce
him to Sir John and Lady Middleton.  The weather was
remarkably fine, and she readily consented.  As soon
as they were out of the house, his enquiries began.

"Who is Colonel Brandon?  Is he a man of fortune?"

"Yes; he has very good property in Dorsetshire."

"I am glad of it.  He seems a most gentlemanlike man;
and I think, Elinor, I may congratulate you on the prospect
of a very respectable establishment in life."

"Me, brother! what do you mean?"

"He likes you.  I observed him narrowly, and am
convinced of it.  What is the amount of his fortune?"

"I believe about two thousand a year."

"Two thousand a-year;" and then working himself
up to a pitch of enthusiastic generosity, he added,
"Elinor, I wish with all my heart it were TWICE as much,
for your sake."

"Indeed I believe you," replied Elinor; "but I am
very sure that Colonel Brandon has not the smallest wish
of marrying ME."

"You are mistaken, Elinor; you are very much mistaken.
A very little trouble on your side secures him.
Perhaps just at present he may be undecided; the smallness
of your fortune may make him hang back; his friends
may all advise him against it.  But some of those little
attentions and encouragements which ladies can so easily
give will fix him, in spite of himself.  And there can be
no reason why you should not try for him.  It is not to be
supposed that any prior attachment on your side--in short,
you know as to an attachment of that kind, it is quite
out of the question, the objections are insurmountable--
you have too much sense not to see all that.  Colonel Brandon
must be the man; and no civility shall be wanting on
my part to make him pleased with you and your family.
It is a match that must give universal satisfaction.
In short, it is a kind of thing that"--lowering his voice
to an important whisper--"will be exceedingly welcome
to ALL PARTIES." Recollecting himself, however, he added,
"That is, I mean to say--your friends are all truly
anxious to see you well settled; Fanny particularly,
for she has your interest very much at heart, I assure you.
And her mother too, Mrs. Ferrars, a very good-natured woman,
I am sure it would give her great pleasure; she said as much
the other day."

Elinor would not vouchsafe any answer.

"It would be something remarkable, now," he continued,
"something droll, if Fanny should have a brother and I
a sister settling at the same time.  And yet it is not
very unlikely."

"Is Mr. Edward Ferrars," said Elinor, with resolution,
"going to be married?"

"It is not actually settled, but there is such
a thing in agitation.  He has a most excellent mother.
Mrs. Ferrars, with the utmost liberality, will come forward,
and settle on him a thousand a year, if the match
takes place.  The lady is the Hon. Miss Morton, only daughter
of the late Lord Morton, with thirty thousand pounds.
A very desirable connection on both sides, and I have not
a doubt of its taking place in time.  A thousand a-year
is a great deal for a mother to give away, to make over
for ever; but Mrs. Ferrars has a noble spirit.  To give
you another instance of her liberality:--The other day,
as soon as we came to town, aware that money could
not be very plenty with us just now, she put bank-notes
into Fanny's hands to the amount of two hundred pounds.
And extremely acceptable it is, for we must live at a great
expense while we are here."

He paused for her assent and compassion; and she
forced herself to say,

"Your expenses both in town and country must certainly
be considerable; but your income is a large one."

"Not so large, I dare say, as many people suppose.
I do not mean to complain, however; it is undoubtedly
a comfortable one, and I hope will in time be better.
The enclosure of Norland Common, now carrying on,
is a most serious drain.  And then I have made a little
purchase within this half year; East Kingham Farm,
you must remember the place, where old Gibson used to live.
The land was so very desirable for me in every respect,
so immediately adjoining my own property, that I felt it
my duty to buy it.  I could not have answered it to my
conscience to let it fall into any other hands.  A man must
pay for his convenience; and it HAS cost me a vast deal
of money."

"More than you think it really and intrinsically worth."

"Why, I hope not that.  I might have sold it again,
the next day, for more than I gave: but, with regard to the
purchase-money, I might have been very unfortunate indeed;
for the stocks were at that time so low, that if I had not
happened to have the necessary sum in my banker's hands,
I must have sold out to very great loss."

Elinor could only smile.

"Other great and inevitable expenses too we have
had on first coming to Norland.  Our respected father,
as you well know, bequeathed all the Stanhill effects
that remained at Norland (and very valuable they were)
to your mother.  Far be it from me to repine at his
doing so; he had an undoubted right to dispose of his
own property as he chose, but, in consequence of it,
we have been obliged to make large purchases of linen,
china, &c. to supply the place of what was taken away.
You may guess, after all these expenses, how very far we
must be from being rich, and how acceptable Mrs. Ferrars's
kindness is."

"Certainly," said Elinor; "and assisted by her liberality,
I hope you may yet live to be in easy circumstances."

"Another year or two may do much towards it,"
he gravely replied; "but however there is still a great
deal to be done.  There is not a stone laid of Fanny's
green-house, and nothing but the plan of the flower-garden
marked out."

"Where is the green-house to be?"

"Upon the knoll behind the house.  The old
walnut trees are all come down to make room for it.
It will be a very fine object from many parts of the park,
and the flower-garden will slope down just before it,
and be exceedingly pretty.  We have cleared away all the old
thorns that grew in patches over the brow."

Elinor kept her concern and her censure to herself;
and was very thankful that Marianne was not present,
to share the provocation.

Having now said enough to make his poverty clear,
and to do away the necessity of buying a pair of ear-rings
for each of his sisters, in his next visit at Gray's
his thoughts took a cheerfuller turn, and he began to
congratulate Elinor on having such a friend as Mrs. Jennings.

"She seems a most valuable woman indeed--Her house,
her style of living, all bespeak an exceeding good income;
and it is an acquaintance that has not only been
of great use to you hitherto, but in the end may prove
materially advantageous.--Her inviting you to town is
certainly a vast thing in your favour; and indeed, it
speaks altogether so great a regard for you, that in all
probability when she dies you will not be forgotten.--
She must have a great deal to leave."

"Nothing at all, I should rather suppose; for she has
only her jointure, which will descend to her children."

"But it is not to be imagined that she lives up to
her income.  Few people of common prudence will do THAT;
and whatever she saves, she will be able to dispose of."

"And do you not think it more likely that she
should leave it to her daughters, than to us?"

"Her daughters are both exceedingly well married,
and therefore I cannot perceive the necessity of her
remembering them farther.  Whereas, in my opinion, by her
taking so much notice of you, and treating you in this
kind of way, she has given you a sort of claim on her
future consideration, which a conscientious woman would
not disregard.  Nothing can be kinder than her behaviour;
and she can hardly do all this, without being aware
of the expectation it raises."

"But she raises none in those most concerned.
Indeed, brother, your anxiety for our welfare and prosperity
carries you too far."

"Why, to be sure," said he, seeming to recollect himself,
"people have little, have very little in their power.
But, my dear Elinor, what is the matter with Marianne?--
she looks very unwell, has lost her colour, and is grown
quite thin.  Is she ill?"

"She is not well, she has had a nervous complaint
on her for several weeks."

"I am sorry for that.  At her time of life,
any thing of an illness destroys the bloom for ever!
Her's has been a very short one!  She was as handsome a girl
last September, as I ever saw; and as likely to attract
the man.  There was something in her style of beauty,
to please them particularly.  I remember Fanny used to say
that she would marry sooner and better than you did;
not but what she is exceedingly fond of YOU, but so it
happened to strike her.  She will be mistaken, however.
I question whether Marianne NOW, will marry a man worth
more than five or six hundred a-year, at the utmost,
and I am very much deceived if YOU do not do better.
Dorsetshire!  I know very little of Dorsetshire; but, my dear
Elinor, I shall be exceedingly glad to know more of it;
and I think I can answer for your having Fanny and myself
among the earliest and best pleased of your visitors."

Elinor tried very seriously to convince him that
there was no likelihood of her marrying Colonel Brandon;
but it was an expectation of too much pleasure to himself
to be relinquished, and he was really resolved on seeking
an intimacy with that gentleman, and promoting the marriage
by every possible attention.  He had just compunction
enough for having done nothing for his sisters himself,
to be exceedingly anxious that everybody else should
do a great deal; and an offer from Colonel Brandon,
or a legacy from Mrs. Jennings, was the easiest means
of atoning for his own neglect.

They were lucky enough to find Lady Middleton
at home, and Sir John came in before their visit ended.
Abundance of civilities passed on all sides.  Sir John
was ready to like anybody, and though Mr. Dashwood did
not seem to know much about horses, he soon set him
down as a very good-natured fellow: while Lady Middleton
saw enough of fashion in his appearance to think his
acquaintance worth having; and Mr. Dashwood went away
delighted with both.

"I shall have a charming account to carry
to Fanny," said he, as he walked back with his sister.
"Lady Middleton is really a most elegant woman!  Such
a woman as I am sure Fanny will be glad to know.
And Mrs. Jennings too, an exceedingly well-behaved woman,
though not so elegant as her daughter.  Your sister need
not have any scruple even of visiting HER, which, to say
the truth, has been a little the case, and very naturally;
for we only knew that Mrs. Jennings was the widow of a man
who had got all his money in a low way; and Fanny and
Mrs. Ferrars were both strongly prepossessed, that neither
she nor her daughters were such kind of women as Fanny
would like to associate with.  But now I can carry her
a most satisfactory account of both."



CHAPTER 34


Mrs. John Dashwood had so much confidence in her
husband's judgment, that she waited the very next day
both on Mrs. Jennings and her daughter; and her
confidence was rewarded by finding even the former,
even the woman with whom her sisters were staying,
by no means unworthy her notice; and as for Lady Middleton,
she found her one of the most charming women in the world!

Lady Middleton was equally pleased with Mrs. Dashwood.
There was a kind of cold hearted selfishness on both sides,
which mutually attracted them; and they sympathised
with each other in an insipid propriety of demeanor,
and a general want of understanding.

The same manners, however, which recommended Mrs. John
Dashwood to the good opinion of Lady Middleton did not suit
the fancy of Mrs. Jennings, and to HER she appeared nothing
more than a little proud-looking woman of uncordial address,
who met her husband's sisters without any affection,
and almost without having anything to say to them;
for of the quarter of an hour bestowed on Berkeley Street,
she sat at least seven minutes and a half in silence.

Elinor wanted very much to know, though she did
not chuse to ask, whether Edward was then in town;
but nothing would have induced Fanny voluntarily
to mention his name before her, till able to tell her
that his marriage with Miss Morton was resolved on,
or till her husband's expectations on Colonel Brandon
were answered; because she believed them still so very
much attached to each other, that they could not be too
sedulously divided in word and deed on every occasion.
The intelligence however, which SHE would not give,
soon flowed from another quarter.  Lucy came very shortly
to claim Elinor's compassion on being unable to see Edward,
though he had arrived in town with Mr. and Mrs. Dashwood.
He dared not come to Bartlett's Buildings for fear
of detection, and though their mutual impatience to meet,
was not to be told, they could do nothing at present
but write.

Edward assured them himself of his being in town,
within a very short time, by twice calling in Berkeley Street.
Twice was his card found on the table, when they returned
from their morning's engagements.  Elinor was pleased
that he had called; and still more pleased that she had
missed him.

The Dashwoods were so prodigiously delighted
with the Middletons, that, though not much in the habit
of giving anything, they determined to give them--
a dinner; and soon after their acquaintance began,
invited them to dine in Harley Street, where they had
taken a very good house for three months.  Their sisters
and Mrs. Jennings were invited likewise, and John Dashwood
was careful to secure Colonel Brandon, who, always glad
to be where the Miss Dashwoods were, received his eager
civilities with some surprise, but much more pleasure.
They were to meet Mrs. Ferrars; but Elinor could not learn
whether her sons were to be of the party.  The expectation
of seeing HER, however, was enough to make her interested
in the engagement; for though she could now meet Edward's
mother without that strong anxiety which had once promised
to attend such an introduction, though she could now see
her with perfect indifference as to her opinion of herself,
her desire of being in company with Mrs. Ferrars,
her curiosity to know what she was like, was as lively as ever.

The interest with which she thus anticipated the
party, was soon afterwards increased, more powerfully
than pleasantly, by her hearing that the Miss Steeles
were also to be at it.

So well had they recommended themselves to Lady Middleton,
so agreeable had their assiduities made them to her,
that though Lucy was certainly not so elegant, and her
sister not even genteel, she was as ready as Sir John
to ask them to spend a week or two in Conduit Street;
and it happened to be particularly convenient to the Miss
Steeles, as soon as the Dashwoods' invitation was known,
that their visit should begin a few days before the party
took place.

Their claims to the notice of Mrs. John Dashwood,
as the nieces of the gentleman who for many years had
had the care of her brother, might not have done much,
however, towards procuring them seats at her table;
but as Lady Middleton's guests they must be welcome; and Lucy,
who had long wanted to be personally known to the family,
to have a nearer view of their characters and her own
difficulties, and to have an opportunity of endeavouring
to please them, had seldom been happier in her life,
than she was on receiving Mrs. John Dashwood's card.

On Elinor its effect was very different.  She began
immediately to determine, that Edward who lived with
his mother, must be asked as his mother was, to a party
given by his sister; and to see him for the first time,
after all that passed, in the company of Lucy!--she hardly
knew how she could bear it!

These apprehensions, perhaps, were not founded
entirely on reason, and certainly not at all on truth.
They were relieved however, not by her own recollection,
but by the good will of Lucy, who believed herself to be
inflicting a severe disappointment when she told her
that Edward certainly would not be in Harley Street on Tuesday,
and even hoped to be carrying the pain still farther
by persuading her that he was kept away by the extreme
affection for herself, which he could not conceal when they
were together.

The important Tuesday came that was to introduce
the two young ladies to this formidable mother-in-law.

"Pity me, dear Miss Dashwood!" said Lucy, as they
walked up the stairs together--for the Middletons arrived
so directly after Mrs. Jennings, that they all followed
the servant at the same time--"There is nobody here but
you, that can feel for me.--I declare I can hardly stand.
Good gracious!--In a moment I shall see the person that all
my happiness depends on--that is to be my mother!"--

Elinor could have given her immediate relief
by suggesting the possibility of its being Miss Morton's mother,
rather than her own, whom they were about to behold;
but instead of doing that, she assured her, and with
great sincerity, that she did pity her--to the utter
amazement of Lucy, who, though really uncomfortable herself,
hoped at least to be an object of irrepressible envy to Elinor.

Mrs. Ferrars was a little, thin woman, upright,
even to formality, in her figure, and serious,
even to sourness, in her aspect.  Her complexion was sallow;
and her features small, without beauty, and naturally
without expression; but a lucky contraction of the brow
had rescued her countenance from the disgrace of insipidity,
by giving it the strong characters of pride and ill nature.
She was not a woman of many words; for, unlike people
in general, she proportioned them to the number of
her ideas; and of the few syllables that did escape her,
not one fell to the share of Miss Dashwood, whom she eyed
with the spirited determination of disliking her at all events.

Elinor could not NOW be made unhappy by this behaviour.--
A few months ago it would have hurt her exceedingly; but it
was not in Mrs. Ferrars' power to distress her by it now;--
and the difference of her manners to the Miss Steeles,
a difference which seemed purposely made to humble her more,
only amused her.  She could not but smile to see the graciousness
of both mother and daughter towards the very person--
for Lucy was particularly distinguished--whom of all others,
had they known as much as she did, they would have been most
anxious to mortify; while she herself, who had comparatively
no power to wound them, sat pointedly slighted by both.
But while she smiled at a graciousness so misapplied,
she could not reflect on the mean-spirited folly from
which it sprung, nor observe the studied attentions
with which the Miss Steeles courted its continuance,
without thoroughly despising them all four.

Lucy was all exultation on being so honorably
distinguished; and Miss Steele wanted only to be teazed
about Dr. Davies to be perfectly happy.

The dinner was a grand one, the servants were numerous,
and every thing bespoke the Mistress's inclination
for show, and the Master's ability to support it.
In spite of the improvements and additions which were
making to the Norland estate, and in spite of its owner
having once been within some thousand pounds of being
obliged to sell out at a loss, nothing gave any symptom
of that indigence which he had tried to infer from it;--
no poverty of any kind, except of conversation, appeared--
but there, the deficiency was considerable.  John Dashwood
had not much to say for himself that was worth hearing,
and his wife had still less.  But there was no peculiar
disgrace in this; for it was very much the case with
the chief of their visitors, who almost all laboured
under one or other of these disqualifications for being
agreeable--Want of sense, either natural or improved--want
of elegance--want of spirits--or want of temper.

When the ladies withdrew to the drawing-room
after dinner, this poverty was particularly evident,
for the gentlemen HAD supplied the discourse with some
variety--the variety of politics, inclosing land,
and breaking horses--but then it was all over; and one
subject only engaged the ladies till coffee came in,
which was the comparative heights of Harry Dashwood,
and Lady Middleton's second son William, who were nearly
of the same age.

Had both the children been there, the affair might
have been determined too easily by measuring them at once;
but as Harry only was present, it was all conjectural
assertion on both sides; and every body had a right to
be equally positive in their opinion, and to repeat it
over and over again as often as they liked.

The parties stood thus:

The two mothers, though each really convinced that
her own son was the tallest, politely decided in favour
of the other.

The two grandmothers, with not less partiality,
but more sincerity, were equally earnest in support
of their own descendant.

Lucy, who was hardly less anxious to please one parent
than the other, thought the boys were both remarkably tall
for their age, and could not conceive that there could
be the smallest difference in the world between them;
and Miss Steele, with yet greater address gave it,
as fast as she could, in favour of each.

Elinor, having once delivered her opinion on
William's side, by which she offended Mrs. Ferrars and
Fanny still more, did not see the necessity of enforcing
it by any farther assertion; and Marianne, when called
on for her's, offended them all, by declaring that she
had no opinion to give, as she had never thought about it.

Before her removing from Norland, Elinor had painted
a very pretty pair of screens for her sister-in-law,
which being now just mounted and brought home,
ornamented her present drawing room; and these screens,
catching the eye of John Dashwood on his following
the other gentlemen into the room, were officiously
handed by him to Colonel Brandon for his admiration.

"These are done by my eldest sister," said he; "and you,
as a man of taste, will, I dare say, be pleased with them.
I do not know whether you have ever happened to see any
of her performances before, but she is in general reckoned
to draw extremely well."

The Colonel, though disclaiming all pretensions
to connoisseurship, warmly admired the screens, as he
would have done any thing painted by Miss Dashwood;
and on the curiosity of the others being of course excited,
they were handed round for general inspection.
Mrs. Ferrars, not aware of their being Elinor's work,
particularly requested to look at them; and after they had
received gratifying testimony of Lady Middletons's approbation,
Fanny presented them to her mother, considerately informing
her, at the same time, that they were done by Miss Dashwood.

"Hum"--said Mrs. Ferrars--"very pretty,"--and without
regarding them at all, returned them to her daughter.

Perhaps Fanny thought for a moment that her mother
had been quite rude enough,--for, colouring a little,
she immediately said,

"They are very pretty, ma'am--an't they?" But then again,
the dread of having been too civil, too encouraging herself,
probably came over her, for she presently added,

"Do you not think they are something in Miss
Morton's style of painting, Ma'am?--She DOES paint most
delightfully!--How beautifully her last landscape is done!"

"Beautifully indeed!  But SHE does every thing well."

Marianne could not bear this.--She was already
greatly displeased with Mrs. Ferrars; and such ill-timed
praise of another, at Elinor's expense, though she
had not any notion of what was principally meant by it,
provoked her immediately to say with warmth,

"This is admiration of a very particular kind!--
what is Miss Morton to us?--who knows, or who cares,
for her?--it is Elinor of whom WE think and speak."

And so saying, she took the screens out of her
sister-in-law's hands, to admire them herself as they
ought to be admired.

Mrs. Ferrars looked exceedingly angry, and drawing
herself up more stiffly than ever, pronounced in retort
this bitter philippic, "Miss Morton is Lord Morton's daughter."

Fanny looked very angry too, and her husband was
all in a fright at his sister's audacity.  Elinor was
much more hurt by Marianne's warmth than she had been
by what produced it; but Colonel Brandon's eyes, as they
were fixed on Marianne, declared that he noticed only
what was amiable in it, the affectionate heart which could
not bear to see a sister slighted in the smallest point.

Marianne's feelings did not stop here.  The cold
insolence of Mrs. Ferrars's general behaviour to her sister,
seemed, to her, to foretell such difficulties and distresses
to Elinor, as her own wounded heart taught her to think
of with horror; and urged by a strong impulse of
affectionate sensibility, she moved after a moment,
to her sister's chair, and putting one arm round her neck,
and one cheek close to hers, said in a low, but eager,
voice,

"Dear, dear Elinor, don't mind them.  Don't let them
make YOU unhappy."

She could say no more; her spirits were quite overcome,
and hiding her face on Elinor's shoulder, she burst
into tears.  Every body's attention was called, and almost
every body was concerned.--Colonel Brandon rose up and went
to them without knowing what he did.--Mrs. Jennings,
with a very intelligent "Ah! poor dear," immediately gave
her her salts; and Sir John felt so desperately enraged
against the author of this nervous distress, that he
instantly changed his seat to one close by Lucy Steele,
and gave her, in a whisper, a brief account of the whole
shocking affair.

In a few minutes, however, Marianne was recovered
enough to put an end to the bustle, and sit down among
the rest; though her spirits retained the impression
of what had passed, the whole evening.

"Poor Marianne!" said her brother to Colonel Brandon,
in a low voice, as soon as he could secure his attention,--
"She has not such good health as her sister,--she is very
nervous,--she has not Elinor's constitution;--and one must
allow that there is something very trying to a young woman
who HAS BEEN a beauty in the loss of her personal attractions.
You would not think it perhaps, but Marianne WAS remarkably
handsome a few months ago; quite as handsome as Elinor.--
Now you see it is all gone."



CHAPTER 35


Elinor's curiosity to see Mrs. Ferrars was satisfied.--
She had found in her every thing that could tend to make
a farther connection between the families undesirable.--
She had seen enough of her pride, her meanness, and her
determined prejudice against herself, to comprehend all
the difficulties that must have perplexed the engagement,
and retarded the marriage, of Edward and herself, had he been
otherwise free;--and she had seen almost enough to be thankful
for her OWN sake, that one greater obstacle preserved her
from suffering under any other of Mrs. Ferrars's creation,
preserved her from all dependence upon her caprice, or any
solicitude for her good opinion.  Or at least, if she did not
bring herself quite to rejoice in Edward's being fettered
to Lucy, she determined, that had Lucy been more amiable,
she OUGHT to have rejoiced.

She wondered that Lucy's spirits could be so very much
elevated by the civility of Mrs. Ferrars;--that her interest
and her vanity should so very much blind her as to make
the attention which seemed only paid her because she was
NOT ELINOR, appear a compliment to herself--or to allow
her to derive encouragement from a preference only given her,
because her real situation was unknown.  But that it was so,
had not only been declared by Lucy's eyes at the time,
but was declared over again the next morning more openly,
for at her particular desire, Lady Middleton set her down
in Berkeley Street on the chance of seeing Elinor alone,
to tell her how happy she was.

The chance proved a lucky one, for a message from
Mrs. Palmer soon after she arrived, carried Mrs. Jennings away.

"My dear friend," cried Lucy, as soon as they were
by themselves, "I come to talk to you of my happiness.
Could anything be so flattering as Mrs. Ferrars's way
of treating me yesterday?  So exceeding affable as she
was!--You know how I dreaded the thoughts of seeing her;--
but the very moment I was introduced, there was such an
affability in her behaviour as really should seem to say,
she had quite took a fancy to me.  Now was not it so?--
You saw it all; and was not you quite struck with it?"

"She was certainly very civil to you."

"Civil!--Did you see nothing but only civility?--
I saw a vast deal more.  Such kindness as fell to the share
of nobody but me!--No pride, no hauteur, and your sister
just the same--all sweetness and affability!"

Elinor wished to talk of something else, but Lucy still
pressed her to own that she had reason for her happiness;
and Elinor was obliged to go on.--

"Undoubtedly, if they had known your engagement,"
said she, "nothing could be more flattering than their
treatment of you;--but as that was not the case"--

"I guessed you would say so"--replied Lucy
quickly--"but there was no reason in the world why
Mrs. Ferrars should seem to like me, if she did not,
and her liking me is every thing.  You shan't talk me
out of my satisfaction.  I am sure it will all end well,
and there will be no difficulties at all, to what I
used to think.  Mrs. Ferrars is a charming woman,
and so is your sister.  They are both delightful women,
indeed!--I wonder I should never hear you say how agreeable
Mrs. Dashwood was!"

To this Elinor had no answer to make, and did not
attempt any.

"Are you ill, Miss Dashwood?--you seem low--you
don't speak;--sure you an't well."

"I never was in better health."

"I am glad of it with all my heart; but really you did
not look it.  I should be sorry to have YOU ill; you, that have
been the greatest comfort to me in the world!--Heaven
knows what I should have done without your friendship."--

Elinor tried to make a civil answer, though doubting
her own success.  But it seemed to satisfy Lucy, for she
directly replied,

"Indeed I am perfectly convinced of your regard
for me, and next to Edward's love, it is the greatest
comfort I have.--Poor Edward!--But now there is one
good thing, we shall be able to meet, and meet pretty often,
for Lady Middleton's delighted with Mrs. Dashwood,
so we shall be a good deal in Harley Street, I dare say,
and Edward spends half his time with his sister--besides,
Lady Middleton and Mrs. Ferrars will visit now;--
and Mrs. Ferrars and your sister were both so good to say
more than once, they should always be glad to see me.--
They are such charming women!--I am sure if ever you
tell your sister what I think of her, you cannot speak
too high."

But Elinor would not give her any encouragement
to hope that she SHOULD tell her sister.  Lucy continued.

"I am sure I should have seen it in a moment,
if Mrs. Ferrars had took a dislike to me.  If she had only
made me a formal courtesy, for instance, without saying
a word, and never after had took any notice of me,
and never looked at me in a pleasant way--you know
what I mean--if I had been treated in that forbidding
sort of way, I should have gave it all up in despair.
I could not have stood it.  For where she DOES dislike,
I know it is most violent."

Elinor was prevented from making any reply to this
civil triumph, by the door's being thrown open, the servant's
announcing Mr. Ferrars, and Edward's immediately walking in.

It was a very awkward moment; and the countenance of each
shewed that it was so.  They all looked exceedingly foolish;
and Edward seemed to have as great an inclination to walk
out of the room again, as to advance farther into it.
The very circumstance, in its unpleasantest form,
which they would each have been most anxious to avoid,
had fallen on them.--They were not only all three together,
but were together without the relief of any other person.
The ladies recovered themselves first.  It was not Lucy's
business to put herself forward, and the appearance of
secrecy must still be kept up.  She could therefore only
LOOK her tenderness, and after slightly addressing him,
said no more.

But Elinor had more to do; and so anxious was she,
for his sake and her own, to do it well, that she
forced herself, after a moment's recollection,
to welcome him, with a look and manner that were almost easy,
and almost open; and another struggle, another effort still
improved them.  She would not allow the presence of Lucy,
nor the consciousness of some injustice towards herself,
to deter her from saying that she was happy to see him,
and that she had very much regretted being from home,
when he called before in Berkeley Street.  She would
not be frightened from paying him those attentions which,
as a friend and almost a relation, were his due, by the
observant eyes of Lucy, though she soon perceived them
to be narrowly watching her.

Her manners gave some re-assurance to Edward, and he
had courage enough to sit down; but his embarrassment still
exceeded that of the ladies in a proportion, which the case
rendered reasonable, though his sex might make it rare;
for his heart had not the indifference of Lucy's, nor
could his conscience have quite the ease of Elinor's.

Lucy, with a demure and settled air, seemed determined
to make no contribution to the comfort of the others,
and would not say a word; and almost every thing that WAS
said, proceeded from Elinor, who was obliged to volunteer
all the information about her mother's health, their coming
to town, &c. which Edward ought to have inquired about,
but never did.

Her exertions did not stop here; for she soon
afterwards felt herself so heroically disposed as
to determine, under pretence of fetching Marianne,
to leave the others by themselves; and she really did it,
and THAT in the handsomest manner, for she loitered away
several minutes on the landing-place, with the most
high-minded fortitude, before she went to her sister.
When that was once done, however, it was time for the raptures
of Edward to cease; for Marianne's joy hurried her into
the drawing-room immediately.  Her pleasure in seeing him
was like every other of her feelings, strong in itself,
and strongly spoken.  She met him with a hand that would
be taken, and a voice that expressed the affection of a sister.

"Dear Edward!" she cried, "this is a moment of great
happiness!--This would almost make amends for every thing?"

Edward tried to return her kindness as it deserved,
but before such witnesses he dared not say half what he
really felt.  Again they all sat down, and for a moment
or two all were silent; while Marianne was looking with the
most speaking tenderness, sometimes at Edward and sometimes
at Elinor, regretting only that their delight in each
other should be checked by Lucy's unwelcome presence.
Edward was the first to speak, and it was to notice
Marianne's altered looks, and express his fear of her
not finding London agree with her.

"Oh, don't think of me!" she replied with spirited
earnestness, though her eyes were filled with tears
as she spoke, "don't think of MY health.  Elinor is well,
you see.  That must be enough for us both."

This remark was not calculated to make Edward or
Elinor more easy, nor to conciliate the good will of Lucy,
who looked up at Marianne with no very benignant expression.

"Do you like London?" said Edward, willing to say
any thing that might introduce another subject.

"Not at all.  I expected much pleasure in it,
but I have found none.  The sight of you, Edward, is the
only comfort it has afforded; and thank Heaven! you
are what you always were!"

She paused--no one spoke.

"I think, Elinor," she presently added, "we must
employ Edward to take care of us in our return to Barton.
In a week or two, I suppose, we shall be going; and, I trust,
Edward will not be very unwilling to accept the charge."

Poor Edward muttered something, but what it was,
nobody knew, not even himself.  But Marianne, who saw
his agitation, and could easily trace it to whatever
cause best pleased herself, was perfectly satisfied,
and soon talked of something else.

"We spent such a day, Edward, in Harley Street
yesterday!  So dull, so wretchedly dull!--But I have much
to say to you on that head, which cannot be said now."

And with this admirable discretion did she defer
the assurance of her finding their mutual relatives more
disagreeable than ever, and of her being particularly
disgusted with his mother, till they were more in private.

"But why were you not there, Edward?--Why did you
not come?"

"I was engaged elsewhere."

"Engaged!  But what was that, when such friends
were to be met?"

"Perhaps, Miss Marianne," cried Lucy, eager to take
some revenge on her, "you think young men never stand
upon engagements, if they have no mind to keep them,
little as well as great."

Elinor was very angry, but Marianne seemed entirely
insensible of the sting; for she calmly replied,

"Not so, indeed; for, seriously speaking, I am very
sure that conscience only kept Edward from Harley Street.
And I really believe he HAS the most delicate conscience
in the world; the most scrupulous in performing
every engagement, however minute, and however it
may make against his interest or pleasure.  He is the
most fearful of giving pain, of wounding expectation,
and the most incapable of being selfish, of any body
I ever saw.  Edward, it is so, and I will say it.
What! are you never to hear yourself praised!--Then you
must be no friend of mine; for those who will accept
of my love and esteem, must submit to my open commendation."

The nature of her commendation, in the present case,
however, happened to be particularly ill-suited to the
feelings of two thirds of her auditors, and was so very
unexhilarating to Edward, that he very soon got up to go away.

"Going so soon!" said Marianne; "my dear Edward,
this must not be."

And drawing him a little aside, she whispered
her persuasion that Lucy could not stay much longer.
But even this encouragement failed, for he would go;
and Lucy, who would have outstaid him, had his visit lasted
two hours, soon afterwards went away.

"What can bring her here so often?" said Marianne,
on her leaving them.  "Could not she see that we wanted
her gone!--how teazing to Edward!"

"Why so?--we were all his friends, and Lucy has been
the longest known to him of any.  It is but natural
that he should like to see her as well as ourselves."

Marianne looked at her steadily, and said, "You know,
Elinor, that this is a kind of talking which I cannot bear.
If you only hope to have your assertion contradicted,
as I must suppose to be the case, you ought to recollect
that I am the last person in the world to do it.
I cannot descend to be tricked out of assurances, that are
not really wanted."

She then left the room; and Elinor dared not follow
her to say more, for bound as she was by her promise
of secrecy to Lucy, she could give no information that
would convince Marianne; and painful as the consequences
of her still continuing in an error might be, she was
obliged to submit to it.  All that she could hope, was
that Edward would not often expose her or himself to the
distress of hearing Marianne's mistaken warmth, nor to the
repetition of any other part of the pain that had attended
their recent meeting--and this she had every reason to expect.



CHAPTER 36


Within a few days after this meeting, the newspapers
announced to the world, that the lady of Thomas Palmer,
Esq. was safely delivered of a son and heir; a very
interesting and satisfactory paragraph, at least to all
those intimate connections who knew it before.

This event, highly important to Mrs. Jennings's happiness,
produced a temporary alteration in the disposal of her time,
and influenced, in a like degree, the engagements
of her young friends; for as she wished to be as much
as possible with Charlotte, she went thither every morning
as soon as she was dressed, and did not return till late
in the evening; and the Miss Dashwoods, at the particular
request of the Middletons, spent the whole of every day,
in every day in Conduit Street.  For their own comfort
they would much rather have remained, at least all
the morning, in Mrs. Jennings's house; but it was not
a thing to be urged against the wishes of everybody.
Their hours were therefore made over to Lady Middleton
and the two Miss Steeles, by whom their company, in fact
was as little valued, as it was professedly sought.

They had too much sense to be desirable companions
to the former; and by the latter they were considered with
a jealous eye, as intruding on THEIR ground, and sharing
the kindness which they wanted to monopolize.  Though nothing
could be more polite than Lady Middleton's behaviour to
Elinor and Marianne, she did not really like them at all.
Because they neither flattered herself nor her children,
she could not believe them good-natured; and because they
were fond of reading, she fancied them satirical: perhaps
without exactly knowing what it was to be satirical;
but THAT did not signify.  It was censure in common use,
and easily given.

Their presence was a restraint both on her and on Lucy.
It checked the idleness of one, and the business of the other.
Lady Middleton was ashamed of doing nothing before them,
and the flattery which Lucy was proud to think of
and administer at other times, she feared they would despise
her for offering.  Miss Steele was the least discomposed
of the three, by their presence; and it was in their power
to reconcile her to it entirely.  Would either of them
only have given her a full and minute account of the whole
affair between Marianne and Mr. Willoughby, she would
have thought herself amply rewarded for the sacrifice
of the best place by the fire after dinner, which their
arrival occasioned.  But this conciliation was not granted;
for though she often threw out expressions of pity for her
sister to Elinor, and more than once dropt a reflection
on the inconstancy of beaux before Marianne, no effect
was produced, but a look of indifference from the former,
or of disgust in the latter.  An effort even yet lighter
might have made her their friend.  Would they only have
laughed at her about the Doctor!  But so little were they,
anymore than the others, inclined to oblige her,
that if Sir John dined from home, she might spend a whole
day without hearing any other raillery on the subject,
than what she was kind enough to bestow on herself.

All these jealousies and discontents, however, were so
totally unsuspected by Mrs. Jennings, that she thought
it a delightful thing for the girls to be together;
and generally congratulated her young friends every night,
on having escaped the company of a stupid old woman so long.
She joined them sometimes at Sir John's, sometimes
at her own house; but wherever it was, she always came
in excellent spirits, full of delight and importance,
attributing Charlotte's well doing to her own care, and ready
to give so exact, so minute a detail of her situation,
as only Miss Steele had curiosity enough to desire.
One thing DID disturb her; and of that she made her
daily complaint.  Mr. Palmer maintained the common,
but unfatherly opinion among his sex, of all infants being alike;
and though she could plainly perceive, at different times,
the most striking resemblance between this baby and every
one of his relations on both sides, there was no convincing
his father of it; no persuading him to believe that it
was not exactly like every other baby of the same age;
nor could he even be brought to acknowledge the simple
proposition of its being the finest child in the world.

I come now to the relation of a misfortune,
which about this time befell Mrs. John Dashwood.
It so happened that while her two sisters with
Mrs. Jennings were first calling on her in Harley Street,
another of her acquaintance had dropt in--a circumstance
in itself not apparently likely to produce evil to her.
But while the imaginations of other people will carry
them away to form wrong judgments of our conduct,
and to decide on it by slight appearances, one's happiness
must in some measure be always at the mercy of chance.
In the present instance, this last-arrived lady allowed
her fancy to so far outrun truth and probability,
that on merely hearing the name of the Miss Dashwoods,
and understanding them to be Mr. Dashwood's sisters,
she immediately concluded them to be staying in Harley Street;
and this misconstruction produced within a day
or two afterwards, cards of invitation for them
as well as for their brother and sister, to a small
musical party at her house.  The consequence of which was,
that Mrs. John Dashwood was obliged to submit not only
to the exceedingly great inconvenience of sending her
carriage for the Miss Dashwoods, but, what was still worse,
must be subject to all the unpleasantness of appearing
to treat them with attention: and who could tell that they
might not expect to go out with her a second time?  The power
of disappointing them, it was true, must always be her's.
But that was not enough; for when people are determined
on a mode of conduct which they know to be wrong, they feel
injured by the expectation of any thing better from them.

Marianne had now been brought by degrees, so much
into the habit of going out every day, that it was become
a matter of indifference to her, whether she went or not:
and she prepared quietly and mechanically for every
evening's engagement, though without expecting the smallest
amusement from any, and very often without knowing,
till the last moment, where it was to take her.

To her dress and appearance she was grown so perfectly
indifferent, as not to bestow half the consideration on it,
during the whole of her toilet, which it received from
Miss Steele in the first five minutes of their being
together, when it was finished.  Nothing escaped HER minute
observation and general curiosity; she saw every thing,
and asked every thing; was never easy till she knew the price
of every part of Marianne's dress; could have guessed the
number of her gowns altogether with better judgment than
Marianne herself, and was not without hopes of finding out
before they parted, how much her washing cost per week,
and how much she had every year to spend upon herself.
The impertinence of these kind of scrutinies, moreover,
was generally concluded with a compliment, which
though meant as its douceur, was considered by Marianne
as the greatest impertinence of all; for after undergoing
an examination into the value and make of her gown,
the colour of her shoes, and the arrangement of her hair,
she was almost sure of being told that upon "her word
she looked vastly smart, and she dared to say she would
make a great many conquests."

With such encouragement as this, was she dismissed
on the present occasion, to her brother's carriage;
which they were ready to enter five minutes after it
stopped at the door, a punctuality not very agreeable
to their sister-in-law, who had preceded them to the house
of her acquaintance, and was there hoping for some delay
on their part that might inconvenience either herself
or her coachman.

The events of this evening were not very remarkable.
The party, like other musical parties, comprehended a
great many people who had real taste for the performance,
and a great many more who had none at all; and the performers
themselves were, as usual, in their own estimation,
and that of their immediate friends, the first private
performers in England.

As Elinor was neither musical, nor affecting to be so,
she made no scruple of turning her eyes from the grand
pianoforte, whenever it suited her, and unrestrained even
by the presence of a harp, and violoncello, would fix
them at pleasure on any other object in the room.  In one
of these excursive glances she perceived among a group
of young men, the very he, who had given them a lecture
on toothpick-cases at Gray's.  She perceived him soon
afterwards looking at herself, and speaking familiarly
to her brother; and had just determined to find out his
name from the latter, when they both came towards her,
and Mr. Dashwood introduced him to her as Mr. Robert Ferrars.

He addressed her with easy civility, and twisted
his head into a bow which assured her as plainly as
words could have done, that he was exactly the coxcomb
she had heard him described to be by Lucy.  Happy had
it been for her, if her regard for Edward had depended
less on his own merit, than on the merit of his nearest
relations!  For then his brother's bow must have given
the finishing stroke to what the ill-humour of his mother
and sister would have begun.  But while she wondered
at the difference of the two young men, she did not find
that the emptiness of conceit of the one, put her out
of all charity with the modesty and worth of the other.
Why they WERE different, Robert exclaimed to her himself
in the course of a quarter of an hour's conversation;
for, talking of his brother, and lamenting the extreme
GAUCHERIE which he really believed kept him from mixing
in proper society, he candidly and generously attributed it
much less to any natural deficiency, than to the misfortune
of a private education; while he himself, though probably
without any particular, any material superiority
by nature, merely from the advantage of a public school,
was as well fitted to mix in the world as any other man.

"Upon my soul," he added, "I believe it is nothing more;
and so I often tell my mother, when she is grieving
about it.  'My dear Madam,' I always say to her, 'you must
make yourself easy.  The evil is now irremediable,
and it has been entirely your own doing.  Why would
you be persuaded by my uncle, Sir Robert, against your
own judgment, to place Edward under private tuition,
at the most critical time of his life?  If you had only sent
him to Westminster as well as myself, instead of sending
him to Mr. Pratt's, all this would have been prevented.'
This is the way in which I always consider the matter,
and my mother is perfectly convinced of her error."

Elinor would not oppose his opinion, because,
whatever might be her general estimation of the advantage
of a public school, she could not think of Edward's
abode in Mr. Pratt's family, with any satisfaction.

"You reside in Devonshire, I think,"--was his
next observation, "in a cottage near Dawlish."

Elinor set him right as to its situation;
and it seemed rather surprising to him that anybody
could live in Devonshire, without living near Dawlish.
He bestowed his hearty approbation however on their
species of house.

"For my own part," said he, "I am excessively fond
of a cottage; there is always so much comfort, so much
elegance about them.  And I protest, if I had any money
to spare, I should buy a little land and build one myself,
within a short distance of London, where I might drive
myself down at any time, and collect a few friends
about me, and be happy.  I advise every body who is going
to build, to build a cottage.  My friend Lord Courtland
came to me the other day on purpose to ask my advice,
and laid before me three different plans of Bonomi's.
I was to decide on the best of them.  'My dear Courtland,'
said I, immediately throwing them all into the fire, 'do not
adopt either of them, but by all means build a cottage.'
And that I fancy, will be the end of it.

"Some people imagine that there can be no accommodations,
no space in a cottage; but this is all a mistake.
I was last month at my friend Elliott's, near Dartford.
Lady Elliott wished to give a dance.  'But how can it
be done?' said she; 'my dear Ferrars, do tell me how it
is to be managed.  There is not a room in this cottage
that will hold ten couple, and where can the supper be?'
I immediately saw that there could be no difficulty in it,
so I said, 'My dear Lady Elliott, do not be uneasy.
The dining parlour will admit eighteen couple with ease;
card-tables may be placed in the drawing-room; the library
may be open for tea and other refreshments; and let the
supper be set out in the saloon.'  Lady Elliott was delighted
with the thought.  We measured the dining-room, and found
it would hold exactly eighteen couple, and the affair
was arranged precisely after my plan.  So that, in fact,
you see, if people do but know how to set about it,
every comfort may be as well enjoyed in a cottage
as in the most spacious dwelling."

Elinor agreed to it all, for she did not think
he deserved the compliment of rational opposition.

As John Dashwood had no more pleasure in music than his
eldest sister, his mind was equally at liberty to fix on
any thing else; and a thought struck him during the evening,
which he communicated to his wife, for her approbation,
when they got home.  The consideration of Mrs. Dennison's
mistake,
in supposing his sisters their guests, had suggested the
propriety of their being really invited to become such,
while Mrs. Jenning's engagements kept her from home.
The expense would be nothing, the inconvenience not more;
and it was altogether an attention which the delicacy
of his conscience pointed out to be requisite to its
complete enfranchisement from his promise to his father.
Fanny was startled at the proposal.

"I do not see how it can be done," said she,
"without affronting Lady Middleton, for they spend every day
with her; otherwise I should be exceedingly glad to do it.
You know I am always ready to pay them any attention
in my power, as my taking them out this evening shews.
But they are Lady Middleton's visitors.  How can I ask them
away from her?"

Her husband, but with great humility, did not see
the force of her objection.  "They had already spent a week
in this manner in Conduit Street, and Lady Middleton
could not be displeased at their giving the same number
of days to such near relations."

Fanny paused a moment, and then, with fresh vigor, said,

"My love I would ask them with all my heart, if it
was in my power.  But I had just settled within myself
to ask the Miss Steeles to spend a few days with us.
They are very well behaved, good kind of girls; and I think
the attention is due to them, as their uncle did so very
well by Edward.  We can ask your sisters some other year,
you know; but the Miss Steeles may not be in town any more.
I am sure you will like them; indeed, you DO like them,
you know, very much already, and so does my mother; and they
are such favourites with Harry!"

Mr. Dashwood was convinced.  He saw the necessity
of inviting the Miss Steeles immediately, and his conscience
was pacified by the resolution of inviting his sisters
another year; at the same time, however, slyly suspecting
that another year would make the invitation needless,
by bringing Elinor to town as Colonel Brandon's wife,
and Marianne as THEIR visitor.

Fanny, rejoicing in her escape, and proud of the ready
wit that had procured it, wrote the next morning to Lucy,
to request her company and her sister's, for some days,
in Harley Street, as soon as Lady Middleton could spare them.
This was enough to make Lucy really and reasonably happy.
Mrs. Dashwood seemed actually working for her, herself;
cherishing all her hopes, and promoting all her views!
Such an opportunity of being with Edward and his family was,
above all things, the most material to her interest,
and such an invitation the most gratifying to her
feelings!  It was an advantage that could not be too
gratefully acknowledged, nor too speedily made use of;
and the visit to Lady Middleton, which had not before had
any precise limits, was instantly discovered to have been
always meant to end in two days' time.

When the note was shown to Elinor, as it was within ten
minutes after its arrival, it gave her, for the first time,
some share in the expectations of Lucy; for such a mark
of uncommon kindness, vouchsafed on so short an acquaintance,
seemed to declare that the good-will towards her arose
from something more than merely malice against herself;
and might be brought, by time and address, to do
every thing that Lucy wished.  Her flattery had already
subdued the pride of Lady Middleton, and made an entry
into the close heart of Mrs. John Dashwood; and these
were effects that laid open the probability of greater.

The Miss Steeles removed to Harley Street, and all
that reached Elinor of their influence there, strengthened
her expectation of the event.  Sir John, who called on
them more than once, brought home such accounts of the
favour they were in, as must be universally striking.
Mrs. Dashwood had never been so much pleased with any
young women in her life, as she was with them; had given
each of them a needle book made by some emigrant;
called Lucy by her Christian name; and did not know
whether she should ever be able to part with them.





[At this point in the first and second editions, Volume II ended.]




CHAPTER 37


Mrs. Palmer was so well at the end of a fortnight,
that her mother felt it no longer necessary to give up
the whole of her time to her; and, contenting herself with
visiting her once or twice a day, returned from that period
to her own home, and her own habits, in which she found
the Miss Dashwoods very ready to resume their former share.

About the third or fourth morning after their
being thus resettled in Berkeley Street, Mrs. Jennings,
on returning from her ordinary visit to Mrs. Palmer,
entered the drawing-room, where Elinor was sitting
by herself, with an air of such hurrying importance
as prepared her to hear something wonderful; and giving her
time only to form that idea, began directly to justify it,
by saying,

"Lord! my dear Miss Dashwood! have you heard the news?"

"No, ma'am.  What is it?"

"Something so strange!  But you shall hear it all.--
When I got to Mr. Palmer's, I found Charlotte quite
in a fuss about the child.  She was sure it was very
ill--it cried, and fretted, and was all over pimples.
So I looked at it directly, and, 'Lord! my dear,'
says I, 'it is nothing in the world, but the red gum--'
and nurse said just the same.  But Charlotte, she would
not be satisfied, so Mr. Donavan was sent for; and luckily
he happened to just come in from Harley Street, so he
stepped over directly, and as soon as ever he saw the child,
be said just as we did, that it was nothing in the world
but the red gum, and then Charlotte was easy.  And so,
just as he was going away again, it came into my head,
I am sure I do not know how I happened to think of it,
but it came into my head to ask him if there was any news.
So upon that, he smirked, and simpered, and looked grave,
and seemed to know something or other, and at last he
said in a whisper, 'For fear any unpleasant report
should reach the young ladies under your care as to their
sister's indisposition, I think it advisable to say,
that I believe there is no great reason for alarm; I hope
Mrs. Dashwood will do very well.'"

"What! is Fanny ill?"

"That is exactly what I said, my dear.  'Lord!' says I,
'is Mrs. Dashwood ill?' So then it all came out; and the
long and the short of the matter, by all I can learn,
seems to be this.  Mr. Edward Ferrars, the very young
man I used to joke with you about (but however, as it
turns out, I am monstrous glad there was never any thing
in it), Mr. Edward Ferrars, it seems, has been engaged
above this twelvemonth to my cousin Lucy!--There's for you,
my dear!--And not a creature knowing a syllable of the matter,
except Nancy!--Could you have believed such a thing possible?--
There is no great wonder in their liking one another;
but that matters should be brought so forward between them,
and nobody suspect it!--THAT is strange!--I never happened
to see them together, or I am sure I should have found it
out directly.  Well, and so this was kept a great secret,
for fear of Mrs. Ferrars, and neither she nor your
brother or sister suspected a word of the matter;--
till this very morning, poor Nancy, who, you know, is a
well-meaning creature, but no conjurer, popt it all out.
'Lord!' thinks she to herself, 'they are all so fond
of Lucy, to be sure they will make no difficulty about it;'
and so, away she went to your sister, who was sitting all
alone at her carpet-work, little suspecting what was to
come--for she had just been saying to your brother, only five
minutes before, that she thought to make a match between
Edward and some Lord's daughter or other, I forget who.
So you may think what a blow it was to all her vanity
and pride.  She fell into violent hysterics immediately,
with such screams as reached your brother's ears,
as he was sitting in his own dressing-room down stairs,
thinking about writing a letter to his steward in the country.
So up he flew directly, and a terrible scene took place,
for Lucy was come to them by that time, little dreaming
what was going on.  Poor soul!  I pity HER.  And I must say,
I think she was used very hardly; for your sister scolded
like any fury, and soon drove her into a fainting fit.
Nancy, she fell upon her knees, and cried bitterly;
and your brother, he walked about the room, and said
he did not know what to do.  Mrs. Dashwood declared
they should not stay a minute longer in the house,
and your brother was forced to go down upon HIS knees too,
to persuade her to let them stay till they had packed
up their clothes.  THEN she fell into hysterics again,
and he was so frightened that he would send for Mr. Donavan,
and Mr. Donavan found the house in all this uproar.
The carriage was at the door ready to take my poor
cousins away, and they were just stepping in as he
came off; poor Lucy in such a condition, he says,
she could hardly walk; and Nancy, she was almost as bad.
I declare, I have no patience with your sister; and I hope,
with all my heart, it will be a match in spite of her.
Lord! what a taking poor Mr. Edward will be in when he
hears of it!  To have his love used so scornfully! for
they say he is monstrous fond of her, as well he may.
I should not wonder, if he was to be in the greatest
passion!--and Mr. Donavan thinks just the same.  He and I
had a great deal of talk about it; and the best of all is,
that he is gone back again to Harley Street, that he may
be within call when Mrs. Ferrars is told of it, for she
was sent for as soon as ever my cousins left the house,
for your sister was sure SHE would be in hysterics too;
and so she may, for what I care.  I have no pity for
either of them.  I have no notion of people's making
such a to-do about money and greatness.  There is no
reason on earth why Mr. Edward and Lucy should not marry;
for I am sure Mrs. Ferrars may afford to do very well
by her son, and though Lucy has next to nothing herself,
she knows better than any body how to make the most
of every thing; I dare say, if Mrs. Ferrars would only
allow him five hundred a-year, she would make as good
an appearance with it as any body else would with eight.
Lord! how snug they might live in such another cottage
as yours--or a little bigger--with two maids, and two men;
and I believe I could help them to a housemaid, for my
Betty has a sister out of place, that would fit them
exactly."

Here Mrs. Jennings ceased, and as Elinor had had
time enough to collect her thoughts, she was able
to give such an answer, and make such observations,
as the subject might naturally be supposed to produce.
Happy to find that she was not suspected of any extraordinary
interest in it; that Mrs. Jennings (as she had of late
often hoped might be the case) had ceased to imagine her
at all attached to Edward; and happy above all the rest,
in the absence of Marianne, she felt very well able
to speak of the affair without embarrassment, and to
give her judgment, as she believed, with impartiality
on the conduct of every one concerned in it.

She could hardly determine what her own expectation
of its event really was; though she earnestly tried
to drive away the notion of its being possible to end
otherwise at last, than in the marriage of Edward and Lucy.
What Mrs. Ferrars would say and do, though there could
not be a doubt of its nature, she was anxious to hear;
and still more anxious to know how Edward would
conduct himself.  For HIM she felt much compassion;--
for Lucy very little--and it cost her some pains to procure
that little;--for the rest of the party none at all.

As Mrs. Jennings could talk on no other subject,
Elinor soon saw the necessity of preparing Marianne for
its discussion.  No time was to be lost in undeceiving her,
in making her acquainted with the real truth, and in
endeavouring to bring her to hear it talked of by others,
without betraying that she felt any uneasiness for her sister,
or any resentment against Edward.

Elinor's office was a painful one.--She was going
to remove what she really believed to be her sister's
chief consolation,--to give such particulars of Edward as she
feared would ruin him for ever in her good opinion,-and
to make Marianne, by a resemblance in their situations,
which to HER fancy would seem strong, feel all her own
disappointment over again.  But unwelcome as such a task
must be, it was necessary to be done, and Elinor therefore
hastened to perform it.

She was very far from wishing to dwell on her own
feelings, or to represent herself as suffering much,
any otherwise than as the self-command she had practised
since her first knowledge of Edward's engagement, might
suggest a hint of what was practicable to Marianne.
Her narration was clear and simple; and though it could
not be given without emotion, it was not accompanied
by violent agitation, nor impetuous grief.--THAT belonged
rather to the hearer, for Marianne listened with horror,
and cried excessively.  Elinor was to be the comforter
of others in her own distresses, no less than in theirs;
and all the comfort that could be given by assurances
of her own composure of mind, and a very earnest
vindication of Edward from every charge but of imprudence,
was readily offered.

But Marianne for some time would give credit to neither.
Edward seemed a second Willoughby; and acknowledging
as Elinor did, that she HAD loved him most sincerely,
could she feel less than herself!  As for Lucy Steele,
she considered her so totally unamiable, so absolutely
incapable of attaching a sensible man, that she could
not be persuaded at first to believe, and afterwards
to pardon, any former affection of Edward for her.
She would not even admit it to have been natural;
and Elinor left her to be convinced that it was so,
by that which only could convince her, a better knowledge
of mankind.

Her first communication had reached no farther than
to state the fact of the engagement, and the length of time
it had existed.--Marianne's feelings had then broken in,
and put an end to all regularity of detail; and for some
time all that could be done was to soothe her distress,
lessen her alarms, and combat her resentment.  The first
question on her side, which led to farther particulars,
was,

"How long has this been known to you, Elinor? has
he written to you?"

"I have known it these four months.  When Lucy
first came to Barton Park last November, she told me
in confidence of her engagement."

At these words, Marianne's eyes expressed the astonishment
which her lips could not utter.  After a pause of wonder,
she exclaimed--

"Four months!--Have you known of this four months?"

Elinor confirmed it.

"What!--while attending me in all my misery, has this
been on your heart?--And I have reproached you for being
happy!"--

"It was not fit that you should then know how much
I was the reverse!"

"Four months!"--cried Marianne again.--"So calm!--
so cheerful!--how have you been supported?"--

"By feeling that I was doing my duty.--My promise to
Lucy, obliged me to be secret.  I owed it to her, therefore,
to avoid giving any hint of the truth; and I owed it to my
family and friends, not to create in them a solicitude about me,
which it could not be in my power to satisfy."

Marianne seemed much struck.

"I have very often wished to undeceive yourself and my
mother," added Elinor; "and once or twice I have attempted it;--
but without betraying my trust, I never could have convinced
you."

"Four months!--and yet you loved him!"--

"Yes. But I did not love only him;--and while the comfort
of others was dear to me, I was glad to spare them from knowing
how much I felt.  Now, I can think and speak of it with
little emotion.  I would not have you suffer on my account;
for I assure you I no longer suffer materially myself.
I have many things to support me.  I am not conscious of having
provoked the disappointment by any imprudence of my own,
I have borne it as much as possible without spreading
it farther.  I acquit Edward of essential misconduct.
I wish him very happy; and I am so sure of his always
doing his duty, that though now he may harbour some regret,
in the end he must become so.  Lucy does not want sense,
and that is the foundation on which every thing good may
be built.--And after all, Marianne, after all that is
bewitching in the idea of a single and constant attachment,
and all that can be said of one's happiness depending
entirely on any particular person, it is not meant--it
is not fit--it is not possible that it should be so.--
Edward will marry Lucy; he will marry a woman superior
in person and understanding to half her sex; and time
and habit will teach him to forget that he ever thought
another superior to HER."--

"If such is your way of thinking," said Marianne,
"if the loss of what is most valued is so easily
to be made up by something else, your resolution,
your self-command, are, perhaps, a little less to be
wondered at.--They are brought more within my comprehension."

"I understand you.--You do not suppose that I have ever
felt much.--For four months, Marianne, I have had all this
hanging on my mind, without being at liberty to speak
of it to a single creature; knowing that it would make
you and my mother most unhappy whenever it were explained
to you, yet unable to prepare you for it in the least.--
It was told me,--it was in a manner forced on me by the
very person herself, whose prior engagement ruined all
my prospects; and told me, as I thought, with triumph.--
This person's suspicions, therefore, I have had to oppose,
by endeavouring to appear indifferent where I have been most
deeply interested;--and it has not been only once;--I have
had her hopes and exultation to listen to again and again.--
I have known myself to be divided from Edward for ever,
without hearing one circumstance that could make me less
desire the connection.--Nothing has proved him unworthy;
nor has anything declared him indifferent to me.--
I have had to contend against the unkindness of his sister,
and the insolence of his mother; and have suffered the
punishment of an attachment, without enjoying its advantages.--
And all this has been going on at a time, when, as you
know too well, it has not been my only unhappiness.--
If you can think me capable of ever feeling--surely you
may suppose that I have suffered NOW.  The composure
of mind with which I have brought myself at present
to consider the matter, the consolation that I have been
willing to admit, have been the effect of constant and
painful exertion;--they did not spring up of themselves;--
they did not occur to relieve my spirits at first.--
No, Marianne.--THEN, if I had not been bound to silence,
perhaps nothing could have kept me entirely--not even what I
owed to my dearest friends--from openly shewing that I was
VERY unhappy."--

Marianne was quite subdued.--

"Oh! Elinor," she cried, "you have made me hate
myself for ever.--How barbarous have I been to you!--
you, who have been my only comfort, who have borne with me
in all my misery, who have seemed to be only suffering
for me!--Is this my gratitude?--Is this the only return I
can make you?--Because your merit cries out upon myself,
I have been trying to do it away."

The tenderest caresses followed this confession.
In such a frame of mind as she was now in, Elinor had
no difficulty in obtaining from her whatever promise
she required; and at her request, Marianne engaged
never to speak of the affair to any one with the least
appearance of bitterness;--to meet Lucy without betraying
the smallest increase of dislike to her;--and even to see
Edward himself, if chance should bring them together,
without any diminution of her usual cordiality.--
These were great concessions;--but where Marianne felt
that she had injured, no reparation could be too much
for her to make.

She performed her promise of being discreet,
to admiration.--She attended to all that Mrs. Jennings
had to say upon the subject, with an unchanging complexion,
dissented from her in nothing, and was heard three
times to say, "Yes, ma'am."--She listened to her praise
of Lucy with only moving from one chair to another,
and when Mrs. Jennings talked of Edward's affection,
it cost her only a spasm in her throat.--Such advances
towards heroism in her sister, made Elinor feel equal
to any thing herself.

The next morning brought a farther trial of it,
in a visit from their brother, who came with a most serious
aspect to talk over the dreadful affair, and bring them
news of his wife.

"You have heard, I suppose," said he with great solemnity,
as soon as he was seated, "of the very shocking discovery
that took place under our roof yesterday."

They all looked their assent; it seemed too awful
a moment for speech.

"Your sister," he continued, "has suffered dreadfully.
Mrs. Ferrars too--in short it has been a scene of such
complicated distress--but I will hope that the storm may
be weathered without our being any of us quite overcome.
Poor Fanny! she was in hysterics all yesterday.
But I would not alarm you too much.  Donavan says there
is nothing materially to be apprehended; her constitution
is a good one, and her resolution equal to any thing.
She has borne it all, with the fortitude of an angel!
She says she never shall think well of anybody again;
and one cannot wonder at it, after being so deceived!--
meeting with such ingratitude, where so much kindness
had been shewn, so much confidence had been placed!  It
was quite out of the benevolence of her heart, that she
had asked these young women to her house; merely because
she thought they deserved some attention, were harmless,
well-behaved girls, and would be pleasant companions;
for otherwise we both wished very much to have invited you
and Marianne to be with us, while your kind friend there,
was attending her daughter.  And now to be so rewarded!
'I wish, with all my heart,' says poor Fanny in her
affectionate way, 'that we had asked your sisters instead
of them.'"

Here he stopped to be thanked; which being done,
he went on.

"What poor Mrs. Ferrars suffered, when first Fanny
broke it to her, is not to be described.  While she with
the truest affection had been planning a most eligible
connection for him, was it to be supposed that he could
be all the time secretly engaged to another person!--such
a suspicion could never have entered her head!  If she
suspected ANY prepossession elsewhere, it could not be
in THAT quarter.  'THERE, to be sure,' said she, 'I might
have thought myself safe.' She was quite in an agony.
We consulted together, however, as to what should be done,
and at last she determined to send for Edward.
He came.  But I am sorry to relate what ensued.
All that Mrs. Ferrars could say to make him put an end
to the engagement, assisted too as you may well suppose
by my arguments, and Fanny's entreaties, was of
no avail.  Duty, affection, every thing was disregarded.
I never thought Edward so stubborn, so unfeeling before.
His mother explained to him her liberal designs, in case
of his marrying Miss Morton; told him she would settle on
him the Norfolk estate, which, clear of land-tax, brings
in a good thousand a-year; offered even, when matters
grew desperate, to make it twelve hundred; and in opposition
to this, if he still persisted in this low connection,
represented to him the certain penury that must attend
the match.  His own two thousand pounds she protested
should be his all; she would never see him again; and so far
would she be from affording him the smallest assistance,
that if he were to enter into any profession with a view
of better support, she would do all in her power to prevent
him advancing in it."

Here Marianne, in an ecstasy of indignation,
clapped her hands together, and cried, "Gracious God!
can this be possible!"

"Well may you wonder, Marianne," replied her brother,
"at the obstinacy which could resist such arguments as these.
Your exclamation is very natural."

Marianne was going to retort, but she remembered
her promises, and forbore.

"All this, however," he continued, "was urged in vain.
Edward said very little; but what he did say, was in
the most determined manner.  Nothing should prevail on
him to give up his engagement.  He would stand to it,
cost him what it might."

"Then," cried Mrs. Jennings with blunt sincerity,
no longer able to be silent, "he has acted like an honest
man! I beg your pardon, Mr. Dashwood, but if he had
done otherwise, I should have thought him a rascal.
I have some little concern in the business, as well
as yourself, for Lucy Steele is my cousin, and I believe
there is not a better kind of girl in the world, nor one
who more deserves a good husband."

John Dashwood was greatly astonished; but his nature
was calm, not open to provocation, and he never wished
to offend anybody, especially anybody of good fortune.
He therefore replied, without any resentment,

"I would by no means speak disrespectfully of any
relation of yours, madam.  Miss Lucy Steele is, I dare say,
a very deserving young woman, but in the present case
you know, the connection must be impossible.
And to have entered into a secret engagement with a
young man under her uncle's care, the son of a woman
especially of such very large fortune as Mrs. Ferrars,
is perhaps, altogether a little extraordinary. In short,
I do not mean to reflect upon the behaviour of any person
whom you have a regard for, Mrs. Jennings.  We all wish
her extremely happy; and Mrs. Ferrars's conduct throughout
the whole, has been such as every conscientious, good mother,
in like circumstances, would adopt.  It has been dignified
and liberal.  Edward has drawn his own lot, and I fear
it will be a bad one."

Marianne sighed out her similar apprehension;
and Elinor's heart wrung for the feelings of Edward,
while braving his mother's threats, for a woman who could
not reward him.

"Well, sir," said Mrs. Jennings, "and how did it end?"

"I am sorry to say, ma'am, in a most unhappy rupture:--
Edward is dismissed for ever from his mother's notice.
He left her house yesterday, but where he is gone, or whether
he is still in town, I do not know; for WE of course can
make no inquiry."

"Poor young man!--and what is to become of him?"

"What, indeed, ma'am!  It is a melancholy consideration.
Born to the prospect of such affluence!  I cannot conceive
a situation more deplorable.  The interest of two thousand
pounds--how can a man live on it?--and when to that is added
the recollection, that he might, but for his own folly,
within three months have been in the receipt of two
thousand, five hundred a-year (for Miss Morton has
thirty thousand pounds,) I cannot picture to myself
a more wretched condition.  We must all feel for him;
and the more so, because it is totally out of our power
to assist him."

"Poor young man!" cried Mrs. Jennings, "I am sure
he should be very welcome to bed and board at my house;
and so I would tell him if I could see him.  It is not fit
that he should be living about at his own charge now,
at lodgings and taverns."

Elinor's heart thanked her for such kindness towards Edward,
though she could not forbear smiling at the form of it.

"If he would only have done as well by himself,"
said John Dashwood, "as all his friends were disposed to do
by him, he might now have been in his proper situation,
and would have wanted for nothing.  But as it is, it must
be out of anybody's power to assist him.  And there is one
thing more preparing against him, which must be worse than
all--his mother has determined, with a very natural kind
of spirit, to settle THAT estate upon Robert immediately,
which might have been Edward's, on proper conditions.
I left her this morning with her lawyer, talking over
the business."

"Well!" said Mrs. Jennings, "that is HER revenge.
Everybody has a way of their own.  But I don't think mine
would be, to make one son independent, because another had
plagued me."

Marianne got up and walked about the room.

"Can anything be more galling to the spirit of a man,"
continued John, "than to see his younger brother in
possession of an estate which might have been his own?
Poor Edward!  I feel for him sincerely."

A few minutes more spent in the same kind of effusion,
concluded his visit; and with repeated assurances to his
sisters that he really believed there was no material
danger in Fanny's indisposition, and that they need
not therefore be very uneasy about it, he went away;
leaving the three ladies unanimous in their sentiments
on the present occasion, as far at least as it regarded
Mrs. Ferrars's conduct, the Dashwoods', and Edward's.

Marianne's indignation burst forth as soon as he
quitted the room; and as her vehemence made reserve
impossible in Elinor, and unnecessary in Mrs. Jennings,
they all joined in a very spirited critique upon the party.



CHAPTER 38


Mrs. Jennings was very warm in her praise of Edward's
conduct, but only Elinor and Marianne understood its
true merit.  THEY only knew how little he had had to tempt
him to be disobedient, and how small was the consolation,
beyond the consciousness of doing right, that could
remain to him in the loss of friends and fortune.
Elinor gloried in his integrity; and Marianne forgave all
his offences in compassion for his punishment.  But though
confidence between them was, by this public discovery,
restored to its proper state, it was not a subject on
which either of them were fond of dwelling when alone.
Elinor avoided it upon principle, as tending to fix still
more upon her thoughts, by the too warm, too positive
assurances of Marianne, that belief of Edward's continued
affection for herself which she rather wished to do away;
and Marianne's courage soon failed her, in trying
to converse upon a topic which always left her more
dissatisfied with herself than ever, by the comparison
it necessarily produced between Elinor's conduct and her own.

She felt all the force of that comparison; but not
as her sister had hoped, to urge her to exertion now;
she felt it with all the pain of continual self-reproach,
regretted most bitterly that she had never exerted
herself before; but it brought only the torture of penitence,
without the hope of amendment.  Her mind was so much weakened
that she still fancied present exertion impossible,
and therefore it only dispirited her more.

Nothing new was heard by them, for a day or two afterwards,
of affairs in Harley Street, or Bartlett's Buildings.
But though so much of the matter was known to them already,
that Mrs. Jennings might have had enough to do in spreading
that knowledge farther, without seeking after more,
she had resolved from the first to pay a visit of comfort
and inquiry to her cousins as soon as she could;
and nothing but the hindrance of more visitors than usual,
had prevented her going to them within that time.

The third day succeeding their knowledge of the
particulars, was so fine, so beautiful a Sunday as to draw
many to Kensington Gardens, though it was only the second
week in March.  Mrs. Jennings and Elinor were of the number;
but Marianne, who knew that the Willoughbys were again
in town, and had a constant dread of meeting them,
chose rather to stay at home, than venture into so public
a place.

An intimate acquaintance of Mrs. Jennings joined
them soon after they entered the Gardens, and Elinor was
not sorry that by her continuing with them, and engaging
all Mrs. Jennings's conversation, she was herself left
to quiet reflection.  She saw nothing of the Willoughbys,
nothing of Edward, and for some time nothing of anybody
who could by any chance whether grave or gay, be interesting
to her.  But at last she found herself with some surprise,
accosted by Miss Steele, who, though looking rather shy,
expressed great satisfaction in meeting them, and on receiving
encouragement from the particular kindness of Mrs. Jennings,
left her own party for a short time, to join their's.
Mrs. Jennings immediately whispered to Elinor,

"Get it all out of her, my dear.  She will tell you
any thing if you ask.  You see I cannot leave Mrs. Clarke."

It was lucky, however, for Mrs. Jennings's curiosity
and Elinor's too, that she would tell any thing WITHOUT
being asked; for nothing would otherwise have been learnt.

"I am so glad to meet you;" said Miss Steele,
taking her familiarly by the arm--"for I wanted to see you
of all things in the world."  And then lowering her voice,
"I suppose Mrs. Jennings has heard all about it.
Is she angry?"

"Not at all, I believe, with you."

"That is a good thing.  And Lady Middleton, is SHE angry?"

"I cannot suppose it possible that she should."

"I am monstrous glad of it.  Good gracious!  I have
had such a time of it!  I never saw Lucy in such a rage
in my life.  She vowed at first she would never trim me
up a new bonnet, nor do any thing else for me again,
so long as she lived; but now she is quite come to,
and we are as good friends as ever.  Look, she made me
this bow to my hat, and put in the feather last night.
There now, YOU are going to laugh at me too.  But why
should not I wear pink ribbons?  I do not care if it IS
the Doctor's favourite colour.  I am sure, for my part,
I should never have known he DID like it better than
any other colour, if he had not happened to say so.
My cousins have been so plaguing me!  I declare sometimes
I do not know which way to look before them."

She had wandered away to a subject on which Elinor
had nothing to say, and therefore soon judged it expedient
to find her way back again to the first.

"Well, but Miss Dashwood," speaking triumphantly,
"people may say what they chuse about Mr. Ferrars's
declaring he would not have Lucy, for it is no such thing
I can tell you; and it is quite a shame for such ill-natured
reports to be spread abroad.  Whatever Lucy might think
about it herself, you know, it was no business of other
people to set it down for certain."

"I never heard any thing of the kind hinted at before,
I assure you," said Elinor.

"Oh, did not you?  But it WAS said, I know, very well,
and by more than one; for Miss Godby told Miss Sparks,
that nobody in their senses could expect Mr. Ferrars
to give up a woman like Miss Morton, with thirty thousand
pounds to her fortune, for Lucy Steele that had
nothing at all; and I had it from Miss Sparks myself.
And besides that, my cousin Richard said himself,
that when it came to the point he was afraid Mr. Ferrars
would be off; and when Edward did not come near us
for three days, I could not tell what to think myself;
and I believe in my heart Lucy gave it up all for lost;
for we came away from your brother's Wednesday,
and we saw nothing of him not all Thursday, Friday,
and Saturday, and did not know what was become of him.
Once Lucy thought to write to him, but then her spirits
rose against that.  However this morning he came just
as we came home from church; and then it all came out,
how he had been sent for Wednesday to Harley Street,
and been talked to by his mother and all of them,
and how he had declared before them all that he loved
nobody but Lucy, and nobody but Lucy would he have.
And how he had been so worried by what passed,
that as soon as he had went away from his mother's house,
he had got upon his horse, and rid into the country,
some where or other; and how he had stayed about at an inn
all Thursday and Friday, on purpose to get the better
of it.  And after thinking it all over and over again,
he said, it seemed to him as if, now he had no fortune,
and no nothing at all, it would be quite unkind to keep
her on to the engagement, because it must be for her loss,
for he had nothing but two thousand pounds, and no hope
of any thing else; and if he was to go into orders,
as he had some thoughts, he could get nothing but a curacy,
and how was they to live upon that?--He could not bear
to think of her doing no better, and so he begged,
if she had the least mind for it, to put an end to the
matter directly, and leave him shift for himself.
I heard him say all this as plain as could possibly be.
And it was entirely for HER sake, and upon HER account,
that he said a word about being off, and not upon his own.
I will take my oath he never dropt a syllable of being
tired of her, or of wishing to marry Miss Morton, or any
thing like it.  But, to be sure, Lucy would not give
ear to such kind of talking; so she told him directly
(with a great deal about sweet and love, you know,
and all that--Oh, la! one can't repeat such kind of things
you know)--she told him directly, she had not the least
mind in the world to be off, for she could live with him
upon a trifle, and how little so ever he might have,
she should be very glad to have it all, you know,
or something of the kind.  So then he was monstrous happy,
and talked on some time about what they should do,
and they agreed he should take orders directly,
and they must wait to be married till he got a living.
And just then I could not hear any more, for my cousin
called from below to tell me Mrs. Richardson was come in
her coach, and would take one of us to Kensington Gardens;
so I was forced to go into the room and interrupt them,
to ask Lucy if she would like to go, but she did not
care to leave Edward; so I just run up stairs and put
on a pair of silk stockings and came off with the Richardsons."

"I do not understand what you mean by interrupting them,"
said Elinor; "you were all in the same room together,
were not you?"

"No, indeed, not us.  La! Miss Dashwood, do you
think people make love when any body else is by?  Oh,
for shame!--To be sure you must know better than that.
(Laughing affectedly.)--No, no; they were shut up in the
drawing-room together, and all I heard was only by listening
at the door."

"How!" cried Elinor; "have you been repeating to me
what you only learnt yourself by listening at the door?
I am sorry I did not know it before; for I certainly
would not have suffered you to give me particulars of a
conversation which you ought not to have known yourself.
How could you behave so unfairly by your sister?"

"Oh, la! there is nothing in THAT.  I only stood at
the door, and heard what I could.  And I am sure Lucy would
have done just the same by me; for a year or two back,
when Martha Sharpe and I had so many secrets together,
she never made any bones of hiding in a closet, or behind
a chimney-board, on purpose to hear what we said."

Elinor tried to talk of something else; but Miss
Steele could not be kept beyond a couple of minutes,
from what was uppermost in her mind.

"Edward talks of going to Oxford soon," said she;
"but now he is lodging at No. --, Pall Mall.  What an
ill-natured woman his mother is, an't she? And your
brother and sister were not very kind! However,
I shan't say anything against them to YOU; and to be sure
they did send us home in their own chariot, which
was more than I looked for.  And for my part, I was all
in a fright for fear your sister should ask us for the
huswifes she had gave us a day or two before; but, however,
nothing was said about them, and I took care to keep mine
out of sight.  Edward have got some business at Oxford,
he says; so he must go there for a time; and after THAT,
as soon as he can light upon a Bishop, he will be ordained.
I wonder what curacy he will get!--Good gracious!
(giggling as she spoke) I'd lay my life I know what
my cousins will say, when they hear of it.  They will
tell me I should write to the Doctor, to get Edward
the curacy of his new living.  I know they will; but I am
sure I would not do such a thing for all the world.--
'La!' I shall say directly, 'I wonder how you could think
of such a thing?  I write to the Doctor, indeed!'"

"Well," said Elinor, "it is a comfort to be prepared
against the worst.  You have got your answer ready."

Miss Steele was going to reply on the same subject,
but the approach of her own party made another more necessary.

"Oh, la! here come the Richardsons.  I had a vast deal
more to say to you, but I must not stay away from them not
any longer.  I assure you they are very genteel people.
He makes a monstrous deal of money, and they keep their
own coach.  I have not time to speak to Mrs. Jennings about
it myself, but pray tell her I am quite happy to hear she
is not in anger against us, and Lady Middleton the same;
and if anything should happen to take you and your
sister away, and Mrs. Jennings should want company,
I am sure we should be very glad to come and stay with her
for as long a time as she likes.  I suppose Lady Middleton
won't ask us any more this bout.  Good-by; I am sorry
Miss Marianne was not here.  Remember me kindly to her.
La! if you have not got your spotted muslin on!--I wonder
you was not afraid of its being torn."

Such was her parting concern; for after this, she had
time only to pay her farewell compliments to Mrs. Jennings,
before her company was claimed by Mrs. Richardson;
and Elinor was left in possession of knowledge which
might feed her powers of reflection some time, though she
had learnt very little more than what had been already
foreseen and foreplanned in her own mind.  Edward's marriage
with Lucy was as firmly determined on, and the time
of its taking place remained as absolutely uncertain,
as she had concluded it would be;--every thing depended,
exactly after her expectation, on his getting that preferment,
of which, at present, there seemed not the smallest chance.

As soon as they returned to the carriage,
Mrs. Jennings was eager for information; but as Elinor
wished to spread as little as possible intelligence
that had in the first place been so unfairly obtained,
she confined herself to the brief repetition of such
simple particulars, as she felt assured that Lucy,
for the sake of her own consequence, would choose
to have known.  The continuance of their engagement,
and the means that were able to be taken for promoting
its end, was all her communication; and this produced
from Mrs. Jennings the following natural remark.

"Wait for his having a living!--ay, we all know how
THAT will end:--they will wait a twelvemonth, and finding
no good comes of it, will set down upon a curacy of fifty
pounds a-year, with the interest of his two thousand pounds,
and what little matter Mr. Steele and Mr. Pratt can
give her.--Then they will have a child every year! and
Lord help 'em! how poor they will be!--I must see
what I can give them towards furnishing their house.
Two maids and two men, indeed!--as I talked of t'other
day.--No, no, they must get a stout girl of all works.--
Betty's sister would never do for them NOW."

The next morning brought Elinor a letter by the
two-penny post from Lucy herself.  It was as follows:

                    "Bartlett's Building, March.

     "I hope my dear Miss Dashwood will excuse the
     liberty I take of writing to her; but I know your
     friendship for me will make you pleased to hear such
     a good account of myself and my dear Edward, after
     all the troubles we have went through lately,
     therefore will make no more apologies, but proceed
     to say that, thank God! though we have suffered
     dreadfully, we are both quite well now, and as happy
     as we must always be in one another's love.  We have
     had great trials, and great persecutions, but
     however, at the same time, gratefully acknowledge
     many friends, yourself not the least among them,
     whose great kindness I shall always thankfully
     remember, as will Edward too, who I have told of
     it.  I am sure you will be glad to hear, as likewise
     dear Mrs. Jennings, I spent two happy hours with
     him yesterday afternoon, he would not hear of our
     parting, though earnestly did I, as I thought my
     duty required, urge him to it for prudence sake,
     and would have parted for ever on the spot, would
     he consent to it; but he said it should never be,
     he did not regard his mother's anger, while he could
     have my affections; our prospects are not very
     bright, to be sure, but we must wait, and hope for
     the best; he will be ordained shortly; and should
     it ever be in your power to recommend him to any
     body that has a living to bestow, am very sure you
     will not forget us, and dear Mrs. Jennings too,
     trust she will speak a good word for us to Sir John,
     or Mr. Palmer, or any friend that may be able to
     assist us.--Poor Anne was much to blame for what
     she did, but she did it for the best, so I say
     nothing; hope Mrs. Jennings won't think it too much
     trouble to give us a call, should she come this way
     any morning, 'twould be a great kindness, and my
     cousins would be proud to know her.--My paper reminds
     me to conclude; and begging to be most gratefully
     and respectfully remembered to her, and to Sir John,
     and Lady Middleton, and the dear children, when you
     chance to see them, and love to Miss Marianne,

                                      "I am, &c."

As soon as Elinor had finished it, she performed
what she concluded to be its writer's real design,
by placing it in the hands of Mrs. Jennings, who read it
aloud with many comments of satisfaction and praise.

"Very well indeed!--how prettily she writes!--aye,
that was quite proper to let him be off if he would.
That was just like Lucy.--Poor soul! I wish I COULD get
him a living, with all my heart.--She calls me dear
Mrs. Jennings, you see.  She is a good-hearted girl
as ever lived.--Very well upon my word.  That sentence
is very prettily turned.  Yes, yes, I will go and see her,
sure enough.  How attentive she is, to think of every
body!--Thank you, my dear, for shewing it me.  It is
as pretty a letter as ever I saw, and does Lucy's head
and heart great credit."



CHAPTER 39


The Miss Dashwoods had now been rather more than
two months in town, and Marianne's impatience to be gone
increased every day.  She sighed for the air, the liberty,
the quiet of the country; and fancied that if any place
could give her ease, Barton must do it.  Elinor was hardly
less anxious than herself for their removal, and only so much
less bent on its being effected immediately, as that she
was conscious of the difficulties of so long a journey,
which Marianne could not be brought to acknowledge.
She began, however, seriously to turn her thoughts towards
its accomplishment, and had already mentioned their wishes
to their kind hostess, who resisted them with all the
eloquence of her good-will, when a plan was suggested,
which, though detaining them from home yet a few weeks
longer, appeared to Elinor altogether much more eligible
than any other. The Palmers were to remove to Cleveland
about the end of March, for the Easter holidays;
and Mrs. Jennings, with both her friends, received a very
warm invitation from Charlotte to go with them.  This would
not, in itself, have been sufficient for the delicacy of
Miss Dashwood;--but it was inforced with so much real
politeness by Mr. Palmer himself, as, joined to the very
great amendment of his manners towards them since her
sister had been known to be unhappy, induced her to accept
it with pleasure.

When she told Marianne what she had done, however,
her first reply was not very auspicious.

"Cleveland!"--she cried, with great agitation.
"No, I cannot go to Cleveland."--

"You forget," said Elinor gently, "that its situation
is not...that it is not in the neighbourhood of..."

"But it is in Somersetshire.--I cannot go
into Somersetshire.--There, where I looked forward
to going...No, Elinor, you cannot expect me to go there."

Elinor would not argue upon the propriety of overcoming
such feelings;--she only endeavoured to counteract them by
working on others;--represented it, therefore, as a measure
which would fix the time of her returning to that dear mother,
whom she so much wished to see, in a more eligible,
more comfortable manner, than any other plan could do,
and perhaps without any greater delay.  From Cleveland,
which was within a few miles of Bristol, the distance to
Barton was not beyond one day, though a long day's journey;
and their mother's servant might easily come there to attend
them down; and as there could be no occasion of their
staying above a week at Cleveland, they might now be at
home in little more than three weeks' time.  As Marianne's
affection for her mother was sincere, it must triumph
with little difficulty, over the imaginary evils she had started.

Mrs. Jennings was so far from being weary of her guest,
that she pressed them very earnestly to return with her again
from Cleveland.  Elinor was grateful for the attention,
but it could not alter her design; and their mother's
concurrence being readily gained, every thing relative
to their return was arranged as far as it could be;--
and Marianne found some relief in drawing up a statement
of the hours that were yet to divide her from Barton.

"Ah! Colonel, I do not know what you and I shall
do without the Miss Dashwoods;"--was Mrs. Jennings's
address to him when he first called on her, after their
leaving her was settled--"for they are quite resolved
upon going home from the Palmers;--and how forlorn we
shall be, when I come back!--Lord! we shall sit and gape
at one another as dull as two cats."

Perhaps Mrs. Jennings was in hopes, by this vigorous
sketch of their future ennui, to provoke him to make
that offer, which might give himself an escape from it;--
and if so, she had soon afterwards good reason to think
her object gained; for, on Elinor's moving to the window
to take more expeditiously the dimensions of a print,
which she was going to copy for her friend, he followed
her to it with a look of particular meaning, and conversed
with her there for several minutes.  The effect of his
discourse on the lady too, could not escape her observation,
for though she was too honorable to listen, and had even
changed her seat, on purpose that she might NOT hear,
to one close by the piano forte on which Marianne
was playing, she could not keep herself from seeing
that Elinor changed colour, attended with agitation,
and was too intent on what he said to pursue her employment.--
Still farther in confirmation of her hopes, in the interval
of Marianne's turning from one lesson to another,
some words of the Colonel's inevitably reached her ear,
in which he seemed to be apologising for the badness
of his house.  This set the matter beyond a doubt.
She wondered, indeed, at his thinking it necessary
to do so; but supposed it to be the proper etiquette.
What Elinor said in reply she could not distinguish,
but judged from the motion of her lips, that she did
not think THAT any material objection;--and Mrs. Jennings
commended her in her heart for being so honest.
They then talked on for a few minutes longer without her
catching a syllable, when another lucky stop in Marianne's
performance brought her these words in the Colonel's calm voice,--

"I am afraid it cannot take place very soon."

Astonished and shocked at so unlover-like a speech,
she was almost ready to cry out, "Lord! what should
hinder it?"--but checking her desire, confined herself
to this silent ejaculation.

"This is very strange!--sure he need not wait to be older."

This delay on the Colonel's side, however, did not
seem to offend or mortify his fair companion in the least,
for on their breaking up the conference soon afterwards,
and moving different ways, Mrs. Jennings very plainly heard
Elinor say, and with a voice which shewed her to feel what she said,

"I shall always think myself very much obliged to you."

Mrs. Jennings was delighted with her gratitude,
and only wondered that after hearing such a sentence,
the Colonel should be able to take leave of them, as he
immediately did, with the utmost sang-froid, and go away
without making her any reply!--She had not thought her old
friend could have made so indifferent a suitor.

What had really passed between them was to this effect.

"I have heard," said he, with great compassion,
"of the injustice your friend Mr. Ferrars has suffered
from his family; for if I understand the matter right,
he has been entirely cast off by them for persevering
in his engagement with a very deserving young woman.--
Have I been rightly informed?--Is it so?--"

Elinor told him that it was.

"The cruelty, the impolitic cruelty,"--he replied,
with great feeling,--"of dividing, or attempting to divide,
two young people long attached to each other, is terrible.--
Mrs. Ferrars does not know what she may be doing--what
she may drive her son to.  I have seen Mr. Ferrars two
or three times in Harley Street, and am much pleased
with him.  He is not a young man with whom one can
be intimately acquainted in a short time, but I have
seen enough of him to wish him well for his own sake,
and as a friend of yours, I wish it still more.
I understand that he intends to take orders.  Will you
be so good as to tell him that the living of Delaford,
now just vacant, as I am informed by this day's post,
is his, if he think it worth his acceptance--but THAT,
perhaps, so unfortunately circumstanced as he is now,
it may be  nonsense to appear to doubt; I only wish it
were more  valuable.-- It is a rectory, but a small one;
the late incumbent, I believe, did not make more than
200 L per annum, and though it is certainly capable
of improvement, I fear, not to such an amount as
to afford him a very comfortable income.  Such as it is,
however, my pleasure in presenting him to it,
will be very great.  Pray assure him of it."

Elinor's astonishment at this commission could
hardly have been greater, had the Colonel been really
making her an offer of his hand.  The preferment,
which only two days before she had considered as hopeless
for Edward, was already provided to enable him to marry;--
and SHE, of all people in the world, was fixed on to
bestow it!--Her emotion was such as Mrs. Jennings had
attributed to a very different cause;--but whatever minor
feelings less pure, less pleasing, might have a share
in that emotion, her esteem for the general benevolence,
and her gratitude for the particular friendship,
which together prompted Colonel Brandon to this act,
were strongly felt, and warmly expressed.  She thanked him
for it with all her heart, spoke of Edward's principles and
disposition with that praise which she knew them to deserve;
and promised to undertake the commission with pleasure,
if it were really his wish to put off so agreeable an office
to another.  But at the same time, she could not help
thinking that no one could so well perform it as himself.
It was an office in short, from which, unwilling to give
Edward the pain of receiving an obligation from HER,
she would have been very glad to be spared herself;--
but Colonel Brandon, on motives of equal delicacy,
declining it likewise, still seemed so desirous of its being
given through her means, that she would not on any account
make farther opposition.  Edward, she believed, was still in
town,
and fortunately she had heard his address from Miss Steele.
She could undertake therefore to inform him of it,
in the course of the day.  After this had been settled,
Colonel Brandon began to talk of his own advantage
in securing so respectable and agreeable a neighbour,
and THEN it was that he mentioned with regret, that the
house was small and indifferent;--an evil which Elinor,
as Mrs. Jennings had supposed her to do, made very light of,
at least as far as regarded its size.

"The smallness of the house," said she,
"I cannot imagine any inconvenience to them,
for it will be in proportion to their family and income."

By which the Colonel was surprised to find that SHE
was considering Mr. Ferrars's marriage as the certain
consequence of the presentation; for he did not suppose it
possible that Delaford living could supply such an income,
as anybody in his style of life would venture to settle on--
and he said so.

"This little rectory CAN do no more than make Mr. Ferrars
comfortable as a bachelor; it cannot enable him to marry.
I am sorry to say that my patronage ends with this;
and my interest is hardly more extensive.  If, however,
by an unforeseen chance it should be in my power to serve
him farther, I must think very differently of him
from what I now do, if I am not as ready to be useful
to him then as I sincerely wish I could be at present.
What I am now doing indeed, seems nothing at all,
since it can advance him so little towards what must
be his principal, his only object of happiness.
His marriage must still be a distant good;--at least,
I am afraid it cannot take place very soon.--"

Such was the sentence which, when misunderstood,
so justly offended the delicate feelings of Mrs. Jennings;
but after this narration of what really passed between
Colonel Brandon and Elinor, while they stood at the window,
the gratitude expressed by the latter on their parting, may
perhaps appear in general, not less reasonably excited,
nor less properly worded than if it had arisen from
an offer of marriage.



CHAPTER 40


"Well, Miss Dashwood," said Mrs. Jennings,
sagaciously smiling, as soon as the gentleman had withdrawn,
"I do not ask you what the Colonel has been saying to you;
for though, upon my honour, I TRIED to keep out of hearing,
I could not help catching enough to understand his business.
And I assure you I never was better pleased in my life,
and I wish you joy of it with all my heart."

"Thank you, ma'am," said Elinor.  "It is a matter
of great joy to me; and I feel the goodness of Colonel
Brandon most sensibly.  There are not many men who would
act as he has done.  Few people who have so compassionate
a heart!  I never was more astonished in my life."

"Lord! my dear, you are very modest.  I an't the least
astonished at it in the world, for I have often thought
of late, there was nothing more likely to happen."

"You judged from your knowledge of the Colonel's
general benevolence; but at least you could not foresee
that the opportunity would so very soon occur."

"Opportunity!" repeated Mrs. Jennings--"Oh! as to that,
when a man has once made up his mind to such a thing,
somehow or other he will soon find an opportunity.
Well, my dear, I wish you joy of it again and again;
and if ever there was a happy couple in the world, I think
I shall soon know where to look for them."

"You mean to go to Delaford after them I suppose,"
said Elinor, with a faint smile.

"Aye, my dear, that I do, indeed.  And as to the house
being a bad one, I do not know what the Colonel would be at,
for it is as good a one as ever I saw."

"He spoke of its being out of repair."

"Well, and whose fault is that? why don't he repair it?--
who should do it but himself?"

They were interrupted by the servant's coming in to
announce the carriage being at the door; and Mrs. Jennings
immediately preparing to go, said,--

"Well, my dear, I must be gone before I have had half
my talk out.  But, however, we may have it all over in
the evening; for we shall be quite alone.  I do not ask
you to go with me, for I dare say your mind is too full
of the matter to care for company; and besides, you must
long to tell your sister all about it."

Marianne had left the room before the conversation began.

"Certainly, ma'am, I shall tell Marianne of it;
but I shall not mention it at present to any body else."

"Oh! very well," said Mrs. Jennings rather disappointed.
"Then you would not have me tell it to Lucy, for I think
of going as far as Holborn to-day."

"No, ma'am, not even Lucy if you please.
One day's delay will not be very material; and till I
have written to Mr. Ferrars, I think it ought not to be
mentioned to any body else.  I shall do THAT directly.
It is of importance that no time should be lost with him,
for he will of course have much to do relative to
his ordination."

This speech at first puzzled Mrs. Jennings exceedingly.
Why Mr. Ferrars was to have been written to about it
in such a hurry, she could not immediately comprehend.
A few moments' reflection, however, produced a very happy idea,
and she exclaimed;--

"Oh, ho!--I understand you.  Mr. Ferrars is to be
the man.  Well, so much the better for him.  Ay, to be sure,
he must be ordained in readiness; and I am very glad
to find things are so forward between you.  But, my dear,
is not this rather out of character?  Should not the Colonel
write himself?--sure, he is the proper person."

Elinor did not quite understand the beginning of
Mrs. Jennings's speech, neither did she think it worth
inquiring into; and therefore only replied to its conclusion.

"Colonel Brandon is so delicate a man, that he rather
wished any one to announce his intentions to Mr. Ferrars
than himself."

"And so YOU are forced to do it.  Well THAT is an odd
kind of delicacy!  However, I will not disturb you (seeing
her preparing to write.)  You know your own concerns best.
So goodby, my dear.  I have not heard of any thing to
please me so well since Charlotte was brought to bed."

And away she went; but returning again in a moment,

"I have just been thinking of Betty's sister, my dear.
I should be very glad to get her so good a mistress.
But whether she would do for a lady's maid, I am sure I
can't tell.  She is an excellent housemaid, and works
very well at her needle.  However, you will think of all
that at your leisure."

"Certainly, ma'am," replied Elinor, not hearing
much of what she said, and more anxious to be alone,
than to be mistress of the subject.

How she should begin--how she should express
herself in her note to Edward, was now all her concern.
The particular circumstances between them made
a difficulty of that which to any other person would
have been the easiest thing in the world; but she
equally feared to say too much or too little, and sat
deliberating over her paper, with the pen in her hand,
till broken in on by the entrance of Edward himself.

He had met Mrs. Jennings at the door in her way to
the carriage, as he came to leave his farewell card; and she,
after apologising for not returning herself, had obliged
him to enter, by saying that Miss Dashwood was above,
and wanted to speak with him on very particular business.

Elinor had just been congratulating herself,
in the midst of her perplexity, that however difficult it
might be to express herself properly by letter, it was
at least preferable to giving the information by word
of mouth, when her visitor entered, to force her upon this
greatest exertion of all.  Her astonishment and confusion
were very great on his so sudden appearance.  She had
not seen him before since his engagement became public,
and therefore not since his knowing her to be acquainted
with it; which, with the consciousness of what she
had been thinking of, and what she had to tell him,
made her feel particularly uncomfortable for some minutes.
He too was much distressed; and they sat down together
in a most promising state of embarrassment.--Whether he
had asked her pardon for his intrusion on first coming
into the room, he could not recollect; but determining
to be on the safe side, he made his apology in form
as soon as he could say any thing, after taking a chair.

"Mrs. Jennings told me," said he, "that you wished
to speak with me, at least I understood her so--or I
certainly should not have intruded on you in such a manner;
though at the same time, I should have been extremely
sorry to leave London without seeing you and your sister;
especially as it will most likely be some time--it
is not probable that I should soon have the pleasure
of meeting you again.  I go to Oxford tomorrow."

"You would not have gone, however," said Elinor,
recovering herself, and determined to get over what she
so much dreaded as soon as possible, "without receiving
our good wishes, even if we had not been able to give them
in person.  Mrs. Jennings was quite right in what she said.
I have something of consequence to inform you of,
which I was on the point of communicating by paper.
I am charged with a most agreeable office (breathing
rather faster than usual as she spoke.)  Colonel Brandon,
who was here only ten minutes ago, has desired me to say,
that understanding you mean to take orders, he has
great pleasure in offering you the living of Delaford
now just vacant, and only wishes it were more valuable.
Allow me to congratulate you on having so respectable
and well-judging a friend, and to join in his wish that
the living--it is about two hundred a-year--were much
more considerable, and such as might better enable you
to--as might be more than a temporary accommodation to
yourself--such, in short, as might establish all your views
of happiness."

What Edward felt, as he could not say it himself,
it cannot be expected that any one else should say for him.
He LOOKED all the astonishment which such unexpected,
such unthought-of information could not fail of exciting;
but he said only these two words,

"Colonel Brandon!"

"Yes," continued Elinor, gathering more resolution,
as some of the worst was over, "Colonel Brandon means
it as a testimony of his concern for what has lately
passed--for the cruel situation in which the unjustifiable
conduct of your family has placed you--a concern
which I am sure Marianne, myself, and all your friends,
must share; and likewise as a proof of his high esteem
for your general character, and his particular approbation
of your behaviour on the present occasion."

"Colonel Brandon give ME a living!--Can it be possible?"

"The unkindness of your own relations has made you
astonished to find friendship any where."

"No," replied be, with sudden consciousness, "not to
find it in YOU; for I cannot be ignorant that to you,
to your goodness, I owe it all.--I feel it--I would express
it if I could--but, as you well know, I am no orator."

"You are very much mistaken.  I do assure you
that you owe it entirely, at least almost entirely,
to your own merit, and Colonel Brandon's discernment
of it.  I have had no hand in it.  I did not even know,
till I understood his design, that the living was vacant;
nor had it ever occurred to me that he might have
had such a living in his gift.  As a friend of mine,
of my family, he may, perhaps--indeed I know he HAS,
still greater pleasure in bestowing it; but, upon my word,
you owe nothing to my solicitation."

Truth obliged her to acknowledge some small share
in the action, but she was at the same time so unwilling
to appear as the benefactress of Edward, that she acknowledged
it with hesitation; which probably contributed to fix
that suspicion in his mind which had recently entered it.
For a short time he sat deep in thought, after Elinor had ceased
to speak;--at last, and as if it were rather an effort, he said,

"Colonel Brandon seems a man of great worth and respectability.
I have always heard him spoken of as such, and your brother
I know esteems him highly.  He is undoubtedly a sensible man,
and in his manners perfectly the gentleman."

"Indeed," replied Elinor, "I believe that you will find him,
on farther acquaintance, all that you have heard him to be,
and as you will be such very near neighbours (for I understand
the parsonage is almost close to the mansion-house,)
it is particularly important that he SHOULD be all this."

Edward made no answer; but when she had turned
away her head, gave her a look so serious, so earnest,
so uncheerful, as seemed to say, that he might hereafter wish
the distance between the parsonage and the mansion-house
much greater.

"Colonel Brandon, I think, lodges in St. James Street,"
said he, soon afterwards, rising from his chair.

Elinor told him the number of the house.

"I must hurry away then, to give him those thanks
which you will not allow me to give YOU; to assure him
that he has made me a very--an exceedingly happy man."

Elinor did not offer to detain him; and they parted,
with a very earnest assurance on HER side of her unceasing
good wishes for his happiness in every change of situation
that might befall him; on HIS, with rather an attempt to
return the same good will, than the power of expressing it.

"When I see him again," said Elinor to herself,
as the door shut him out, "I shall see him the husband
of Lucy."

And with this pleasing anticipation, she sat down
to reconsider the past, recall the words and endeavour
to comprehend all the feelings of Edward; and, of course,
to reflect on her own with discontent.

When Mrs. Jennings came home, though she returned
from seeing people whom she had never seen before,
and of whom therefore she must have a great deal to say,
her mind was so much more occupied by the important secret
in her possession, than by anything else, that she
reverted to it again as soon as Elinor appeared.

"Well, my dear," she cried, "I sent you up to the
young man.  Did not I do right?--And I suppose you had
no great difficulty--You did not find him very unwilling
to accept your proposal?"

"No, ma'am; THAT was not very likely."

"Well, and how soon will he be ready?--For it seems
all to depend upon that."

"Really," said Elinor, "I know so little of these kind
of forms, that I can hardly even conjecture as to the time,
or the preparation necessary; but I suppose two or three
months will complete his ordination."

"Two or three months!" cried Mrs. Jennings; "Lord! my dear,
how calmly you talk of it; and can the Colonel wait two
or three months! Lord bless me!--I am sure it would put ME
quite out of patience!--And though one would be very glad
to do a kindness by poor Mr. Ferrars, I do think it is
not worth while to wait two or three months for him.
Sure somebody else might be found that would do as well;
somebody that is in orders already."

"My dear ma'am," said Elinor, "what can you be thinking of?--
Why, Colonel Brandon's only object is to be of use to Mr. Ferrars."

"Lord bless you, my dear!--Sure you do not mean to persuade
me that the Colonel only marries you for the sake of giving
ten guineas to Mr. Ferrars!"

The deception could not continue after this;
and an explanation immediately took place, by which both
gained considerable amusement for the moment, without any
material loss of happiness to either, for Mrs. Jennings
only exchanged one form of delight for another, and still
without forfeiting her expectation of the first.

"Aye, aye, the parsonage is but a small one," said she,
after the first ebullition of surprise and satisfaction
was over, "and very likely MAY be out of repair; but to hear
a man apologising, as I thought, for a house that to my
knowledge has five sitting rooms on the ground-floor, and I
think the housekeeper told me could make up fifteen beds!--
and to you too, that had been used to live in Barton cottage!--
It seems quite ridiculous.  But, my dear, we must
touch up the Colonel to do some thing to the parsonage,
and make it comfortable for them, before Lucy goes to it."

"But Colonel Brandon does not seem to have any idea
of the living's being enough to allow them to marry."

"The Colonel is a ninny, my dear; because he has two
thousand a-year himself, he thinks that nobody else can marry
on less.  Take my word for it, that, if I am alive, I shall
be paying a visit at Delaford Parsonage before Michaelmas;
and I am sure I shan't go if Lucy an't there."

Elinor was quite of her opinion, as to the probability
of their not waiting for any thing more.



CHAPTER 41


Edward, having carried his thanks to Colonel Brandon,
proceeded with his happiness to Lucy; and such was the
excess of it by the time he reached Bartlett's Buildings,
that she was able to assure Mrs. Jennings, who called
on her again the next day with her congratulations,
that she had never seen him in such spirits before
in her life.

Her own happiness, and her own spirits, were at
least very certain; and she joined Mrs. Jennings most
heartily in her expectation of their being all comfortably
together in Delaford Parsonage before Michaelmas.
So far was she, at the same time, from any backwardness
to give Elinor that credit which Edward WOULD give her,
that she spoke of her friendship for them both with the most
grateful warmth, was ready to own all their obligation
to her, and openly declared that no exertion for their
good on Miss Dashwood's part, either present or future,
would ever surprise her, for she believed her capable of
doing any thing in the world for those she really valued.
As for Colonel Brandon, she was not only ready to worship
him as a saint, but was moreover truly anxious that
he should be treated as one in all worldly concerns;
anxious that his tithes should be raised to the utmost;
and scarcely resolved to avail herself, at Delaford,
as far as she possibly could, of his servants, his carriage,
his cows, and his poultry.

It was now above a week since John Dashwood had
called in Berkeley Street, and as since that time no notice
had been taken by them of his wife's indisposition,
beyond one verbal enquiry, Elinor began to feel it
necessary to pay her a visit.--This was an obligation,
however, which not only opposed her own inclination,
but which had not the assistance of any encouragement
from her companions.  Marianne, not contented with
absolutely refusing to go herself, was very urgent
to prevent her sister's going at all; and Mrs. Jennings,
though her carriage was always at Elinor's service,
so very much disliked Mrs. John Dashwood, that not even her
curiosity to see how she looked after the late discovery,
nor her strong desire to affront her by taking Edward's part,
could overcome her unwillingness to be in her company again.
The consequence was, that Elinor set out by herself
to pay a visit, for which no one could really have
less inclination, and to run the risk of a tete-a-tete
with a woman, whom neither of the others had so much
reason to dislike.

Mrs. Dashwood was denied; but before the carriage could
turn from the house, her husband accidentally came out.
He expressed great pleasure in meeting Elinor, told her
that he had been just going to call in Berkeley Street,
and, assuring her that Fanny would be very glad to see her,
invited her to come in.

They walked up stairs in to the drawing-room.--Nobody was there.

"Fanny is in her own room, I suppose," said he:--"I
will go to her presently, for I am sure she will not
have the least objection in the world to seeing YOU.--
Very far from it, indeed.  NOW especially there
cannot be--but however, you and Marianne were always
great favourites.--Why would not Marianne come?"--

Elinor made what excuse she could for her.

"I am not sorry to see you alone," he replied,
"for I have a good deal to say to you.  This living
of Colonel Brandon's--can it be true?--has he really given
it to Edward?--I heard it yesterday by chance, and was
coming to you on purpose to enquire farther about it."

"It is perfectly true.--Colonel Brandon has given
the living of Delaford to Edward."

"Really!--Well, this is very astonishing!--no
relationship!--no connection between them!--and now
that livings fetch such a price!--what was the value of this?"

"About two hundred a year."

"Very well--and for the next presentation to a living
of that value--supposing the late incumbent to have
been old and sickly, and likely to vacate it soon--he
might have got I dare say--fourteen hundred pounds.
And how came he not to have settled that matter before this
person's death?--NOW indeed it would be too late to sell it,
but a man of Colonel Brandon's sense!--I wonder he should
be so improvident in a point of such common, such natural,
concern!--Well, I am convinced that there is a vast deal
of inconsistency in almost every human character.  I suppose,
however--on recollection--that the case may probably be THIS.
Edward is only to hold the living till the person to whom
the Colonel has really sold the presentation, is old enough
to take it.--Aye, aye, that is the fact, depend upon it."

Elinor contradicted it, however, very positively;
and by relating that she had herself been employed
in conveying the offer from Colonel Brandon to Edward,
and, therefore, must understand the terms on which it
was given, obliged him to submit to her authority.

"It is truly astonishing!"--he cried, after hearing
what she said--"what could be the Colonel's motive?"

"A very simple one--to be of use to Mr. Ferrars."

"Well, well; whatever Colonel Brandon may be,
Edward is a very lucky man.--You will not mention the matter
to Fanny, however, for though I have broke it to her,
and she bears it vastly well,--she will not like to hear
it much talked of."

Elinor had some difficulty here to refrain from observing,
that she thought Fanny might have borne with composure,
an acquisition of wealth to her brother, by which neither
she nor her child could be possibly impoverished.

"Mrs. Ferrars," added he, lowering his voice to the
tone becoming so important a subject, "knows nothing
about it at present, and I believe it will be best to
keep it entirely concealed from her as long as may be.--
When the marriage takes place, I fear she must hear
of it all."

"But why should such precaution be used?--Though
it is not to be supposed that Mrs. Ferrars can have
the smallest satisfaction in knowing that her son has
money enough to live upon,--for THAT must be quite
out of the question; yet why, upon her late behaviour,
is she supposed to feel at all?--She has done with her
son, she cast him off for ever, and has made all those
over whom she had any influence, cast him off likewise.
Surely, after doing so, she cannot be imagined liable
to any impression of sorrow or of joy on his account--
she cannot be interested in any thing that befalls him.--
She would not be so weak as to throw away the comfort
of a child, and yet retain the anxiety of a parent!"

"Ah! Elinor," said John, "your reasoning is very good,
but it is founded on ignorance of human nature.
When Edward's unhappy match takes place, depend upon it
his mother will feel as much as if she had never discarded him;
and, therefore every circumstance that may accelerate that
dreadful event, must be concealed from her as much as possible.
Mrs. Ferrars can never forget that Edward is her son."

"You surprise me; I should think it must nearly
have escaped her memory by THIS time."

"You wrong her exceedingly.  Mrs. Ferrars is one
of the most affectionate mothers in the world."

Elinor was silent.

"We think NOW,"--said Mr. Dashwood, after a short pause,
"of ROBERT'S marrying Miss Morton."

Elinor, smiling at the grave and decisive importance
of her brother's tone, calmly replied,

"The lady, I suppose, has no choice in the affair."

"Choice!--how do you mean?"

"I only mean that I suppose, from your manner
of speaking, it must be the same to Miss Morton whether
she marry Edward or Robert."

"Certainly, there can be no difference; for Robert
will now to all intents and purposes be considered
as the eldest son;--and as to any thing else, they are
both very agreeable young men: I do not know that one
is superior to the other."

Elinor said no more, and John was also for a short
time silent.--His reflections ended thus.

"Of ONE thing, my dear sister," kindly taking her hand,
and speaking in an awful whisper,--"I may assure you;--
and I WILL do it, because I know it must gratify you.
I have good reason to think--indeed I have it from the
best authority, or I should not repeat it, for otherwise
it would be very wrong to say any thing about it--but
I have it from the very best authority--not that I ever
precisely heard Mrs. Ferrars say it herself--but her
daughter DID, and I have it from her--That in short,
whatever objections there might be against a certain--a
certain connection--you understand me--it would have been
far preferable to her, it would not have given her half
the vexation that THIS does.  I was exceedingly pleased
to hear that Mrs. Ferrars considered it in that light--
a very gratifying circumstance you know to us all.
'It would have been beyond comparison,' she said, 'the least
evil of the two, and she would be glad to compound NOW
for nothing worse.' But however, all that is quite out
of the question--not to be thought of or mentioned--
as to any attachment you know--it never could be--all
that is gone by.  But I thought I would just tell you
of this, because I knew how much it must please you.
Not that you have any reason to regret, my dear Elinor.  There
is no doubt of your doing exceedingly well--quite as well,
or better, perhaps, all things considered.  Has Colonel
Brandon been with you lately?"

Elinor had heard enough, if not to gratify her vanity,
and raise her self-importance, to agitate her nerves
and fill her mind;--and she was therefore glad to be
spared from the necessity of saying much in reply herself,
and from the danger of hearing any thing more from
her brother, by the entrance of Mr. Robert Ferrars.
After a few moments' chat, John Dashwood, recollecting that
Fanny was yet uninformed of her sister's being there,
quitted the room in quest of her; and Elinor was left
to improve her acquaintance with Robert, who, by the
gay unconcern, the happy self-complacency of his manner
while enjoying so unfair a division of his mother's love
and liberality, to the prejudice of his banished brother,
earned only by his own dissipated course of life, and that
brother's integrity, was confirming her most unfavourable
opinion of his head and heart.

They had scarcely been two minutes by themselves,
before he began to speak of Edward; for he, too, had heard
of the living, and was very inquisitive on the subject.
Elinor repeated the particulars of it, as she had given them
to John; and their effect on Robert, though very different,
was not less striking than it had been on HIM.  He laughed
most immoderately.  The idea of Edward's being a clergyman,
and living in a small parsonage-house, diverted him
beyond measure;--and when to that was added the fanciful
imagery of Edward reading prayers in a white surplice,
and publishing the banns of marriage between John Smith and
Mary Brown, he could conceive nothing more ridiculous.

Elinor, while she waited in silence and immovable
gravity, the conclusion of such folly, could not restrain
her eyes from being fixed on him with a look that spoke
all the contempt it excited.  It was a look, however,
very well bestowed, for it relieved her own feelings, and gave
no intelligence to him.  He was recalled from wit to wisdom,
not by any reproof of her's, but by his own sensibility.

"We may treat it as a joke," said he, at last,
recovering from the affected laugh which had considerably
lengthened out the genuine gaiety of the moment--"but, upon
my soul, it is a most serious business.  Poor Edward!
he is ruined for ever.  I am extremely sorry for it--
for I know him to be a very good-hearted creature; as
well-meaning a fellow perhaps, as any in the world.
You must not judge of him, Miss Dashwood, from YOUR
slight acquaintance.--Poor Edward!--His manners are certainly
not the happiest in nature.--But we are not all born,
you know, with the same powers,--the same address.--
Poor fellow!--to see him in a circle of strangers!--
to be sure it was pitiable enough!--but upon my soul,
I believe he has as good a heart as any in the kingdom;
and I declare and protest to you I never was so shocked in my
life, as when it all burst forth.  I could not believe it.--
My mother was the first person who told me of it;
and I, feeling myself called on to act with resolution,
immediately said to her, 'My dear madam, I do not know
what you may intend to do on the occasion, but as for myself,
I must say, that if Edward does marry this young woman,
I never will see him again.' That was what I said immediately.--
I was most uncommonly shocked, indeed!--Poor Edward!--he has
done for himself completely--shut himself out for ever from
all decent society!--but, as I directly said to my mother,
I am not in the least surprised at it; from his style
of education, it was always to be expected.  My poor mother
was half frantic."

"Have you ever seen the lady?"

"Yes; once, while she was staying in this house,
I happened to drop in for ten minutes; and I saw
quite enough of her.  The merest awkward country girl,
without style, or elegance, and almost without beauty.--
I remember her perfectly.  Just the kind of girl I
should suppose likely to captivate poor Edward.
I offered immediately, as soon as my mother related
the affair to me, to talk to him myself, and dissuade
him from the match; but it was too late THEN, I found,
to do any thing, for unluckily, I was not in the way
at first, and knew nothing of it till after the breach
had taken place, when it was not for me, you know,
to interfere.  But had I been informed of it a few
hours earlier--I think it is most probable--that something
might have been hit on.  I certainly should have represented
it to Edward in a very strong light.  'My dear fellow,'
I should have said, 'consider what you are doing.
You are making a most disgraceful connection, and such a one
as your family are unanimous in disapproving.' I cannot
help thinking, in short, that means might have been found.
But now it is all too late.  He must be starved, you know;--
that is certain; absolutely starved."

He had just settled this point with great composure,
when the entrance of Mrs. John Dashwood put an end to the
subject.
But though SHE never spoke of it out of her own family,
Elinor could see its influence on her mind, in the something
like confusion of countenance with which she entered,
and an attempt at cordiality in her behaviour to herself.
She even proceeded so far as to be concerned to find
that Elinor and her sister were so soon to leave town,
as she had hoped to see more of them;--an exertion
in which her husband, who attended her into the room,
and hung enamoured over her accents, seemed to distinguish
every thing that was most affectionate and graceful.



CHAPTER 42


One other short call in Harley Street, in which Elinor
received her brother's congratulations on their travelling
so far towards Barton without any expense, and on Colonel
Brandon's being to follow them to Cleveland in a day or two,
completed the intercourse of the brother and sisters
in town;--and a faint invitation from Fanny, to come
to Norland whenever it should happen to be in their way,
which of all things was the most unlikely to occur,
with a more warm, though less public, assurance, from John
to Elinor, of the promptitude with which he should come
to see her at Delaford, was all that foretold any meeting
in the country.

It amused her to observe that all her friends seemed
determined to send her to Delaford;--a place, in which,
of all others, she would now least chuse to visit,
or wish to reside; for not only was it considered as
her future home by her brother and Mrs. Jennings, but even Lucy,
when they parted, gave her a pressing invitation to visit her there.

Very early in April, and tolerably early in the day,
the two parties from Hanover Square and Berkeley Street set
out from their respective homes, to meet, by appointment,
on the road.  For the convenience of Charlotte and her child,
they were to be more than two days on their journey,
and Mr. Palmer, travelling more expeditiously with Colonel Brandon,
was to join them at Cleveland soon after their arrival.

Marianne, few as had been her hours of comfort
in London, and eager as she had long been to quit it,
could not, when it came to the point, bid adieu to
the house in which she had for the last time enjoyed
those hopes, and that confidence, in Willoughby,
which were now extinguished for ever, without great pain.
Nor could she leave the place in which Willoughby remained,
busy in new engagements, and new schemes, in which SHE
could have no share, without shedding many tears.

Elinor's satisfaction, at the moment of removal,
was more positive.  She had no such object for her lingering
thoughts to fix on, she left no creature behind, from whom
it would give her a moment's regret to be divided for ever,
she was pleased to be free herself from the persecution
of Lucy's friendship, she was grateful for bringing
her sister away unseen by Willoughby since his marriage,
and she looked forward with hope to what a few months
of tranquility at Barton might do towards restoring
Marianne's peace of mind, and confirming her own.

Their journey was safely performed.  The second
day brought them into the cherished, or the prohibited,
county of Somerset, for as such was it dwelt on by turns
in Marianne's imagination; and in the forenoon of the third
they drove up to Cleveland.

Cleveland was a spacious, modern-built house,
situated on a sloping lawn.  It had no park, but the
pleasure-grounds were tolerably extensive; and like
every other place of the same degree of importance,
it had its open shrubbery, and closer wood walk,
a road of smooth gravel winding round a plantation,
led to the front, the lawn was dotted over with timber,
the house itself was under the guardianship of the fir,
the mountain-ash, and the acacia, and a thick screen of
them altogether, interspersed with tall Lombardy poplars,
shut out the offices.

Marianne entered the house with a heart swelling
with emotion from the consciousness of being only eighty
miles from Barton, and not thirty from Combe Magna;
and before she had been five minutes within its walls,
while the others were busily helping Charlotte to show
her child to the housekeeper, she quitted it again,
stealing away through the winding shrubberies, now just
beginning to be in beauty, to gain a distant eminence;
where, from its Grecian temple, her eye, wandering over
a wide tract of country to the south-east, could fondly
rest on the farthest ridge of hills in the horizon,
and fancy that from their summits Combe Magna might be seen.

In such moments of precious, invaluable misery,
she rejoiced in tears of agony to be at Cleveland;
and as she returned by a different circuit to the house,
feeling all the happy privilege of country liberty,
of wandering from place to place in free and luxurious solitude,
she resolved to spend almost every hour of every day
while she remained with the Palmers, in the indulgence of
such solitary rambles.

She returned just in time to join the others
as they quitted the house, on an excursion through its
more immediate premises; and the rest of the morning was
easily whiled away, in lounging round the kitchen garden,
examining the bloom upon its walls, and listening to the
gardener's lamentations upon blights, in dawdling through
the green-house, where the loss of her favourite plants,
unwarily exposed, and nipped by the lingering frost,
raised the laughter of Charlotte,--and in visiting her
poultry-yard, where, in the disappointed hopes of her
dairy-maid, by hens forsaking their nests, or being
stolen by a fox, or in the rapid decrease of a promising
young brood, she found fresh sources of merriment.

The morning was fine and dry, and Marianne,
in her plan of employment abroad, had not calculated
for any change of weather during their stay at Cleveland.
With great surprise therefore, did she find herself prevented
by a settled rain from going out again after dinner.
She had depended on a twilight walk to the Grecian temple,
and perhaps all over the grounds, and an evening merely
cold or damp would not have deterred her from it;
but a heavy and settled rain even SHE could not fancy dry
or pleasant weather for walking.

Their party was small, and the hours passed quietly away.
Mrs. Palmer had her child, and Mrs. Jennings her carpet-work;
they talked of the friends they had left behind,
arranged Lady Middleton's engagements, and wondered
whether Mr. Palmer and Colonel Brandon would get farther
than Reading that night.  Elinor, however little concerned
in it, joined in their discourse; and Marianne, who had
the knack of finding her way in every house to the library,
however it might be avoided by the family in general,
soon procured herself a book.

Nothing was wanting on Mrs. Palmer's side that constant
and friendly good humour could do, to make them feel
themselves welcome.  The openness and heartiness of her
manner more than atoned for that want of recollection
and elegance which made her often deficient in the forms
of politeness; her kindness, recommended by so pretty
a face, was engaging; her folly, though evident
was not disgusting, because it was not conceited;
and Elinor could have forgiven every thing but her laugh.

The two gentlemen arrived the next day to a very
late dinner, affording a pleasant enlargement of the party,
and a very welcome variety to their conversation, which a
long morning of the same continued rain had reduced very low.

Elinor had seen so little of Mr. Palmer, and in that
little had seen so much variety in his address to her
sister and herself, that she knew not what to expect
to find him in his own family.  She found him, however,
perfectly the gentleman in his behaviour to all his visitors,
and only occasionally rude to his wife and her mother;
she found him very capable of being a pleasant companion,
and only prevented from being so always, by too great
an aptitude to fancy himself as much superior to people
in general, as he must feel himself to be to Mrs. Jennings
and Charlotte.  For the rest of his character and habits,
they were marked, as far as Elinor could perceive,
with no traits at all unusual in his sex and time of life.
He was nice in his eating, uncertain in his hours;
fond of his child, though affecting to slight it;
and idled away the mornings at billiards, which ought
to have been devoted to business.  She liked him, however,
upon the whole, much better than she had expected, and in
her heart was not sorry that she could like him no more;--
not sorry to be driven by the observation of his Epicurism,
his selfishness, and his conceit, to rest with complacency
on the remembrance of Edward's generous temper, simple taste,
and diffident feelings.

Of Edward, or at least of some of his concerns,
she now received intelligence from Colonel Brandon,
who had been into Dorsetshire lately; and who,
treating her at once as the disinterested friend
of Mr. Ferrars, and the kind of confidant of himself,
talked to her a great deal of the parsonage at Delaford,
described its deficiencies, and told her what he meant
to do himself towards removing them.--His behaviour
to her in this, as well as in every other particular,
his open pleasure in meeting her after an absence
of only ten days, his readiness to converse with her,
and his deference for her opinion, might very well
justify Mrs. Jennings's persuasion of his attachment,
and would have been enough, perhaps, had not Elinor still,
as from the first, believed Marianne his real favourite,
to make her suspect it herself.  But as it was,
such a notion had scarcely ever entered her head,
except by Mrs. Jennings's suggestion; and she could
not help believing herself the nicest observer of the
two;--she watched his eyes, while Mrs. Jennings thought
only of his behaviour;--and while his looks of anxious
solicitude on Marianne's feeling, in her head and throat,
the beginning of a heavy cold, because unexpressed by words,
entirely escaped the latter lady's observation;--SHE could
discover in them the quick feelings, and needless alarm
of a lover.

Two delightful twilight walks on the third and fourth
evenings of her being there, not merely on the dry gravel
of the shrubbery, but all over the grounds, and especially
in the most distant parts of them, where there was something
more of wildness than in the rest, where the trees were
the oldest, and the grass was the longest and wettest,
had--assisted by the still greater imprudence of sitting
in her wet shoes and stockings--given Marianne a cold
so violent as, though for a day or two trifled with
or denied, would force itself by increasing ailments on
the concern of every body, and the notice of herself.
Prescriptions poured in from all quarters, and as usual,
were all declined.  Though heavy and feverish, with a pain
in her limbs, and a cough, and a sore throat, a good night's
rest was to cure her entirely; and it was with difficulty
that Elinor prevailed on her, when she went to bed,
to try one or two of the simplest of the remedies.



CHAPTER 43


Marianne got up the next morning at her usual time;
to every inquiry replied that she was better, and tried to
prove herself so, by engaging in her accustomary employments.
But a day spent in sitting shivering over the fire
with a book in her hand, which she was unable to read,
or in lying, weary and languid, on a sofa, did not speak
much in favour of her amendment; and when, at last,
she went early to bed, more and more indisposed, Colonel
Brandon was only astonished at her sister's composure,
who, though attending and nursing her the whole day,
against Marianne's inclination, and forcing proper medicines
on her at night, trusted, like Marianne, to the certainty
and efficacy of sleep, and felt no real alarm.

A very restless and feverish night, however,
disappointed the expectation of both; and when Marianne,
after persisting in rising, confessed herself unable
to sit up, and returned voluntarily to her bed,
Elinor was very ready to adopt Mrs. Jennings's advice,
of sending for the Palmers' apothecary.

He came, examined his patient, and though encouraging
Miss Dashwood to expect that a very few days would restore
her sister to health, yet, by pronouncing her disorder
to have a putrid tendency, and allowing the word "infection"
to pass his lips, gave instant alarm to Mrs. Palmer,
on her baby's account.  Mrs. Jennings, who had been inclined
from the first to think Marianne's complaint more serious
than Elinor, now looked very grave on Mr. Harris's report,
and confirming Charlotte's fears and caution, urged the
necessity of her immediate removal with her infant;
and Mr. Palmer, though treating their apprehensions as idle,
found the anxiety and importunity of his wife too great
to be withstood.  Her departure, therefore, was fixed on;
and within an hour after Mr. Harris's arrival, she set off,
with her little boy and his nurse, for the house of a
near relation of Mr. Palmer's, who lived a few miles
on the other side of Bath; whither her husband promised,
at her earnest entreaty, to join her in a day or two;
and whither she was almost equally urgent with her
mother to accompany her.  Mrs. Jennings, however, with a
kindness of heart which made Elinor really love her,
declared her resolution of not stirring from Cleveland
as long as Marianne remained ill, and of endeavouring,
by her own attentive care, to supply to her the place
of the mother she had taken her from; and Elinor found her
on every occasion a most willing and active helpmate,
desirous to share in all her fatigues, and often by her
better experience in nursing, of material use.

Poor Marianne, languid and low from the nature
of her malady, and feeling herself universally ill,
could no longer hope that tomorrow would find her recovered;
and the idea of what tomorrow would have produced,
but for this unlucky illness, made every ailment severe;
for on that day they were to have begun their journey home;
and, attended the whole way by a servant of Mrs. Jennings,
were to have taken their mother by surprise on the
following forenoon.  The little she said was all in
lamentation of this inevitable delay; though Elinor tried
to raise her spirits, and make her believe, as she THEN
really believed herself, that it would be a very short one.

The next day produced little or no alteration in the
state of the patient; she certainly was not better, and,
except that there was no amendment, did not appear worse.
Their party was now farther reduced; for Mr. Palmer,
though very unwilling to go as well from real humanity
and good-nature, as from a dislike of appearing to be
frightened away by his wife, was persuaded at last
by Colonel Brandon to perform his promise of following her;
and while he was preparing to go, Colonel Brandon himself,
with a much greater exertion, began to talk of going
likewise.--Here, however, the kindness of Mrs. Jennings
interposed most acceptably; for to send the Colonel away
while his love was in so much uneasiness on her sister's
account, would be to deprive them both, she thought,
of every comfort; and therefore telling him at once
that his stay at Cleveland was necessary to herself,
that she should want him to play at piquet of an evening,
while Miss Dashwood was above with her sister, &c. she
urged him so strongly to remain, that he, who was gratifying
the first wish of his own heart by a compliance, could not
long even affect to demur; especially as Mrs. Jennings's
entreaty was warmly seconded by Mr. Palmer, who seemed
to feel a relief to himself, in leaving behind him a person
so well able to assist or advise Miss Dashwood in any emergence.

Marianne was, of course, kept in ignorance of all
these arrangements.  She knew not that she had been
the means of sending the owners of Cleveland away,
in about seven days from the time of their arrival.
It gave her no surprise that she saw nothing
of Mrs. Palmer; and as it gave her likewise no concern,
she never mentioned her name.

Two days passed away from the time of Mr. Palmer's departure,
and her situation continued, with little variation,
the same.  Mr. Harris, who attended her every day,
still talked boldly of a speedy recovery, and Miss Dashwood
was equally sanguine; but the expectation of the others
was by no means so cheerful.  Mrs. Jennings had determined
very early in the seizure that Marianne would never
get over it, and Colonel Brandon, who was chiefly
of use in listening to Mrs. Jennings's forebodings,
was not in a state of mind to resist their influence.
He tried to reason himself out of fears, which the different
judgment of the apothecary seemed to render absurd;
but the many hours of each day in which he was left
entirely alone, were but too favourable for the admission
of every melancholy idea, and he could not expel from
his mind the persuasion that he should see Marianne no more.

On the morning of the third day however, the gloomy
anticipations of both were almost done away; for when
Mr. Harris arrived, he declared his patient materially better.
Her pulse was much stronger, and every symptom more favourable
than on the preceding visit.  Elinor, confirmed in every
pleasant hope, was all cheerfulness; rejoicing that
in her letters to her mother, she had pursued her own
judgment rather than her friend's, in making very light
of the indisposition which delayed them at Cleveland;
and almost fixing on the time when Marianne would be
able to travel.

But the day did not close so auspiciously as it began.--
Towards the evening Marianne became ill again, growing
more heavy, restless, and uncomfortable than before.
Her sister, however, still sanguine, was willing to
attribute the change to nothing more than the fatigue
of having sat up to have her bed made; and carefully
administering the cordials prescribed, saw her, with
satisfaction, sink at last into a slumber, from which
she expected the most beneficial effects.  Her sleep,
though not so quiet as Elinor wished to see it,
lasted a considerable time; and anxious to observe
the result of it herself, she resolved to sit with her
during the whole of it.  Mrs. Jennings, knowing nothing
of any change in the patient, went unusually early to bed;
her maid, who was one of the principal nurses, was recreating
herself in the housekeeper's room, and Elinor remained
alone with Marianne.

The repose of the latter became more and more disturbed;
and her sister, who watched, with unremitting attention
her continual change of posture, and heard the frequent
but inarticulate sounds of complaint which passed her lips,
was almost wishing to rouse her from so painful a slumber,
when Marianne, suddenly awakened by some accidental noise
in the house, started hastily up, and, with feverish wildness,
cried out,--

"Is mama coming?--"

"Not yet," cried the other, concealing her terror,
and assisting Marianne to lie down again, "but she will
be here, I hope, before it is long.  It is a great way,
you know, from hence to Barton."

"But she must not go round by London," cried Marianne,
in the same hurried manner.  "I shall never see her,
if she goes by London."

Elinor perceived with alarm that she was not
quite herself, and, while attempting to soothe her,
eagerly felt her pulse.  It was lower and quicker than ever!
and Marianne, still talking wildly of mama, her alarm
increased so rapidly, as to determine her on sending
instantly for Mr. Harris, and despatching a messenger
to Barton for her mother.  To consult with Colonel Brandon
on the best means of effecting the latter, was a thought
which immediately followed the resolution of its performance;
and as soon she had rung up the maid to take her place
by her sister, she hastened down to the drawing-room,
where she knew he was generally to be found at a much
later hour than the present.

It was no time for hesitation.  Her fears and her
difficulties were immediately before him.  Her fears,
he had no courage, no confidence to attempt the removal of:--
he listened to them in silent despondence;--but her
difficulties were instantly obviated, for with a readiness
that seemed to speak the occasion, and the service
pre-arranged in his mind, he offered himself as the
messenger who should fetch Mrs. Dashwood.  Elinor made no
resistance that was not easily overcome.  She thanked him
with brief, though fervent gratitude, and while he went
to hurry off his servant with a message to Mr. Harris, and
an order for post-horses directly, she wrote a few lines
to her mother.

The comfort of such a friend at that moment as Colonel
Brandon--or such a companion for her mother,--how gratefully
was it felt!--a companion whose judgment would guide,
whose attendance must relieve, and whose friendship might
soothe her!--as far as the shock of such a summons COULD
be lessened to her, his presence, his manners, his assistance,
would lessen it.

HE, meanwhile, whatever he might feel, acted with all
the firmness of a collected mind, made every necessary
arrangement with the utmost despatch, and calculated
with exactness the time in which she might look for
his return.  Not a moment was lost in delay of any kind.
The horses arrived, even before they were expected,
and Colonel Brandon only pressing her hand with a look
of solemnity, and a few words spoken too low to reach her ear,
hurried into the carriage.  It was then about twelve
o'clock, and she returned to her sister's apartment to wait
for the arrival of the apothecary, and to watch by her
the rest of the night.  It was a night of almost equal
suffering to both.  Hour after hour passed away in sleepless
pain and delirium on Marianne's side, and in the most
cruel anxiety on Elinor's, before Mr. Harris appeared.
Her apprehensions once raised, paid by their excess for all
her former security; and the servant who sat up with her,
for she would not allow Mrs. Jennings to be called,
only tortured her more, by hints of what her mistress
had always thought.

Marianne's ideas were still, at intervals,
fixed incoherently on her mother, and whenever she
mentioned her name, it gave a pang to the heart of
poor Elinor, who, reproaching herself for having trifled
with so many days of illness, and wretched for some
immediate relief, fancied that all relief might soon
be in vain, that every thing had been delayed too long,
and pictured to herself her suffering mother arriving
too late to see this darling child, or to see her rational.

She was on the point of sending again for Mr. Harris,
or if HE could not come, for some other advice,
when the former--but not till after five o'clock--arrived.
His opinion, however, made some little amends for his delay,
for though acknowledging a very unexpected and unpleasant
alteration in his patient, he would not allow the danger
to be material, and talked of the relief which a fresh
mode of treatment must procure, with a confidence which,
in a lesser degree, was communicated to Elinor.  He promised
to call again in the course of three or four hours,
and left both the patient and her anxious attendant more
composed than he had found them.

With strong concern, and with many reproaches for not
being called to their aid, did Mrs. Jennings hear in the
morning of what had passed.  Her former apprehensions,
now with greater reason restored, left her no doubt of
the event; and though trying to speak comfort to Elinor,
her conviction of her sister's danger would not allow her
to offer the comfort of hope.  Her heart was really grieved.
The rapid decay, the early death of a girl so young,
so lovely as Marianne, must have struck a less interested
person with concern.  On Mrs. Jennings's compassion
she had other claims.  She had been for three months
her companion, was still under her care, and she was
known to have been greatly injured, and long unhappy.
The distress of her sister too, particularly a favourite,
was before her;--and as for their mother, when Mrs. Jennings
considered that Marianne might probably be to HER what
Charlotte was to herself, her sympathy in HER sufferings
was very sincere.

Mr. Harris was punctual in his second visit;--
but he came to be disappointed in his hopes of what the
last would produce.  His medicines had failed;--the fever
was unabated; and Marianne only more quiet--not more
herself--remained in a heavy stupor.  Elinor, catching all,
and more than all, his fears in a moment, proposed to call
in further advice.  But he judged it unnecessary: he had
still something more to try, some more fresh application,
of whose success he was as confident as the last, and his
visit concluded with encouraging assurances which reached
the ear, but could not enter the heart of Miss Dashwood.
She was calm, except when she thought of her mother;
but she was almost hopeless; and in this state she continued
till noon, scarcely stirring from her sister's bed,
her thoughts wandering from one image of grief,
one suffering friend to another, and her spirits oppressed
to the utmost by the conversation of Mrs. Jennings,
who scrupled not to attribute the severity and danger
of this attack to the many weeks of previous indisposition
which Marianne's disappointment had brought on.
Elinor felt all the reasonableness of the idea, and it
gave fresh misery to her reflections.

About noon, however, she began--but with a caution--a
dread of disappointment which for some time kept her silent,
even to her friend--to fancy, to hope she could perceive
a slight amendment in her sister's pulse;--she waited,
watched, and examined it again and again;--and at last,
with an agitation more difficult to bury under exterior calmness,
than all her foregoing distress, ventured to communicate
her hopes.  Mrs. Jennings, though forced, on examination,
to acknowledge a temporary revival, tried to keep her
young friend from indulging a thought of its continuance;--
and Elinor, conning over every injunction of distrust,
told herself likewise not to hope.  But it was too late.
Hope had already entered; and feeling all its anxious flutter,
she bent over her sister to watch--she hardly knew for what.
Half an hour passed away, and the favourable symptom
yet blessed her.  Others even arose to confirm it.
Her breath, her skin, her lips, all flattered Elinor
with signs of amendment; and Marianne fixed her eyes on
her with a rational, though languid, gaze.  Anxiety and
hope now oppressed her in equal degrees, and left her no
moment of tranquillity till the arrival of Mr. Harris at
four o'clock;--when his assurances, his felicitations on
a recovery in her sister even surpassing his expectation,
gave her confidence, comfort, and tears of joy.

Marianne was in every respect materially better,
and he declared her entirely out of danger.  Mrs. Jennings,
perhaps satisfied with the partial justification of her
forebodings which had been found in their late alarm,
allowed herself to trust in his judgment, and admitted,
with unfeigned joy, and soon with unequivocal cheerfulness,
the probability of an entire recovery.

Elinor could not be cheerful.  Her joy was of a
different kind, and led to any thing rather than to gaiety.
Marianne restored to life, health, friends, and to her
doting mother, was an idea to fill her heart with sensations
of exquisite comfort, and expand it in fervent gratitude;--
but it lead to no outward demonstrations of joy, no words,
no smiles.  All within Elinor's breast was satisfaction,
silent and strong.

She continued by the side of her sister, with little
intermission the whole afternoon, calming every fear,
satisfying every inquiry of her enfeebled spirits,
supplying every succour, and watching almost every look and
every breath.  The possibility of a relapse would of course,
in some moments, occur to remind her of what anxiety was--
but when she saw, on her frequent and minute examination,
that every symptom of recovery continued, and saw Marianne
at six o'clock sink into a quiet, steady, and to all
appearance comfortable, sleep, she silenced every doubt.

The time was now drawing on, when Colonel Brandon
might be expected back.  At ten o'clock, she trusted,
or at least not much later her mother would be relieved
from the dreadful suspense in which she must now be
travelling towards them.  The Colonel, too!--perhaps scarcely
less an object of pity!--Oh!--how slow was the progress
of time which yet kept them in ignorance!

At seven o'clock, leaving Marianne still sweetly asleep,
she joined Mrs. Jennings in the drawing-room to tea.
Of breakfast she had been kept by her fears, and of
dinner by their sudden reverse, from eating much;--
and the present refreshment, therefore, with such feelings
of content as she brought to it, was particularly welcome.
Mrs. Jennings would have persuaded her, at its conclusion,
to take some rest before her mother's arrival, and allow HER to
take her place by Marianne; but Elinor had no sense of fatigue,
no capability of sleep at that moment about her, and she was
not to be kept away from her sister an unnecessary instant.
Mrs. Jennings therefore attending her up stairs into the
sick chamber, to satisfy herself that all continued right,
left her there again to her charge and her thoughts,
and retired to her own room to write letters and sleep.

The night was cold and stormy.  The wind roared
round the house, and the rain beat against the windows;
but Elinor, all happiness within, regarded it not.
Marianne slept through every blast; and the travellers--
they had a rich reward in store, for every present inconvenience.

The clock struck eight.  Had it been ten,
Elinor would have been convinced that at that moment
she heard a carriage driving up to the house;
and so strong was the persuasion that she DID, in spite
of the ALMOST impossibility of their being already come,
that she moved into the adjoining dressing-closet and
opened a window shutter, to be satisfied of the truth.
She instantly saw that her ears had not deceived her.
The flaring lamps of a carriage were immediately in view.
By their uncertain light she thought she could discern it
to be drawn by four horses; and this, while it told the
excess of her poor mother's alarm, gave some explanation
to such unexpected rapidity.

Never in her life had Elinor found it so difficult
to be calm, as at that moment.  The knowledge of what her
mother must be feeling as the carriage stopt at the door--
of her doubt--her dread--perhaps her despair!--and
of what SHE had to tell!--with such knowledge it was
impossible to be calm.  All that remained to be done
was to be speedy; and, therefore staying only till
she could leave Mrs. Jennings's maid with her sister,
she hurried down stairs.

The bustle in the vestibule, as she passed along
an inner lobby, assured her that they were already
in the house.  She rushed to the drawing-room,--she
entered it,--and saw only Willoughby.



CHAPTER 44


Elinor, starting back with a look of horror at
the sight of him, obeyed the first impulse of her heart
in turning instantly to quit the room, and her hand
was already on the lock, when its action was suspended
by his hastily advancing, and saying, in a voice rather
of command than supplication,

"Miss Dashwood, for half an hour--for ten minutes--
I entreat you to stay."

"No, sir," she replied with firmness, "I shall NOT stay.
Your business cannot be with ME.  The servants, I suppose,
forgot to tell you that Mr. Palmer was not in the house."

"Had they told me," he cried with vehemence,
"that Mr. Palmer and all his relations were at the devil,
it would not have turned me from the door.  My business
is with you, and only you."

"With me!"--in the utmost amazement--"well, sir,--
be quick--and if you can--less violent."

"Sit down, and I will be both."

She hesitated; she knew not what to do.  The possibility
of Colonel Brandon's arriving and finding her there,
came across her.  But she had promised to hear him,
and her curiosity no less than her honor was engaged.
After a moment's recollection, therefore, concluding that
prudence required dispatch, and that her acquiescence would
best promote it, she walked silently towards the table,
and sat down.  He took the opposite chair, and for half
a minute not a word was said by either.

"Pray be quick, sir,"--said Elinor, impatiently;--
"I have no time to spare."

He was sitting in an attitude of deep meditation,
and seemed not to hear her.

"Your sister," said he, with abruptness, a moment
afterwards--"is out of danger.  I heard it from the servant.
God be praised!--But is it true? is it really true?"

Elinor would not speak.  He repeated the inquiry with
yet greater eagerness.

"For God's sake tell me, is she out of danger, or is she not?"

"We hope she is."

He rose up, and walked across the room.

"Had I known as much half an hour ago--But
since I AM here,"--speaking with a forced vivacity as he
returned to his seat--"what does it signify?--For once,
Miss Dashwood--it will be the last time, perhaps--let us
be cheerful together.--I am in a fine mood for gaiety.--
Tell me honestly"--a deeper glow overspreading his cheeks--
"do you think me most a knave or a fool?"

Elinor looked at him with greater astonishment than ever.
She began to think that he must be in liquor;--the
strangeness of such a visit, and of such manners,
seemed no otherwise intelligible; and with this impression
she immediately rose, saying,

"Mr. Willoughby, I advise you at present to return
to Combe--I am not at leisure to remain with you longer.--
Whatever your business may be with me, will it be better
recollected and explained to-morrow."

"I understand you," he replied, with an expressive smile,
and a voice perfectly calm; "yes, I am very drunk.--
A pint of porter with my cold beef at Marlborough was
enough to over-set me."

"At Marlborough!"--cried Elinor, more and more at
a loss to understand what he would be at.

"Yes,--I left London this morning at eight o'clock,
and the only ten minutes I have spent out of my chaise
since that time procured me a nuncheon at Marlborough."

The steadiness of his manner, and the intelligence
of his eye as he spoke, convincing Elinor, that whatever
other unpardonable folly might bring him to Cleveland,
he was not brought there by intoxication, she said,
after a moment's recollection,

"Mr. Willoughby, you OUGHT to feel, and I certainly
DO--that after what has passed--your coming here in
this manner, and forcing yourself upon my notice,
requires a very particular excuse.--What is it,
that you mean by it?"--

"I mean,"--said he, with serious energy--"if I can,
to make you hate me one degree less than you do NOW.
I mean to offer some kind of explanation, some kind
of apology, for the past; to open my whole heart to you,
and by convincing you, that though I have been always
a blockhead, I have not been always a rascal, to obtain
something like forgiveness from Ma--from your sister."

"Is this the real reason of your coming?"

"Upon my soul it is,"--was his answer, with a warmth
which brought all the former Willoughby to her remembrance,
and in spite of herself made her think him sincere.

"If that is all, you may be satisfied already,--
for Marianne DOES--she has LONG forgiven you."

"Has she?"--he cried, in the same eager tone.--
"Then she has forgiven me before she ought to have done it.
But she shall forgive me again, and on more reasonable
grounds.--NOW will you listen to me?"

Elinor bowed her assent.

"I do not know," said he, after a pause of expectation
on her side, and thoughtfulness on his own,--"how YOU
may have accounted for my behaviour to your sister,
or what diabolical motive you may have imputed to me.--
Perhaps you will hardly think the better of me,--it is
worth the trial however, and you shall hear every thing.
When I first became intimate in your family, I had no
other intention, no other view in the acquaintance
than to pass my time pleasantly while I was obliged to remain
in Devonshire, more pleasantly than I had ever done before.
Your sister's lovely person and interesting manners
could not but please me; and her behaviour to me almost
from the first, was of a kind--It is astonishing,
when I reflect on what it was, and what SHE was, that my
heart should have been so insensible!  But at first
I must confess, my vanity only was elevated by it.
Careless of her happiness, thinking only of my own amusement,
giving way to feelings which I had always been too much
in the habit of indulging, I endeavoured, by every means
in my power, to make myself pleasing to her, without any
design of returning her affection."

Miss Dashwood, at this point, turning her eyes on him
with the most angry contempt, stopped him, by saying,

"It is hardly worth while, Mr. Willoughby,
for you to relate, or for me to listen any longer.
Such a beginning as this cannot be followed by any thing.--
Do not let me be pained by hearing any thing more on
the subject."

"I insist on you hearing the whole of it," he replied,
"My fortune was never large, and I had always been expensive,
always in the habit of associating with people of better
income than myself.  Every year since my coming of age,
or even before, I believe, had added to my debts; and though
the death of my old cousin, Mrs. Smith, was to set me free;
yet that event being uncertain, and possibly far distant,
it had been for some time my intention to re-establish my
circumstances by marrying a woman of fortune.  To attach
myself to your sister, therefore, was not a thing to be
thought of;--and with a meanness, selfishness, cruelty--
which no indignant, no contemptuous look, even of yours,
Miss Dashwood, can ever reprobate too much--I was acting
in this manner, trying to engage her regard, without a
thought of returning it.--But one thing may be said
for me: even in that horrid state of selfish vanity,
I did not know the extent of the injury I meditated,
because I did not THEN know what it was to love.
But have I ever known it?--Well may it be doubted; for, had I
really loved, could I have sacrificed my feelings to vanity,
to avarice?--or, what is more, could I have sacrificed hers?--
But I have done it.  To avoid a comparative poverty,
which her affection and her society would have deprived
of all its horrors, I have, by raising myself to affluence,
lost every thing that could make it a blessing."

"You did then," said Elinor, a little softened,
"believe yourself at one time attached to her?"

"To have resisted such attractions, to have withstood
such tenderness!--Is there a man on earth who could have
done it?--Yes, I found myself, by insensible degrees,
sincerely fond of her; and the happiest hours of my life
were what I spent with her when I felt my intentions
were strictly honourable, and my feelings blameless.
Even THEN, however, when fully determined on paying
my addresses to her, I allowed myself most improperly
to put off, from day to day, the moment of doing it,
from an unwillingness to enter into an engagement
while my circumstances were so greatly embarrassed.
I will not reason here--nor will I stop for YOU to expatiate
on the absurdity, and the worse than absurdity, of scrupling
to engage my faith where my honour was already bound.
The event has proved, that I was a cunning fool,
providing with great circumspection for a possible
opportunity of making myself contemptible and wretched
for ever.  At last, however, my resolution was taken,
and I had determined, as soon as I could engage her alone,
to justify the attentions I had so invariably paid her,
and openly assure her of an affection which I had already
taken such pains to display.  But in the interim--in the
interim of the very few hours that were to pass, before I
could have an opportunity of speaking with her in private--
a circumstance occurred--an unlucky circumstance, to ruin
all my resolution, and with it all my comfort.  A discovery
took place,"--here he hesitated and looked down.--"Mrs. Smith
had somehow or other been informed, I imagine by some
distant relation, whose interest it was to deprive me of
her favour, of an affair, a connection--but I need not
explain myself farther," he added, looking at her with an
heightened colour and an enquiring eye--"your particular
intimacy--you have probably heard the whole story long ago."

"I have," returned Elinor, colouring likewise,
and hardening her heart anew against any compassion for him,
"I have heard it all.  And how you will explain away any
part of your guilt in that dreadful business, I confess
is beyond my comprehension."

"Remember," cried Willoughby, "from whom you received
the account.  Could it be an impartial one?  I acknowledge
that her situation and her character ought to have been
respected by me.  I do not mean to justify myself, but at
the same time cannot leave you to suppose that I have nothing
to urge--that because she was injured she was irreproachable,
and because I was a libertine, SHE must be a saint.
If the violence of her passions, the weakness of her
understanding--I do not mean, however, to defend myself.
Her affection for me deserved better treatment, and I often,
with great self-reproach, recall the tenderness which,
for a very short time, had the power of creating any return.
I wish--I heartily wish it had never been.  But I have injured
more than herself; and I have injured one, whose affection
for me--(may I say it?) was scarcely less warm than hers;
and whose mind--Oh! how infinitely superior!"--

"Your indifference, however, towards that unfortunate
girl--I must say it, unpleasant to me as the discussion
of such a subject may well be--your indifference is no
apology for your cruel neglect of her.  Do not think yourself
excused by any weakness, any natural defect of understanding
on her side, in the wanton cruelty so evident on yours.
You must have known, that while you were enjoying yourself
in Devonshire pursuing fresh schemes, always gay,
always happy, she was reduced to the extremest indigence."

"But, upon my soul, I did NOT know it," he warmly
replied; "I did not recollect that I had omitted to give
her my direction; and common sense might have told her
how to find it out."

"Well, sir, and what said Mrs. Smith?"

"She taxed me with the offence at once, and my confusion
may be guessed.  The purity of her life, the formality
of her notions, her ignorance of the world--every thing
was against me.  The matter itself I could not deny,
and vain was every endeavour to soften it.  She was
previously disposed, I believe, to doubt the morality of my
conduct in general, and was moreover discontented with
the very little attention, the very little portion of my
time that I had bestowed on her, in my present visit.
In short, it ended in a total breach.  By one measure I
might have saved myself.  In the height of her morality,
good woman! she offered to forgive the past, if I would
marry Eliza.  That could not be--and I was formally
dismissed from her favour and her house.  The night
following this affair--I was to go the next morning--
was spent by me in deliberating on what my future conduct
should be.  The struggle was great--but it ended too soon.
My affection for Marianne, my thorough conviction of her
attachment to me--it was all insufficient to outweigh
that dread of poverty, or get the better of those false
ideas of the necessity of riches, which I was naturally
inclined to feel, and expensive society had increased.
I had reason to believe myself secure of my present wife,
if I chose to address her, and I persuaded myself to think
that nothing else in common prudence remained for me to do.
A heavy scene however awaited me, before I could leave
Devonshire;--I was engaged to dine with you on that very day;
some apology was therefore necessary for my breaking
this engagement.  But whether I should write this apology,
or deliver it in person, was a point of long debate.
To see Marianne, I felt, would be dreadful, and I even doubted
whether I could see her again, and keep to my resolution.
In that point, however, I undervalued my own magnanimity,
as the event declared; for I went, I saw her, and saw
her miserable, and left her miserable--and left her hoping
never to see her again."

"Why did you call, Mr. Willoughby?" said Elinor,
reproachfully; "a note would have answered every purpose.--
Why was it necessary to call?"

"It was necessary to my own pride.  I could not bear
to leave the country in a manner that might lead you,
or the rest of the neighbourhood, to suspect any part
of what had really passed between Mrs. Smith and myself--
and I resolved therefore on calling at the cottage,
in my way to Honiton.  The sight of your dear sister,
however, was really dreadful; and, to heighten the matter,
I found her alone.  You were all gone I do not know where.
I had left her only the evening before, so fully,
so firmly resolved within my self on doing right!
A few hours were to have engaged her to me for ever;
and I remember how happy, how gay were my spirits, as I
walked from the cottage to Allenham, satisfied with myself,
delighted with every body!  But in this, our last interview
of friendship, I approached her with a sense of guilt
that almost took from me the power of dissembling.
Her sorrow, her disappointment, her deep regret, when I told
her that I was obliged to leave Devonshire so immediately--I
never shall forget it--united too with such reliance,
such confidence in me!--Oh, God!--what a hard-hearted
rascal I was!"

They were both silent for a few moments.
Elinor first spoke.

"Did you tell her that you should soon return?"

"I do not know what I told her," he replied, impatiently;
"less than was due to the past, beyond a doubt, and in all
likelihood much more than was justified by the future.
I cannot think of it.--It won't do.--Then came your dear mother
to torture me farther, with all her kindness and confidence.
Thank Heaven! it DID torture me.  I was miserable.
Miss Dashwood, you cannot have an idea of the comfort it
gives me to look back on my own misery.  I owe such a grudge
to myself for the stupid, rascally folly of my own heart,
that all my past sufferings under it are only triumph and
exultation to me now.  Well, I went, left all that I loved,
and went to those to whom, at best, I was only indifferent.
My journey to town--travelling with my own horses,
and therefore so tediously--no creature to speak to--my
own reflections so cheerful--when I looked forward
every thing so inviting!--when I looked back at Barton,
the picture so soothing!--oh, it was a blessed journey!"

He stopped.

"Well, sir," said Elinor, who, though pitying him,
grew impatient for his departure, "and this is all?"

"Ah!--no,--have you forgot what passed in town?--
That infamous letter--Did she shew it you?"

"Yes, I saw every note that passed."

"When the first of hers reached me (as it immediately did,
for I was in town the whole time,) what I felt is--
in the common phrase, not to be expressed; in a more
simple one--perhaps too simple to raise any emotion--
my feelings were very, very painful.--Every line, every word
was--in the hackneyed metaphor which their dear writer,
were she here, would forbid--a dagger to my heart.
To know that Marianne was in town was--in the same language--
a thunderbolt.--Thunderbolts and daggers!--what a reproof
would she have given me!--her taste, her opinions--I believe
they are better known to me than my own,--and I am sure
they are dearer."

Elinor's heart, which had undergone many changes
in the course of this extraordinary conversation,
was now softened again;--yet she felt it her duty to check
such ideas in her companion as the last.

"This is not right, Mr. Willoughby.--Remember that
you are married.  Relate only what in your conscience
you think necessary for me to hear."

"Marianne's note, by assuring me that I was still
as dear to her as in former days, that in spite of the many,
many weeks we had been separated, she was as constant
in her own feelings, and as full of faith in the constancy
of mine as ever, awakened all my remorse.  I say awakened,
because time and London, business and dissipation,
had in some measure quieted it, and I had been growing
a fine hardened villain, fancying myself indifferent to her,
and chusing to fancy that she too must have become
indifferent to me; talking to myself of our past attachment
as a mere idle, trifling business, shrugging up my shoulders
in proof of its being so, and silencing every reproach,
overcoming every scruple, by secretly saying now and then,
'I shall be heartily glad to hear she is well married.'--
But this note made me know myself better.  I felt that
she was infinitely dearer to me than any other woman
in the world, and that I was using her infamously.
But every thing was then just settled between Miss Grey
and me.  To retreat was impossible.  All that I had to do,
was to avoid you both.  I sent no answer to Marianne,
intending by that to preserve myself from her farther notice;
and for some time I was even determined not to call in
Berkeley Street;--but at last, judging it wiser to affect
the air of a cool, common acquaintance than anything else,
I watched you all safely out of the house one morning,
and left my name."

"Watched us out of the house!"

"Even so.  You would be surprised to hear how often
I watched you, how often I was on the point of falling
in with you.  I have entered many a shop to avoid your sight,
as the carriage drove by.  Lodging as I did in Bond Street,
there was hardly a day in which I did not catch a glimpse
of one or other of you; and nothing but the most constant
watchfulness on my side, a most invariably prevailing
desire to keep out of your sight, could have separated us
so long.  I avoided the Middletons as much as possible,
as well as everybody else who was likely to prove
an acquaintance in common.  Not aware of their being
in town, however, I blundered on Sir John, I believe,
the first day of his coming, and the day after I had called
at Mrs. Jennings's.  He asked me to a party, a dance at his
house in the evening.--Had he NOT told me as an inducement
that you and your sister were to be there, I should have
felt it too certain a thing, to trust myself near him.
The next morning brought another short note from Marianne--
still affectionate, open, artless, confiding--everything
that could make MY conduct most hateful.  I could not
answer it.  I tried--but could not frame a sentence.
But I thought of her, I believe, every moment of the day.
If you CAN pity me, Miss Dashwood, pity my situation as it
was THEN.  With my head and heart full of your sister,
I was forced to play the happy lover to another woman!--Those
three or four weeks were worse than all.  Well, at last,
as I need not tell you, you were forced on me; and what a
sweet figure I cut!--what an evening of agony it was!--
Marianne, beautiful as an angel on one side, calling me
Willoughby in such a tone!--Oh, God!--holding out her hand
to me, asking me for an explanation, with those bewitching
eyes fixed in such speaking solicitude on my face!--and
Sophia, jealous as the devil on the other hand, looking
all that was--Well, it does not signify; it is over now.--
Such an evening!--I ran away from you all as soon as I could;
but not before I had seen Marianne's sweet face as white
as death.--THAT was the last, last look I ever had of her;--
the last manner in which she appeared to me.  It was a horrid
sight!--yet when I thought of her to-day as really dying,
it was a kind of comfort to me to imagine that I knew
exactly how she would appear to those, who saw her last
in this world.  She was before me, constantly before me,
as I travelled, in the same look and hue."

A short pause of mutual thoughtfulness succeeded.
Willoughby first rousing himself, broke it thus:

"Well, let me make haste and be gone.  Your sister
is certainly better, certainly out of danger?"

"We are assured of it."

"Your poor mother, too!--doting on Marianne."

"But the letter, Mr. Willoughby, your own letter;
have you any thing to say about that?"

"Yes, yes, THAT in particular.  Your sister
wrote to me again, you know, the very next morning.
You saw what she said.  I was breakfasting at the
Ellisons,--and her letter, with some others, was brought
to me there from my lodgings.  It happened to catch
Sophia's eye before it caught mine--and its size,
the elegance of the paper, the hand-writing altogether,
immediately gave her a suspicion.  Some vague report had
reached her before of my attachment to some young lady
in Devonshire, and what had passed within her observation
the preceding evening had marked who the young lady was,
and made her more jealous than ever.  Affecting that air
of playfulness, therefore, which is delightful in a woman
one loves, she opened the letter directly, and read
its contents.  She was well paid for her impudence.
She read what made her wretched.  Her wretchedness I could
have borne, but her passion--her malice--At all events it
must be appeased.  And, in short--what do you think of my
wife's style of letter-writing?--delicate--tender--
truly feminine--was it not?"

"Your wife!--The letter was in your own hand-writing."

"Yes, but I had only the credit of servilely copying
such sentences as I was ashamed to put my name to.
The original was all her own--her own happy thoughts
and gentle diction.  But what could I do!--we were engaged,
every thing in preparation, the day almost fixed--But I am
talking like a fool.  Preparation!--day!--In honest words,
her money was necessary to me, and in a situation like
mine, any thing was to be done to prevent a rupture.
And after all, what did it signify to my character
in the opinion of Marianne and her friends, in what language
my answer was couched?--It must have been only to one end.
My business was to declare myself a scoundrel, and whether
I did it with a bow or a bluster was of little importance.--
'I am ruined for ever in their opinion--' said I to
myself--'I am shut out for ever from their society,
they already think me an unprincipled fellow, this letter
will only make them think me a blackguard one.' Such were
my reasonings, as, in a sort of desperate carelessness,
I copied my wife's words, and parted with the last relics
of Marianne.  Her three notes--unluckily they were all
in my pocketbook, or I should have denied their existence,
and hoarded them for ever--I was forced to put them up,
and could not even kiss them.  And the lock of hair--that too
I had always carried about me in the same pocket-book,
which was now searched by Madam with the most ingratiating
virulence,--the dear lock--all, every memento was torn from me."

"You are very wrong, Mr. Willoughby, very blamable,"
said Elinor, while her voice, in spite of herself,
betrayed her compassionate emotion; "you ought not to speak
in this way, either of Mrs. Willoughby or my sister.
You had made your own choice.  It was not forced on you.
Your wife has a claim to your politeness, to your respect,
at least.  She must be attached to you, or she would not
have married you.  To treat her with unkindness, to speak
of her slightingly is no atonement to Marianne--nor can I
suppose it a relief to your own conscience."

"Do not talk to me of my wife," said he with a heavy sigh.--
"She does not deserve your compassion.--She knew I had no
regard for her when we married.--Well, married we were,
and came down to Combe Magna to be happy, and afterwards
returned to town to be gay.--And now do you pity me,
Miss Dashwood?--or have I said all this to no purpose?--
Am I--be it only one degree--am I less guilty in your opinion
than I was before?--My intentions were not always wrong.
Have I explained away any part of my guilt?"

"Yes, you have certainly removed something--a little.--
You have proved yourself, on the whole, less faulty than
I had believed you.  You have proved your heart less wicked,
much less wicked.  But I hardly know--the misery that
you have inflicted--I hardly know what could have made
it worse."

"Will you repeat to your sister when she is recovered,
what I have been telling you?--Let me be a little lightened
too in her opinion as well as in yours.  You tell me that
she has forgiven me already.  Let me be able to fancy that
a better knowledge of my heart, and of my present feelings,
will draw from her a more spontaneous, more natural, more
gentle, less dignified, forgiveness.  Tell her of my misery
and my penitence--tell her that my heart was never inconstant
to her, and if you will, that at this moment she is dearer
to me than ever."

"I will tell her all that is necessary to what may
comparatively be called, your justification.  But you have
not explained to me the particular reason of your coming now,
nor how you heard of her illness."

"Last night, in Drury Lane lobby, I ran against Sir
John Middleton, and when he saw who I was--for the first
time these two months--he spoke to me.--That he had cut
me ever since my marriage, I had seen without surprise
or resentment.  Now, however, his good-natured, honest,
stupid soul, full of indignation against me, and concern
for your sister, could not resist the temptation of telling
me what he knew ought to--though probably he did not
think it WOULD--vex me horridly.  As bluntly as he could
speak it, therefore, he told me that Marianne Dashwood
was dying of a putrid fever at Cleveland--a letter that
morning received from Mrs. Jennings declared her danger
most imminent--the Palmers are all gone off in a fright,
&c.--I was too much shocked to be able to pass myself
off as insensible even to the undiscerning Sir John.
His heart was softened in seeing mine suffer; and so much
of his ill-will was done away, that when we parted,
he almost shook me by the hand while he reminded me of an
old promise about a pointer puppy.  What I felt on hearing
that your sister was dying--and dying too, believing me
the greatest villain upon earth, scorning, hating me
in her latest moments--for how could I tell what horrid
projects might not have been imputed?  ONE person I
was sure would represent me as capable of any thing--
What I felt was dreadful!--My resolution was soon made,
and at eight o'clock this morning I was in my carriage.
Now you know all."

Elinor made no answer.  Her thoughts were silently fixed
on the irreparable injury which too early an independence
and its consequent habits of idleness, dissipation, and luxury,
had made in the mind, the character, the happiness,
of a man who, to every advantage of person and talents,
united a disposition naturally open and honest, and a
feeling, affectionate temper.  The world had made him
extravagant and vain--Extravagance and vanity had made him
cold-hearted and selfish.  Vanity, while seeking its own
guilty triumph at the expense of another, had involved
him in a real attachment, which extravagance, or at least
its offspring, necessity, had required to be sacrificed.
Each faulty propensity in leading him to evil, had led
him likewise to punishment.  The attachment, from which
against honour, against feeling, against every better interest
he had outwardly torn himself, now, when no longer allowable,
governed every thought; and the connection, for the sake
of which he had, with little scruple, left her sister
to misery, was likely to prove a source of unhappiness
to himself of a far more incurable nature.  From a reverie
of this kind she was recalled at the end of some minutes
by Willoughby, who, rousing himself from a reverie at least
equally painful, started up in preparation for going, and said--

"There is no use in staying here; I must be off."

"Are you going back to town?"

"No--to Combe Magna.  I have business there;
from thence to town in a day or two.  Good bye."

He held out his hand.  She could not refuse to give
him hers's;--he pressed it with affection.

"And you DO think something better of me than
you did?"--said he, letting it fall, and leaning against
the mantel-piece as if forgetting he was to go.

Elinor assured him that she did;--that she forgave,
pitied, wished him well--was even interested in his
happiness--and added some gentle counsel as to the behaviour
most likely to promote it.  His answer was not very encouraging.

"As to that," said he, "I must rub through the world
as well as I can.  Domestic happiness is out of the question.
If, however, I am allowed to think that you and yours feel
an interest in my fate and actions, it may be the means--it
may put me on my guard--at least, it may be something to
live for.  Marianne to be sure is lost to me for ever.
Were I even by any blessed chance at liberty again--"

Elinor stopped him with a reproof.

"Well,"--he replied--"once more good bye. I shall
now go away and live in dread of one event."

"What do you mean?"

"Your sister's marriage."

"You are very wrong.  She can never be more lost
to you than she is now."

"But she will be gained by some one else.  And if
that some one should be the very he whom, of all others,
I could least bear--but I will not stay to rob myself
of all your compassionate goodwill, by shewing
that where I have most injured I can least forgive.
Good bye,--God bless you!"

And with these words, he almost ran out of the room.



CHAPTER 45


Elinor, for some time after he left her, for some time
even after the sound of his carriage had died away, remained
too much oppressed by a crowd of ideas, widely differing in
themselves, but of which sadness was the general result,
to think even of her sister.

Willoughby, he, whom only half an hour ago she had
abhorred as the most worthless of men, Willoughby, in spite
of all his faults, excited a degree of commiseration
for the sufferings produced by them, which made her
think of him as now separated for ever from her family,
with a tenderness, a regret, rather in proportion, as she
soon acknowledged within herself--to his wishes than to
his merits.  She felt that his influence over her mind
was heightened by circumstances which ought not in reason
to have weight; by that person of uncommon attraction,
that open, affectionate, and lively manner which it
was no merit to possess; and by that still ardent love
for Marianne, which it was not even innocent to indulge.
But she felt that it was so, long, long before she could
feel his influence less.

When at last she returned to the unconscious Marianne,
she found her just awaking, refreshed by so long and sweet
a sleep to the extent of her hopes.  Elinor's heart was full.
The past, the present, the future, Willoughby's visit,
Marianne's safety, and her mother's expected arrival,
threw her altogether into an agitation of spirits
which kept off every indication of fatigue, and made
her only fearful of betraying herself to her sister.
Short was the time, however, in which that fear could
affect her, for within half an hour after Willoughby's
leaving the house, she was again called down stairs
by the sound of another carriage.--Eager to save her
mother from every unnecessary moment's horrible suspense,
she ran immediately into the hall, and reached the outward
door just in time to receive and support her as she entered it.

Mrs. Dashwood, whose terror as they drew near the
house had produced almost the conviction of Marianne's
being no more, had no voice to inquire after her,
no voice even for Elinor; but SHE, waiting neither for
salutation nor inquiry, instantly gave the joyful relief;--
and her mother, catching it with all her usual warmth,
was in a moment as much overcome by her happiness, as she
had been before by her fears.  She was supported into
the drawing-room between her daughter and her friend;--
and there, shedding tears of joy, though still unable
to speak, embraced Elinor again and again, turning from her
at intervals to press Colonel Brandon's hand, with a look
which spoke at once her gratitude, and her conviction
of his sharing with herself in the bliss of the moment.
He shared it, however, in a silence even greater than her own.

As soon as Mrs. Dashwood had recovered herself,
to see Marianne was her first desire; and in two minutes she
was with her beloved child, rendered dearer to her than ever
by absence, unhappiness, and danger.  Elinor's delight,
as she saw what each felt in the meeting, was only checked
by an apprehension of its robbing Marianne of farther sleep;--
but Mrs. Dashwood could be calm, could be even prudent,
when the life of a child was at stake, and Marianne,
satisfied in knowing her mother was near her, and conscious
of being too weak for conversation, submitted readily to the
silence and quiet prescribed by every nurse around her.
Mrs. Dashwood WOULD sit up with her all night; and Elinor,
in compliance with her mother's entreaty, went to bed.
But the rest, which one night entirely sleepless,
and many hours of the most wearing anxiety seemed to
make requisite, was kept off by irritation of spirits.
Willoughby, "poor Willoughby," as she now allowed
herself to call him, was constantly in her thoughts; she
would not but have heard his vindication for the world,
and now blamed, now acquitted herself for having judged him
so harshly before.  But her promise of relating it to her
sister was invariably painful.  She dreaded the performance
of it, dreaded what its effect on Marianne might be;
doubted whether after such an explanation she could ever
be happy with another; and for a moment wished Willoughby
a widower.  Then, remembering Colonel Brandon, reproved herself,
felt that to HIS sufferings and his constancy far more
than to his rival's, the reward of her sister was due,
and wished any thing rather than Mrs. Willoughby's death.

The shock of Colonel Brandon's errand at Barton had been
much softened to Mrs. Dashwood by her own previous alarm;
for so great was her uneasiness about Marianne, that she
had already determined to set out for Cleveland on that
very day, without waiting for any further intelligence,
and had so far settled her journey before his arrival,
that the Careys were then expected every moment to fetch
Margaret away, as her mother was unwilling to take her
where there might be infection.

Marianne continued to mend every day, and the brilliant
cheerfulness of Mrs. Dashwood's looks and spirits proved
her to be, as she repeatedly declared herself, one of
the happiest women in the world.  Elinor could not hear
the declaration, nor witness its proofs without sometimes
wondering whether her mother ever recollected Edward.
But Mrs. Dashwood, trusting to the temperate account
of her own disappointment which Elinor had sent her,
was led away by the exuberance of her joy to think only
of what would increase it.  Marianne was restored to her
from a danger in which, as she now began to feel,
her own mistaken judgment in encouraging the unfortunate
attachment to Willoughby, had contributed to place her;--
and in her recovery she had yet another source of joy
unthought of by Elinor.  It was thus imparted to her,
as soon as any opportunity of private conference
between them occurred.

"At last we are alone.  My Elinor, you do not yet
know all my happiness.  Colonel Brandon loves Marianne.
He has told me so himself."

Her daughter, feeling by turns both pleased and pained,
surprised and not surprised, was all silent attention.

"You are never like me, dear Elinor, or I should
wonder at your composure now.  Had I sat down to wish
for any possible good to my family, I should have fixed
on Colonel Brandon's marrying one of you as the object
most desirable.  And I believe Marianne will be the most
happy with him of the two."

Elinor was half inclined to ask her reason for thinking so,
because satisfied that none founded on an impartial
consideration of their age, characters, or feelings,
could be given;--but her mother must always be carried
away by her imagination on any interesting subject,
and therefore instead of an inquiry, she passed it off with a
smile.

"He opened his whole heart to me yesterday as we travelled.
It came out quite unawares, quite undesignedly.  I, you may
well believe, could talk of nothing but my child;--he could
not conceal his distress; I saw that it equalled my own,
and he perhaps, thinking that mere friendship, as the world
now goes, would not justify so warm a sympathy--or rather,
not thinking at all, I suppose--giving way to irresistible
feelings, made me acquainted with his earnest, tender, constant,
affection for Marianne.  He has loved her, my Elinor, ever since
the first moment of seeing her."

Here, however, Elinor perceived,--not the language,
not the professions of Colonel Brandon, but the natural
embellishments of her mother's active fancy, which fashioned
every thing delightful to her as it chose.

"His regard for her, infinitely surpassing anything
that Willoughby ever felt or feigned, as much more warm,
as more sincere or constant--which ever we are to call it--
has subsisted through all the knowledge of dear Marianne's
unhappy prepossession for that worthless young man!--and
without selfishness--without encouraging a hope!--could
he have seen her happy with another--Such a noble mind!--
such openness, such sincerity!--no one can be deceived
in HIM."

"Colonel Brandon's character," said Elinor,
"as an excellent man, is well established."

"I know it is"--replied her mother seriously, "or
after such a warning, I should be the last to encourage
such affection, or even to be pleased by it.  But his coming
for me as he did, with such active, such ready friendship,
is enough to prove him one of the worthiest of men."

"His character, however," answered Elinor, "does not rest
on ONE act of kindness, to which his affection for Marianne,
were humanity out of the case, would have prompted him.
To Mrs. Jennings, to the Middletons, he has been long
and intimately known; they equally love and respect him;
and even my own knowledge of him, though lately acquired,
is very considerable; and so highly do I value and esteem him,
that if Marianne can be happy with him, I shall be as ready
as yourself to think our connection the greatest blessing
to us in the world.  What answer did you give him?--Did you
allow him to hope?"

"Oh! my love, I could not then talk of hope to him
or to myself.  Marianne might at that moment be dying.
But he did not ask for hope or encouragement.  His was
an involuntary confidence, an irrepressible effusion
to a soothing friend--not an application to a parent.
Yet after a time I DID say, for at first I was quite
overcome--that if she lived, as I trusted she might,
my greatest happiness would lie in promoting their marriage;
and since our arrival, since our delightful security,
I have repeated it to him more fully, have given him every
encouragement in my power.  Time, a very little time,
I tell him, will do everything;--Marianne's heart is
not to be wasted for ever on such a man as Willoughby.--
His own merits must soon secure it."

"To judge from the Colonel's spirits, however,
you have not yet made him equally sanguine."

"No.--He thinks Marianne's affection too deeply
rooted for any change in it under a great length of time,
and even supposing her heart again free, is too diffident
of himself to believe, that with such a difference of age
and disposition he could ever attach her.  There, however,
he is quite mistaken.  His age is only so much beyond
hers as to be an advantage, as to make his character and
principles fixed;--and his disposition, I am well convinced,
is exactly the very one to make your sister happy.
And his person, his manners too, are all in his favour.
My partiality does not blind me; he certainly is not
so handsome as Willoughby--but at the same time,
there is something much more pleasing in his countenance.--
There was always a something,--if you remember,--in Willoughby's
eyes at times, which I did not like."

Elinor could NOT remember it;--but her mother,
without waiting for her assent, continued,

"And his manners, the Colonel's manners are not only
more pleasing to me than Willoughby's ever were, but they
are of a kind I well know to be more solidly attaching
to Marianne.  Their gentleness, their genuine attention
to other people, and their manly unstudied simplicity
is much more accordant with her real disposition, than
the liveliness--often artificial, and often ill-timed
of the other.  I am very sure myself, that had Willoughby
turned out as really amiable, as he has proved himself
the contrary, Marianne would yet never have been so happy
with HIM, as she will be with Colonel Brandon."

She paused.--Her daughter could not quite agree
with her, but her dissent was not heard, and therefore
gave no offence.

"At Delaford, she will be within an easy distance of me,"
added Mrs. Dashwood, "even if I remain at Barton; and in all
probability,--for I hear it is a large village,--indeed there
certainly MUST be some small house or cottage close by,
that would suit us quite as well as our present situation."

Poor Elinor!--here was a new scheme for getting
her to Delaford!--but her spirit was stubborn.

"His fortune too!--for at my time of life you know,
everybody cares about THAT;--and though I neither know
nor desire to know, what it really is, I am sure it must be
a good one."

Here they were interrupted by the entrance of a
third person, and Elinor withdrew to think it all over
in private, to wish success to her friend, and yet
in wishing it, to feel a pang for Willoughby.



CHAPTER 46


Marianne's illness, though weakening in its kind,
had not been long enough to make her recovery slow;
and with youth, natural strength, and her mother's presence
in aid, it proceeded so smoothly as to enable her to remove,
within four days after the arrival of the latter,
into Mrs. Palmer's dressing-room.  When there, at her own
particular request, for she was impatient to pour forth
her thanks to him for fetching her mother, Colonel Brandon
was invited to visit her.

His emotion on entering the room, in seeing her altered
looks, and in receiving the pale hand which she immediately
held out to him, was such, as, in Elinor's conjecture,
must arise from something more than his affection for Marianne,
or the consciousness of its being known to others;
and she soon discovered in his melancholy eye and varying
complexion as he looked at her sister, the probable
recurrence of many past scenes of misery to his mind,
brought back by that resemblance between Marianne and Eliza
already acknowledged, and now strengthened by the hollow eye,
the sickly skin, the posture of reclining weakness,
and the warm acknowledgment of peculiar obligation.

Mrs. Dashwood, not less watchful of what passed than
her daughter, but with a mind very differently influenced,
and therefore watching to very different effect,
saw nothing in the Colonel's behaviour but what arose
from the most simple and self-evident sensations, while in
the actions and words of Marianne she persuaded herself
to think that something more than gratitude already dawned.

At the end of another day or two, Marianne growing
visibly stronger every twelve hours, Mrs. Dashwood,
urged equally by her own and her daughter's wishes,
began to talk of removing to Barton.  On HER measures
depended those of her two friends; Mrs. Jennings could
not quit Cleveland during the Dashwoods' stay; and Colonel
Brandon was soon brought, by their united request,
to consider his own abode there as equally determinate,
if not equally indispensable.  At his and Mrs. Jennings's
united request in return, Mrs. Dashwood was prevailed
on to accept the use of his carriage on her journey back,
for the better accommodation of her sick child; and the Colonel,
at the joint invitation of Mrs. Dashwood and Mrs. Jennings,
whose active good-nature made her friendly and hospitable
for other people as well as herself, engaged with pleasure
to redeem it by a visit at the cottage, in the course
of a few weeks.

The day of separation and departure arrived;
and Marianne, after taking so particular and lengthened
a leave of Mrs. Jennings, one so earnestly grateful, so full
of respect and kind wishes as seemed due to her own heart
from a secret acknowledgment of past inattention, and bidding
Colonel Brandon farewell with a cordiality of a friend,
was carefully assisted by him into the carriage, of which he
seemed anxious that she should engross at least half.
Mrs. Dashwood and Elinor then followed, and the others
were left by themselves, to talk of the travellers,
and feel their own dullness, till Mrs. Jennings was summoned
to her chaise to take comfort in the gossip of her maid
for the loss of her two young companions; and Colonel Brandon
immediately afterwards took his solitary way to Delaford.

The Dashwoods were two days on the road, and Marianne
bore her journey on both, without essential fatigue.
Every thing that the most zealous affection, the most
solicitous care could do to render her comfortable,
was the office of each watchful companion, and each
found their reward in her bodily ease, and her calmness
of spirits.  To Elinor, the observation of the latter
was particularly grateful.  She, who had seen her week
after week so constantly suffering, oppressed by anguish
of heart which she had neither courage to speak of,
nor fortitude to conceal, now saw with a joy, which no other
could equally share, an apparent composure of mind, which,
in being the result as she trusted of serious reflection,
must eventually lead her to contentment and cheerfulness.

As they approached Barton, indeed, and entered
on scenes of which every field and every tree brought
some peculiar, some painful recollection, she grew silent
and thoughtful, and turning away her face from their notice,
sat earnestly gazing through the window.  But here,
Elinor could neither wonder nor blame; and when she saw,
as she assisted Marianne from the carriage, that she
had been crying, she saw only an emotion too natural
in itself to raise any thing less tender than pity,
and in its unobtrusiveness entitled to praise.  In the
whole of her subsequent manner, she traced the direction
of a mind awakened to reasonable exertion; for no sooner
had they entered their common sitting-room, than Marianne
turned her eyes around it with a look of resolute firmness,
as if determined at once to accustom herself to the sight
of every object with which the remembrance of Willoughby could
be connected.--She said little, but every sentence aimed
at cheerfulness, and though a sigh sometimes escaped her,
it never passed away without the atonement of a smile.
After dinner she would try her piano-forte. She went to it;
but the music on which her eye first rested was an opera,
procured for her by Willoughby, containing some of their
favourite duets, and bearing on its outward leaf her own name
in his hand-writing.--That would not do.--She shook her head,
put the music aside, and after running over the keys
for a minute, complained of feebleness in her fingers,
and closed the instrument again; declaring however with firmness
as she did so, that she should in future practice much.

The next morning produced no abatement in these
happy symptoms.  On the contrary, with a mind and body
alike strengthened by rest, she looked and spoke with
more genuine spirit, anticipating the pleasure of
Margaret's return, and talking of the dear family party
which would then be restored, of their mutual pursuits
and cheerful society, as the only happiness worth a wish.

"When the weather is settled, and I have recovered
my strength," said she, "we will take long walks together
every day.  We will walk to the farm at the edge of the down,
and see how the children go on; we will walk to Sir John's
new plantations at Barton Cross, and the Abbeyland;
and we will often go the old ruins of the Priory,
and try to trace its foundations as far as we are told
they once reached.  I know we shall be happy.  I know
the summer will pass happily away.  I mean never to be
later in rising than six, and from that time till dinner
I shall divide every moment between music and reading.
I have formed my plan, and am determined to enter on a course
of serious study.  Our own library is too well known to me,
to be resorted to for any thing beyond mere amusement.
But there are many works well worth reading at the Park;
and there are others of more modern production which I
know I can borrow of Colonel Brandon.  By reading only six
hours a-day, I shall gain in the course of a twelve-month
a great deal of instruction which I now feel myself to want."

Elinor honoured her for a plan which originated
so nobly as this; though smiling to see the same eager
fancy which had been leading her to the extreme of languid
indolence and selfish repining, now at work in introducing
excess into a scheme of such rational employment and virtuous
self-control. Her smile however changed to a sigh when she
remembered that promise to Willoughby was yet unfulfilled,
and feared she had that to communicate which might again
unsettle the mind of Marianne, and ruin at least for a time
this fair prospect of busy tranquillity.  Willing therefore
to delay the evil hour, she resolved to wait till her
sister's health were more secure, before she appointed it.
But the resolution was made only to be broken.

Marianne had been two or three days at home, before
the weather was fine enough for an invalid like herself
to venture out.  But at last a soft, genial morning appeared;
such as might tempt the daughter's wishes and the
mother's confidence; and Marianne, leaning on Elinor's arm,
was authorised to walk as long as she could without fatigue,
in the lane before the house.

The sisters set out at a pace, slow as the feebleness
of Marianne in an exercise hitherto untried since her
illness required;--and they had advanced only so far
beyond the house as to admit a full view of the hill,
the important hill behind, when pausing with her eyes
turned towards it, Marianne calmly said,

"There, exactly there,"--pointing with one hand,
"on that projecting mound,--there I fell; and there
I first saw Willoughby."

Her voice sunk with the word, but presently reviving she added,

"I am thankful to find that I can look with so little pain
on the spot!--shall we ever talk on that subject, Elinor?"--
hesitatingly it was said.--"Or will it be wrong?--I can talk
of it now, I hope, as I ought to do."--

Elinor tenderly invited her to be open.

"As for regret," said Marianne, "I have done with that,
as far as HE is concerned.  I do not mean to talk to you
of what my feelings have been for him, but what they
are NOW.--At present, if I could be satisfied on one point,
if I could be allowed to think that he was not ALWAYS
acting a part, not ALWAYS deceiving me;--but above all,
if I could be assured that he never was so VERY wicked
as my fears have sometimes fancied him, since the story
of that unfortunate girl"--

She stopt.  Elinor joyfully treasured her words
as she answered,

"If you could be assured of that, you think you
should be easy."

"Yes. My peace of mind is doubly involved in it;--
for not only is it horrible to suspect a person, who has
been what HE has been to ME, of such designs,--but what must
it make me appear to myself?--What in a situation like mine,
but a most shamefully unguarded affection could expose
me to"--

"How then," asked her sister, "would you account
for his behaviour?"

"I would suppose him,--Oh, how gladly would I suppose him,
only fickle, very, very fickle."

Elinor said no more.  She was debating within herself
on the eligibility of beginning her story directly,
or postponing it till Marianne were in stronger health;--
and they crept on for a few minutes in silence.

"I am not wishing him too much good," said Marianne
at last with a sigh, "when I wish his secret reflections
may be no more unpleasant than my own.  He will suffer
enough in them."

"Do you compare your conduct with his?"

"No. I compare it with what it ought to have been;
I compare it with yours."

"Our situations have borne little resemblance."

"They have borne more than our conduct.--Do not,
my dearest Elinor, let your kindness defend what I know
your judgment must censure.  My illness has made me think--
It has given me leisure and calmness for serious recollection.
Long before I was enough recovered to talk, I was perfectly
able to reflect.  I considered the past: I saw in my
own behaviour, since the beginning of our acquaintance
with him last autumn, nothing but a series of imprudence
towards myself, and want of kindness to others.
I saw that my own feelings had prepared my sufferings,
and that my want of fortitude under them had almost led
me to the grave.  My illness, I well knew, had been
entirely brought on by myself by such negligence of my
own health, as I had felt even at the time to be wrong.
Had I died,--it would have been self-destruction. I
did not know my danger till the danger was removed;
but with such feelings as these reflections gave me,
I wonder at my recovery,--wonder that the very eagerness
of my desire to live, to have time for atonement to my God,
and to you all, did not kill me at once.  Had I died,--
in what peculiar misery should I have left you, my nurse,
my friend, my sister!--You, who had seen all the fretful
selfishness of my latter days; who had known all the
murmurings of my heart!--How should I have lived in YOUR
remembrance!--My mother too! How could you have consoled
her!--I cannot express my own abhorrence of myself.
Whenever I looked towards the past, I saw some duty neglected,
or some failing indulged.  Every body seemed injured by me.
The kindness, the unceasing kindness of Mrs. Jennings,
I had repaid with ungrateful contempt.  To the Middletons,
to the Palmers, the Steeles, to every common acquaintance even,
I had been insolent and unjust; with a heart hardened
against their merits, and a temper irritated by their
very attention.--To John, to Fanny,--yes, even to them,
little as they deserve, I had given less than their due.
But you,--you above all, above my mother, had been wronged
by me.  I, and only I, knew your heart and its sorrows;
yet to what did it influence me?--not to any compassion
that could benefit you or myself.--Your example was
before me; but to what avail?--Was I more considerate
of you and your comfort?  Did I imitate your forbearance,
or lessen your restraints, by taking any part in those
offices of general complaisance or particular gratitude
which you had hitherto been left to discharge alone?--No;--
not less when I knew you to be unhappy, than when I
had believed you at ease, did I turn away from every
exertion of duty or friendship; scarcely allowing sorrow
to exist but with me, regretting only THAT heart
which had deserted and wronged me, and leaving you,
for or I professed an unbounded affection, to be miserable
for my sake."

Here ceased the rapid flow of her self-reproving spirit;
and Elinor, impatient to soothe, though too honest
to flatter, gave her instantly that praise and support
which her frankness and her contrition so well deserved.
Marianne pressed her hand and replied,

"You are very good.--The future must be my proof.
I have laid down my plan, and if I am capable of adhering
to it--my feelings shall be governed and my temper improved.
They shall no longer worry others, nor torture myself.
I shall now live solely for my family.  You, my mother,
and Margaret, must henceforth be all the world to me;
you will share my affections entirely between you.
From you, from my home, I shall never again have the smallest
incitement to move; and if I do mix in other society,
it will be only to shew that my spirit is humbled,
my heart amended, and that I can practise the civilities,
the lesser duties of life, with gentleness and forbearance.
As for Willoughby--to say that I shall soon or that I shall
ever forget him, would be idle.  His remembrance can be overcome
by no change of circumstances or opinions.  But it shall
be regulated, it shall be checked by religion, by reason,
by constant employment."

She paused--and added in a low voice, "If I could
but know HIS heart, everything would become easy."

Elinor, who had now been for some time reflecting
on the propriety or impropriety of speedily hazarding
her narration, without feeling at all nearer decision than
at first, heard this; and perceiving that as reflection
did nothing, resolution must do all, soon found herself
leading to the fact.

She managed the recital, as she hoped, with address;
prepared her anxious listener with caution; related simply
and honestly the chief points on which Willoughby
grounded his apology; did justice to his repentance,
and softened only his protestations of present regard.
Marianne said not a word.--She trembled, her eyes
were fixed on the ground, and her lips became whiter
than even sickness had left them.  A thousand inquiries
sprung up from her heart, but she dared not urge one.
She caught every syllable with panting eagerness; her hand,
unknowingly to herself, closely pressed her sister's, and
tears covered her cheeks.

Elinor, dreading her being tired, led her towards home;
and till they reached the door of the cottage,
easily conjecturing what her curiosity must be
though no question was suffered to speak it, talked of
nothing but Willoughby, and their conversation together;
and was carefully minute in every particular of speech
and look, where minuteness could be safely indulged.
As soon as they entered the house, Marianne with a kiss
of gratitude and these two words just articulate through
her tears, "Tell mama," withdrew from her sister and
walked slowly up stairs.  Elinor would not attempt
to disturb a solitude so reasonable as what she now sought;
and with a mind anxiously pre-arranging its result,
and a resolution of reviving the subject again,
should Marianne fail to do it, she turned into the parlour
to fulfill her parting injunction.



CHAPTER 47


Mrs. Dashwood did not hear unmoved the vindication
of her former favourite.  She rejoiced in his being
cleared from some part of his imputed guilt;--she was
sorry for him;--she wished him happy.  But the feelings
of the past could not be recalled.--Nothing could restore
him with a faith unbroken--a character unblemished,
to Marianne.  Nothing could do away the knowledge
of what the latter had suffered through his means,
nor remove the guilt of his conduct towards Eliza.
Nothing could replace him, therefore, in her former esteem,
nor injure the interests of Colonel Brandon.

Had Mrs. Dashwood, like her daughter, heard Willoughby's
story from himself--had she witnessed his distress,
and been under the influence of his countenance and his
manner, it is probable that her compassion would have
been greater.  But it was neither in Elinor's power,
nor in her wish, to rouse such feelings in another, by her
retailed explanation, as had at first been called forth
in herself.  Reflection had given calmness to her judgment,
and sobered her own opinion of Willoughby's deserts;--
she wished, therefore, to declare only the simple truth,
and lay open such facts as were really due to his character,
without any embellishment of tenderness to lead the
fancy astray.

In the evening, when they were all three together,
Marianne began voluntarily to speak of him again;--
but that it was not without an effort, the restless,
unquiet thoughtfulness in which she had been for some time
previously sitting--her rising colour, as she spoke,--
and her unsteady voice, plainly shewed.

"I wish to assure you both," said she, "that I see
every thing--as you can desire me to do."

Mrs. Dashwood would have interrupted her instantly
with soothing tenderness, had not Elinor, who really wished
to hear her sister's unbiased opinion, by an eager sign,
engaged her silence.  Marianne slowly continued--

"It is a great relief to me--what Elinor told
me this morning--I have now heard exactly what I
wished to hear."--For some moments her voice was lost;
but recovering herself, she added, and with greater
calmness than before--"I am now perfectly satisfied,
I wish for no change.  I never could have been happy
with him, after knowing, as sooner or later I must
have known, all this.--I should have had no confidence,
no esteem.  Nothing could have done it away to my feelings."

"I know it--I know it," cried her mother.
"Happy with a man of libertine practices!--With one
who so injured the peace of the dearest of our friends,
and the best of men!--No--my Marianne has not a heart
to be made happy with such a man!--Her conscience, her
sensitive conscience, would have felt all that the
conscience of her husband ought to have felt."

Marianne sighed, and repeated, "I wish for no change."

"You consider the matter," said Elinor, "exactly as
a good mind and a sound understanding must consider it;
and I dare say you perceive, as well as myself, not only
in this, but in many other circumstances, reason enough
to be convinced that your marriage must have involved you
in many certain troubles and disappointments, in which
you would have been poorly supported by an affection,
on his side, much less certain.  Had you married,
you must have been always poor.  His expensiveness is
acknowledged even by himself, and his whole conduct declares
that self-denial is a word hardly understood by him.
His demands and your inexperience together, on a small,
very small income, must have brought on distresses which
would not be the LESS grievous to you, from having been
entirely unknown and unthought of before.  YOUR sense
of honour and honesty would have led you, I know,
when aware of your situation, to attempt all the economy
that would appear to you possible: and, perhaps, as long
as your frugality retrenched only on your own comfort,
you might have been suffered to practice it, but beyond that--
and how little could the utmost of your single management
do to stop the ruin which had begun before your marriage?--
Beyond THAT, had you endeavoured, however reasonably,
to abridge HIS enjoyments, is it not to be feared, that instead
of prevailing on feelings so selfish to consent to it,
you would have lessened your own influence on his heart,
and made him regret the connection which had involved him
in such difficulties?"

Marianne's lips quivered, and she repeated the word
"Selfish?" in a tone that implied--"do you really think
him selfish?"

"The whole of his behaviour," replied Elinor,
"from the beginning to the end of the affair, has been
grounded on selfishness.  It was selfishness which first
made him sport with your affections; which afterwards,
when his own were engaged, made him delay the confession
of it, and which finally carried him from Barton.
His own enjoyment, or his own ease, was, in every particular,
his ruling principle."

"It is very true.  MY happiness never was his object."

"At present," continued Elinor, "he regrets what he
has done.  And why does he regret it?--Because he finds
it has not answered towards himself.  It has not made
him happy.  His circumstances are now unembarrassed--he
suffers from no evil of that kind; and he thinks only
that he has married a woman of a less amiable temper
than yourself.  But does it follow that had he married you,
he would have been happy?--The inconveniences would have
been different.  He would then have suffered under the
pecuniary distresses which, because they are removed,
he now reckons as nothing.  He would have had a wife
of whose temper he could make no complaint, but he would
have been always necessitous--always poor; and probably
would soon have learned to rank the innumerable comforts
of a clear estate and good income as of far more importance,
even to domestic happiness, than the mere temper of a wife."

"I have not a doubt of it," said Marianne; "and I
have nothing to regret--nothing but my own folly."

"Rather say your mother's imprudence, my child,"
said Mrs. Dashwood; "SHE must be answerable."

Marianne would not let her proceed;--and Elinor,
satisfied that each felt their own error, wished to avoid
any survey of the past that might weaken her sister's
spirits; she, therefore, pursuing the first subject,
immediately continued,

"One observation may, I think, be fairly drawn from
the whole of the story--that all Willoughby's difficulties
have arisen from the first offence against virtue, in his
behaviour to Eliza Williams.  That crime has been the origin
of every lesser one, and of all his present discontents."

Marianne assented most feelingly to the remark;
and her mother was led by it to an enumeration of Colonel
Brandon's injuries and merits, warm as friendship
and design could unitedly dictate.  Her daughter did
not look, however, as if much of it were heard by her.

Elinor, according to her expectation, saw on the two
or three following days, that Marianne did not continue
to gain strength as she had done; but while her resolution
was unsubdued, and she still tried to appear cheerful
and easy, her sister could safely trust to the effect
of time upon her health.

Margaret returned, and the family were again all
restored to each other, again quietly settled at the cottage;
and if not pursuing their usual studies with quite
so much vigour as when they first came to Barton,
at least planning a vigorous prosecution of them in future.

Elinor grew impatient for some tidings of Edward.
She had heard nothing of him since her leaving London,
nothing new of his plans, nothing certain even of his
present abode.  Some letters had passed between her
and her brother, in consequence of Marianne's illness;
and in the first of John's, there had been this sentence:--
"We know nothing of our unfortunate Edward, and can make no
enquiries on so prohibited a subject, but conclude him
to be still at Oxford;" which was all the intelligence
of Edward afforded her by the correspondence, for his name
was not even mentioned in any of the succeeding letters.
She was not doomed, however, to be long in ignorance of
his measures.

Their man-servant had been sent one morning to Exeter
on business; and when, as he waited at table, he had
satisfied the inquiries of his mistress as to the event
of his errand, this was his voluntary communication--

"I suppose you know, ma'am, that Mr. Ferrars is married."

Marianne gave a violent start, fixed her eyes
upon Elinor, saw her turning pale, and fell back in her
chair in hysterics.  Mrs. Dashwood, whose eyes, as she
answered the servant's inquiry, had intuitively taken
the same direction, was shocked to perceive by Elinor's
countenance how much she really suffered, and a moment
afterwards, alike distressed by Marianne's situation,
knew not on which child to bestow her principal attention.

The servant, who saw only that Miss Marianne was
taken ill, had sense enough to call one of the maids,
who, with Mrs. Dashwood's assistance, supported her into
the other room.  By that time, Marianne was rather better,
and her mother leaving her to the care of Margaret
and the maid, returned to Elinor, who, though still
much disordered, had so far recovered the use of her reason
and voice as to be just beginning an inquiry of Thomas,
as to the source of his intelligence.  Mrs. Dashwood
immediately took all that trouble on herself; and Elinor
had the benefit of the information without the exertion
of seeking it.

"Who told you that Mr. Ferrars was married, Thomas?"

"I see Mr. Ferrars myself, ma'am, this morning
in Exeter, and his lady too, Miss Steele as was.  They was
stopping in a chaise at the door of the New London Inn,
as I went there with a message from Sally at the Park
to her brother, who is one of the post-boys. I happened
to look up as I went by the chaise, and so I see directly
it was the youngest Miss Steele; so I took off my hat,
and she knew me and called to me, and inquired after you,
ma'am, and the young ladies, especially Miss Marianne,
and bid me I should give her compliments and Mr. Ferrars's,
their best compliments and service, and how sorry they
was they had not time to come on and see you, but they was
in a great hurry to go forwards, for they was going further
down for a little while, but howsever, when they come back,
they'd make sure to come and see you."

"But did she tell you she was married, Thomas?"

"Yes, ma'am. She smiled, and said how she
had changed her name since she was in these parts.
She was always a very affable and free-spoken young lady,
and very civil behaved.  So, I made free to wish her joy."

"Was Mr. Ferrars in the carriage with her?"

"Yes, ma'am, I just see him leaning back in it,
but he did not look up;--he never was a gentleman much
for talking."

Elinor's heart could easily account for his not
putting himself forward; and Mrs. Dashwood probably
found the same explanation.

"Was there no one else in the carriage?"

"No, ma'am, only they two."

"Do you know where they came from?"

"They come straight from town, as Miss Lucy--
Mrs. Ferrars told me."

"And are they going farther westward?"

"Yes, ma'am--but not to bide long.  They will soon
be back again, and then they'd be sure and call here."

Mrs. Dashwood now looked at her daughter;
but Elinor knew better than to expect them.
She recognised the whole of Lucy in the message, and was
very confident that Edward would never come near them.
She observed in a low voice, to her mother, that they
were probably going down to Mr. Pratt's, near Plymouth.

Thomas's intelligence seemed over.  Elinor looked
as if she wished to hear more.

"Did you see them off, before you came away?"

"No, ma'am--the horses were just coming out, but I
could not bide any longer; I was afraid of being late."

"Did Mrs. Ferrars look well?"

"Yes, ma'am, she said how she was very well;
and to my mind she was always a very handsome young
lady--and she seemed vastly contented."

Mrs. Dashwood could think of no other question,
and Thomas and the tablecloth, now alike needless,
were soon afterwards dismissed.  Marianne had already sent
to say, that she should eat nothing more.  Mrs. Dashwood's
and Elinor's appetites were equally lost, and Margaret
might think herself very well off, that with so much
uneasiness as both her sisters had lately experienced,
so much reason as they had often had to be careless
of their meals, she had never been obliged to go without
her dinner before.

When the dessert and the wine were arranged,
and Mrs. Dashwood and Elinor were left by themselves,
they remained long together in a similarity of thoughtfulness
and silence.  Mrs. Dashwood feared to hazard any remark,
and ventured not to offer consolation.  She now found
that she had erred in relying on Elinor's representation
of herself; and justly concluded that every thing
had been expressly softened at the time, to spare her
from an increase of unhappiness, suffering as she then
had suffered for Marianne.  She found that she had been
misled by the careful, the considerate attention of
her daughter, to think the attachment, which once she
had so well understood, much slighter in reality, than
she had been wont to believe, or than it was now proved
to be.  She feared that under this persuasion she had
been unjust, inattentive, nay, almost unkind, to her Elinor;--
that Marianne's affliction, because more acknowledged,
more immediately before her, had too much engrossed
her tenderness, and led her away to forget that in Elinor
she might have a daughter suffering almost as much,
certainly with less self-provocation, and greater fortitude.



CHAPTER 48


Elinor now found the difference between the expectation
of an unpleasant event, however certain the mind may be told
to consider it, and certainty itself.  She now found, that
in spite of herself, she had always admitted a hope,
while Edward remained single, that something would occur
to prevent his marrying Lucy; that some resolution of
his own, some mediation of friends, or some more eligible
opportunity of establishment for the lady, would arise
to assist the happiness of all.  But he was now married;
and she condemned her heart for the lurking flattery,
which so much heightened the pain of the intelligence.

That he should be married soon, before (as she imagined)
he could be in orders, and consequently before he could
be in possession of the living, surprised her a little
at first.  But she soon saw how likely it was that Lucy,
in her self-provident care, in her haste to secure him,
should overlook every thing but the risk of delay.
They were married, married in town, and now hastening
down to her uncle's.  What had Edward felt on being within
four miles from Barton, on seeing her mother's servant,
on hearing Lucy's message!

They would soon, she supposed, be settled at
Delaford.--Delaford,--that place in which so much
conspired to give her an interest; which she wished
to be acquainted with, and yet desired to avoid.
She saw them in an instant in their parsonage-house; saw
in Lucy, the active, contriving manager, uniting at once
a desire of smart appearance with the utmost frugality,
and ashamed to be suspected of half her economical practices;--
pursuing her own interest in every thought, courting the
favour of Colonel Brandon, of Mrs. Jennings, and of every
wealthy friend.  In Edward--she knew not what she saw,
nor what she wished to see;--happy or unhappy,--nothing
pleased her; she turned away her head from every sketch of him.

Elinor flattered herself that some one of their
connections in London would write to them to announce
the event, and give farther particulars,--but day after
day passed off, and brought no letter, no tidings.
Though uncertain that any one were to blame, she found
fault with every absent friend.  They were all thoughtless
or indolent.

"When do you write to Colonel Brandon, ma'am?"
was an inquiry which sprung from the impatience
of her mind to have something going on.

"I wrote to him, my love, last week, and rather
expect to see, than to hear from him again.  I earnestly
pressed his coming to us, and should not be surprised
to see him walk in today or tomorrow, or any day."

This was gaining something, something to look forward to.
Colonel Brandon must have some information to give.

Scarcely had she so determined it, when the figure
of a man on horseback drew her eyes to the window.
He stopt at their gate.  It was a gentleman, it
was Colonel Brandon himself.  Now she could hear more;
and she trembled in expectation of it.  But--it was
NOT Colonel Brandon--neither his air--nor his height.
Were it possible, she must say it must be Edward.
She looked again.  He had just dismounted;--she could not be
mistaken,--it WAS Edward.  She moved away and sat down.
"He comes from Mr. Pratt's purposely to see us.  I WILL be
calm; I WILL be mistress of myself."

In a moment she perceived that the others were likewise
aware of the mistake.  She saw her mother and Marianne
change colour; saw them look at herself, and whisper
a few sentences to each other.  She would have given
the world to be able to speak--and to make them understand
that she hoped no coolness, no slight, would appear
in their behaviour to him;--but she had no utterance,
and was obliged to leave all to their own discretion.

Not a syllable passed aloud.  They all waited
in silence for the appearance of their visitor.
His footsteps were heard along the gravel path; in a moment
he was in the passage, and in another he was before them.

His countenance, as he entered the room, was not
too happy, even for Elinor.  His complexion was white
with agitation, and he looked as if fearful of his
reception, and conscious that he merited no kind one.
Mrs. Dashwood, however, conforming, as she trusted,
to the wishes of that daughter, by whom she then meant
in the warmth of her heart to be guided in every thing,
met with a look of forced complacency, gave him her hand,
and wished him joy.

He coloured, and stammered out an unintelligible reply.
Elinor's lips had moved with her mother's, and, when the
moment of action was over, she wished that she had shaken
hands with him too.  But it was then too late, and with a
countenance meaning to be open, she sat down again
and talked of the weather.

Marianne had retreated as much as possible
out of sight, to conceal her distress; and Margaret,
understanding some part, but not the whole of the case,
thought it incumbent on her to be dignified, and therefore
took a seat as far from him as she could, and maintained
a strict silence.

When Elinor had ceased to rejoice in the dryness
of the season, a very awful pause took place.  It was put
an end to by Mrs. Dashwood, who felt obliged to hope that he
had left Mrs. Ferrars very well.  In a hurried manner,
he replied in the affirmative.

Another pause.

Elinor resolving to exert herself, though fearing
the sound of her own voice, now said,

"Is Mrs. Ferrars at Longstaple?"

"At Longstaple!" he replied, with an air of surprise.--
"No, my mother is in town."

"I meant," said Elinor, taking up some work from
the table, "to inquire for Mrs. EDWARD Ferrars."

She dared not look up;--but her mother and Marianne both
turned their eyes on him.  He coloured, seemed perplexed,
looked doubtingly, and, after some hesitation, said,--

"Perhaps you mean--my brother--you mean Mrs.--Mrs.
ROBERT Ferrars."

"Mrs. Robert Ferrars!"--was repeated by Marianne and her
mother in an accent of the utmost amazement;--and though
Elinor could not speak, even HER eyes were fixed on him
with the same impatient wonder.  He rose from his seat,
and walked to the window, apparently from not knowing
what to do; took up a pair of scissors that lay there,
and while spoiling both them and their sheath by cutting
the latter to pieces as he spoke, said, in a hurried voice,

"Perhaps you do not know--you may not have heard
that my brother is lately married to--to the youngest--to
Miss Lucy Steele."

His words were echoed with unspeakable astonishment
by all but Elinor, who sat with her head leaning over
her work, in a state of such agitation as made her hardly
know where she was.

"Yes," said he, "they were married last week,
and are now at Dawlish."

Elinor could sit it no longer.  She almost ran
out of the room, and as soon as the door was closed,
burst into tears of joy, which at first she thought would
never cease.  Edward, who had till then looked any where,
rather than at her, saw her hurry away, and perhaps saw--
or even heard, her emotion; for immediately afterwards
he fell into a reverie, which no remarks, no inquiries,
no affectionate address of Mrs. Dashwood could penetrate,
and at last, without saying a word, quitted the room,
and walked out towards the village--leaving the others
in the greatest astonishment and perplexity on a change
in his situation, so wonderful and so sudden;--a perplexity
which they had no means of lessening but by their
own conjectures.



CHAPTER 49


Unaccountable, however, as the circumstances of his
release might appear to the whole family, it was certain
that Edward was free; and to what purpose that freedom would
be employed was easily pre-determined by all;--for after
experiencing the blessings of ONE imprudent engagement,
contracted without his mother's consent, as he had already
done for more than four years, nothing less could be expected
of him in the failure of THAT, than the immediate contraction
of another.

His errand at Barton, in fact, was a simple one.
It was only to ask Elinor to marry him;--and considering
that he was not altogether inexperienced in such a question,
it might be strange that he should feel so uncomfortable
in the present case as he really did, so much in need of
encouragement and fresh air.

How soon he had walked himself into the proper
resolution, however, how soon an opportunity of exercising
it occurred, in what manner he expressed himself,
and how he was received, need not be particularly told.
This only need be said;--that when they all sat down to
table at four o'clock, about three hours after his arrival,
he had secured his lady, engaged her mother's consent,
and was not only in the rapturous profession of
the lover, but, in the reality of reason and truth,
one of the happiest of men.  His situation indeed was
more than commonly joyful.  He had more than the ordinary
triumph of accepted love to swell his heart, and raise
his spirits.  He was released without any reproach
to himself, from an entanglement which had long formed
his misery, from a woman whom he had long ceased to love;--
and elevated at once to that security with another,
which he must have thought of almost with despair,
as soon as he had learnt to consider it with desire.
He was brought, not from doubt or suspense, but from
misery to happiness;--and the change was openly spoken
in such a genuine, flowing, grateful cheerfulness,
as his friends had never witnessed in him before.

His heart was now open to Elinor, all its weaknesses,
all its errors confessed, and his first boyish attachment
to Lucy treated with all the philosophic dignity of twenty-four.

"It was a foolish, idle inclination on my side,"
said he, "the consequence of ignorance of the world--
and want of employment.  Had my brother given me
some active profession when I was removed at eighteen
from the care of Mr. Pratt, I think--nay, I am sure,
it would never have happened; for though I left Longstaple
with what I thought, at the time, a most unconquerable
preference for his niece, yet had I then had any pursuit,
any object to engage my time and keep me at a distance
from her for a few months, I should very soon have
outgrown the fancied attachment, especially by mixing
more with the world, as in such case I must have done.
But instead of having any thing to do, instead of having any
profession chosen for me, or being allowed to chuse any myself,
I returned home to be completely idle; and for the first
twelvemonth afterwards I had not even the nominal employment,
which belonging to the university would have given me;
for I was not entered at Oxford till I was nineteen.
I had therefore nothing in the world to do, but to fancy
myself in love; and as my mother did not make my home
in every respect comfortable, as I had no friend,
no companion in my brother, and disliked new acquaintance,
it was not unnatural for me to be very often at Longstaple,
where I always felt myself at home, and was always sure
of a welcome; and accordingly I spent the greatest part
of my time there from eighteen to nineteen: Lucy appeared
everything that was amiable and obliging.  She was pretty
too--at least I thought so THEN; and I had seen so little
of other women, that I could make no comparisons, and see
no defects.  Considering everything, therefore, I hope,
foolish as our engagement was, foolish as it has since
in every way been proved, it was not at the time an unnatural
or an inexcusable piece of folly."

The change which a few hours had wrought in the minds
and the happiness of the Dashwoods, was such--so great--as
promised them all, the satisfaction of a sleepless night.
Mrs. Dashwood, too happy to be comfortable, knew not how
to love Edward, nor praise Elinor enough, how to be enough
thankful for his release without wounding his delicacy,
nor how at once to give them leisure for unrestrained
conversation together, and yet enjoy, as she wished,
the sight and society of both.

Marianne could speak HER happiness only by tears.
Comparisons would occur--regrets would arise;--and her joy,
though sincere as her love for her sister, was of a kind to
give her neither spirits nor language.

But Elinor--how are HER feelings to be described?--From
the moment of learning that Lucy was married to another,
that Edward was free, to the moment of his justifying
the hopes which had so instantly followed, she was every
thing by turns but tranquil.  But when the second moment
had passed, when she found every doubt, every solicitude
removed, compared her situation with what so lately it
had been,--saw him honourably released from his former
engagement, saw him instantly profiting by the release,
to address herself and declare an affection as tender,
as constant as she had ever supposed it to be,--she
was oppressed, she was overcome by her own felicity;--
and happily disposed as is the human mind to be easily
familiarized with any change for the better, it required
several hours to give sedateness to her spirits, or any
degree of tranquillity to her heart.

Edward was now fixed at the cottage at least for
a week;--for whatever other claims might be made on him,
it was impossible that less than a week should be given
up to the enjoyment of Elinor's company, or suffice
to say half that was to be said of the past, the present,
and the future;--for though a very few hours spent in
the hard labor of incessant talking will despatch more
subjects than can really be in common between any two
rational creatures, yet with lovers it is different.
Between THEM no subject is finished, no communication
is even made, till it has been made at least twenty
times over.

Lucy's marriage, the unceasing and reasonable wonder
among them all, formed of course one of the earliest
discussions of the lovers;--and Elinor's particular knowledge
of each party made it appear to her in every view, as one
of the most extraordinary and unaccountable circumstances
she had ever heard.  How they could be thrown together,
and by what attraction Robert could be drawn on to marry
a girl, of whose beauty she had herself heard him speak
without any admiration,--a girl too already engaged
to his brother, and on whose account that brother had been
thrown off by his family--it was beyond her comprehension
to make out.  To her own heart it was a delightful affair,
to her imagination it was even a ridiculous one, but
to her reason, her judgment, it was completely a puzzle.

Edward could only attempt an explanation by supposing,
that, perhaps, at first accidentally meeting, the vanity
of the one had been so worked on by the flattery
of the other, as to lead by degrees to all the rest.
Elinor remembered what Robert had told her in Harley Street,
of his opinion of what his own mediation in his brother's
affairs might have done, if applied to in time.
She repeated it to Edward.

"THAT was exactly like Robert,"--was his immediate
observation.--"And THAT," he presently added, "might
perhaps be in HIS head when the acquaintance between
them first began.  And Lucy perhaps at first might
think only of procuring his good offices in my favour.
Other designs might afterward arise."

How long it had been carrying on between them,
however, he was equally at a loss with herself to make out;
for at Oxford, where he had remained for choice ever since
his quitting London, he had had no means of hearing of her
but from herself, and her letters to the very last were
neither less frequent, nor less affectionate than usual.
Not the smallest suspicion, therefore, had ever occurred
to prepare him for what followed;--and when at last it
burst on him in a letter from Lucy herself, he had been
for some time, he believed, half stupified between
the wonder, the horror, and the joy of such a deliverance.
He put the letter into Elinor's hands.

     "DEAR SIR,

     "Being very sure I have long lost your affections,
     I have thought myself at liberty to bestow my own
     on another, and have no doubt of being as happy with
     him as I once used to think I might be with you;
     but I scorn to accept a hand while the heart was
     another's.  Sincerely wish you happy in your choice,
     and it shall not be my fault if we are not always
     good friends, as our near relationship now makes
     proper.  I can safely say I owe you no ill-will,
     and am sure you will be too generous to do us any
     ill offices.  Your brother has gained my affections
     entirely, and as we could not live without one
     another, we are just returned from the altar, and
     are now on our way to Dawlish for a few weeks, which
     place your dear brother has great curiosity to see,
     but thought I would first trouble you with these
     few lines, and shall always remain,

     "Your sincere well-wisher, friend, and sister,
                                        "LUCY FERRARS.

     "I have burnt all your letters, and will return
     your picture the first opportunity.  Please to destroy
     my scrawls--but the ring with my hair you are very
     welcome to keep."

Elinor read and returned it without any comment.

"I will not ask your opinion of it as a composition,"
said Edward.--"For worlds would not I have had a letter
of hers seen by YOU in former days.--In a sister it
is bad enough, but in a wife!--how I have blushed over
the pages of her writing!--and I believe I may say that
since the first half year of our foolish--business--this
is the only letter I ever received from her, of which
the substance made me any amends for the defect of the style."

"However it may have come about," said Elinor,
after a pause,--"they are certainly married.  And your mother
has brought on herself a most appropriate punishment.
The independence she settled on Robert, through resentment
against you, has put it in his power to make his own choice;
and she has actually been bribing one son with a thousand
a-year, to do the very deed which she disinherited the
other for intending to do.  She will hardly be less hurt,
I suppose, by Robert's marrying Lucy, than she would have
been by your marrying her."

"She will be more hurt by it, for Robert always
was her favourite.--She will be more hurt by it,
and on the same principle will forgive him much sooner."

In what state the affair stood at present between them,
Edward knew not, for no communication with any of his family
had yet been attempted by him.  He had quitted Oxford
within four and twenty hours after Lucy's letter arrived,
and with only one object before him, the nearest road
to Barton, had had no leisure to form any scheme of conduct,
with which that road did not hold the most intimate connection.
He could do nothing till he were assured of his fate with
Miss Dashwood; and by his rapidity in seeking THAT fate,
it is to be supposed, in spite of the jealousy with
which he had once thought of Colonel Brandon, in spite
of the modesty with which he rated his own deserts,
and the politeness with which he talked of his doubts,
he did not, upon the whole, expect a very cruel reception.
It was his business, however, to say that he DID, and he
said it very prettily.  What he might say on the subject
a twelvemonth after, must be referred to the imagination
of husbands and wives.

That Lucy had certainly meant to deceive, to go off
with a flourish of malice against him in her message
by Thomas, was perfectly clear to Elinor; and Edward himself,
now thoroughly enlightened on her character, had no
scruple in believing her capable of the utmost meanness
of wanton ill-nature. Though his eyes had been long opened,
even before his acquaintance with Elinor began, to her
ignorance and a want of liberality in some of her opinions--
they had been equally imputed, by him, to her want
of education; and till her last letter reached him,
he had always believed her to be a well-disposed,
good-hearted girl, and thoroughly attached to himself.
Nothing but such a persuasion could have prevented
his putting an end to an engagement, which, long before
the discovery of it laid him open to his mother's anger,
had been a continual source of disquiet and regret to him.

"I thought it my duty," said he, "independent of my feelings,
to give her the option of continuing the engagement or not,
when I was renounced by my mother, and stood to all
appearance without a friend in the world to assist me.
In such a situation as that, where there seemed nothing
to tempt the avarice or the vanity of any living creature,
how could I suppose, when she so earnestly, so warmly insisted
on sharing my fate, whatever it might be, that any thing
but the most disinterested affection was her inducement?
And even now, I cannot comprehend on what motive she acted,
or what fancied advantage it could be to her, to be
fettered to a man for whom she had not the smallest regard,
and who had only two thousand pounds in the world.
She could not foresee that Colonel Brandon would give me a
living."

"No; but she might suppose that something would occur
in your favour; that your own family might in time relent.
And at any rate, she lost nothing by continuing the engagement,
for she has proved that it fettered neither her inclination
nor her actions.  The connection was certainly a
respectable one, and probably gained her consideration among
her friends; and, if nothing more advantageous occurred,
it would be better for her to marry YOU than be single."

Edward was, of course, immediately convinced that
nothing could have been more natural than Lucy's conduct,
nor more self-evident than the motive of it.

Elinor scolded him, harshly as ladies always scold
the imprudence which compliments themselves, for having
spent so much time with them at Norland, when he must
have felt his own inconstancy.

"Your behaviour was certainly very wrong," said she;
"because--to say nothing of my own conviction, our relations
were all led away by it to fancy and expect WHAT, as you
were THEN situated, could never be."

He could only plead an ignorance of his own heart,
and a mistaken confidence in the force of his engagement.

"I was simple enough to think, that because my FAITH
was plighted to another, there could be no danger in my being
with you; and that the consciousness of my engagement was
to keep my heart as safe and sacred as my honour.  I felt
that I admired you, but I told myself it was only friendship;
and till I began to make comparisons between yourself
and Lucy, I did not know how far I was got.  After that,
I suppose, I WAS wrong in remaining so much in Sussex,
and the arguments with which I reconciled myself to the
expediency of it, were no better than these:--The danger
is my own; I am doing no injury to anybody but myself."

Elinor smiled, and shook her head.

Edward heard with pleasure of Colonel Brandon's
being expected at the Cottage, as he really wished
not only to be better acquainted with him, but to have an
opportunity of convincing him that he no longer resented
his giving him the living of Delaford--"Which, at present,"
said he, "after thanks so ungraciously delivered as mine
were on the occasion, he must think I have never forgiven
him for offering."

NOW he felt astonished himself that he had never yet
been to the place.  But so little interest had be taken
in the matter, that he owed all his knowledge of the house,
garden, and glebe, extent of the parish, condition of
the land, and rate of the tithes, to Elinor herself,
who had heard so much of it from Colonel Brandon,
and heard it with so much attention, as to be entirely
mistress of the subject.

One question after this only remained undecided,
between them, one difficulty only was to be overcome.
They were brought together by mutual affection,
with the warmest approbation of their real friends;
their intimate knowledge of each other seemed to make
their happiness certain--and they only wanted something
to live upon.  Edward had two thousand pounds, and Elinor
one, which, with Delaford living, was all that they could
call their own; for it was impossible that Mrs. Dashwood
should advance anything; and they were neither of them
quite enough in love to think that three hundred and fifty
pounds a-year would supply them with the comforts of life.

Edward was not entirely without hopes of some
favourable change in his mother towards him; and on THAT
he rested for the residue of their income.  But Elinor
had no such dependence; for since Edward would still
be unable to marry Miss Morton, and his chusing herself
had been spoken of in Mrs. Ferrars's flattering language
as only a lesser evil than his chusing Lucy Steele,
she feared that Robert's offence would serve no other
purpose than to enrich Fanny.

About four days after Edward's arrival Colonel
Brandon appeared, to complete Mrs. Dashwood's satisfaction,
and to give her the dignity of having, for the first time
since her living at Barton, more company with her than
her house would hold.  Edward was allowed to retain the
privilege of first comer, and Colonel Brandon therefore
walked every night to his old quarters at the Park;
from whence he usually returned in the morning, early enough
to interrupt the lovers' first tete-a-tete before breakfast.

A three weeks' residence at Delaford, where,
in his evening hours at least, he had little to do
but to calculate the disproportion between thirty-six
and seventeen, brought him to Barton in a temper of mind
which needed all the improvement in Marianne's looks,
all the kindness of her welcome, and all the encouragement
of her mother's language, to make it cheerful.
Among such friends, however, and such flattery, he did revive.
No rumour of Lucy's marriage had yet reached him:--he knew
nothing of what had passed; and the first hours of his
visit were consequently spent in hearing and in wondering.
Every thing was explained to him by Mrs. Dashwood,
and he found fresh reason to rejoice in what he had done
for Mr. Ferrars, since eventually it promoted the interest
of Elinor.

It would be needless to say, that the gentlemen advanced
in the good opinion of each other, as they advanced in each
other's acquaintance, for it could not be otherwise.
Their resemblance in good principles and good sense,
in disposition and manner of thinking, would probably
have been sufficient to unite them in friendship,
without any other attraction; but their being in love
with two sisters, and two sisters fond of each other,
made that mutual regard inevitable and immediate,
which might otherwise have waited the effect of time
and judgment.

The letters from town, which a few days before would
have made every nerve in Elinor's body thrill with transport,
now arrived to be read with less emotion that mirth.
Mrs. Jennings wrote to tell the wonderful tale, to vent her
honest indignation against the jilting girl, and pour forth
her compassion towards poor Mr. Edward, who, she was sure,
had quite doted upon the worthless hussy, and was now,
by all accounts, almost broken-hearted, at Oxford.--
"I do think," she continued, "nothing was ever carried
on so sly; for it was but two days before Lucy called
and sat a couple of hours with me.  Not a soul suspected
anything of the matter, not even Nancy, who, poor soul!
came crying to me the day after, in a great fright
for fear of Mrs. Ferrars, as well as not knowing how to
get to Plymouth; for Lucy it seems borrowed all her
money before she went off to be married, on purpose
we suppose to make a show with, and poor Nancy had not
seven shillings in the world;--so I was very glad to give
her five guineas to take her down to Exeter, where she
thinks of staying three or four weeks with Mrs. Burgess,
in hopes, as I tell her, to fall in with the Doctor again.
And I must say that Lucy's crossness not to take them
along with them in the chaise is worse than all.
Poor Mr. Edward! I cannot get him out of my head, but you
must send for him to Barton, and Miss Marianne must try to
comfort him."

Mr. Dashwood's strains were more solemn.
Mrs. Ferrars was the most unfortunate of women--poor
Fanny had suffered agonies of sensibility--and he
considered the existence of each, under such a blow,
with grateful wonder.  Robert's offence was unpardonable,
but Lucy's was infinitely worse.  Neither of them were
ever again to be mentioned to Mrs. Ferrars; and even,
if she might hereafter be induced to forgive her son,
his wife should never be acknowledged as her daughter,
nor be permitted to appear in her presence.  The secrecy
with which everything had been carried on between them,
was rationally treated as enormously heightening
the crime, because, had any suspicion of it occurred
to the others, proper measures would have been taken
to prevent the marriage; and he called on Elinor to join
with him in regretting that Lucy's engagement with Edward
had not rather been fulfilled, than that she should thus
be the means of spreading misery farther in the family.--
He thus continued:

"Mrs. Ferrars has never yet mentioned Edward's name,
which does not surprise us; but, to our great astonishment,
not a line has been received from him on the occasion.
Perhaps, however, he is kept silent by his fear of offending,
and I shall, therefore, give him a hint, by a line
to Oxford, that his sister and I both think a letter
of proper submission from him, addressed perhaps to Fanny,
and by her shewn to her mother, might not be taken amiss;
for we all know the tenderness of Mrs. Ferrars's heart,
and that she wishes for nothing so much as to be on good terms
with her children."

This paragraph was of some importance to the
prospects and conduct of Edward.  It determined him
to attempt a reconciliation, though not exactly
in the manner pointed out by their brother and sister.

"A letter of proper submission!" repeated he;
"would they have me beg my mother's pardon for Robert's
ingratitude to HER, and breach of honour to ME?--I can
make no submission--I am grown neither humble nor
penitent by what has passed.--I am grown very happy;
but that would not interest.--I know of no submission
that IS proper for me to make."

"You may certainly ask to be forgiven," said Elinor,
"because you have offended;--and I should think you
might NOW venture so far as to profess some concern
for having ever formed the engagement which drew on you
your mother's anger."

He agreed that he might.

"And when she has forgiven you, perhaps a little humility
may be convenient while acknowledging a second engagement,
almost as imprudent in HER eyes as the first."

He had nothing to urge against it, but still
resisted the idea of a letter of proper submission;
and therefore, to make it easier to him, as he declared
a much greater willingness to make mean concessions
by word of mouth than on paper, it was resolved that,
instead of writing to Fanny, he should go to London,
and personally intreat her good offices in his favour.--
"And if they really DO interest themselves," said Marianne,
in her new character of candour, "in bringing about
a reconciliation, I shall think that even John and Fanny
are not entirely without merit."

After a visit on Colonel Brandon's side of only three
or four days, the two gentlemen quitted Barton together.--
They were to go immediately to Delaford, that Edward
might have some personal knowledge of his future home,
and assist his patron and friend in deciding on what
improvements were needed to it; and from thence,
after staying there a couple of nights, he was to proceed
on his journey to town.



CHAPTER 50


After a proper resistance on the part of Mrs. Ferrars,
just so violent and so steady as to preserve her from that
reproach which she always seemed fearful of incurring,
the reproach of being too amiable, Edward was admitted
to her presence, and pronounced to be again her son.

Her family had of late been exceedingly fluctuating.
For many years of her life she had had two sons;
but the crime and annihilation of Edward a few weeks ago,
had robbed her of one; the similar annihilation of Robert
had left her for a fortnight without any; and now,
by the resuscitation of Edward, she had one again.

In spite of his being allowed once more to live,
however, he did not feel the continuance of his existence
secure, till he had revealed his present engagement;
for the publication of that circumstance, he feared,
might give a sudden turn to his constitution, and carry
him off as rapidly as before.  With apprehensive caution
therefore it was revealed, and he was listened to with
unexpected calmness.  Mrs. Ferrars at first reasonably
endeavoured to dissuade him from marrying Miss Dashwood,
by every argument in her power;--told him, that in Miss Morton
he would have a woman of higher rank and larger fortune;--
and enforced the assertion, by observing that Miss Morton
was the daughter of a nobleman with thirty thousand pounds,
while Miss Dashwood was only the daughter of a private
gentleman with no more than THREE; but when she found that,
though perfectly admitting the truth of her representation,
he was by no means inclined to be guided by it,
she judged it wisest, from the experience of the past,
to submit--and therefore, after such an ungracious delay
as she owed to her own dignity, and as served to prevent
every suspicion of good-will, she issued her decree
of consent to the marriage of Edward and Elinor.

What she would engage to do towards augmenting
their income was next to be considered; and here it
plainly appeared, that though Edward was now her only son,
he was by no means her eldest; for while Robert was
inevitably endowed with a thousand pounds a-year,
not the smallest objection was made against Edward's taking
orders for the sake of two hundred and fifty at the utmost;
nor was anything promised either for the present or in future,
beyond the ten thousand pounds, which had been given with Fanny.

It was as much, however, as was desired,
and more than was expected, by Edward and Elinor;
and Mrs. Ferrars herself, by her shuffling excuses,
seemed the only person surprised at her not giving more.

With an income quite sufficient to their wants
thus secured to them, they had nothing to wait for
after Edward was in possession of the living, but the
readiness of the house, to which Colonel Brandon,
with an eager desire for the accommodation of Elinor,
was making considerable improvements; and after waiting
some time for their completion, after experiencing,
as usual, a thousand disappointments and delays
from the unaccountable dilatoriness of the workmen, Elinor,
as usual, broke through the first positive resolution
of not marrying till every thing was ready, and the
ceremony took place in Barton church early in the autumn.

The first month after their marriage was spent
with their friend at the Mansion-house; from whence
they could superintend the progress of the Parsonage,
and direct every thing as they liked on the spot;--
could chuse papers, project shrubberies, and invent a sweep.
Mrs. Jennings's prophecies, though rather jumbled together,
were chiefly fulfilled; for she was able to visit Edward
and his wife in their Parsonage by Michaelmas, and she
found in Elinor and her husband, as she really believed,
one of the happiest couples in the world.  They had
in fact nothing to wish for, but the marriage of Colonel
Brandon and Marianne, and rather better pasturage for
their cows.

They were visited on their first settling by almost
all their relations and friends.  Mrs. Ferrars came
to inspect the happiness which she was almost ashamed
of having authorised; and even the Dashwoods were at
the expense of a journey from Sussex to do them honour.

"I will not say that I am disappointed, my dear sister,"
said John, as they were walking together one morning before
the gates of Delaford House, "THAT would be saying too much,
for certainly you have been one of the most fortunate young
women in the world, as it is.  But, I confess, it would
give me great pleasure to call Colonel Brandon brother.
His property here, his place, his house, every thing is in
such respectable and excellent condition!--and his woods!--I
have not seen such timber any where in Dorsetshire, as there
is now standing in Delaford Hanger!--And though, perhaps,
Marianne may not seem exactly the person to attract him--
yet I think it would altogether be advisable for you to
have them now frequently staying with you, for as Colonel
Brandon seems a great deal at home, nobody can tell what
may happen--for, when people are much thrown together,
and see little of anybody else--and it will always be
in your power to set her off to advantage, and so forth;--
in short, you may as well give her a chance--You understand
me."--

But though Mrs. Ferrars DID come to see them, and always
treated them with the make-believe of decent affection,
they were never insulted by her real favour and preference.
THAT was due to the folly of Robert, and the cunning
of his wife; and it was earned by them before many months
had passed away.  The selfish sagacity of the latter,
which had at first drawn Robert into the scrape,
was the principal instrument of his deliverance from it;
for her respectful humility, assiduous attentions,
and endless flatteries, as soon as the smallest opening
was given for their exercise, reconciled Mrs. Ferrars
to his choice, and re-established him completely in
her favour.

The whole of Lucy's behaviour in the affair,
and the prosperity which crowned it, therefore, may be held
forth as a most encouraging instance of what an earnest,
an unceasing attention to self-interest, however its progress
may be apparently obstructed, will do in securing every
advantage of fortune, with no other sacrifice than that of time
and conscience.  When Robert first sought her acquaintance,
and privately visited her in Bartlett's Buildings,
it was only with the view imputed to him by his brother.
He merely meant to persuade her to give up the engagement;
and as there could be nothing to overcome but the affection
of both, he naturally expected that one or two interviews
would settle the matter.  In that point, however,
and that only, he erred;--for though Lucy soon gave him
hopes that his eloquence would convince her in TIME,
another visit, another conversation, was always wanted
to produce this conviction.  Some doubts always lingered
in her mind when they parted, which could only be
removed by another half hour's discourse with himself.
His attendance was by this means secured, and the rest
followed in course.  Instead of talking of Edward,
they came gradually to talk only of Robert,--a subject
on which he had always more to say than on any other,
and in which she soon betrayed an interest even equal
to his own; and in short, it became speedily evident
to both, that he had entirely supplanted his brother.
He was proud of his conquest, proud of tricking Edward,
and very proud of marrying privately without his
mother's consent.  What immediately followed is known.
They passed some months in great happiness at Dawlish;
for she had many relations and old acquaintances to
cut--and he drew several plans for magnificent cottages;--
and from thence returning to town, procured the forgiveness
of Mrs. Ferrars, by the simple expedient of asking it,
which, at Lucy's instigation, was adopted.  The forgiveness,
at first, indeed, as was reasonable, comprehended only Robert;
and Lucy, who had owed his mother no duty and therefore
could have transgressed none, still remained some weeks
longer unpardoned.  But perseverance in humility of conduct
and messages, in self-condemnation for Robert's offence,
and gratitude for the unkindness she was treated with,
procured her in time the haughty notice which overcame
her by its graciousness, and led soon afterwards, by rapid
degrees, to the highest state of affection and influence.
Lucy became as necessary to Mrs. Ferrars, as either Robert
or Fanny; and while Edward was never cordially forgiven
for having once intended to marry her, and Elinor,
though superior to her in fortune and birth, was spoken
of as an intruder, SHE was in every thing considered,
and always openly acknowledged, to be a favourite child.
They settled in town, received very liberal assistance
from Mrs. Ferrars, were on the best terms imaginable
with the Dashwoods; and setting aside the jealousies
and ill-will continually subsisting between Fanny and Lucy,
in which their husbands of course took a part, as well
as the frequent domestic disagreements between Robert and
Lucy themselves, nothing could exceed the harmony in which
they all lived together.

What Edward had done to forfeit the right of eldest
son, might have puzzled many people to find out; and what
Robert had done to succeed to it, might have puzzled them
still more.  It was an arrangement, however, justified in
its effects, if not in its cause; for nothing ever
appeared in Robert's style of living or of talking to give
a suspicion of his regretting the extent of his income,
as either leaving his brother too little, or bringing
himself too much;--and if Edward might be judged from
the ready discharge of his duties in every particular,
from an increasing attachment to his wife and his home,
and from the regular cheerfulness of his spirits,
he might be supposed no less contented with his lot,
no less free from every wish of an exchange.

Elinor's marriage divided her as little from her
family as could well be contrived, without rendering
the cottage at Barton entirely useless, for her mother
and sisters spent much more than half their time with her.
Mrs. Dashwood was acting on motives of policy as well
as pleasure in the frequency of her visits at Delaford;
for her wish of bringing Marianne and Colonel Brandon together
was hardly less earnest, though rather more liberal than
what John had expressed.  It was now her darling object.
Precious as was the company of her daughter to her,
she desired nothing so much as to give up its constant
enjoyment to her valued friend; and to see Marianne settled at
the mansion-house was equally the wish of Edward and Elinor.
They each felt his sorrows, and their own obligations,
and Marianne, by general consent, was to be the reward
of all.

With such a confederacy against her--with a knowledge
so intimate of his goodness--with a conviction of his fond
attachment to herself, which at last, though long after it
was observable to everybody else--burst on her--what could she
do?

Marianne Dashwood was born to an extraordinary fate.
She was born to discover the falsehood of her own opinions,
and to counteract, by her conduct, her most favourite maxims.
She was born to overcome an affection formed so late
in life as at seventeen, and with no sentiment
superior to strong esteem and lively friendship,
voluntarily to give her hand to another!--and THAT other,
a man who had suffered no less than herself under the
event of a former attachment, whom, two years before,
she had considered too old to be married,--and who still
sought the constitutional safeguard of a flannel waistcoat!

But so it was.  Instead of falling a sacrifice
to an irresistible passion, as once she had fondly
flattered herself with expecting,--instead of remaining
even for ever with her mother, and finding her only
pleasures in retirement and study, as afterwards in her
more calm and sober judgment she had determined on,--
she found herself at nineteen, submitting to new attachments,
entering on new duties, placed in a new home, a wife,
the mistress of a family, and the patroness of a village.

Colonel Brandon was now as happy, as all those who best
loved him, believed he deserved to be;--in Marianne he
was consoled for every past affliction;--her regard and her
society restored his mind to animation, and his spirits
to cheerfulness; and that Marianne found her own happiness
in forming his, was equally the persuasion and delight
of each observing friend.  Marianne could never love
by halves; and her whole heart became, in time, as much
devoted to her husband, as it had once been to Willoughby.

Willoughby could not hear of her marriage without
a pang; and his punishment was soon afterwards complete
in the voluntary forgiveness of Mrs. Smith, who, by stating
his marriage with a woman of character, as the source
of her clemency, gave him reason for believing that had he
behaved with honour towards Marianne, he might at once have
been happy and rich.  That his repentance of misconduct,
which thus brought its own punishment, was sincere,
need not be doubted;--nor that he long thought of Colonel
Brandon with envy, and of Marianne with regret.  But that
he was for ever inconsolable, that he fled from society,
or contracted an habitual gloom of temper, or died of a
broken heart, must not be depended on--for he did neither.
He lived to exert, and frequently to enjoy himself.
His wife was not always out of humour, nor his home
always uncomfortable; and in his breed of horses and dogs,
and in sporting of every kind, he found no inconsiderable
degree of domestic felicity.

For Marianne, however--in spite of his incivility
in surviving her loss--he always retained that decided
regard which interested him in every thing that befell her,
and made her his secret standard of perfection in woman;--
and many a rising beauty would be slighted by him in
after-days as bearing no comparison with Mrs. Brandon.

Mrs. Dashwood was prudent enough to remain at the cottage,
without attempting a removal to Delaford; and fortunately for
Sir John and Mrs. Jennings, when Marianne was taken from them,
Margaret had reached an age highly suitable for dancing,
and not very ineligible for being supposed to have a lover.

Between Barton and Delaford, there was that constant
communication which strong family affection would
naturally dictate;--and among the merits and the happiness
of Elinor and Marianne, let it not be ranked as the least
considerable, that though sisters, and living almost within
sight of each other, they could live without disagreement
between themselves, or producing coolness between their husbands.

THE END


End of The Project Gutenberg Etext of Sense and Sensibility


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