Part 5 out of 10
"But they are passed over," said Fanny. "I have been
watching them. This weather is all from the south."
"South or north, I know a black cloud when I see it;
and you must not set forward while it is so threatening.
And besides, I want to play something more to you--a very
pretty piece--and your cousin Edmund's prime favourite.
You must stay and hear your cousin's favourite."
Fanny felt that she must; and though she had not
waited for that sentence to be thinking of Edmund,
such a memento made her particularly awake to his idea,
and she fancied him sitting in that room again and again,
perhaps in the very spot where she sat now, listening with
constant delight to the favourite air, played, as it
appeared to her, with superior tone and expression;
and though pleased with it herself, and glad to like whatever
was liked by him, she was more sincerely impatient to go
away at the conclusion of it than she had been before;
and on this being evident, she was so kindly asked to
call again, to take them in her walk whenever she could,
to come and hear more of the harp, that she felt it
necessary to be done, if no objection arose at home.
Such was the origin of the sort of intimacy which took
place between them within the first fortnight after
the Miss Bertrams' going away--an intimacy resulting
principally from Miss Crawford's desire of something new,
and which had little reality in Fanny's feelings.
Fanny went to her every two or three days: it seemed a kind
of fascination: she could not be easy without going,
and yet it was without loving her, without ever thinking
like her, without any sense of obligation for being
sought after now when nobody else was to be had;
and deriving no higher pleasure from her conversation
than occasional amusement, and _that_ often at the expense
of her judgment, when it was raised by pleasantry on
people or subjects which she wished to be respected.
She went, however, and they sauntered about together
many an half-hour in Mrs. Grant's shrubbery, the weather
being unusually mild for the time of year, and venturing
sometimes even to sit down on one of the benches now
comparatively unsheltered, remaining there perhaps till,
in the midst of some tender ejaculation of Fanny's on
the sweets of so protracted an autumn, they were forced,
by the sudden swell of a cold gust shaking down the last few
yellow leaves about them, to jump up and walk for warmth.
"This is pretty, very pretty," said Fanny, looking around
her as they were thus sitting together one day; "every time
I come into this shrubbery I am more struck with its
growth and beauty. Three years ago, this was nothing
but a rough hedgerow along the upper side of the field,
never thought of as anything, or capable of becoming anything;
and now it is converted into a walk, and it would be
difficult to say whether most valuable as a convenience
or an ornament; and perhaps, in another three years,
we may be forgetting--almost forgetting what it was before.
How wonderful, how very wonderful the operations of time,
and the changes of the human mind!" And following
the latter train of thought, she soon afterwards added:
"If any one faculty of our nature may be called _more_
wonderful than the rest, I do think it is memory.
There seems something more speakingly incomprehensible
in the powers, the failures, the inequalities
of memory, than in any other of our intelligences.
The memory is sometimes so retentive, so serviceable,
so obedient; at others, so bewildered and so weak;
and at others again, so tyrannic, so beyond control!
We are, to be sure, a miracle every way; but our powers
of recollecting and of forgetting do seem peculiarly past
Miss Crawford, untouched and inattentive, had nothing
to say; and Fanny, perceiving it, brought back her own
mind to what she thought must interest.
"It may seem impertinent in _me_ to praise, but I must
admire the taste Mrs. Grant has shewn in all this.
There is such a quiet simplicity in the plan of the walk!
Not too much attempted!"
"Yes," replied Miss Crawford carelessly, "it does
very well for a place of this sort. One does not think
of extent _here_; and between ourselves, till I came
to Mansfield, I had not imagined a country parson
ever aspired to a shrubbery, or anything of the kind."
"I am so glad to see the evergreens thrive!" said Fanny,
in reply. "My uncle's gardener always says the soil here
is better than his own, and so it appears from the growth
of the laurels and evergreens in general. The evergreen!
How beautiful, how welcome, how wonderful the evergreen!
When one thinks of it, how astonishing a variety of nature!
In some countries we know the tree that sheds its leaf
is the variety, but that does not make it less amazing
that the same soil and the same sun should nurture plants
differing in the first rule and law of their existence.
You will think me rhapsodising; but when I am out of doors,
especially when I am sitting out of doors, I am very apt
to get into this sort of wondering strain. One cannot fix
one's eyes on the commonest natural production without
finding food for a rambling fancy."
"To say the truth," replied Miss Crawford, "I am something
like the famous Doge at the court of Lewis XIV.;
and may declare that I see no wonder in this shrubbery
equal to seeing myself in it. If anybody had told
me a year ago that this place would be my home,
that I should be spending month after month here, as I
have done, I certainly should not have believed them.
I have now been here nearly five months; and, moreover,
the quietest five months I ever passed."
"_Too_ quiet for you, I believe."
"I should have thought so _theoretically_ myself, but,"
and her eyes brightened as she spoke, "take it all
and all, I never spent so happy a summer. But then,"
with a more thoughtful air and lowered voice, "there is
no saying what it may lead to."
Fanny's heart beat quick, and she felt quite unequal
to surmising or soliciting anything more. Miss Crawford,
however, with renewed animation, soon went on--
"I am conscious of being far better reconciled to a country
residence than I had ever expected to be. I can even
suppose it pleasant to spend _half_ the year in the country,
under certain circumstances, very pleasant. An elegant,
moderate-sized house in the centre of family connexions;
continual engagements among them; commanding the first society
in the neighbourhood; looked up to, perhaps, as leading
it even more than those of larger fortune, and turning
from the cheerful round of such amusements to nothing
worse than a _tete-a-tete_ with the person one feels
most agreeable in the world. There is nothing frightful
in such a picture, is there, Miss Price? One need not
envy the new Mrs. Rushworth with such a home as _that_."
"Envy Mrs. Rushworth!" was all that Fanny attempted to say.
"Come, come, it would be very un-handsome in us to be
severe on Mrs. Rushworth, for I look forward to our owing
her a great many gay, brilliant, happy hours. I expect
we shall be all very much at Sotherton another year.
Such a match as Miss Bertram has made is a public blessing;
for the first pleasures of Mr. Rushworth's wife must be to
fill her house, and give the best balls in the country."
Fanny was silent, and Miss Crawford relapsed into
thoughtfulness, till suddenly looking up at the end
of a few minutes, she exclaimed, "Ah! here he is."
It was not Mr. Rushworth, however, but Edmund,
who then appeared walking towards them with Mrs. Grant.
"My sister and Mr. Bertram. I am so glad your eldest
cousin is gone, that he may be Mr. Bertram again. There is
something in the sound of Mr. _Edmund_ Bertram so formal,
so pitiful, so younger-brother-like, that I detest it."
"How differently we feel!" cried Fanny. "To me,
the sound of _Mr._ Bertram is so cold and nothing-meaning,
so entirely without warmth or character! It just stands
for a gentleman, and that's all. But there is nobleness
in the name of Edmund. It is a name of heroism and renown;
of kings, princes, and knights; and seems to breathe
the spirit of chivalry and warm affections."
"I grant you the name is good in itself, and _Lord_ Edmund
or _Sir_ Edmund sound delightfully; but sink it under the chill,
the annihilation of a Mr., and Mr. Edmund is no more than
Mr. John or Mr. Thomas. Well, shall we join and disappoint
them of half their lecture upon sitting down out of doors
at this time of year, by being up before they can begin?"
Edmund met them with particular pleasure. It was the
first time of his seeing them together since the beginning
of that better acquaintance which he had been hearing
of with great satisfaction. A friendship between two so
very dear to him was exactly what he could have wished:
and to the credit of the lover's understanding, be it stated,
that he did not by any means consider Fanny as the only,
or even as the greater gainer by such a friendship.
"Well," said Miss Crawford, "and do you not scold us for
our imprudence? What do you think we have been sitting
down for but to be talked to about it, and entreated
and supplicated never to do so again?"
"Perhaps I might have scolded," said Edmund, "if either
of you had been sitting down alone; but while you
do wrong together, I can overlook a great deal."
"They cannot have been sitting long," cried Mrs. Grant,
"for when I went up for my shawl I saw them from the
staircase window, and then they were walking."
"And really," added Edmund, "the day is so mild,
that your sitting down for a few minutes can be hardly
thought imprudent. Our weather must not always be judged
by the calendar. We may sometimes take greater liberties
in November than in May."
"Upon my word," cried Miss Crawford, "you are two of the most
disappointing and unfeeling kind friends I ever met with!
There is no giving you a moment's uneasiness. You do not
know how much we have been suffering, nor what chills
we have felt! But I have long thought Mr. Bertram one
of the worst subjects to work on, in any little manoeuvre
against common sense, that a woman could be plagued with.
I had very little hope of _him_ from the first; but you,
Mrs. Grant, my sister, my own sister, I think I had a right
to alarm you a little."
"Do not flatter yourself, my dearest Mary. You have not
the smallest chance of moving me. I have my alarms,
but they are quite in a different quarter; and if I could
have altered the weather, you would have had a good sharp
east wind blowing on you the whole time--for here are
some of my plants which Robert _will_ leave out because
the nights are so mild, and I know the end of it will be,
that we shall have a sudden change of weather, a hard frost
setting in all at once, taking everybody (at least Robert)
by surprise, and I shall lose every one; and what is worse,
cook has just been telling me that the turkey, which I
particularly wished not to be dressed till Sunday,
because I know how much more Dr. Grant would enjoy it
on Sunday after the fatigues of the day, will not keep
beyond to-morrow. These are something like grievances,
and make me think the weather most unseasonably close."
"The sweets of housekeeping in a country village!"
said Miss Crawford archly. "Commend me to the nurseryman
and the poulterer."
"My dear child, commend Dr. Grant to the deanery
of Westminster or St. Paul's, and I should be as glad
of your nurseryman and poulterer as you could be. But we
have no such people in Mansfield. What would you have me do?"
"Oh! you can do nothing but what you do already:
be plagued very often, and never lose your temper."
"Thank you; but there is no escaping these little vexations,
Mary, live where we may; and when you are settled in town
and I come to see you, I dare say I shall find you
with yours, in spite of the nurseryman and the poulterer,
perhaps on their very account. Their remoteness
and unpunctuality, or their exorbitant charges and frauds,
will be drawing forth bitter lamentations."
"I mean to be too rich to lament or to feel anything
of the sort. A large income is the best recipe for
happiness I ever heard of. It certainly may secure
all the myrtle and turkey part of it."
"You intend to be very rich?" said Edmund, with a look which,
to Fanny's eye, had a great deal of serious meaning.
"To be sure. Do not you? Do not we all?"
"I cannot intend anything which it must be so completely
beyond my power to command. Miss Crawford may chuse her
degree of wealth. She has only to fix on her number of
thousands a year, and there can be no doubt of their coming.
My intentions are only not to be poor."
"By moderation and economy, and bringing down your wants
to your income, and all that. I understand you--and a
very proper plan it is for a person at your time of life,
with such limited means and indifferent connexions.
What can _you_ want but a decent maintenance? You have
not much time before you; and your relations are in no
situation to do anything for you, or to mortify you
by the contrast of their own wealth and consequence.
Be honest and poor, by all means--but I shall not
envy you; I do not much think I shall even respect you.
I have a much greater respect for those that are honest
"Your degree of respect for honesty, rich or poor,
is precisely what I have no manner of concern with.
I do not mean to be poor. Poverty is exactly what I have
determined against. Honesty, in the something between,
in the middle state of worldly circumstances, is all that I
am anxious for your not looking down on."
"But I do look down upon it, if it might have been higher.
I must look down upon anything contented with obscurity
when it might rise to distinction."
"But how may it rise? How may my honesty at least rise
to any distinction?"
This was not so very easy a question to answer,
and occasioned an "Oh!" of some length from the fair lady
before she could add, "You ought to be in parliament,
or you should have gone into the army ten years ago."
"_That_ is not much to the purpose now; and as to my being
in parliament, I believe I must wait till there is an
especial assembly for the representation of younger sons
who have little to live on. No, Miss Crawford," he added,
in a more serious tone, "there _are_ distinctions which I
should be miserable if I thought myself without any chance--
absolutely without chance or possibility of obtaining--
but they are of a different character."
A look of consciousness as he spoke, and what seemed
a consciousness of manner on Miss Crawford's side
as she made some laughing answer, was sorrowfull food
for Fanny's observation; and finding herself quite
unable to attend as she ought to Mrs. Grant, by whose
side she was now following the others, she had nearly
resolved on going home immediately, and only waited
for courage to say so, when the sound of the great clock
at Mansfield Park, striking three, made her feel that she
had really been much longer absent than usual, and brought
the previous self-inquiry of whether she should take
leave or not just then, and how, to a very speedy issue.
With undoubting decision she directly began her adieus;
and Edmund began at the same time to recollect that
his mother had been inquiring for her, and that he
had walked down to the Parsonage on purpose to bring her back.
Fanny's hurry increased; and without in the least expecting
Edmund's attendance, she would have hastened away alone;
but the general pace was quickened, and they all accompanied
her into the house, through which it was necessary to pass.
Dr. Grant was in the vestibule, and as they stopt to
speak to him she found, from Edmund's manner, that he
_did_ mean to go with her. He too was taking leave.
She could not but be thankful. In the moment of parting,
Edmund was invited by Dr. Grant to eat his mutton
with him the next day; and Fanny had barely time for an
unpleasant feeling on the occasion, when Mrs. Grant,
with sudden recollection, turned to her and asked for the
pleasure of her company too. This was so new an attention,
so perfectly new a circumstance in the events of
Fanny's life, that she was all surprise and embarrassment;
and while stammering out her great obligation, and her
"but she did not suppose it would be in her power,"
was looking at Edmund for his opinion and help. But Edmund,
delighted with her having such an happiness offered,
and ascertaining with half a look, and half a sentence,
that she had no objection but on her aunt's account,
could not imagine that his mother would make any difficulty
of sparing her, and therefore gave his decided open advice
that the invitation should be accepted; and though Fanny
would not venture, even on his encouragement, to such
a flight of audacious independence, it was soon settled,
that if nothing were heard to the contrary, Mrs. Grant
might expect her.
"And you know what your dinner will be,"
said Mrs. Grant, smiling--"the turkey, and I assure you
a very fine one; for, my dear," turning to her husband,
"cook insists upon the turkey's being dressed to-morrow."
"Very well, very well," cried Dr. Grant, "all the better;
I am glad to hear you have anything so good in the house.
But Miss Price and Mr. Edmund Bertram, I dare say, would take
their chance. We none of us want to hear the bill of fare.
A friendly meeting, and not a fine dinner, is all we
have in view. A turkey, or a goose, or a leg of mutton,
or whatever you and your cook chuse to give us."
The two cousins walked home together; and, except in the
immediate discussion of this engagement, which Edmund
spoke of with the warmest satisfaction, as so particularly
desirable for her in the intimacy which he saw with
so much pleasure established, it was a silent walk;
for having finished that subject, he grew thoughtful
and indisposed for any other.
"But why should Mrs. Grant ask Fanny?" said Lady Bertram.
"How came she to think of asking Fanny? Fanny never
dines there, you know, in this sort of way. I cannot
spare her, and I am sure she does not want to go.
Fanny, you do not want to go, do you?"
"If you put such a question to her," cried Edmund,
preventing his cousin's speaking, "Fanny will immediately
say No; but I am sure, my dear mother, she would like to go;
and I can see no reason why she should not."
"I cannot imagine why Mrs. Grant should think of asking her?
She never did before. She used to ask your sisters now
and then, but she never asked Fanny."
"If you cannot do without me, ma'am--" said Fanny,
in a self-denying tone.
"But my mother will have my father with her all the evening."
"To be sure, so I shall."
"Suppose you take my father's opinion, ma'am."
"That's well thought of. So I will, Edmund. I will
ask Sir Thomas, as soon as he comes in, whether I can
do without her."
"As you please, ma'am, on that head; but I meant my
father's opinion as to the _propriety_ of the invitation's
being accepted or not; and I think he will consider
it a right thing by Mrs. Grant, as well as by Fanny,
that being the _first_ invitation it should be accepted."
"I do not know. We will ask him. But he will be very
much surprised that Mrs. Grant should ask Fanny at all."
There was nothing more to be said, or that could be
said to any purpose, till Sir Thomas were present;
but the subject involving, as it did, her own evening's
comfort for the morrow, was so much uppermost in Lady
Bertram's mind, that half an hour afterwards, on his
looking in for a minute in his way from his plantation
to his dressing-room, she called him back again,
when he had almost closed the door, with "Sir Thomas,
stop a moment--I have something to say to you."
Her tone of calm languor, for she never took the trouble
of raising her voice, was always heard and attended to;
and Sir Thomas came back. Her story began; and Fanny
immediately slipped out of the room; for to hear herself
the subject of any discussion with her uncle was more
than her nerves could bear. She was anxious, she knew--
more anxious perhaps than she ought to be--for what was
it after all whether she went or staid? but if her uncle
were to be a great while considering and deciding,
and with very grave looks, and those grave looks directed
to her, and at last decide against her, she might not
be able to appear properly submissive and indifferent.
Her cause, meanwhile, went on well. It began, on Lady
Bertram's part, with--"I have something to tell you
that will surprise you. Mrs. Grant has asked Fanny
"Well," said Sir Thomas, as if waiting more to accomplish
"Edmund wants her to go. But how can I spare her?"
"She will be late," said Sir Thomas, taking out his watch;
"but what is your difficulty?"
Edmund found himself obliged to speak and fill up
the blanks in his mother's story. He told the whole;
and she had only to add, "So strange! for Mrs. Grant
never used to ask her."
"But is it not very natural," observed Edmund,
"that Mrs. Grant should wish to procure so agreeable
a visitor for her sister?"
"Nothing can be more natural," said Sir Thomas, after a
short deliberation; "nor, were there no sister in the case,
could anything, in my opinion, be more natural.
Mrs. Grant's shewing civility to Miss Price, to Lady
Bertram's niece, could never want explanation. The only
surprise I can feel is, that this should be the _first_
time of its being paid. Fanny was perfectly right in
giving only a conditional answer. She appears to feel
as she ought. But as I conclude that she must wish to go,
since all young people like to be together, I can see
no reason why she should be denied the indulgence."
"But can I do without her, Sir Thomas?"
"Indeed I think you may."
"She always makes tea, you know, when my sister is not here."
"Your sister, perhaps, may be prevailed on to spend
the day with us, and I shall certainly be at home."
"Very well, then, Fanny may go, Edmund."
The good news soon followed her. Edmund knocked at her
door in his way to his own.
"Well, Fanny, it is all happily settled, and without
the smallest hesitation on your uncle's side.
He had but one opinion. You are to go."
"Thank you, I am _so_ glad," was Fanny's instinctive reply;
though when she had turned from him and shut the door,
she could not help feeling, "And yet why should I be glad?
for am I not certain of seeing or hearing something there
to pain me?"
In spite of this conviction, however, she was glad.
Simple as such an engagement might appear in other eyes,
it had novelty and importance in hers, for excepting the
day at Sotherton, she had scarcely ever dined out before;
and though now going only half a mile, and only to
three people, still it was dining out, and all the little
interests of preparation were enjoyments in themselves.
She had neither sympathy nor assistance from those who ought
to have entered into her feelings and directed her taste;
for Lady Bertram never thought of being useful to anybody,
and Mrs. Norris, when she came on the morrow, in consequence
of an early call and invitation from Sir Thomas, was in
a very ill humour, and seemed intent only on lessening
her niece's pleasure, both present and future, as much
"Upon my word, Fanny, you are in high luck to meet
with such attention and indulgence! You ought to be
very much obliged to Mrs. Grant for thinking of you,
and to your aunt for letting you go, and you ought to look
upon it as something extraordinary; for I hope you are
aware that there is no real occasion for your going into
company in this sort of way, or ever dining out at all;
and it is what you must not depend upon ever being repeated.
Nor must you be fancying that the invitation is meant
as any particular compliment to _you_; the compliment
is intended to your uncle and aunt and me. Mrs. Grant
thinks it a civility due to _us_ to take a little notice
of you, or else it would never have come into her head,
and you may be very certain that, if your cousin Julia
had been at home, you would not have been asked at all."
Mrs. Norris had now so ingeniously done away all
Mrs. Grant's part of the favour, that Fanny, who found
herself expected to speak, could only say that she was
very much obliged to her aunt Bertram for sparing her,
and that she was endeavouring to put her aunt's evening
work in such a state as to prevent her being missed.
"Oh! depend upon it, your aunt can do very well without you,
or you would not be allowed to go. _I_ shall be here, so you
may be quite easy about your aunt. And I hope you will have
a very _agreeable_ day, and find it all mighty _delightful_.
But I must observe that five is the very awkwardest of
all possible numbers to sit down to table; and I cannot
but be surprised that such an _elegant_ lady as Mrs. Grant
should not contrive better! And round their enormous great
wide table, too, which fills up the room so dreadfully!
Had the doctor been contented to take my dining-table when I
came away, as anybody in their senses would have done,
instead of having that absurd new one of his own,
which is wider, literally wider than the dinner-table here,
how infinitely better it would have been! and how much
more he would have been respected! for people are never
respected when they step out of their proper sphere.
Remember that, Fanny. Five--only five to be sitting
round that table. However, you will have dinner enough
on it for ten, I dare say."
Mrs. Norris fetched breath, and went on again.
"The nonsense and folly of people's stepping out of their
rank and trying to appear above themselves, makes me
think it right to give _you_ a hint, Fanny, now that you
are going into company without any of us; and I do beseech
and entreat you not to be putting yourself forward,
and talking and giving your opinion as if you were one of
your cousins--as if you were dear Mrs. Rushworth or Julia.
_That_ will never do, believe me. Remember, wherever you are,
you must be the lowest and last; and though Miss Crawford
is in a manner at home at the Parsonage, you are not to
be taking place of her. And as to coming away at night,
you are to stay just as long as Edmund chuses.
Leave him to settle _that_."
"Yes, ma'am, I should not think of anything else."
"And if it should rain, which I think exceedingly likely,
for I never saw it more threatening for a wet evening
in my life, you must manage as well as you can, and not be
expecting the carriage to be sent for you. I certainly
do not go home to-night, and, therefore, the carriage will
not be out on my account; so you must make up your mind
to what may happen, and take your things accordingly."
Her niece thought it perfectly reasonable. She rated her
own claims to comfort as low even as Mrs. Norris could;
and when Sir Thomas soon afterwards, just opening
the door, said, "Fanny, at what time would you have the
carriage come round?" she felt a degree of astonishment
which made it impossible for her to speak.
"My dear Sir Thomas!" cried Mrs. Norris, red with anger,
"Fanny can walk."
"Walk!" repeated Sir Thomas, in a tone of most unanswerable
dignity, and coming farther into the room. "My niece
walk to a dinner engagement at this time of the year!
Will twenty minutes after four suit you?"
"Yes, sir," was Fanny's humble answer, given with the
feelings almost of a criminal towards Mrs. Norris;
and not bearing to remain with her in what might seem
a state of triumph, she followed her uncle out of the room,
having staid behind him only long enough to hear these
words spoken in angry agitation--
"Quite unnecessary! a great deal too kind!
But Edmund goes; true, it is upon Edmund's account.
I observed he was hoarse on Thursday night."
But this could not impose on Fanny. She felt that
the carriage was for herself, and herself alone:
and her uncle's consideration of her, coming immediately
after such representations from her aunt, cost her
some tears of gratitude when she was alone.
The coachman drove round to a minute; another minute
brought down the gentleman; and as the lady had, with a
most scrupulous fear of being late, been many minutes
seated in the drawing-room, Sir Thomas saw them off
in as good time as his own correctly punctual habits required.
"Now I must look at you, Fanny," said Edmund, with the
kind smile of an affectionate brother, "and tell you
how I like you; and as well as I can judge by this light,
you look very nicely indeed. What have you got on?"
"The new dress that my uncle was so good as to give me
on my cousin's marriage. I hope it is not too fine; but I
thought I ought to wear it as soon as I could, and that I
might not have such another opportunity all the winter.
I hope you do not think me too fine."
"A woman can never be too fine while she is all in white. No, I
no finery about you; nothing but what is perfectly proper.
Your gown seems very pretty. I like these glossy spots.
Has not Miss Crawford a gown something the same?"
In approaching the Parsonage they passed close by the
stable-yard and coach-house.
"Heyday!" said Edmund, "here's company, here's a carriage!
who have they got to meet us?" And letting down the side-glass
to distinguish, "'Tis Crawford's, Crawford's barouche,
I protest! There are his own two men pushing it back
into its old quarters. He is here, of course. This is
quite a surprise, Fanny. I shall be very glad to see him."
There was no occasion, there was no time for Fanny
to say how very differently she felt; but the idea
of having such another to observe her was a great
increase of the trepidation with which she performed
the very awful ceremony of walking into the drawing-room.
In the drawing-room Mr. Crawford certainly was, having been
just long enough arrived to be ready for dinner; and the
smiles and pleased looks of the three others standing
round him, shewed how welcome was his sudden resolution
of coming to them for a few days on leaving Bath.
A very cordial meeting passed between him and Edmund;
and with the exception of Fanny, the pleasure was general;
and even to _her_ there might be some advantage in
his presence, since every addition to the party must
rather forward her favourite indulgence of being suffered
to sit silent and unattended to. She was soon aware
of this herself; for though she must submit, as her
own propriety of mind directed, in spite of her aunt
Norris's opinion, to being the principal lady in company,
and to all the little distinctions consequent thereon,
she found, while they were at table, such a happy flow
of conversation prevailing, in which she was not required
to take any part--there was so much to be said between
the brother and sister about Bath, so much between
the two young men about hunting, so much of politics
between Mr. Crawford and Dr. Grant, and of everything
and all together between Mr. Crawford and Mrs. Grant,
as to leave her the fairest prospect of having only to
listen in quiet, and of passing a very agreeable day.
She could not compliment the newly arrived gentleman,
however, with any appearance of interest, in a scheme
for extending his stay at Mansfield, and sending for his
hunters from Norfolk, which, suggested by Dr. Grant,
advised by Edmund, and warmly urged by the two sisters,
was soon in possession of his mind, and which he seemed
to want to be encouraged even by her to resolve on.
Her opinion was sought as to the probable continuance
of the open weather, but her answers were as short
and indifferent as civility allowed. She could not wish
him to stay, and would much rather not have him speak
Her two absent cousins, especially Maria, were much in her
thoughts on seeing him; but no embarrassing remembrance
affected _his_ spirits. Here he was again on the same
ground where all had passed before, and apparently as
willing to stay and be happy without the Miss Bertrams,
as if he had never known Mansfield in any other state.
She heard them spoken of by him only in a general way,
till they were all re-assembled in the drawing-room,
when Edmund, being engaged apart in some matter of business
with Dr. Grant, which seemed entirely to engross them,
and Mrs. Grant occupied at the tea-table, he began talking
of them with more particularity to his other sister.
With a significant smile, which made Fanny quite hate him,
he said, "So! Rushworth and his fair bride are at Brighton,
I understand; happy man!"
"Yes, they have been there about a fortnight, Miss Price,
have they not? And Julia is with them."
"And Mr. Yates, I presume, is not far off."
"Mr. Yates! Oh! we hear nothing of Mr. Yates. I do not
imagine he figures much in the letters to Mansfield Park;
do you, Miss Price? I think my friend Julia knows better
than to entertain her father with Mr. Yates."
"Poor Rushworth and his two-and-forty speeches!"
continued Crawford. "Nobody can ever forget them.
Poor fellow! I see him now--his toil and his despair.
Well, I am much mistaken if his lovely Maria will ever
want him to make two-and-forty speeches to her"; adding,
with a momentary seriousness, "She is too good for him--
much too good." And then changing his tone again to one
of gentle gallantry, and addressing Fanny, he said,
"You were Mr. Rushworth's best friend. Your kindness and
patience can never be forgotten, your indefatigable patience
in trying to make it possible for him to learn his part--
in trying to give him a brain which nature had denied--
to mix up an understanding for him out of the superfluity
of your own! _He_ might not have sense enough himself
to estimate your kindness, but I may venture to say that it
had honour from all the rest of the party."
Fanny coloured, and said nothing.
"It is as a dream, a pleasant dream!" he exclaimed,
breaking forth again, after a few minutes' musing. "I shall
always look back on our theatricals with exquisite pleasure.
There was such an interest, such an animation, such a
spirit diffused. Everybody felt it. We were all alive.
There was employment, hope, solicitude, bustle, for every
hour of the day. Always some little objection,
some little doubt, some little anxiety to be got over.
I never was happier."
With silent indignation Fanny repeated to herself,
"Never happier!--never happier than when doing what
you must know was not justifiable!--never happier
than when behaving so dishonourably and unfeelingly!
Oh! what a corrupted mind!"
"We were unlucky, Miss Price," he continued, in a lower tone,
to avoid the possibility of being heard by Edmund,
and not at all aware of her feelings, "we certainly
were very unlucky. Another week, only one other week,
would have been enough for us. I think if we had had the
disposal of events--if Mansfield Park had had the government
of the winds just for a week or two, about the equinox,
there would have been a difference. Not that we would
have endangered his safety by any tremendous weather--
but only by a steady contrary wind, or a calm. I think,
Miss Price, we would have indulged ourselves with a week's
calm in the Atlantic at that season."
He seemed determined to be answered; and Fanny,
averting her face, said, with a firmer tone than usual,
"As far as _I_ am concerned, sir, I would not have
delayed his return for a day. My uncle disapproved it
all so entirely when he did arrive, that in my opinion
everything had gone quite far enough."
She had never spoken so much at once to him in her life before,
and never so angrily to any one; and when her speech was over,
she trembled and blushed at her own daring. He was surprised;
but after a few moments' silent consideration of her,
replied in a calmer, graver tone, and as if the candid
result of conviction, "I believe you are right. It was
more pleasant than prudent. We were getting too noisy."
And then turning the conversation, he would have engaged
her on some other subject, but her answers were so shy
and reluctant that he could not advance in any.
Miss Crawford, who had been repeatedly eyeing Dr. Grant
and Edmund, now observed, "Those gentlemen must have
some very interesting point to discuss."
"The most interesting in the world," replied her brother--
"how to make money; how to turn a good income into a better.
Dr. Grant is giving Bertram instructions about the living
he is to step into so soon. I find he takes orders
in a few weeks. They were at it in the dining-parlour.
I am glad to hear Bertram will be so well off. He will
have a very pretty income to make ducks and drakes with,
and earned without much trouble. I apprehend he will
not have less than seven hundred a year. Seven hundred
a year is a fine thing for a younger brother; and as of
course he will still live at home, it will be all for his
_menus_ _plaisirs_; and a sermon at Christmas and Easter,
I suppose, will be the sum total of sacrifice."
His sister tried to laugh off her feelings by saying,
"Nothing amuses me more than the easy manner with which everybody
settles the abundance of those who have a great deal less
than themselves. You would look rather blank, Henry, if your
_menus_ _plaisirs_ were to be limited to seven hundred a year."
"Perhaps I might; but all _that_ you know is
entirely comparative. Birthright and habit must settle
the business. Bertram is certainly well off for a cadet
of even a baronet's family. By the time he is four or five
and twenty he will have seven hundred a year, and nothing to do for
Miss Crawford _could_ have said that there would
be a something to do and to suffer for it, which she
could not think lightly of; but she checked herself
and let it pass; and tried to look calm and unconcerned
when the two gentlemen shortly afterwards joined them.
"Bertram," said Henry Crawford, "I shall make a point of
coming to Mansfield to hear you preach your first sermon.
I shall come on purpose to encourage a young beginner.
When is it to be? Miss Price, will not you join me in
encouraging your cousin? Will not you engage to attend
with your eyes steadily fixed on him the whole time--
as I shall do--not to lose a word; or only looking off
just to note down any sentence preeminently beautiful?
We will provide ourselves with tablets and a pencil.
When will it be? You must preach at Mansfield, you know,
that Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram may hear you."
"I shall keep clear of you, Crawford, as long as I can,"
said Edmund; "for you would be more likely to disconcert me,
and I should be more sorry to see you trying at it than
almost any other man."
"Will he not feel this?" thought Fanny. "No, he can feel
nothing as he ought."
The party being now all united, and the chief talkers
attracting each other, she remained in tranquillity;
and as a whist-table was formed after tea--formed really
for the amusement of Dr. Grant, by his attentive wife,
though it was not to be supposed so--and Miss Crawford
took her harp, she had nothing to do but to listen;
and her tranquillity remained undisturbed the rest
of the evening, except when Mr. Crawford now and then
addressed to her a question or observation, which she
could not avoid answering. Miss Crawford was too much
vexed by what had passed to be in a humour for anything
but music. With that she soothed herself and amused
The assurance of Edmund's being so soon to take orders,
coming upon her like a blow that had been suspended,
and still hoped uncertain and at a distance, was felt
with resentment and mortification. She was very angry
with him. She had thought her influence more.
She _had_ begun to think of him; she felt that she had,
with great regard, with almost decided intentions;
but she would now meet him with his own cool feelings.
It was plain that he could have no serious views, no true
attachment, by fixing himself in a situation which he must
know she would never stoop to. She would learn to match
him in his indifference. She would henceforth admit his
attentions without any idea beyond immediate amusement.
If _he_ could so command his affections, _hers_ should do her
Henry Crawford had quite made up his mind by the
next morning to give another fortnight to Mansfield,
and having sent for his hunters, and written a few
lines of explanation to the Admiral, he looked round at
his sister as he sealed and threw the letter from him,
and seeing the coast clear of the rest of the family,
said, with a smile, "And how do you think I mean to
amuse myself, Mary, on the days that I do not hunt?
I am grown too old to go out more than three times a week;
but I have a plan for the intermediate days, and what do you think
"To walk and ride with me, to be sure."
"Not exactly, though I shall be happy to do both, but _that_
would be exercise only to my body, and I must take care
of my mind. Besides, _that_ would be all recreation
and indulgence, without the wholesome alloy of labour,
and I do not like to eat the bread of idleness. No, my plan
is to make Fanny Price in love with me."
"Fanny Price! Nonsense! No, no. You ought to be
satisfied with her two cousins."
"But I cannot be satisfied without Fanny Price,
without making a small hole in Fanny Price's heart.
You do not seem properly aware of her claims to notice.
When we talked of her last night, you none of you
seemed sensible of the wonderful improvement that has
taken place in her looks within the last six weeks.
You see her every day, and therefore do not notice it;
but I assure you she is quite a different creature
from what she was in the autumn. She was then merely
a quiet, modest, not plain-looking girl, but she is now
absolutely pretty. I used to think she had neither
complexion nor countenance; but in that soft skin of hers,
so frequently tinged with a blush as it was yesterday,
there is decided beauty; and from what I observed of her
eyes and mouth, I do not despair of their being capable
of expression enough when she has anything to express.
And then, her air, her manner, her _tout_ _ensemble_,
is so indescribably improved! She must be grown two inches,
at least, since October."
"Phoo! phoo! This is only because there were no tall women
to compare her with, and because she has got a new gown,
and you never saw her so well dressed before. She is
just what she was in October, believe me. The truth is,
that she was the only girl in company for you to notice,
and you must have a somebody. I have always thought
her pretty--not strikingly pretty--but 'pretty enough,'
as people say; a sort of beauty that grows on one.
Her eyes should be darker, but she has a sweet smile;
but as for this wonderful degree of improvement, I am
sure it may all be resolved into a better style of dress,
and your having nobody else to look at; and therefore,
if you do set about a flirtation with her, you never
will persuade me that it is in compliment to her beauty,
or that it proceeds from anything but your own idleness
Her brother gave only a smile to this accusation,
and soon afterwards said, "I do not quite know what to make
of Miss Fanny. I do not understand her. I could not tell
what she would be at yesterday. What is her character?
Is she solemn? Is she queer? Is she prudish? Why did
she draw back and look so grave at me? I could hardly get
her to speak. I never was so long in company with a girl
in my life, trying to entertain her, and succeed so ill!
Never met with a girl who looked so grave on me!
I must try to get the better of this. Her looks say,
'I will not like you, I am determined not to like you';
and I say she shall."
"Foolish fellow! And so this is her attraction after all!
This it is, her not caring about you, which gives
her such a soft skin, and makes her so much taller,
and produces all these charms and graces! I do desire
that you will not be making her really unhappy;
a _little_ love, perhaps, may animate and do her good,
but I will not have you plunge her deep, for she is as
good a little creature as ever lived, and has a great
deal of feeling."
"It can be but for a fortnight," said Henry; "and if a
fortnight can kill her, she must have a constitution
which nothing could save. No, I will not do her any harm,
dear little soul! only want her to look kindly on me,
to give me smiles as well as blushes, to keep a chair
for me by herself wherever we are, and be all animation
when I take it and talk to her; to think as I think,
be interested in all my possessions and pleasures,
try to keep me longer at Mansfield, and feel when I
go away that she shall be never happy again. I want
"Moderation itself!" said Mary. "I can have no scruples now.
Well, you will have opportunities enough of endeavouring
to recommend yourself, for we are a great deal together."
And without attempting any farther remonstrance, she left
Fanny to her fate, a fate which, had not Fanny's heart
been guarded in a way unsuspected by Miss Crawford,
might have been a little harder than she deserved;
for although there doubtless are such unconquerable young
ladies of eighteen (or one should not read about them)
as are never to be persuaded into love against their judgment
by all that talent, manner, attention, and flattery can do,
I have no inclination to believe Fanny one of them,
or to think that with so much tenderness of disposition,
and so much taste as belonged to her, she could have
escaped heart-whole from the courtship (though the
courtship only of a fortnight) of such a man as Crawford,
in spite of there being some previous ill opinion of him
to be overcome, had not her affection been engaged elsewhere.
With all the security which love of another and disesteem
of him could give to the peace of mind he was attacking,
his continued attentions--continued, but not obtrusive,
and adapting themselves more and more to the gentleness
and delicacy of her character--obliged her very soon
to dislike him less than formerly. She had by no means
forgotten the past, and she thought as ill of him as ever;
but she felt his powers: he was entertaining; and his
manners were so improved, so polite, so seriously and
blamelessly polite, that it was impossible not to be civil
to him in return.
A very few days were enough to effect this; and at the end
of those few days, circumstances arose which had a tendency
rather to forward his views of pleasing her, inasmuch as
they gave her a degree of happiness which must dispose
her to be pleased with everybody. William, her brother,
the so long absent and dearly loved brother, was in
England again. She had a letter from him herself, a few
hurried happy lines, written as the ship came up Channel,
and sent into Portsmouth with the first boat that left
the Antwerp at anchor in Spithead; and when Crawford walked
up with the newspaper in his hand, which he had hoped
would bring the first tidings, he found her trembling
with joy over this letter, and listening with a glowing,
grateful countenance to the kind invitation which her
uncle was most collectedly dictating in reply.
It was but the day before that Crawford had made himself
thoroughly master of the subject, or had in fact become
at all aware of her having such a brother, or his being
in such a ship, but the interest then excited had been
very properly lively, determining him on his return to
town to apply for information as to the probable period
of the Antwerp's return from the Mediterranean, etc.;
and the good luck which attended his early examination
of ship news the next morning seemed the reward of his
ingenuity in finding out such a method of pleasing her,
as well as of his dutiful attention to the Admiral,
in having for many years taken in the paper esteemed
to have the earliest naval intelligence. He proved,
however, to be too late. All those fine first feelings,
of which he had hoped to be the exciter, were already given.
But his intention, the kindness of his intention,
was thankfully acknowledged: quite thankfully and warmly,
for she was elevated beyond the common timidity of her
mind by the flow of her love for William.
This dear William would soon be amongst them. There could
be no doubt of his obtaining leave of absence immediately,
for he was still only a midshipman; and as his parents,
from living on the spot, must already have seen him,
and be seeing him perhaps daily, his direct holidays
might with justice be instantly given to the sister,
who had been his best correspondent through a period of
seven years, and the uncle who had done most for his support
and advancement; and accordingly the reply to her reply,
fixing a very early day for his arrival, came as soon
as possible; and scarcely ten days had passed since Fanny
had been in the agitation of her first dinner-visit,
when she found herself in an agitation of a higher nature,
watching in the hall, in the lobby, on the stairs,
for the first sound of the carriage which was to bring her
It came happily while she was thus waiting; and there
being neither ceremony nor fearfulness to delay the moment
of meeting, she was with him as he entered the house,
and the first minutes of exquisite feeling had no interruption
and no witnesses, unless the servants chiefly intent
upon opening the proper doors could be called such.
This was exactly what Sir Thomas and Edmund had been
separately conniving at, as each proved to the other
by the sympathetic alacrity with which they both advised
Mrs. Norris's continuing where she was, instead of rushing
out into the hall as soon as the noises of the arrival
William and Fanny soon shewed themselves; and Sir Thomas
had the pleasure of receiving, in his protege, certainly a
very different person from the one he had equipped seven
years ago, but a young man of an open, pleasant countenance,
and frank, unstudied, but feeling and respectful manners,
and such as confirmed him his friend.
It was long before Fanny could recover from the agitating
happiness of such an hour as was formed by the last
thirty minutes of expectation, and the first of fruition;
it was some time even before her happiness could be said
to make her happy, before the disappointment inseparable
from the alteration of person had vanished, and she could
see in him the same William as before, and talk to him,
as her heart had been yearning to do through many
a past year. That time, however, did gradually come,
forwarded by an affection on his side as warm as her own,
and much less encumbered by refinement or self-distrust.
She was the first object of his love, but it was a love
which his stronger spirits, and bolder temper, made it
as natural for him to express as to feel. On the morrow
they were walking about together with true enjoyment,
and every succeeding morrow renewed a _tete-a-tete_
which Sir Thomas could not but observe with complacency,
even before Edmund had pointed it out to him.
Excepting the moments of peculiar delight, which any marked
or unlooked-for instance of Edmund's consideration of her
in the last few months had excited, Fanny had never known
so much felicity in her life, as in this unchecked, equal,
fearless intercourse with the brother and friend who was opening
all his heart to her, telling her all his hopes and fears,
plans, and solicitudes respecting that long thought of,
dearly earned, and justly valued blessing of promotion;
who could give her direct and minute information of the
father and mother, brothers and sisters, of whom she
very seldom heard; who was interested in all the comforts
and all the little hardships of her home at Mansfield;
ready to think of every member of that home as she directed,
or differing only by a less scrupulous opinion, and more
noisy abuse of their aunt Norris, and with whom (perhaps
the dearest indulgence of the whole) all the evil and
good of their earliest years could be gone over again,
and every former united pain and pleasure retraced
with the fondest recollection. An advantage this,
a strengthener of love, in which even the conjugal tie
is beneath the fraternal. Children of the same family,
the same blood, with the same first associations and habits,
have some means of enjoyment in their power, which no
subsequent connexions can supply; and it must be by a
long and unnatural estrangement, by a divorce which no
subsequent connexion can justify, if such precious remains
of the earliest attachments are ever entirely outlived.
Too often, alas! it is so. Fraternal love, sometimes
almost everything, is at others worse than nothing.
But with William and Fanny Price it was still a sentiment
in all its prime and freshness, wounded by no opposition
of interest, cooled by no separate attachment, and feeling
the influence of time and absence only in its increase.
An affection so amiable was advancing each in the opinion
of all who had hearts to value anything good. Henry Crawford
was as much struck with it as any. He honoured the
warm-hearted, blunt fondness of the young sailor, which led
him to say, with his hands stretched towards Fanny's head,
"Do you know, I begin to like that queer fashion already,
though when I first heard of such things being done
in England, I could not believe it; and when Mrs. Brown,
and the other women at the Commissioner's at Gibraltar,
appeared in the same trim, I thought they were mad; but Fanny
can reconcile me to anything"; and saw, with lively admiration,
the glow of Fanny's cheek, the brightness of her eye,
the deep interest, the absorbed attention, while her
brother was describing any of the imminent hazards,
or terrific scenes, which such a period at sea must supply.
It was a picture which Henry Crawford had moral taste enough
to value. Fanny's attractions increased--increased twofold;
for the sensibility which beautified her complexion and
illumined her countenance was an attraction in itself.
He was no longer in doubt of the capabilities of her heart.
She had feeling, genuine feeling. It would be something
to be loved by such a girl, to excite the first ardours
of her young unsophisticated mind! She interested him
more than he had foreseen. A fortnight was not enough.
His stay became indefinite.
William was often called on by his uncle to be the talker.
His recitals were amusing in themselves to Sir Thomas,
but the chief object in seeking them was to understand
the reciter, to know the young man by his histories;
and he listened to his clear, simple, spirited details with
full satisfaction, seeing in them the proof of good principles,
professional knowledge, energy, courage, and cheerfulness,
everything that could deserve or promise well.
Young as he was, William had already seen a great deal.
He had been in the Mediterranean; in the West Indies;
in the Mediterranean again; had been often taken on shore
by the favour of his captain, and in the course of seven
years had known every variety of danger which sea and war
together could offer. With such means in his power he
had a right to be listened to; and though Mrs. Norris could
fidget about the room, and disturb everybody in quest
of two needlefuls of thread or a second-hand shirt button,
in the midst of her nephew's account of a shipwreck
or an engagement, everybody else was attentive; and even
Lady Bertram could not hear of such horrors unmoved,
or without sometimes lifting her eyes from her work to say,
"Dear me! how disagreeable! I wonder anybody can ever go
To Henry Crawford they gave a different feeling. He longed
to have been at sea, and seen and done and suffered as much.
His heart was warmed, his fancy fired, and he felt
the highest respect for a lad who, before he was twenty,
had gone through such bodily hardships and given such
proofs of mind. The glory of heroism, of usefulness,
of exertion, of endurance, made his own habits of selfish
indulgence appear in shameful contrast; and he wished
he had been a William Price, distinguishing himself and
working his way to fortune and consequence with so much
self-respect and happy ardour, instead of what he was!
The wish was rather eager than lasting. He was roused from
the reverie of retrospection and regret produced by it,
by some inquiry from Edmund as to his plans for the next
day's hunting; and he found it was as well to be a man
of fortune at once with horses and grooms at his command.
In one respect it was better, as it gave him the means
of conferring a kindness where he wished to oblige.
With spirits, courage, and curiosity up to anything,
William expressed an inclination to hunt; and Crawford could
mount him without the slightest inconvenience to himself,
and with only some scruples to obviate in Sir Thomas,
who knew better than his nephew the value of such a loan,
and some alarms to reason away in Fanny. She feared
for William; by no means convinced by all that he could
relate of his own horsemanship in various countries,
of the scrambling parties in which he had been engaged,
the rough horses and mules he had ridden, or his many narrow
escapes from dreadful falls, that he was at all equal to the
management of a high-fed hunter in an English fox-chase;
nor till he returned safe and well, without accident
or discredit, could she be reconciled to the risk,
or feel any of that obligation to Mr. Crawford for lending
the horse which he had fully intended it should produce.
When it was proved, however, to have done William no harm,
she could allow it to be a kindness, and even reward
the owner with a smile when the animal was one minute
tendered to his use again; and the next, with the
greatest cordiality, and in a manner not to be resisted,
made over to his use entirely so long as he remained
[End volume one of this edition.
Printed by T. and A. Constable,
Printers to Her Majesty at
the Edinburgh University Press]
The intercourse of the two families was at this period
more nearly restored to what it had been in the autumn,
than any member of the old intimacy had thought ever
likely to be again. The return of Henry Crawford,
and the arrival of William Price, had much to do with it,
but much was still owing to Sir Thomas's more than toleration
of the neighbourly attempts at the Parsonage. His mind,
now disengaged from the cares which had pressed on him
at first, was at leisure to find the Grants and their
young inmates really worth visiting; and though infinitely
above scheming or contriving for any the most advantageous
matrimonial establishment that could be among the apparent
possibilities of any one most dear to him, and disdaining
even as a littleness the being quick-sighted on such points,
he could not avoid perceiving, in a grand and careless way,
that Mr. Crawford was somewhat distinguishing his niece--
nor perhaps refrain (though unconsciously) from giving a
more willing assent to invitations on that account.
His readiness, however, in agreeing to dine at the Parsonage,
when the general invitation was at last hazarded,
after many debates and many doubts as to whether it were
worth while, "because Sir Thomas seemed so ill inclined,
and Lady Bertram was so indolent!" proceeded from
good-breeding and goodwill alone, and had nothing to do
with Mr. Crawford, but as being one in an agreeable group:
for it was in the course of that very visit that he first
began to think that any one in the habit of such idle
observations _would_ _have_ _thought_ that Mr. Crawford
was the admirer of Fanny Price.
The meeting was generally felt to be a pleasant one,
being composed in a good proportion of those who would talk
and those who would listen; and the dinner itself was elegant
and plentiful, according to the usual style of the Grants,
and too much according to the usual habits of all to raise
any emotion except in Mrs. Norris, who could never behold
either the wide table or the number of dishes on it
with patience, and who did always contrive to experience
some evil from the passing of the servants behind her chair,
and to bring away some fresh conviction of its being
impossible among so many dishes but that some must be cold.
In the evening it was found, according to the predetermination
of Mrs. Grant and her sister, that after making up
the whist-table there would remain sufficient for a
round game, and everybody being as perfectly complying
and without a choice as on such occasions they always are,
speculation was decided on almost as soon as whist;
and Lady Bertram soon found herself in the critical situation
of being applied to for her own choice between the games,
and being required either to draw a card for whist or not.
She hesitated. Luckily Sir Thomas was at hand.
"What shall I do, Sir Thomas? Whist and speculation;
which will amuse me most?"
Sir Thomas, after a moment's thought, recommended speculation.
He was a whist player himself, and perhaps might feel
that it would not much amuse him to have her for a partner.
"Very well," was her ladyship's contented answer;
"then speculation, if you please, Mrs. Grant. I know
nothing about it, but Fanny must teach me."
Here Fanny interposed, however, with anxious protestations
of her own equal ignorance; she had never played the
game nor seen it played in her life; and Lady Bertram
felt a moment's indecision again; but upon everybody's
assuring her that nothing could be so easy, that it
was the easiest game on the cards, and Henry Crawford's
stepping forward with a most earnest request to be allowed
to sit between her ladyship and Miss Price, and teach
them both, it was so settled; and Sir Thomas, Mrs. Norris,
and Dr. and Mrs. Grant being seated at the table of prime
intellectual state and dignity, the remaining six,
under Miss Crawford's direction, were arranged round
the other. It was a fine arrangement for Henry Crawford,
who was close to Fanny, and with his hands full of business,
having two persons' cards to manage as well as his own;
for though it was impossible for Fanny not to feel herself
mistress of the rules of the game in three minutes,
he had yet to inspirit her play, sharpen her avarice,
and harden her heart, which, especially in any competition
with William, was a work of some difficulty; and as for
Lady Bertram, he must continue in charge of all her fame
and fortune through the whole evening; and if quick enough
to keep her from looking at her cards when the deal began,
must direct her in whatever was to be done with them
to the end of it.
He was in high spirits, doing everything with happy ease,
and preeminent in all the lively turns, quick resources,
and playful impudence that could do honour to the game;
and the round table was altogether a very comfortable
contrast to the steady sobriety and orderly silence of
Twice had Sir Thomas inquired into the enjoyment and
success of his lady, but in vain; no pause was long enough
for the time his measured manner needed; and very little
of her state could be known till Mrs. Grant was able,
at the end of the first rubber, to go to her and pay
"I hope your ladyship is pleased with the game."
"Oh dear, yes! very entertaining indeed. A very odd game.
I do not know what it is all about. I am never to see
my cards; and Mr. Crawford does all the rest."
"Bertram," said Crawford, some time afterwards, taking the
opportunity of a little languor in the game, "I have never
told you what happened to me yesterday in my ride home."
They had been hunting together, and were in the midst of a
good run, and at some distance from Mansfield, when his horse
being found to have flung a shoe, Henry Crawford had been
obliged to give up, and make the best of his way back.
"I told you I lost my way after passing that old farmhouse
with the yew-trees, because I can never bear to ask;
but I have not told you that, with my usual luck--for I
never do wrong without gaining by it--I found myself in due
time in the very place which I had a curiosity to see.
I was suddenly, upon turning the corner of a steepish
downy field, in the midst of a retired little village
between gently rising hills; a small stream before me to
be forded, a church standing on a sort of knoll to my right--
which church was strikingly large and handsome for
the place, and not a gentleman or half a gentleman's house
to be seen excepting one--to be presumed the Parsonage--
within a stone's throw of the said knoll and church.
I found myself, in short, in Thornton Lacey."
"It sounds like it," said Edmund; "but which way did you
turn after passing Sewell's farm?"
"I answer no such irrelevant and insidious questions;
though were I to answer all that you could put in the course
of an hour, you would never be able to prove that it
was _not_ Thornton Lacey--for such it certainly was."
"You inquired, then?"
"No, I never inquire. But I _told_ a man mending a hedge
that it was Thornton Lacey, and he agreed to it."
"You have a good memory. I had forgotten having ever
told you half so much of the place."
Thornton Lacey was the name of his impending living,
as Miss Crawford well knew; and her interest in a negotiation
for William Price's knave increased.
"Well," continued Edmund, "and how did you like what
"Very much indeed. You are a lucky fellow. There will be
work for five summers at least before the place is liveable."
"No, no, not so bad as that. The farmyard must be moved,
I grant you; but I am not aware of anything else.
The house is by no means bad, and when the yard is removed,
there may be a very tolerable approach to it."
"The farmyard must be cleared away entirely, and planted
up to shut out the blacksmith's shop. The house must
be turned to front the east instead of the north--
the entrance and principal rooms, I mean, must be on
that side, where the view is really very pretty; I am
sure it may be done. And _there_ must be your approach,
through what is at present the garden. You must make
a new garden at what is now the back of the house;
which will be giving it the best aspect in the world,
sloping to the south-east. The ground seems precisely
formed for it. I rode fifty yards up the lane,
between the church and the house, in order to look about me;
and saw how it might all be. Nothing can be easier.
The meadows beyond what _will_ _be_ the garden, as well
as what now _is_, sweeping round from the lane I stood
in to the north-east, that is, to the principal road
through the village, must be all laid together, of course;
very pretty meadows they are, finely sprinkled with timber.
They belong to the living, I suppose; if not, you must
purchase them. Then the stream--something must be done
with the stream; but I could not quite determine what.
I had two or three ideas."
"And I have two or three ideas also," said Edmund,
"and one of them is, that very little of your plan
for Thornton Lacey will ever be put in practice.
I must be satisfied with rather less ornament and beauty.
I think the house and premises may be made comfortable,
and given the air of a gentleman's residence, without any
very heavy expense, and that must suffice me; and, I hope,
may suffice all who care about me."
Miss Crawford, a little suspicious and resentful of a
certain tone of voice, and a certain half-look attending
the last expression of his hope, made a hasty finish
of her dealings with William Price; and securing his knave
at an exorbitant rate, exclaimed, "There, I will stake
my last like a woman of spirit. No cold prudence for me.
I am not born to sit still and do nothing. If I lose
the game, it shall not be from not striving for it."
The game was hers, and only did not pay her for what
she had given to secure it. Another deal proceeded,
and Crawford began again about Thornton Lacey.
"My plan may not be the best possible: I had not many
minutes to form it in; but you must do a good deal.
The place deserves it, and you will find yourself not
satisfied with much less than it is capable of. (Excuse me,
your ladyship must not see your cards. There, let them
lie just before you.) The place deserves it, Bertram.
You talk of giving it the air of a gentleman's residence.
_That_ will be done by the removal of the farmyard;
for, independent of that terrible nuisance, I never saw
a house of the kind which had in itself so much the air
of a gentleman's residence, so much the look of a something
above a mere parsonage-house--above the expenditure of a few
hundreds a year. It is not a scrambling collection of low
single rooms, with as many roofs as windows; it is not
cramped into the vulgar compactness of a square farmhouse:
it is a solid, roomy, mansion-like looking house, such as one
might suppose a respectable old country family had lived
in from generation to generation, through two centuries
at least, and were now spending from two to three thousand
a year in." Miss Crawford listened, and Edmund agreed
to this. "The air of a gentleman's residence, therefore,
you cannot but give it, if you do anything. But it is
capable of much more. (Let me see, Mary; Lady Bertram
bids a dozen for that queen; no, no, a dozen is more
than it is worth. Lady Bertram does not bid a dozen.
She will have nothing to say to it. Go on, go on.)
By some such improvements as I have suggested (I do not really
require you to proceed upon my plan, though, by the bye,
I doubt anybody's striking out a better) you may give it
a higher character. You may raise it into a _place_.
From being the mere gentleman's residence, it becomes,
by judicious improvement, the residence of a man
of education, taste, modern manners, good connexions.
All this may be stamped on it; and that house receive
such an air as to make its owner be set down as the great
landholder of the parish by every creature travelling
the road; especially as there is no real squire's house
to dispute the point--a circumstance, between ourselves,
to enhance the value of such a situation in point
of privilege and independence beyond all calculation.
_You_ think with me, I hope" (turning with a softened
voice to Fanny). "Have you ever seen the place?"
Fanny gave a quick negative, and tried to hide her interest
in the subject by an eager attention to her brother,
who was driving as hard a bargain, and imposing on her
as much as he could; but Crawford pursued with "No, no,
you must not part with the queen. You have bought
her too dearly, and your brother does not offer half
her value. No, no, sir, hands off, hands off. Your sister
does not part with the queen. She is quite determined.
The game will be yours," turning to her again; "it will
certainly be yours."
"And Fanny had much rather it were William's," said Edmund,
smiling at her. "Poor Fanny! not allowed to cheat herself
as she wishes!"
"Mr. Bertram," said Miss Crawford, a few minutes afterwards,
"you know Henry to be such a capital improver, that you
cannot possibly engage in anything of the sort at Thornton
Lacey without accepting his help. Only think how useful
he was at Sotherton! Only think what grand things were
produced there by our all going with him one hot day
in August to drive about the grounds, and see his genius
take fire. There we went, and there we came home again;
and what was done there is not to be told!"
Fanny's eyes were turned on Crawford for a moment
with an expression more than grave--even reproachful;
but on catching his, were instantly withdrawn.
With something of consciousness he shook his head at
his sister, and laughingly replied, "I cannot say there
was much done at Sotherton; but it was a hot day, and we
were all walking after each other, and bewildered."
As soon as a general buzz gave him shelter, he added,
in a low voice, directed solely at Fanny, "I should be
sorry to have my powers of _planning_ judged of by the
day at Sotherton. I see things very differently now.
Do not think of me as I appeared then."
Sotherton was a word to catch Mrs. Norris, and being
just then in the happy leisure which followed securing
the odd trick by Sir Thomas's capital play and her own
against Dr. and Mrs. Grant's great hands, she called out,
in high good-humour, "Sotherton! Yes, that is a place,
indeed, and we had a charming day there. William, you are
quite out of luck; but the next time you come, I hope dear
Mr. and Mrs. Rushworth will be at home, and I am sure
I can answer for your being kindly received by both.
Your cousins are not of a sort to forget their relations,
and Mr. Rushworth is a most amiable man. They are at
Brighton now, you know; in one of the best houses there,
as Mr. Rushworth's fine fortune gives them a right to be.
I do not exactly know the distance, but when you get back
to Portsmouth, if it is not very far off, you ought to go
over and pay your respects to them; and I could send
a little parcel by you that I want to get conveyed to
"I should be very happy, aunt; but Brighton is almost
by Beachey Head; and if I could get so far, I could
not expect to be welcome in such a smart place as that--
poor scrubby midshipman as I am."
Mrs. Norris was beginning an eager assurance of the
affability he might depend on, when she was stopped
by Sir Thomas's saying with authority, "I do not advise
your going to Brighton, William, as I trust you may soon
have more convenient opportunities of meeting; but my
daughters would be happy to see their cousins anywhere;
and you will find Mr. Rushworth most sincerely disposed
to regard all the connexions of our family as his own."
"I would rather find him private secretary to the First
Lord than anything else," was William's only answer,
in an undervoice, not meant to reach far, and the
As yet Sir Thomas had seen nothing to remark in Mr. Crawford's
behaviour; but when the whist-table broke up at the end
of the second rubber, and leaving Dr. Grant and Mrs. Norris
to dispute over their last play, he became a looker-on
at the other, he found his niece the object of attentions,
or rather of professions, of a somewhat pointed character.
Henry Crawford was in the first glow of another scheme
about Thornton Lacey; and not being able to catch
Edmund's ear, was detailing it to his fair neighbour
with a look of considerable earnestness. His scheme
was to rent the house himself the following winter,
that he might have a home of his own in that neighbourhood;
and it was not merely for the use of it in the hunting-season
(as he was then telling her), though _that_ consideration
had certainly some weight, feeling as he did that,
in spite of all Dr. Grant's very great kindness, it was
impossible for him and his horses to be accommodated
where they now were without material inconvenience;
but his attachment to that neighbourhood did not depend
upon one amusement or one season of the year: he had set
his heart upon having a something there that he could
come to at any time, a little homestall at his command,
where all the holidays of his year might be spent, and he
might find himself continuing, improving, and _perfecting_
that friendship and intimacy with the Mansfield Park
family which was increasing in value to him every day.
Sir Thomas heard and was not offended. There was no want
of respect in the young man's address; and Fanny's reception
of it was so proper and modest, so calm and uninviting,
that he had nothing to censure in her. She said little,
assented only here and there, and betrayed no inclination
either of appropriating any part of the compliment to herself,
or of strengthening his views in favour of Northamptonshire.
Finding by whom he was observed, Henry Crawford addressed
himself on the same subject to Sir Thomas, in a more
everyday tone, but still with feeling.
"I want to be your neighbour, Sir Thomas, as you have,
perhaps, heard me telling Miss Price. May I hope
for your acquiescence, and for your not influencing
your son against such a tenant?"
Sir Thomas, politely bowing, replied, "It is the only way,
sir, in which I could _not_ wish you established as a
permanent neighbour; but I hope, and believe, that Edmund will
occupy his own house at Thornton Lacey. Edmund, am I saying too
Edmund, on this appeal, had first to hear what was going on;
but, on understanding the question, was at no loss for an answer.
"Certainly, sir, I have no idea but of residence.
But, Crawford, though I refuse you as a tenant,
come to me as a friend. Consider the house as half
your own every winter, and we will add to the stables
on your own improved plan, and with all the improvements
of your improved plan that may occur to you this spring."
"We shall be the losers," continued Sir Thomas.
"His going, though only eight miles, will be an unwelcome
contraction of our family circle; but I should have been
deeply mortified if any son of mine could reconcile
himself to doing less. It is perfectly natural that you
should not have thought much on the subject, Mr. Crawford.
But a parish has wants and claims which can be known
only by a clergyman constantly resident, and which no
proxy can be capable of satisfying to the same extent.
Edmund might, in the common phrase, do the duty of Thornton,
that is, he might read prayers and preach, without giving
up Mansfield Park: he might ride over every Sunday, to a
house nominally inhabited, and go through divine service;
he might be the clergyman of Thornton Lacey every seventh day,
for three or four hours, if that would content him.
But it will not. He knows that human nature needs more
lessons than a weekly sermon can convey; and that if he
does not live among his parishioners, and prove himself,
by constant attention, their well-wisher and friend, he does
very little either for their good or his own."
Mr. Crawford bowed his acquiescence.
"I repeat again," added Sir Thomas, "that Thornton Lacey
is the only house in the neighbourhood in which I should
_not_ be happy to wait on Mr. Crawford as occupier."
Mr. Crawford bowed his thanks.
"Sir Thomas," said Edmund, "undoubtedly understands
the duty of a parish priest. We must hope his son
may prove that _he_ knows it too."
Whatever effect Sir Thomas's little harangue might really
produce on Mr. Crawford, it raised some awkward sensations
in two of the others, two of his most attentive listeners--
Miss Crawford and Fanny. One of whom, having never before
understood that Thornton was so soon and so completely
to be his home, was pondering with downcast eyes on what it
would be _not_ to see Edmund every day; and the other,
startled from the agreeable fancies she had been previously
indulging on the strength of her brother's description,
no longer able, in the picture she had been forming of a
future Thornton, to shut out the church, sink the clergyman,
and see only the respectable, elegant, modernised,
and occasional residence of a man of independent fortune,
was considering Sir Thomas, with decided ill-will,
as the destroyer of all this, and suffering the more
from that involuntary forbearance which his character
and manner commanded, and from not daring to relieve
herself by a single attempt at throwing ridicule on his cause.
All the agreeable of _her_ speculation was over for that hour.
It was time to have done with cards, if sermons prevailed;
and she was glad to find it necessary to come to a conclusion,
and be able to refresh her spirits by a change of place
The chief of the party were now collected irregularly
round the fire, and waiting the final break-up. William
and Fanny were the most detached. They remained
together at the otherwise deserted card-table, talking
very comfortably, and not thinking of the rest, till some
of the rest began to think of them. Henry Crawford's
chair was the first to be given a direction towards them,
and he sat silently observing them for a few minutes;
himself, in the meanwhile, observed by Sir Thomas,
who was standing in chat with Dr. Grant.
"This is the assembly night," said William. "If I were
at Portsmouth I should be at it, perhaps."
"But you do not wish yourself at Portsmouth, William?"
"No, Fanny, that I do not. I shall have enough of Portsmouth
and of dancing too, when I cannot have you. And I do not
know that there would be any good in going to the assembly,
for I might not get a partner. The Portsmouth girls turn
up their noses at anybody who has not a commission.
One might as well be nothing as a midshipman.
One _is_ nothing, indeed. You remember the Gregorys;
they are grown up amazing fine girls, but they will hardly
speak to _me_, because Lucy is courted by a lieutenant."
"Oh! shame, shame! But never mind it, William" (her own
cheeks in a glow of indignation as she spoke). "It is not
worth minding. It is no reflection on _you_; it is no
more than what the greatest admirals have all experienced,
more or less, in their time. You must think of that,
you must try to make up your mind to it as one of the
hardships which fall to every sailor's share, like bad
weather and hard living, only with this advantage,
that there will be an end to it, that there will come
a time when you will have nothing of that sort to endure.
When you are a lieutenant! only think, William, when you
are a lieutenant, how little you will care for any nonsense
of this kind."
"I begin to think I shall never be a lieutenant, Fanny.
Everybody gets made but me."
"Oh! my dear William, do not talk so; do not be so desponding.
My uncle says nothing, but I am sure he will do everything
in his power to get you made. He knows, as well as you do,
of what consequence it is."
She was checked by the sight of her uncle much nearer
to them than she had any suspicion of, and each found
it necessary to talk of something else.
"Are you fond of dancing, Fanny?"
"Yes, very; only I am soon tired."
"I should like to go to a ball with you and see
you dance. Have you never any balls at Northampton?
I should like to see you dance, and I'd dance with you
if you _would_, for nobody would know who I was here,
and I should like to be your partner once more.
We used to jump about together many a time, did not we?
when the hand-organ was in the street? I am a pretty
good dancer in my way, but I dare say you are a better."
And turning to his uncle, who was now close to them,
"Is not Fanny a very good dancer, sir?"
Fanny, in dismay at such an unprecedented question,
did not know which way to look, or how to be prepared
for the answer. Some very grave reproof, or at least
the coldest expression of indifference, must be coming
to distress her brother, and sink her to the ground.
But, on the contrary, it was no worse than, "I am sorry
to say that I am unable to answer your question.
I have never seen Fanny dance since she was a little girl;
but I trust we shall both think she acquits herself like
a gentlewoman when we do see her, which, perhaps, we may
have an opportunity of doing ere long."
"I have had the pleasure of seeing your sister dance,
Mr. Price," said Henry Crawford, leaning forward,
"and will engage to answer every inquiry which you can
make on the subject, to your entire satisfaction.
But I believe" (seeing Fanny looked distressed) "it must
be at some other time. There is _one_ person in company
who does not like to have Miss Price spoken of."
True enough, he had once seen Fanny dance; and it was
equally true that he would now have answered for her gliding
about with quiet, light elegance, and in admirable time;
but, in fact, he could not for the life of him recall
what her dancing had been, and rather took it for granted
that she had been present than remembered anything about her.
He passed, however, for an admirer of her dancing;
and Sir Thomas, by no means displeased, prolonged the
conversation on dancing in general, and was so well
engaged in describing the balls of Antigua, and listening
to what his nephew could relate of the different modes
of dancing which had fallen within his observation,
that he had not heard his carriage announced, and was first
called to the knowledge of it by the bustle of Mrs. Norris.
"Come, Fanny, Fanny, what are you about? We are going.
Do not you see your aunt is going? Quick, quick! I cannot
bear to keep good old Wilcox waiting. You should always
remember the coachman and horses. My dear Sir Thomas,
we have settled it that the carriage should come back for you,
and Edmund and William."
Sir Thomas could not dissent, as it had been his
own arrangement, previously communicated to his wife
and sister; but _that_ seemed forgotten by Mrs. Norris,
who must fancy that she settled it all herself.
Fanny's last feeling in the visit was disappointment:
for the shawl which Edmund was quietly taking from the
servant to bring and put round her shoulders was seized
by Mr. Crawford's quicker hand, and she was obliged to be
indebted to his more prominent attention.
William's desire of seeing Fanny dance made more than a
momentary impression on his uncle. The hope of an opportunity,
which Sir Thomas had then given, was not given to be thought
of no more. He remained steadily inclined to gratify
so amiable a feeling; to gratify anybody else who might
wish to see Fanny dance, and to give pleasure to the young
people in general; and having thought the matter over,
and taken his resolution in quiet independence,
the result of it appeared the next morning at breakfast,
when, after recalling and commending what his nephew
had said, he added, "I do not like, William, that you
should leave Northamptonshire without this indulgence.
It would give me pleasure to see you both dance.
You spoke of the balls at Northampton. Your cousins have
occasionally attended them; but they would not altogether
suit us now. The fatigue would be too much for your aunt.
I believe we must not think of a Northampton ball.
A dance at home would be more eligible; and if--"
"Ah, my dear Sir Thomas!" interrupted Mrs. Norris, "I knew
what was coming. I knew what you were going to say. If dear
Julia were at home, or dearest Mrs. Rushworth at Sotherton,
to afford a reason, an occasion for such a thing, you would
be tempted to give the young people a dance at Mansfield.
I know you would. If _they_ were at home to grace
the ball, a ball you would have this very Christmas.
Thank your uncle, William, thank your uncle!"
"My daughters," replied Sir Thomas, gravely interposing,
"have their pleasures at Brighton, and I hope are very happy;
but the dance which I think of giving at Mansfield
will be for their cousins. Could we be all assembled,
our satisfaction would undoubtedly be more complete,
but the absence of some is not to debar the others
Mrs. Norris had not another word to say. She saw decision
in his looks, and her surprise and vexation required
some minutes' silence to be settled into composure.
A ball at such a time! His daughters absent and herself
not consulted! There was comfort, however, soon at hand.
_She_ must be the doer of everything: Lady Bertram
would of course be spared all thought and exertion,
and it would all fall upon _her_. She should have to do
the honours of the evening; and this reflection quickly
restored so much of her good-humour as enabled her to join
in with the others, before their happiness and thanks were
Edmund, William, and Fanny did, in their different ways,
look and speak as much grateful pleasure in the promised
ball as Sir Thomas could desire. Edmund's feelings
were for the other two. His father had never conferred
a favour or shewn a kindness more to his satisfaction.
Lady Bertram was perfectly quiescent and contented,
and had no objections to make. Sir Thomas engaged
for its giving her very little trouble; and she assured
him "that she was not at all afraid of the trouble;
indeed, she could not imagine there would be any."
Mrs. Norris was ready with her suggestions as to the rooms he
would think fittest to be used, but found it all prearranged;
and when she would have conjectured and hinted about
the day, it appeared that the day was settled too.
Sir Thomas had been amusing himself with shaping a very
complete outline of the business; and as soon as she
would listen quietly, could read his list of the families
to be invited, from whom he calculated, with all necessary
allowance for the shortness of the notice, to collect
young people enough to form twelve or fourteen couple:
and could detail the considerations which had induced
him to fix on the 22nd as the most eligible day.
William was required to be at Portsmouth on the 24th;
the 22nd would therefore be the last day of his visit;
but where the days were so few it would be unwise to fix
on any earlier. Mrs. Norris was obliged to be satisfied
with thinking just the same, and with having been on the
point of proposing the 22nd herself, as by far the best day
for the purpose.
The ball was now a settled thing, and before the evening
a proclaimed thing to all whom it concerned. Invitations were
sent with despatch, and many a young lady went to bed that
night with her head full of happy cares as well as Fanny.
To her the cares were sometimes almost beyond the happiness;
for young and inexperienced, with small means of choice
and no confidence in her own taste, the "how she
should be dressed" was a point of painful solicitude;
and the almost solitary ornament in her possession,
a very pretty amber cross which William had brought
her from Sicily, was the greatest distress of all,
for she had nothing but a bit of ribbon to fasten it to;
and though she had worn it in that manner once, would it
be allowable at such a time in the midst of all the rich
ornaments which she supposed all the other young ladies
would appear in? And yet not to wear it! William had
wanted to buy her a gold chain too, but the purchase had
been beyond his means, and therefore not to wear the cross
might be mortifying him. These were anxious considerations;
enough to sober her spirits even under the prospect
of a ball given principally for her gratification.
The preparations meanwhile went on, and Lady Bertram continued
to sit on her sofa without any inconvenience from them.
She had some extra visits from the housekeeper, and her
maid was rather hurried in making up a new dress for her:
Sir Thomas gave orders, and Mrs. Norris ran about;
but all this gave _her_ no trouble, and as she had foreseen,
"there was, in fact, no trouble in the business."
Edmund was at this time particularly full of cares:
his mind being deeply occupied in the consideration of two
important events now at hand, which were to fix his fate
in life--ordination and matrimony--events of such a serious
character as to make the ball, which would be very quickly
followed by one of them, appear of less moment in his
eyes than in those of any other person in the house.
On the 23rd he was going to a friend near Peterborough,
in the same situation as himself, and they were to
receive ordination in the course of the Christmas week.
Half his destiny would then be determined, but the other
half might not be so very smoothly wooed. His duties would
be established, but the wife who was to share, and animate,
and reward those duties, might yet be unattainable.
He knew his own mind, but he was not always perfectly assured
of knowing Miss Crawford's. There were points on which they
did not quite agree; there were moments in which she did
not seem propitious; and though trusting altogether to
her affection, so far as to be resolved--almost resolved--
on bringing it to a decision within a very short time,
as soon as the variety of business before him were arranged,
and he knew what he had to offer her, he had many
anxious feelings, many doubting hours as to the result.
His conviction of her regard for him was sometimes very strong;
he could look back on a long course of encouragement,
and she was as perfect in disinterested attachment as
in everything else. But at other times doubt and alarm
intermingled with his hopes; and when he thought of her
acknowledged disinclination for privacy and retirement,
her decided preference of a London life, what could he expect
but a determined rejection? unless it were an acceptance
even more to be deprecated, demanding such sacrifices
of situation and employment on his side as conscience
The issue of all depended on one question. Did she
love him well enough to forego what had used to be
essential points? Did she love him well enough to make
them no longer essential? And this question, which he
was continually repeating to himself, though oftenest
answered with a "Yes," had sometimes its "No."
Miss Crawford was soon to leave Mansfield, and on this
circumstance the "no" and the "yes" had been very recently
in alternation. He had seen her eyes sparkle as she spoke
of the dear friend's letter, which claimed a long visit from
her in London, and of the kindness of Henry, in engaging
to remain where he was till January, that he might convey
her thither; he had heard her speak of the pleasure of such
a journey with an animation which had "no" in every tone.
But this had occurred on the first day of its being settled,
within the first hour of the burst of such enjoyment,
when nothing but the friends she was to visit was before her.
He had since heard her express herself differently,
with other feelings, more chequered feelings: he had heard
her tell Mrs. Grant that she should leave her with regret;
that she began to believe neither the friends nor
the pleasures she was going to were worth those she
left behind; and that though she felt she must go,
and knew she should enjoy herself when once away, she was
already looking forward to being at Mansfield again.
Was there not a "yes" in all this?
With such matters to ponder over, and arrange, and re-arrange,
Edmund could not, on his own account, think very much
of the evening which the rest of the family were looking
forward to with a more equal degree of strong interest.
Independent of his two cousins' enjoyment in it,
the evening was to him of no higher value than any
other appointed meeting of the two families might be.
In every meeting there was a hope of receiving farther
confirmation of Miss Crawford's attachment; but the whirl
of a ballroom, perhaps, was not particularly favourable
to the excitement or expression of serious feelings.
To engage her early for the two first dances was all the
command of individual happiness which he felt in his power,
and the only preparation for the ball which he could
enter into, in spite of all that was passing around him
on the subject, from morning till night.
Thursday was the day of the ball; and on Wednesday
morning Fanny, still unable to satisfy herself as to what
she ought to wear, determined to seek the counsel of the
more enlightened, and apply to Mrs. Grant and her sister,
whose acknowledged taste would certainly bear her blameless;
and as Edmund and William were gone to Northampton,
and she had reason to think Mr. Crawford likewise out,
she walked down to the Parsonage without much fear of wanting
an opportunity for private discussion; and the privacy of
such a discussion was a most important part of it to Fanny,
being more than half-ashamed of her own solicitude.