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Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen (1775-1817)

Part 7 out of 10

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be ready in a moment; I am very much obliged to you;
if you will be so good as to give _that_ to Miss Crawford."

The note was held out, and must be taken; and as she
instantly and with averted eyes walked towards the fireplace,
where sat the others, he had nothing to do but to go
in good earnest.

Fanny thought she had never known a day of greater agitation,
both of pain and pleasure; but happily the pleasure
was not of a sort to die with the day; for every day
would restore the knowledge of William's advancement,
whereas the pain, she hoped, would return no more.
She had no doubt that her note must appear excessively
ill-written, that the language would disgrace a child,
for her distress had allowed no arrangement; but at least
it would assure them both of her being neither imposed
on nor gratified by Mr. Crawford's attentions.


Fanny had by no means forgotten Mr. Crawford when she
awoke the next morning; but she remembered the purport
of her note, and was not less sanguine as to its effect
than she had been the night before. If Mr. Crawford would
but go away! That was what she most earnestly desired:
go and take his sister with him, as he was to do,
and as he returned to Mansfield on purpose to do.
And why it was not done already she could not devise,
for Miss Crawford certainly wanted no delay. Fanny had hoped,
in the course of his yesterday's visit, to hear the day named;
but he had only spoken of their journey as what would take
place ere long.

Having so satisfactorily settled the conviction her note
would convey, she could not but be astonished to see
Mr. Crawford, as she accidentally did, coming up to the
house again, and at an hour as early as the day before.
His coming might have nothing to do with her, but she
must avoid seeing him if possible; and being then
on her way upstairs, she resolved there to remain,
during the whole of his visit, unless actually sent for;
and as Mrs. Norris was still in the house, there seemed
little danger of her being wanted.

She sat some time in a good deal of agitation, listening,
trembling, and fearing to be sent for every moment;
but as no footsteps approached the East room, she grew
gradually composed, could sit down, and be able to
employ herself, and able to hope that Mr. Crawford had come
and would go without her being obliged to know anything of the

Nearly half an hour had passed, and she was growing
very comfortable, when suddenly the sound of a step
in regular approach was heard; a heavy step, an unusual
step in that part of the house: it was her uncle's;
she knew it as well as his voice; she had trembled at it
as often, and began to tremble again, at the idea of his
coming up to speak to her, whatever might be the subject.
It was indeed Sir Thomas who opened the door and asked
if she were there, and if he might come in. The terror
of his former occasional visits to that room seemed
all renewed, and she felt as if he were going to examine
her again in French and English.

She was all attention, however, in placing a chair for him,
and trying to appear honoured; and, in her agitation,
had quite overlooked the deficiencies of her apartment, till he,
stopping short as he entered, said, with much surprise,
"Why have you no fire to-day?"

There was snow on the ground, and she was sitting in a shawl.
She hesitated.

"I am not cold, sir: I never sit here long at this time
of year."

"But you have a fire in general?"

"No, sir."

"How comes this about? Here must be some mistake.
I understood that you had the use of this room by way
of making you perfectly comfortable. In your bedchamber
I know you _cannot_ have a fire. Here is some great
misapprehension which must be rectified. It is highly
unfit for you to sit, be it only half an hour a day,
without a fire. You are not strong. You are chilly.
Your aunt cannot be aware of this."

Fanny would rather have been silent; but being obliged
to speak, she could not forbear, in justice to the aunt
she loved best, from saying something in which the words
"my aunt Norris" were distinguishable.

"I understand," cried her uncle, recollecting himself,
and not wanting to hear more: "I understand. Your aunt
Norris has always been an advocate, and very judiciously,
for young people's being brought up without unnecessary
indulgences; but there should be moderation in everything.
She is also very hardy herself, which of course will
influence her in her opinion of the wants of others.
And on another account, too, I can perfectly comprehend.
I know what her sentiments have always been.
The principle was good in itself, but it may have been,
and I believe _has_ _been_, carried too far in your case.
I am aware that there has been sometimes, in some points,
a misplaced distinction; but I think too well of you, Fanny,
to suppose you will ever harbour resentment on that account.
You have an understanding which will prevent you from
receiving things only in part, and judging partially
by the event. You will take in the whole of the past,
you will consider times, persons, and probabilities,
and you will feel that _they_ were not least your
friends who were educating and preparing you for that
mediocrity of condition which _seemed_ to be your lot.
Though their caution may prove eventually unnecessary,
it was kindly meant; and of this you may be assured,
that every advantage of affluence will be doubled by the little
privations and restrictions that may have been imposed.
I am sure you will not disappoint my opinion of you,
by failing at any time to treat your aunt Norris
with the respect and attention that are due to her.
But enough of this. Sit down, my dear. I must speak
to you for a few minutes, but I will not detain
you long."

Fanny obeyed, with eyes cast down and colour rising.
After a moment's pause, Sir Thomas, trying to suppress
a smile, went on.

"You are not aware, perhaps, that I have had a visitor
this morning. I had not been long in my own room,
after breakfast, when Mr. Crawford was shewn in.
His errand you may probably conjecture."

Fanny's colour grew deeper and deeper; and her uncle,
perceiving that she was embarrassed to a degree that
made either speaking or looking up quite impossible,
turned away his own eyes, and without any farther pause
proceeded in his account of Mr. Crawford's visit.

Mr. Crawford's business had been to declare himself
the lover of Fanny, make decided proposals for her,
and entreat the sanction of the uncle, who seemed to stand
in the place of her parents; and he had done it all so well,
so openly, so liberally, so properly, that Sir Thomas,
feeling, moreover, his own replies, and his own remarks
to have been very much to the purpose, was exceedingly
happy to give the particulars of their conversation;
and little aware of what was passing in his niece's mind,
conceived that by such details he must be gratifying her
far more than himself. He talked, therefore, for several
minutes without Fanny's daring to interrupt him.
She had hardly even attained the wish to do it. Her mind
was in too much confusion. She had changed her position;
and, with her eyes fixed intently on one of the windows,
was listening to her uncle in the utmost perturbation
and dismay. For a moment he ceased, but she had barely
become conscious of it, when, rising from his chair, he said,
"And now, Fanny, having performed one part of my commission,
and shewn you everything placed on a basis the most assured
and satisfactory, I may execute the remainder by prevailing
on you to accompany me downstairs, where, though I cannot
but presume on having been no unacceptable companion myself,
I must submit to your finding one still better worth
listening to. Mr. Crawford, as you have perhaps foreseen,
is yet in the house. He is in my room, and hoping to see
you there."

There was a look, a start, an exclamation on hearing this,
which astonished Sir Thomas; but what was his increase of
astonishment on hearing her exclaim--"Oh! no, sir, I cannot,
indeed I cannot go down to him. Mr. Crawford ought to know--
he must know that: I told him enough yesterday to convince him;
he spoke to me on this subject yesterday, and I told him
without disguise that it was very disagreeable to me,
and quite out of my power to return his good opinion."

"I do not catch your meaning," said Sir Thomas, sitting
down again. "Out of your power to return his good opinion?
What is all this? I know he spoke to you yesterday,
and (as far as I understand) received as much encouragement
to proceed as a well-judging young woman could permit
herself to give. I was very much pleased with what I
collected to have been your behaviour on the occasion;
it shewed a discretion highly to be commended. But now,
when he has made his overtures so properly, and honourably--
what are your scruples _now_?"

"You are mistaken, sir," cried Fanny, forced by the anxiety
of the moment even to tell her uncle that he was wrong;
"you are quite mistaken. How could Mr. Crawford say
such a thing? I gave him no encouragement yesterday.
On the contrary, I told him, I cannot recollect my exact words,
but I am sure I told him that I would not listen to him,
that it was very unpleasant to me in every respect, and that
I begged him never to talk to me in that manner again.
I am sure I said as much as that and more; and I should
have said still more, if I had been quite certain of his
meaning anything seriously; but I did not like to be,
I could not bear to be, imputing more than might be intended.
I thought it might all pass for nothing with _him_."

She could say no more; her breath was almost gone.

"Am I to understand," said Sir Thomas, after a few moments'
silence, "that you mean to _refuse_ Mr. Crawford?"

"Yes, sir."

"Refuse him?"

"Yes, sir."

"Refuse Mr. Crawford! Upon what plea? For what reason?"

"I--I cannot like him, sir, well enough to marry him."

"This is very strange!" said Sir Thomas, in a voice of
calm displeasure. "There is something in this which my
comprehension does not reach. Here is a young man wishing
to pay his addresses to you, with everything to recommend him:
not merely situation in life, fortune, and character,
but with more than common agreeableness, with address
and conversation pleasing to everybody. And he is not an
acquaintance of to-day; you have now known him some time.
His sister, moreover, is your intimate friend, and he has
been doing _that_ for your brother, which I should suppose
would have been almost sufficient recommendation to you,
had there been no other. It is very uncertain when my
interest might have got William on. He has done it already."

"Yes," said Fanny, in a faint voice, and looking down
with fresh shame; and she did feel almost ashamed
of herself, after such a picture as her uncle had drawn,
for not liking Mr. Crawford.

"You must have been aware," continued Sir Thomas presently,
"you must have been some time aware of a particularity
in Mr. Crawford's manners to you. This cannot have taken
you by surprise. You must have observed his attentions;
and though you always received them very properly (I have
no accusation to make on that head), I never perceived them
to be unpleasant to you. I am half inclined to think,
Fanny, that you do not quite know your own feelings."

"Oh yes, sir! indeed I do. His attentions were always--
what I did not like."

Sir Thomas looked at her with deeper surprise.
"This is beyond me," said he. "This requires explanation.
Young as you are, and having seen scarcely any one,
it is hardly possible that your affections--"

He paused and eyed her fixedly. He saw her lips
formed into a _no_, though the sound was inarticulate,
but her face was like scarlet. That, however, in so
modest a girl, might be very compatible with innocence;
and chusing at least to appear satisfied, he quickly added,
"No, no, I know _that_ is quite out of the question;
quite impossible. Well, there is nothing more to be said."

And for a few minutes he did say nothing. He was deep
in thought. His niece was deep in thought likewise, trying to
harden and prepare herself against farther questioning.
She would rather die than own the truth; and she hoped,
by a little reflection, to fortify herself beyond
betraying it.

"Independently of the interest which Mr. Crawford's _choice_
seemed to justify" said Sir Thomas, beginning again,
and very composedly, "his wishing to marry at all so
early is recommendatory to me. I am an advocate for
early marriages, where there are means in proportion,
and would have every young man, with a sufficient income,
settle as soon after four-and-twenty as he can. This is
so much my opinion, that I am sorry to think how little
likely my own eldest son, your cousin, Mr. Bertram,
is to marry early; but at present, as far as I can judge,
matrimony makes no part of his plans or thoughts.
I wish he were more likely to fix." Here was a glance
at Fanny. "Edmund, I consider, from his dispositions
and habits, as much more likely to marry early than
his brother. _He_, indeed, I have lately thought,
has seen the woman he could love, which, I am convinced,
my eldest son has not. Am I right? Do you agree with me,
my dear?"

"Yes, sir."

It was gently, but it was calmly said, and Sir Thomas was
easy on the score of the cousins. But the removal of his
alarm did his niece no service: as her unaccountableness
was confirmed his displeasure increased; and getting up
and walking about the room with a frown, which Fanny could
picture to herself, though she dared not lift up her eyes,
he shortly afterwards, and in a voice of authority, said,
"Have you any reason, child, to think ill of Mr. Crawford's

"No, sir."

She longed to add, "But of his principles I have"; but her
heart sunk under the appalling prospect of discussion,
explanation, and probably non-conviction. Her ill opinion
of him was founded chiefly on observations, which,
for her cousins' sake, she could scarcely dare mention
to their father. Maria and Julia, and especially Maria,
were so closely implicated in Mr. Crawford's misconduct,
that she could not give his character, such as she
believed it, without betraying them. She had hoped that,
to a man like her uncle, so discerning, so honourable,
so good, the simple acknowledgment of settled _dislike_
on her side would have been sufficient. To her infinite
grief she found it was not.

Sir Thomas came towards the table where she sat
in trembling wretchedness, and with a good deal of
cold sternness, said, "It is of no use, I perceive,
to talk to you. We had better put an end to this
most mortifying conference. Mr. Crawford must not be
kept longer waiting. I will, therefore, only add,
as thinking it my duty to mark my opinion of your conduct,
that you have disappointed every expectation I had formed,
and proved yourself of a character the very reverse
of what I had supposed. For I _had_, Fanny, as I think
my behaviour must have shewn, formed a very favourable
opinion of you from the period of my return to England.
I had thought you peculiarly free from wilfulness of temper,
self-conceit, and every tendency to that independence
of spirit which prevails so much in modern days,
even in young women, and which in young women is offensive
and disgusting beyond all common offence. But you
have now shewn me that you can be wilful and perverse;
that you can and will decide for yourself, without any
consideration or deference for those who have surely some
right to guide you, without even asking their advice.
You have shewn yourself very, very different from anything
that I had imagined. The advantage or disadvantage of
your family, of your parents, your brothers and sisters,
never seems to have had a moment's share in your thoughts
on this occasion. How _they_ might be benefited,
how _they_ must rejoice in such an establishment for you,
is nothing to _you_. You think only of yourself,
and because you do not feel for Mr. Crawford exactly what a
young heated fancy imagines to be necessary for happiness,
you resolve to refuse him at once, without wishing
even for a little time to consider of it, a little more
time for cool consideration, and for really examining
your own inclinations; and are, in a wild fit of folly,
throwing away from you such an opportunity of being
settled in life, eligibly, honourably, nobly settled,
as will, probably, never occur to you again. Here is a
young man of sense, of character, of temper, of manners,
and of fortune, exceedingly attached to you, and seeking
your hand in the most handsome and disinterested way;
and let me tell you, Fanny, that you may live eighteen years
longer in the world without being addressed by a man of half
Mr. Crawford's estate, or a tenth part of his merits.
Gladly would I have bestowed either of my own daughters
on him. Maria is nobly married; but had Mr. Crawford
sought Julia's hand, I should have given it to him with
superior and more heartfelt satisfaction than I gave
Maria's to Mr. Rushworth." After half a moment's pause:
"And I should have been very much surprised had either
of my daughters, on receiving a proposal of marriage at any
time which might carry with it only _half_ the eligibility
of _this_, immediately and peremptorily, and without paying
my opinion or my regard the compliment of any consultation,
put a decided negative on it. I should have been much
surprised and much hurt by such a proceeding. I should
have thought it a gross violation of duty and respect.
_You_ are not to be judged by the same rule. You do not
owe me the duty of a child. But, Fanny, if your heart
can acquit you of _ingratitude_--"

He ceased. Fanny was by this time crying so bitterly that,
angry as he was, he would not press that article farther.
Her heart was almost broke by such a picture of what
she appeared to him; by such accusations, so heavy,
so multiplied, so rising in dreadful gradation!
Self-willed, obstinate, selfish, and ungrateful.
He thought her all this. She had deceived his expectations;
she had lost his good opinion. What was to become
of her?

"I am very sorry," said she inarticulately, through her tears,
"I am very sorry indeed."

"Sorry! yes, I hope you are sorry; and you will probably
have reason to be long sorry for this day's transactions."

"If it were possible for me to do otherwise" said she,
with another strong effort; "but I am so perfectly
convinced that I could never make him happy, and that I
should be miserable myself."

Another burst of tears; but in spite of that burst,
and in spite of that great black word _miserable_,
which served to introduce it, Sir Thomas began to think
a little relenting, a little change of inclination,
might have something to do with it; and to augur favourably
from the personal entreaty of the young man himself.
He knew her to be very timid, and exceedingly nervous;
and thought it not improbable that her mind might be
in such a state as a little time, a little pressing,
a little patience, and a little impatience, a judicious
mixture of all on the lover's side, might work their
usual effect on. If the gentleman would but persevere,
if he had but love enough to persevere, Sir Thomas began
to have hopes; and these reflections having passed across
his mind and cheered it, "Well," said he, in a tone
of becoming gravity, but of less anger, "well, child,
dry up your tears. There is no use in these tears;
they can do no good. You must now come downstairs with me.
Mr. Crawford has been kept waiting too long already.
You must give him your own answer: we cannot expect him
to be satisfied with less; and you only can explain to him
the grounds of that misconception of your sentiments, which,
unfortunately for himself, he certainly has imbibed. I am
totally unequal to it."

But Fanny shewed such reluctance, such misery, at the
idea of going down to him, that Sir Thomas, after a
little consideration, judged it better to indulge her.
His hopes from both gentleman and lady suffered a small
depression in consequence; but when he looked at his niece,
and saw the state of feature and complexion which her
crying had brought her into, he thought there might
be as much lost as gained by an immediate interview.
With a few words, therefore, of no particular meaning,
he walked off by himself, leaving his poor niece to sit
and cry over what had passed, with very wretched feelings.

Her mind was all disorder. The past, present, future,
everything was terrible. But her uncle's anger gave
her the severest pain of all. Selfish and ungrateful!
to have appeared so to him! She was miserable for ever.
She had no one to take her part, to counsel, or speak
for her. Her only friend was absent. He might have
softened his father; but all, perhaps all, would think
her selfish and ungrateful. She might have to endure
the reproach again and again; she might hear it, or see it,
or know it to exist for ever in every connexion about her.
She could not but feel some resentment against Mr. Crawford;
yet, if he really loved her, and were unhappy too!
It was all wretchedness together.

In about a quarter of an hour her uncle returned;
she was almost ready to faint at the sight of him.
He spoke calmly, however, without austerity, without reproach,
and she revived a little. There was comfort, too,
in his words, as well as his manner, for he began with,
"Mr. Crawford is gone: he has just left me. I need not
repeat what has passed. I do not want to add to anything
you may now be feeling, by an account of what he has felt.
Suffice it, that he has behaved in the most gentlemanlike
and generous manner, and has confirmed me in a most
favourable opinion of his understanding, heart, and temper.
Upon my representation of what you were suffering,
he immediately, and with the greatest delicacy,
ceased to urge to see you for the present."

Here Fanny, who had looked up, looked down again. "Of course,"
continued her uncle, "it cannot be supposed but that he should
request to speak with you alone, be it only for five minutes;
a request too natural, a claim too just to be denied.
But there is no time fixed; perhaps to-morrow, or whenever
your spirits are composed enough. For the present you
have only to tranquillise yourself. Check these tears;
they do but exhaust you. If, as I am willing to suppose,
you wish to shew me any observance, you will not give
way to these emotions, but endeavour to reason yourself
into a stronger frame of mind. I advise you to go out:
the air will do you good; go out for an hour on the gravel;
you will have the shrubbery to yourself, and will be the
better for air and exercise. And, Fanny" (turning back
again for a moment), "I shall make no mention below of
what has passed; I shall not even tell your aunt Bertram.
There is no occasion for spreading the disappointment;
say nothing about it yourself."

This was an order to be most joyfully obeyed; this was
an act of kindness which Fanny felt at her heart.
To be spared from her aunt Norris's interminable
reproaches! he left her in a glow of gratitude.
Anything might be bearable rather than such reproaches.
Even to see Mr. Crawford would be less overpowering.

She walked out directly, as her uncle recommended,
and followed his advice throughout, as far as she could;
did check her tears; did earnestly try to compose her spirits
and strengthen her mind. She wished to prove to him that she
did desire his comfort, and sought to regain his favour;
and he had given her another strong motive for exertion,
in keeping the whole affair from the knowledge of her aunts.
Not to excite suspicion by her look or manner was now
an object worth attaining; and she felt equal to almost
anything that might save her from her aunt Norris.

She was struck, quite struck, when, on returning from her
walk and going into the East room again, the first thing
which caught her eye was a fire lighted and burning.
A fire! it seemed too much; just at that time to be giving
her such an indulgence was exciting even painful gratitude.
She wondered that Sir Thomas could have leisure to think
of such a trifle again; but she soon found, from the voluntary
information of the housemaid, who came in to attend it,
that so it was to be every day. Sir Thomas had given
orders for it.

"I must be a brute, indeed, if I can be really ungrateful!"
said she, in soliloquy. "Heaven defend me from
being ungrateful!"

She saw nothing more of her uncle, nor of her aunt Norris,
till they met at dinner. Her uncle's behaviour to her
was then as nearly as possible what it had been before;
she was sure he did not mean there should be any change,
and that it was only her own conscience that could fancy any;
but her aunt was soon quarrelling with her; and when she
found how much and how unpleasantly her having only walked
out without her aunt's knowledge could be dwelt on,
she felt all the reason she had to bless the kindness
which saved her from the same spirit of reproach,
exerted on a more momentous subject.

"If I had known you were going out, I should have got you
just to go as far as my house with some orders for Nanny,"
said she, "which I have since, to my very great inconvenience,
been obliged to go and carry myself. I could very ill
spare the time, and you might have saved me the trouble,
if you would only have been so good as to let us know you
were going out. It would have made no difference to you,
I suppose, whether you had walked in the shrubbery or gone
to my house."

"I recommended the shrubbery to Fanny as the driest place,"
said Sir Thomas.

"Oh!" said Mrs. Norris, with a moment's check,
"that was very kind of you, Sir Thomas; but you do not
know how dry the path is to my house. Fanny would have
had quite as good a walk there, I assure you, with the
advantage of being of some use, and obliging her aunt:
it is all her fault. If she would but have let us know
she was going out but there is a something about Fanny,
I have often observed it before--she likes to go her
own way to work; she does not like to be dictated to;
she takes her own independent walk whenever she can;
she certainly has a little spirit of secrecy, and independence,
and nonsense, about her, which I would advise her to get
the better of."

As a general reflection on Fanny, Sir Thomas thought
nothing could be more unjust, though he had been so lately
expressing the same sentiments himself, and he tried to turn
the conversation: tried repeatedly before he could succeed;
for Mrs. Norris had not discernment enough to perceive,
either now, or at any other time, to what degree he
thought well of his niece, or how very far he was from
wishing to have his own children's merits set off by
the depreciation of hers. She was talking _at_ Fanny,
and resenting this private walk half through the dinner.

It was over, however, at last; and the evening set in with
more composure to Fanny, and more cheerfulness of spirits
than she could have hoped for after so stormy a morning;
but she trusted, in the first place, that she had done right:
that her judgment had not misled her. For the purity
of her intentions she could answer; and she was willing
to hope, secondly, that her uncle's displeasure was abating,
and would abate farther as he considered the matter with
more impartiality, and felt, as a good man must feel,
how wretched, and how unpardonable, how hopeless,
and how wicked it was to marry without affection.

When the meeting with which she was threatened for the
morrow was past, she could not but flatter herself that
the subject would be finally concluded, and Mr. Crawford
once gone from Mansfield, that everything would soon
be as if no such subject had existed. She would not,
could not believe, that Mr. Crawford's affection for her
could distress him long; his mind was not of that sort.
London would soon bring its cure. In London he would
soon learn to wonder at his infatuation, and be thankful
for the right reason in her which had saved him from its
evil consequences.

While Fanny's mind was engaged in these sort of hopes,
her uncle was, soon after tea, called out of the room;
an occurrence too common to strike her, and she thought nothing
of it till the butler reappeared ten minutes afterwards,
and advancing decidedly towards herself, said, "Sir Thomas
wishes to speak with you, ma'am, in his own room."
Then it occurred to her what might be going on; a suspicion
rushed over her mind which drove the colour from her cheeks;
but instantly rising, she was preparing to obey, when Mrs. Norris
called out, "Stay, stay, Fanny! what are you about? where
are you going? don't be in such a hurry. Depend upon it,
it is not you who are wanted; depend upon it, it is me"
(looking at the butler); "but you are so very eager to put
yourself forward. What should Sir Thomas want you for?
It is me, Baddeley, you mean; I am coming this moment.
You mean me, Baddeley, I am sure; Sir Thomas wants me,
not Miss Price."

But Baddeley was stout. "No, ma'am, it is Miss Price;
I am certain of its being Miss Price." And there was
a half-smile with the words, which meant, "I do not think
you would answer the purpose at all."

Mrs. Norris, much discontented, was obliged to compose
herself to work again; and Fanny, walking off in
agitating consciousness, found herself, as she anticipated,
in another minute alone with Mr. Crawford.


The conference was neither so short nor so conclusive
as the lady had designed. The gentleman was not
so easily satisfied. He had all the disposition to
persevere that Sir Thomas could wish him. He had vanity,
which strongly inclined him in the first place to think
she did love him, though she might not know it herself;
and which, secondly, when constrained at last to admit
that she did know her own present feelings, convinced him
that he should be able in time to make those feelings
what he wished.

He was in love, very much in love; and it was a love which,
operating on an active, sanguine spirit, of more warmth
than delicacy, made her affection appear of greater
consequence because it was withheld, and determined him
to have the glory, as well as the felicity, of forcing
her to love him.

He would not despair: he would not desist. He had every
well-grounded reason for solid attachment; he knew her
to have all the worth that could justify the warmest
hopes of lasting happiness with her; her conduct at this
very time, by speaking the disinterestedness and delicacy
of her character (qualities which he believed most rare
indeed), was of a sort to heighten all his wishes,
and confirm all his resolutions. He knew not that he had a
pre-engaged heart to attack. Of _that_ he had no suspicion.
He considered her rather as one who had never thought
on the subject enough to be in danger; who had been
guarded by youth, a youth of mind as lovely as of person;
whose modesty had prevented her from understanding
his attentions, and who was still overpowered by the
suddenness of addresses so wholly unexpected, and the novelty
of a situation which her fancy had never taken into account.

Must it not follow of course, that, when he was understood,
he should succeed? He believed it fully. Love such as his,
in a man like himself, must with perseverance secure a return,
and at no great distance; and he had so much delight in
the idea of obliging her to love him in a very short time,
that her not loving him now was scarcely regretted.
A little difficulty to be overcome was no evil to
Henry Crawford. He rather derived spirits from it.
He had been apt to gain hearts too easily. His situation
was new and animating.

To Fanny, however, who had known too much opposition all her
life to find any charm in it, all this was unintelligible.
She found that he did mean to persevere; but how he could,
after such language from her as she felt herself obliged
to use, was not to be understood. She told him that she
did not love him, could not love him, was sure she never
should love him; that such a change was quite impossible;
that the subject was most painful to her; that she must
entreat him never to mention it again, to allow her to leave
him at once, and let it be considered as concluded for ever.
And when farther pressed, had added, that in her opinion
their dispositions were so totally dissimilar as to make
mutual affection incompatible; and that they were unfitted
for each other by nature, education, and habit. All this
she had said, and with the earnestness of sincerity;
yet this was not enough, for he immediately denied there
being anything uncongenial in their characters, or anything
unfriendly in their situations; and positively declared,
that he would still love, and still hope!

Fanny knew her own meaning, but was no judge of her own manner.
Her manner was incurably gentle; and she was not aware
how much it concealed the sternness of her purpose.
Her diffidence, gratitude, and softness made every expression
of indifference seem almost an effort of self-denial;
seem, at least, to be giving nearly as much pain to herself
as to him. Mr. Crawford was no longer the Mr. Crawford who,
as the clandestine, insidious, treacherous admirer of
Maria Bertram, had been her abhorrence, whom she had hated
to see or to speak to, in whom she could believe no good
quality to exist, and whose power, even of being agreeable,
she had barely acknowledged. He was now the Mr. Crawford
who was addressing herself with ardent, disinterested love;
whose feelings were apparently become all that was
honourable and upright, whose views of happiness were all
fixed on a marriage of attachment; who was pouring out
his sense of her merits, describing and describing again
his affection, proving as far as words could prove it,
and in the language, tone, and spirit of a man of talent too,
that he sought her for her gentleness and her goodness;
and to complete the whole, he was now the Mr. Crawford
who had procured William's promotion!

Here was a change, and here were claims which could
not but operate! She might have disdained him in all
the dignity of angry virtue, in the grounds of Sotherton,
or the theatre at Mansfield Park; but he approached
her now with rights that demanded different treatment.
She must be courteous, and she must be compassionate.
She must have a sensation of being honoured, and whether
thinking of herself or her brother, she must have a strong
feeling of gratitude. The effect of the whole was a
manner so pitying and agitated, and words intermingled
with her refusal so expressive of obligation and concern,
that to a temper of vanity and hope like Crawford's,
the truth, or at least the strength of her indifference,
might well be questionable; and he was not so irrational
as Fanny considered him, in the professions of persevering,
assiduous, and not desponding attachment which closed
the interview.

It was with reluctance that he suffered her to go; but there
was no look of despair in parting to belie his words,
or give her hopes of his being less unreasonable than he
professed himself.

Now she was angry. Some resentment did arise at a
perseverance so selfish and ungenerous. Here was again
a want of delicacy and regard for others which had formerly
so struck and disgusted her. Here was again a something
of the same Mr. Crawford whom she had so reprobated before.
How evidently was there a gross want of feeling and humanity
where his own pleasure was concerned; and alas! how always
known no principle to supply as a duty what the heart
was deficient in! Had her own affections been as free
as perhaps they ought to have been, he never could have engaged

So thought Fanny, in good truth and sober sadness,
as she sat musing over that too great indulgence and luxury
of a fire upstairs: wondering at the past and present;
wondering at what was yet to come, and in a nervous
agitation which made nothing clear to her but the persuasion
of her being never under any circumstances able to love
Mr. Crawford, and the felicity of having a fire to sit
over and think of it.

Sir Thomas was obliged, or obliged himself, to wait till
the morrow for a knowledge of what had passed between
the young people. He then saw Mr. Crawford, and received
his account. The first feeling was disappointment:
he had hoped better things; he had thought that an hour's
entreaty from a young man like Crawford could not have worked
so little change on a gentle-tempered girl like Fanny;
but there was speedy comfort in the determined views
and sanguine perseverance of the lover; and when seeing
such confidence of success in the principal, Sir Thomas
was soon able to depend on it himself.

Nothing was omitted, on his side, of civility, compliment,
or kindness, that might assist the plan. Mr. Crawford's
steadiness was honoured, and Fanny was praised, and the
connexion was still the most desirable in the world.
At Mansfield Park Mr. Crawford would always be welcome;
he had only to consult his own judgment and feelings as
to the frequency of his visits, at present or in future.
In all his niece's family and friends, there could be
but one opinion, one wish on the subject; the influence
of all who loved her must incline one way.

Everything was said that could encourage, every encouragement
received with grateful joy, and the gentlemen parted
the best of friends.

Satisfied that the cause was now on a footing the most
proper and hopeful, Sir Thomas resolved to abstain
from all farther importunity with his niece, and to
shew no open interference. Upon her disposition he
believed kindness might be the best way of working.
Entreaty should be from one quarter only. The forbearance
of her family on a point, respecting which she could
be in no doubt of their wishes, might be their surest
means of forwarding it. Accordingly, on this principle,
Sir Thomas took the first opportunity of saying to her,
with a mild gravity, intended to be overcoming,
"Well, Fanny, I have seen Mr. Crawford again, and learn
from him exactly how matters stand between you. He is
a most extraordinary young man, and whatever be the event,
you must feel that you have created an attachment of no
common character; though, young as you are, and little
acquainted with the transient, varying, unsteady nature
of love, as it generally exists, you cannot be struck
as I am with all that is wonderful in a perseverance
of this sort against discouragement. With him it is
entirely a matter of feeling: he claims no merit in it;
perhaps is entitled to none. Yet, having chosen so well,
his constancy has a respectable stamp. Had his choice
been less unexceptionable, I should have condemned
his persevering."

"Indeed, sir," said Fanny, "I am very sorry that Mr. Crawford
should continue to know that it is paying me a very
great compliment, and I feel most undeservedly honoured;
but I am so perfectly convinced, and I have told him so,
that it never will be in my power--"

"My dear," interrupted Sir Thomas, "there is no
occasion for this. Your feelings are as well known
to me as my wishes and regrets must be to you.
There is nothing more to be said or done. From this
hour the subject is never to be revived between us.
You will have nothing to fear, or to be agitated about.
You cannot suppose me capable of trying to persuade you
to marry against your inclinations. Your happiness
and advantage are all that I have in view, and nothing is
required of you but to bear with Mr. Crawford's endeavours
to convince you that they may not be incompatible with his.
He proceeds at his own risk. You are on safe ground.
I have engaged for your seeing him whenever he calls,
as you might have done had nothing of this sort occurred.
You will see him with the rest of us, in the same manner,
and, as much as you can, dismissing the recollection of
everything unpleasant. He leaves Northamptonshire so soon,
that even this slight sacrifice cannot be often demanded.
The future must be very uncertain. And now, my dear Fanny,
this subject is closed between us."

The promised departure was all that Fanny could think
of with much satisfaction. Her uncle's kind expressions,
however, and forbearing manner, were sensibly felt;
and when she considered how much of the truth was unknown
to him, she believed she had no right to wonder at the line
of conduct he pursued. He, who had married a daughter
to Mr. Rushworth: romantic delicacy was certainly not
to be expected from him. She must do her duty, and trust
that time might make her duty easier than it now was.

She could not, though only eighteen, suppose Mr. Crawford's
attachment would hold out for ever; she could not
but imagine that steady, unceasing discouragement from
herself would put an end to it in time. How much time
she might, in her own fancy, allot for its dominion,
is another concern. It would not be fair to inquire
into a young lady's exact estimate of her own perfections.

In spite of his intended silence, Sir Thomas found himself
once more obliged to mention the subject to his niece,
to prepare her briefly for its being imparted to her aunts;
a measure which he would still have avoided, if possible,
but which became necessary from the totally opposite
feelings of Mr. Crawford as to any secrecy of proceeding.
He had no idea of concealment. It was all known at
the Parsonage, where he loved to talk over the future
with both his sisters, and it would be rather gratifying
to him to have enlightened witnesses of the progress
of his success. When Sir Thomas understood this, he felt
the necessity of making his own wife and sister-in-law
acquainted with the business without delay; though,
on Fanny's account, he almost dreaded the effect of the
communication to Mrs. Norris as much as Fanny herself.
He deprecated her mistaken but well-meaning zeal.
Sir Thomas, indeed, was, by this time, not very far from
classing Mrs. Norris as one of those well-meaning people
who are always doing mistaken and very disagreeable things.

Mrs. Norris, however, relieved him. He pressed
for the strictest forbearance and silence towards
their niece; she not only promised, but did observe it.
She only looked her increased ill-will. Angry she was:
bitterly angry; but she was more angry with Fanny for
having received such an offer than for refusing it.
It was an injury and affront to Julia, who ought to have
been Mr. Crawford's choice; and, independently of that,
she disliked Fanny, because she had neglected her;
and she would have grudged such an elevation to one whom
she had been always trying to depress.

Sir Thomas gave her more credit for discretion on the
occasion than she deserved; and Fanny could have blessed
her for allowing her only to see her displeasure,
and not to hear it.

Lady Bertram took it differently. She had been a beauty,
and a prosperous beauty, all her life; and beauty
and wealth were all that excited her respect. To know
Fanny to be sought in marriage by a man of fortune,
raised her, therefore, very much in her opinion.
By convincing her that Fanny _was_ very pretty, which she
had been doubting about before, and that she would be
advantageously married, it made her feel a sort of credit
in calling her niece.

"Well, Fanny," said she, as soon as they were alone
together afterwards, and she really had known something
like impatience to be alone with her, and her countenance,
as she spoke, had extraordinary animation; "Well, Fanny,
I have had a very agreeable surprise this morning. I must
just speak of it _once_, I told Sir Thomas I must _once_,
and then I shall have done. I give you joy, my dear niece."
And looking at her complacently, she added, "Humph, we
certainly are a handsome family!"

Fanny coloured, and doubted at first what to say;
when, hoping to assail her on her vulnerable side,
she presently answered--

"My dear aunt, _you_ cannot wish me to do differently from
what I have done, I am sure. _You_ cannot wish me to marry;
for you would miss me, should not you? Yes, I am sure
you would miss me too much for that."

"No, my dear, I should not think of missing you,
when such an offer as this comes in your way.
I could do very well without you, if you were married
to a man of such good estate as Mr. Crawford. And you
must be aware, Fanny, that it is every young woman's
duty to accept such a very unexceptionable offer as this."

This was almost the only rule of conduct, the only piece
of advice, which Fanny had ever received from her aunt
in the course of eight years and a half. It silenced her.
She felt how unprofitable contention would be.
If her aunt's feelings were against her, nothing could
be hoped from attacking her understanding. Lady Bertram
was quite talkative.

"I will tell you what, Fanny," said she, "I am sure he
fell in love with you at the ball; I am sure the mischief
was done that evening. You did look remarkably well.
Everybody said so. Sir Thomas said so. And you know
you had Chapman to help you to dress. I am very glad
I sent Chapman to you. I shall tell Sir Thomas that I
am sure it was done that evening." And still pursuing
the same cheerful thoughts, she soon afterwards added,
"And will tell you what, Fanny, which is more than I did
for Maria: the next time Pug has a litter you shall have
a puppy."


Edmund had great things to hear on his return. Many surprises
were awaiting him. The first that occurred was not least
in interest: the appearance of Henry Crawford and his sister
walking together through the village as he rode into it.
He had concluded--he had meant them to be far distant.
His absence had been extended beyond a fortnight purposely
to avoid Miss Crawford. He was returning to Mansfield
with spirits ready to feed on melancholy remembrances,
and tender associations, when her own fair self was
before him, leaning on her brother's arm, and he found
himself receiving a welcome, unquestionably friendly,
from the woman whom, two moments before, he had been
thinking of as seventy miles off, and as farther,
much farther, from him in inclination than any distance
could express.

Her reception of him was of a sort which he could not
have hoped for, had he expected to see her. Coming as he
did from such a purport fulfilled as had taken him away,
he would have expected anything rather than a look
of satisfaction, and words of simple, pleasant meaning.
It was enough to set his heart in a glow, and to bring him
home in the properest state for feeling the full value
of the other joyful surprises at hand.

William's promotion, with all its particulars, he was soon
master of; and with such a secret provision of comfort
within his own breast to help the joy, he found in it
a source of most gratifying sensation and unvarying
cheerfulness all dinner-time.

After dinner, when he and his father were alone,
he had Fanny's history; and then all the great events
of the last fortnight, and the present situation
of matters at Mansfield were known to him.

Fanny suspected what was going on. They sat so much
longer than usual in the dining-parlour, that she was sure
they must be talking of her; and when tea at last brought
them away, and she was to be seen by Edmund again, she felt
dreadfully guilty. He came to her, sat down by her,
took her hand, and pressed it kindly; and at that moment
she thought that, but for the occupation and the scene
which the tea-things afforded, she must have betrayed
her emotion in some unpardonable excess.

He was not intending, however, by such action,
to be conveying to her that unqualified approbation
and encouragement which her hopes drew from it.
It was designed only to express his participation in all
that interested her, and to tell her that he had been
hearing what quickened every feeling of affection. He was,
in fact, entirely on his father's side of the question.
His surprise was not so great as his father's at her
refusing Crawford, because, so far from supposing
her to consider him with anything like a preference,
he had always believed it to be rather the reverse,
and could imagine her to be taken perfectly unprepared,
but Sir Thomas could not regard the connexion as more
desirable than he did. It had every recommendation to him;
and while honouring her for what she had done under the
influence of her present indifference, honouring her in
rather stronger terms than Sir Thomas could quite echo,
he was most earnest in hoping, and sanguine in believing,
that it would be a match at last, and that, united by
mutual affection, it would appear that their dispositions
were as exactly fitted to make them blessed in each other,
as he was now beginning seriously to consider them.
Crawford had been too precipitate. He had not given her
time to attach herself. He had begun at the wrong end.
With such powers as his, however, and such a disposition
as hers, Edmund trusted that everything would work
out a happy conclusion. Meanwhile, he saw enough
of Fanny's embarrassment to make him scrupulously guard
against exciting it a second time, by any word, or look,
or movement.

Crawford called the next day, and on the score of Edmund's
return, Sir Thomas felt himself more than licensed to ask
him to stay dinner; it was really a necessary compliment.
He staid of course, and Edmund had then ample opportunity
for observing how he sped with Fanny, and what degree
of immediate encouragement for him might be extracted from
her manners; and it was so little, so very, very little--
every chance, every possibility of it, resting upon her
embarrassment only; if there was not hope in her confusion,
there was hope in nothing else--that he was almost ready
to wonder at his friend's perseverance. Fanny was worth
it all; he held her to be worth every effort of patience,
every exertion of mind, but he did not think he could have
gone on himself with any woman breathing, without something
more to warm his courage than his eyes could discern in hers.
He was very willing to hope that Crawford saw clearer,
and this was the most comfortable conclusion for his
friend that he could come to from all that he observed
to pass before, and at, and after dinner.

In the evening a few circumstances occurred which he thought
more promising. When he and Crawford walked into the
drawing-room, his mother and Fanny were sitting as intently
and silently at work as if there were nothing else to care for.
Edmund could not help noticing their apparently deep tranquillity.

"We have not been so silent all the time," replied his mother.
"Fanny has been reading to me, and only put the book
down upon hearing you coming." And sure enough there
was a book on the table which had the air of being
very recently closed: a volume of Shakespeare.
"She often reads to me out of those books; and she
was in the middle of a very fine speech of that man's--
what's his name, Fanny?--when we heard your footsteps."

Crawford took the volume. "Let me have the pleasure
of finishing that speech to your ladyship," said he.
"I shall find it immediately." And by carefully giving
way to the inclination of the leaves, he did find it,
or within a page or two, quite near enough to satisfy
Lady Bertram, who assured him, as soon as he mentioned the
name of Cardinal Wolsey, that he had got the very speech.
Not a look or an offer of help had Fanny given; not a syllable
for or against. All her attention was for her work.
She seemed determined to be interested by nothing else.
But taste was too strong in her. She could not abstract
her mind five minutes: she was forced to listen; his reading
was capital, and her pleasure in good reading extreme.
To _good_ reading, however, she had been long used:
her uncle read well, her cousins all, Edmund very well,
but in Mr. Crawford's reading there was a variety of
excellence beyond what she had ever met with. The King,
the Queen, Buckingham, Wolsey, Cromwell, all were given
in turn; for with the happiest knack, the happiest
power of jumping and guessing, he could always alight
at will on the best scene, or the best speeches of each;
and whether it were dignity, or pride, or tenderness,
or remorse, or whatever were to be expressed, he could
do it with equal beauty. It was truly dramatic.
His acting had first taught Fanny what pleasure a play
might give, and his reading brought all his acting before
her again; nay, perhaps with greater enjoyment, for it
came unexpectedly, and with no such drawback as she had
been used to suffer in seeing him on the stage with Miss

Edmund watched the progress of her attention, and was
amused and gratified by seeing how she gradually slackened
in the needlework, which at the beginning seemed to
occupy her totally: how it fell from her hand while
she sat motionless over it, and at last, how the eyes
which had appeared so studiously to avoid him throughout
the day were turned and fixed on Crawford--fixed on him
for minutes, fixed on him, in short, till the attraction
drew Crawford's upon her, and the book was closed,
and the charm was broken. Then she was shrinking again
into herself, and blushing and working as hard as ever;
but it had been enough to give Edmund encouragement
for his friend, and as he cordially thanked him,
he hoped to be expressing Fanny's secret feelings too.

"That play must be a favourite with you," said he;
"you read as if you knew it well."

"It will be a favourite, I believe, from this hour,"
replied Crawford; "but I do not think I have had a volume
of Shakespeare in my hand before since I was fifteen.
I once saw Henry the Eighth acted, or I have heard
of it from somebody who did, I am not certain which.
But Shakespeare one gets acquainted with without knowing how.
It is a part of an Englishman's constitution. His thoughts
and beauties are so spread abroad that one touches
them everywhere; one is intimate with him by instinct.
No man of any brain can open at a good part of one
of his plays without falling into the flow of his
meaning immediately."

"No doubt one is familiar with Shakespeare in a degree,"
said Edmund, "from one's earliest years. His celebrated
passages are quoted by everybody; they are in half
the books we open, and we all talk Shakespeare,
use his similes, and describe with his descriptions;
but this is totally distinct from giving his sense as you
gave it. To know him in bits and scraps is common enough;
to know him pretty thoroughly is, perhaps, not uncommon;
but to read him well aloud is no everyday talent."

"Sir, you do me honour," was Crawford's answer, with a bow
of mock gravity.

Both gentlemen had a glance at Fanny, to see if a word
of accordant praise could be extorted from her; yet both
feeling that it could not be. Her praise had been given
in her attention; _that_ must content them.

Lady Bertram's admiration was expressed, and strongly too.
"It was really like being at a play," said she. "I wish
Sir Thomas had been here."

Crawford was excessively pleased. If Lady Bertram,
with all her incompetency and languor, could feel this,
the inference of what her niece, alive and enlightened
as she was, must feel, was elevating.

"You have a great turn for acting, I am sure, Mr. Crawford,"
said her ladyship soon afterwards; "and I will tell you what,
I think you will have a theatre, some time or other,
at your house in Norfolk. I mean when you are settled there.
I do indeed. I think you will fit up a theatre at your
house in Norfolk."

"Do you, ma'am?" cried he, with quickness. "No, no,
that will never be. Your ladyship is quite mistaken.
No theatre at Everingham! Oh no!" And he looked at Fanny
with an expressive smile, which evidently meant, "That lady
will never allow a theatre at Everingham."

Edmund saw it all, and saw Fanny so determined _not_ to see it,
as to make it clear that the voice was enough to convey
the full meaning of the protestation; and such a quick
consciousness of compliment, such a ready comprehension
of a hint, he thought, was rather favourable than not.

The subject of reading aloud was farther discussed.
The two young men were the only talkers, but they,
standing by the fire, talked over the too common neglect
of the qualification, the total inattention to it, in the
ordinary school-system for boys, the consequently natural,
yet in some instances almost unnatural, degree of ignorance
and uncouthness of men, of sensible and well-informed men,
when suddenly called to the necessity of reading aloud,
which had fallen within their notice, giving instances
of blunders, and failures with their secondary causes,
the want of management of the voice, of proper modulation
and emphasis, of foresight and judgment, all proceeding
from the first cause: want of early attention and habit;
and Fanny was listening again with great entertainment.

"Even in my profession," said Edmund, with a smile,
"how little the art of reading has been studied! how little
a clear manner, and good delivery, have been attended to!
I speak rather of the past, however, than the present.
There is now a spirit of improvement abroad; but among
those who were ordained twenty, thirty, forty years ago,
the larger number, to judge by their performance,
must have thought reading was reading, and preaching
was preaching. It is different now. The subject is more
justly considered. It is felt that distinctness and energy
may have weight in recommending the most solid truths;
and besides, there is more general observation and taste,
a more critical knowledge diffused than formerly;
in every congregation there is a larger proportion
who know a little of the matter, and who can judge
and criticise."

Edmund had already gone through the service once since
his ordination; and upon this being understood, he had
a variety of questions from Crawford as to his feelings
and success; questions, which being made, though with the
vivacity of friendly interest and quick taste, without any
touch of that spirit of banter or air of levity which Edmund
knew to be most offensive to Fanny, he had true pleasure
in satisfying; and when Crawford proceeded to ask his
opinion and give his own as to the properest manner in which
particular passages in the service should be delivered,
shewing it to be a subject on which he had thought before,
and thought with judgment, Edmund was still more and
more pleased. This would be the way to Fanny's heart.
She was not to be won by all that gallantry and wit and
good-nature together could do; or, at least, she would
not be won by them nearly so soon, without the assistance
of sentiment and feeling, and seriousness on serious subjects.

"Our liturgy," observed Crawford, "has beauties, which not
even a careless, slovenly style of reading can destroy;
but it has also redundancies and repetitions which require
good reading not to be felt. For myself, at least, I must
confess being not always so attentive as I ought to be"
(here was a glance at Fanny); "that nineteen times out of
twenty I am thinking how such a prayer ought to be read,
and longing to have it to read myself. Did you speak?"
stepping eagerly to Fanny, and addressing her in a
softened voice; and upon her saying "No," he added,
"Are you sure you did not speak? I saw your lips move.
I fancied you might be going to tell me I ought to be
more attentive, and not _allow_ my thoughts to wander.
Are not you going to tell me so?"

"No, indeed, you know your duty too well for me to--
even supposing--"

She stopt, felt herself getting into a puzzle, and could
not be prevailed on to add another word, not by dint
of several minutes of supplication and waiting. He then
returned to his former station, and went on as if there
had been no such tender interruption.

"A sermon, well delivered, is more uncommon even than prayers
well read. A sermon, good in itself, is no rare thing.
It is more difficult to speak well than to compose well;
that is, the rules and trick of composition are
oftener an object of study. A thoroughly good sermon,
thoroughly well delivered, is a capital gratification.
I can never hear such a one without the greatest admiration
and respect, and more than half a mind to take orders
and preach myself. There is something in the eloquence
of the pulpit, when it is really eloquence, which is entitled
to the highest praise and honour. The preacher who can
touch and affect such an heterogeneous mass of hearers,
on subjects limited, and long worn threadbare in all
common hands; who can say anything new or striking,
anything that rouses the attention without offending the taste,
or wearing out the feelings of his hearers, is a man whom
one could not, in his public capacity, honour enough.
I should like to be such a man."

Edmund laughed.

"I should indeed. I never listened to a distinguished
preacher in my life without a sort of envy. But then,
I must have a London audience. I could not preach but
to the educated; to those who were capable of estimating
my composition. And I do not know that I should be fond
of preaching often; now and then, perhaps once or twice
in the spring, after being anxiously expected for half
a dozen Sundays together; but not for a constancy;
it would not do for a constancy."

Here Fanny, who could not but listen, involuntarily shook
her head, and Crawford was instantly by her side again,
entreating to know her meaning; and as Edmund perceived,
by his drawing in a chair, and sitting down close by her,
that it was to be a very thorough attack, that looks
and undertones were to be well tried, he sank as quietly
as possible into a corner, turned his back, and took up
a newspaper, very sincerely wishing that dear little
Fanny might be persuaded into explaining away that shake
of the head to the satisfaction of her ardent lover;
and as earnestly trying to bury every sound of the business
from himself in murmurs of his own, over the various
advertisements of "A most desirable Estate in South
Wales"; "To Parents and Guardians"; and a "Capital
season'd Hunter."

Fanny, meanwhile, vexed with herself for not having been
as motionless as she was speechless, and grieved to the heart
to see Edmund's arrangements, was trying by everything
in the power of her modest, gentle nature, to repulse
Mr. Crawford, and avoid both his looks and inquiries;
and he, unrepulsable, was persisting in both.

"What did that shake of the head mean?" said he. "What was
it meant to express? Disapprobation, I fear. But of what?
What had I been saying to displease you? Did you think me
speaking improperly, lightly, irreverently on the subject?
Only tell me if I was. Only tell me if I was wrong.
I want to be set right. Nay, nay, I entreat you;
for one moment put down your work. What did that shake
of the head mean?"

In vain was her "Pray, sir, don't; pray, Mr. Crawford,"
repeated twice over; and in vain did she try to move away.
In the same low, eager voice, and the same close neighbourhood,
he went on, reurging the same questions as before.
She grew more agitated and displeased.

"How can you, sir? You quite astonish me; I wonder
how you can--"

"Do I astonish you?" said he. "Do you wonder? Is there
anything in my present entreaty that you do not understand?
I will explain to you instantly all that makes me urge
you in this manner, all that gives me an interest in
what you look and do, and excites my present curiosity.
I will not leave you to wonder long."

In spite of herself, she could not help half a smile,
but she said nothing.

"You shook your head at my acknowledging that I should
not like to engage in the duties of a clergyman always
for a constancy. Yes, that was the word. Constancy: I am
not afraid of the word. I would spell it, read it,
write it with anybody. I see nothing alarming in the word.
Did you think I ought?"

"Perhaps, sir," said Fanny, wearied at last into speaking--
"perhaps, sir, I thought it was a pity you did not always
know yourself as well as you seemed to do at that moment."

Crawford, delighted to get her to speak at any rate,
was determined to keep it up; and poor Fanny, who had
hoped to silence him by such an extremity of reproof,
found herself sadly mistaken, and that it was only a change
from one object of curiosity and one set of words to another.
He had always something to entreat the explanation of.
The opportunity was too fair. None such had occurred
since his seeing her in her uncle's room, none such might
occur again before his leaving Mansfield. Lady Bertram's
being just on the other side of the table was a trifle,
for she might always be considered as only half-awake, and
Edmund's advertisements were still of the first utility.

"Well," said Crawford, after a course of rapid questions
and reluctant answers; "I am happier than I was, because I
now understand more clearly your opinion of me. You think
me unsteady: easily swayed by the whim of the moment,
easily tempted, easily put aside. With such an opinion,
no wonder that. But we shall see. It is not by protestations
that I shall endeavour to convince you I am wronged;
it is not by telling you that my affections are steady.
My conduct shall speak for me; absence, distance, time shall
speak for me. _They_ shall prove that, as far as you
can be deserved by anybody, I do deserve you. You are
infinitely my superior in merit; all _that_ I know.
You have qualities which I had not before supposed
to exist in such a degree in any human creature.
You have some touches of the angel in you beyond what--
not merely beyond what one sees, because one never sees
anything like it--but beyond what one fancies might be.
But still I am not frightened. It is not by equality of
merit that you can be won. That is out of the question.
It is he who sees and worships your merit the strongest,
who loves you most devotedly, that has the best
right to a return. There I build my confidence.
By that right I do and will deserve you; and when once
convinced that my attachment is what I declare it,
I know you too well not to entertain the warmest hopes.
Yes, dearest, sweetest Fanny. Nay" (seeing her draw back
displeased), "forgive me. Perhaps I have as yet no right;
but by what other name can I call you? Do you suppose
you are ever present to my imagination under any other?
No, it is 'Fanny' that I think of all day, and dream
of all night. You have given the name such reality
of sweetness, that nothing else can now be descriptive
of you."

Fanny could hardly have kept her seat any longer,
or have refrained from at least trying to get away in
spite of all the too public opposition she foresaw to it,
had it not been for the sound of approaching relief,
the very sound which she had been long watching for,
and long thinking strangely delayed.

The solemn procession, headed by Baddeley, of tea-board, urn,
and cake-bearers, made its appearance, and delivered
her from a grievous imprisonment of body and mind.
Mr. Crawford was obliged to move. She was at liberty,
she was busy, she was protected.

Edmund was not sorry to be admitted again among the
number of those who might speak and hear. But though
the conference had seemed full long to him, and though
on looking at Fanny he saw rather a flush of vexation,
he inclined to hope that so much could not have been
said and listened to without some profit to the speaker.


Edmund had determined that it belonged entirely to Fanny
to chuse whether her situation with regard to Crawford
should be mentioned between them or not; and that if she
did not lead the way, it should never be touched on by him;
but after a day or two of mutual reserve, he was induced
by his father to change his mind, and try what his influence
might do for his friend.

A day, and a very early day, was actually fixed for
the Crawfords' departure; and Sir Thomas thought it
might be as well to make one more effort for the young
man before he left Mansfield, that all his professions
and vows of unshaken attachment might have as much
hope to sustain them as possible.

Sir Thomas was most cordially anxious for the perfection
of Mr. Crawford's character in that point. He wished him
to be a model of constancy; and fancied the best means
of effecting it would be by not trying him too long.

Edmund was not unwilling to be persuaded to engage
in the business; he wanted to know Fanny's feelings.
She had been used to consult him in every difficulty,
and he loved her too well to bear to be denied her
confidence now; he hoped to be of service to her, he thought
he must be of service to her; whom else had she to open
her heart to? If she did not need counsel, she must need
the comfort of communication. Fanny estranged from him,
silent and reserved, was an unnatural state of things;
a state which he must break through, and which he could
easily learn to think she was wanting him to break through.

"I will speak to her, sir: I will take the first opportunity
of speaking to her alone," was the result of such thoughts
as these; and upon Sir Thomas's information of her
being at that very time walking alone in the shrubbery,
he instantly joined her.

"I am come to walk with you, Fanny," said he. "Shall I?"
Drawing her arm within his. "It is a long while since we
have had a comfortable walk together."

She assented to it all rather by look than word.
Her spirits were low.

"But, Fanny," he presently added, "in order to have a
comfortable walk, something more is necessary than merely
pacing this gravel together. You must talk to me.
I know you have something on your mind. I know what you
are thinking of. You cannot suppose me uninformed.
Am I to hear of it from everybody but Fanny herself?"

Fanny, at once agitated and dejected, replied, "If you
hear of it from everybody, cousin, there can be nothing
for me to tell."

"Not of facts, perhaps; but of feelings, Fanny.
No one but you can tell me them. I do not mean to
press you, however. If it is not what you wish yourself,
I have done. I had thought it might be a relief."

"I am afraid we think too differently for me to find
any relief in talking of what I feel."

"Do you suppose that we think differently? I have no idea
of it. I dare say that, on a comparison of our opinions,
they would be found as much alike as they have been used to be:
to the point--I consider Crawford's proposals as most
advantageous and desirable, if you could return his affection.
I consider it as most natural that all your family
should wish you could return it; but that, as you cannot,
you have done exactly as you ought in refusing him.
Can there be any disagreement between us here?"

"Oh no! But I thought you blamed me. I thought you
were against me. This is such a comfort!"

"This comfort you might have had sooner, Fanny, had you
sought it. But how could you possibly suppose me against you?
How could you imagine me an advocate for marriage without love?
Were I even careless in general on such matters, how could
you imagine me so where your happiness was at stake?"

"My uncle thought me wrong, and I knew he had been talking
to you."

"As far as you have gone, Fanny, I think you perfectly right.
I may be sorry, I may be surprised--though hardly _that_,
for you had not had time to attach yourself--but I think
you perfectly right. Can it admit of a question?
It is disgraceful to us if it does. You did not love him;
nothing could have justified your accepting him."

Fanny had not felt so comfortable for days and days.

"So far your conduct has been faultless, and they were quite
mistaken who wished you to do otherwise. But the matter
does not end here. Crawford's is no common attachment;
he perseveres, with the hope of creating that regard
which had not been created before. This, we know,
must be a work of time. But" (with an affectionate smile)
"let him succeed at last, Fanny, let him succeed at last.
You have proved yourself upright and disinterested,
prove yourself grateful and tender-hearted; and then you
will be the perfect model of a woman which I have always
believed you born for."

"Oh! never, never, never! he never will succeed with me."
And she spoke with a warmth which quite astonished Edmund,
and which she blushed at the recollection of herself,
when she saw his look, and heard him reply, "Never! Fanny!--
so very determined and positive! This is not like yourself,
your rational self."

"I mean," she cried, sorrowfully correcting herself,
"that I _think_ I never shall, as far as the future can
be answered for; I think I never shall return his regard."

"I must hope better things. I am aware, more aware
than Crawford can be, that the man who means to make
you love him (you having due notice of his intentions)
must have very uphill work, for there are all your early
attachments and habits in battle array; and before he
can get your heart for his own use he has to unfasten it
from all the holds upon things animate and inanimate,
which so many years' growth have confirmed, and which are
considerably tightened for the moment by the very idea
of separation. I know that the apprehension of being
forced to quit Mansfield will for a time be arming you
against him. I wish he had not been obliged to tell you
what he was trying for. I wish he had known you as well as
I do, Fanny. Between us, I think we should have won you.
My theoretical and his practical knowledge together could
not have failed. He should have worked upon my plans.
I must hope, however, that time, proving him (as I firmly
believe it will) to deserve you by his steady affection,
will give him his reward. I cannot suppose that you have
not the _wish_ to love him--the natural wish of gratitude.
You must have some feeling of that sort. You must be sorry
for your own indifference."

"We are so totally unlike," said Fanny, avoiding a
direct answer, "we are so very, very different in all
our inclinations and ways, that I consider it as quite
impossible we should ever be tolerably happy together,
even if I _could_ like him. There never were two people
more dissimilar. We have not one taste in common.
We should be miserable."

"You are mistaken, Fanny. The dissimilarity is not so strong.
You are quite enough alike. You _have_ tastes in common.
You have moral and literary tastes in common. You have
both warm hearts and benevolent feelings; and, Fanny,
who that heard him read, and saw you listen to Shakespeare
the other night, will think you unfitted as companions?
You forget yourself: there is a decided difference
in your tempers, I allow. He is lively, you are serious;
but so much the better: his spirits will support yours.
It is your disposition to be easily dejected and to fancy
difficulties greater than they are. His cheerfulness
will counteract this. He sees difficulties nowhere:
and his pleasantness and gaiety will be a constant support
to you. Your being so far unlike, Fanny, does not in
the smallest degree make against the probability of your
happiness together: do not imagine it. I am myself
convinced that it is rather a favourable circumstance.
I am perfectly persuaded that the tempers had better be unlike:
I mean unlike in the flow of the spirits, in the manners,
in the inclination for much or little company, in the
propensity to talk or to be silent, to be grave or to be gay.
Some opposition here is, I am thoroughly convinced,
friendly to matrimonial happiness. I exclude extremes,
of course; and a very close resemblance in all those
points would be the likeliest way to produce an extreme.
A counteraction, gentle and continual, is the best safeguard
of manners and conduct."

Full well could Fanny guess where his thoughts were now:
Miss Crawford's power was all returning. He had been
speaking of her cheerfully from the hour of his coming home.
His avoiding her was quite at an end. He had dined at the
Parsonage only the preceding day.

After leaving him to his happier thoughts for some minutes,
Fanny, feeling it due to herself, returned to Mr. Crawford,
and said, "It is not merely in _temper_ that I consider
him as totally unsuited to myself; though, in _that_
respect, I think the difference between us too great,
infinitely too great: his spirits often oppress me;
but there is something in him which I object to still more.
I must say, cousin, that I cannot approve his character.
I have not thought well of him from the time of the play.
I then saw him behaving, as it appeared to me, so very
improperly and unfeelingly--I may speak of it now because
it is all over--so improperly by poor Mr. Rushworth,
not seeming to care how he exposed or hurt him,
and paying attentions to my cousin Maria, which--in short,
at the time of the play, I received an impression which
will never be got over."

"My dear Fanny," replied Edmund, scarcely hearing her
to the end, "let us not, any of us, be judged by what we
appeared at that period of general folly. The time of the
play is a time which I hate to recollect. Maria was wrong,
Crawford was wrong, we were all wrong together; but none
so wrong as myself. Compared with me, all the rest
were blameless. I was playing the fool with my eyes open."

"As a bystander," said Fanny, "perhaps I saw more than
you did; and I do think that Mr. Rushworth was sometimes
very jealous."

"Very possibly. No wonder. Nothing could be more improper
than the whole business. I am shocked whenever I think
that Maria could be capable of it; but, if she could
undertake the part, we must not be surprised at the rest."

"Before the play, I am much mistaken if _Julia_ did
not think he was paying her attentions."

"Julia! I have heard before from some one of his being
in love with Julia; but I could never see anything of it.
And, Fanny, though I hope I do justice to my sisters'
good qualities, I think it very possible that they might,
one or both, be more desirous of being admired by Crawford,
and might shew that desire rather more unguardedly than was
perfectly prudent. I can remember that they were evidently
fond of his society; and with such encouragement, a man
like Crawford, lively, and it may be, a little unthinking,
might be led on to--there could be nothing very striking,
because it is clear that he had no pretensions: his heart
was reserved for you. And I must say, that its being
for you has raised him inconceivably in my opinion.
It does him the highest honour; it shews his proper estimation
of the blessing of domestic happiness and pure attachment.
It proves him unspoilt by his uncle. It proves him, in short,
everything that I had been used to wish to believe him,
and feared he was not."

"I am persuaded that he does not think, as he ought,
on serious subjects."

"Say, rather, that he has not thought at all upon serious
subjects, which I believe to be a good deal the case.
How could it be otherwise, with such an education and adviser?
Under the disadvantages, indeed, which both have had,
is it not wonderful that they should be what they are?
Crawford's _feelings_, I am ready to acknowledge, have hitherto
been too much his guides. Happily, those feelings have
generally been good. You will supply the rest; and a most
fortunate man he is to attach himself to such a creature--
to a woman who, firm as a rock in her own principles, has a
gentleness of character so well adapted to recommend them.
He has chosen his partner, indeed, with rare felicity.
He will make you happy, Fanny; I know he will make you happy;
but you will make him everything."

"I would not engage in such a charge," cried Fanny, in a
shrinking accent; "in such an office of high responsibility!"

"As usual, believing yourself unequal to anything!
fancying everything too much for you! Well, though I
may not be able to persuade you into different feelings,
you will be persuaded into them, I trust.
I confess myself sincerely anxious that you may.
I have no common interest in Crawford's well-doing. Next
to your happiness, Fanny, his has the first claim on me.
You are aware of my having no common interest in Crawford."

Fanny was too well aware of it to have anything to say;
and they walked on together some fifty yards in mutual
silence and abstraction. Edmund first began again--

"I was very much pleased by her manner of speaking
of it yesterday, particularly pleased, because I had not
depended upon her seeing everything in so just a light.
I knew she was very fond of you; but yet I was afraid
of her not estimating your worth to her brother quite
as it deserved, and of her regretting that he had not
rather fixed on some woman of distinction or fortune.
I was afraid of the bias of those worldly maxims, which she
has been too much used to hear. But it was very different.
She spoke of you, Fanny, just as she ought. She desires
the connexion as warmly as your uncle or myself.
We had a long talk about it. I should not have mentioned
the subject, though very anxious to know her sentiments;
but I had not been in the room five minutes before she
began introducing it with all that openness of heart,
and sweet peculiarity of manner, that spirit and ingenuousness
which are so much a part of herself. Mrs. Grant laughed
at her for her rapidity."

"Was Mrs. Grant in the room, then?"

"Yes, when I reached the house I found the two sisters
together by themselves; and when once we had begun,
we had not done with you, Fanny, till Crawford and Dr. Grant
came in."

"It is above a week since I saw Miss Crawford."

"Yes, she laments it; yet owns it may have been best.
You will see her, however, before she goes. She is very
angry with you, Fanny; you must be prepared for that.
She calls herself very angry, but you can imagine her anger.
It is the regret and disappointment of a sister,
who thinks her brother has a right to everything he may
wish for, at the first moment. She is hurt, as you would
be for William; but she loves and esteems you with all
her heart."

"I knew she would be very angry with me."

"My dearest Fanny," cried Edmund, pressing her arm closer
to him, "do not let the idea of her anger distress you.
It is anger to be talked of rather than felt. Her heart
is made for love and kindness, not for resentment.
I wish you could have overheard her tribute of praise;
I wish you could have seen her countenance, when she said
that you _should_ be Henry's wife. And I observed that she
always spoke of you as 'Fanny,' which she was never used to do;
and it had a sound of most sisterly cordiality."

"And Mrs. Grant, did she say--did she speak; was she
there all the time?"

"Yes, she was agreeing exactly with her sister. The surprise
of your refusal, Fanny, seems to have been unbounded.
That you could refuse such a man as Henry Crawford seems
more than they can understand. I said what I could for you;
but in good truth, as they stated the case--you must
prove yourself to be in your senses as soon as you can
by a different conduct; nothing else will satisfy them.
But this is teasing you. I have done. Do not turn away
from me."

"I _should_ have thought," said Fanny, after a pause
of recollection and exertion, "that every woman must
have felt the possibility of a man's not being approved,
not being loved by some one of her sex at least, let him
be ever so generally agreeable. Let him have all the
perfections in the world, I think it ought not to be set
down as certain that a man must be acceptable to every
woman he may happen to like himself. But, even supposing
it is so, allowing Mr. Crawford to have all the claims
which his sisters think he has, how was I to be prepared
to meet him with any feeling answerable to his own?
He took me wholly by surprise. I had not an idea that
his behaviour to me before had any meaning; and surely I
was not to be teaching myself to like him only because
he was taking what seemed very idle notice of me.
In my situation, it would have been the extreme of vanity
to be forming expectations on Mr. Crawford. I am sure
his sisters, rating him as they do, must have thought it so,
supposing he had meant nothing. How, then, was I to be--
to be in love with him the moment he said he was with me?
How was I to have an attachment at his service, as soon
as it was asked for? His sisters should consider me
as well as him. The higher his deserts, the more improper
for me ever to have thought of him. And, and--we think
very differently of the nature of women, if they can imagine
a woman so very soon capable of returning an affection
as this seems to imply."

"My dear, dear Fanny, now I have the truth. I know this
to be the truth; and most worthy of you are such feelings.
I had attributed them to you before. I thought I could
understand you. You have now given exactly the explanation
which I ventured to make for you to your friend and Mrs. Grant,
and they were both better satisfied, though your warm-hearted
friend was still run away with a little by the enthusiasm
of her fondness for Henry. I told them that you were
of all human creatures the one over whom habit had most
power and novelty least; and that the very circumstance
of the novelty of Crawford's addresses was against him.
Their being so new and so recent was all in their disfavour;
that you could tolerate nothing that you were not used to;
and a great deal more to the same purpose, to give them
a knowledge of your character. Miss Crawford made us
laugh by her plans of encouragement for her brother.
She meant to urge him to persevere in the hope of being
loved in time, and of having his addresses most kindly
received at the end of about ten years' happy marriage."

Fanny could with difficulty give the smile that was
here asked for. Her feelings were all in revolt.
She feared she had been doing wrong: saying too much,
overacting the caution which she had been fancying necessary;
in guarding against one evil, laying herself open
to another; and to have Miss Crawford's liveliness
repeated to her at such a moment, and on such a subject,
was a bitter aggravation.

Edmund saw weariness and distress in her face,
and immediately resolved to forbear all farther discussion;
and not even to mention the name of Crawford again,
except as it might be connected with what _must_ be agreeable
to her. On this principle, he soon afterwards observed--
"They go on Monday. You are sure, therefore, of seeing
your friend either to-morrow or Sunday. They really go
on Monday; and I was within a trifle of being persuaded
to stay at Lessingby till that very day! I had almost
promised it. What a difference it might have made!
Those five or six days more at Lessingby might have been
felt all my life."

"You were near staying there?"

"Very. I was most kindly pressed, and had nearly consented.
Had I received any letter from Mansfield, to tell me how you
were all going on, I believe I should certainly have staid;
but I knew nothing that had happened here for a fortnight,
and felt that I had been away long enough."

"You spent your time pleasantly there?"

"Yes; that is, it was the fault of my own mind if I did not.
They were all very pleasant. I doubt their finding me so.
I took uneasiness with me, and there was no getting rid
of it till I was in Mansfield again."

"The Miss Owens--you liked them, did not you?"

"Yes, very well. Pleasant, good-humoured, unaffected girls.
But I am spoilt, Fanny, for common female society.
Good-humoured, unaffected girls will not do for a man
who has been used to sensible women. They are two distinct
orders of being. You and Miss Crawford have made me
too nice."

Still, however, Fanny was oppressed and wearied;
he saw it in her looks, it could not be talked away;
and attempting it no more, he led her directly, with the
kind authority of a privileged guardian, into the house.


Edmund now believed himself perfectly acquainted with all
that Fanny could tell, or could leave to be conjectured
of her sentiments, and he was satisfied. It had been,
as he before presumed, too hasty a measure on Crawford's side,
and time must be given to make the idea first familiar,
and then agreeable to her. She must be used to the
consideration of his being in love with her, and then
a return of affection might not be very distant.

He gave this opinion as the result of the conversation
to his father; and recommended there being nothing more said
to her: no farther attempts to influence or persuade;
but that everything should be left to Crawford's assiduities,
and the natural workings of her own mind.

Sir Thomas promised that it should be so. Edmund's account
of Fanny's disposition he could believe to be just;
he supposed she had all those feelings, but he must consider
it as very unfortunate that she _had_; for, less willing
than his son to trust to the future, he could not help
fearing that if such very long allowances of time and habit
were necessary for her, she might not have persuaded
herself into receiving his addresses properly before
the young man's inclination for paying them were over.
There was nothing to be done, however, but to submit
quietly and hope the best.

The promised visit from "her friend," as Edmund called
Miss Crawford, was a formidable threat to Fanny,
and she lived in continual terror of it. As a sister,
so partial and so angry, and so little scrupulous of what
she said, and in another light so triumphant and secure,
she was in every way an object of painful alarm.
Her displeasure, her penetration, and her happiness were
all fearful to encounter; and the dependence of having
others present when they met was Fanny's only support
in looking forward to it. She absented herself as little
as possible from Lady Bertram, kept away from the East room,
and took no solitary walk in the shrubbery, in her caution
to avoid any sudden attack.

She succeeded. She was safe in the breakfast-room, with her aunt,
when Miss Crawford did come; and the first misery over,
and Miss Crawford looking and speaking with much less
particularity of expression than she had anticipated,
Fanny began to hope there would be nothing worse
to be endured than a half-hour of moderate agitation.
But here she hoped too much; Miss Crawford was not the slave
of opportunity. She was determined to see Fanny alone,
and therefore said to her tolerably soon, in a low voice,
"I must speak to you for a few minutes somewhere";
words that Fanny felt all over her, in all her pulses
and all her nerves. Denial was impossible. Her habits
of ready submission, on the contrary, made her almost
instantly rise and lead the way out of the room.
She did it with wretched feelings, but it was inevitable.

They were no sooner in the hall than all restraint
of countenance was over on Miss Crawford's side.
She immediately shook her head at Fanny with arch,
yet affectionate reproach, and taking her hand,
seemed hardly able to help beginning directly.
She said nothing, however, but, "Sad, sad girl!
I do not know when I shall have done scolding you,"
and had discretion enough to reserve the rest till they
might be secure of having four walls to themselves.
Fanny naturally turned upstairs, and took her guest to the
apartment which was now always fit for comfortable use;
opening the door, however, with a most aching heart,
and feeling that she had a more distressing scene before
her than ever that spot had yet witnessed. But the evil
ready to burst on her was at least delayed by the sudden
change in Miss Crawford's ideas; by the strong effect
on her mind which the finding herself in the East room
again produced.

"Ha!" she cried, with instant animation, "am I here again?
The East room! Once only was I in this room before";
and after stopping to look about her, and seemingly
to retrace all that had then passed, she added, "Once
only before. Do you remember it? I came to rehearse.
Your cousin came too; and we had a rehearsal. You were
our audience and prompter. A delightful rehearsal.
I shall never forget it. Here we were, just in this
part of the room: here was your cousin, here was I,
here were the chairs. Oh! why will such things ever
pass away?"

Happily for her companion, she wanted no answer.
Her mind was entirely self-engrossed. She was in a reverie
of sweet remembrances.

"The scene we were rehearsing was so very remarkable!
The subject of it so very--very--what shall I say?
He was to be describing and recommending matrimony to me.
I think I see him now, trying to be as demure and composed
as Anhalt ought, through the two long speeches.
'When two sympathetic hearts meet in the marriage state,
matrimony may be called a happy life.' I suppose no time
can ever wear out the impression I have of his looks
and voice as he said those words. It was curious,
very curious, that we should have such a scene to play!
If I had the power of recalling any one week of my existence,
it should be that week--that acting week. Say what
you would, Fanny, it should be _that_; for I never knew
such exquisite happiness in any other. His sturdy spirit
to bend as it did! Oh! it was sweet beyond expression.
But alas, that very evening destroyed it all. That very
evening brought your most unwelcome uncle. Poor Sir Thomas,
who was glad to see you? Yet, Fanny, do not imagine I would
now speak disrespectfully of Sir Thomas, though I certainly
did hate him for many a week. No, I do him justice now.
He is just what the head of such a family should be.
Nay, in sober sadness, I believe I now love you all."
And having said so, with a degree of tenderness and
consciousness which Fanny had never seen in her before,
and now thought only too becoming, she turned away
for a moment to recover herself. "I have had a little
fit since I came into this room, as you may perceive,"
said she presently, with a playful smile, "but it is
over now; so let us sit down and be comfortable; for as to
scolding you, Fanny, which I came fully intending to do,
I have not the heart for it when it comes to the point."
And embracing her very affectionately, "Good, gentle Fanny!
when I think of this being the last time of seeing you for I
do not know how long, I feel it quite impossible to do anything
but love you."

Fanny was affected. She had not foreseen anything of this,
and her feelings could seldom withstand the melancholy
influence of the word "last." She cried as if she
had loved Miss Crawford more than she possibly could;
and Miss Crawford, yet farther softened by the sight
of such emotion, hung about her with fondness, and said,
"I hate to leave you. I shall see no one half so amiable
where I am going. Who says we shall not be sisters?
I know we shall. I feel that we are born to be connected;
and those tears convince me that you feel it too,
dear Fanny."

Fanny roused herself, and replying only in part, said,
"But you are only going from one set of friends to another.
You are going to a very particular friend."

"Yes, very true. Mrs. Fraser has been my intimate friend
for years. But I have not the least inclination to go
near her. I can think only of the friends I am leaving:
my excellent sister, yourself, and the Bertrams in general.
You have all so much more _heart_ among you than one
finds in the world at large. You all give me a feeling

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