Part 8 out of 10
of being able to trust and confide in you, which in common
intercourse one knows nothing of. I wish I had settled
with Mrs. Fraser not to go to her till after Easter, a much
better time for the visit, but now I cannot put her off.
And when I have done with her I must go to her sister,
Lady Stornaway, because _she_ was rather my most particular
friend of the two, but I have not cared much for _her_
these three years."
After this speech the two girls sat many minutes silent,
each thoughtful: Fanny meditating on the different sorts
of friendship in the world, Mary on something of less
philosophic tendency. _She_ first spoke again.
"How perfectly I remember my resolving to look for
you upstairs, and setting off to find my way to the
East room, without having an idea whereabouts it was!
How well I remember what I was thinking of as I came along,
and my looking in and seeing you here sitting at this
table at work; and then your cousin's astonishment,
when he opened the door, at seeing me here! To be sure,
your uncle's returning that very evening! There never
was anything quite like it."
Another short fit of abstraction followed, when,
shaking it off, she thus attacked her companion.
"Why, Fanny, you are absolutely in a reverie.
Thinking, I hope, of one who is always thinking of you.
Oh! that I could transport you for a short time into
our circle in town, that you might understand how your
power over Henry is thought of there! Oh! the envyings
and heartburnings of dozens and dozens; the wonder,
the incredulity that will be felt at hearing what you
have done! For as to secrecy, Henry is quite the hero
of an old romance, and glories in his chains. You should
come to London to know how to estimate your conquest.
If you were to see how he is courted, and how I am courted
for his sake! Now, I am well aware that I shall not be
half so welcome to Mrs. Fraser in consequence of his
situation with you. When she comes to know the truth
she will, very likely, wish me in Northamptonshire again;
for there is a daughter of Mr. Fraser, by a first wife,
whom she is wild to get married, and wants Henry to take.
Oh! she has been trying for him to such a degree.
Innocent and quiet as you sit here, you cannot have an
idea of the _sensation_ that you will be occasioning,
of the curiosity there will be to see you, of the endless
questions I shall have to answer! Poor Margaret Fraser
will be at me for ever about your eyes and your teeth,
and how you do your hair, and who makes your shoes.
I wish Margaret were married, for my poor friend's sake,
for I look upon the Frasers to be about as unhappy as most
other married people. And yet it was a most desirable
match for Janet at the time. We were all delighted.
She could not do otherwise than accept him, for he was rich,
and she had nothing; but he turns out ill-tempered
and _exigeant_, and wants a young woman, a beautiful young
woman of five-and-twenty, to be as steady as himself.
And my friend does not manage him well; she does not seem
to know how to make the best of it. There is a spirit
of irritation which, to say nothing worse, is certainly
very ill-bred. In their house I shall call to mind the
conjugal manners of Mansfield Parsonage with respect.
Even Dr. Grant does shew a thorough confidence in my sister,
and a certain consideration for her judgment, which makes
one feel there _is_ attachment; but of that I shall
see nothing with the Frasers. I shall be at Mansfield
for ever, Fanny. My own sister as a wife, Sir Thomas
Bertram as a husband, are my standards of perfection.
Poor Janet has been sadly taken in, and yet there was
nothing improper on her side: she did not run into the
match inconsiderately; there was no want of foresight.
She took three days to consider of his proposals,
and during those three days asked the advice of everybody
connected with her whose opinion was worth having,
and especially applied to my late dear aunt, whose
knowledge of the world made her judgment very generally
and deservedly looked up to by all the young people
of her acquaintance, and she was decidedly in favour
of Mr. Fraser. This seems as if nothing were a security
for matrimonial comfort. I have not so much to say
for my friend Flora, who jilted a very nice young man
in the Blues for the sake of that horrid Lord Stornaway,
who has about as much sense, Fanny, as Mr. Rushworth,
but much worse-looking, and with a blackguard character.
I _had_ my doubts at the time about her being right,
for he has not even the air of a gentleman, and now I am
sure she was wrong. By the bye, Flora Ross was dying
for Henry the first winter she came out. But were I
to attempt to tell you of all the women whom I have
known to be in love with him, I should never have done.
It is you, only you, insensible Fanny, who can think
of him with anything like indifference. But are you
so insensible as you profess yourself? No, no, I see you
There was, indeed, so deep a blush over Fanny's face
at that moment as might warrant strong suspicion
in a predisposed mind.
"Excellent creature! I will not tease you. Everything shall
take its course. But, dear Fanny, you must allow that you
were not so absolutely unprepared to have the question asked
as your cousin fancies. It is not possible but that you
must have had some thoughts on the subject, some surmises
as to what might be. You must have seen that he was
trying to please you by every attention in his power.
Was not he devoted to you at the ball? And then before
the ball, the necklace! Oh! you received it just as it
was meant. You were as conscious as heart could desire.
I remember it perfectly."
"Do you mean, then, that your brother knew of the
necklace beforehand? Oh! Miss Crawford, _that_ was not fair."
"Knew of it! It was his own doing entirely, his own thought.
I am ashamed to say that it had never entered my head,
but I was delighted to act on his proposal for both
"I will not say," replied Fanny, "that I was not half
afraid at the time of its being so, for there was something
in your look that frightened me, but not at first;
I was as unsuspicious of it at first--indeed, indeed I was.
It is as true as that I sit here. And had I had an idea of it,
nothing should have induced me to accept the necklace.
As to your brother's behaviour, certainly I was sensible of
a particularity: I had been sensible of it some little time,
perhaps two or three weeks; but then I considered it as
meaning nothing: I put it down as simply being his way,
and was as far from supposing as from wishing him to have
any serious thoughts of me. I had not, Miss Crawford,
been an inattentive observer of what was passing between him
and some part of this family in the summer and autumn.
I was quiet, but I was not blind. I could not but see
that Mr. Crawford allowed himself in gallantries which did
"Ah! I cannot deny it. He has now and then been a sad flirt,
and cared very little for the havoc he might be making in
young ladies' affections. I have often scolded him for it,
but it is his only fault; and there is this to be said,
that very few young ladies have any affections worth
caring for. And then, Fanny, the glory of fixing one
who has been shot at by so many; of having it in one's
power to pay off the debts of one's sex! Oh! I am sure
it is not in woman's nature to refuse such a triumph."
Fanny shook her head. "I cannot think well of a man
who sports with any woman's feelings; and there may often
be a great deal more suffered than a stander-by can judge of."
"I do not defend him. I leave him entirely to your mercy,
and when he has got you at Everingham, I do not care how much
you lecture him. But this I will say, that his fault,
the liking to make girls a little in love with him, is not
half so dangerous to a wife's happiness as a tendency to fall
in love himself, which he has never been addicted to.
And I do seriously and truly believe that he is attached
to you in a way that he never was to any woman before;
that he loves you with all his heart, and will love you
as nearly for ever as possible. If any man ever loved
a woman for ever, I think Henry will do as much for you."
Fanny could not avoid a faint smile, but had nothing
"I cannot imagine Henry ever to have been happier,"
continued Mary presently, "than when he had succeeded
in getting your brother's commission."
She had made a sure push at Fanny's feelings here.
"Oh! yes. How very, very kind of him."
"I know he must have exerted himself very much, for I know
the parties he had to move. The Admiral hates trouble,
and scorns asking favours; and there are so many
young men's claims to be attended to in the same way,
that a friendship and energy, not very determined,
is easily put by. What a happy creature William must be!
I wish we could see him."
Poor Fanny's mind was thrown into the most distressing
of all its varieties. The recollection of what had
been done for William was always the most powerful
disturber of every decision against Mr. Crawford;
and she sat thinking deeply of it till Mary, who had been
first watching her complacently, and then musing on
something else, suddenly called her attention by saying:
"I should like to sit talking with you here all day,
but we must not forget the ladies below, and so good-bye,
my dear, my amiable, my excellent Fanny, for though we
shall nominally part in the breakfast-parlour, I must
take leave of you here. And I do take leave, longing for
a happy reunion, and trusting that when we meet again,
it will be under circumstances which may open our hearts
to each other without any remnant or shadow of reserve."
A very, very kind embrace, and some agitation of manner,
accompanied these words.
"I shall see your cousin in town soon: he talks of
being there tolerably soon; and Sir Thomas, I dare say,
in the course of the spring; and your eldest cousin,
and the Rushworths, and Julia, I am sure of meeting again
and again, and all but you. I have two favours to ask,
Fanny: one is your correspondence. You must write to me.
And the other, that you will often call on Mrs. Grant,
and make her amends for my being gone."
The first, at least, of these favours Fanny would rather
not have been asked; but it was impossible for her to refuse
the correspondence; it was impossible for her even not to
accede to it more readily than her own judgment authorised.
There was no resisting so much apparent affection.
Her disposition was peculiarly calculated to value a fond
treatment, and from having hitherto known so little of it,
she was the more overcome by Miss Crawford's. Besides,
there was gratitude towards her, for having made their
_tete-a-tete_ so much less painful than her fears had predicted.
It was over, and she had escaped without reproaches
and without detection. Her secret was still her own;
and while that was the case, she thought she could resign
herself to almost everything.
In the evening there was another parting. Henry Crawford
came and sat some time with them; and her spirits not being
previously in the strongest state, her heart was softened
for a while towards him, because he really seemed to feel.
Quite unlike his usual self, he scarcely said anything.
He was evidently oppressed, and Fanny must grieve for him,
though hoping she might never see him again till he were the
husband of some other woman.
When it came to the moment of parting, he would take her hand,
he would not be denied it; he said nothing, however,
or nothing that she heard, and when he had left the room,
she was better pleased that such a token of friendship
On the morrow the Crawfords were gone.
Mr. Crawford gone, Sir Thomas's next object was that he
should be missed; and he entertained great hope that his
niece would find a blank in the loss of those attentions
which at the time she had felt, or fancied, an evil.
She had tasted of consequence in its most flattering form;
and he did hope that the loss of it, the sinking again
into nothing, would awaken very wholesome regrets
in her mind. He watched her with this idea; but he
could hardly tell with what success. He hardly knew
whether there were any difference in her spirits or not.
She was always so gentle and retiring that her emotions
were beyond his discrimination. He did not understand her:
he felt that he did not; and therefore applied to Edmund
to tell him how she stood affected on the present occasion,
and whether she were more or less happy than she
Edmund did not discern any symptoms of regret, and thought
his father a little unreasonable in supposing the first
three or four days could produce any.
What chiefly surprised Edmund was, that Crawford's sister,
the friend and companion who had been so much to her,
should not be more visibly regretted. He wondered that Fanny
spoke so seldom of _her_, and had so little voluntarily
to say of her concern at this separation.
Alas! it was this sister, this friend and companion,
who was now the chief bane of Fanny's comfort. If she
could have believed Mary's future fate as unconnected
with Mansfield as she was determined the brother's
should be, if she could have hoped her return thither
to be as distant as she was much inclined to think his,
she would have been light of heart indeed; but the more
she recollected and observed, the more deeply was she
convinced that everything was now in a fairer train
for Miss Crawford's marrying Edmund than it had ever
been before. On his side the inclination was stronger,
on hers less equivocal. His objections, the scruples of
his integrity, seemed all done away, nobody could tell how;
and the doubts and hesitations of her ambition were
equally got over--and equally without apparent reason.
It could only be imputed to increasing attachment.
His good and her bad feelings yielded to love, and such
love must unite them. He was to go to town as soon as
some business relative to Thornton Lacey were completed--
perhaps within a fortnight; he talked of going,
he loved to talk of it; and when once with her again,
Fanny could not doubt the rest. Her acceptance must
be as certain as his offer; and yet there were bad
feelings still remaining which made the prospect of it
most sorrowful to her, independently, she believed,
independently of self.
In their very last conversation, Miss Crawford, in spite
of some amiable sensations, and much personal kindness,
had still been Miss Crawford; still shewn a mind led astray
and bewildered, and without any suspicion of being so;
darkened, yet fancying itself light. She might love,
but she did not deserve Edmund by any other sentiment.
Fanny believed there was scarcely a second feeling
in common between them; and she may be forgiven by older
sages for looking on the chance of Miss Crawford's future
improvement as nearly desperate, for thinking that if Edmund's
influence in this season of love had already done so little
in clearing her judgment, and regulating her notions,
his worth would be finally wasted on her even in years
Experience might have hoped more for any young people
so circumstanced, and impartiality would not have denied
to Miss Crawford's nature that participation of the general
nature of women which would lead her to adopt the opinions
of the man she loved and respected as her own. But as such
were Fanny's persuasions, she suffered very much from them,
and could never speak of Miss Crawford without pain.
Sir Thomas, meanwhile, went on with his own hopes and
his own observations, still feeling a right, by all his
knowledge of human nature, to expect to see the effect
of the loss of power and consequence on his niece's spirits,
and the past attentions of the lover producing a craving
for their return; and he was soon afterwards able to account
for his not yet completely and indubitably seeing all this,
by the prospect of another visitor, whose approach he
could allow to be quite enough to support the spirits
he was watching. William had obtained a ten days'
leave of absence, to be given to Northamptonshire,
and was coming, the happiest of lieutenants, because the
latest made, to shew his happiness and describe his uniform.
He came; and he would have been delighted to shew his uniform
there too, had not cruel custom prohibited its appearance
except on duty. So the uniform remained at Portsmouth,
and Edmund conjectured that before Fanny had any chance
of seeing it, all its own freshness and all the freshness
of its wearer's feelings must be worn away. It would be sunk
into a badge of disgrace; for what can be more unbecoming,
or more worthless, than the uniform of a lieutenant,
who has been a lieutenant a year or two, and sees
others made commanders before him? So reasoned Edmund,
till his father made him the confidant of a scheme which
placed Fanny's chance of seeing the second lieutenant
of H.M.S. Thrush in all his glory in another light.
This scheme was that she should accompany her brother
back to Portsmouth, and spend a little time with her
own family. It had occurred to Sir Thomas, in one of his
dignified musings, as a right and desirable measure;
but before he absolutely made up his mind, he consulted
his son. Edmund considered it every way, and saw nothing
but what was right. The thing was good in itself,
and could not be done at a better time; and he had no doubt
of it being highly agreeable to Fanny. This was enough
to determine Sir Thomas; and a decisive "then so it shall be"
closed that stage of the business; Sir Thomas retiring
from it with some feelings of satisfaction, and views
of good over and above what he had communicated to his son;
for his prime motive in sending her away had very little
to do with the propriety of her seeing her parents again,
and nothing at all with any idea of making her happy.
He certainly wished her to go willingly, but he as certainly
wished her to be heartily sick of home before her visit ended;
and that a little abstinence from the elegancies and luxuries
of Mansfield Park would bring her mind into a sober state,
and incline her to a juster estimate of the value
of that home of greater permanence, and equal comfort,
of which she had the offer.
It was a medicinal project upon his niece's understanding,
which he must consider as at present diseased.
A residence of eight or nine years in the abode of wealth
and plenty had a little disordered her powers of comparing
and judging. Her father's house would, in all probability,
teach her the value of a good income; and he trusted that
she would be the wiser and happier woman, all her life,
for the experiment he had devised.
Had Fanny been at all addicted to raptures, she must have
had a strong attack of them when she first understood
what was intended, when her uncle first made her the offer
of visiting the parents, and brothers, and sisters,
from whom she had been divided almost half her life;
of returning for a couple of months to the scenes of
her infancy, with William for the protector and companion
of her journey, and the certainty of continuing to see
William to the last hour of his remaining on land.
Had she ever given way to bursts of delight, it must have
been then, for she was delighted, but her happiness was
of a quiet, deep, heart-swelling sort; and though never
a great talker, she was always more inclined to silence
when feeling most strongly. At the moment she could
only thank and accept. Afterwards, when familiarised
with the visions of enjoyment so suddenly opened, she could
speak more largely to William and Edmund of what she felt;
but still there were emotions of tenderness that could
not be clothed in words. The remembrance of all her
earliest pleasures, and of what she had suffered in being
torn from them, came over her with renewed strength,
and it seemed as if to be at home again would heal
every pain that had since grown out of the separation.
To be in the centre of such a circle, loved by so many,
and more loved by all than she had ever been before;
to feel affection without fear or restraint; to feel
herself the equal of those who surrounded her; to be at
peace from all mention of the Crawfords, safe from every
look which could be fancied a reproach on their account.
This was a prospect to be dwelt on with a fondness that could
be but half acknowledged.
Edmund, too--to be two months from _him_ (and perhaps
she might be allowed to make her absence three)
must do her good. At a distance, unassailed by his looks
or his kindness, and safe from the perpetual irritation
of knowing his heart, and striving to avoid his confidence,
she should be able to reason herself into a properer state;
she should be able to think of him as in London,
and arranging everything there, without wretchedness.
What might have been hard to bear at Mansfield was to become
a slight evil at Portsmouth.
The only drawback was the doubt of her aunt Bertram's being
comfortable without her. She was of use to no one else;
but _there_ she might be missed to a degree that she did
not like to think of; and that part of the arrangement
was, indeed, the hardest for Sir Thomas to accomplish,
and what only _he_ could have accomplished at all.
But he was master at Mansfield Park. When he had really
resolved on any measure, he could always carry it through;
and now by dint of long talking on the subject,
explaining and dwelling on the duty of Fanny's sometimes
seeing her family, he did induce his wife to let her go;
obtaining it rather from submission, however, than conviction,
for Lady Bertram was convinced of very little more than
that Sir Thomas thought Fanny ought to go, and therefore
that she must. In the calmness of her own dressing-room,
in the impartial flow of her own meditations, unbiassed by
his bewildering statements, she could not acknowledge any
necessity for Fanny's ever going near a father and mother
who had done without her so long, while she was so useful
to herself And as to the not missing her, which under
Mrs. Norris's discussion was the point attempted to be proved,
she set herself very steadily against admitting any such thing.
Sir Thomas had appealed to her reason, conscience, and dignity.
He called it a sacrifice, and demanded it of her goodness
and self-command as such. But Mrs. Norris wanted to persuade
her that Fanny could be very well spared--_she_ being
ready to give up all her own time to her as requested--
and, in short, could not really be wanted or missed.
"That may be, sister," was all Lady Bertram's reply.
"I dare say you are very right; but I am sure I shall miss
her very much."
The next step was to communicate with Portsmouth. Fanny wrote
to offer herself; and her mother's answer, though short,
was so kind--a few simple lines expressed so natural and
motherly a joy in the prospect of seeing her child again,
as to confirm all the daughter's views of happiness in
being with her--convincing her that she should now find
a warm and affectionate friend in the "mama" who had
certainly shewn no remarkable fondness for her formerly;
but this she could easily suppose to have been her own
fault or her own fancy. She had probably alienated love
by the helplessness and fretfulness of a fearful temper,
or been unreasonable in wanting a larger share than
any one among so many could deserve. Now, when she
knew better how to be useful, and how to forbear,
and when her mother could be no longer occupied by the
incessant demands of a house full of little children,
there would be leisure and inclination for every comfort,
and they should soon be what mother and daughter ought
to be to each other.
William was almost as happy in the plan as his sister.
It would be the greatest pleasure to him to have her there
to the last moment before he sailed, and perhaps find
her there still when he came in from his first cruise.
And besides, he wanted her so very much to see the Thrush
before she went out of harbour--the Thrush was certainly
the finest sloop in the service--and there were several
improvements in the dockyard, too, which he quite longed to
He did not scruple to add that her being at home
for a while would be a great advantage to everybody.
"I do not know how it is," said he; "but we seem to want
some of your nice ways and orderliness at my father's. The
house is always in confusion. You will set things going
in a better way, I am sure. You will tell my mother how it
all ought to be, and you will be so useful to Susan, and you
will teach Betsey, and make the boys love and mind you.
How right and comfortable it will all be!"
By the time Mrs. Price's answer arrived, there remained
but a very few days more to be spent at Mansfield;
and for part of one of those days the young travellers
were in a good deal of alarm on the subject of their
journey, for when the mode of it came to be talked of,
and Mrs. Norris found that all her anxiety to save her
brother-in-law's money was vain, and that in spite of her
wishes and hints for a less expensive conveyance of Fanny,
they were to travel post; when she saw Sir Thomas actually
give William notes for the purpose, she was struck with
the idea of there being room for a third in the carriage,
and suddenly seized with a strong inclination to go
with them, to go and see her poor dear sister Price.
She proclaimed her thoughts. She must say that she
had more than half a mind to go with the young people;
it would be such an indulgence to her; she had not seen
her poor dear sister Price for more than twenty years;
and it would be a help to the young people in their journey
to have her older head to manage for them; and she could
not help thinking her poor dear sister Price would feel it
very unkind of her not to come by such an opportunity.
William and Fanny were horror-struck at the idea.
All the comfort of their comfortable journey would
be destroyed at once. With woeful countenances they
looked at each other. Their suspense lasted an hour
or two. No one interfered to encourage or dissuade.
Mrs. Norris was left to settle the matter by herself;
and it ended, to the infinite joy of her nephew and niece,
in the recollection that she could not possibly be spared
from Mansfield Park at present; that she was a great deal
too necessary to Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram for her to be
able to answer it to herself to leave them even for a week,
and therefore must certainly sacrifice every other pleasure
to that of being useful to them.
It had, in fact, occurred to her, that though taken
to Portsmouth for nothing, it would be hardly possible
for her to avoid paying her own expenses back again.
So her poor dear sister Price was left to all the
disappointment of her missing such an opportunity,
and another twenty years' absence, perhaps, begun.
Edmund's plans were affected by this Portsmouth journey,
this absence of Fanny's. He too had a sacrifice to make
to Mansfield Park as well as his aunt. He had intended,
about this time, to be going to London; but he could
not leave his father and mother just when everybody else
of most importance to their comfort was leaving them;
and with an effort, felt but not boasted of, he delayed
for a week or two longer a journey which he was looking
forward to with the hope of its fixing his happiness
He told Fanny of it. She knew so much already,
that she must know everything. It made the substance
of one other confidential discourse about Miss Crawford;
and Fanny was the more affected from feeling it to be
the last time in which Miss Crawford's name would ever
be mentioned between them with any remains of liberty.
Once afterwards she was alluded to by him. Lady Bertram had
been telling her niece in the evening to write to her soon
and often, and promising to be a good correspondent herself;
and Edmund, at a convenient moment, then added in a whisper,
"And _I_ shall write to you, Fanny, when I have anything
worth writing about, anything to say that I think you
will like to hear, and that you will not hear so soon
from any other quarter." Had she doubted his meaning
while she listened, the glow in his face, when she looked
up at him, would have been decisive.
For this letter she must try to arm herself. That a
letter from Edmund should be a subject of terror!
She began to feel that she had not yet gone through all
the changes of opinion and sentiment which the progress
of time and variation of circumstances occasion in this
world of changes. The vicissitudes of the human mind
had not yet been exhausted by her.
Poor Fanny! though going as she did willingly and eagerly,
the last evening at Mansfield Park must still
be wretchedness. Her heart was completely sad at parting.
She had tears for every room in the house, much more
for every beloved inhabitant. She clung to her aunt,
because she would miss her; she kissed the hand of her
uncle with struggling sobs, because she had displeased him;
and as for Edmund, she could neither speak, nor look,
nor think, when the last moment came with _him_; and it
was not till it was over that she knew he was giving
her the affectionate farewell of a brother.
All this passed overnight, for the journey was to
begin very early in the morning; and when the small,
diminished party met at breakfast, William and Fanny
were talked of as already advanced one stage.
The novelty of travelling, and the happiness of being
with William, soon produced their natural effect on
Fanny's spirits, when Mansfield Park was fairly left behind;
and by the time their first stage was ended, and they
were to quit Sir Thomas's carriage, she was able to take
leave of the old coachman, and send back proper messages,
with cheerful looks.
Of pleasant talk between the brother and sister there
was no end. Everything supplied an amusement to the high
glee of William's mind, and he was full of frolic and
joke in the intervals of their higher-toned subjects,
all of which ended, if they did not begin, in praise
of the Thrush, conjectures how she would be employed,
schemes for an action with some superior force,
which (supposing the first lieutenant out of the way,
and William was not very merciful to the first lieutenant)
was to give himself the next step as soon as possible,
or speculations upon prize-money, which was to be generously
distributed at home, with only the reservation of enough
to make the little cottage comfortable, in which he and Fanny
were to pass all their middle and later life together.
Fanny's immediate concerns, as far as they involved
Mr. Crawford, made no part of their conversation.
William knew what had passed, and from his heart lamented
that his sister's feelings should be so cold towards a man
whom he must consider as the first of human characters;
but he was of an age to be all for love, and therefore
unable to blame; and knowing her wish on the subject,
he would not distress her by the slightest allusion.
She had reason to suppose herself not yet forgotten by
Mr. Crawford. She had heard repeatedly from his sister within
the three weeks which had passed since their leaving Mansfield,
and in each letter there had been a few lines from himself,
warm and determined like his speeches. It was a correspondence
which Fanny found quite as unpleasant as she had feared.
Miss Crawford's style of writing, lively and affectionate,
was itself an evil, independent of what she was thus
forced into reading from the brother's pen, for Edmund
would never rest till she had read the chief of the letter
to him; and then she had to listen to his admiration
of her language, and the warmth of her attachments.
There had, in fact, been so much of message, of allusion,
of recollection, so much of Mansfield in every letter,
that Fanny could not but suppose it meant for him to hear;
and to find herself forced into a purpose of that kind,
compelled into a correspondence which was bringing her
the addresses of the man she did not love, and obliging
her to administer to the adverse passion of the man she did,
was cruelly mortifying. Here, too, her present removal
promised advantage. When no longer under the same roof
with Edmund, she trusted that Miss Crawford would have no
motive for writing strong enough to overcome the trouble,
and that at Portsmouth their correspondence would dwindle
With such thoughts as these, among ten hundred others,
Fanny proceeded in her journey safely and cheerfully,
and as expeditiously as could rationally be hoped
in the dirty month of February. They entered Oxford,
but she could take only a hasty glimpse of Edmund's
college as they passed along, and made no stop anywhere
till they reached Newbury, where a comfortable meal,
uniting dinner and supper, wound up the enjoyments and
fatigues of the day.
The next morning saw them off again at an early hour;
and with no events, and no delays, they regularly advanced,
and were in the environs of Portsmouth while there was yet
daylight for Fanny to look around her, and wonder at the
new buildings. They passed the drawbridge, and entered
the town; and the light was only beginning to fail as,
guided by William's powerful voice, they were rattled
into a narrow street, leading from the High Street,
and drawn up before the door of a small house now inhabited
by Mr. Price.
Fanny was all agitation and flutter; all hope and apprehension.
The moment they stopped, a trollopy-looking maidservant,
seemingly in waiting for them at the door, stepped forward,
and more intent on telling the news than giving them any help,
immediately began with, "The Thrush is gone out of harbour,
please sir, and one of the officers has been here to--"
She was interrupted by a fine tall boy of eleven years old,
who, rushing out of the house, pushed the maid aside,
and while William was opening the chaise-door himself,
called out, "You are just in time. We have been looking
for you this half-hour. The Thrush went out of harbour
this morning. I saw her. It was a beautiful sight.
And they think she will have her orders in a day or two.
And Mr. Campbell was here at four o'clock to ask for you:
he has got one of the Thrush's boats, and is going off
to her at six, and hoped you would be here in time to go
A stare or two at Fanny, as William helped her out of
the carriage, was all the voluntary notice which this
brother bestowed; but he made no objection to her
kissing him, though still entirely engaged in detailing
farther particulars of the Thrush's going out of harbour,
in which he had a strong right of interest, being to
commence his career of seamanship in her at this very time.
Another moment and Fanny was in the narrow entrance-passage
of the house, and in her mother's arms, who met her
there with looks of true kindness, and with features
which Fanny loved the more, because they brought her aunt
Bertram's before her, and there were her two sisters:
Susan, a well-grown fine girl of fourteen, and Betsey,
the youngest of the family, about five--both glad to see
her in their way, though with no advantage of manner
in receiving her. But manner Fanny did not want.
Would they but love her, she should be satisfied.
She was then taken into a parlour, so small that her
first conviction was of its being only a passage-room
to something better, and she stood for a moment expecting
to be invited on; but when she saw there was no other door,
and that there were signs of habitation before her,
she called back her thoughts, reproved herself, and grieved
lest they should have been suspected. Her mother,
however, could not stay long enough to suspect anything.
She was gone again to the street-door, to welcome William.
"Oh! my dear William, how glad I am to see you.
But have you heard about the Thrush? She is gone out of
harbour already; three days before we had any thought of it;
and I do not know what I am to do about Sam's things,
they will never be ready in time; for she may have her orders
to-morrow, perhaps. It takes me quite unawares. And now
you must be off for Spithead too. Campbell has been here,
quite in a worry about you; and now what shall we do?
I thought to have had such a comfortable evening with you,
and here everything comes upon me at once."
Her son answered cheerfully, telling her that everything
was always for the best; and making light of his own
inconvenience in being obliged to hurry away so soon.
"To be sure, I had much rather she had stayed in harbour,
that I might have sat a few hours with you in comfort;
but as there is a boat ashore, I had better go off at once,
and there is no help for it. Whereabouts does the Thrush
lay at Spithead? Near the Canopus? But no matter;
here's Fanny in the parlour, and why should we stay in
the passage? Come, mother, you have hardly looked at your
own dear Fanny yet."
In they both came, and Mrs. Price having kindly kissed
her daughter again, and commented a little on her growth,
began with very natural solicitude to feel for their
fatigues and wants as travellers.
"Poor dears! how tired you must both be! and now,
what will you have? I began to think you would never come.
Betsey and I have been watching for you this half-hour.
And when did you get anything to eat? And what would you
like to have now? I could not tell whether you would be
for some meat, or only a dish of tea, after your journey,
or else I would have got something ready. And now I
am afraid Campbell will be here before there is time
to dress a steak, and we have no butcher at hand.
It is very inconvenient to have no butcher in the street.
We were better off in our last house. Perhaps you would
like some tea as soon as it can be got."
They both declared they should prefer it to anything.
"Then, Betsey, my dear, run into the kitchen and see if Rebecca
has put the water on; and tell her to bring in the tea-things
as soon as she can. I wish we could get the bell mended;
but Betsey is a very handy little messenger."
Betsey went with alacrity, proud to shew her abilities
before her fine new sister.
"Dear me!" continued the anxious mother, "what a sad
fire we have got, and I dare say you are both starved
with cold. Draw your chair nearer, my dear. I cannot
think what Rebecca has been about. I am sure I told her
to bring some coals half an hour ago. Susan, you should
have taken care of the fire."
"I was upstairs, mama, moving my things," said Susan,
in a fearless, self-defending tone, which startled Fanny.
"You know you had but just settled that my sister Fanny
and I should have the other room; and I could not get
Rebecca to give me any help."
Farther discussion was prevented by various bustles:
first, the driver came to be paid; then there was a squabble
between Sam and Rebecca about the manner of carrying up
his sister's trunk, which he would manage all his own way;
and lastly, in walked Mr. Price himself, his own loud
voice preceding him, as with something of the oath kind
he kicked away his son's port-manteau and his daughter's
bandbox in the passage, and called out for a candle;
no candle was brought, however, and he walked into the room.
Fanny with doubting feelings had risen to meet him,
but sank down again on finding herself undistinguished
in the dusk, and unthought of. With a friendly shake
of his son's hand, and an eager voice, he instantly began--
"Ha! welcome back, my boy. Glad to see you. Have you heard
the news? The Thrush went out of harbour this morning.
Sharp is the word, you see! By G--, you are just in time!
The doctor has been here inquiring for you: he has got
one of the boats, and is to be off for Spithead by six,
so you had better go with him. I have been to Turner's
about your mess; it is all in a way to be done.
I should not wonder if you had your orders to-morrow:
but you cannot sail with this wind, if you are to cruise
to the westward; and Captain Walsh thinks you will certainly
have a cruise to the westward, with the Elephant.
By G--, I wish you may! But old Scholey was saying,
just now, that he thought you would be sent first to
the Texel. Well, well, we are ready, whatever happens.
But by G--, you lost a fine sight by not being here
in the morning to see the Thrush go out of harbour!
I would not have been out of the way for a thousand pounds.
Old Scholey ran in at breakfast-time, to say she had
slipped her moorings and was coming out, I jumped up,
and made but two steps to the platform. If ever there
was a perfect beauty afloat, she is one; and there she lays
at Spithead, and anybody in England would take her for an
eight-and-twenty. I was upon the platform two hours this
afternoon looking at her. She lays close to the Endymion,
between her and the Cleopatra, just to the eastward of the
"Ha!" cried William, "_that's_ just where I should have
put her myself. It's the best berth at Spithead.
But here is my sister, sir; here is Fanny," turning and
leading her forward; "it is so dark you do not see her."
With an acknowledgment that he had quite forgot her,
Mr. Price now received his daughter; and having given
her a cordial hug, and observed that she was grown into
a woman, and he supposed would be wanting a husband soon,
seemed very much inclined to forget her again.
Fanny shrunk back to her seat, with feelings sadly
pained by his language and his smell of spirits;
and he talked on only to his son, and only of the Thrush,
though William, warmly interested as he was in that subject,
more than once tried to make his father think of Fanny,
and her long absence and long journey.
After sitting some time longer, a candle was obtained;
but as there was still no appearance of tea, nor, from
Betsey's reports from the kitchen, much hope of any under
a considerable period, William determined to go and change
his dress, and make the necessary preparations for his removal
on board directly, that he might have his tea in comfort
As he left the room, two rosy-faced boys, ragged and dirty,
about eight and nine years old, rushed into it just released
from school, and coming eagerly to see their sister,
and tell that the Thrush was gone out of harbour;
Tom and Charles. Charles had been born since Fanny's
going away, but Tom she had often helped to nurse,
and now felt a particular pleasure in seeing again.
Both were kissed very tenderly, but Tom she wanted
to keep by her, to try to trace the features of the baby
she had loved, and talked to, of his infant preference
of herself. Tom, however, had no mind for such treatment:
he came home not to stand and be talked to, but to run about
and make a noise; and both boys had soon burst from her,
and slammed the parlour-door till her temples ached.
She had now seen all that were at home; there remained
only two brothers between herself and Susan,
one of whom was a clerk in a public office in London,
and the other midshipman on board an Indiaman.
But though she had _seen_ all the members of the family,
she had not yet _heard_ all the noise they could make.
Another quarter of an hour brought her a great deal more.
William was soon calling out from the landing-place
of the second story for his mother and for Rebecca.
He was in distress for something that he had left there,
and did not find again. A key was mislaid, Betsey accused
of having got at his new hat, and some slight, but essential
alteration of his uniform waistcoat, which he had been
promised to have done for him, entirely neglected.
Mrs. Price, Rebecca, and Betsey all went up to defend themselves,
all talking together, but Rebecca loudest, and the job
was to be done as well as it could in a great hurry;
William trying in vain to send Betsey down again, or keep
her from being troublesome where she was; the whole of which,
as almost every door in the house was open, could be plainly
distinguished in the parlour, except when drowned at intervals
by the superior noise of Sam, Tom, and Charles chasing
each other up and down stairs, and tumbling about and hallooing.
Fanny was almost stunned. The smallness of the house
and thinness of the walls brought everything so close
to her, that, added to the fatigue of her journey, and all
her recent agitation, she hardly knew how to bear it.
_Within_ the room all was tranquil enough, for Susan having
disappeared with the others, there were soon only her father
and herself remaining; and he, taking out a newspaper,
the accustomary loan of a neighbour, applied himself to
studying it, without seeming to recollect her existence.
The solitary candle was held between himself and the paper,
without any reference to her possible convenience;
but she had nothing to do, and was glad to have the light
screened from her aching head, as she sat in bewildered,
broken, sorrowful contemplation.
She was at home. But, alas! it was not such a home,
she had not such a welcome, as--she checked herself;
she was unreasonable. What right had she to be of importance
to her family? She could have none, so long lost sight of!
William's concerns must be dearest, they always had been,
and he had every right. Yet to have so little said
or asked about herself, to have scarcely an inquiry made
after Mansfield! It did pain her to have Mansfield forgotten;
the friends who had done so much--the dear, dear friends!
But here, one subject swallowed up all the rest.
Perhaps it must be so. The destination of the Thrush
must be now preeminently interesting. A day or two
might shew the difference. _She_ only was to blame.
Yet she thought it would not have been so at Mansfield.
No, in her uncle's house there would have been a
consideration of times and seasons, a regulation of subject,
a propriety, an attention towards everybody which there
was not here.
The only interruption which thoughts like these received
for nearly half an hour was from a sudden burst of her
father's, not at all calculated to compose them. At a more
than ordinary pitch of thumping and hallooing in the passage,
he exclaimed, "Devil take those young dogs! How they are
singing out! Ay, Sam's voice louder than all the rest!
That boy is fit for a boatswain. Holla, you there!
Sam, stop your confounded pipe, or I shall be after you."
This threat was so palpably disregarded, that though
within five minutes afterwards the three boys all burst
into the room together and sat down, Fanny could not
consider it as a proof of anything more than their being
for the time thoroughly fagged, which their hot faces
and panting breaths seemed to prove, especially as they
were still kicking each other's shins, and hallooing
out at sudden starts immediately under their father's eye.
The next opening of the door brought something more welcome:
it was for the tea-things, which she had begun almost
to despair of seeing that evening. Susan and an
attendant girl, whose inferior appearance informed Fanny,
to her great surprise, that she had previously seen the
upper servant, brought in everything necessary for the meal;
Susan looking, as she put the kettle on the fire and glanced
at her sister, as if divided between the agreeable triumph
of shewing her activity and usefulness, and the dread
of being thought to demean herself by such an office.
"She had been into the kitchen," she said, "to hurry Sally
and help make the toast, and spread the bread and butter,
or she did not know when they should have got tea,
and she was sure her sister must want something after
Fanny was very thankful. She could not but own that she
should be very glad of a little tea, and Susan immediately
set about making it, as if pleased to have the employment
all to herself; and with only a little unnecessary bustle,
and some few injudicious attempts at keeping her brothers
in better order than she could, acquitted herself very well.
Fanny's spirit was as much refreshed as her body; her head
and heart were soon the better for such well-timed kindness.
Susan had an open, sensible countenance; she was like William,
and Fanny hoped to find her like him in disposition
and goodwill towards herself.
In this more placid state of things William reentered,
followed not far behind by his mother and Betsey.
He, complete in his lieutenant's uniform, looking and
moving all the taller, firmer, and more graceful for it,
and with the happiest smile over his face, walked up directly
to Fanny, who, rising from her seat, looked at him for a
moment in speechless admiration, and then threw her arms
round his neck to sob out her various emotions of pain and
Anxious not to appear unhappy, she soon recovered herself;
and wiping away her tears, was able to notice and admire
all the striking parts of his dress; listening with reviving
spirits to his cheerful hopes of being on shore some part
of every day before they sailed, and even of getting
her to Spithead to see the sloop.
The next bustle brought in Mr. Campbell, the surgeon
of the Thrush, a very well-behaved young man, who came
to call for his friend, and for whom there was with some
contrivance found a chair, and with some hasty washing of
the young tea-maker's, a cup and saucer; and after another
quarter of an hour of earnest talk between the gentlemen,
noise rising upon noise, and bustle upon bustle, men and
boys at last all in motion together, the moment came
for setting off; everything was ready, William took leave,
and all of them were gone; for the three boys, in spite
of their mother's entreaty, determined to see their brother
and Mr. Campbell to the sally-port; and Mr. Price walked
off at the same time to carry back his neighbour's newspaper.
Something like tranquillity might now be hoped for;
and accordingly, when Rebecca had been prevailed on
to carry away the tea-things, and Mrs. Price had walked
about the room some time looking for a shirt-sleeve, which
Betsey at last hunted out from a drawer in the kitchen,
the small party of females were pretty well composed,
and the mother having lamented again over the impossibility
of getting Sam ready in time, was at leisure to think
of her eldest daughter and the friends she had come from.
A few inquiries began: but one of the earliest--"How did
sister Bertram manage about her servants?" "Was she
as much plagued as herself to get tolerable servants?"--
soon led her mind away from Northamptonshire, and fixed it
on her own domestic grievances, and the shocking character
of all the Portsmouth servants, of whom she believed her
own two were the very worst, engrossed her completely.
The Bertrams were all forgotten in detailing the faults
of Rebecca, against whom Susan had also much to depose,
and little Betsey a great deal more, and who did seem
so thoroughly without a single recommendation, that Fanny
could not help modestly presuming that her mother meant
to part with her when her year was up.
"Her year!" cried Mrs. Price; "I am sure I hope I
shall be rid of her before she has staid a year,
for that will not be up till November. Servants are come
to such a pass, my dear, in Portsmouth, that it is quite
a miracle if one keeps them more than half a year.
I have no hope of ever being settled; and if I was to
part with Rebecca, I should only get something worse.
And yet I do not think I am a very difficult mistress
to please; and I am sure the place is easy enough,
for there is always a girl under her, and I often do half
the work myself."
Fanny was silent; but not from being convinced that there
might not be a remedy found for some of these evils.
As she now sat looking at Betsey, she could not but think
particularly of another sister, a very pretty little girl,
whom she had left there not much younger when she went
into Northamptonshire, who had died a few years afterwards.
There had been something remarkably amiable about her.
Fanny in those early days had preferred her to Susan;
and when the news of her death had at last reached Mansfield,
had for a short time been quite afflicted. The sight
of Betsey brought the image of little Mary back again,
but she would not have pained her mother by alluding to her
for the world. While considering her with these ideas,
Betsey, at a small distance, was holding out something to
catch her eyes, meaning to screen it at the same time from
"What have you got there, my love?" said Fanny;
"come and shew it to me."
It was a silver knife. Up jumped Susan, claiming it
as her own, and trying to get it away; but the child ran
to her mother's protection, and Susan could only reproach,
which she did very warmly, and evidently hoping to
interest Fanny on her side. "It was very hard that she
was not to have her _own_ knife; it was her own knife;
little sister Mary had left it to her upon her deathbed,
and she ought to have had it to keep herself long ago.
But mama kept it from her, and was always letting Betsey
get hold of it; and the end of it would be that Betsey
would spoil it, and get it for her own, though mama
had _promised_ her that Betsey should not have it in her
Fanny was quite shocked. Every feeling of duty,
honour, and tenderness was wounded by her sister's
speech and her mother's reply.
"Now, Susan," cried Mrs. Price, in a complaining voice,
"now, how can you be so cross? You are always quarrelling
about that knife. I wish you would not be so quarrelsome.
Poor little Betsey; how cross Susan is to you! But you
should not have taken it out, my dear, when I sent you
to the drawer. You know I told you not to touch it,
because Susan is so cross about it. I must hide it
another time, Betsey. Poor Mary little thought it would
be such a bone of contention when she gave it me to keep,
only two hours before she died. Poor little soul! she could
but just speak to be heard, and she said so prettily, 'Let sister
Susan have my knife, mama, when I am dead and buried.'
Poor little dear! she was so fond of it, Fanny, that she
would have it lay by her in bed, all through her illness.
It was the gift of her good godmother, old Mrs. Admiral
Maxwell, only six weeks before she was taken for death.
Poor little sweet creature! Well, she was taken away
from evil to come. My own Betsey" (fondling her),
"_you_ have not the luck of such a good godmother.
Aunt Norris lives too far off to think of such little
people as you."
Fanny had indeed nothing to convey from aunt Norris,
but a message to say she hoped that her god-daughter
was a good girl, and learnt her book. There had been
at one moment a slight murmur in the drawing-room
at Mansfield Park about sending her a prayer-book;
but no second sound had been heard of such a purpose.
Mrs. Norris, however, had gone home and taken down two
old prayer-books of her husband with that idea; but,
upon examination, the ardour of generosity went off.
One was found to have too small a print for a child's eyes,
and the other to be too cumbersome for her to carry about.
Fanny, fatigued and fatigued again, was thankful to accept
the first invitation of going to bed; and before Betsey
had finished her cry at being allowed to sit up only one
hour extraordinary in honour of sister, she was off,
leaving all below in confusion and noise again; the boys
begging for toasted cheese, her father calling out for his
rum and water, and Rebecca never where she ought to be.
There was nothing to raise her spirits in the confined
and scantily furnished chamber that she was to share
with Susan. The smallness of the rooms above and below,
indeed, and the narrowness of the passage and staircase,
struck her beyond her imagination. She soon learned to think
with respect of her own little attic at Mansfield Park,
in _that_ house reckoned too small for anybody's comfort.
Could Sir Thomas have seen all his niece's feelings,
when she wrote her first letter to her aunt, he would
not have despaired; for though a good night's rest,
a pleasant morning, the hope of soon seeing William again,
and the comparatively quiet state of the house, from Tom
and Charles being gone to school, Sam on some project of
his own, and her father on his usual lounges, enabled her
to express herself cheerfully on the subject of home,
there were still, to her own perfect consciousness,
many drawbacks suppressed. Could he have seen only half
that she felt before the end of a week, he would have
thought Mr. Crawford sure of her, and been delighted with
his own sagacity.
Before the week ended, it was all disappointment.
In the first place, William was gone. The Thrush
had had her orders, the wind had changed, and he was
sailed within four days from their reaching Portsmouth;
and during those days she had seen him only twice,
in a short and hurried way, when he had come ashore
on duty. There had been no free conversation, no walk
on the ramparts, no visit to the dockyard, no acquaintance
with the Thrush, nothing of all that they had planned
and depended on. Everything in that quarter failed her,
except William's affection. His last thought on leaving
home was for her. He stepped back again to the door
to say, "Take care of Fanny, mother. She is tender,
and not used to rough it like the rest of us. I charge you,
take care of Fanny."
William was gone: and the home he had left her in was,
Fanny could not conceal it from herself, in almost every
respect the very reverse of what she could have wished.
It was the abode of noise, disorder, and impropriety.
Nobody was in their right place, nothing was done as it ought
to be. She could not respect her parents as she had hoped.
On her father, her confidence had not been sanguine, but he
was more negligent of his family, his habits were worse,
and his manners coarser, than she had been prepared for.
He did not want abilities but he had no curiosity,
and no information beyond his profession; he read only
the newspaper and the navy-list; he talked only of
the dockyard, the harbour, Spithead, and the Motherbank;
he swore and he drank, he was dirty and gross.
She had never been able to recall anything approaching
to tenderness in his former treatment of herself.
There had remained only a general impression of roughness
and loudness; and now he scarcely ever noticed her,
but to make her the object of a coarse joke.
Her disappointment in her mother was greater:
_there_ she had hoped much, and found almost nothing.
Every flattering scheme of being of consequence to her
soon fell to the ground. Mrs. Price was not unkind;
but, instead of gaining on her affection and confidence,
and becoming more and more dear, her daughter never met
with greater kindness from her than on the first day of
her arrival. The instinct of nature was soon satisfied,
and Mrs. Price's attachment had no other source.
Her heart and her time were already quite full;
she had neither leisure nor affection to bestow on Fanny.
Her daughters never had been much to her. She was fond
of her sons, especially of William, but Betsey was the first
of her girls whom she had ever much regarded. To her she
was most injudiciously indulgent. William was her pride;
Betsey her darling; and John, Richard, Sam, Tom, and Charles
occupied all the rest of her maternal solicitude, alternately
her worries and her comforts. These shared her heart:
her time was given chiefly to her house and her servants.
Her days were spent in a kind of slow bustle; all was busy
without getting on, always behindhand and lamenting it,
without altering her ways; wishing to be an economist,
without contrivance or regularity; dissatisfied with
her servants, without skill to make them better,
and whether helping, or reprimanding, or indulging them,
without any power of engaging their respect.
Of her two sisters, Mrs. Price very much more resembled Lady
Bertram than Mrs. Norris. She was a manager by necessity,
without any of Mrs. Norris's inclination for it, or any
of her activity. Her disposition was naturally easy
and indolent, like Lady Bertram's; and a situation of similar
affluence and do-nothingness would have been much more
suited to her capacity than the exertions and self-denials
of the one which her imprudent marriage had placed her in.
She might have made just as good a woman of consequence
as Lady Bertram, but Mrs. Norris would have been a more
respectable mother of nine children on a small income.
Much of all this Fanny could not but be sensible of.
She might scruple to make use of the words, but she
must and did feel that her mother was a partial,
ill-judging parent, a dawdle, a slattern, who neither taught
nor restrained her children, whose house was the scene
of mismanagement and discomfort from beginning to end,
and who had no talent, no conversation, no affection
towards herself; no curiosity to know her better,
no desire of her friendship, and no inclination for her
company that could lessen her sense of such feelings.
Fanny was very anxious to be useful, and not to appear above
her home, or in any way disqualified or disinclined, by her
foreign education, from contributing her help to its comforts,
and therefore set about working for Sam immediately;
and by working early and late, with perseverance and
great despatch, did so much that the boy was shipped
off at last, with more than half his linen ready.
She had great pleasure in feeling her usefulness, but could
not conceive how they would have managed without her.
Sam, loud and overbearing as he was, she rather regretted
when he went, for he was clever and intelligent, and glad
to be employed in any errand in the town; and though
spurning the remonstrances of Susan, given as they were,
though very reasonable in themselves, with ill-timed
and powerless warmth, was beginning to be influenced
by Fanny's services and gentle persuasions; and she found
that the best of the three younger ones was gone in him:
Tom and Charles being at least as many years as they were
his juniors distant from that age of feeling and reason,
which might suggest the expediency of making friends,
and of endeavouring to be less disagreeable. Their sister
soon despaired of making the smallest impression on _them_;
they were quite untameable by any means of address which she
had spirits or time to attempt. Every afternoon brought
a return of their riotous games all over the house; and she
very early learned to sigh at the approach of Saturday's
Betsey, too, a spoiled child, trained up to think the
alphabet her greatest enemy, left to be with the servants
at her pleasure, and then encouraged to report any evil
of them, she was almost as ready to despair of being
able to love or assist; and of Susan's temper she had
many doubts. Her continual disagreements with her mother,
her rash squabbles with Tom and Charles, and petulance
with Betsey, were at least so distressing to Fanny that,
though admitting they were by no means without provocation,
she feared the disposition that could push them to such
length must be far from amiable, and from affording
any repose to herself.
Such was the home which was to put Mansfield out of
her head, and teach her to think of her cousin Edmund with
moderated feelings. On the contrary, she could think of
nothing but Mansfield, its beloved inmates, its happy ways.
Everything where she now was in full contrast to it.
The elegance, propriety, regularity, harmony, and perhaps,
above all, the peace and tranquillity of Mansfield,
were brought to her remembrance every hour of the day,
by the prevalence of everything opposite to them _here_.
The living in incessant noise was, to a frame and temper
delicate and nervous like Fanny's, an evil which no
superadded elegance or harmony could have entirely
atoned for. It was the greatest misery of all.
At Mansfield, no sounds of contention, no raised voice,
no abrupt bursts, no tread of violence, was ever heard;
all proceeded in a regular course of cheerful orderliness;
everybody had their due importance; everybody's feelings
were consulted. If tenderness could be ever supposed wanting,
good sense and good breeding supplied its place; and as to
the little irritations sometimes introduced by aunt Norris,
they were short, they were trifling, they were as a drop
of water to the ocean, compared with the ceaseless
tumult of her present abode. Here everybody was noisy,
every voice was loud (excepting, perhaps, her mother's,
which resembled the soft monotony of Lady Bertram's,
only worn into fretfulness). Whatever was wanted was
hallooed for, and the servants hallooed out their excuses
from the kitchen. The doors were in constant banging,
the stairs were never at rest, nothing was done without
a clatter, nobody sat still, and nobody could command
attention when they spoke.
In a review of the two houses, as they appeared to her
before the end of a week, Fanny was tempted to apply
to them Dr. Johnson's celebrated judgment as to matrimony
and celibacy, and say, that though Mansfield Park might
have some pains, Portsmouth could have no pleasures.
Fanny was right enough in not expecting to hear from Miss
Crawford now at the rapid rate in which their correspondence
had begun; Mary's next letter was after a decidedly longer
interval than the last, but she was not right in supposing
that such an interval would be felt a great relief
to herself. Here was another strange revolution of mind!
She was really glad to receive the letter when it did come.
In her present exile from good society, and distance from
everything that had been wont to interest her, a letter
from one belonging to the set where her heart lived,
written with affection, and some degree of elegance,
was thoroughly acceptable. The usual plea of increasing
engagements was made in excuse for not having
written to her earlier; "And now that I have begun,"
she continued, "my letter will not be worth your reading,
for there will be no little offering of love at the end,
no three or four lines _passionnees_ from the most
devoted H. C. in the world, for Henry is in Norfolk;
business called him to Everingham ten days ago,
or perhaps he only pretended to call, for the sake of being
travelling at the same time that you were. But there
he is, and, by the bye, his absence may sufficiently account
for any remissness of his sister's in writing, for there
has been no 'Well, Mary, when do you write to Fanny?
Is not it time for you to write to Fanny?' to spur me on.
At last, after various attempts at meeting, I have seen
your cousins, 'dear Julia and dearest Mrs. Rushworth';
they found me at home yesterday, and we were glad to
see each other again. We _seemed_ _very_ glad to see
each other, and I do really think we were a little.
We had a vast deal to say. Shall I tell you how
Mrs. Rushworth looked when your name was mentioned?
I did not use to think her wanting in self-possession,
but she had not quite enough for the demands of yesterday.
Upon the whole, Julia was in the best looks of the two,
at least after you were spoken of. There was no
recovering the complexion from the moment that I spoke
of 'Fanny,' and spoke of her as a sister should.
But Mrs. Rushworth's day of good looks will come;
we have cards for her first party on the 28th. Then she
will be in beauty, for she will open one of the best
houses in Wimpole Street. I was in it two years ago,
when it was Lady Lascelle's, and prefer it to almost
any I know in London, and certainly she will then feel,
to use a vulgar phrase, that she has got her pennyworth
for her penny. Henry could not have afforded her such
a house. I hope she will recollect it, and be satisfied,
as well as she may, with moving the queen of a palace,
though the king may appear best in the background;
and as I have no desire to tease her, I shall never _force_
your name upon her again. She will grow sober by degrees.
From all that I hear and guess, Baron Wildenheim's
attentions to Julia continue, but I do not know that he
has any serious encouragement. She ought to do better.
A poor honourable is no catch, and I cannot imagine any
liking in the case, for take away his rants, and the poor
baron has nothing. What a difference a vowel makes!
If his rents were but equal to his rants! Your cousin
Edmund moves slowly; detained, perchance, by parish duties.
There may be some old woman at Thornton Lacey to be converted.
I am unwilling to fancy myself neglected for a _young_ one.
Adieu! my dear sweet Fanny, this is a long letter from London:
write me a pretty one in reply to gladden Henry's eyes,
when he comes back, and send me an account of all the dashing
young captains whom you disdain for his sake."
There was great food for meditation in this letter,
and chiefly for unpleasant meditation; and yet, with all
the uneasiness it supplied, it connected her with the absent,
it told her of people and things about whom she had never
felt so much curiosity as now, and she would have been
glad to have been sure of such a letter every week.
Her correspondence with her aunt Bertram was her only
concern of higher interest.
As for any society in Portsmouth, that could at all make
amends for deficiencies at home, there were none within
the circle of her father's and mother's acquaintance
to afford her the smallest satisfaction: she saw nobody
in whose favour she could wish to overcome her own
shyness and reserve. The men appeared to her all coarse,
the women all pert, everybody underbred; and she gave
as little contentment as she received from introductions
either to old or new acquaintance. The young ladies who
approached her at first with some respect, in consideration
of her coming from a baronet's family, were soon offended
by what they termed "airs"; for, as she neither played
on the pianoforte nor wore fine pelisses, they could,
on farther observation, admit no right of superiority.
The first solid consolation which Fanny received for
the evils of home, the first which her judgment could
entirely approve, and which gave any promise of durability,
was in a better knowledge of Susan, and a hope of being
of service to her. Susan had always behaved pleasantly
to herself, but the determined character of her general
manners had astonished and alarmed her, and it was at least
a fortnight before she began to understand a disposition
so totally different from her own. Susan saw that much
was wrong at home, and wanted to set it right. That a girl
of fourteen, acting only on her own unassisted reason,
should err in the method of reform, was not wonderful;
and Fanny soon became more disposed to admire the natural
light of the mind which could so early distinguish justly,
than to censure severely the faults of conduct to which it led.
Susan was only acting on the same truths, and pursuing
the same system, which her own judgment acknowledged,
but which her more supine and yielding temper would
have shrunk from asserting. Susan tried to be useful,
where _she_ could only have gone away and cried; and that
Susan was useful she could perceive; that things, bad as
they were, would have been worse but for such interposition,
and that both her mother and Betsey were restrained from
some excesses of very offensive indulgence and vulgarity.
In every argument with her mother, Susan had in point
of reason the advantage, and never was there any maternal
tenderness to buy her off. The blind fondness which was
for ever producing evil around her she had never known.
There was no gratitude for affection past or present
to make her better bear with its excesses to the others.
All this became gradually evident, and gradually placed
Susan before her sister as an object of mingled compassion
and respect. That her manner was wrong, however, at times
very wrong, her measures often ill-chosen and ill-timed,
and her looks and language very often indefensible,
Fanny could not cease to feel; but she began to hope they
might be rectified. Susan, she found, looked up to her
and wished for her good opinion; and new as anything like an
office of authority was to Fanny, new as it was to imagine
herself capable of guiding or informing any one, she did
resolve to give occasional hints to Susan, and endeavour
to exercise for her advantage the juster notions of what was
due to everybody, and what would be wisest for herself,
which her own more favoured education had fixed in her.
Her influence, or at least the consciousness and use of it,
originated in an act of kindness by Susan, which, after many
hesitations of delicacy, she at last worked herself up to.
It had very early occurred to her that a small sum
of money might, perhaps, restore peace for ever on the
sore subject of the silver knife, canvassed as it now
was continually, and the riches which she was in possession
of herself, her uncle having given her 10 at parting,
made her as able as she was willing to be generous.
But she was so wholly unused to confer favours,
except on the very poor, so unpractised in removing evils,
or bestowing kindnesses among her equals, and so fearful
of appearing to elevate herself as a great lady at home,
that it took some time to determine that it would not be
unbecoming in her to make such a present. It was made,
however, at last: a silver knife was bought for Betsey,
and accepted with great delight, its newness giving it
every advantage over the other that could be desired;
Susan was established in the full possession of her own,
Betsey handsomely declaring that now she had got one so much
prettier herself, she should never want _that_ again; and no
reproach seemed conveyed to the equally satisfied mother,
which Fanny had almost feared to be impossible. The deed
thoroughly answered: a source of domestic altercation
was entirely done away, and it was the means of opening
Susan's heart to her, and giving her something more to love
and be interested in. Susan shewed that she had delicacy:
pleased as she was to be mistress of property which she
had been struggling for at least two years, she yet
feared that her sister's judgment had been against her,
and that a reproof was designed her for having so struggled
as to make the purchase necessary for the tranquillity of
Her temper was open. She acknowledged her fears,
blamed herself for having contended so warmly;
and from that hour Fanny, understanding the worth of her
disposition and perceiving how fully she was inclined
to seek her good opinion and refer to her judgment,
began to feel again the blessing of affection, and to
entertain the hope of being useful to a mind so much in
need of help, and so much deserving it. She gave advice,
advice too sound to be resisted by a good understanding,
and given so mildly and considerately as not to irritate
an imperfect temper, and she had the happiness of observing
its good effects not unfrequently. More was not expected
by one who, while seeing all the obligation and expediency
of submission and forbearance, saw also with sympathetic
acuteness of feeling all that must be hourly grating
to a girl like Susan. Her greatest wonder on the subject
soon became--not that Susan should have been provoked into
disrespect and impatience against her better knowledge--
but that so much better knowledge, so many good notions
should have been hers at all; and that, brought up in the
midst of negligence and error, she should have formed
such proper opinions of what ought to be; she, who had
had no cousin Edmund to direct her thoughts or fix her principles.
The intimacy thus begun between them was a material
advantage to each. By sitting together upstairs,
they avoided a great deal of the disturbance of the house;
Fanny had peace, and Susan learned to think it no
misfortune to be quietly employed. They sat without
a fire; but that was a privation familiar even to Fanny,
and she suffered the less because reminded by it of
the East room. It was the only point of resemblance.
In space, light, furniture, and prospect, there was nothing
alike in the two apartments; and she often heaved a sigh
at the remembrance of all her books and boxes, and various
comforts there. By degrees the girls came to spend the
chief of the morning upstairs, at first only in working
and talking, but after a few days, the remembrance of the
said books grew so potent and stimulative that Fanny found
it impossible not to try for books again. There were none
in her father's house; but wealth is luxurious and daring,
and some of hers found its way to a circulating library.
She became a subscriber; amazed at being anything _in_
_propria_ _persona_, amazed at her own doings in every way,
to be a renter, a chuser of books! And to be having any
one's improvement in view in her choice! But so it was.
Susan had read nothing, and Fanny longed to give her
a share in her own first pleasures, and inspire a taste
for the biography and poetry which she delighted in herself.
In this occupation she hoped, moreover, to bury some
of the recollections of Mansfield, which were too apt
to seize her mind if her fingers only were busy;
and, especially at this time, hoped it might be useful
in diverting her thoughts from pursuing Edmund to London,
whither, on the authority of her aunt's last letter,
she knew he was gone. She had no doubt of what would ensue.
The promised notification was hanging over her head.
The postman's knock within the neighbourhood was beginning
to bring its daily terrors, and if reading could banish
the idea for even half an hour, it was something gained.
A week was gone since Edmund might be supposed
in town, and Fanny had heard nothing of him.
There were three different conclusions to be drawn from
his silence, between which her mind was in fluctuation;
each of them at times being held the most probable.
Either his going had been again delayed, or he had yet
procured no opportunity of seeing Miss Crawford alone,
or he was too happy for letter-writing!
One morning, about this time, Fanny having now been nearly
four weeks from Mansfield, a point which she never failed
to think over and calculate every day, as she and Susan
were preparing to remove, as usual, upstairs, they were
stopped by the knock of a visitor, whom they felt they could
not avoid, from Rebecca's alertness in going to the door,
a duty which always interested her beyond any other.
It was a gentleman's voice; it was a voice that Fanny
was just turning pale about, when Mr. Crawford walked
into the room.
Good sense, like hers, will always act when really
called upon; and she found that she had been able to name
him to her mother, and recall her remembrance of the name,
as that of "William's friend," though she could not
previously have believed herself capable of uttering a
syllable at such a moment. The consciousness of his being
known there only as William's friend was some support.
Having introduced him, however, and being all reseated,
the terrors that occurred of what this visit might lead
to were overpowering, and she fancied herself on the point
of fainting away.
While trying to keep herself alive, their visitor, who had
at first approached her with as animated a countenance
as ever, was wisely and kindly keeping his eyes away,
and giving her time to recover, while he devoted himself
entirely to her mother, addressing her, and attending to
her with the utmost politeness and propriety, at the same
time with a degree of friendliness, of interest at least,
which was making his manner perfect.
Mrs. Price's manners were also at their best. Warmed by
the sight of such a friend to her son, and regulated
by the wish of appearing to advantage before him, she was
overflowing with gratitude--artless, maternal gratitude--
which could not be unpleasing. Mr. Price was out,
which she regretted very much. Fanny was just recovered
enough to feel that _she_ could not regret it; for to her
many other sources of uneasiness was added the severe
one of shame for the home in which he found her.
She might scold herself for the weakness, but there was
no scolding it away. She was ashamed, and she would have
been yet more ashamed of her father than of all the rest.
They talked of William, a subject on which Mrs. Price
could never tire; and Mr. Crawford was as warm in his
commendation as even her heart could wish. She felt
that she had never seen so agreeable a man in her life;
and was only astonished to find that, so great and so
agreeable as he was, he should be come down to Portsmouth
neither on a visit to the port-admiral, nor the commissioner,
nor yet with the intention of going over to the island,
nor of seeing the dockyard. Nothing of all that she
had been used to think of as the proof of importance,
or the employment of wealth, had brought him to Portsmouth.
He had reached it late the night before, was come for a
day or two, was staying at the Crown, had accidentally
met with a navy officer or two of his acquaintance since
his arrival, but had no object of that kind in coming.
By the time he had given all this information, it was not
unreasonable to suppose that Fanny might be looked at
and spoken to; and she was tolerably able to bear his eye,
and hear that he had spent half an hour with his sister
the evening before his leaving London; that she had sent
her best and kindest love, but had had no time for writing;
that he thought himself lucky in seeing Mary for even half
an hour, having spent scarcely twenty-four hours in London,
after his return from Norfolk, before he set off again;
that her cousin Edmund was in town, had been in town,
he understood, a few days; that he had not seen him himself,
but that he was well, had left them all well at Mansfield,
and was to dine, as yesterday, with the Frasers.
Fanny listened collectedly, even to the last-mentioned
circumstance; nay, it seemed a relief to her worn
mind to be at any certainty; and the words, "then by
this time it is all settled," passed internally,
without more evidence of emotion than a faint blush.
After talking a little more about Mansfield, a subject
in which her interest was most apparent, Crawford began
to hint at the expediency of an early walk. "It was a
lovely morning, and at that season of the year a fine morning
so often turned off, that it was wisest for everybody not
to delay their exercise"; and such hints producing nothing,
he soon proceeded to a positive recommendation to Mrs. Price
and her daughters to take their walk without loss of time.
Now they came to an understanding. Mrs. Price, it appeared,
scarcely ever stirred out of doors, except of a Sunday;
she owned she could seldom, with her large family,
find time for a walk. "Would she not, then, persuade her
daughters to take advantage of such weather, and allow
him the pleasure of attending them?" Mrs. Price was
greatly obliged and very complying. "Her daughters
were very much confined; Portsmouth was a sad place;
they did not often get out; and she knew they had some
errands in the town, which they would be very glad to do."
And the consequence was, that Fanny, strange as it was--
strange, awkward, and distressing--found herself and Susan,
within ten minutes, walking towards the High Street
with Mr. Crawford.
It was soon pain upon pain, confusion upon confusion;
for they were hardly in the High Street before they met
her father, whose appearance was not the better from its
being Saturday. He stopt; and, ungentlemanlike as he looked,
Fanny was obliged to introduce him to Mr. Crawford.
She could not have a doubt of the manner in which
Mr. Crawford must be struck. He must be ashamed
and disgusted altogether. He must soon give her up,
and cease to have the smallest inclination for the match;
and yet, though she had been so much wanting his affection
to be cured, this was a sort of cure that would be almost
as bad as the complaint; and I believe there is scarcely
a young lady in the United Kingdoms who would not rather
put up with the misfortune of being sought by a clever,
agreeable man, than have him driven away by the vulgarity
of her nearest relations.
Mr. Crawford probably could not regard his future
father-in-law with any idea of taking him for a model
in dress; but (as Fanny instantly, and to her great
relief, discerned) her father was a very different man,
a very different Mr. Price in his behaviour to this most
highly respected stranger, from what he was in his own
family at home. His manners now, though not polished,
were more than passable: they were grateful, animated, manly;
his expressions were those of an attached father,
and a sensible man; his loud tones did very well in the
open air, and there was not a single oath to be heard.
Such was his instinctive compliment to the good manners
of Mr. Crawford; and, be the consequence what it might,
Fanny's immediate feelings were infinitely soothed.
The conclusion of the two gentlemen's civilities was an offer
of Mr. Price's to take Mr. Crawford into the dockyard,
which Mr. Crawford, desirous of accepting as a favour
what was intended as such, though he had seen the dockyard
again and again, and hoping to be so much the longer
with Fanny, was very gratefully disposed to avail himself of,
if the Miss Prices were not afraid of the fatigue;
and as it was somehow or other ascertained, or inferred,
or at least acted upon, that they were not at all afraid,
to the dockyard they were all to go; and but for
Mr. Crawford, Mr. Price would have turned thither directly,
without the smallest consideration for his daughters'
errands in the High Street. He took care, however, that they
should be allowed to go to the shops they came out expressly
to visit; and it did not delay them long, for Fanny could
so little bear to excite impatience, or be waited for,
that before the gentlemen, as they stood at the door,
could do more than begin upon the last naval regulations,
or settle the number of three-deckers now in commission,
their companions were ready to proceed.
They were then to set forward for the dockyard at once,
and the walk would have been conducted--according to
Mr. Crawford's opinion--in a singular manner,
had Mr. Price been allowed the entire regulation of it,
as the two girls, he found, would have been left
to follow, and keep up with them or not, as they could,
while they walked on together at their own hasty pace.
He was able to introduce some improvement occasionally,
though by no means to the extent he wished; he absolutely
would not walk away from them; and at any crossing
or any crowd, when Mr. Price was only calling out,
"Come, girls; come, Fan; come, Sue, take care of yourselves;
keep a sharp lookout!" he would give them his particular
Once fairly in the dockyard, he began to reckon upon
some happy intercourse with Fanny, as they were very soon
joined by a brother lounger of Mr. Price's, who was come
to take his daily survey of how things went on, and who
must prove a far more worthy companion than himself;
and after a time the two officers seemed very well satisfied
going about together, and discussing matters of equal
and never-failing interest, while the young people sat down
upon some timbers in the yard, or found a seat on board
a vessel in the stocks which they all went to look at.
Fanny was most conveniently in want of rest. Crawford could
not have wished her more fatigued or more ready to sit down;
but he could have wished her sister away. A quick-looking
girl of Susan's age was the very worst third in the world:
totally different from Lady Bertram, all eyes and ears;
and there was no introducing the main point before her.
He must content himself with being only generally agreeable,
and letting Susan have her share of entertainment,
with the indulgence, now and then, of a look or hint
for the better-informed and conscious Fanny. Norfolk was
what he had mostly to talk of: there he had been some time,
and everything there was rising in importance from his
present schemes. Such a man could come from no place,
no society, without importing something to amuse;
his journeys and his acquaintance were all of use,
and Susan was entertained in a way quite new to her.
For Fanny, somewhat more was related than the accidental
agreeableness of the parties he had been in.
For her approbation, the particular reason of his going into
Norfolk at all, at this unusual time of year, was given.
It had been real business, relative to the renewal of a
lease in which the welfare of a large and--he believed--
industrious family was at stake. He had suspected his
agent of some underhand dealing; of meaning to bias him
against the deserving; and he had determined to go himself,
and thoroughly investigate the merits of the case.
He had gone, had done even more good than he had foreseen,
had been useful to more than his first plan had comprehended,
and was now able to congratulate himself upon it, and to
feel that in performing a duty, he had secured agreeable
recollections for his own mind. He had introduced himself
to some tenants whom he had never seen before; he had begun
making acquaintance with cottages whose very existence,
though on his own estate, had been hitherto unknown to him.
This was aimed, and well aimed, at Fanny. It was pleasing
to hear him speak so properly; here he had been acting
as he ought to do. To be the friend of the poor and
the oppressed! Nothing could be more grateful to her;
and she was on the point of giving him an approving look,
when it was all frightened off by his adding a something
too pointed of his hoping soon to have an assistant,
a friend, a guide in every plan of utility or charity
for Everingham: a somebody that would make Everingham
and all about it a dearer object than it had ever been
She turned away, and wished he would not say such things.
She was willing to allow he might have more good
qualities than she had been wont to suppose. She began
to feel the possibility of his turning out well at last;
but he was and must ever be completely unsuited to her,
and ought not to think of her.
He perceived that enough had been said of Everingham,
and that it would be as well to talk of something else,
and turned to Mansfield. He could not have chosen better;
that was a topic to bring back her attention and her looks
almost instantly. It was a real indulgence to her to hear
or to speak of Mansfield. Now so long divided from
everybody who knew the place, she felt it quite the voice
of a friend when he mentioned it, and led the way to her
fond exclamations in praise of its beauties and comforts,
and by his honourable tribute to its inhabitants allowed
her to gratify her own heart in the warmest eulogium,
in speaking of her uncle as all that was clever and good,
and her aunt as having the sweetest of all sweet tempers.
He had a great attachment to Mansfield himself; he said so;
he looked forward with the hope of spending much, very much,
of his time there; always there, or in the neighbourhood.
He particularly built upon a very happy summer and
autumn there this year; he felt that it would be so:
he depended upon it; a summer and autumn infinitely superior
to the last. As animated, as diversified, as social,
but with circumstances of superiority undescribable.
"Mansfield, Sotherton, Thornton Lacey," he continued;
"what a society will be comprised in those houses!
And at Michaelmas, perhaps, a fourth may be added:
some small hunting-box in the vicinity of everything so dear;
for as to any partnership in Thornton Lacey, as Edmund
Bertram once good-humouredly proposed, I hope I foresee
two objections: two fair, excellent, irresistible objections
to that plan."
Fanny was doubly silenced here; though when the moment
was passed, could regret that she had not forced herself into
the acknowledged comprehension of one half of his meaning,
and encouraged him to say something more of his sister
and Edmund. It was a subject which she must learn to speak of,
and the weakness that shrunk from it would soon be quite
When Mr. Price and his friend had seen all that they wished,
or had time for, the others were ready to return;
and in the course of their walk back, Mr. Crawford contrived
a minute's privacy for telling Fanny that his only
business in Portsmouth was to see her; that he was come
down for a couple of days on her account, and hers only,
and because he could not endure a longer total separation.
She was sorry, really sorry; and yet in spite of this and the
two or three other things which she wished he had not said,
she thought him altogether improved since she had seen him;
he was much more gentle, obliging, and attentive to other
people's feelings than he had ever been at Mansfield;
she had never seen him so agreeable--so _near_ being agreeable;
his behaviour to her father could not offend, and there
was something particularly kind and proper in the notice
he took of Susan. He was decidedly improved. She wished
the next day over, she wished he had come only for one day;
but it was not so very bad as she would have expected:
the pleasure of talking of Mansfield was so very great!
Before they parted, she had to thank him for another pleasure,
and one of no trivial kind. Her father asked him to do
them the honour of taking his mutton with them, and Fanny
had time for only one thrill of horror, before he declared
himself prevented by a prior engagement. He was engaged
to dinner already both for that day and the next; he had met
with some acquaintance at the Crown who would not be denied;
he should have the honour, however, of waiting on them
again on the morrow, etc., and so they parted--Fanny in
a state of actual felicity from escaping so horrible an evil!
To have had him join their family dinner-party, and see
all their deficiencies, would have been dreadful!
Rebecca's cookery and Rebecca's waiting, and Betsey's
eating at table without restraint, and pulling everything
about as she chose, were what Fanny herself was not yet
enough inured to for her often to make a tolerable meal.
_She_ was nice only from natural delicacy, but _he_ had been
brought up in a school of luxury and epicurism.
The Prices were just setting off for church the next day
when Mr. Crawford appeared again. He came, not to stop,
but to join them; he was asked to go with them to the
Garrison chapel, which was exactly what he had intended,
and they all walked thither together.
The family were now seen to advantage. Nature had given
them no inconsiderable share of beauty, and every Sunday
dressed them in their cleanest skins and best attire.
Sunday always brought this comfort to Fanny, and on this
Sunday she felt it more than ever. Her poor mother now
did not look so very unworthy of being Lady Bertram's
sister as she was but too apt to look. It often grieved
her to the heart to think of the contrast between them;
to think that where nature had made so little difference,
circumstances should have made so much, and that her mother,
as handsome as Lady Bertram, and some years her junior,
should have an appearance so much more worn and faded,
so comfortless, so slatternly, so shabby. But Sunday
made her a very creditable and tolerably cheerful-looking
Mrs. Price, coming abroad with a fine family of children,
feeling a little respite of her weekly cares, and only
discomposed if she saw her boys run into danger, or Rebecca
pass by with a flower in her hat.
In chapel they were obliged to divide, but Mr. Crawford
took care not to be divided from the female branch;
and after chapel he still continued with them, and made
one in the family party on the ramparts.
Mrs. Price took her weekly walk on the ramparts every
fine Sunday throughout the year, always going directly
after morning service and staying till dinner-time. It
was her public place: there she met her acquaintance,
heard a little news, talked over the badness of the
Portsmouth servants, and wound up her spirits for the six
Thither they now went; Mr. Crawford most happy to consider
the Miss Prices as his peculiar charge; and before they
had been there long, somehow or other, there was no
saying how, Fanny could not have believed it, but he
was walking between them with an arm of each under his,
and she did not know how to prevent or put an end to it.
It made her uncomfortable for a time, but yet there
were enjoyments in the day and in the view which would
The day was uncommonly lovely. It was really March;
but it was April in its mild air, brisk soft wind,
and bright sun, occasionally clouded for a minute;
and everything looked so beautiful under the influence
of such a sky, the effects of the shadows pursuing each
other on the ships at Spithead and the island beyond,
with the ever-varying hues of the sea, now at high water,
dancing in its glee and dashing against the ramparts with
so fine a sound, produced altogether such a combination
of charms for Fanny, as made her gradually almost careless
of the circumstances under which she felt them. Nay, had she
been without his arm, she would soon have known that she
needed it, for she wanted strength for a two hours'
saunter of this kind, coming, as it generally did,
upon a week's previous inactivity. Fanny was beginning
to feel the effect of being debarred from her usual
regular exercise; she had lost ground as to health
since her being in Portsmouth; and but for Mr. Crawford
and the beauty of the weather would soon have been knocked
The loveliness of the day, and of the view, he felt
like herself. They often stopt with the same sentiment
and taste, leaning against the wall, some minutes,
to look and admire; and considering he was not Edmund,
Fanny could not but allow that he was sufficiently open
to the charms of nature, and very well able to express
his admiration. She had a few tender reveries now and then,
which he could sometimes take advantage of to look in her
face without detection; and the result of these looks was,
that though as bewitching as ever, her face was less
blooming than it ought to be. She _said_ she was
very well, and did not like to be supposed otherwise;
but take it all in all, he was convinced that her present
residence could not be comfortable, and therefore could
not be salutary for her, and he was growing anxious for
her being again at Mansfield, where her own happiness,
and his in seeing her, must be so much greater.
"You have been here a month, I think?" said he.
"No; not quite a month. It is only four weeks to-morrow
since I left Mansfield."
"You are a most accurate and honest reckoner. I should
call that a month."
"I did not arrive here till Tuesday evening."
"And it is to be a two months' visit, is not?"
"Yes. My uncle talked of two months. I suppose it
will not be less."
"And how are you to be conveyed back again? Who comes
"I do not know. I have heard nothing about it yet
from my aunt. Perhaps I may be to stay longer.
It may not be convenient for me to be fetched exactly