Part 5 out of 8
during the rest of her short life: I was with her in her
Again he stopped to recover himself; and Elinor
spoke her feelings in an exclamation of tender concern,
at the fate of his unfortunate friend.
"Your sister, I hope, cannot be offended," said he,
"by the resemblance I have fancied between her and my
poor disgraced relation. Their fates, their fortunes,
cannot be the same; and had the natural sweet
disposition of the one been guarded by a firmer mind,
or a happier marriage, she might have been all that you
will live to see the other be. But to what does all this
lead? I seem to have been distressing you for nothing.
Ah! Miss Dashwood--a subject such as this--untouched
for fourteen years--it is dangerous to handle it at all!
I WILL be more collected--more concise. She left to my care
her only child, a little girl, the offspring of her first
guilty connection, who was then about three years old.
She loved the child, and had always kept it with her.
It was a valued, a precious trust to me; and gladly
would I have discharged it in the strictest sense,
by watching over her education myself, had the nature
of our situations allowed it; but I had no family, no home;
and my little Eliza was therefore placed at school.
I saw her there whenever I could, and after the death of my
brother, (which happened about five years ago, and which
left to me the possession of the family property,) she
visited me at Delaford. I called her a distant relation;
but I am well aware that I have in general been suspected
of a much nearer connection with her. It is now three
years ago (she had just reached her fourteenth year,)
that I removed her from school, to place her under the care
of a very respectable woman, residing in Dorsetshire,
who had the charge of four or five other girls of about
the same time of life; and for two years I had every reason
to be pleased with her situation. But last February,
almost a twelvemonth back, she suddenly disappeared.
I had allowed her, (imprudently, as it has since turned
out,) at her earnest desire, to go to Bath with one of
her young friends, who was attending her father there
for his health. I knew him to be a very good sort of man,
and I thought well of his daughter--better than she deserved,
for, with a most obstinate and ill-judged secrecy,
she would tell nothing, would give no clue, though she
certainly knew all. He, her father, a well-meaning,
but not a quick-sighted man, could really, I believe,
give no information; for he had been generally confined
to the house, while the girls were ranging over the town
and making what acquaintance they chose; and he tried
to convince me, as thoroughly as he was convinced himself,
of his daughter's being entirely unconcerned in the business.
In short, I could learn nothing but that she was gone;
all the rest, for eight long months, was left to conjecture.
What I thought, what I feared, may be imagined; and what I
"Good heavens!" cried Elinor, "could it be--could
"The first news that reached me of her," he continued,
"came in a letter from herself, last October.
It was forwarded to me from Delaford, and I received it
on the very morning of our intended party to Whitwell;
and this was the reason of my leaving Barton so suddenly,
which I am sure must at the time have appeared strange
to every body, and which I believe gave offence to some.
Little did Mr. Willoughby imagine, I suppose, when his
looks censured me for incivility in breaking up the party,
that I was called away to the relief of one whom he
had made poor and miserable; but HAD he known it,
what would it have availed? Would he have been less
gay or less happy in the smiles of your sister? No,
he had already done that, which no man who CAN feel
for another would do. He had left the girl whose
youth and innocence he had seduced, in a situation of
the utmost distress, with no creditable home, no help,
no friends, ignorant of his address! He had left her,
promising to return; he neither returned, nor wrote,
nor relieved her."
"This is beyond every thing!" exclaimed Elinor.
"His character is now before you; expensive, dissipated,
and worse than both. Knowing all this, as I have now
known it many weeks, guess what I must have felt on seeing
your sister as fond of him as ever, and on being assured
that she was to marry him: guess what I must have felt
for all your sakes. When I came to you last week and
found you alone, I came determined to know the truth;
though irresolute what to do when it WAS known.
My behaviour must have seemed strange to you then;
but now you will comprehend it. To suffer you all to be
so deceived; to see your sister--but what could I do?
I had no hope of interfering with success; and sometimes
I thought your sister's influence might yet reclaim him.
But now, after such dishonorable usage, who can tell what
were his designs on her. Whatever they may have been,
however, she may now, and hereafter doubtless WILL
turn with gratitude towards her own condition, when she
compares it with that of my poor Eliza, when she considers
the wretched and hopeless situation of this poor girl,
and pictures her to herself, with an affection for him so strong,
still as strong as her own, and with a mind tormented
by self-reproach, which must attend her through life.
Surely this comparison must have its use with her.
She will feel her own sufferings to be nothing. They
proceed from no misconduct, and can bring no disgrace.
On the contrary, every friend must be made still more
her friend by them. Concern for her unhappiness,
and respect for her fortitude under it, must strengthen
every attachment. Use your own discretion, however,
in communicating to her what I have told you. You must
know best what will be its effect; but had I not seriously,
and from my heart believed it might be of service,
might lessen her regrets, I would not have suffered
myself to trouble you with this account of my family
afflictions, with a recital which may seem to have been
intended to raise myself at the expense of others."
Elinor's thanks followed this speech with grateful
earnestness; attended too with the assurance of her
expecting material advantage to Marianne, from the
communication of what had passed.
"I have been more pained," said she, "by her
endeavors to acquit him than by all the rest; for it
irritates her mind more than the most perfect conviction
of his unworthiness can do. Now, though at first she
will suffer much, I am sure she will soon become easier.
Have you," she continued, after a short silence,
"ever seen Mr. Willoughby since you left him at Barton?"
"Yes," he replied gravely, "once I have. One meeting
Elinor, startled by his manner, looked at him anxiously,
"What? have you met him to--"
"I could meet him no other way. Eliza had confessed
to me, though most reluctantly, the name of her lover;
and when he returned to town, which was within a fortnight
after myself, we met by appointment, he to defend,
I to punish his conduct. We returned unwounded,
and the meeting, therefore, never got abroad."
Elinor sighed over the fancied necessity of this;
but to a man and a soldier she presumed not to censure it.
"Such," said Colonel Brandon, after a pause,
"has been the unhappy resemblance between the fate of mother
and daughter! and so imperfectly have I discharged my trust!"
"Is she still in town?"
"No; as soon as she recovered from her lying-in,
for I found her near her delivery, I removed her and her
child into the country, and there she remains."
Recollecting, soon afterwards, that he was probably
dividing Elinor from her sister, he put an end to his visit,
receiving from her again the same grateful acknowledgments,
and leaving her full of compassion and esteem for him.
When the particulars of this conversation were repeated
by Miss Dashwood to her sister, as they very soon were,
the effect on her was not entirely such as the former
had hoped to see. Not that Marianne appeared to distrust
the truth of any part of it, for she listened to it all
with the most steady and submissive attention, made neither
objection nor remark, attempted no vindication of Willoughby,
and seemed to shew by her tears that she felt it to
be impossible. But though this behaviour assured Elinor
that the conviction of this guilt WAS carried home to
her mind, though she saw with satisfaction the effect of it,
in her no longer avoiding Colonel Brandon when he called,
in her speaking to him, even voluntarily speaking,
with a kind of compassionate respect, and though she
saw her spirits less violently irritated than before,
she did not see her less wretched. Her mind did become
settled, but it was settled in a gloomy dejection.
She felt the loss of Willoughby's character yet more heavily
than she had felt the loss of his heart; his seduction and
desertion of Miss Williams, the misery of that poor girl,
and the doubt of what his designs might ONCE have been
on herself, preyed altogether so much on her spirits,
that she could not bring herself to speak of what she felt
even to Elinor; and, brooding over her sorrows in silence,
gave more pain to her sister than could have been communicated
by the most open and most frequent confession of them.
To give the feelings or the language of Mrs. Dashwood
on receiving and answering Elinor's letter would be only
to give a repetition of what her daughters had already felt
and said; of a disappointment hardly less painful than
Marianne's, and an indignation even greater than Elinor's.
Long letters from her, quickly succeeding each other,
arrived to tell all that she suffered and thought;
to express her anxious solicitude for Marianne, and entreat
she would bear up with fortitude under this misfortune.
Bad indeed must the nature of Marianne's affliction be,
when her mother could talk of fortitude! mortifying
and humiliating must be the origin of those regrets,
which SHE could wish her not to indulge!
Against the interest of her own individual comfort,
Mrs. Dashwood had determined that it would be better for
Marianne to be any where, at that time, than at Barton,
where every thing within her view would be bringing back
the past in the strongest and most afflicting manner,
by constantly placing Willoughby before her, such as
she had always seen him there. She recommended it to
her daughters, therefore, by all means not to shorten their
visit to Mrs. Jennings; the length of which, though never
exactly fixed, had been expected by all to comprise at least
five or six weeks. A variety of occupations, of objects,
and of company, which could not be procured at Barton,
would be inevitable there, and might yet, she hoped,
cheat Marianne, at times, into some interest beyond herself,
and even into some amusement, much as the ideas of both
might now be spurned by her.
From all danger of seeing Willoughby again,
her mother considered her to be at least equally safe
in town as in the country, since his acquaintance must
now be dropped by all who called themselves her friends.
Design could never bring them in each other's way:
negligence could never leave them exposed to a surprise;
and chance had less in its favour in the crowd of London
than even in the retirement of Barton, where it might
force him before her while paying that visit at Allenham
on his marriage, which Mrs. Dashwood, from foreseeing at
first as a probable event, had brought herself to expect
as a certain one.
She had yet another reason for wishing her children
to remain where they were; a letter from her son-in-law
had told her that he and his wife were to be in town
before the middle of February, and she judged it right
that they should sometimes see their brother.
Marianne had promised to be guided by her mother's opinion,
and she submitted to it therefore without opposition,
though it proved perfectly different from what she wished
and expected, though she felt it to be entirely wrong,
formed on mistaken grounds, and that by requiring her
longer continuance in London it deprived her of the only
possible alleviation of her wretchedness, the personal
sympathy of her mother, and doomed her to such society and
such scenes as must prevent her ever knowing a moment's rest.
But it was a matter of great consolation to her,
that what brought evil to herself would bring good to
her sister; and Elinor, on the other hand, suspecting that
it would not be in her power to avoid Edward entirely,
comforted herself by thinking, that though their longer
stay would therefore militate against her own happiness,
it would be better for Marianne than an immediate return
Her carefulness in guarding her sister from ever
hearing Willoughby's name mentioned, was not thrown away.
Marianne, though without knowing it herself, reaped all
its advantage; for neither Mrs. Jennings, nor Sir John,
nor even Mrs. Palmer herself, ever spoke of him before her.
Elinor wished that the same forbearance could have extended
towards herself, but that was impossible, and she was
obliged to listen day after day to the indignation of them all.
Sir John, could not have thought it possible.
"A man of whom he had always had such reason to think well!
Such a good-natured fellow! He did not believe there was a
bolder rider in England! It was an unaccountable business.
He wished him at the devil with all his heart. He would
not speak another word to him, meet him where he might,
for all the world! No, not if it were to be by the side
of Barton covert, and they were kept watching for two
hours together. Such a scoundrel of a fellow! such
a deceitful dog! It was only the last time they met
that he had offered him one of Folly's puppies! and this
was the end of it!"
Mrs. Palmer, in her way, was equally angry.
"She was determined to drop his acquaintance immediately,
and she was very thankful that she had never been acquainted
with him at all. She wished with all her heart Combe
Magna was not so near Cleveland; but it did not signify,
for it was a great deal too far off to visit; she hated
him so much that she was resolved never to mention
his name again, and she should tell everybody she saw,
how good-for-nothing he was."
The rest of Mrs. Palmer's sympathy was shewn in procuring
all the particulars in her power of the approaching marriage,
and communicating them to Elinor. She could soon tell
at what coachmaker's the new carriage was building,
by what painter Mr. Willoughby's portrait was drawn,
and at what warehouse Miss Grey's clothes might be seen.
The calm and polite unconcern of Lady Middleton
on the occasion was a happy relief to Elinor's spirits,
oppressed as they often were by the clamorous kindness
of the others. It was a great comfort to her to be sure
of exciting no interest in ONE person at least among their
circle of friends: a great comfort to know that there
was ONE who would meet her without feeling any curiosity
after particulars, or any anxiety for her sister's health.
Every qualification is raised at times, by the
circumstances of the moment, to more than its real value;
and she was sometimes worried down by officious condolence
to rate good-breeding as more indispensable to comfort
Lady Middleton expressed her sense of the affair
about once every day, or twice, if the subject occurred
very often, by saying, "It is very shocking, indeed!"
and by the means of this continual though gentle vent,
was able not only to see the Miss Dashwoods from the
first without the smallest emotion, but very soon
to see them without recollecting a word of the matter;
and having thus supported the dignity of her own sex,
and spoken her decided censure of what was wrong
in the other, she thought herself at liberty to attend
to the interest of her own assemblies, and therefore
determined (though rather against the opinion of Sir John)
that as Mrs. Willoughby would at once be a woman of elegance
and fortune, to leave her card with her as soon as she married.
Colonel Brandon's delicate, unobtrusive enquiries
were never unwelcome to Miss Dashwood. He had abundantly
earned the privilege of intimate discussion of her
sister's disappointment, by the friendly zeal with
which he had endeavoured to soften it, and they always
conversed with confidence. His chief reward for the
painful exertion of disclosing past sorrows and present
humiliations, was given in the pitying eye with which
Marianne sometimes observed him, and the gentleness
of her voice whenever (though it did not often happen)
she was obliged, or could oblige herself to speak to him.
THESE assured him that his exertion had produced an
increase of good-will towards himself, and THESE gave
Elinor hopes of its being farther augmented hereafter;
but Mrs. Jennings, who knew nothing of all this, who knew
only that the Colonel continued as grave as ever, and that
she could neither prevail on him to make the offer himself,
nor commission her to make it for him, began, at the
end of two days, to think that, instead of Midsummer,
they would not be married till Michaelmas, and by the
end of a week that it would not be a match at all.
The good understanding between the Colonel and Miss
Dashwood seemed rather to declare that the honours
of the mulberry-tree, the canal, and the yew arbour,
would all be made over to HER; and Mrs. Jennings had,
for some time ceased to think at all of Mrs. Ferrars.
Early in February, within a fortnight from the
receipt of Willoughby's letter, Elinor had the painful
office of informing her sister that he was married.
She had taken care to have the intelligence conveyed
to herself, as soon as it was known that the ceremony
was over, as she was desirous that Marianne should not
receive the first notice of it from the public papers,
which she saw her eagerly examining every morning.
She received the news with resolute composure;
made no observation on it, and at first shed no tears;
but after a short time they would burst out, and for the
rest of the day, she was in a state hardly less pitiable
than when she first learnt to expect the event.
The Willoughbys left town as soon as they were married;
and Elinor now hoped, as there could be no danger
of her seeing either of them, to prevail on her sister,
who had never yet left the house since the blow first fell,
to go out again by degrees as she had done before.
About this time the two Miss Steeles, lately arrived
at their cousin's house in Bartlett's Buildings,
Holburn, presented themselves again before their more
grand relations in Conduit and Berkeley Streets;
and were welcomed by them all with great cordiality.
Elinor only was sorry to see them. Their presence
always gave her pain, and she hardly knew how to make
a very gracious return to the overpowering delight of Lucy
in finding her STILL in town.
"I should have been quite disappointed if I had not
found you here STILL," said she repeatedly, with a strong
emphasis on the word. "But I always thought I SHOULD.
I was almost sure you would not leave London yet awhile;
though you TOLD me, you know, at Barton, that you should
not stay above a MONTH. But I thought, at the time,
that you would most likely change your mind when it came
to the point. It would have been such a great pity
to have went away before your brother and sister came.
And now to be sure you will be in no hurry to be gone.
I am amazingly glad you did not keep to YOUR WORD."
Elinor perfectly understood her, and was forced
to use all her self-command to make it appear that she
"Well, my dear," said Mrs. Jennings, "and how did
"Not in the stage, I assure you," replied Miss Steele,
with quick exultation; "we came post all the way, and had
a very smart beau to attend us. Dr. Davies was coming
to town, and so we thought we'd join him in a post-chaise;
and he behaved very genteelly, and paid ten or twelve
shillings more than we did."
"Oh, oh!" cried Mrs. Jennings; "very pretty,
indeed! and the Doctor is a single man, I warrant you."
"There now," said Miss Steele, affectedly simpering,
"everybody laughs at me so about the Doctor, and I
cannot think why. My cousins say they are sure I have
made a conquest; but for my part I declare I never think
about him from one hour's end to another. 'Lord! here
comes your beau, Nancy,' my cousin said t'other day,
when she saw him crossing the street to the house.
My beau, indeed! said I--I cannot think who you mean.
The Doctor is no beau of mine."
"Aye, aye, that is very pretty talking--but it won't do--
the Doctor is the man, I see."
"No, indeed!" replied her cousin, with affected earnestness,
"and I beg you will contradict it, if you ever hear it talked
Mrs. Jennings directly gave her the gratifying
assurance that she certainly would NOT, and Miss Steele
was made completely happy.
"I suppose you will go and stay with your brother
and sister, Miss Dashwood, when they come to town,"
said Lucy, returning, after a cessation of hostile hints,
to the charge.
"No, I do not think we shall."
"Oh, yes, I dare say you will."
Elinor would not humour her by farther opposition.
"What a charming thing it is that Mrs. Dashwood can
spare you both for so long a time together!"
"Long a time, indeed!" interposed Mrs. Jennings.
"Why, their visit is but just begun!"
Lucy was silenced.
"I am sorry we cannot see your sister, Miss Dashwood,"
said Miss Steele. "I am sorry she is not well--"
for Marianne had left the room on their arrival.
"You are very good. My sister will be equally
sorry to miss the pleasure of seeing you; but she has
been very much plagued lately with nervous head-aches,
which make her unfit for company or conversation."
"Oh, dear, that is a great pity! but such old
friends as Lucy and me!--I think she might see US;
and I am sure we would not speak a word."
Elinor, with great civility, declined the proposal.
Her sister was perhaps laid down upon the bed, or in her
dressing gown, and therefore not able to come to them.
"Oh, if that's all," cried Miss Steele, "we can
just as well go and see HER."
Elinor began to find this impertinence too much for
her temper; but she was saved the trouble of checking it,
by Lucy's sharp reprimand, which now, as on many occasions,
though it did not give much sweetness to the manners
of one sister, was of advantage in governing those of
After some opposition, Marianne yielded to her
sister's entreaties, and consented to go out with her
and Mrs. Jennings one morning for half an hour. She
expressly conditioned, however, for paying no visits,
and would do no more than accompany them to Gray's in
Sackville Street, where Elinor was carrying on a negotiation
for the exchange of a few old-fashioned jewels of her mother.
When they stopped at the door, Mrs. Jennings recollected
that there was a lady at the other end of the street
on whom she ought to call; and as she had no business
at Gray's, it was resolved, that while her young friends
transacted their's, she should pay her visit and
return for them.
On ascending the stairs, the Miss Dashwoods found
so many people before them in the room, that there was
not a person at liberty to tend to their orders; and they
were obliged to wait. All that could be done was, to sit
down at that end of the counter which seemed to promise the
quickest succession; one gentleman only was standing there,
and it is probable that Elinor was not without hope
of exciting his politeness to a quicker despatch.
But the correctness of his eye, and the delicacy
of his taste, proved to be beyond his politeness.
He was giving orders for a toothpick-case for himself,
and till its size, shape, and ornaments were determined,
all of which, after examining and debating for a quarter
of an hour over every toothpick-case in the shop,
were finally arranged by his own inventive fancy, he had
no leisure to bestow any other attention on the two ladies,
than what was comprised in three or four very broad stares;
a kind of notice which served to imprint on Elinor
the remembrance of a person and face, of strong,
natural, sterling insignificance, though adorned in
the first style of fashion.
Marianne was spared from the troublesome feelings
of contempt and resentment, on this impertinent examination
of their features, and on the puppyism of his manner
in deciding on all the different horrors of the different
toothpick-cases presented to his inspection, by remaining
unconscious of it all; for she was as well able to collect
her thoughts within herself, and be as ignorant of what was
passing around her, in Mr. Gray's shop, as in her own bedroom.
At last the affair was decided. The ivory,
the gold, and the pearls, all received their appointment,
and the gentleman having named the last day on which his
existence could be continued without the possession of the
toothpick-case, drew on his gloves with leisurely care,
and bestowing another glance on the Miss Dashwoods, but such
a one as seemed rather to demand than express admiration,
walked off with a happy air of real conceit and affected
Elinor lost no time in bringing her business forward,
was on the point of concluding it, when another gentleman
presented himself at her side. She turned her eyes towards
his face, and found him with some surprise to be her brother.
Their affection and pleasure in meeting was just enough
to make a very creditable appearance in Mr. Gray's shop.
John Dashwood was really far from being sorry to see
his sisters again; it rather gave them satisfaction;
and his inquiries after their mother were respectful
Elinor found that he and Fanny had been in town
"I wished very much to call upon you yesterday,"
said he, "but it was impossible, for we were obliged
to take Harry to see the wild beasts at Exeter Exchange;
and we spent the rest of the day with Mrs. Ferrars.
Harry was vastly pleased. THIS morning I had fully intended
to call on you, if I could possibly find a spare half hour,
but one has always so much to do on first coming to town.
I am come here to bespeak Fanny a seal. But tomorrow I
think I shall certainly be able to call in Berkeley Street,
and be introduced to your friend Mrs. Jennings.
I understand she is a woman of very good fortune.
And the Middletons too, you must introduce me to THEM.
As my mother-in-law's relations, I shall be happy to show
them every respect. They are excellent neighbours to you in
the country, I understand."
"Excellent indeed. Their attention to our comfort,
their friendliness in every particular, is more than I
"I am extremely glad to hear it, upon my word;
extremely glad indeed. But so it ought to be; they are
people of large fortune, they are related to you, and
every civility and accommodation that can serve to make
your situation pleasant might be reasonably expected.
And so you are most comfortably settled in your little cottage
and want for nothing! Edward brought us a most charming
account of the place: the most complete thing of its kind,
he said, that ever was, and you all seemed to enjoy it beyond
any thing. It was a great satisfaction to us to hear it,
I assure you."
Elinor did feel a little ashamed of her brother;
and was not sorry to be spared the necessity of answering him,
by the arrival of Mrs. Jennings's servant, who came to tell
her that his mistress waited for them at the door.
Mr. Dashwood attended them down stairs, was introduced
to Mrs. Jennings at the door of her carriage, and repeating
his hope of being able to call on them the next day,
His visit was duly paid. He came with a pretence at
an apology from their sister-in-law, for not coming too;
"but she was so much engaged with her mother, that really
she had no leisure for going any where." Mrs. Jennings,
however, assured him directly, that she should not stand
upon ceremony, for they were all cousins, or something
like it, and she should certainly wait on Mrs. John
Dashwood very soon, and bring her sisters to see her.
His manners to THEM, though calm, were perfectly kind;
to Mrs. Jennings, most attentively civil; and on Colonel
Brandon's coming in soon after himself, he eyed him with a
curiosity which seemed to say, that he only wanted to know
him to be rich, to be equally civil to HIM.
After staying with them half an hour, he asked
Elinor to walk with him to Conduit Street, and introduce
him to Sir John and Lady Middleton. The weather was
remarkably fine, and she readily consented. As soon
as they were out of the house, his enquiries began.
"Who is Colonel Brandon? Is he a man of fortune?"
"Yes; he has very good property in Dorsetshire."
"I am glad of it. He seems a most gentlemanlike man;
and I think, Elinor, I may congratulate you on the prospect
of a very respectable establishment in life."
"Me, brother! what do you mean?"
"He likes you. I observed him narrowly, and am
convinced of it. What is the amount of his fortune?"
"I believe about two thousand a year."
"Two thousand a-year;" and then working himself
up to a pitch of enthusiastic generosity, he added,
"Elinor, I wish with all my heart it were TWICE as much,
for your sake."
"Indeed I believe you," replied Elinor; "but I am
very sure that Colonel Brandon has not the smallest wish
of marrying ME."
"You are mistaken, Elinor; you are very much mistaken.
A very little trouble on your side secures him.
Perhaps just at present he may be undecided; the smallness
of your fortune may make him hang back; his friends
may all advise him against it. But some of those little
attentions and encouragements which ladies can so easily
give will fix him, in spite of himself. And there can be
no reason why you should not try for him. It is not to be
supposed that any prior attachment on your side--in short,
you know as to an attachment of that kind, it is quite
out of the question, the objections are insurmountable--
you have too much sense not to see all that. Colonel Brandon
must be the man; and no civility shall be wanting on
my part to make him pleased with you and your family.
It is a match that must give universal satisfaction.
In short, it is a kind of thing that"--lowering his voice
to an important whisper--"will be exceedingly welcome
to ALL PARTIES." Recollecting himself, however, he added,
"That is, I mean to say--your friends are all truly
anxious to see you well settled; Fanny particularly,
for she has your interest very much at heart, I assure you.
And her mother too, Mrs. Ferrars, a very good-natured woman,
I am sure it would give her great pleasure; she said as much
the other day."
Elinor would not vouchsafe any answer.
"It would be something remarkable, now," he continued,
"something droll, if Fanny should have a brother and I
a sister settling at the same time. And yet it is not
"Is Mr. Edward Ferrars," said Elinor, with resolution,
"going to be married?"
"It is not actually settled, but there is such
a thing in agitation. He has a most excellent mother.
Mrs. Ferrars, with the utmost liberality, will come forward,
and settle on him a thousand a year, if the match
takes place. The lady is the Hon. Miss Morton, only daughter
of the late Lord Morton, with thirty thousand pounds.
A very desirable connection on both sides, and I have not
a doubt of its taking place in time. A thousand a-year
is a great deal for a mother to give away, to make over
for ever; but Mrs. Ferrars has a noble spirit. To give
you another instance of her liberality:--The other day,
as soon as we came to town, aware that money could
not be very plenty with us just now, she put bank-notes
into Fanny's hands to the amount of two hundred pounds.
And extremely acceptable it is, for we must live at a great
expense while we are here."
He paused for her assent and compassion; and she
forced herself to say,
"Your expenses both in town and country must certainly
be considerable; but your income is a large one."
"Not so large, I dare say, as many people suppose.
I do not mean to complain, however; it is undoubtedly
a comfortable one, and I hope will in time be better.
The enclosure of Norland Common, now carrying on,
is a most serious drain. And then I have made a little
purchase within this half year; East Kingham Farm,
you must remember the place, where old Gibson used to live.
The land was so very desirable for me in every respect,
so immediately adjoining my own property, that I felt it
my duty to buy it. I could not have answered it to my
conscience to let it fall into any other hands. A man must
pay for his convenience; and it HAS cost me a vast deal
"More than you think it really and intrinsically worth."
"Why, I hope not that. I might have sold it again,
the next day, for more than I gave: but, with regard to the
purchase-money, I might have been very unfortunate indeed;
for the stocks were at that time so low, that if I had not
happened to have the necessary sum in my banker's hands,
I must have sold out to very great loss."
Elinor could only smile.
"Other great and inevitable expenses too we have
had on first coming to Norland. Our respected father,
as you well know, bequeathed all the Stanhill effects
that remained at Norland (and very valuable they were)
to your mother. Far be it from me to repine at his
doing so; he had an undoubted right to dispose of his
own property as he chose, but, in consequence of it,
we have been obliged to make large purchases of linen,
china, &c. to supply the place of what was taken away.
You may guess, after all these expenses, how very far we
must be from being rich, and how acceptable Mrs. Ferrars's
"Certainly," said Elinor; "and assisted by her liberality,
I hope you may yet live to be in easy circumstances."
"Another year or two may do much towards it,"
he gravely replied; "but however there is still a great
deal to be done. There is not a stone laid of Fanny's
green-house, and nothing but the plan of the flower-garden
"Where is the green-house to be?"
"Upon the knoll behind the house. The old
walnut trees are all come down to make room for it.
It will be a very fine object from many parts of the park,
and the flower-garden will slope down just before it,
and be exceedingly pretty. We have cleared away all the old
thorns that grew in patches over the brow."
Elinor kept her concern and her censure to herself;
and was very thankful that Marianne was not present,
to share the provocation.
Having now said enough to make his poverty clear,
and to do away the necessity of buying a pair of ear-rings
for each of his sisters, in his next visit at Gray's
his thoughts took a cheerfuller turn, and he began to
congratulate Elinor on having such a friend as Mrs. Jennings.
"She seems a most valuable woman indeed--Her house,
her style of living, all bespeak an exceeding good income;
and it is an acquaintance that has not only been
of great use to you hitherto, but in the end may prove
materially advantageous.--Her inviting you to town is
certainly a vast thing in your favour; and indeed, it
speaks altogether so great a regard for you, that in all
probability when she dies you will not be forgotten.--
She must have a great deal to leave."
"Nothing at all, I should rather suppose; for she has
only her jointure, which will descend to her children."
"But it is not to be imagined that she lives up to
her income. Few people of common prudence will do THAT;
and whatever she saves, she will be able to dispose of."
"And do you not think it more likely that she
should leave it to her daughters, than to us?"
"Her daughters are both exceedingly well married,
and therefore I cannot perceive the necessity of her
remembering them farther. Whereas, in my opinion, by her
taking so much notice of you, and treating you in this
kind of way, she has given you a sort of claim on her
future consideration, which a conscientious woman would
not disregard. Nothing can be kinder than her behaviour;
and she can hardly do all this, without being aware
of the expectation it raises."
"But she raises none in those most concerned.
Indeed, brother, your anxiety for our welfare and prosperity
carries you too far."
"Why, to be sure," said he, seeming to recollect himself,
"people have little, have very little in their power.
But, my dear Elinor, what is the matter with Marianne?--
she looks very unwell, has lost her colour, and is grown
quite thin. Is she ill?"
"She is not well, she has had a nervous complaint
on her for several weeks."
"I am sorry for that. At her time of life,
any thing of an illness destroys the bloom for ever!
Her's has been a very short one! She was as handsome a girl
last September, as I ever saw; and as likely to attract
the man. There was something in her style of beauty,
to please them particularly. I remember Fanny used to say
that she would marry sooner and better than you did;
not but what she is exceedingly fond of YOU, but so it
happened to strike her. She will be mistaken, however.
I question whether Marianne NOW, will marry a man worth
more than five or six hundred a-year, at the utmost,
and I am very much deceived if YOU do not do better.
Dorsetshire! I know very little of Dorsetshire; but, my dear
Elinor, I shall be exceedingly glad to know more of it;
and I think I can answer for your having Fanny and myself
among the earliest and best pleased of your visitors."
Elinor tried very seriously to convince him that
there was no likelihood of her marrying Colonel Brandon;
but it was an expectation of too much pleasure to himself
to be relinquished, and he was really resolved on seeking
an intimacy with that gentleman, and promoting the marriage
by every possible attention. He had just compunction
enough for having done nothing for his sisters himself,
to be exceedingly anxious that everybody else should
do a great deal; and an offer from Colonel Brandon,
or a legacy from Mrs. Jennings, was the easiest means
of atoning for his own neglect.
They were lucky enough to find Lady Middleton
at home, and Sir John came in before their visit ended.
Abundance of civilities passed on all sides. Sir John
was ready to like anybody, and though Mr. Dashwood did
not seem to know much about horses, he soon set him
down as a very good-natured fellow: while Lady Middleton
saw enough of fashion in his appearance to think his
acquaintance worth having; and Mr. Dashwood went away
delighted with both.
"I shall have a charming account to carry
to Fanny," said he, as he walked back with his sister.
"Lady Middleton is really a most elegant woman! Such
a woman as I am sure Fanny will be glad to know.
And Mrs. Jennings too, an exceedingly well-behaved woman,
though not so elegant as her daughter. Your sister need
not have any scruple even of visiting HER, which, to say
the truth, has been a little the case, and very naturally;
for we only knew that Mrs. Jennings was the widow of a man
who had got all his money in a low way; and Fanny and
Mrs. Ferrars were both strongly prepossessed, that neither
she nor her daughters were such kind of women as Fanny
would like to associate with. But now I can carry her
a most satisfactory account of both."
Mrs. John Dashwood had so much confidence in her
husband's judgment, that she waited the very next day
both on Mrs. Jennings and her daughter; and her
confidence was rewarded by finding even the former,
even the woman with whom her sisters were staying,
by no means unworthy her notice; and as for Lady Middleton,
she found her one of the most charming women in the world!
Lady Middleton was equally pleased with Mrs. Dashwood.
There was a kind of cold hearted selfishness on both sides,
which mutually attracted them; and they sympathised
with each other in an insipid propriety of demeanor,
and a general want of understanding.
The same manners, however, which recommended Mrs. John
Dashwood to the good opinion of Lady Middleton did not suit
the fancy of Mrs. Jennings, and to HER she appeared nothing
more than a little proud-looking woman of uncordial address,
who met her husband's sisters without any affection,
and almost without having anything to say to them;
for of the quarter of an hour bestowed on Berkeley Street,
she sat at least seven minutes and a half in silence.
Elinor wanted very much to know, though she did
not chuse to ask, whether Edward was then in town;
but nothing would have induced Fanny voluntarily
to mention his name before her, till able to tell her
that his marriage with Miss Morton was resolved on,
or till her husband's expectations on Colonel Brandon
were answered; because she believed them still so very
much attached to each other, that they could not be too
sedulously divided in word and deed on every occasion.
The intelligence however, which SHE would not give,
soon flowed from another quarter. Lucy came very shortly
to claim Elinor's compassion on being unable to see Edward,
though he had arrived in town with Mr. and Mrs. Dashwood.
He dared not come to Bartlett's Buildings for fear
of detection, and though their mutual impatience to meet,
was not to be told, they could do nothing at present
Edward assured them himself of his being in town,
within a very short time, by twice calling in Berkeley Street.
Twice was his card found on the table, when they returned
from their morning's engagements. Elinor was pleased
that he had called; and still more pleased that she had
The Dashwoods were so prodigiously delighted
with the Middletons, that, though not much in the habit
of giving anything, they determined to give them--
a dinner; and soon after their acquaintance began,
invited them to dine in Harley Street, where they had
taken a very good house for three months. Their sisters
and Mrs. Jennings were invited likewise, and John Dashwood
was careful to secure Colonel Brandon, who, always glad
to be where the Miss Dashwoods were, received his eager
civilities with some surprise, but much more pleasure.
They were to meet Mrs. Ferrars; but Elinor could not learn
whether her sons were to be of the party. The expectation
of seeing HER, however, was enough to make her interested
in the engagement; for though she could now meet Edward's
mother without that strong anxiety which had once promised
to attend such an introduction, though she could now see
her with perfect indifference as to her opinion of herself,
her desire of being in company with Mrs. Ferrars,
her curiosity to know what she was like, was as lively as ever.
The interest with which she thus anticipated the
party, was soon afterwards increased, more powerfully
than pleasantly, by her hearing that the Miss Steeles
were also to be at it.
So well had they recommended themselves to Lady Middleton,
so agreeable had their assiduities made them to her,
that though Lucy was certainly not so elegant, and her
sister not even genteel, she was as ready as Sir John
to ask them to spend a week or two in Conduit Street;
and it happened to be particularly convenient to the Miss
Steeles, as soon as the Dashwoods' invitation was known,
that their visit should begin a few days before the party
Their claims to the notice of Mrs. John Dashwood,
as the nieces of the gentleman who for many years had
had the care of her brother, might not have done much,
however, towards procuring them seats at her table;
but as Lady Middleton's guests they must be welcome; and Lucy,
who had long wanted to be personally known to the family,
to have a nearer view of their characters and her own
difficulties, and to have an opportunity of endeavouring
to please them, had seldom been happier in her life,
than she was on receiving Mrs. John Dashwood's card.
On Elinor its effect was very different. She began
immediately to determine, that Edward who lived with
his mother, must be asked as his mother was, to a party
given by his sister; and to see him for the first time,
after all that passed, in the company of Lucy!--she hardly
knew how she could bear it!
These apprehensions, perhaps, were not founded
entirely on reason, and certainly not at all on truth.
They were relieved however, not by her own recollection,
but by the good will of Lucy, who believed herself to be
inflicting a severe disappointment when she told her
that Edward certainly would not be in Harley Street on Tuesday,
and even hoped to be carrying the pain still farther
by persuading her that he was kept away by the extreme
affection for herself, which he could not conceal when they
The important Tuesday came that was to introduce
the two young ladies to this formidable mother-in-law.
"Pity me, dear Miss Dashwood!" said Lucy, as they
walked up the stairs together--for the Middletons arrived
so directly after Mrs. Jennings, that they all followed
the servant at the same time--"There is nobody here but
you, that can feel for me.--I declare I can hardly stand.
Good gracious!--In a moment I shall see the person that all
my happiness depends on--that is to be my mother!"--
Elinor could have given her immediate relief
by suggesting the possibility of its being Miss Morton's mother,
rather than her own, whom they were about to behold;
but instead of doing that, she assured her, and with
great sincerity, that she did pity her--to the utter
amazement of Lucy, who, though really uncomfortable herself,
hoped at least to be an object of irrepressible envy to Elinor.
Mrs. Ferrars was a little, thin woman, upright,
even to formality, in her figure, and serious,
even to sourness, in her aspect. Her complexion was sallow;
and her features small, without beauty, and naturally
without expression; but a lucky contraction of the brow
had rescued her countenance from the disgrace of insipidity,
by giving it the strong characters of pride and ill nature.
She was not a woman of many words; for, unlike people
in general, she proportioned them to the number of
her ideas; and of the few syllables that did escape her,
not one fell to the share of Miss Dashwood, whom she eyed
with the spirited determination of disliking her at all events.
Elinor could not NOW be made unhappy by this behaviour.--
A few months ago it would have hurt her exceedingly; but it
was not in Mrs. Ferrars' power to distress her by it now;--
and the difference of her manners to the Miss Steeles,
a difference which seemed purposely made to humble her more,
only amused her. She could not but smile to see the graciousness
of both mother and daughter towards the very person--
for Lucy was particularly distinguished--whom of all others,
had they known as much as she did, they would have been most
anxious to mortify; while she herself, who had comparatively
no power to wound them, sat pointedly slighted by both.
But while she smiled at a graciousness so misapplied,
she could not reflect on the mean-spirited folly from
which it sprung, nor observe the studied attentions
with which the Miss Steeles courted its continuance,
without thoroughly despising them all four.
Lucy was all exultation on being so honorably
distinguished; and Miss Steele wanted only to be teazed
about Dr. Davies to be perfectly happy.
The dinner was a grand one, the servants were numerous,
and every thing bespoke the Mistress's inclination
for show, and the Master's ability to support it.
In spite of the improvements and additions which were
making to the Norland estate, and in spite of its owner
having once been within some thousand pounds of being
obliged to sell out at a loss, nothing gave any symptom
of that indigence which he had tried to infer from it;--
no poverty of any kind, except of conversation, appeared--
but there, the deficiency was considerable. John Dashwood
had not much to say for himself that was worth hearing,
and his wife had still less. But there was no peculiar
disgrace in this; for it was very much the case with
the chief of their visitors, who almost all laboured
under one or other of these disqualifications for being
agreeable--Want of sense, either natural or improved--want
of elegance--want of spirits--or want of temper.
When the ladies withdrew to the drawing-room
after dinner, this poverty was particularly evident,
for the gentlemen HAD supplied the discourse with some
variety--the variety of politics, inclosing land,
and breaking horses--but then it was all over; and one
subject only engaged the ladies till coffee came in,
which was the comparative heights of Harry Dashwood,
and Lady Middleton's second son William, who were nearly
of the same age.
Had both the children been there, the affair might
have been determined too easily by measuring them at once;
but as Harry only was present, it was all conjectural
assertion on both sides; and every body had a right to
be equally positive in their opinion, and to repeat it
over and over again as often as they liked.
The parties stood thus:
The two mothers, though each really convinced that
her own son was the tallest, politely decided in favour
of the other.
The two grandmothers, with not less partiality,
but more sincerity, were equally earnest in support
of their own descendant.
Lucy, who was hardly less anxious to please one parent
than the other, thought the boys were both remarkably tall
for their age, and could not conceive that there could
be the smallest difference in the world between them;
and Miss Steele, with yet greater address gave it,
as fast as she could, in favour of each.
Elinor, having once delivered her opinion on
William's side, by which she offended Mrs. Ferrars and
Fanny still more, did not see the necessity of enforcing
it by any farther assertion; and Marianne, when called
on for her's, offended them all, by declaring that she
had no opinion to give, as she had never thought about it.
Before her removing from Norland, Elinor had painted
a very pretty pair of screens for her sister-in-law,
which being now just mounted and brought home,
ornamented her present drawing room; and these screens,
catching the eye of John Dashwood on his following
the other gentlemen into the room, were officiously
handed by him to Colonel Brandon for his admiration.
"These are done by my eldest sister," said he; "and you,
as a man of taste, will, I dare say, be pleased with them.
I do not know whether you have ever happened to see any
of her performances before, but she is in general reckoned
to draw extremely well."
The Colonel, though disclaiming all pretensions
to connoisseurship, warmly admired the screens, as he
would have done any thing painted by Miss Dashwood;
and on the curiosity of the others being of course excited,
they were handed round for general inspection.
Mrs. Ferrars, not aware of their being Elinor's work,
particularly requested to look at them; and after they had
received gratifying testimony of Lady Middletons's approbation,
Fanny presented them to her mother, considerately informing
her, at the same time, that they were done by Miss Dashwood.
"Hum"--said Mrs. Ferrars--"very pretty,"--and without
regarding them at all, returned them to her daughter.
Perhaps Fanny thought for a moment that her mother
had been quite rude enough,--for, colouring a little,
she immediately said,
"They are very pretty, ma'am--an't they?" But then again,
the dread of having been too civil, too encouraging herself,
probably came over her, for she presently added,
"Do you not think they are something in Miss
Morton's style of painting, Ma'am?--She DOES paint most
delightfully!--How beautifully her last landscape is done!"
"Beautifully indeed! But SHE does every thing well."
Marianne could not bear this.--She was already
greatly displeased with Mrs. Ferrars; and such ill-timed
praise of another, at Elinor's expense, though she
had not any notion of what was principally meant by it,
provoked her immediately to say with warmth,
"This is admiration of a very particular kind!--
what is Miss Morton to us?--who knows, or who cares,
for her?--it is Elinor of whom WE think and speak."
And so saying, she took the screens out of her
sister-in-law's hands, to admire them herself as they
ought to be admired.
Mrs. Ferrars looked exceedingly angry, and drawing
herself up more stiffly than ever, pronounced in retort
this bitter philippic, "Miss Morton is Lord Morton's daughter."
Fanny looked very angry too, and her husband was
all in a fright at his sister's audacity. Elinor was
much more hurt by Marianne's warmth than she had been
by what produced it; but Colonel Brandon's eyes, as they
were fixed on Marianne, declared that he noticed only
what was amiable in it, the affectionate heart which could
not bear to see a sister slighted in the smallest point.
Marianne's feelings did not stop here. The cold
insolence of Mrs. Ferrars's general behaviour to her sister,
seemed, to her, to foretell such difficulties and distresses
to Elinor, as her own wounded heart taught her to think
of with horror; and urged by a strong impulse of
affectionate sensibility, she moved after a moment,
to her sister's chair, and putting one arm round her neck,
and one cheek close to hers, said in a low, but eager,
"Dear, dear Elinor, don't mind them. Don't let them
make YOU unhappy."
She could say no more; her spirits were quite overcome,
and hiding her face on Elinor's shoulder, she burst
into tears. Every body's attention was called, and almost
every body was concerned.--Colonel Brandon rose up and went
to them without knowing what he did.--Mrs. Jennings,
with a very intelligent "Ah! poor dear," immediately gave
her her salts; and Sir John felt so desperately enraged
against the author of this nervous distress, that he
instantly changed his seat to one close by Lucy Steele,
and gave her, in a whisper, a brief account of the whole
In a few minutes, however, Marianne was recovered
enough to put an end to the bustle, and sit down among
the rest; though her spirits retained the impression
of what had passed, the whole evening.
"Poor Marianne!" said her brother to Colonel Brandon,
in a low voice, as soon as he could secure his attention,--
"She has not such good health as her sister,--she is very
nervous,--she has not Elinor's constitution;--and one must
allow that there is something very trying to a young woman
who HAS BEEN a beauty in the loss of her personal attractions.
You would not think it perhaps, but Marianne WAS remarkably
handsome a few months ago; quite as handsome as Elinor.--
Now you see it is all gone."
Elinor's curiosity to see Mrs. Ferrars was satisfied.--
She had found in her every thing that could tend to make
a farther connection between the families undesirable.--
She had seen enough of her pride, her meanness, and her
determined prejudice against herself, to comprehend all
the difficulties that must have perplexed the engagement,
and retarded the marriage, of Edward and herself, had he been
otherwise free;--and she had seen almost enough to be thankful
for her OWN sake, that one greater obstacle preserved her
from suffering under any other of Mrs. Ferrars's creation,
preserved her from all dependence upon her caprice, or any
solicitude for her good opinion. Or at least, if she did not
bring herself quite to rejoice in Edward's being fettered
to Lucy, she determined, that had Lucy been more amiable,
she OUGHT to have rejoiced.
She wondered that Lucy's spirits could be so very much
elevated by the civility of Mrs. Ferrars;--that her interest
and her vanity should so very much blind her as to make
the attention which seemed only paid her because she was
NOT ELINOR, appear a compliment to herself--or to allow
her to derive encouragement from a preference only given her,
because her real situation was unknown. But that it was so,
had not only been declared by Lucy's eyes at the time,
but was declared over again the next morning more openly,
for at her particular desire, Lady Middleton set her down
in Berkeley Street on the chance of seeing Elinor alone,
to tell her how happy she was.
The chance proved a lucky one, for a message from
Mrs. Palmer soon after she arrived, carried Mrs. Jennings away.
"My dear friend," cried Lucy, as soon as they were
by themselves, "I come to talk to you of my happiness.
Could anything be so flattering as Mrs. Ferrars's way
of treating me yesterday? So exceeding affable as she
was!--You know how I dreaded the thoughts of seeing her;--
but the very moment I was introduced, there was such an
affability in her behaviour as really should seem to say,
she had quite took a fancy to me. Now was not it so?--
You saw it all; and was not you quite struck with it?"
"She was certainly very civil to you."
"Civil!--Did you see nothing but only civility?--
I saw a vast deal more. Such kindness as fell to the share
of nobody but me!--No pride, no hauteur, and your sister
just the same--all sweetness and affability!"
Elinor wished to talk of something else, but Lucy still
pressed her to own that she had reason for her happiness;
and Elinor was obliged to go on.--
"Undoubtedly, if they had known your engagement,"
said she, "nothing could be more flattering than their
treatment of you;--but as that was not the case"--
"I guessed you would say so"--replied Lucy
quickly--"but there was no reason in the world why
Mrs. Ferrars should seem to like me, if she did not,
and her liking me is every thing. You shan't talk me
out of my satisfaction. I am sure it will all end well,
and there will be no difficulties at all, to what I
used to think. Mrs. Ferrars is a charming woman,
and so is your sister. They are both delightful women,
indeed!--I wonder I should never hear you say how agreeable
Mrs. Dashwood was!"
To this Elinor had no answer to make, and did not
"Are you ill, Miss Dashwood?--you seem low--you
don't speak;--sure you an't well."
"I never was in better health."
"I am glad of it with all my heart; but really you did
not look it. I should be sorry to have YOU ill; you, that have
been the greatest comfort to me in the world!--Heaven
knows what I should have done without your friendship."--
Elinor tried to make a civil answer, though doubting
her own success. But it seemed to satisfy Lucy, for she
"Indeed I am perfectly convinced of your regard
for me, and next to Edward's love, it is the greatest
comfort I have.--Poor Edward!--But now there is one
good thing, we shall be able to meet, and meet pretty often,
for Lady Middleton's delighted with Mrs. Dashwood,
so we shall be a good deal in Harley Street, I dare say,
and Edward spends half his time with his sister--besides,
Lady Middleton and Mrs. Ferrars will visit now;--
and Mrs. Ferrars and your sister were both so good to say
more than once, they should always be glad to see me.--
They are such charming women!--I am sure if ever you
tell your sister what I think of her, you cannot speak
But Elinor would not give her any encouragement
to hope that she SHOULD tell her sister. Lucy continued.
"I am sure I should have seen it in a moment,
if Mrs. Ferrars had took a dislike to me. If she had only
made me a formal courtesy, for instance, without saying
a word, and never after had took any notice of me,
and never looked at me in a pleasant way--you know
what I mean--if I had been treated in that forbidding
sort of way, I should have gave it all up in despair.
I could not have stood it. For where she DOES dislike,
I know it is most violent."
Elinor was prevented from making any reply to this
civil triumph, by the door's being thrown open, the servant's
announcing Mr. Ferrars, and Edward's immediately walking in.
It was a very awkward moment; and the countenance of each
shewed that it was so. They all looked exceedingly foolish;
and Edward seemed to have as great an inclination to walk
out of the room again, as to advance farther into it.
The very circumstance, in its unpleasantest form,
which they would each have been most anxious to avoid,
had fallen on them.--They were not only all three together,
but were together without the relief of any other person.
The ladies recovered themselves first. It was not Lucy's
business to put herself forward, and the appearance of
secrecy must still be kept up. She could therefore only
LOOK her tenderness, and after slightly addressing him,
said no more.
But Elinor had more to do; and so anxious was she,
for his sake and her own, to do it well, that she
forced herself, after a moment's recollection,
to welcome him, with a look and manner that were almost easy,
and almost open; and another struggle, another effort still
improved them. She would not allow the presence of Lucy,
nor the consciousness of some injustice towards herself,
to deter her from saying that she was happy to see him,
and that she had very much regretted being from home,
when he called before in Berkeley Street. She would
not be frightened from paying him those attentions which,
as a friend and almost a relation, were his due, by the
observant eyes of Lucy, though she soon perceived them
to be narrowly watching her.
Her manners gave some re-assurance to Edward, and he
had courage enough to sit down; but his embarrassment still
exceeded that of the ladies in a proportion, which the case
rendered reasonable, though his sex might make it rare;
for his heart had not the indifference of Lucy's, nor
could his conscience have quite the ease of Elinor's.
Lucy, with a demure and settled air, seemed determined
to make no contribution to the comfort of the others,
and would not say a word; and almost every thing that WAS
said, proceeded from Elinor, who was obliged to volunteer
all the information about her mother's health, their coming
to town, &c. which Edward ought to have inquired about,
but never did.
Her exertions did not stop here; for she soon
afterwards felt herself so heroically disposed as
to determine, under pretence of fetching Marianne,
to leave the others by themselves; and she really did it,
and THAT in the handsomest manner, for she loitered away
several minutes on the landing-place, with the most
high-minded fortitude, before she went to her sister.
When that was once done, however, it was time for the raptures
of Edward to cease; for Marianne's joy hurried her into
the drawing-room immediately. Her pleasure in seeing him
was like every other of her feelings, strong in itself,
and strongly spoken. She met him with a hand that would
be taken, and a voice that expressed the affection of a sister.
"Dear Edward!" she cried, "this is a moment of great
happiness!--This would almost make amends for every thing?"
Edward tried to return her kindness as it deserved,
but before such witnesses he dared not say half what he
really felt. Again they all sat down, and for a moment
or two all were silent; while Marianne was looking with the
most speaking tenderness, sometimes at Edward and sometimes
at Elinor, regretting only that their delight in each
other should be checked by Lucy's unwelcome presence.
Edward was the first to speak, and it was to notice
Marianne's altered looks, and express his fear of her
not finding London agree with her.
"Oh, don't think of me!" she replied with spirited
earnestness, though her eyes were filled with tears
as she spoke, "don't think of MY health. Elinor is well,
you see. That must be enough for us both."
This remark was not calculated to make Edward or
Elinor more easy, nor to conciliate the good will of Lucy,
who looked up at Marianne with no very benignant expression.
"Do you like London?" said Edward, willing to say
any thing that might introduce another subject.
"Not at all. I expected much pleasure in it,
but I have found none. The sight of you, Edward, is the
only comfort it has afforded; and thank Heaven! you
are what you always were!"
She paused--no one spoke.
"I think, Elinor," she presently added, "we must
employ Edward to take care of us in our return to Barton.
In a week or two, I suppose, we shall be going; and, I trust,
Edward will not be very unwilling to accept the charge."
Poor Edward muttered something, but what it was,
nobody knew, not even himself. But Marianne, who saw
his agitation, and could easily trace it to whatever
cause best pleased herself, was perfectly satisfied,
and soon talked of something else.
"We spent such a day, Edward, in Harley Street
yesterday! So dull, so wretchedly dull!--But I have much
to say to you on that head, which cannot be said now."
And with this admirable discretion did she defer
the assurance of her finding their mutual relatives more
disagreeable than ever, and of her being particularly
disgusted with his mother, till they were more in private.
"But why were you not there, Edward?--Why did you
"I was engaged elsewhere."
"Engaged! But what was that, when such friends
were to be met?"
"Perhaps, Miss Marianne," cried Lucy, eager to take
some revenge on her, "you think young men never stand
upon engagements, if they have no mind to keep them,
little as well as great."
Elinor was very angry, but Marianne seemed entirely
insensible of the sting; for she calmly replied,
"Not so, indeed; for, seriously speaking, I am very
sure that conscience only kept Edward from Harley Street.
And I really believe he HAS the most delicate conscience
in the world; the most scrupulous in performing
every engagement, however minute, and however it
may make against his interest or pleasure. He is the
most fearful of giving pain, of wounding expectation,
and the most incapable of being selfish, of any body
I ever saw. Edward, it is so, and I will say it.
What! are you never to hear yourself praised!--Then you
must be no friend of mine; for those who will accept
of my love and esteem, must submit to my open commendation."
The nature of her commendation, in the present case,
however, happened to be particularly ill-suited to the
feelings of two thirds of her auditors, and was so very
unexhilarating to Edward, that he very soon got up to go away.
"Going so soon!" said Marianne; "my dear Edward,
this must not be."
And drawing him a little aside, she whispered
her persuasion that Lucy could not stay much longer.
But even this encouragement failed, for he would go;
and Lucy, who would have outstaid him, had his visit lasted
two hours, soon afterwards went away.
"What can bring her here so often?" said Marianne,
on her leaving them. "Could not she see that we wanted
her gone!--how teazing to Edward!"
"Why so?--we were all his friends, and Lucy has been
the longest known to him of any. It is but natural
that he should like to see her as well as ourselves."
Marianne looked at her steadily, and said, "You know,
Elinor, that this is a kind of talking which I cannot bear.
If you only hope to have your assertion contradicted,
as I must suppose to be the case, you ought to recollect
that I am the last person in the world to do it.
I cannot descend to be tricked out of assurances, that are
not really wanted."
She then left the room; and Elinor dared not follow
her to say more, for bound as she was by her promise
of secrecy to Lucy, she could give no information that
would convince Marianne; and painful as the consequences
of her still continuing in an error might be, she was
obliged to submit to it. All that she could hope, was
that Edward would not often expose her or himself to the
distress of hearing Marianne's mistaken warmth, nor to the
repetition of any other part of the pain that had attended
their recent meeting--and this she had every reason to expect.
Within a few days after this meeting, the newspapers
announced to the world, that the lady of Thomas Palmer,
Esq. was safely delivered of a son and heir; a very
interesting and satisfactory paragraph, at least to all
those intimate connections who knew it before.
This event, highly important to Mrs. Jennings's happiness,
produced a temporary alteration in the disposal of her time,
and influenced, in a like degree, the engagements
of her young friends; for as she wished to be as much
as possible with Charlotte, she went thither every morning
as soon as she was dressed, and did not return till late
in the evening; and the Miss Dashwoods, at the particular
request of the Middletons, spent the whole of every day,
in every day in Conduit Street. For their own comfort
they would much rather have remained, at least all
the morning, in Mrs. Jennings's house; but it was not
a thing to be urged against the wishes of everybody.
Their hours were therefore made over to Lady Middleton
and the two Miss Steeles, by whom their company, in fact
was as little valued, as it was professedly sought.
They had too much sense to be desirable companions
to the former; and by the latter they were considered with
a jealous eye, as intruding on THEIR ground, and sharing
the kindness which they wanted to monopolize. Though nothing
could be more polite than Lady Middleton's behaviour to
Elinor and Marianne, she did not really like them at all.
Because they neither flattered herself nor her children,
she could not believe them good-natured; and because they
were fond of reading, she fancied them satirical: perhaps
without exactly knowing what it was to be satirical;
but THAT did not signify. It was censure in common use,
and easily given.
Their presence was a restraint both on her and on Lucy.
It checked the idleness of one, and the business of the other.
Lady Middleton was ashamed of doing nothing before them,
and the flattery which Lucy was proud to think of
and administer at other times, she feared they would despise
her for offering. Miss Steele was the least discomposed
of the three, by their presence; and it was in their power
to reconcile her to it entirely. Would either of them
only have given her a full and minute account of the whole
affair between Marianne and Mr. Willoughby, she would
have thought herself amply rewarded for the sacrifice
of the best place by the fire after dinner, which their
arrival occasioned. But this conciliation was not granted;
for though she often threw out expressions of pity for her
sister to Elinor, and more than once dropt a reflection
on the inconstancy of beaux before Marianne, no effect
was produced, but a look of indifference from the former,
or of disgust in the latter. An effort even yet lighter
might have made her their friend. Would they only have
laughed at her about the Doctor! But so little were they,
anymore than the others, inclined to oblige her,
that if Sir John dined from home, she might spend a whole
day without hearing any other raillery on the subject,
than what she was kind enough to bestow on herself.
All these jealousies and discontents, however, were so
totally unsuspected by Mrs. Jennings, that she thought
it a delightful thing for the girls to be together;
and generally congratulated her young friends every night,
on having escaped the company of a stupid old woman so long.
She joined them sometimes at Sir John's, sometimes
at her own house; but wherever it was, she always came
in excellent spirits, full of delight and importance,
attributing Charlotte's well doing to her own care, and ready
to give so exact, so minute a detail of her situation,
as only Miss Steele had curiosity enough to desire.
One thing DID disturb her; and of that she made her
daily complaint. Mr. Palmer maintained the common,
but unfatherly opinion among his sex, of all infants being alike;
and though she could plainly perceive, at different times,
the most striking resemblance between this baby and every
one of his relations on both sides, there was no convincing
his father of it; no persuading him to believe that it
was not exactly like every other baby of the same age;
nor could he even be brought to acknowledge the simple
proposition of its being the finest child in the world.
I come now to the relation of a misfortune,
which about this time befell Mrs. John Dashwood.
It so happened that while her two sisters with
Mrs. Jennings were first calling on her in Harley Street,
another of her acquaintance had dropt in--a circumstance
in itself not apparently likely to produce evil to her.
But while the imaginations of other people will carry
them away to form wrong judgments of our conduct,
and to decide on it by slight appearances, one's happiness
must in some measure be always at the mercy of chance.
In the present instance, this last-arrived lady allowed
her fancy to so far outrun truth and probability,
that on merely hearing the name of the Miss Dashwoods,
and understanding them to be Mr. Dashwood's sisters,
she immediately concluded them to be staying in Harley Street;
and this misconstruction produced within a day
or two afterwards, cards of invitation for them
as well as for their brother and sister, to a small
musical party at her house. The consequence of which was,
that Mrs. John Dashwood was obliged to submit not only
to the exceedingly great inconvenience of sending her
carriage for the Miss Dashwoods, but, what was still worse,
must be subject to all the unpleasantness of appearing
to treat them with attention: and who could tell that they
might not expect to go out with her a second time? The power
of disappointing them, it was true, must always be her's.
But that was not enough; for when people are determined
on a mode of conduct which they know to be wrong, they feel
injured by the expectation of any thing better from them.
Marianne had now been brought by degrees, so much
into the habit of going out every day, that it was become
a matter of indifference to her, whether she went or not:
and she prepared quietly and mechanically for every
evening's engagement, though without expecting the smallest
amusement from any, and very often without knowing,
till the last moment, where it was to take her.
To her dress and appearance she was grown so perfectly
indifferent, as not to bestow half the consideration on it,
during the whole of her toilet, which it received from
Miss Steele in the first five minutes of their being
together, when it was finished. Nothing escaped HER minute
observation and general curiosity; she saw every thing,
and asked every thing; was never easy till she knew the price
of every part of Marianne's dress; could have guessed the
number of her gowns altogether with better judgment than
Marianne herself, and was not without hopes of finding out
before they parted, how much her washing cost per week,
and how much she had every year to spend upon herself.
The impertinence of these kind of scrutinies, moreover,
was generally concluded with a compliment, which
though meant as its douceur, was considered by Marianne
as the greatest impertinence of all; for after undergoing
an examination into the value and make of her gown,
the colour of her shoes, and the arrangement of her hair,
she was almost sure of being told that upon "her word
she looked vastly smart, and she dared to say she would
make a great many conquests."
With such encouragement as this, was she dismissed
on the present occasion, to her brother's carriage;
which they were ready to enter five minutes after it
stopped at the door, a punctuality not very agreeable
to their sister-in-law, who had preceded them to the house
of her acquaintance, and was there hoping for some delay
on their part that might inconvenience either herself
or her coachman.
The events of this evening were not very remarkable.
The party, like other musical parties, comprehended a
great many people who had real taste for the performance,
and a great many more who had none at all; and the performers
themselves were, as usual, in their own estimation,
and that of their immediate friends, the first private
performers in England.
As Elinor was neither musical, nor affecting to be so,
she made no scruple of turning her eyes from the grand
pianoforte, whenever it suited her, and unrestrained even
by the presence of a harp, and violoncello, would fix
them at pleasure on any other object in the room. In one
of these excursive glances she perceived among a group
of young men, the very he, who had given them a lecture
on toothpick-cases at Gray's. She perceived him soon
afterwards looking at herself, and speaking familiarly
to her brother; and had just determined to find out his
name from the latter, when they both came towards her,
and Mr. Dashwood introduced him to her as Mr. Robert Ferrars.
He addressed her with easy civility, and twisted
his head into a bow which assured her as plainly as
words could have done, that he was exactly the coxcomb
she had heard him described to be by Lucy. Happy had
it been for her, if her regard for Edward had depended
less on his own merit, than on the merit of his nearest
relations! For then his brother's bow must have given
the finishing stroke to what the ill-humour of his mother
and sister would have begun. But while she wondered
at the difference of the two young men, she did not find
that the emptiness of conceit of the one, put her out
of all charity with the modesty and worth of the other.
Why they WERE different, Robert exclaimed to her himself
in the course of a quarter of an hour's conversation;
for, talking of his brother, and lamenting the extreme
GAUCHERIE which he really believed kept him from mixing
in proper society, he candidly and generously attributed it
much less to any natural deficiency, than to the misfortune
of a private education; while he himself, though probably
without any particular, any material superiority
by nature, merely from the advantage of a public school,
was as well fitted to mix in the world as any other man.
"Upon my soul," he added, "I believe it is nothing more;
and so I often tell my mother, when she is grieving
about it. 'My dear Madam,' I always say to her, 'you must
make yourself easy. The evil is now irremediable,
and it has been entirely your own doing. Why would
you be persuaded by my uncle, Sir Robert, against your
own judgment, to place Edward under private tuition,
at the most critical time of his life? If you had only sent
him to Westminster as well as myself, instead of sending
him to Mr. Pratt's, all this would have been prevented.'
This is the way in which I always consider the matter,
and my mother is perfectly convinced of her error."
Elinor would not oppose his opinion, because,
whatever might be her general estimation of the advantage
of a public school, she could not think of Edward's
abode in Mr. Pratt's family, with any satisfaction.
"You reside in Devonshire, I think,"--was his
next observation, "in a cottage near Dawlish."
Elinor set him right as to its situation;
and it seemed rather surprising to him that anybody
could live in Devonshire, without living near Dawlish.
He bestowed his hearty approbation however on their
species of house.
"For my own part," said he, "I am excessively fond
of a cottage; there is always so much comfort, so much
elegance about them. And I protest, if I had any money
to spare, I should buy a little land and build one myself,
within a short distance of London, where I might drive
myself down at any time, and collect a few friends
about me, and be happy. I advise every body who is going
to build, to build a cottage. My friend Lord Courtland
came to me the other day on purpose to ask my advice,
and laid before me three different plans of Bonomi's.
I was to decide on the best of them. 'My dear Courtland,'
said I, immediately throwing them all into the fire, 'do not
adopt either of them, but by all means build a cottage.'
And that I fancy, will be the end of it.
"Some people imagine that there can be no accommodations,
no space in a cottage; but this is all a mistake.
I was last month at my friend Elliott's, near Dartford.
Lady Elliott wished to give a dance. 'But how can it
be done?' said she; 'my dear Ferrars, do tell me how it
is to be managed. There is not a room in this cottage
that will hold ten couple, and where can the supper be?'
I immediately saw that there could be no difficulty in it,
so I said, 'My dear Lady Elliott, do not be uneasy.
The dining parlour will admit eighteen couple with ease;
card-tables may be placed in the drawing-room; the library
may be open for tea and other refreshments; and let the
supper be set out in the saloon.' Lady Elliott was delighted
with the thought. We measured the dining-room, and found
it would hold exactly eighteen couple, and the affair
was arranged precisely after my plan. So that, in fact,
you see, if people do but know how to set about it,
every comfort may be as well enjoyed in a cottage
as in the most spacious dwelling."
Elinor agreed to it all, for she did not think
he deserved the compliment of rational opposition.
As John Dashwood had no more pleasure in music than his
eldest sister, his mind was equally at liberty to fix on
any thing else; and a thought struck him during the evening,
which he communicated to his wife, for her approbation,
when they got home. The consideration of Mrs. Dennison's
in supposing his sisters their guests, had suggested the
propriety of their being really invited to become such,
while Mrs. Jenning's engagements kept her from home.
The expense would be nothing, the inconvenience not more;
and it was altogether an attention which the delicacy
of his conscience pointed out to be requisite to its
complete enfranchisement from his promise to his father.
Fanny was startled at the proposal.
"I do not see how it can be done," said she,
"without affronting Lady Middleton, for they spend every day
with her; otherwise I should be exceedingly glad to do it.
You know I am always ready to pay them any attention
in my power, as my taking them out this evening shews.
But they are Lady Middleton's visitors. How can I ask them
away from her?"
Her husband, but with great humility, did not see
the force of her objection. "They had already spent a week
in this manner in Conduit Street, and Lady Middleton
could not be displeased at their giving the same number
of days to such near relations."
Fanny paused a moment, and then, with fresh vigor, said,
"My love I would ask them with all my heart, if it
was in my power. But I had just settled within myself
to ask the Miss Steeles to spend a few days with us.
They are very well behaved, good kind of girls; and I think
the attention is due to them, as their uncle did so very
well by Edward. We can ask your sisters some other year,
you know; but the Miss Steeles may not be in town any more.
I am sure you will like them; indeed, you DO like them,
you know, very much already, and so does my mother; and they
are such favourites with Harry!"
Mr. Dashwood was convinced. He saw the necessity
of inviting the Miss Steeles immediately, and his conscience
was pacified by the resolution of inviting his sisters
another year; at the same time, however, slyly suspecting
that another year would make the invitation needless,
by bringing Elinor to town as Colonel Brandon's wife,
and Marianne as THEIR visitor.
Fanny, rejoicing in her escape, and proud of the ready
wit that had procured it, wrote the next morning to Lucy,
to request her company and her sister's, for some days,
in Harley Street, as soon as Lady Middleton could spare them.
This was enough to make Lucy really and reasonably happy.
Mrs. Dashwood seemed actually working for her, herself;
cherishing all her hopes, and promoting all her views!
Such an opportunity of being with Edward and his family was,
above all things, the most material to her interest,
and such an invitation the most gratifying to her
feelings! It was an advantage that could not be too
gratefully acknowledged, nor too speedily made use of;
and the visit to Lady Middleton, which had not before had
any precise limits, was instantly discovered to have been
always meant to end in two days' time.
When the note was shown to Elinor, as it was within ten
minutes after its arrival, it gave her, for the first time,
some share in the expectations of Lucy; for such a mark
of uncommon kindness, vouchsafed on so short an acquaintance,
seemed to declare that the good-will towards her arose
from something more than merely malice against herself;
and might be brought, by time and address, to do
every thing that Lucy wished. Her flattery had already
subdued the pride of Lady Middleton, and made an entry
into the close heart of Mrs. John Dashwood; and these
were effects that laid open the probability of greater.
The Miss Steeles removed to Harley Street, and all
that reached Elinor of their influence there, strengthened
her expectation of the event. Sir John, who called on
them more than once, brought home such accounts of the
favour they were in, as must be universally striking.
Mrs. Dashwood had never been so much pleased with any
young women in her life, as she was with them; had given
each of them a needle book made by some emigrant;
called Lucy by her Christian name; and did not know
whether she should ever be able to part with them.
[At this point in the first and second editions, Volume II ended.]
Mrs. Palmer was so well at the end of a fortnight,
that her mother felt it no longer necessary to give up
the whole of her time to her; and, contenting herself with
visiting her once or twice a day, returned from that period
to her own home, and her own habits, in which she found
the Miss Dashwoods very ready to resume their former share.
About the third or fourth morning after their
being thus resettled in Berkeley Street, Mrs. Jennings,
on returning from her ordinary visit to Mrs. Palmer,
entered the drawing-room, where Elinor was sitting
by herself, with an air of such hurrying importance
as prepared her to hear something wonderful; and giving her
time only to form that idea, began directly to justify it,
"Lord! my dear Miss Dashwood! have you heard the news?"
"No, ma'am. What is it?"
"Something so strange! But you shall hear it all.--
When I got to Mr. Palmer's, I found Charlotte quite
in a fuss about the child. She was sure it was very
ill--it cried, and fretted, and was all over pimples.
So I looked at it directly, and, 'Lord! my dear,'
says I, 'it is nothing in the world, but the red gum--'
and nurse said just the same. But Charlotte, she would
not be satisfied, so Mr. Donavan was sent for; and luckily
he happened to just come in from Harley Street, so he
stepped over directly, and as soon as ever he saw the child,
be said just as we did, that it was nothing in the world
but the red gum, and then Charlotte was easy. And so,
just as he was going away again, it came into my head,
I am sure I do not know how I happened to think of it,
but it came into my head to ask him if there was any news.
So upon that, he smirked, and simpered, and looked grave,
and seemed to know something or other, and at last he
said in a whisper, 'For fear any unpleasant report
should reach the young ladies under your care as to their
sister's indisposition, I think it advisable to say,
that I believe there is no great reason for alarm; I hope
Mrs. Dashwood will do very well.'"
"What! is Fanny ill?"
"That is exactly what I said, my dear. 'Lord!' says I,
'is Mrs. Dashwood ill?' So then it all came out; and the
long and the short of the matter, by all I can learn,
seems to be this. Mr. Edward Ferrars, the very young
man I used to joke with you about (but however, as it
turns out, I am monstrous glad there was never any thing
in it), Mr. Edward Ferrars, it seems, has been engaged
above this twelvemonth to my cousin Lucy!--There's for you,
my dear!--And not a creature knowing a syllable of the matter,
except Nancy!--Could you have believed such a thing possible?--
There is no great wonder in their liking one another;
but that matters should be brought so forward between them,
and nobody suspect it!--THAT is strange!--I never happened
to see them together, or I am sure I should have found it
out directly. Well, and so this was kept a great secret,
for fear of Mrs. Ferrars, and neither she nor your
brother or sister suspected a word of the matter;--
till this very morning, poor Nancy, who, you know, is a
well-meaning creature, but no conjurer, popt it all out.
'Lord!' thinks she to herself, 'they are all so fond
of Lucy, to be sure they will make no difficulty about it;'
and so, away she went to your sister, who was sitting all
alone at her carpet-work, little suspecting what was to
come--for she had just been saying to your brother, only five
minutes before, that she thought to make a match between
Edward and some Lord's daughter or other, I forget who.
So you may think what a blow it was to all her vanity
and pride. She fell into violent hysterics immediately,
with such screams as reached your brother's ears,
as he was sitting in his own dressing-room down stairs,
thinking about writing a letter to his steward in the country.
So up he flew directly, and a terrible scene took place,
for Lucy was come to them by that time, little dreaming
what was going on. Poor soul! I pity HER. And I must say,
I think she was used very hardly; for your sister scolded
like any fury, and soon drove her into a fainting fit.
Nancy, she fell upon her knees, and cried bitterly;
and your brother, he walked about the room, and said
he did not know what to do. Mrs. Dashwood declared
they should not stay a minute longer in the house,
and your brother was forced to go down upon HIS knees too,
to persuade her to let them stay till they had packed
up their clothes. THEN she fell into hysterics again,
and he was so frightened that he would send for Mr. Donavan,
and Mr. Donavan found the house in all this uproar.
The carriage was at the door ready to take my poor
cousins away, and they were just stepping in as he
came off; poor Lucy in such a condition, he says,
she could hardly walk; and Nancy, she was almost as bad.
I declare, I have no patience with your sister; and I hope,
with all my heart, it will be a match in spite of her.
Lord! what a taking poor Mr. Edward will be in when he
hears of it! To have his love used so scornfully! for
they say he is monstrous fond of her, as well he may.
I should not wonder, if he was to be in the greatest
passion!--and Mr. Donavan thinks just the same. He and I
had a great deal of talk about it; and the best of all is,
that he is gone back again to Harley Street, that he may
be within call when Mrs. Ferrars is told of it, for she
was sent for as soon as ever my cousins left the house,
for your sister was sure SHE would be in hysterics too;
and so she may, for what I care. I have no pity for
either of them. I have no notion of people's making
such a to-do about money and greatness. There is no
reason on earth why Mr. Edward and Lucy should not marry;
for I am sure Mrs. Ferrars may afford to do very well
by her son, and though Lucy has next to nothing herself,
she knows better than any body how to make the most
of every thing; I dare say, if Mrs. Ferrars would only
allow him five hundred a-year, she would make as good
an appearance with it as any body else would with eight.
Lord! how snug they might live in such another cottage
as yours--or a little bigger--with two maids, and two men;
and I believe I could help them to a housemaid, for my
Betty has a sister out of place, that would fit them