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Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen (1775-1817)

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Jane Austen


About thirty years ago Miss Maria Ward, of Huntingdon,
with only seven thousand pounds, had the good luck
to captivate Sir Thomas Bertram, of Mansfield Park,
in the county of Northampton, and to be thereby raised
to the rank of a baronet's lady, with all the comforts
and consequences of an handsome house and large income.
All Huntingdon exclaimed on the greatness of the match,
and her uncle, the lawyer, himself, allowed her to be at least
three thousand pounds short of any equitable claim to it.
She had two sisters to be benefited by her elevation;
and such of their acquaintance as thought Miss Ward and Miss
Frances quite as handsome as Miss Maria, did not scruple
to predict their marrying with almost equal advantage.
But there certainly are not so many men of large fortune
in the world as there are pretty women to deserve them.
Miss Ward, at the end of half a dozen years, found
herself obliged to be attached to the Rev. Mr. Norris,
a friend of her brother-in-law, with scarcely any
private fortune, and Miss Frances fared yet worse.
Miss Ward's match, indeed, when it came to the point,
was not contemptible: Sir Thomas being happily able
to give his friend an income in the living of Mansfield;
and Mr. and Mrs. Norris began their career of conjugal
felicity with very little less than a thousand a year.
But Miss Frances married, in the common phrase,
to disoblige her family, and by fixing on a lieutenant
of marines, without education, fortune, or connexions,
did it very thoroughly. She could hardly have made
a more untoward choice. Sir Thomas Bertram had interest,
which, from principle as well as pride--from a general
wish of doing right, and a desire of seeing all that were
connected with him in situations of respectability,
he would have been glad to exert for the advantage
of Lady Bertram's sister; but her husband's profession
was such as no interest could reach; and before he
had time to devise any other method of assisting them,
an absolute breach between the sisters had taken place.
It was the natural result of the conduct of each party,
and such as a very imprudent marriage almost always produces.
To save herself from useless remonstrance, Mrs. Price never
wrote to her family on the subject till actually married.
Lady Bertram, who was a woman of very tranquil feelings,
and a temper remarkably easy and indolent, would have
contented herself with merely giving up her sister,
and thinking no more of the matter; but Mrs. Norris
had a spirit of activity, which could not be satisfied
till she had written a long and angry letter to Fanny,
to point out the folly of her conduct, and threaten
her with all its possible ill consequences. Mrs. Price,
in her turn, was injured and angry; and an answer,
which comprehended each sister in its bitterness, and bestowed
such very disrespectful reflections on the pride of Sir
Thomas as Mrs. Norris could not possibly keep to herself,
put an end to all intercourse between them for a considerable

Their homes were so distant, and the circles in which they
moved so distinct, as almost to preclude the means of ever
hearing of each other's existence during the eleven
following years, or, at least, to make it very wonderful
to Sir Thomas that Mrs. Norris should ever have it
in her power to tell them, as she now and then did,
in an angry voice, that Fanny had got another child.
By the end of eleven years, however, Mrs. Price could no
longer afford to cherish pride or resentment, or to lose one
connexion that might possibly assist her. A large and still
increasing family, an husband disabled for active service,
but not the less equal to company and good liquor, and a
very small income to supply their wants, made her eager
to regain the friends she had so carelessly sacrificed;
and she addressed Lady Bertram in a letter which spoke
so much contrition and despondence, such a superfluity
of children, and such a want of almost everything else,
as could not but dispose them all to a reconciliation.
She was preparing for her ninth lying-in; and after
bewailing the circumstance, and imploring their countenance
as sponsors to the expected child, she could not conceal
how important she felt they might be to the future
maintenance of the eight already in being. Her eldest
was a boy of ten years old, a fine spirited fellow,
who longed to be out in the world; but what could she do?
Was there any chance of his being hereafter useful to Sir
Thomas in the concerns of his West Indian property?
No situation would be beneath him; or what did Sir Thomas
think of Woolwich? or how could a boy be sent out to
the East?

The letter was not unproductive. It re-established
peace and kindness. Sir Thomas sent friendly
advice and professions, Lady Bertram dispatched
money and baby-linen, and Mrs. Norris wrote the letters.

Such were its immediate effects, and within a twelvemonth
a more important advantage to Mrs. Price resulted from it.
Mrs. Norris was often observing to the others that she
could not get her poor sister and her family out of
her head, and that, much as they had all done for her,
she seemed to be wanting to do more; and at length she
could not but own it to be her wish that poor Mrs. Price
should be relieved from the charge and expense of one child
entirely out of her great number. "What if they were
among them to undertake the care of her eldest daughter,
a girl now nine years old, of an age to require more
attention than her poor mother could possibly give?
The trouble and expense of it to them would be nothing,
compared with the benevolence of the action." Lady Bertram
agreed with her instantly. "I think we cannot do better,"
said she; "let us send for the child."

Sir Thomas could not give so instantaneous and unqualified
a consent. He debated and hesitated;--it was a serious charge;--
a girl so brought up must be adequately provided for,
or there would be cruelty instead of kindness in taking
her from her family. He thought of his own four children,
of his two sons, of cousins in love, etc.;--but no sooner
had he deliberately begun to state his objections,
than Mrs. Norris interrupted him with a reply to them all,
whether stated or not.

"My dear Sir Thomas, I perfectly comprehend you, and do
justice to the generosity and delicacy of your notions,
which indeed are quite of a piece with your general conduct;
and I entirely agree with you in the main as to the propriety
of doing everything one could by way of providing for a
child one had in a manner taken into one's own hands;
and I am sure I should be the last person in the world to
withhold my mite upon such an occasion. Having no children
of my own, who should I look to in any little matter I
may ever have to bestow, but the children of my sisters?--
and I am sure Mr. Norris is too just--but you know I am
a woman of few words and professions. Do not let us
be frightened from a good deed by a trifle. Give a girl
an education, and introduce her properly into the world,
and ten to one but she has the means of settling well,
without farther expense to anybody. A niece of ours,
Sir Thomas, I may say, or at least of _yours_, would not
grow up in this neighbourhood without many advantages.
I don't say she would be so handsome as her cousins.
I dare say she would not; but she would be introduced into
the society of this country under such very favourable
circumstances as, in all human probability, would get her
a creditable establishment. You are thinking of your sons--
but do not you know that, of all things upon earth,
_that_ is the least likely to happen, brought up as they
would be, always together like brothers and sisters?
It is morally impossible. I never knew an instance of it.
It is, in fact, the only sure way of providing against
the connexion. Suppose her a pretty girl, and seen by Tom
or Edmund for the first time seven years hence, and I dare
say there would be mischief. The very idea of her having
been suffered to grow up at a distance from us all in poverty
and neglect, would be enough to make either of the dear,
sweet-tempered boys in love with her. But breed her up
with them from this time, and suppose her even to have the
beauty of an angel, and she will never be more to either than
a sister."

"There is a great deal of truth in what you say,"
replied Sir Thomas, "and far be it from me to throw any
fanciful impediment in the way of a plan which would be
so consistent with the relative situations of each. I only
meant to observe that it ought not to be lightly engaged in,
and that to make it really serviceable to Mrs. Price,
and creditable to ourselves, we must secure to the child,
or consider ourselves engaged to secure to her hereafter,
as circumstances may arise, the provision of a gentlewoman,
if no such establishment should offer as you are so sanguine
in expecting."

"I thoroughly understand you," cried Mrs. Norris,
"you are everything that is generous and considerate,
and I am sure we shall never disagree on this point.
Whatever I can do, as you well know, I am always ready
enough to do for the good of those I love; and, though I
could never feel for this little girl the hundredth
part of the regard I bear your own dear children,
nor consider her, in any respect, so much my own,
I should hate myself if I were capable of neglecting her.
Is not she a sister's child? and could I bear to see
her want while I had a bit of bread to give her?
My dear Sir Thomas, with all my faults I have a warm heart;
and, poor as I am, would rather deny myself the necessaries
of life than do an ungenerous thing. So, if you are not
against it, I will write to my poor sister tomorrow,
and make the proposal; and, as soon as matters are settled,
_I_ will engage to get the child to Mansfield; _you_ shall
have no trouble about it. My own trouble, you know,
I never regard. I will send Nanny to London on purpose,
and she may have a bed at her cousin the saddler's, and the
child be appointed to meet her there. They may easily get
her from Portsmouth to town by the coach, under the care
of any creditable person that may chance to be going.
I dare say there is always some reputable tradesman's wife
or other going up."

Except to the attack on Nanny's cousin, Sir Thomas no longer
made any objection, and a more respectable, though less
economical rendezvous being accordingly substituted,
everything was considered as settled, and the pleasures
of so benevolent a scheme were already enjoyed.
The division of gratifying sensations ought not,
in strict justice, to have been equal; for Sir Thomas was
fully resolved to be the real and consistent patron of the
selected child, and Mrs. Norris had not the least intention
of being at any expense whatever in her maintenance.
As far as walking, talking, and contriving reached,
she was thoroughly benevolent, and nobody knew better
how to dictate liberality to others; but her love of money
was equal to her love of directing, and she knew quite as
well how to save her own as to spend that of her friends.
Having married on a narrower income than she had been
used to look forward to, she had, from the first,
fancied a very strict line of economy necessary;
and what was begun as a matter of prudence, soon grew
into a matter of choice, as an object of that needful
solicitude which there were no children to supply.
Had there been a family to provide for, Mrs. Norris might
never have saved her money; but having no care of that kind,
there was nothing to impede her frugality, or lessen the
comfort of making a yearly addition to an income which they
had never lived up to. Under this infatuating principle,
counteracted by no real affection for her sister,
it was impossible for her to aim at more than the credit
of projecting and arranging so expensive a charity;
though perhaps she might so little know herself as to
walk home to the Parsonage, after this conversation,
in the happy belief of being the most liberal-minded
sister and aunt in the world.

When the subject was brought forward again, her views
were more fully explained; and, in reply to Lady Bertram's
calm inquiry of "Where shall the child come to first,
sister, to you or to us?" Sir Thomas heard with some
surprise that it would be totally out of Mrs. Norris's
power to take any share in the personal charge of her.
He had been considering her as a particularly welcome
addition at the Parsonage, as a desirable companion
to an aunt who had no children of her own; but he found
himself wholly mistaken. Mrs. Norris was sorry to say
that the little girl's staying with them, at least
as things then were, was quite out of the question.
Poor Mr. Norris's indifferent state of health made it
an impossibility: he could no more bear the noise of a child
than he could fly; if, indeed, he should ever get well
of his gouty complaints, it would be a different matter:
she should then be glad to take her turn, and think nothing
of the inconvenience; but just now, poor Mr. Norris
took up every moment of her time, and the very mention
of such a thing she was sure would distract him.

"Then she had better come to us," said Lady Bertram,
with the utmost composure. After a short pause Sir Thomas
added with dignity, "Yes, let her home be in this house.
We will endeavour to do our duty by her, and she will,
at least, have the advantage of companions of her own age,
and of a regular instructress."

"Very true," cried Mrs. Norris, "which are both very
important considerations; and it will be just the same
to Miss Lee whether she has three girls to teach,
or only two--there can be no difference. I only wish I
could be more useful; but you see I do all in my power.
I am not one of those that spare their own trouble;
and Nanny shall fetch her, however it may put me
to inconvenience to have my chief counsellor away for
three days. I suppose, sister, you will put the child
in the little white attic, near the old nurseries.
It will be much the best place for her, so near Miss Lee,
and not far from the girls, and close by the housemaids,
who could either of them help to dress her, you know,
and take care of her clothes, for I suppose you would not
think it fair to expect Ellis to wait on her as well as
the others. Indeed, I do not see that you could possibly
place her anywhere else."

Lady Bertram made no opposition.

"I hope she will prove a well-disposed girl,"
continued Mrs. Norris, "and be sensible of her uncommon
good fortune in having such friends."

"Should her disposition be really bad," said Sir Thomas,
"we must not, for our own children's sake, continue her
in the family; but there is no reason to expect so great
an evil. We shall probably see much to wish altered
in her, and must prepare ourselves for gross ignorance,
some meanness of opinions, and very distressing vulgarity
of manner; but these are not incurable faults; nor, I trust,
can they be dangerous for her associates. Had my daughters
been _younger_ than herself, I should have considered
the introduction of such a companion as a matter of very
serious moment; but, as it is, I hope there can be nothing
to fear for _them_, and everything to hope for _her_,
from the association."

"That is exactly what I think," cried Mrs. Norris,
"and what I was saying to my husband this morning.
It will be an education for the child, said I, only being
with her cousins; if Miss Lee taught her nothing, she would
learn to be good and clever from _them_."

"I hope she will not tease my poor pug," said Lady Bertram;
"I have but just got Julia to leave it alone."

"There will be some difficulty in our way, Mrs. Norris,"
observed Sir Thomas, "as to the distinction proper to be made
between the girls as they grow up: how to preserve in the
minds of my _daughters_ the consciousness of what they are,
without making them think too lowly of their cousin;
and how, without depressing her spirits too far,
to make her remember that she is not a _Miss Bertram_.
I should wish to see them very good friends, and would,
on no account, authorise in my girls the smallest degree
of arrogance towards their relation; but still they cannot
be equals. Their rank, fortune, rights, and expectations
will always be different. It is a point of great delicacy,
and you must assist us in our endeavours to choose exactly
the right line of conduct."

Mrs. Norris was quite at his service; and though she
perfectly agreed with him as to its being a most
difficult thing, encouraged him to hope that between
them it would be easily managed.

It will be readily believed that Mrs. Norris did not write
to her sister in vain. Mrs. Price seemed rather surprised
that a girl should be fixed on, when she had so many fine boys,
but accepted the offer most thankfully, assuring them of her
daughter's being a very well-disposed, good-humoured girl,
and trusting they would never have cause to throw her off.
She spoke of her farther as somewhat delicate and puny,
but was sanguine in the hope of her being materially better
for change of air. Poor woman! she probably thought
change of air might agree with many of her children.


The little girl performed her long journey in safety;
and at Northampton was met by Mrs. Norris, who thus
regaled in the credit of being foremost to welcome her,
and in the importance of leading her in to the others,
and recommending her to their kindness.

Fanny Price was at this time just ten years old,
and though there might not be much in her first appearance
to captivate, there was, at least, nothing to disgust
her relations. She was small of her age, with no
glow of complexion, nor any other striking beauty;
exceedingly timid and shy, and shrinking from notice;
but her air, though awkward, was not vulgar, her voice
was sweet, and when she spoke her countenance was pretty.
Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram received her very kindly;
and Sir Thomas, seeing how much she needed encouragement,
tried to be all that was conciliating: but he had
to work against a most untoward gravity of deportment;
and Lady Bertram, without taking half so much trouble,
or speaking one word where he spoke ten, by the mere aid
of a good-humoured smile, became immediately the less awful
character of the two.

The young people were all at home, and sustained their
share in the introduction very well, with much good humour,
and no embarrassment, at least on the part of the sons, who,
at seventeen and sixteen, and tall of their age, had all
the grandeur of men in the eyes of their little cousin.
The two girls were more at a loss from being younger
and in greater awe of their father, who addressed them
on the occasion with rather an injudicious particularity.
But they were too much used to company and praise to have
anything like natural shyness; and their confidence
increasing from their cousin's total want of it,
they were soon able to take a full survey of her face
and her frock in easy indifference.

They were a remarkably fine family, the sons very well-looking,
the daughters decidedly handsome, and all of them well-grown
and forward of their age, which produced as striking
a difference between the cousins in person, as education
had given to their address; and no one would have supposed
the girls so nearly of an age as they really were. There were
in fact but two years between the youngest and Fanny.
Julia Bertram was only twelve, and Maria but a year older.
The little visitor meanwhile was as unhappy as possible.
Afraid of everybody, ashamed of herself, and longing
for the home she had left, she knew not how to look up,
and could scarcely speak to be heard, or without crying.
Mrs. Norris had been talking to her the whole way from
Northampton of her wonderful good fortune, and the
extraordinary degree of gratitude and good behaviour
which it ought to produce, and her consciousness of
misery was therefore increased by the idea of its being
a wicked thing for her not to be happy. The fatigue,
too, of so long a journey, became soon no trifling evil.
In vain were the well-meant condescensions of Sir Thomas,
and all the officious prognostications of Mrs. Norris
that she would be a good girl; in vain did Lady Bertram
smile and make her sit on the sofa with herself and pug,
and vain was even the sight of a gooseberry tart towards
giving her comfort; she could scarcely swallow two mouthfuls
before tears interrupted her, and sleep seeming to be her
likeliest friend, she was taken to finish her sorrows in bed.

"This is not a very promising beginning," said Mrs. Norris,
when Fanny had left the room. "After all that I said to her
as we came along, I thought she would have behaved better;
I told her how much might depend upon her acquitting
herself well at first. I wish there may not be a little
sulkiness of temper--her poor mother had a good deal;
but we must make allowances for such a child--and I
do not know that her being sorry to leave her home is
really against her, for, with all its faults, it _was_
her home, and she cannot as yet understand how much she
has changed for the better; but then there is moderation
in all things."

It required a longer time, however, than Mrs. Norris
was inclined to allow, to reconcile Fanny to the novelty
of Mansfield Park, and the separation from everybody
she had been used to. Her feelings were very acute,
and too little understood to be properly attended to.
Nobody meant to be unkind, but nobody put themselves out
of their way to secure her comfort.

The holiday allowed to the Miss Bertrams the next day,
on purpose to afford leisure for getting acquainted with,
and entertaining their young cousin, produced little union.
They could not but hold her cheap on finding that she
had but two sashes, and had never learned French; and when
they perceived her to be little struck with the duet they
were so good as to play, they could do no more than make
her a generous present of some of their least valued toys,
and leave her to herself, while they adjourned to whatever
might be the favourite holiday sport of the moment,
making artificial flowers or wasting gold paper.

Fanny, whether near or from her cousins, whether in
the schoolroom, the drawing-room, or the shrubbery,
was equally forlorn, finding something to fear in
every person and place. She was disheartened by Lady
Bertram's silence, awed by Sir Thomas's grave looks,
and quite overcome by Mrs. Norris's admonitions.
Her elder cousins mortified her by reflections on her size,
and abashed her by noticing her shyness: Miss Lee
wondered at her ignorance, and the maid-servants sneered
at her clothes; and when to these sorrows was added the idea
of the brothers and sisters among whom she had always
been important as playfellow, instructress, and nurse,
the despondence that sunk her little heart was severe.

The grandeur of the house astonished, but could not console her.
The rooms were too large for her to move in with ease:
whatever she touched she expected to injure, and she
crept about in constant terror of something or other;
often retreating towards her own chamber to cry;
and the little girl who was spoken of in the drawing-room
when she left it at night as seeming so desirably sensible
of her peculiar good fortune, ended every day's sorrows
by sobbing herself to sleep. A week had passed in this way,
and no suspicion of it conveyed by her quiet passive manner,
when she was found one morning by her cousin Edmund,
the youngest of the sons, sitting crying on the attic stairs.

"My dear little cousin," said he, with all the gentleness
of an excellent nature, "what can be the matter?" And sitting
down by her, he was at great pains to overcome her shame
in being so surprised, and persuade her to speak openly.
Was she ill? or was anybody angry with her? or had she
quarrelled with Maria and Julia? or was she puzzled
about anything in her lesson that he could explain?
Did she, in short, want anything he could possibly get her,
or do for her? For a long while no answer could be
obtained beyond a "no, no--not at all--no, thank you";
but he still persevered; and no sooner had he begun to
revert to her own home, than her increased sobs explained
to him where the grievance lay. He tried to console her.

"You are sorry to leave Mama, my dear little Fanny,"
said he, "which shows you to be a very good girl; but you
must remember that you are with relations and friends,
who all love you, and wish to make you happy. Let us walk
out in the park, and you shall tell me all about your
brothers and sisters."

On pursuing the subject, he found that, dear as all
these brothers and sisters generally were, there was one
among them who ran more in her thoughts than the rest.
It was William whom she talked of most, and wanted most
to see. William, the eldest, a year older than herself,
her constant companion and friend; her advocate with her
mother (of whom he was the darling) in every distress.
"William did not like she should come away; he had told
her he should miss her very much indeed." "But William will
write to you, I dare say." "Yes, he had promised he would,
but he had told _her_ to write first." "And when shall
you do it?" She hung her head and answered hesitatingly,
"she did not know; she had not any paper."

"If that be all your difficulty, I will furnish you
with paper and every other material, and you may write
your letter whenever you choose. Would it make you
happy to write to William?"

"Yes, very."

"Then let it be done now. Come with me into the
breakfast-room, we shall find everything there,
and be sure of having the room to ourselves."

"But, cousin, will it go to the post?"

"Yes, depend upon me it shall: it shall go with the
other letters; and, as your uncle will frank it,
it will cost William nothing."

"My uncle!" repeated Fanny, with a frightened look.

"Yes, when you have written the letter, I will take it
to my father to frank."

Fanny thought it a bold measure, but offered no further
resistance; and they went together into the breakfast-room,
where Edmund prepared her paper, and ruled her lines
with all the goodwill that her brother could himself
have felt, and probably with somewhat more exactness.
He continued with her the whole time of her writing,
to assist her with his penknife or his orthography,
as either were wanted; and added to these attentions,
which she felt very much, a kindness to her brother which
delighted her beyond all the rest. He wrote with his own
hand his love to his cousin William, and sent him half
a guinea under the seal. Fanny's feelings on the occasion
were such as she believed herself incapable of expressing;
but her countenance and a few artless words fully
conveyed all their gratitude and delight, and her cousin
began to find her an interesting object. He talked
to her more, and, from all that she said, was convinced
of her having an affectionate heart, and a strong desire
of doing right; and he could perceive her to be farther
entitled to attention by great sensibility of her situation,
and great timidity. He had never knowingly given her pain,
but he now felt that she required more positive kindness;
and with that view endeavoured, in the first place,
to lessen her fears of them all, and gave her especially
a great deal of good advice as to playing with Maria
and Julia, and being as merry as possible.

From this day Fanny grew more comfortable. She felt
that she had a friend, and the kindness of her cousin
Edmund gave her better spirits with everybody else.
The place became less strange, and the people less formidable;
and if there were some amongst them whom she could not
cease to fear, she began at least to know their ways,
and to catch the best manner of conforming to them.
The little rusticities and awkwardnesses which had at
first made grievous inroads on the tranquillity of all,
and not least of herself, necessarily wore away, and she
was no longer materially afraid to appear before her uncle,
nor did her aunt Norris's voice make her start very much.
To her cousins she became occasionally an acceptable companion.
Though unworthy, from inferiority of age and strength,
to be their constant associate, their pleasures and schemes
were sometimes of a nature to make a third very useful,
especially when that third was of an obliging,
yielding temper; and they could not but own, when their
aunt inquired into her faults, or their brother Edmund
urged her claims to their kindness, that "Fanny was
good-natured enough."

Edmund was uniformly kind himself; and she had nothing
worse to endure on the part of Tom than that sort
of merriment which a young man of seventeen will always
think fair with a child of ten. He was just entering
into life, full of spirits, and with all the liberal
dispositions of an eldest son, who feels born only
for expense and enjoyment. His kindness to his little
cousin was consistent with his situation and rights:
he made her some very pretty presents, and laughed at her.

As her appearance and spirits improved, Sir Thomas and Mrs. Norris
thought with greater satisfaction of their benevolent plan;
and it was pretty soon decided between them that,
though far from clever, she showed a tractable disposition,
and seemed likely to give them little trouble. A mean
opinion of her abilities was not confined to _them_.
Fanny could read, work, and write, but she had been taught
nothing more; and as her cousins found her ignorant
of many things with which they had been long familiar,
they thought her prodigiously stupid, and for the first
two or three weeks were continually bringing some fresh
report of it into the drawing-room. "Dear mama, only think,
my cousin cannot put the map of Europe together--
or my cousin cannot tell the principal rivers in Russia--
or, she never heard of Asia Minor--or she does not know
the difference between water-colours and crayons!--
How strange!--Did you ever hear anything so stupid?"

"My dear," their considerate aunt would reply,
"it is very bad, but you must not expect everybody
to be as forward and quick at learning as yourself."

"But, aunt, she is really so very ignorant!--Do you know,
we asked her last night which way she would go to get
to Ireland; and she said, she should cross to the Isle
of Wight. She thinks of nothing but the Isle of Wight,
and she calls it _the_ _Island_, as if there were no
other island in the world. I am sure I should have been
ashamed of myself, if I had not known better long before I
was so old as she is. I cannot remember the time when I
did not know a great deal that she has not the least
notion of yet. How long ago it is, aunt, since we used
to repeat the chronological order of the kings of England,
with the dates of their accession, and most of the principal
events of their reigns!"

"Yes," added the other; "and of the Roman emperors
as low as Severus; besides a great deal of the heathen
mythology, and all the metals, semi-metals, planets,
and distinguished philosophers."

"Very true indeed, my dears, but you are blessed with
wonderful memories, and your poor cousin has probably none
at all. There is a vast deal of difference in memories,
as well as in everything else, and therefore you must
make allowance for your cousin, and pity her deficiency.
And remember that, if you are ever so forward and clever
yourselves, you should always be modest; for, much as you
know already, there is a great deal more for you to learn."

"Yes, I know there is, till I am seventeen. But I must
tell you another thing of Fanny, so odd and so stupid.
Do you know, she says she does not want to learn either
music or drawing."

"To be sure, my dear, that is very stupid indeed,
and shows a great want of genius and emulation.
But, all things considered, I do not know whether it is
not as well that it should be so, for, though you know
(owing to me) your papa and mama are so good as to bring
her up with you, it is not at all necessary that she
should be as accomplished as you are;--on the contrary,
it is much more desirable that there should be a difference."

Such were the counsels by which Mrs. Norris assisted to form
her nieces' minds; and it is not very wonderful that,
with all their promising talents and early information,
they should be entirely deficient in the less common
acquirements of self-knowledge, generosity and humility.
In everything but disposition they were admirably taught.
Sir Thomas did not know what was wanting, because, though a
truly anxious father, he was not outwardly affectionate,
and the reserve of his manner repressed all the flow of their
spirits before him.

To the education of her daughters Lady Bertram paid not
the smallest attention. She had not time for such cares.
She was a woman who spent her days in sitting, nicely dressed,
on a sofa, doing some long piece of needlework, of little use
and no beauty, thinking more of her pug than her children,
but very indulgent to the latter when it did not put
herself to inconvenience, guided in everything important
by Sir Thomas, and in smaller concerns by her sister.
Had she possessed greater leisure for the service of her girls,
she would probably have supposed it unnecessary, for they
were under the care of a governess, with proper masters,
and could want nothing more. As for Fanny's being stupid
at learning, "she could only say it was very unlucky,
but some people _were_ stupid, and Fanny must take more pains:
she did not know what else was to be done; and, except her
being so dull, she must add she saw no harm in the poor
little thing, and always found her very handy and quick
in carrying messages, and fetching, what she wanted."

Fanny, with all her faults of ignorance and timidity,
was fixed at Mansfield Park, and learning to transfer
in its favour much of her attachment to her former home,
grew up there not unhappily among her cousins. There was
no positive ill-nature in Maria or Julia; and though
Fanny was often mortified by their treatment of her,
she thought too lowly of her own claims to feel injured
by it.

From about the time of her entering the family,
Lady Bertram, in consequence of a little ill-health,
and a great deal of indolence, gave up the house in town,
which she had been used to occupy every spring,
and remained wholly in the country, leaving Sir Thomas
to attend his duty in Parliament, with whatever increase
or diminution of comfort might arise from her absence.
In the country, therefore, the Miss Bertrams continued
to exercise their memories, practise their duets, and grow
tall and womanly: and their father saw them becoming
in person, manner, and accomplishments, everything that
could satisfy his anxiety. His eldest son was careless
and extravagant, and had already given him much uneasiness;
but his other children promised him nothing but good.
His daughters, he felt, while they retained the name
of Bertram, must be giving it new grace, and in quitting it,
he trusted, would extend its respectable alliances;
and the character of Edmund, his strong good sense
and uprightness of mind, bid most fairly for utility,
honour, and happiness to himself and all his connexions.
He was to be a clergyman.

Amid the cares and the complacency which his own
children suggested, Sir Thomas did not forget to do what
he could for the children of Mrs. Price: he assisted
her liberally in the education and disposal of her sons
as they became old enough for a determinate pursuit;
and Fanny, though almost totally separated from her family,
was sensible of the truest satisfaction in hearing of any
kindness towards them, or of anything at all promising
in their situation or conduct. Once, and once only,
in the course of many years, had she the happiness
of being with William. Of the rest she saw nothing:
nobody seemed to think of her ever going amongst them again,
even for a visit, nobody at home seemed to want her;
but William determining, soon after her removal,
to be a sailor, was invited to spend a week with his
sister in Northamptonshire before he went to sea.
Their eager affection in meeting, their exquisite
delight in being together, their hours of happy mirth,
and moments of serious conference, may be imagined;
as well as the sanguine views and spirits of the boy even
to the last, and the misery of the girl when he left her.
Luckily the visit happened in the Christmas holidays,
when she could directly look for comfort to her cousin Edmund;
and he told her such charming things of what William was
to do, and be hereafter, in consequence of his profession,
as made her gradually admit that the separation might
have some use. Edmund's friendship never failed her:
his leaving Eton for Oxford made no change in his kind
dispositions, and only afforded more frequent opportunities
of proving them. Without any display of doing more than
the rest, or any fear of doing too much, he was always
true to her interests, and considerate of her feelings,
trying to make her good qualities understood, and to conquer
the diffidence which prevented their being more apparent;
giving her advice, consolation, and encouragement.

Kept back as she was by everybody else, his single support
could not bring her forward; but his attentions were otherwise
of the highest importance in assisting the improvement
of her mind, and extending its pleasures. He knew her to
be clever, to have a quick apprehension as well as good sense,
and a fondness for reading, which, properly directed,
must be an education in itself. Miss Lee taught her French,
and heard her read the daily portion of history; but he
recommended the books which charmed her leisure hours,
he encouraged her taste, and corrected her judgment:
he made reading useful by talking to her of what she read,
and heightened its attraction by judicious praise.
In return for such services she loved him better than
anybody in the world except William: her heart was divided
between the two.


The first event of any importance in the family was
the death of Mr. Norris, which happened when Fanny was
about fifteen, and necessarily introduced alterations
and novelties. Mrs. Norris, on quitting the Parsonage,
removed first to the Park, and afterwards to a small house
of Sir Thomas's in the village, and consoled herself
for the loss of her husband by considering that she
could do very well without him; and for her reduction
of income by the evident necessity of stricter economy.

The living was hereafter for Edmund; and, had his uncle
died a few years sooner, it would have been duly given
to some friend to hold till he were old enough for orders.
But Tom's extravagance had, previous to that event,
been so great as to render a different disposal of the
next presentation necessary, and the younger brother
must help to pay for the pleasures of the elder.
There was another family living actually held for Edmund;
but though this circumstance had made the arrangement
somewhat easier to Sir Thomas's conscience, he could not
but feel it to be an act of injustice, and he earnestly
tried to impress his eldest son with the same conviction,
in the hope of its producing a better effect than anything he
had yet been able to say or do.

"I blush for you, Tom," said he, in his most dignified manner;
"I blush for the expedient which I am driven on, and I trust
I may pity your feelings as a brother on the occasion.
You have robbed Edmund for ten, twenty, thirty years,
perhaps for life, of more than half the income which ought
to be his. It may hereafter be in my power, or in yours
(I hope it will), to procure him better preferment;
but it must not be forgotten that no benefit of that
sort would have been beyond his natural claims on us,
and that nothing can, in fact, be an equivalent for the
certain advantage which he is now obliged to forego
through the urgency of your debts."

Tom listened with some shame and some sorrow;
but escaping as quickly as possible, could soon with
cheerful selfishness reflect, firstly, that he had
not been half so much in debt as some of his friends;
secondly, that his father had made a most tiresome piece
of work of it; and, thirdly, that the future incumbent,
whoever he might be, would, in all probability, die very soon.

On Mr. Norris's death the presentation became the right of
a Dr. Grant, who came consequently to reside at Mansfield;
and on proving to be a hearty man of forty-five, seemed
likely to disappoint Mr. Bertram's calculations.
But "no, he was a short-necked, apoplectic sort of fellow,
and, plied well with good things, would soon pop off."

He had a wife about fifteen years his junior, but no children;
and they entered the neighbourhood with the usual fair
report of being very respectable, agreeable people.

The time was now come when Sir Thomas expected his
sister-in-law to claim her share in their niece,
the change in Mrs. Norris's situation, and the improvement
in Fanny's age, seeming not merely to do away any former
objection to their living together, but even to give it
the most decided eligibility; and as his own circumstances
were rendered less fair than heretofore, by some recent
losses on his West India estate, in addition to his eldest
son's extravagance, it became not undesirable to himself to be
relieved from the expense of her support, and the obligation
of her future provision. In the fullness of his belief
that such a thing must be, he mentioned its probability
to his wife; and the first time of the subject's occurring
to her again happening to be when Fanny was present,
she calmly observed to her, "So, Fanny, you are going
to leave us, and live with my sister. How shall you like it?"

Fanny was too much surprised to do more than repeat
her aunt's words, "Going to leave you?"

"Yes, my dear; why should you be astonished?
You have been five years with us, and my sister
always meant to take you when Mr. Norris died.
But you must come up and tack on my patterns all the same."

The news was as disagreeable to Fanny as it had been unexpected.
She had never received kindness from her aunt Norris,
and could not love her.

"I shall be very sorry to go away," said she, with a
faltering voice.

"Yes, I dare say you will; _that's_ natural enough.
I suppose you have had as little to vex you since you came
into this house as any creature in the world."

"I hope I am not ungrateful, aunt," said Fanny modestly.

"No, my dear; I hope not. I have always found you
a very good girl."

"And am I never to live here again?"

"Never, my dear; but you are sure of a comfortable home.
It can make very little difference to you, whether you are
in one house or the other."

Fanny left the room with a very sorrowful heart; she could
not feel the difference to be so small, she could not think
of living with her aunt with anything like satisfaction.
As soon as she met with Edmund she told him her distress.

"Cousin," said she, "something is going to happen which I
do not like at all; and though you have often persuaded me
into being reconciled to things that I disliked at first,
you will not be able to do it now. I am going to live
entirely with my aunt Norris."


"Yes; my aunt Bertram has just told me so. It is quite settled.
I am to leave Mansfield Park, and go to the White House,
I suppose, as soon as she is removed there."

"Well, Fanny, and if the plan were not unpleasant to you,
I should call it an excellent one."

"Oh, cousin!"

"It has everything else in its favour. My aunt is
acting like a sensible woman in wishing for you. She is
choosing a friend and companion exactly where she ought,
and I am glad her love of money does not interfere.
You will be what you ought to be to her. I hope it does
not distress you very much, Fanny?"

"Indeed it does: I cannot like it. I love this house
and everything in it: I shall love nothing there.
You know how uncomfortable I feel with her."

"I can say nothing for her manner to you as a child;
but it was the same with us all, or nearly so. She never
knew how to be pleasant to children. But you are now
of an age to be treated better; I think she is behaving
better already; and when you are her only companion,
you _must_ be important to her."

"I can never be important to any one."

"What is to prevent you?"

"Everything. My situation, my foolishness and awkwardness."

"As to your foolishness and awkwardness, my dear Fanny,
believe me, you never have a shadow of either, but in using
the words so improperly. There is no reason in the world
why you should not be important where you are known.
You have good sense, and a sweet temper, and I am sure you
have a grateful heart, that could never receive kindness
without wishing to return it. I do not know any better
qualifications for a friend and companion."

"You are too kind," said Fanny, colouring at such praise;
"how shall I ever thank you as I ought, for thinking
so well of me. Oh! cousin, if I am to go away, I shall
remember your goodness to the last moment of my life."

"Why, indeed, Fanny, I should hope to be remembered at
such a distance as the White House. You speak as if you
were going two hundred miles off instead of only across
the park; but you will belong to us almost as much as ever.
The two families will be meeting every day in the year.
The only difference will be that, living with your aunt,
you will necessarily be brought forward as you ought to be.
_Here_ there are too many whom you can hide behind; but with
_her_ you will be forced to speak for yourself."

"Oh! I do not say so."

"I must say it, and say it with pleasure. Mrs. Norris
is much better fitted than my mother for having the charge
of you now. She is of a temper to do a great deal
for anybody she really interests herself about, and she
will force you to do justice to your natural powers."

Fanny sighed, and said, "I cannot see things as you do;
but I ought to believe you to be right rather than myself,
and I am very much obliged to you for trying to reconcile
me to what must be. If I could suppose my aunt really
to care for me, it would be delightful to feel myself
of consequence to anybody. _Here_, I know, I am of none,
and yet I love the place so well."

"The place, Fanny, is what you will not quit, though you
quit the house. You will have as free a command of the
park and gardens as ever. Even _your_ constant little
heart need not take fright at such a nominal change.
You will have the same walks to frequent, the same library
to choose from, the same people to look at, the same horse
to ride."

"Very true. Yes, dear old grey pony! Ah! cousin, when I
remember how much I used to dread riding, what terrors
it gave me to hear it talked of as likely to do me good
(oh! how I have trembled at my uncle's opening his lips
if horses were talked of), and then think of the kind
pains you took to reason and persuade me out of my fears,
and convince me that I should like it after a little while,
and feel how right you proved to be, I am inclined to hope
you may always prophesy as well."

"And I am quite convinced that your being with Mrs. Norris
will be as good for your mind as riding has been for
your health, and as much for your ultimate happiness too."

So ended their discourse, which, for any very appropriate
service it could render Fanny, might as well have been spared,
for Mrs. Norris had not the smallest intention of taking her.
It had never occurred to her, on the present occasion,
but as a thing to be carefully avoided. To prevent its
being expected, she had fixed on the smallest habitation
which could rank as genteel among the buildings of Mansfield
parish, the White House being only just large enough to
receive herself and her servants, and allow a spare room
for a friend, of which she made a very particular point.
The spare rooms at the Parsonage had never been wanted,
but the absolute necessity of a spare room for a friend
was now never forgotten. Not all her precautions, however,
could save her from being suspected of something better;
or, perhaps, her very display of the importance of a
spare room might have misled Sir Thomas to suppose it
really intended for Fanny. Lady Bertram soon brought
the matter to a certainty by carelessly observing to Mrs. Norris--

"I think, sister, we need not keep Miss Lee any longer,
when Fanny goes to live with you."

Mrs. Norris almost started. "Live with me, dear Lady
Bertram! what do you mean?"

"Is she not to live with you? I thought you had settled
it with Sir Thomas."

"Me! never. I never spoke a syllable about it to Sir Thomas,
nor he to me. Fanny live with me! the last thing in the
world for me to think of, or for anybody to wish that really
knows us both. Good heaven! what could I do with Fanny?
Me! a poor, helpless, forlorn widow, unfit for anything,
my spirits quite broke down; what could I do with a girl
at her time of life? A girl of fifteen! the very age
of all others to need most attention and care, and put
the cheerfullest spirits to the test! Sure Sir Thomas
could not seriously expect such a thing! Sir Thomas is too
much my friend. Nobody that wishes me well, I am sure,
would propose it. How came Sir Thomas to speak to you
about it?"

"Indeed, I do not know. I suppose he thought it best."

"But what did he say? He could not say he _wished_ me
to take Fanny. I am sure in his heart he could not wish
me to do it."

"No; he only said he thought it very likely; and I thought
so too. We both thought it would be a comfort to you.
But if you do not like it, there is no more to be said.
She is no encumbrance here."

"Dear sister, if you consider my unhappy state, how can she
be any comfort to me? Here am I, a poor desolate widow,
deprived of the best of husbands, my health gone in attending
and nursing him, my spirits still worse, all my peace
in this world destroyed, with hardly enough to support
me in the rank of a gentlewoman, and enable me to live
so as not to disgrace the memory of the dear departed--
what possible comfort could I have in taking such a charge
upon me as Fanny? If I could wish it for my own sake,
I would not do so unjust a thing by the poor girl.
She is in good hands, and sure of doing well. I must
struggle through my sorrows and difficulties as I can."

"Then you will not mind living by yourself quite alone?"

"Lady Bertram, I do not complain. I know I cannot
live as I have done, but I must retrench where I can,
and learn to be a better manager. I _have_ _been_
a liberal housekeeper enough, but I shall not be ashamed
to practise economy now. My situation is as much
altered as my income. A great many things were due
from poor Mr. Norris, as clergyman of the parish,
that cannot be expected from me. It is unknown how much
was consumed in our kitchen by odd comers and goers.
At the White House, matters must be better looked after.
I _must_ live within my income, or I shall be miserable;
and I own it would give me great satisfaction to be able
to do rather more, to lay by a little at the end of
the year."

"I dare say you will. You always do, don't you?"

"My object, Lady Bertram, is to be of use to those that
come after me. It is for your children's good that I
wish to be richer. I have nobody else to care for,
but I should be very glad to think I could leave a little
trifle among them worth their having."

"You are very good, but do not trouble yourself about them.
They are sure of being well provided for. Sir Thomas
will take care of that."

"Why, you know, Sir Thomas's means will be rather straitened
if the Antigua estate is to make such poor returns."

"Oh! _that_ will soon be settled. Sir Thomas has been
writing about it, I know."

"Well, Lady Bertram," said Mrs. Norris, moving to go,
"I can only say that my sole desire is to be of use
to your family: and so, if Sir Thomas should ever speak
again about my taking Fanny, you will be able to say that
my health and spirits put it quite out of the question;
besides that, I really should not have a bed to give her,
for I must keep a spare room for a friend."

Lady Bertram repeated enough of this conversation
to her husband to convince him how much he had mistaken
his sister-in-law's views; and she was from that moment
perfectly safe from all expectation, or the slightest
allusion to it from him. He could not but wonder at her
refusing to do anything for a niece whom she had been so
forward to adopt; but, as she took early care to make him,
as well as Lady Bertram, understand that whatever she
possessed was designed for their family, he soon grew
reconciled to a distinction which, at the same time
that it was advantageous and complimentary to them,
would enable him better to provide for Fanny himself.

Fanny soon learnt how unnecessary had been her fears of a removal;
and her spontaneous, untaught felicity on the discovery,
conveyed some consolation to Edmund for his disappointment
in what he had expected to be so essentially serviceable
to her. Mrs. Norris took possession of the White House,
the Grants arrived at the Parsonage, and these events over,
everything at Mansfield went on for some time as usual.

The Grants showing a disposition to be friendly and sociable,
gave great satisfaction in the main among their new acquaintance.
They had their faults, and Mrs. Norris soon found them out.
The Doctor was very fond of eating, and would have a good
dinner every day; and Mrs. Grant, instead of contriving
to gratify him at little expense, gave her cook as high
wages as they did at Mansfield Park, and was scarcely ever
seen in her offices. Mrs. Norris could not speak with any
temper of such grievances, nor of the quantity of butter
and eggs that were regularly consumed in the house.
"Nobody loved plenty and hospitality more than herself;
nobody more hated pitiful doings; the Parsonage,
she believed, had never been wanting in comforts of any sort,
had never borne a bad character in _her_ _time_, but this
was a way of going on that she could not understand.
A fine lady in a country parsonage was quite out of place.
_Her_ store-room, she thought, might have been good enough
for Mrs. Grant to go into. Inquire where she would,
she could not find out that Mrs. Grant had ever had more
than five thousand pounds."

Lady Bertram listened without much interest to this
sort of invective. She could not enter into the wrongs
of an economist, but she felt all the injuries of beauty
in Mrs. Grant's being so well settled in life without
being handsome, and expressed her astonishment on
that point almost as often, though not so diffusely,
as Mrs. Norris discussed the other.

These opinions had been hardly canvassed a year before
another event arose of such importance in the family,
as might fairly claim some place in the thoughts and
conversation of the ladies. Sir Thomas found it expedient
to go to Antigua himself, for the better arrangement
of his affairs, and he took his eldest son with him,
in the hope of detaching him from some bad connexions
at home. They left England with the probability of being
nearly a twelvemonth absent.

The necessity of the measure in a pecuniary light,
and the hope of its utility to his son, reconciled Sir
Thomas to the effort of quitting the rest of his family,
and of leaving his daughters to the direction of others
at their present most interesting time of life.
He could not think Lady Bertram quite equal to supply his
place with them, or rather, to perform what should have
been her own; but, in Mrs. Norris's watchful attention,
and in Edmund's judgment, he had sufficient confidence
to make him go without fears for their conduct.

Lady Bertram did not at all like to have her husband leave her;
but she was not disturbed by any alarm for his safety,
or solicitude for his comfort, being one of those persons
who think nothing can be dangerous, or difficult,
or fatiguing to anybody but themselves.

The Miss Bertrams were much to be pitied on the occasion:
not for their sorrow, but for their want of it.
Their father was no object of love to them; he had never
seemed the friend of their pleasures, and his absence
was unhappily most welcome. They were relieved by it from
all restraint; and without aiming at one gratification
that would probably have been forbidden by Sir Thomas,
they felt themselves immediately at their own disposal,
and to have every indulgence within their reach.
Fanny's relief, and her consciousness of it, were quite
equal to her cousins'; but a more tender nature suggested
that her feelings were ungrateful, and she really
grieved because she could not grieve. "Sir Thomas,
who had done so much for her and her brothers, and who was
gone perhaps never to return! that she should see him
go without a tear! it was a shameful insensibility."
He had said to her, moreover, on the very last morning,
that he hoped she might see William again in the course
of the ensuing winter, and had charged her to write
and invite him to Mansfield as soon as the squadron
to which he belonged should be known to be in England.
"This was so thoughtful and kind!" and would he only
have smiled upon her, and called her "my dear Fanny,"
while he said it, every former frown or cold address
might have been forgotten. But he had ended his speech
in a way to sink her in sad mortification, by adding,
"If William does come to Mansfield, I hope you may be able
to convince him that the many years which have passed
since you parted have not been spent on your side entirely
without improvement; though, I fear, he must find his sister
at sixteen in some respects too much like his sister at ten."
She cried bitterly over this reflection when her uncle
was gone; and her cousins, on seeing her with red eyes,
set her down as a hypocrite.


Tom Bertram had of late spent so little of his time at
home that he could be only nominally missed; and Lady
Bertram was soon astonished to find how very well they
did even without his father, how well Edmund could
supply his place in carving, talking to the steward,
writing to the attorney, settling with the servants,
and equally saving her from all possible fatigue or exertion
in every particular but that of directing her letters.

The earliest intelligence of the travellers' safe arrival
at Antigua, after a favourable voyage, was received;
though not before Mrs. Norris had been indulging in very
dreadful fears, and trying to make Edmund participate them
whenever she could get him alone; and as she depended
on being the first person made acquainted with any
fatal catastrophe, she had already arranged the manner of
breaking it to all the others, when Sir Thomas's assurances
of their both being alive and well made it necessary to lay
by her agitation and affectionate preparatory speeches for a while.

The winter came and passed without their being
called for; the accounts continued perfectly good;
and Mrs. Norris, in promoting gaieties for her nieces,
assisting their toilets, displaying their accomplishments,
and looking about for their future husbands, had so much
to do as, in addition to all her own household cares,
some interference in those of her sister, and Mrs. Grant's
wasteful doings to overlook, left her very little occasion
to be occupied in fears for the absent.

The Miss Bertrams were now fully established among the
belles of the neighbourhood; and as they joined to beauty
and brilliant acquirements a manner naturally easy,
and carefully formed to general civility and obligingness,
they possessed its favour as well as its admiration.
Their vanity was in such good order that they seemed
to be quite free from it, and gave themselves no airs;
while the praises attending such behaviour, secured and
brought round by their aunt, served to strengthen them in
believing they had no faults.

Lady Bertram did not go into public with her daughters.
She was too indolent even to accept a mother's gratification
in witnessing their success and enjoyment at the expense
of any personal trouble, and the charge was made over
to her sister, who desired nothing better than a post
of such honourable representation, and very thoroughly
relished the means it afforded her of mixing in society
without having horses to hire.

Fanny had no share in the festivities of the season;
but she enjoyed being avowedly useful as her aunt's companion
when they called away the rest of the family; and, as Miss
Lee had left Mansfield, she naturally became everything
to Lady Bertram during the night of a ball or a party.
She talked to her, listened to her, read to her;
and the tranquillity of such evenings, her perfect security
in such a _tete-a-tete_ from any sound of unkindness,
was unspeakably welcome to a mind which had seldom
known a pause in its alarms or embarrassments. As to
her cousins' gaieties, she loved to hear an account of them,
especially of the balls, and whom Edmund had danced with;
but thought too lowly of her own situation to imagine
she should ever be admitted to the same, and listened,
therefore, without an idea of any nearer concern in them.
Upon the whole, it was a comfortable winter to her;
for though it brought no William to England, the never-failing
hope of his arrival was worth much.

The ensuing spring deprived her of her valued friend,
the old grey pony; and for some time she was in danger of
feeling the loss in her health as well as in her affections;
for in spite of the acknowledged importance of her riding
on horse-back, no measures were taken for mounting
her again, "because," as it was observed by her aunts,
"she might ride one of her cousin's horses at any time
when they did not want them," and as the Miss Bertrams
regularly wanted their horses every fine day, and had no
idea of carrying their obliging manners to the sacrifice
of any real pleasure, that time, of course, never came.
They took their cheerful rides in the fine mornings
of April and May; and Fanny either sat at home the whole
day with one aunt, or walked beyond her strength at the
instigation of the other: Lady Bertram holding exercise
to be as unnecessary for everybody as it was unpleasant
to herself; and Mrs. Norris, who was walking all day,
thinking everybody ought to walk as much. Edmund was absent
at this time, or the evil would have been earlier remedied.
When he returned, to understand how Fanny was situated,
and perceived its ill effects, there seemed with him but
one thing to be done; and that "Fanny must have a horse"
was the resolute declaration with which he opposed
whatever could be urged by the supineness of his mother,
or the economy of his aunt, to make it appear unimportant.
Mrs. Norris could not help thinking that some steady
old thing might be found among the numbers belonging
to the Park that would do vastly well; or that one might
be borrowed of the steward; or that perhaps Dr. Grant
might now and then lend them the pony he sent to the post.
She could not but consider it as absolutely unnecessary,
and even improper, that Fanny should have a regular
lady's horse of her own, in the style of her cousins.
She was sure Sir Thomas had never intended it: and she
must say that, to be making such a purchase in his absence,
and adding to the great expenses of his stable,
at a time when a large part of his income was unsettled,
seemed to her very unjustifiable. "Fanny must have
a horse," was Edmund's only reply. Mrs. Norris could
not see it in the same light. Lady Bertram did:
she entirely agreed with her son as to the necessity of it,
and as to its being considered necessary by his father;
she only pleaded against there being any hurry; she only
wanted him to wait till Sir Thomas's return, and then Sir
Thomas might settle it all himself. He would be at home
in September, and where would be the harm of only waiting
till September?

Though Edmund was much more displeased with his aunt than
with his mother, as evincing least regard for her niece,
he could not help paying more attention to what she said;
and at length determined on a method of proceeding
which would obviate the risk of his father's thinking he
had done too much, and at the same time procure for Fanny
the immediate means of exercise, which he could not bear
she should be without. He had three horses of his own,
but not one that would carry a woman. Two of them
were hunters; the third, a useful road-horse: this third he
resolved to exchange for one that his cousin might ride;
he knew where such a one was to be met with; and having once
made up his mind, the whole business was soon completed.
The new mare proved a treasure; with a very little
trouble she became exactly calculated for the purpose,
and Fanny was then put in almost full possession of her.
She had not supposed before that anything could ever suit
her like the old grey pony; but her delight in Edmund's
mare was far beyond any former pleasure of the sort;
and the addition it was ever receiving in the consideration
of that kindness from which her pleasure sprung,
was beyond all her words to express. She regarded
her cousin as an example of everything good and great,
as possessing worth which no one but herself could
ever appreciate, and as entitled to such gratitude
from her as no feelings could be strong enough to pay.
Her sentiments towards him were compounded of all that
was respectful, grateful, confiding, and tender.

As the horse continued in name, as well as fact,
the property of Edmund, Mrs. Norris could tolerate its being
for Fanny's use; and had Lady Bertram ever thought about
her own objection again, he might have been excused in her
eyes for not waiting till Sir Thomas's return in September,
for when September came Sir Thomas was still abroad,
and without any near prospect of finishing his business.
Unfavourable circumstances had suddenly arisen at a moment
when he was beginning to turn all his thoughts towards England;
and the very great uncertainty in which everything was then
involved determined him on sending home his son, and waiting
the final arrangement by himself Tom arrived safely,
bringing an excellent account of his father's health;
but to very little purpose, as far as Mrs. Norris
was concerned. Sir Thomas's sending away his son seemed
to her so like a parent's care, under the influence of a
foreboding of evil to himself, that she could not help
feeling dreadful presentiments; and as the long evenings
of autumn came on, was so terribly haunted by these ideas,
in the sad solitariness of her cottage, as to be obliged
to take daily refuge in the dining-room of the Park.
The return of winter engagements, however, was not
without its effect; and in the course of their progress,
her mind became so pleasantly occupied in superintending
the fortunes of her eldest niece, as tolerably to quiet
her nerves. "If poor Sir Thomas were fated never to return,
it would be peculiarly consoling to see their dear Maria
well married," she very often thought; always when they
were in the company of men of fortune, and particularly on
the introduction of a young man who had recently succeeded
to one of the largest estates and finest places in the country.

Mr. Rushworth was from the first struck with the beauty
of Miss Bertram, and, being inclined to marry, soon fancied
himself in love. He was a heavy young man, with not more
than common sense; but as there was nothing disagreeable
in his figure or address, the young lady was well pleased
with her conquest. Being now in her twenty-first year,
Maria Bertram was beginning to think matrimony a duty;
and as a marriage with Mr. Rushworth would give her the
enjoyment of a larger income than her father's, as well as
ensure her the house in town, which was now a prime object,
it became, by the same rule of moral obligation,
her evident duty to marry Mr. Rushworth if she could.
Mrs. Norris was most zealous in promoting the match,
by every suggestion and contrivance likely to enhance
its desirableness to either party; and, among other means,
by seeking an intimacy with the gentleman's mother,
who at present lived with him, and to whom she even forced
Lady Bertram to go through ten miles of indifferent road
to pay a morning visit. It was not long before a good
understanding took place between this lady and herself.
Mrs. Rushworth acknowledged herself very desirous that
her son should marry, and declared that of all the young
ladies she had ever seen, Miss Bertram seemed, by her
amiable qualities and accomplishments, the best adapted
to make him happy. Mrs. Norris accepted the compliment,
and admired the nice discernment of character which
could so well distinguish merit. Maria was indeed
the pride and delight of them all--perfectly faultless--
an angel; and, of course, so surrounded by admirers, must be
difficult in her choice: but yet, as far as Mrs. Norris
could allow herself to decide on so short an acquaintance,
Mr. Rushworth appeared precisely the young man to deserve
and attach her.

After dancing with each other at a proper number of balls,
the young people justified these opinions, and an engagement,
with a due reference to the absent Sir Thomas, was entered into,
much to the satisfaction of their respective families,
and of the general lookers-on of the neighbourhood,
who had, for many weeks past, felt the expediency
of Mr. Rushworth's marrying Miss Bertram.

It was some months before Sir Thomas's consent could
be received; but, in the meanwhile, as no one felt
a doubt of his most cordial pleasure in the connexion,
the intercourse of the two families was carried on
without restraint, and no other attempt made at secrecy
than Mrs. Norris's talking of it everywhere as a matter
not to be talked of at present.

Edmund was the only one of the family who could see a fault
in the business; but no representation of his aunt's could
induce him to find Mr. Rushworth a desirable companion.
He could allow his sister to be the best judge of her
own happiness, but he was not pleased that her happiness
should centre in a large income; nor could he refrain
from often saying to himself, in Mr. Rushworth's company--
"If this man had not twelve thousand a year, he would be
a very stupid fellow."

Sir Thomas, however, was truly happy in the prospect of an
alliance so unquestionably advantageous, and of which he
heard nothing but the perfectly good and agreeable.
It was a connexion exactly of the right sort--
in the same county, and the same interest--and his most
hearty concurrence was conveyed as soon as possible.
He only conditioned that the marriage should not take
place before his return, which he was again looking
eagerly forward to. He wrote in April, and had strong
hopes of settling everything to his entire satisfaction,
and leaving Antigua before the end of the summer.

Such was the state of affairs in the month of July;
and Fanny had just reached her eighteenth year, when the
society of the village received an addition in the brother
and sister of Mrs. Grant, a Mr. and Miss Crawford,
the children of her mother by a second marriage.
They were young people of fortune. The son had a good
estate in Norfolk, the daughter twenty thousand pounds.
As children, their sister had been always very fond
of them; but, as her own marriage had been soon followed
by the death of their common parent, which left them
to the care of a brother of their father, of whom
Mrs. Grant knew nothing, she had scarcely seen them since.
In their uncle's house they had found a kind home.
Admiral and Mrs. Crawford, though agreeing in nothing else,
were united in affection for these children, or, at least,
were no farther adverse in their feelings than that each
had their favourite, to whom they showed the greatest
fondness of the two. The Admiral delighted in the boy,
Mrs. Crawford doted on the girl; and it was the lady's
death which now obliged her _protegee_, after some months'
further trial at her uncle's house, to find another home.
Admiral Crawford was a man of vicious conduct, who chose,
instead of retaining his niece, to bring his mistress
under his own roof; and to this Mrs. Grant was indebted
for her sister's proposal of coming to her, a measure quite
as welcome on one side as it could be expedient on the other;
for Mrs. Grant, having by this time run through the usual
resources of ladies residing in the country without a
family of children--having more than filled her favourite
sitting-room with pretty furniture, and made a choice
collection of plants and poultry--was very much in want
of some variety at home. The arrival, therefore, of a sister
whom she had always loved, and now hoped to retain with
her as long as she remained single, was highly agreeable;
and her chief anxiety was lest Mansfield should not satisfy
the habits of a young woman who had been mostly used
to London.

Miss Crawford was not entirely free from similar
apprehensions, though they arose principally from doubts
of her sister's style of living and tone of society;
and it was not till after she had tried in vain to persuade
her brother to settle with her at his own country house,
that she could resolve to hazard herself among her
other relations. To anything like a permanence of abode,
or limitation of society, Henry Crawford had, unluckily,
a great dislike: he could not accommodate his sister
in an article of such importance; but he escorted her,
with the utmost kindness, into Northamptonshire,
and as readily engaged to fetch her away again, at half
an hour's notice, whenever she were weary of the place.

The meeting was very satisfactory on each side.
Miss Crawford found a sister without preciseness
or rusticity, a sister's husband who looked the gentleman,
and a house commodious and well fitted up; and Mrs. Grant
received in those whom she hoped to love better than ever
a young man and woman of very prepossessing appearance.
Mary Crawford was remarkably pretty; Henry, though not handsome,
had air and countenance; the manners of both were lively
and pleasant, and Mrs. Grant immediately gave them credit
for everything else. She was delighted with each,
but Mary was her dearest object; and having never been
able to glory in beauty of her own, she thoroughly enjoyed
the power of being proud of her sister's. She had not waited
her arrival to look out for a suitable match for her:
she had fixed on Tom Bertram; the eldest son of a baronet
was not too good for a girl of twenty thousand pounds,
with all the elegance and accomplishments which Mrs. Grant
foresaw in her; and being a warm-hearted, unreserved woman,
Mary had not been three hours in the house before she
told her what she had planned.

Miss Crawford was glad to find a family of such consequence
so very near them, and not at all displeased either at
her sister's early care, or the choice it had fallen on.
Matrimony was her object, provided she could marry well:
and having seen Mr. Bertram in town, she knew that
objection could no more be made to his person than to
his situation in life. While she treated it as a joke,
therefore, she did not forget to think of it seriously.
The scheme was soon repeated to Henry.

"And now," added Mrs. Grant, "I have thought of something
to make it complete. I should dearly love to settle you
both in this country; and therefore, Henry, you shall
marry the youngest Miss Bertram, a nice, handsome,
good-humoured, accomplished girl, who will make you very happy."

Henry bowed and thanked her.

"My dear sister," said Mary, "if you can persuade him
into anything of the sort, it will be a fresh matter of
delight to me to find myself allied to anybody so clever,
and I shall only regret that you have not half a dozen
daughters to dispose of. If you can persuade Henry
to marry, you must have the address of a Frenchwoman.
All that English abilities can do has been tried already.
I have three very particular friends who have been all
dying for him in their turn; and the pains which they,
their mothers (very clever women), as well as my dear
aunt and myself, have taken to reason, coax, or trick
him into marrying, is inconceivable! He is the most
horrible flirt that can be imagined. If your Miss
Bertrams do not like to have their hearts broke, let them
avoid Henry."

"My dear brother, I will not believe this of you."

"No, I am sure you are too good. You will be kinder than Mary.
You will allow for the doubts of youth and inexperience.
I am of a cautious temper, and unwilling to risk my
happiness in a hurry. Nobody can think more highly of
the matrimonial state than myself I consider the blessing
of a wife as most justly described in those discreet
lines of the poet--'Heaven's _last_ best gift.'"

"There, Mrs. Grant, you see how he dwells on one word,
and only look at his smile. I assure you he is very detestable;
the Admiral's lessons have quite spoiled him."

"I pay very little regard," said Mrs. Grant, "to what
any young person says on the subject of marriage.
If they profess a disinclination for it, I only set it
down that they have not yet seen the right person."

Dr. Grant laughingly congratulated Miss Crawford
on feeling no disinclination to the state herself.

"Oh yes! I am not at all ashamed of it. I would
have everybody marry if they can do it properly:
I do not like to have people throw themselves away;
but everybody should marry as soon as they can do it
to advantage."


The young people were pleased with each other from
the first. On each side there was much to attract,
and their acquaintance soon promised as early an intimacy
as good manners would warrant. Miss Crawford's
beauty did her no disservice with the Miss Bertrams.
They were too handsome themselves to dislike any woman
for being so too, and were almost as much charmed as their
brothers with her lively dark eye, clear brown complexion,
and general prettiness. Had she been tall, full formed,
and fair, it might have been more of a trial: but as it was,
there could be no comparison; and she was most allowably
a sweet, pretty girl, while they were the finest young
women in the country.

Her brother was not handsome: no, when they first saw him
he was absolutely plain, black and plain; but still he
was the gentleman, with a pleasing address. The second
meeting proved him not so very plain: he was plain,
to be sure, but then he had so much countenance, and his
teeth were so good, and he was so well made, that one
soon forgot he was plain; and after a third interview,
after dining in company with him at the Parsonage,
he was no longer allowed to be called so by anybody.
He was, in fact, the most agreeable young man the sisters
had ever known, and they were equally delighted with him.
Miss Bertram's engagement made him in equity the property
of Julia, of which Julia was fully aware; and before he had
been at Mansfield a week, she was quite ready to be fallen
in love with.

Maria's notions on the subject were more confused
and indistinct. She did not want to see or understand.
"There could be no harm in her liking an agreeable man--
everybody knew her situation--Mr. Crawford must take care
of himself." Mr. Crawford did not mean to be in any danger!
the Miss Bertrams were worth pleasing, and were ready
to be pleased; and he began with no object but of making
them like him. He did not want them to die of love;
but with sense and temper which ought to have made him
judge and feel better, he allowed himself great latitude
on such points.

"I like your Miss Bertrams exceedingly, sister," said he,
as he returned from attending them to their carriage
after the said dinner visit; "they are very elegant,
agreeable girls."

"So they are indeed, and I am delighted to hear you say it.
But you like Julia best."

"Oh yes! I like Julia best."

"But do you really? for Miss Bertram is in general thought
the handsomest."

"So I should suppose. She has the advantage in every feature,
and I prefer her countenance; but I like Julia best;
Miss Bertram is certainly the handsomest, and I have found
her the most agreeable, but I shall always like Julia best,
because you order me."

"I shall not talk to you, Henry, but I know you _will_
like her best at last."

"Do not I tell you that I like her best _at_ _first_?"

"And besides, Miss Bertram is engaged. Remember that,
my dear brother. Her choice is made."

"Yes, and I like her the better for it. An engaged
woman is always more agreeable than a disengaged.
She is satisfied with herself. Her cares are over,
and she feels that she may exert all her powers of pleasing
without suspicion. All is safe with a lady engaged:
no harm can be done."

"Why, as to that, Mr. Rushworth is a very good sort
of young man, and it is a great match for her."

"But Miss Bertram does not care three straws for him;
_that_ is your opinion of your intimate friend. _I_ do
not subscribe to it. I am sure Miss Bertram is very much
attached to Mr. Rushworth. I could see it in her eyes,
when he was mentioned. I think too well of Miss Bertram
to suppose she would ever give her hand without her heart."

"Mary, how shall we manage him?"

"We must leave him to himself, I believe. Talking does
no good. He will be taken in at last."

"But I would not have him _taken_ _in_; I would not have
him duped; I would have it all fair and honourable."

"Oh dear! let him stand his chance and be taken in.
It will do just as well. Everybody is taken in at some
period or other."

"Not always in marriage, dear Mary."

"In marriage especially. With all due respect to such
of the present company as chance to be married, my dear
Mrs. Grant, there is not one in a hundred of either sex
who is not taken in when they marry. Look where I will,
I see that it _is_ so; and I feel that it _must_ be so,
when I consider that it is, of all transactions, the one
in which people expect most from others, and are least
honest themselves."

"Ah! You have been in a bad school for matrimony,
in Hill Street."

"My poor aunt had certainly little cause to love
the state; but, however, speaking from my own observation,
it is a manoeuvring business. I know so many who
have married in the full expectation and confidence
of some one particular advantage in the connexion,
or accomplishment, or good quality in the person, who have
found themselves entirely deceived, and been obliged
to put up with exactly the reverse. What is this but a take in?"

"My dear child, there must be a little imagination here.
I beg your pardon, but I cannot quite believe you.
Depend upon it, you see but half. You see the evil,
but you do not see the consolation. There will be
little rubs and disappointments everywhere, and we
are all apt to expect too much; but then, if one scheme
of happiness fails, human nature turns to another;
if the first calculation is wrong, we make a second better:
we find comfort somewhere--and those evil-minded observers,
dearest Mary, who make much of a little, are more taken
in and deceived than the parties themselves."

"Well done, sister! I honour your _esprit_ _du_ _corps_.
When I am a wife, I mean to be just as staunch myself;
and I wish my friends in general would be so too. It would
save me many a heartache."

"You are as bad as your brother, Mary; but we will cure
you both. Mansfield shall cure you both, and without
any taking in. Stay with us, and we will cure you."

The Crawfords, without wanting to be cured, were very
willing to stay. Mary was satisfied with the Parsonage
as a present home, and Henry equally ready to lengthen
his visit. He had come, intending to spend only a few
days with them; but Mansfield promised well, and there
was nothing to call him elsewhere. It delighted Mrs. Grant
to keep them both with her, and Dr. Grant was exceedingly
well contented to have it so: a talking pretty young
woman like Miss Crawford is always pleasant society
to an indolent, stay-at-home man; and Mr. Crawford's
being his guest was an excuse for drinking claret every day.

The Miss Bertrams' admiration of Mr. Crawford was more
rapturous than anything which Miss Crawford's habits made
her likely to feel. She acknowledged, however, that the
Mr. Bertrams were very fine young men, that two such
young men were not often seen together even in London,
and that their manners, particularly those of the eldest,
were very good. _He_ had been much in London,
and had more liveliness and gallantry than Edmund,
and must, therefore, be preferred; and, indeed, his being
the eldest was another strong claim. She had felt an early
presentiment that she _should_ like the eldest best.
She knew it was her way.

Tom Bertram must have been thought pleasant, indeed, at any rate;
he was the sort of young man to be generally liked,
his agreeableness was of the kind to be oftener found
agreeable than some endowments of a higher stamp, for he
had easy manners, excellent spirits, a large acquaintance,
and a great deal to say; and the reversion of Mansfield Park,
and a baronetcy, did no harm to all this. Miss Crawford
soon felt that he and his situation might do. She looked
about her with due consideration, and found almost everything
in his favour: a park, a real park, five miles round,
a spacious modern-built house, so well placed and well
screened as to deserve to be in any collection of engravings
of gentlemen's seats in the kingdom, and wanting only to be
completely new furnished--pleasant sisters, a quiet mother,
and an agreeable man himself--with the advantage of
being tied up from much gaming at present by a promise
to his father, and of being Sir Thomas hereafter.
It might do very well; she believed she should accept him;
and she began accordingly to interest herself a little
about the horse which he had to run at the B------- races.

These races were to call him away not long after their
acquaintance began; and as it appeared that the family
did not, from his usual goings on, expect him back
again for many weeks, it would bring his passion to an
early proof. Much was said on his side to induce her
to attend the races, and schemes were made for a large
party to them, with all the eagerness of inclination,
but it would only do to be talked of.

And Fanny, what was _she_ doing and thinking all this
while? and what was _her_ opinion of the newcomers?
Few young ladies of eighteen could be less called on
to speak their opinion than Fanny. In a quiet way,
very little attended to, she paid her tribute of admiration
to Miss Crawford's beauty; but as she still continued
to think Mr. Crawford very plain, in spite of her two
cousins having repeatedly proved the contrary, she never
mentioned _him_. The notice, which she excited herself,
was to this effect. "I begin now to understand you all,
except Miss Price," said Miss Crawford, as she was
walking with the Mr. Bertrams. "Pray, is she out,
or is she not? I am puzzled. She dined at the Parsonage,
with the rest of you, which seemed like being _out_;
and yet she says so little, that I can hardly suppose
she _is_."

Edmund, to whom this was chiefly addressed, replied, "I believe
I know what you mean, but I will not undertake to answer
the question. My cousin is grown up. She has the age
and sense of a woman, but the outs and not outs are beyond me."

"And yet, in general, nothing can be more easily ascertained.
The distinction is so broad. Manners as well as
appearance are, generally speaking, so totally different.
Till now, I could not have supposed it possible to be
mistaken as to a girl's being out or not. A girl not
out has always the same sort of dress: a close bonnet,
for instance; looks very demure, and never says a word.
You may smile, but it is so, I assure you; and except
that it is sometimes carried a little too far, it is
all very proper. Girls should be quiet and modest.
The most objectionable part is, that the alteration
of manners on being introduced into company is frequently
too sudden. They sometimes pass in such very little
time from reserve to quite the opposite--to confidence!
_That_ is the faulty part of the present system.
One does not like to see a girl of eighteen or nineteen
so immediately up to every thing--and perhaps when one
has seen her hardly able to speak the year before.
Mr. Bertram, I dare say _you_ have sometimes met with
such changes."

"I believe I have, but this is hardly fair; I see what you
are at. You are quizzing me and Miss Anderson."

"No, indeed. Miss Anderson! I do not know who or what
you mean. I am quite in the dark. But I _will_ quiz you
with a great deal of pleasure, if you will tell me what about."

"Ah! you carry it off very well, but I cannot be quite
so far imposed on. You must have had Miss Anderson
in your eye, in describing an altered young lady.
You paint too accurately for mistake. It was exactly so.
The Andersons of Baker Street. We were speaking of them
the other day, you know. Edmund, you have heard me mention
Charles Anderson. The circumstance was precisely as this
lady has represented it. When Anderson first introduced
me to his family, about two years ago, his sister was
not _out_, and I could not get her to speak to me.
I sat there an hour one morning waiting for Anderson,
with only her and a little girl or two in the room,
the governess being sick or run away, and the mother
in and out every moment with letters of business, and I
could hardly get a word or a look from the young lady--
nothing like a civil answer--she screwed up her mouth,
and turned from me with such an air! I did not see
her again for a twelvemonth. She was then _out_.
I met her at Mrs. Holford's, and did not recollect her.
She came up to me, claimed me as an acquaintance, stared me
out of countenance; and talked and laughed till I did not
know which way to look. I felt that I must be the jest
of the room at the time, and Miss Crawford, it is plain,
has heard the story."

"And a very pretty story it is, and with more truth
in it, I dare say, than does credit to Miss Anderson.
It is too common a fault. Mothers certainly have not yet
got quite the right way of managing their daughters.
I do not know where the error lies. I do not pretend to set
people right, but I do see that they are often wrong."

"Those who are showing the world what female manners
_should_ be," said Mr. Bertram gallantly, "are doing
a great deal to set them right."

"The error is plain enough," said the less courteous Edmund;
"such girls are ill brought up. They are given wrong notions
from the beginning. They are always acting upon motives
of vanity, and there is no more real modesty in their
behaviour _before_ they appear in public than afterwards."

"I do not know," replied Miss Crawford hesitatingly.
"Yes, I cannot agree with you there. It is certainly
the modestest part of the business. It is much worse to
have girls not out give themselves the same airs and take
the same liberties as if they were, which I have seen done.
That is worse than anything--quite disgusting!"

"Yes, _that_ is very inconvenient indeed," said Mr. Bertram.
"It leads one astray; one does not know what to do.
The close bonnet and demure air you describe so well (and
nothing was ever juster), tell one what is expected;
but I got into a dreadful scrape last year from the want
of them. I went down to Ramsgate for a week with a friend
last September, just after my return from the West Indies.
My friend Sneyd--you have heard me speak of Sneyd, Edmund--
his father, and mother, and sisters, were there, all new
to me. When we reached Albion Place they were out;
we went after them, and found them on the pier: Mrs. and
the two Miss Sneyds, with others of their acquaintance.
I made my bow in form; and as Mrs. Sneyd was surrounded
by men, attached myself to one of her daughters,
walked by her side all the way home, and made myself
as agreeable as I could; the young lady perfectly easy
in her manners, and as ready to talk as to listen.
I had not a suspicion that I could be doing anything wrong.
They looked just the same: both well-dressed, with veils
and parasols like other girls; but I afterwards found
that I had been giving all my attention to the youngest,
who was not _out_, and had most excessively offended
the eldest. Miss Augusta ought not to have been noticed
for the next six months; and Miss Sneyd, I believe, has never
forgiven me."

"That was bad indeed. Poor Miss Sneyd. Though I have no
younger sister, I feel for her. To be neglected before
one's time must be very vexatious; but it was entirely
the mother's fault. Miss Augusta should have been with
her governess. Such half-and-half doings never prosper.
But now I must be satisfied about Miss Price.
Does she go to balls? Does she dine out every where,
as well as at my sister's?"

"No," replied Edmund; "I do not think she has ever been
to a ball. My mother seldom goes into company herself,
and dines nowhere but with Mrs. Grant, and Fanny stays at
home with _her_."

"Oh! then the point is clear. Miss Price is not out."


Mr. Bertram set off for--------, and Miss Crawford
was prepared to find a great chasm in their society,
and to miss him decidedly in the meetings which were now
becoming almost daily between the families; and on their
all dining together at the Park soon after his going,
she retook her chosen place near the bottom of the table,
fully expecting to feel a most melancholy difference in
the change of masters. It would be a very flat business,
she was sure. In comparison with his brother, Edmund would
have nothing to say. The soup would be sent round in a
most spiritless manner, wine drank without any smiles
or agreeable trifling, and the venison cut up without
supplying one pleasant anecdote of any former haunch,
or a single entertaining story, about "my friend such a one."
She must try to find amusement in what was passing at the
upper end of the table, and in observing Mr. Rushworth,
who was now making his appearance at Mansfield for the first
time since the Crawfords' arrival. He had been visiting
a friend in the neighbouring county, and that friend
having recently had his grounds laid out by an improver,
Mr. Rushworth was returned with his head full of the subject,
and very eager to be improving his own place in the same way;
and though not saying much to the purpose, could talk
of nothing else. The subject had been already handled
in the drawing-room; it was revived in the dining-parlour.
Miss Bertram's attention and opinion was evidently
his chief aim; and though her deportment showed rather
conscious superiority than any solicitude to oblige him,
the mention of Sotherton Court, and the ideas attached
to it, gave her a feeling of complacency, which prevented
her from being very ungracious.

"I wish you could see Compton," said he; "it is the most
complete thing! I never saw a place so altered in my life.
I told Smith I did not know where I was. The approach _now_,
is one of the finest things in the country: you see the
house in the most surprising manner. I declare, when I
got back to Sotherton yesterday, it looked like a prison--
quite a dismal old prison."

"Oh, for shame!" cried Mrs. Norris. "A prison indeed?
Sotherton Court is the noblest old place in the world."

"It wants improvement, ma'am, beyond anything. I never
saw a place that wanted so much improvement in my life;
and it is so forlorn that I do not know what can be done
with it."

"No wonder that Mr. Rushworth should think so at present,"
said Mrs. Grant to Mrs. Norris, with a smile; "but depend
upon it, Sotherton will have _every_ improvement in time
which his heart can desire."

"I must try to do something with it," said Mr. Rushworth,
"but I do not know what. I hope I shall have some good
friend to help me."

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