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Chapter 38


Mrs. Jennings was very warm in her praise of Edward's
conduct, but only Elinor and Marianne understood its
true merit.  THEY only knew how little he had had to tempt
him to be disobedient, and how small was the consolation,
beyond the consciousness of doing right, that could
remain to him in the loss of friends and fortune.
Elinor gloried in his integrity; and Marianne forgave all
his offences in compassion for his punishment.  But though
confidence between them was, by this public discovery,
restored to its proper state, it was not a subject on
which either of them were fond of dwelling when alone.
Elinor avoided it upon principle, as tending to fix still
more upon her thoughts, by the too warm, too positive
assurances of Marianne, that belief of Edward's continued
affection for herself which she rather wished to do away;
and Marianne's courage soon failed her, in trying
to converse upon a topic which always left her more
dissatisfied with herself than ever, by the comparison
it necessarily produced between Elinor's conduct and her own.

She felt all the force of that comparison; but not
as her sister had hoped, to urge her to exertion now;
she felt it with all the pain of continual self-reproach,
regretted most bitterly that she had never exerted
herself before; but it brought only the torture of penitence,
without the hope of amendment.  Her mind was so much weakened
that she still fancied present exertion impossible,
and therefore it only dispirited her more.

Nothing new was heard by them, for a day or two afterwards,
of affairs in Harley Street, or Bartlett's Buildings.
But though so much of the matter was known to them already,
that Mrs. Jennings might have had enough to do in spreading
that knowledge farther, without seeking after more,
she had resolved from the first to pay a visit of comfort
and inquiry to her cousins as soon as she could;
and nothing but the hindrance of more visitors than usual,
had prevented her going to them within that time.

The third day succeeding their knowledge of the
particulars, was so fine, so beautiful a Sunday as to draw
many to Kensington Gardens, though it was only the second
week in March.  Mrs. Jennings and Elinor were of the number;
but Marianne, who knew that the Willoughbys were again
in town, and had a constant dread of meeting them,
chose rather to stay at home, than venture into so public
a place.

An intimate acquaintance of Mrs. Jennings joined
them soon after they entered the Gardens, and Elinor was
not sorry that by her continuing with them, and engaging
all Mrs. Jennings's conversation, she was herself left
to quiet reflection.  She saw nothing of the Willoughbys,
nothing of Edward, and for some time nothing of anybody
who could by any chance whether grave or gay, be interesting
to her.  But at last she found herself with some surprise,
accosted by Miss Steele, who, though looking rather shy,
expressed great satisfaction in meeting them, and on receiving
encouragement from the particular kindness of Mrs. Jennings,
left her own party for a short time, to join their's.
Mrs. Jennings immediately whispered to Elinor,

"Get it all out of her, my dear.  She will tell you
any thing if you ask.  You see I cannot leave Mrs. Clarke."

It was lucky, however, for Mrs. Jennings's curiosity
and Elinor's too, that she would tell any thing WITHOUT
being asked; for nothing would otherwise have been learnt.

"I am so glad to meet you;" said Miss Steele,
taking her familiarly by the arm--"for I wanted to see you
of all things in the world."  And then lowering her voice,
"I suppose Mrs. Jennings has heard all about it.
Is she angry?"

"Not at all, I believe, with you."

"That is a good thing.  And Lady Middleton, is SHE angry?"

"I cannot suppose it possible that she should."

"I am monstrous glad of it.  Good gracious!  I have
had such a time of it!  I never saw Lucy in such a rage
in my life.  She vowed at first she would never trim me
up a new bonnet, nor do any thing else for me again,
so long as she lived; but now she is quite come to,
and we are as good friends as ever.  Look, she made me
this bow to my hat, and put in the feather last night.
There now, YOU are going to laugh at me too.  But why
should not I wear pink ribbons?  I do not care if it IS
the Doctor's favourite colour.  I am sure, for my part,
I should never have known he DID like it better than
any other colour, if he had not happened to say so.
My cousins have been so plaguing me!  I declare sometimes
I do not know which way to look before them."

She had wandered away to a subject on which Elinor
had nothing to say, and therefore soon judged it expedient
to find her way back again to the first.

"Well, but Miss Dashwood," speaking triumphantly,
"people may say what they chuse about Mr. Ferrars's
declaring he would not have Lucy, for it is no such thing
I can tell you; and it is quite a shame for such ill-natured
reports to be spread abroad.  Whatever Lucy might think
about it herself, you know, it was no business of other
people to set it down for certain."

"I never heard any thing of the kind hinted at before,
I assure you," said Elinor.

"Oh, did not you?  But it WAS said, I know, very well,
and by more than one; for Miss Godby told Miss Sparks,
that nobody in their senses could expect Mr. Ferrars
to give up a woman like Miss Morton, with thirty thousand
pounds to her fortune, for Lucy Steele that had
nothing at all; and I had it from Miss Sparks myself.
And besides that, my cousin Richard said himself,
that when it came to the point he was afraid Mr. Ferrars
would be off; and when Edward did not come near us
for three days, I could not tell what to think myself;
and I believe in my heart Lucy gave it up all for lost;
for we came away from your brother's Wednesday,
and we saw nothing of him not all Thursday, Friday,
and Saturday, and did not know what was become of him.
Once Lucy thought to write to him, but then her spirits
rose against that.  However this morning he came just
as we came home from church; and then it all came out,
how he had been sent for Wednesday to Harley Street,
and been talked to by his mother and all of them,
and how he had declared before them all that he loved
nobody but Lucy, and nobody but Lucy would he have.
And how he had been so worried by what passed,
that as soon as he had went away from his mother's house,
he had got upon his horse, and rid into the country,
some where or other; and how he had stayed about at an inn
all Thursday and Friday, on purpose to get the better
of it.  And after thinking it all over and over again,
he said, it seemed to him as if, now he had no fortune,
and no nothing at all, it would be quite unkind to keep
her on to the engagement, because it must be for her loss,
for he had nothing but two thousand pounds, and no hope
of any thing else; and if he was to go into orders,
as he had some thoughts, he could get nothing but a curacy,
and how was they to live upon that?--He could not bear
to think of her doing no better, and so he begged,
if she had the least mind for it, to put an end to the
matter directly, and leave him shift for himself.
I heard him say all this as plain as could possibly be.
And it was entirely for HER sake, and upon HER account,
that he said a word about being off, and not upon his own.
I will take my oath he never dropt a syllable of being
tired of her, or of wishing to marry Miss Morton, or any
thing like it.  But, to be sure, Lucy would not give
ear to such kind of talking; so she told him directly
(with a great deal about sweet and love, you know,
and all that--Oh, la! one can't repeat such kind of things
you know)--she told him directly, she had not the least
mind in the world to be off, for she could live with him
upon a trifle, and how little so ever he might have,
she should be very glad to have it all, you know,
or something of the kind.  So then he was monstrous happy,
and talked on some time about what they should do,
and they agreed he should take orders directly,
and they must wait to be married till he got a living.
And just then I could not hear any more, for my cousin
called from below to tell me Mrs. Richardson was come in
her coach, and would take one of us to Kensington Gardens;
so I was forced to go into the room and interrupt them,
to ask Lucy if she would like to go, but she did not
care to leave Edward; so I just run up stairs and put
on a pair of silk stockings and came off with the Richardsons."

"I do not understand what you mean by interrupting them,"
said Elinor; "you were all in the same room together,
were not you?"

"No, indeed, not us.  La! Miss Dashwood, do you
think people make love when any body else is by?  Oh,
for shame!--To be sure you must know better than that.
(Laughing affectedly.)--No, no; they were shut up in the
drawing-room together, and all I heard was only by listening
at the door."

"How!" cried Elinor; "have you been repeating to me
what you only learnt yourself by listening at the door?
I am sorry I did not know it before; for I certainly
would not have suffered you to give me particulars of a
conversation which you ought not to have known yourself.
How could you behave so unfairly by your sister?"

"Oh, la! there is nothing in THAT.  I only stood at
the door, and heard what I could.  And I am sure Lucy would
have done just the same by me; for a year or two back,
when Martha Sharpe and I had so many secrets together,
she never made any bones of hiding in a closet, or behind
a chimney-board, on purpose to hear what we said."

Elinor tried to talk of something else; but Miss
Steele could not be kept beyond a couple of minutes,
from what was uppermost in her mind.

"Edward talks of going to Oxford soon," said she;
"but now he is lodging at No. --, Pall Mall.  What an
ill-natured woman his mother is, an't she? And your
brother and sister were not very kind! However,
I shan't say anything against them to YOU; and to be sure
they did send us home in their own chariot, which
was more than I looked for.  And for my part, I was all
in a fright for fear your sister should ask us for the
huswifes she had gave us a day or two before; but, however,
nothing was said about them, and I took care to keep mine
out of sight.  Edward have got some business at Oxford,
he says; so he must go there for a time; and after THAT,
as soon as he can light upon a Bishop, he will be ordained.
I wonder what curacy he will get!--Good gracious!
(giggling as she spoke) I'd lay my life I know what
my cousins will say, when they hear of it.  They will
tell me I should write to the Doctor, to get Edward
the curacy of his new living.  I know they will; but I am
sure I would not do such a thing for all the world.--
'La!' I shall say directly, 'I wonder how you could think
of such a thing?  I write to the Doctor, indeed!'"

"Well," said Elinor, "it is a comfort to be prepared
against the worst.  You have got your answer ready."

Miss Steele was going to reply on the same subject,
but the approach of her own party made another more necessary.

"Oh, la! here come the Richardsons.  I had a vast deal
more to say to you, but I must not stay away from them not
any longer.  I assure you they are very genteel people.
He makes a monstrous deal of money, and they keep their
own coach.  I have not time to speak to Mrs. Jennings about
it myself, but pray tell her I am quite happy to hear she
is not in anger against us, and Lady Middleton the same;
and if anything should happen to take you and your
sister away, and Mrs. Jennings should want company,
I am sure we should be very glad to come and stay with her
for as long a time as she likes.  I suppose Lady Middleton
won't ask us any more this bout.  Good-by; I am sorry
Miss Marianne was not here.  Remember me kindly to her.
La! if you have not got your spotted muslin on!--I wonder
you was not afraid of its being torn."

Such was her parting concern; for after this, she had
time only to pay her farewell compliments to Mrs. Jennings,
before her company was claimed by Mrs. Richardson;
and Elinor was left in possession of knowledge which
might feed her powers of reflection some time, though she
had learnt very little more than what had been already
foreseen and foreplanned in her own mind.  Edward's marriage
with Lucy was as firmly determined on, and the time
of its taking place remained as absolutely uncertain,
as she had concluded it would be;--every thing depended,
exactly after her expectation, on his getting that preferment,
of which, at present, there seemed not the smallest chance.

As soon as they returned to the carriage,
Mrs. Jennings was eager for information; but as Elinor
wished to spread as little as possible intelligence
that had in the first place been so unfairly obtained,
she confined herself to the brief repetition of such
simple particulars, as she felt assured that Lucy,
for the sake of her own consequence, would choose
to have known.  The continuance of their engagement,
and the means that were able to be taken for promoting
its end, was all her communication; and this produced
from Mrs. Jennings the following natural remark.

"Wait for his having a living!--ay, we all know how
THAT will end:--they will wait a twelvemonth, and finding
no good comes of it, will set down upon a curacy of fifty
pounds a-year, with the interest of his two thousand pounds,
and what little matter Mr. Steele and Mr. Pratt can
give her.--Then they will have a child every year! and
Lord help 'em! how poor they will be!--I must see
what I can give them towards furnishing their house.
Two maids and two men, indeed!--as I talked of t'other
day.--No, no, they must get a stout girl of all works.--
Betty's sister would never do for them NOW."

The next morning brought Elinor a letter by the
two-penny post from Lucy herself.  It was as follows:

                    "Bartlett's Building, March.

     "I hope my dear Miss Dashwood will excuse the
     liberty I take of writing to her; but I know your
     friendship for me will make you pleased to hear such
     a good account of myself and my dear Edward, after
     all the troubles we have went through lately,
     therefore will make no more apologies, but proceed
     to say that, thank God! though we have suffered
     dreadfully, we are both quite well now, and as happy
     as we must always be in one another's love.  We have
     had great trials, and great persecutions, but
     however, at the same time, gratefully acknowledge
     many friends, yourself not the least among them,
     whose great kindness I shall always thankfully
     remember, as will Edward too, who I have told of
     it.  I am sure you will be glad to hear, as likewise
     dear Mrs. Jennings, I spent two happy hours with
     him yesterday afternoon, he would not hear of our
     parting, though earnestly did I, as I thought my
     duty required, urge him to it for prudence sake,
     and would have parted for ever on the spot, would
     he consent to it; but he said it should never be,
     he did not regard his mother's anger, while he could
     have my affections; our prospects are not very
     bright, to be sure, but we must wait, and hope for
     the best; he will be ordained shortly; and should
     it ever be in your power to recommend him to any
     body that has a living to bestow, am very sure you
     will not forget us, and dear Mrs. Jennings too,
     trust she will speak a good word for us to Sir John,
     or Mr. Palmer, or any friend that may be able to
     assist us.--Poor Anne was much to blame for what
     she did, but she did it for the best, so I say
     nothing; hope Mrs. Jennings won't think it too much
     trouble to give us a call, should she come this way
     any morning, 'twould be a great kindness, and my
     cousins would be proud to know her.--My paper reminds
     me to conclude; and begging to be most gratefully
     and respectfully remembered to her, and to Sir John,
     and Lady Middleton, and the dear children, when you
     chance to see them, and love to Miss Marianne,

                                      "I am, &c."

As soon as Elinor had finished it, she performed
what she concluded to be its writer's real design,
by placing it in the hands of Mrs. Jennings, who read it
aloud with many comments of satisfaction and praise.

"Very well indeed!--how prettily she writes!--aye,
that was quite proper to let him be off if he would.
That was just like Lucy.--Poor soul! I wish I COULD get
him a living, with all my heart.--She calls me dear
Mrs. Jennings, you see.  She is a good-hearted girl
as ever lived.--Very well upon my word.  That sentence
is very prettily turned.  Yes, yes, I will go and see her,
sure enough.  How attentive she is, to think of every
body!--Thank you, my dear, for shewing it me.  It is
as pretty a letter as ever I saw, and does Lucy's head
and heart great credit."
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Chapter 39


The Miss Dashwoods had now been rather more than
two months in town, and Marianne's impatience to be gone
increased every day.  She sighed for the air, the liberty,
the quiet of the country; and fancied that if any place
could give her ease, Barton must do it.  Elinor was hardly
less anxious than herself for their removal, and only so much
less bent on its being effected immediately, as that she
was conscious of the difficulties of so long a journey,
which Marianne could not be brought to acknowledge.
She began, however, seriously to turn her thoughts towards
its accomplishment, and had already mentioned their wishes
to their kind hostess, who resisted them with all the
eloquence of her good-will, when a plan was suggested,
which, though detaining them from home yet a few weeks
longer, appeared to Elinor altogether much more eligible
than any other. The Palmers were to remove to Cleveland
about the end of March, for the Easter holidays;
and Mrs. Jennings, with both her friends, received a very
warm invitation from Charlotte to go with them.  This would
not, in itself, have been sufficient for the delicacy of
Miss Dashwood;--but it was inforced with so much real
politeness by Mr. Palmer himself, as, joined to the very
great amendment of his manners towards them since her
sister had been known to be unhappy, induced her to accept
it with pleasure.

When she told Marianne what she had done, however,
her first reply was not very auspicious.

"Cleveland!"--she cried, with great agitation.
"No, I cannot go to Cleveland."--

"You forget," said Elinor gently, "that its situation
is not...that it is not in the neighbourhood of..."

"But it is in Somersetshire.--I cannot go
into Somersetshire.--There, where I looked forward
to going...No, Elinor, you cannot expect me to go there."

Elinor would not argue upon the propriety of overcoming
such feelings;--she only endeavoured to counteract them by
working on others;--represented it, therefore, as a measure
which would fix the time of her returning to that dear mother,
whom she so much wished to see, in a more eligible,
more comfortable manner, than any other plan could do,
and perhaps without any greater delay.  From Cleveland,
which was within a few miles of Bristol, the distance to
Barton was not beyond one day, though a long day's journey;
and their mother's servant might easily come there to attend
them down; and as there could be no occasion of their
staying above a week at Cleveland, they might now be at
home in little more than three weeks' time.  As Marianne's
affection for her mother was sincere, it must triumph
with little difficulty, over the imaginary evils she had started.

Mrs. Jennings was so far from being weary of her guest,
that she pressed them very earnestly to return with her again
from Cleveland.  Elinor was grateful for the attention,
but it could not alter her design; and their mother's
concurrence being readily gained, every thing relative
to their return was arranged as far as it could be;--
and Marianne found some relief in drawing up a statement
of the hours that were yet to divide her from Barton.

"Ah! Colonel, I do not know what you and I shall
do without the Miss Dashwoods;"--was Mrs. Jennings's
address to him when he first called on her, after their
leaving her was settled--"for they are quite resolved
upon going home from the Palmers;--and how forlorn we
shall be, when I come back!--Lord! we shall sit and gape
at one another as dull as two cats."

Perhaps Mrs. Jennings was in hopes, by this vigorous
sketch of their future ennui, to provoke him to make
that offer, which might give himself an escape from it;--
and if so, she had soon afterwards good reason to think
her object gained; for, on Elinor's moving to the window
to take more expeditiously the dimensions of a print,
which she was going to copy for her friend, he followed
her to it with a look of particular meaning, and conversed
with her there for several minutes.  The effect of his
discourse on the lady too, could not escape her observation,
for though she was too honorable to listen, and had even
changed her seat, on purpose that she might NOT hear,
to one close by the piano forte on which Marianne
was playing, she could not keep herself from seeing
that Elinor changed colour, attended with agitation,
and was too intent on what he said to pursue her employment.--
Still farther in confirmation of her hopes, in the interval
of Marianne's turning from one lesson to another,
some words of the Colonel's inevitably reached her ear,
in which he seemed to be apologising for the badness
of his house.  This set the matter beyond a doubt.
She wondered, indeed, at his thinking it necessary
to do so; but supposed it to be the proper etiquette.
What Elinor said in reply she could not distinguish,
but judged from the motion of her lips, that she did
not think THAT any material objection;--and Mrs. Jennings
commended her in her heart for being so honest.
They then talked on for a few minutes longer without her
catching a syllable, when another lucky stop in Marianne's
performance brought her these words in the Colonel's calm voice,--

"I am afraid it cannot take place very soon."

Astonished and shocked at so unlover-like a speech,
she was almost ready to cry out, "Lord! what should
hinder it?"--but checking her desire, confined herself
to this silent ejaculation.

"This is very strange!--sure he need not wait to be older."

This delay on the Colonel's side, however, did not
seem to offend or mortify his fair companion in the least,
for on their breaking up the conference soon afterwards,
and moving different ways, Mrs. Jennings very plainly heard
Elinor say, and with a voice which shewed her to feel what she said,

"I shall always think myself very much obliged to you."

Mrs. Jennings was delighted with her gratitude,
and only wondered that after hearing such a sentence,
the Colonel should be able to take leave of them, as he
immediately did, with the utmost sang-froid, and go away
without making her any reply!--She had not thought her old
friend could have made so indifferent a suitor.

What had really passed between them was to this effect.

"I have heard," said he, with great compassion,
"of the injustice your friend Mr. Ferrars has suffered
from his family; for if I understand the matter right,
he has been entirely cast off by them for persevering
in his engagement with a very deserving young woman.--
Have I been rightly informed?--Is it so?--"

Elinor told him that it was.

"The cruelty, the impolitic cruelty,"--he replied,
with great feeling,--"of dividing, or attempting to divide,
two young people long attached to each other, is terrible.--
Mrs. Ferrars does not know what she may be doing--what
she may drive her son to.  I have seen Mr. Ferrars two
or three times in Harley Street, and am much pleased
with him.  He is not a young man with whom one can
be intimately acquainted in a short time, but I have
seen enough of him to wish him well for his own sake,
and as a friend of yours, I wish it still more.
I understand that he intends to take orders.  Will you
be so good as to tell him that the living of Delaford,
now just vacant, as I am informed by this day's post,
is his, if he think it worth his acceptance--but THAT,
perhaps, so unfortunately circumstanced as he is now,
it may be  nonsense to appear to doubt; I only wish it
were more  valuable.-- It is a rectory, but a small one;
the late incumbent, I believe, did not make more than
200 L per annum, and though it is certainly capable
of improvement, I fear, not to such an amount as
to afford him a very comfortable income.  Such as it is,
however, my pleasure in presenting him to it,
will be very great.  Pray assure him of it."

Elinor's astonishment at this commission could
hardly have been greater, had the Colonel been really
making her an offer of his hand.  The preferment,
which only two days before she had considered as hopeless
for Edward, was already provided to enable him to marry;--
and SHE, of all people in the world, was fixed on to
bestow it!--Her emotion was such as Mrs. Jennings had
attributed to a very different cause;--but whatever minor
feelings less pure, less pleasing, might have a share
in that emotion, her esteem for the general benevolence,
and her gratitude for the particular friendship,
which together prompted Colonel Brandon to this act,
were strongly felt, and warmly expressed.  She thanked him
for it with all her heart, spoke of Edward's principles and
disposition with that praise which she knew them to deserve;
and promised to undertake the commission with pleasure,
if it were really his wish to put off so agreeable an office
to another.  But at the same time, she could not help
thinking that no one could so well perform it as himself.
It was an office in short, from which, unwilling to give
Edward the pain of receiving an obligation from HER,
she would have been very glad to be spared herself;--
but Colonel Brandon, on motives of equal delicacy,
declining it likewise, still seemed so desirous of its being
given through her means, that she would not on any account
make farther opposition.  Edward, she believed, was still in
town,
and fortunately she had heard his address from Miss Steele.
She could undertake therefore to inform him of it,
in the course of the day.  After this had been settled,
Colonel Brandon began to talk of his own advantage
in securing so respectable and agreeable a neighbour,
and THEN it was that he mentioned with regret, that the
house was small and indifferent;--an evil which Elinor,
as Mrs. Jennings had supposed her to do, made very light of,
at least as far as regarded its size.

"The smallness of the house," said she,
"I cannot imagine any inconvenience to them,
for it will be in proportion to their family and income."

By which the Colonel was surprised to find that SHE
was considering Mr. Ferrars's marriage as the certain
consequence of the presentation; for he did not suppose it
possible that Delaford living could supply such an income,
as anybody in his style of life would venture to settle on--
and he said so.

"This little rectory CAN do no more than make Mr. Ferrars
comfortable as a bachelor; it cannot enable him to marry.
I am sorry to say that my patronage ends with this;
and my interest is hardly more extensive.  If, however,
by an unforeseen chance it should be in my power to serve
him farther, I must think very differently of him
from what I now do, if I am not as ready to be useful
to him then as I sincerely wish I could be at present.
What I am now doing indeed, seems nothing at all,
since it can advance him so little towards what must
be his principal, his only object of happiness.
His marriage must still be a distant good;--at least,
I am afraid it cannot take place very soon.--"

Such was the sentence which, when misunderstood,
so justly offended the delicate feelings of Mrs. Jennings;
but after this narration of what really passed between
Colonel Brandon and Elinor, while they stood at the window,
the gratitude expressed by the latter on their parting, may
perhaps appear in general, not less reasonably excited,
nor less properly worded than if it had arisen from
an offer of marriage.
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Chapter 40


"Well, Miss Dashwood," said Mrs. Jennings,
sagaciously smiling, as soon as the gentleman had withdrawn,
"I do not ask you what the Colonel has been saying to you;
for though, upon my honour, I TRIED to keep out of hearing,
I could not help catching enough to understand his business.
And I assure you I never was better pleased in my life,
and I wish you joy of it with all my heart."

"Thank you, ma'am," said Elinor.  "It is a matter
of great joy to me; and I feel the goodness of Colonel
Brandon most sensibly.  There are not many men who would
act as he has done.  Few people who have so compassionate
a heart!  I never was more astonished in my life."

"Lord! my dear, you are very modest.  I an't the least
astonished at it in the world, for I have often thought
of late, there was nothing more likely to happen."

"You judged from your knowledge of the Colonel's
general benevolence; but at least you could not foresee
that the opportunity would so very soon occur."

"Opportunity!" repeated Mrs. Jennings--"Oh! as to that,
when a man has once made up his mind to such a thing,
somehow or other he will soon find an opportunity.
Well, my dear, I wish you joy of it again and again;
and if ever there was a happy couple in the world, I think
I shall soon know where to look for them."

"You mean to go to Delaford after them I suppose,"
said Elinor, with a faint smile.

"Aye, my dear, that I do, indeed.  And as to the house
being a bad one, I do not know what the Colonel would be at,
for it is as good a one as ever I saw."

"He spoke of its being out of repair."

"Well, and whose fault is that? why don't he repair it?--
who should do it but himself?"

They were interrupted by the servant's coming in to
announce the carriage being at the door; and Mrs. Jennings
immediately preparing to go, said,--

"Well, my dear, I must be gone before I have had half
my talk out.  But, however, we may have it all over in
the evening; for we shall be quite alone.  I do not ask
you to go with me, for I dare say your mind is too full
of the matter to care for company; and besides, you must
long to tell your sister all about it."

Marianne had left the room before the conversation began.

"Certainly, ma'am, I shall tell Marianne of it;
but I shall not mention it at present to any body else."

"Oh! very well," said Mrs. Jennings rather disappointed.
"Then you would not have me tell it to Lucy, for I think
of going as far as Holborn to-day."

"No, ma'am, not even Lucy if you please.
One day's delay will not be very material; and till I
have written to Mr. Ferrars, I think it ought not to be
mentioned to any body else.  I shall do THAT directly.
It is of importance that no time should be lost with him,
for he will of course have much to do relative to
his ordination."

This speech at first puzzled Mrs. Jennings exceedingly.
Why Mr. Ferrars was to have been written to about it
in such a hurry, she could not immediately comprehend.
A few moments' reflection, however, produced a very happy idea,
and she exclaimed;--

"Oh, ho!--I understand you.  Mr. Ferrars is to be
the man.  Well, so much the better for him.  Ay, to be sure,
he must be ordained in readiness; and I am very glad
to find things are so forward between you.  But, my dear,
is not this rather out of character?  Should not the Colonel
write himself?--sure, he is the proper person."

Elinor did not quite understand the beginning of
Mrs. Jennings's speech, neither did she think it worth
inquiring into; and therefore only replied to its conclusion.

"Colonel Brandon is so delicate a man, that he rather
wished any one to announce his intentions to Mr. Ferrars
than himself."

"And so YOU are forced to do it.  Well THAT is an odd
kind of delicacy!  However, I will not disturb you (seeing
her preparing to write.)  You know your own concerns best.
So goodby, my dear.  I have not heard of any thing to
please me so well since Charlotte was brought to bed."

And away she went; but returning again in a moment,

"I have just been thinking of Betty's sister, my dear.
I should be very glad to get her so good a mistress.
But whether she would do for a lady's maid, I am sure I
can't tell.  She is an excellent housemaid, and works
very well at her needle.  However, you will think of all
that at your leisure."

"Certainly, ma'am," replied Elinor, not hearing
much of what she said, and more anxious to be alone,
than to be mistress of the subject.

How she should begin--how she should express
herself in her note to Edward, was now all her concern.
The particular circumstances between them made
a difficulty of that which to any other person would
have been the easiest thing in the world; but she
equally feared to say too much or too little, and sat
deliberating over her paper, with the pen in her hand,
till broken in on by the entrance of Edward himself.

He had met Mrs. Jennings at the door in her way to
the carriage, as he came to leave his farewell card; and she,
after apologising for not returning herself, had obliged
him to enter, by saying that Miss Dashwood was above,
and wanted to speak with him on very particular business.

Elinor had just been congratulating herself,
in the midst of her perplexity, that however difficult it
might be to express herself properly by letter, it was
at least preferable to giving the information by word
of mouth, when her visitor entered, to force her upon this
greatest exertion of all.  Her astonishment and confusion
were very great on his so sudden appearance.  She had
not seen him before since his engagement became public,
and therefore not since his knowing her to be acquainted
with it; which, with the consciousness of what she
had been thinking of, and what she had to tell him,
made her feel particularly uncomfortable for some minutes.
He too was much distressed; and they sat down together
in a most promising state of embarrassment.--Whether he
had asked her pardon for his intrusion on first coming
into the room, he could not recollect; but determining
to be on the safe side, he made his apology in form
as soon as he could say any thing, after taking a chair.

"Mrs. Jennings told me," said he, "that you wished
to speak with me, at least I understood her so--or I
certainly should not have intruded on you in such a manner;
though at the same time, I should have been extremely
sorry to leave London without seeing you and your sister;
especially as it will most likely be some time--it
is not probable that I should soon have the pleasure
of meeting you again.  I go to Oxford tomorrow."

"You would not have gone, however," said Elinor,
recovering herself, and determined to get over what she
so much dreaded as soon as possible, "without receiving
our good wishes, even if we had not been able to give them
in person.  Mrs. Jennings was quite right in what she said.
I have something of consequence to inform you of,
which I was on the point of communicating by paper.
I am charged with a most agreeable office (breathing
rather faster than usual as she spoke.)  Colonel Brandon,
who was here only ten minutes ago, has desired me to say,
that understanding you mean to take orders, he has
great pleasure in offering you the living of Delaford
now just vacant, and only wishes it were more valuable.
Allow me to congratulate you on having so respectable
and well-judging a friend, and to join in his wish that
the living--it is about two hundred a-year--were much
more considerable, and such as might better enable you
to--as might be more than a temporary accommodation to
yourself--such, in short, as might establish all your views
of happiness."

What Edward felt, as he could not say it himself,
it cannot be expected that any one else should say for him.
He LOOKED all the astonishment which such unexpected,
such unthought-of information could not fail of exciting;
but he said only these two words,

"Colonel Brandon!"

"Yes," continued Elinor, gathering more resolution,
as some of the worst was over, "Colonel Brandon means
it as a testimony of his concern for what has lately
passed--for the cruel situation in which the unjustifiable
conduct of your family has placed you--a concern
which I am sure Marianne, myself, and all your friends,
must share; and likewise as a proof of his high esteem
for your general character, and his particular approbation
of your behaviour on the present occasion."

"Colonel Brandon give ME a living!--Can it be possible?"

"The unkindness of your own relations has made you
astonished to find friendship any where."

"No," replied be, with sudden consciousness, "not to
find it in YOU; for I cannot be ignorant that to you,
to your goodness, I owe it all.--I feel it--I would express
it if I could--but, as you well know, I am no orator."

"You are very much mistaken.  I do assure you
that you owe it entirely, at least almost entirely,
to your own merit, and Colonel Brandon's discernment
of it.  I have had no hand in it.  I did not even know,
till I understood his design, that the living was vacant;
nor had it ever occurred to me that he might have
had such a living in his gift.  As a friend of mine,
of my family, he may, perhaps--indeed I know he HAS,
still greater pleasure in bestowing it; but, upon my word,
you owe nothing to my solicitation."

Truth obliged her to acknowledge some small share
in the action, but she was at the same time so unwilling
to appear as the benefactress of Edward, that she acknowledged
it with hesitation; which probably contributed to fix
that suspicion in his mind which had recently entered it.
For a short time he sat deep in thought, after Elinor had ceased
to speak;--at last, and as if it were rather an effort, he said,

"Colonel Brandon seems a man of great worth and respectability.
I have always heard him spoken of as such, and your brother
I know esteems him highly.  He is undoubtedly a sensible man,
and in his manners perfectly the gentleman."

"Indeed," replied Elinor, "I believe that you will find him,
on farther acquaintance, all that you have heard him to be,
and as you will be such very near neighbours (for I understand
the parsonage is almost close to the mansion-house,)
it is particularly important that he SHOULD be all this."

Edward made no answer; but when she had turned
away her head, gave her a look so serious, so earnest,
so uncheerful, as seemed to say, that he might hereafter wish
the distance between the parsonage and the mansion-house
much greater.

"Colonel Brandon, I think, lodges in St. James Street,"
said he, soon afterwards, rising from his chair.

Elinor told him the number of the house.

"I must hurry away then, to give him those thanks
which you will not allow me to give YOU; to assure him
that he has made me a very--an exceedingly happy man."

Elinor did not offer to detain him; and they parted,
with a very earnest assurance on HER side of her unceasing
good wishes for his happiness in every change of situation
that might befall him; on HIS, with rather an attempt to
return the same good will, than the power of expressing it.

"When I see him again," said Elinor to herself,
as the door shut him out, "I shall see him the husband
of Lucy."

And with this pleasing anticipation, she sat down
to reconsider the past, recall the words and endeavour
to comprehend all the feelings of Edward; and, of course,
to reflect on her own with discontent.

When Mrs. Jennings came home, though she returned
from seeing people whom she had never seen before,
and of whom therefore she must have a great deal to say,
her mind was so much more occupied by the important secret
in her possession, than by anything else, that she
reverted to it again as soon as Elinor appeared.

"Well, my dear," she cried, "I sent you up to the
young man.  Did not I do right?--And I suppose you had
no great difficulty--You did not find him very unwilling
to accept your proposal?"

"No, ma'am; THAT was not very likely."

"Well, and how soon will he be ready?--For it seems
all to depend upon that."

"Really," said Elinor, "I know so little of these kind
of forms, that I can hardly even conjecture as to the time,
or the preparation necessary; but I suppose two or three
months will complete his ordination."

"Two or three months!" cried Mrs. Jennings; "Lord! my dear,
how calmly you talk of it; and can the Colonel wait two
or three months! Lord bless me!--I am sure it would put ME
quite out of patience!--And though one would be very glad
to do a kindness by poor Mr. Ferrars, I do think it is
not worth while to wait two or three months for him.
Sure somebody else might be found that would do as well;
somebody that is in orders already."

"My dear ma'am," said Elinor, "what can you be thinking of?--
Why, Colonel Brandon's only object is to be of use to Mr. Ferrars."

"Lord bless you, my dear!--Sure you do not mean to persuade
me that the Colonel only marries you for the sake of giving
ten guineas to Mr. Ferrars!"

The deception could not continue after this;
and an explanation immediately took place, by which both
gained considerable amusement for the moment, without any
material loss of happiness to either, for Mrs. Jennings
only exchanged one form of delight for another, and still
without forfeiting her expectation of the first.

"Aye, aye, the parsonage is but a small one," said she,
after the first ebullition of surprise and satisfaction
was over, "and very likely MAY be out of repair; but to hear
a man apologising, as I thought, for a house that to my
knowledge has five sitting rooms on the ground-floor, and I
think the housekeeper told me could make up fifteen beds!--
and to you too, that had been used to live in Barton cottage!--
It seems quite ridiculous.  But, my dear, we must
touch up the Colonel to do some thing to the parsonage,
and make it comfortable for them, before Lucy goes to it."

"But Colonel Brandon does not seem to have any idea
of the living's being enough to allow them to marry."

"The Colonel is a ninny, my dear; because he has two
thousand a-year himself, he thinks that nobody else can marry
on less.  Take my word for it, that, if I am alive, I shall
be paying a visit at Delaford Parsonage before Michaelmas;
and I am sure I shan't go if Lucy an't there."

Elinor was quite of her opinion, as to the probability
of their not waiting for any thing more.
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Chapter 41


Edward, having carried his thanks to Colonel Brandon,
proceeded with his happiness to Lucy; and such was the
excess of it by the time he reached Bartlett's Buildings,
that she was able to assure Mrs. Jennings, who called
on her again the next day with her congratulations,
that she had never seen him in such spirits before
in her life.

Her own happiness, and her own spirits, were at
least very certain; and she joined Mrs. Jennings most
heartily in her expectation of their being all comfortably
together in Delaford Parsonage before Michaelmas.
So far was she, at the same time, from any backwardness
to give Elinor that credit which Edward WOULD give her,
that she spoke of her friendship for them both with the most
grateful warmth, was ready to own all their obligation
to her, and openly declared that no exertion for their
good on Miss Dashwood's part, either present or future,
would ever surprise her, for she believed her capable of
doing any thing in the world for those she really valued.
As for Colonel Brandon, she was not only ready to worship
him as a saint, but was moreover truly anxious that
he should be treated as one in all worldly concerns;
anxious that his tithes should be raised to the utmost;
and scarcely resolved to avail herself, at Delaford,
as far as she possibly could, of his servants, his carriage,
his cows, and his poultry.

It was now above a week since John Dashwood had
called in Berkeley Street, and as since that time no notice
had been taken by them of his wife's indisposition,
beyond one verbal enquiry, Elinor began to feel it
necessary to pay her a visit.--This was an obligation,
however, which not only opposed her own inclination,
but which had not the assistance of any encouragement
from her companions.  Marianne, not contented with
absolutely refusing to go herself, was very urgent
to prevent her sister's going at all; and Mrs. Jennings,
though her carriage was always at Elinor's service,
so very much disliked Mrs. John Dashwood, that not even her
curiosity to see how she looked after the late discovery,
nor her strong desire to affront her by taking Edward's part,
could overcome her unwillingness to be in her company again.
The consequence was, that Elinor set out by herself
to pay a visit, for which no one could really have
less inclination, and to run the risk of a tete-a-tete
with a woman, whom neither of the others had so much
reason to dislike.

Mrs. Dashwood was denied; but before the carriage could
turn from the house, her husband accidentally came out.
He expressed great pleasure in meeting Elinor, told her
that he had been just going to call in Berkeley Street,
and, assuring her that Fanny would be very glad to see her,
invited her to come in.

They walked up stairs in to the drawing-room.--Nobody was there.

"Fanny is in her own room, I suppose," said he:--"I
will go to her presently, for I am sure she will not
have the least objection in the world to seeing YOU.--
Very far from it, indeed.  NOW especially there
cannot be--but however, you and Marianne were always
great favourites.--Why would not Marianne come?"--

Elinor made what excuse she could for her.

"I am not sorry to see you alone," he replied,
"for I have a good deal to say to you.  This living
of Colonel Brandon's--can it be true?--has he really given
it to Edward?--I heard it yesterday by chance, and was
coming to you on purpose to enquire farther about it."

"It is perfectly true.--Colonel Brandon has given
the living of Delaford to Edward."

"Really!--Well, this is very astonishing!--no
relationship!--no connection between them!--and now
that livings fetch such a price!--what was the value of this?"

"About two hundred a year."

"Very well--and for the next presentation to a living
of that value--supposing the late incumbent to have
been old and sickly, and likely to vacate it soon--he
might have got I dare say--fourteen hundred pounds.
And how came he not to have settled that matter before this
person's death?--NOW indeed it would be too late to sell it,
but a man of Colonel Brandon's sense!--I wonder he should
be so improvident in a point of such common, such natural,
concern!--Well, I am convinced that there is a vast deal
of inconsistency in almost every human character.  I suppose,
however--on recollection--that the case may probably be THIS.
Edward is only to hold the living till the person to whom
the Colonel has really sold the presentation, is old enough
to take it.--Aye, aye, that is the fact, depend upon it."

Elinor contradicted it, however, very positively;
and by relating that she had herself been employed
in conveying the offer from Colonel Brandon to Edward,
and, therefore, must understand the terms on which it
was given, obliged him to submit to her authority.

"It is truly astonishing!"--he cried, after hearing
what she said--"what could be the Colonel's motive?"

"A very simple one--to be of use to Mr. Ferrars."

"Well, well; whatever Colonel Brandon may be,
Edward is a very lucky man.--You will not mention the matter
to Fanny, however, for though I have broke it to her,
and she bears it vastly well,--she will not like to hear
it much talked of."

Elinor had some difficulty here to refrain from observing,
that she thought Fanny might have borne with composure,
an acquisition of wealth to her brother, by which neither
she nor her child could be possibly impoverished.

"Mrs. Ferrars," added he, lowering his voice to the
tone becoming so important a subject, "knows nothing
about it at present, and I believe it will be best to
keep it entirely concealed from her as long as may be.--
When the marriage takes place, I fear she must hear
of it all."

"But why should such precaution be used?--Though
it is not to be supposed that Mrs. Ferrars can have
the smallest satisfaction in knowing that her son has
money enough to live upon,--for THAT must be quite
out of the question; yet why, upon her late behaviour,
is she supposed to feel at all?--She has done with her
son, she cast him off for ever, and has made all those
over whom she had any influence, cast him off likewise.
Surely, after doing so, she cannot be imagined liable
to any impression of sorrow or of joy on his account--
she cannot be interested in any thing that befalls him.--
She would not be so weak as to throw away the comfort
of a child, and yet retain the anxiety of a parent!"

"Ah! Elinor," said John, "your reasoning is very good,
but it is founded on ignorance of human nature.
When Edward's unhappy match takes place, depend upon it
his mother will feel as much as if she had never discarded him;
and, therefore every circumstance that may accelerate that
dreadful event, must be concealed from her as much as possible.
Mrs. Ferrars can never forget that Edward is her son."

"You surprise me; I should think it must nearly
have escaped her memory by THIS time."

"You wrong her exceedingly.  Mrs. Ferrars is one
of the most affectionate mothers in the world."

Elinor was silent.

"We think NOW,"--said Mr. Dashwood, after a short pause,
"of ROBERT'S marrying Miss Morton."

Elinor, smiling at the grave and decisive importance
of her brother's tone, calmly replied,

"The lady, I suppose, has no choice in the affair."

"Choice!--how do you mean?"

"I only mean that I suppose, from your manner
of speaking, it must be the same to Miss Morton whether
she marry Edward or Robert."

"Certainly, there can be no difference; for Robert
will now to all intents and purposes be considered
as the eldest son;--and as to any thing else, they are
both very agreeable young men: I do not know that one
is superior to the other."

Elinor said no more, and John was also for a short
time silent.--His reflections ended thus.

"Of ONE thing, my dear sister," kindly taking her hand,
and speaking in an awful whisper,--"I may assure you;--
and I WILL do it, because I know it must gratify you.
I have good reason to think--indeed I have it from the
best authority, or I should not repeat it, for otherwise
it would be very wrong to say any thing about it--but
I have it from the very best authority--not that I ever
precisely heard Mrs. Ferrars say it herself--but her
daughter DID, and I have it from her--That in short,
whatever objections there might be against a certain--a
certain connection--you understand me--it would have been
far preferable to her, it would not have given her half
the vexation that THIS does.  I was exceedingly pleased
to hear that Mrs. Ferrars considered it in that light--
a very gratifying circumstance you know to us all.
'It would have been beyond comparison,' she said, 'the least
evil of the two, and she would be glad to compound NOW
for nothing worse.' But however, all that is quite out
of the question--not to be thought of or mentioned--
as to any attachment you know--it never could be--all
that is gone by.  But I thought I would just tell you
of this, because I knew how much it must please you.
Not that you have any reason to regret, my dear Elinor.  There
is no doubt of your doing exceedingly well--quite as well,
or better, perhaps, all things considered.  Has Colonel
Brandon been with you lately?"

Elinor had heard enough, if not to gratify her vanity,
and raise her self-importance, to agitate her nerves
and fill her mind;--and she was therefore glad to be
spared from the necessity of saying much in reply herself,
and from the danger of hearing any thing more from
her brother, by the entrance of Mr. Robert Ferrars.
After a few moments' chat, John Dashwood, recollecting that
Fanny was yet uninformed of her sister's being there,
quitted the room in quest of her; and Elinor was left
to improve her acquaintance with Robert, who, by the
gay unconcern, the happy self-complacency of his manner
while enjoying so unfair a division of his mother's love
and liberality, to the prejudice of his banished brother,
earned only by his own dissipated course of life, and that
brother's integrity, was confirming her most unfavourable
opinion of his head and heart.

They had scarcely been two minutes by themselves,
before he began to speak of Edward; for he, too, had heard
of the living, and was very inquisitive on the subject.
Elinor repeated the particulars of it, as she had given them
to John; and their effect on Robert, though very different,
was not less striking than it had been on HIM.  He laughed
most immoderately.  The idea of Edward's being a clergyman,
and living in a small parsonage-house, diverted him
beyond measure;--and when to that was added the fanciful
imagery of Edward reading prayers in a white surplice,
and publishing the banns of marriage between John Smith and
Mary Brown, he could conceive nothing more ridiculous.

Elinor, while she waited in silence and immovable
gravity, the conclusion of such folly, could not restrain
her eyes from being fixed on him with a look that spoke
all the contempt it excited.  It was a look, however,
very well bestowed, for it relieved her own feelings, and gave
no intelligence to him.  He was recalled from wit to wisdom,
not by any reproof of her's, but by his own sensibility.

"We may treat it as a joke," said he, at last,
recovering from the affected laugh which had considerably
lengthened out the genuine gaiety of the moment--"but, upon
my soul, it is a most serious business.  Poor Edward!
he is ruined for ever.  I am extremely sorry for it--
for I know him to be a very good-hearted creature; as
well-meaning a fellow perhaps, as any in the world.
You must not judge of him, Miss Dashwood, from YOUR
slight acquaintance.--Poor Edward!--His manners are certainly
not the happiest in nature.--But we are not all born,
you know, with the same powers,--the same address.--
Poor fellow!--to see him in a circle of strangers!--
to be sure it was pitiable enough!--but upon my soul,
I believe he has as good a heart as any in the kingdom;
and I declare and protest to you I never was so shocked in my
life, as when it all burst forth.  I could not believe it.--
My mother was the first person who told me of it;
and I, feeling myself called on to act with resolution,
immediately said to her, 'My dear madam, I do not know
what you may intend to do on the occasion, but as for myself,
I must say, that if Edward does marry this young woman,
I never will see him again.' That was what I said immediately.--
I was most uncommonly shocked, indeed!--Poor Edward!--he has
done for himself completely--shut himself out for ever from
all decent society!--but, as I directly said to my mother,
I am not in the least surprised at it; from his style
of education, it was always to be expected.  My poor mother
was half frantic."

"Have you ever seen the lady?"

"Yes; once, while she was staying in this house,
I happened to drop in for ten minutes; and I saw
quite enough of her.  The merest awkward country girl,
without style, or elegance, and almost without beauty.--
I remember her perfectly.  Just the kind of girl I
should suppose likely to captivate poor Edward.
I offered immediately, as soon as my mother related
the affair to me, to talk to him myself, and dissuade
him from the match; but it was too late THEN, I found,
to do any thing, for unluckily, I was not in the way
at first, and knew nothing of it till after the breach
had taken place, when it was not for me, you know,
to interfere.  But had I been informed of it a few
hours earlier--I think it is most probable--that something
might have been hit on.  I certainly should have represented
it to Edward in a very strong light.  'My dear fellow,'
I should have said, 'consider what you are doing.
You are making a most disgraceful connection, and such a one
as your family are unanimous in disapproving.' I cannot
help thinking, in short, that means might have been found.
But now it is all too late.  He must be starved, you know;--
that is certain; absolutely starved."

He had just settled this point with great composure,
when the entrance of Mrs. John Dashwood put an end to the
subject.
But though SHE never spoke of it out of her own family,
Elinor could see its influence on her mind, in the something
like confusion of countenance with which she entered,
and an attempt at cordiality in her behaviour to herself.
She even proceeded so far as to be concerned to find
that Elinor and her sister were so soon to leave town,
as she had hoped to see more of them;--an exertion
in which her husband, who attended her into the room,
and hung enamoured over her accents, seemed to distinguish
every thing that was most affectionate and graceful.
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Chapter 42


One other short call in Harley Street, in which Elinor
received her brother's congratulations on their travelling
so far towards Barton without any expense, and on Colonel
Brandon's being to follow them to Cleveland in a day or two,
completed the intercourse of the brother and sisters
in town;--and a faint invitation from Fanny, to come
to Norland whenever it should happen to be in their way,
which of all things was the most unlikely to occur,
with a more warm, though less public, assurance, from John
to Elinor, of the promptitude with which he should come
to see her at Delaford, was all that foretold any meeting
in the country.

It amused her to observe that all her friends seemed
determined to send her to Delaford;--a place, in which,
of all others, she would now least chuse to visit,
or wish to reside; for not only was it considered as
her future home by her brother and Mrs. Jennings, but even Lucy,
when they parted, gave her a pressing invitation to visit her there.

Very early in April, and tolerably early in the day,
the two parties from Hanover Square and Berkeley Street set
out from their respective homes, to meet, by appointment,
on the road.  For the convenience of Charlotte and her child,
they were to be more than two days on their journey,
and Mr. Palmer, travelling more expeditiously with Colonel Brandon,
was to join them at Cleveland soon after their arrival.

Marianne, few as had been her hours of comfort
in London, and eager as she had long been to quit it,
could not, when it came to the point, bid adieu to
the house in which she had for the last time enjoyed
those hopes, and that confidence, in Willoughby,
which were now extinguished for ever, without great pain.
Nor could she leave the place in which Willoughby remained,
busy in new engagements, and new schemes, in which SHE
could have no share, without shedding many tears.

Elinor's satisfaction, at the moment of removal,
was more positive.  She had no such object for her lingering
thoughts to fix on, she left no creature behind, from whom
it would give her a moment's regret to be divided for ever,
she was pleased to be free herself from the persecution
of Lucy's friendship, she was grateful for bringing
her sister away unseen by Willoughby since his marriage,
and she looked forward with hope to what a few months
of tranquility at Barton might do towards restoring
Marianne's peace of mind, and confirming her own.

Their journey was safely performed.  The second
day brought them into the cherished, or the prohibited,
county of Somerset, for as such was it dwelt on by turns
in Marianne's imagination; and in the forenoon of the third
they drove up to Cleveland.

Cleveland was a spacious, modern-built house,
situated on a sloping lawn.  It had no park, but the
pleasure-grounds were tolerably extensive; and like
every other place of the same degree of importance,
it had its open shrubbery, and closer wood walk,
a road of smooth gravel winding round a plantation,
led to the front, the lawn was dotted over with timber,
the house itself was under the guardianship of the fir,
the mountain-ash, and the acacia, and a thick screen of
them altogether, interspersed with tall Lombardy poplars,
shut out the offices.

Marianne entered the house with a heart swelling
with emotion from the consciousness of being only eighty
miles from Barton, and not thirty from Combe Magna;
and before she had been five minutes within its walls,
while the others were busily helping Charlotte to show
her child to the housekeeper, she quitted it again,
stealing away through the winding shrubberies, now just
beginning to be in beauty, to gain a distant eminence;
where, from its Grecian temple, her eye, wandering over
a wide tract of country to the south-east, could fondly
rest on the farthest ridge of hills in the horizon,
and fancy that from their summits Combe Magna might be seen.

In such moments of precious, invaluable misery,
she rejoiced in tears of agony to be at Cleveland;
and as she returned by a different circuit to the house,
feeling all the happy privilege of country liberty,
of wandering from place to place in free and luxurious solitude,
she resolved to spend almost every hour of every day
while she remained with the Palmers, in the indulgence of
such solitary rambles.

She returned just in time to join the others
as they quitted the house, on an excursion through its
more immediate premises; and the rest of the morning was
easily whiled away, in lounging round the kitchen garden,
examining the bloom upon its walls, and listening to the
gardener's lamentations upon blights, in dawdling through
the green-house, where the loss of her favourite plants,
unwarily exposed, and nipped by the lingering frost,
raised the laughter of Charlotte,--and in visiting her
poultry-yard, where, in the disappointed hopes of her
dairy-maid, by hens forsaking their nests, or being
stolen by a fox, or in the rapid decrease of a promising
young brood, she found fresh sources of merriment.

The morning was fine and dry, and Marianne,
in her plan of employment abroad, had not calculated
for any change of weather during their stay at Cleveland.
With great surprise therefore, did she find herself prevented
by a settled rain from going out again after dinner.
She had depended on a twilight walk to the Grecian temple,
and perhaps all over the grounds, and an evening merely
cold or damp would not have deterred her from it;
but a heavy and settled rain even SHE could not fancy dry
or pleasant weather for walking.

Their party was small, and the hours passed quietly away.
Mrs. Palmer had her child, and Mrs. Jennings her carpet-work;
they talked of the friends they had left behind,
arranged Lady Middleton's engagements, and wondered
whether Mr. Palmer and Colonel Brandon would get farther
than Reading that night.  Elinor, however little concerned
in it, joined in their discourse; and Marianne, who had
the knack of finding her way in every house to the library,
however it might be avoided by the family in general,
soon procured herself a book.

Nothing was wanting on Mrs. Palmer's side that constant
and friendly good humour could do, to make them feel
themselves welcome.  The openness and heartiness of her
manner more than atoned for that want of recollection
and elegance which made her often deficient in the forms
of politeness; her kindness, recommended by so pretty
a face, was engaging; her folly, though evident
was not disgusting, because it was not conceited;
and Elinor could have forgiven every thing but her laugh.

The two gentlemen arrived the next day to a very
late dinner, affording a pleasant enlargement of the party,
and a very welcome variety to their conversation, which a
long morning of the same continued rain had reduced very low.

Elinor had seen so little of Mr. Palmer, and in that
little had seen so much variety in his address to her
sister and herself, that she knew not what to expect
to find him in his own family.  She found him, however,
perfectly the gentleman in his behaviour to all his visitors,
and only occasionally rude to his wife and her mother;
she found him very capable of being a pleasant companion,
and only prevented from being so always, by too great
an aptitude to fancy himself as much superior to people
in general, as he must feel himself to be to Mrs. Jennings
and Charlotte.  For the rest of his character and habits,
they were marked, as far as Elinor could perceive,
with no traits at all unusual in his sex and time of life.
He was nice in his eating, uncertain in his hours;
fond of his child, though affecting to slight it;
and idled away the mornings at billiards, which ought
to have been devoted to business.  She liked him, however,
upon the whole, much better than she had expected, and in
her heart was not sorry that she could like him no more;--
not sorry to be driven by the observation of his Epicurism,
his selfishness, and his conceit, to rest with complacency
on the remembrance of Edward's generous temper, simple taste,
and diffident feelings.

Of Edward, or at least of some of his concerns,
she now received intelligence from Colonel Brandon,
who had been into Dorsetshire lately; and who,
treating her at once as the disinterested friend
of Mr. Ferrars, and the kind of confidant of himself,
talked to her a great deal of the parsonage at Delaford,
described its deficiencies, and told her what he meant
to do himself towards removing them.--His behaviour
to her in this, as well as in every other particular,
his open pleasure in meeting her after an absence
of only ten days, his readiness to converse with her,
and his deference for her opinion, might very well
justify Mrs. Jennings's persuasion of his attachment,
and would have been enough, perhaps, had not Elinor still,
as from the first, believed Marianne his real favourite,
to make her suspect it herself.  But as it was,
such a notion had scarcely ever entered her head,
except by Mrs. Jennings's suggestion; and she could
not help believing herself the nicest observer of the
two;--she watched his eyes, while Mrs. Jennings thought
only of his behaviour;--and while his looks of anxious
solicitude on Marianne's feeling, in her head and throat,
the beginning of a heavy cold, because unexpressed by words,
entirely escaped the latter lady's observation;--SHE could
discover in them the quick feelings, and needless alarm
of a lover.

Two delightful twilight walks on the third and fourth
evenings of her being there, not merely on the dry gravel
of the shrubbery, but all over the grounds, and especially
in the most distant parts of them, where there was something
more of wildness than in the rest, where the trees were
the oldest, and the grass was the longest and wettest,
had--assisted by the still greater imprudence of sitting
in her wet shoes and stockings--given Marianne a cold
so violent as, though for a day or two trifled with
or denied, would force itself by increasing ailments on
the concern of every body, and the notice of herself.
Prescriptions poured in from all quarters, and as usual,
were all declined.  Though heavy and feverish, with a pain
in her limbs, and a cough, and a sore throat, a good night's
rest was to cure her entirely; and it was with difficulty
that Elinor prevailed on her, when she went to bed,
to try one or two of the simplest of the remedies.
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Variety is the spice of life

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Chapter 43


Marianne got up the next morning at her usual time;
to every inquiry replied that she was better, and tried to
prove herself so, by engaging in her accustomary employments.
But a day spent in sitting shivering over the fire
with a book in her hand, which she was unable to read,
or in lying, weary and languid, on a sofa, did not speak
much in favour of her amendment; and when, at last,
she went early to bed, more and more indisposed, Colonel
Brandon was only astonished at her sister's composure,
who, though attending and nursing her the whole day,
against Marianne's inclination, and forcing proper medicines
on her at night, trusted, like Marianne, to the certainty
and efficacy of sleep, and felt no real alarm.

A very restless and feverish night, however,
disappointed the expectation of both; and when Marianne,
after persisting in rising, confessed herself unable
to sit up, and returned voluntarily to her bed,
Elinor was very ready to adopt Mrs. Jennings's advice,
of sending for the Palmers' apothecary.

He came, examined his patient, and though encouraging
Miss Dashwood to expect that a very few days would restore
her sister to health, yet, by pronouncing her disorder
to have a putrid tendency, and allowing the word "infection"
to pass his lips, gave instant alarm to Mrs. Palmer,
on her baby's account.  Mrs. Jennings, who had been inclined
from the first to think Marianne's complaint more serious
than Elinor, now looked very grave on Mr. Harris's report,
and confirming Charlotte's fears and caution, urged the
necessity of her immediate removal with her infant;
and Mr. Palmer, though treating their apprehensions as idle,
found the anxiety and importunity of his wife too great
to be withstood.  Her departure, therefore, was fixed on;
and within an hour after Mr. Harris's arrival, she set off,
with her little boy and his nurse, for the house of a
near relation of Mr. Palmer's, who lived a few miles
on the other side of Bath; whither her husband promised,
at her earnest entreaty, to join her in a day or two;
and whither she was almost equally urgent with her
mother to accompany her.  Mrs. Jennings, however, with a
kindness of heart which made Elinor really love her,
declared her resolution of not stirring from Cleveland
as long as Marianne remained ill, and of endeavouring,
by her own attentive care, to supply to her the place
of the mother she had taken her from; and Elinor found her
on every occasion a most willing and active helpmate,
desirous to share in all her fatigues, and often by her
better experience in nursing, of material use.

Poor Marianne, languid and low from the nature
of her malady, and feeling herself universally ill,
could no longer hope that tomorrow would find her recovered;
and the idea of what tomorrow would have produced,
but for this unlucky illness, made every ailment severe;
for on that day they were to have begun their journey home;
and, attended the whole way by a servant of Mrs. Jennings,
were to have taken their mother by surprise on the
following forenoon.  The little she said was all in
lamentation of this inevitable delay; though Elinor tried
to raise her spirits, and make her believe, as she THEN
really believed herself, that it would be a very short one.

The next day produced little or no alteration in the
state of the patient; she certainly was not better, and,
except that there was no amendment, did not appear worse.
Their party was now farther reduced; for Mr. Palmer,
though very unwilling to go as well from real humanity
and good-nature, as from a dislike of appearing to be
frightened away by his wife, was persuaded at last
by Colonel Brandon to perform his promise of following her;
and while he was preparing to go, Colonel Brandon himself,
with a much greater exertion, began to talk of going
likewise.--Here, however, the kindness of Mrs. Jennings
interposed most acceptably; for to send the Colonel away
while his love was in so much uneasiness on her sister's
account, would be to deprive them both, she thought,
of every comfort; and therefore telling him at once
that his stay at Cleveland was necessary to herself,
that she should want him to play at piquet of an evening,
while Miss Dashwood was above with her sister, &c. she
urged him so strongly to remain, that he, who was gratifying
the first wish of his own heart by a compliance, could not
long even affect to demur; especially as Mrs. Jennings's
entreaty was warmly seconded by Mr. Palmer, who seemed
to feel a relief to himself, in leaving behind him a person
so well able to assist or advise Miss Dashwood in any emergence.

Marianne was, of course, kept in ignorance of all
these arrangements.  She knew not that she had been
the means of sending the owners of Cleveland away,
in about seven days from the time of their arrival.
It gave her no surprise that she saw nothing
of Mrs. Palmer; and as it gave her likewise no concern,
she never mentioned her name.

Two days passed away from the time of Mr. Palmer's departure,
and her situation continued, with little variation,
the same.  Mr. Harris, who attended her every day,
still talked boldly of a speedy recovery, and Miss Dashwood
was equally sanguine; but the expectation of the others
was by no means so cheerful.  Mrs. Jennings had determined
very early in the seizure that Marianne would never
get over it, and Colonel Brandon, who was chiefly
of use in listening to Mrs. Jennings's forebodings,
was not in a state of mind to resist their influence.
He tried to reason himself out of fears, which the different
judgment of the apothecary seemed to render absurd;
but the many hours of each day in which he was left
entirely alone, were but too favourable for the admission
of every melancholy idea, and he could not expel from
his mind the persuasion that he should see Marianne no more.

On the morning of the third day however, the gloomy
anticipations of both were almost done away; for when
Mr. Harris arrived, he declared his patient materially better.
Her pulse was much stronger, and every symptom more favourable
than on the preceding visit.  Elinor, confirmed in every
pleasant hope, was all cheerfulness; rejoicing that
in her letters to her mother, she had pursued her own
judgment rather than her friend's, in making very light
of the indisposition which delayed them at Cleveland;
and almost fixing on the time when Marianne would be
able to travel.

But the day did not close so auspiciously as it began.--
Towards the evening Marianne became ill again, growing
more heavy, restless, and uncomfortable than before.
Her sister, however, still sanguine, was willing to
attribute the change to nothing more than the fatigue
of having sat up to have her bed made; and carefully
administering the cordials prescribed, saw her, with
satisfaction, sink at last into a slumber, from which
she expected the most beneficial effects.  Her sleep,
though not so quiet as Elinor wished to see it,
lasted a considerable time; and anxious to observe
the result of it herself, she resolved to sit with her
during the whole of it.  Mrs. Jennings, knowing nothing
of any change in the patient, went unusually early to bed;
her maid, who was one of the principal nurses, was recreating
herself in the housekeeper's room, and Elinor remained
alone with Marianne.

The repose of the latter became more and more disturbed;
and her sister, who watched, with unremitting attention
her continual change of posture, and heard the frequent
but inarticulate sounds of complaint which passed her lips,
was almost wishing to rouse her from so painful a slumber,
when Marianne, suddenly awakened by some accidental noise
in the house, started hastily up, and, with feverish wildness,
cried out,--

"Is mama coming?--"

"Not yet," cried the other, concealing her terror,
and assisting Marianne to lie down again, "but she will
be here, I hope, before it is long.  It is a great way,
you know, from hence to Barton."

"But she must not go round by London," cried Marianne,
in the same hurried manner.  "I shall never see her,
if she goes by London."

Elinor perceived with alarm that she was not
quite herself, and, while attempting to soothe her,
eagerly felt her pulse.  It was lower and quicker than ever!
and Marianne, still talking wildly of mama, her alarm
increased so rapidly, as to determine her on sending
instantly for Mr. Harris, and despatching a messenger
to Barton for her mother.  To consult with Colonel Brandon
on the best means of effecting the latter, was a thought
which immediately followed the resolution of its performance;
and as soon she had rung up the maid to take her place
by her sister, she hastened down to the drawing-room,
where she knew he was generally to be found at a much
later hour than the present.

It was no time for hesitation.  Her fears and her
difficulties were immediately before him.  Her fears,
he had no courage, no confidence to attempt the removal of:--
he listened to them in silent despondence;--but her
difficulties were instantly obviated, for with a readiness
that seemed to speak the occasion, and the service
pre-arranged in his mind, he offered himself as the
messenger who should fetch Mrs. Dashwood.  Elinor made no
resistance that was not easily overcome.  She thanked him
with brief, though fervent gratitude, and while he went
to hurry off his servant with a message to Mr. Harris, and
an order for post-horses directly, she wrote a few lines
to her mother.

The comfort of such a friend at that moment as Colonel
Brandon--or such a companion for her mother,--how gratefully
was it felt!--a companion whose judgment would guide,
whose attendance must relieve, and whose friendship might
soothe her!--as far as the shock of such a summons COULD
be lessened to her, his presence, his manners, his assistance,
would lessen it.

HE, meanwhile, whatever he might feel, acted with all
the firmness of a collected mind, made every necessary
arrangement with the utmost despatch, and calculated
with exactness the time in which she might look for
his return.  Not a moment was lost in delay of any kind.
The horses arrived, even before they were expected,
and Colonel Brandon only pressing her hand with a look
of solemnity, and a few words spoken too low to reach her ear,
hurried into the carriage.  It was then about twelve
o'clock, and she returned to her sister's apartment to wait
for the arrival of the apothecary, and to watch by her
the rest of the night.  It was a night of almost equal
suffering to both.  Hour after hour passed away in sleepless
pain and delirium on Marianne's side, and in the most
cruel anxiety on Elinor's, before Mr. Harris appeared.
Her apprehensions once raised, paid by their excess for all
her former security; and the servant who sat up with her,
for she would not allow Mrs. Jennings to be called,
only tortured her more, by hints of what her mistress
had always thought.

Marianne's ideas were still, at intervals,
fixed incoherently on her mother, and whenever she
mentioned her name, it gave a pang to the heart of
poor Elinor, who, reproaching herself for having trifled
with so many days of illness, and wretched for some
immediate relief, fancied that all relief might soon
be in vain, that every thing had been delayed too long,
and pictured to herself her suffering mother arriving
too late to see this darling child, or to see her rational.

She was on the point of sending again for Mr. Harris,
or if HE could not come, for some other advice,
when the former--but not till after five o'clock--arrived.
His opinion, however, made some little amends for his delay,
for though acknowledging a very unexpected and unpleasant
alteration in his patient, he would not allow the danger
to be material, and talked of the relief which a fresh
mode of treatment must procure, with a confidence which,
in a lesser degree, was communicated to Elinor.  He promised
to call again in the course of three or four hours,
and left both the patient and her anxious attendant more
composed than he had found them.

With strong concern, and with many reproaches for not
being called to their aid, did Mrs. Jennings hear in the
morning of what had passed.  Her former apprehensions,
now with greater reason restored, left her no doubt of
the event; and though trying to speak comfort to Elinor,
her conviction of her sister's danger would not allow her
to offer the comfort of hope.  Her heart was really grieved.
The rapid decay, the early death of a girl so young,
so lovely as Marianne, must have struck a less interested
person with concern.  On Mrs. Jennings's compassion
she had other claims.  She had been for three months
her companion, was still under her care, and she was
known to have been greatly injured, and long unhappy.
The distress of her sister too, particularly a favourite,
was before her;--and as for their mother, when Mrs. Jennings
considered that Marianne might probably be to HER what
Charlotte was to herself, her sympathy in HER sufferings
was very sincere.

Mr. Harris was punctual in his second visit;--
but he came to be disappointed in his hopes of what the
last would produce.  His medicines had failed;--the fever
was unabated; and Marianne only more quiet--not more
herself--remained in a heavy stupor.  Elinor, catching all,
and more than all, his fears in a moment, proposed to call
in further advice.  But he judged it unnecessary: he had
still something more to try, some more fresh application,
of whose success he was as confident as the last, and his
visit concluded with encouraging assurances which reached
the ear, but could not enter the heart of Miss Dashwood.
She was calm, except when she thought of her mother;
but she was almost hopeless; and in this state she continued
till noon, scarcely stirring from her sister's bed,
her thoughts wandering from one image of grief,
one suffering friend to another, and her spirits oppressed
to the utmost by the conversation of Mrs. Jennings,
who scrupled not to attribute the severity and danger
of this attack to the many weeks of previous indisposition
which Marianne's disappointment had brought on.
Elinor felt all the reasonableness of the idea, and it
gave fresh misery to her reflections.

About noon, however, she began--but with a caution--a
dread of disappointment which for some time kept her silent,
even to her friend--to fancy, to hope she could perceive
a slight amendment in her sister's pulse;--she waited,
watched, and examined it again and again;--and at last,
with an agitation more difficult to bury under exterior calmness,
than all her foregoing distress, ventured to communicate
her hopes.  Mrs. Jennings, though forced, on examination,
to acknowledge a temporary revival, tried to keep her
young friend from indulging a thought of its continuance;--
and Elinor, conning over every injunction of distrust,
told herself likewise not to hope.  But it was too late.
Hope had already entered; and feeling all its anxious flutter,
she bent over her sister to watch--she hardly knew for what.
Half an hour passed away, and the favourable symptom
yet blessed her.  Others even arose to confirm it.
Her breath, her skin, her lips, all flattered Elinor
with signs of amendment; and Marianne fixed her eyes on
her with a rational, though languid, gaze.  Anxiety and
hope now oppressed her in equal degrees, and left her no
moment of tranquillity till the arrival of Mr. Harris at
four o'clock;--when his assurances, his felicitations on
a recovery in her sister even surpassing his expectation,
gave her confidence, comfort, and tears of joy.

Marianne was in every respect materially better,
and he declared her entirely out of danger.  Mrs. Jennings,
perhaps satisfied with the partial justification of her
forebodings which had been found in their late alarm,
allowed herself to trust in his judgment, and admitted,
with unfeigned joy, and soon with unequivocal cheerfulness,
the probability of an entire recovery.

Elinor could not be cheerful.  Her joy was of a
different kind, and led to any thing rather than to gaiety.
Marianne restored to life, health, friends, and to her
doting mother, was an idea to fill her heart with sensations
of exquisite comfort, and expand it in fervent gratitude;--
but it lead to no outward demonstrations of joy, no words,
no smiles.  All within Elinor's breast was satisfaction,
silent and strong.

She continued by the side of her sister, with little
intermission the whole afternoon, calming every fear,
satisfying every inquiry of her enfeebled spirits,
supplying every succour, and watching almost every look and
every breath.  The possibility of a relapse would of course,
in some moments, occur to remind her of what anxiety was--
but when she saw, on her frequent and minute examination,
that every symptom of recovery continued, and saw Marianne
at six o'clock sink into a quiet, steady, and to all
appearance comfortable, sleep, she silenced every doubt.

The time was now drawing on, when Colonel Brandon
might be expected back.  At ten o'clock, she trusted,
or at least not much later her mother would be relieved
from the dreadful suspense in which she must now be
travelling towards them.  The Colonel, too!--perhaps scarcely
less an object of pity!--Oh!--how slow was the progress
of time which yet kept them in ignorance!

At seven o'clock, leaving Marianne still sweetly asleep,
she joined Mrs. Jennings in the drawing-room to tea.
Of breakfast she had been kept by her fears, and of
dinner by their sudden reverse, from eating much;--
and the present refreshment, therefore, with such feelings
of content as she brought to it, was particularly welcome.
Mrs. Jennings would have persuaded her, at its conclusion,
to take some rest before her mother's arrival, and allow HER to
take her place by Marianne; but Elinor had no sense of fatigue,
no capability of sleep at that moment about her, and she was
not to be kept away from her sister an unnecessary instant.
Mrs. Jennings therefore attending her up stairs into the
sick chamber, to satisfy herself that all continued right,
left her there again to her charge and her thoughts,
and retired to her own room to write letters and sleep.

The night was cold and stormy.  The wind roared
round the house, and the rain beat against the windows;
but Elinor, all happiness within, regarded it not.
Marianne slept through every blast; and the travellers--
they had a rich reward in store, for every present inconvenience.

The clock struck eight.  Had it been ten,
Elinor would have been convinced that at that moment
she heard a carriage driving up to the house;
and so strong was the persuasion that she DID, in spite
of the ALMOST impossibility of their being already come,
that she moved into the adjoining dressing-closet and
opened a window shutter, to be satisfied of the truth.
She instantly saw that her ears had not deceived her.
The flaring lamps of a carriage were immediately in view.
By their uncertain light she thought she could discern it
to be drawn by four horses; and this, while it told the
excess of her poor mother's alarm, gave some explanation
to such unexpected rapidity.

Never in her life had Elinor found it so difficult
to be calm, as at that moment.  The knowledge of what her
mother must be feeling as the carriage stopt at the door--
of her doubt--her dread--perhaps her despair!--and
of what SHE had to tell!--with such knowledge it was
impossible to be calm.  All that remained to be done
was to be speedy; and, therefore staying only till
she could leave Mrs. Jennings's maid with her sister,
she hurried down stairs.

The bustle in the vestibule, as she passed along
an inner lobby, assured her that they were already
in the house.  She rushed to the drawing-room,--she
entered it,--and saw only Willoughby.
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Chapter 44


Elinor, starting back with a look of horror at
the sight of him, obeyed the first impulse of her heart
in turning instantly to quit the room, and her hand
was already on the lock, when its action was suspended
by his hastily advancing, and saying, in a voice rather
of command than supplication,

"Miss Dashwood, for half an hour--for ten minutes--
I entreat you to stay."

"No, sir," she replied with firmness, "I shall NOT stay.
Your business cannot be with ME.  The servants, I suppose,
forgot to tell you that Mr. Palmer was not in the house."

"Had they told me," he cried with vehemence,
"that Mr. Palmer and all his relations were at the devil,
it would not have turned me from the door.  My business
is with you, and only you."

"With me!"--in the utmost amazement--"well, sir,--
be quick--and if you can--less violent."

"Sit down, and I will be both."

She hesitated; she knew not what to do.  The possibility
of Colonel Brandon's arriving and finding her there,
came across her.  But she had promised to hear him,
and her curiosity no less than her honor was engaged.
After a moment's recollection, therefore, concluding that
prudence required dispatch, and that her acquiescence would
best promote it, she walked silently towards the table,
and sat down.  He took the opposite chair, and for half
a minute not a word was said by either.

"Pray be quick, sir,"--said Elinor, impatiently;--
"I have no time to spare."

He was sitting in an attitude of deep meditation,
and seemed not to hear her.

"Your sister," said he, with abruptness, a moment
afterwards--"is out of danger.  I heard it from the servant.
God be praised!--But is it true? is it really true?"

Elinor would not speak.  He repeated the inquiry with
yet greater eagerness.

"For God's sake tell me, is she out of danger, or is she not?"

"We hope she is."

He rose up, and walked across the room.

"Had I known as much half an hour ago--But
since I AM here,"--speaking with a forced vivacity as he
returned to his seat--"what does it signify?--For once,
Miss Dashwood--it will be the last time, perhaps--let us
be cheerful together.--I am in a fine mood for gaiety.--
Tell me honestly"--a deeper glow overspreading his cheeks--
"do you think me most a knave or a fool?"

Elinor looked at him with greater astonishment than ever.
She began to think that he must be in liquor;--the
strangeness of such a visit, and of such manners,
seemed no otherwise intelligible; and with this impression
she immediately rose, saying,

"Mr. Willoughby, I advise you at present to return
to Combe--I am not at leisure to remain with you longer.--
Whatever your business may be with me, will it be better
recollected and explained to-morrow."

"I understand you," he replied, with an expressive smile,
and a voice perfectly calm; "yes, I am very drunk.--
A pint of porter with my cold beef at Marlborough was
enough to over-set me."

"At Marlborough!"--cried Elinor, more and more at
a loss to understand what he would be at.

"Yes,--I left London this morning at eight o'clock,
and the only ten minutes I have spent out of my chaise
since that time procured me a nuncheon at Marlborough."

The steadiness of his manner, and the intelligence
of his eye as he spoke, convincing Elinor, that whatever
other unpardonable folly might bring him to Cleveland,
he was not brought there by intoxication, she said,
after a moment's recollection,

"Mr. Willoughby, you OUGHT to feel, and I certainly
DO--that after what has passed--your coming here in
this manner, and forcing yourself upon my notice,
requires a very particular excuse.--What is it,
that you mean by it?"--

"I mean,"--said he, with serious energy--"if I can,
to make you hate me one degree less than you do NOW.
I mean to offer some kind of explanation, some kind
of apology, for the past; to open my whole heart to you,
and by convincing you, that though I have been always
a blockhead, I have not been always a rascal, to obtain
something like forgiveness from Ma--from your sister."

"Is this the real reason of your coming?"

"Upon my soul it is,"--was his answer, with a warmth
which brought all the former Willoughby to her remembrance,
and in spite of herself made her think him sincere.

"If that is all, you may be satisfied already,--
for Marianne DOES--she has LONG forgiven you."

"Has she?"--he cried, in the same eager tone.--
"Then she has forgiven me before she ought to have done it.
But she shall forgive me again, and on more reasonable
grounds.--NOW will you listen to me?"

Elinor bowed her assent.

"I do not know," said he, after a pause of expectation
on her side, and thoughtfulness on his own,--"how YOU
may have accounted for my behaviour to your sister,
or what diabolical motive you may have imputed to me.--
Perhaps you will hardly think the better of me,--it is
worth the trial however, and you shall hear every thing.
When I first became intimate in your family, I had no
other intention, no other view in the acquaintance
than to pass my time pleasantly while I was obliged to remain
in Devonshire, more pleasantly than I had ever done before.
Your sister's lovely person and interesting manners
could not but please me; and her behaviour to me almost
from the first, was of a kind--It is astonishing,
when I reflect on what it was, and what SHE was, that my
heart should have been so insensible!  But at first
I must confess, my vanity only was elevated by it.
Careless of her happiness, thinking only of my own amusement,
giving way to feelings which I had always been too much
in the habit of indulging, I endeavoured, by every means
in my power, to make myself pleasing to her, without any
design of returning her affection."

Miss Dashwood, at this point, turning her eyes on him
with the most angry contempt, stopped him, by saying,

"It is hardly worth while, Mr. Willoughby,
for you to relate, or for me to listen any longer.
Such a beginning as this cannot be followed by any thing.--
Do not let me be pained by hearing any thing more on
the subject."

"I insist on you hearing the whole of it," he replied,
"My fortune was never large, and I had always been expensive,
always in the habit of associating with people of better
income than myself.  Every year since my coming of age,
or even before, I believe, had added to my debts; and though
the death of my old cousin, Mrs. Smith, was to set me free;
yet that event being uncertain, and possibly far distant,
it had been for some time my intention to re-establish my
circumstances by marrying a woman of fortune.  To attach
myself to your sister, therefore, was not a thing to be
thought of;--and with a meanness, selfishness, cruelty--
which no indignant, no contemptuous look, even of yours,
Miss Dashwood, can ever reprobate too much--I was acting
in this manner, trying to engage her regard, without a
thought of returning it.--But one thing may be said
for me: even in that horrid state of selfish vanity,
I did not know the extent of the injury I meditated,
because I did not THEN know what it was to love.
But have I ever known it?--Well may it be doubted; for, had I
really loved, could I have sacrificed my feelings to vanity,
to avarice?--or, what is more, could I have sacrificed hers?--
But I have done it.  To avoid a comparative poverty,
which her affection and her society would have deprived
of all its horrors, I have, by raising myself to affluence,
lost every thing that could make it a blessing."

"You did then," said Elinor, a little softened,
"believe yourself at one time attached to her?"

"To have resisted such attractions, to have withstood
such tenderness!--Is there a man on earth who could have
done it?--Yes, I found myself, by insensible degrees,
sincerely fond of her; and the happiest hours of my life
were what I spent with her when I felt my intentions
were strictly honourable, and my feelings blameless.
Even THEN, however, when fully determined on paying
my addresses to her, I allowed myself most improperly
to put off, from day to day, the moment of doing it,
from an unwillingness to enter into an engagement
while my circumstances were so greatly embarrassed.
I will not reason here--nor will I stop for YOU to expatiate
on the absurdity, and the worse than absurdity, of scrupling
to engage my faith where my honour was already bound.
The event has proved, that I was a cunning fool,
providing with great circumspection for a possible
opportunity of making myself contemptible and wretched
for ever.  At last, however, my resolution was taken,
and I had determined, as soon as I could engage her alone,
to justify the attentions I had so invariably paid her,
and openly assure her of an affection which I had already
taken such pains to display.  But in the interim--in the
interim of the very few hours that were to pass, before I
could have an opportunity of speaking with her in private--
a circumstance occurred--an unlucky circumstance, to ruin
all my resolution, and with it all my comfort.  A discovery
took place,"--here he hesitated and looked down.--"Mrs. Smith
had somehow or other been informed, I imagine by some
distant relation, whose interest it was to deprive me of
her favour, of an affair, a connection--but I need not
explain myself farther," he added, looking at her with an
heightened colour and an enquiring eye--"your particular
intimacy--you have probably heard the whole story long ago."

"I have," returned Elinor, colouring likewise,
and hardening her heart anew against any compassion for him,
"I have heard it all.  And how you will explain away any
part of your guilt in that dreadful business, I confess
is beyond my comprehension."

"Remember," cried Willoughby, "from whom you received
the account.  Could it be an impartial one?  I acknowledge
that her situation and her character ought to have been
respected by me.  I do not mean to justify myself, but at
the same time cannot leave you to suppose that I have nothing
to urge--that because she was injured she was irreproachable,
and because I was a libertine, SHE must be a saint.
If the violence of her passions, the weakness of her
understanding--I do not mean, however, to defend myself.
Her affection for me deserved better treatment, and I often,
with great self-reproach, recall the tenderness which,
for a very short time, had the power of creating any return.
I wish--I heartily wish it had never been.  But I have injured
more than herself; and I have injured one, whose affection
for me--(may I say it?) was scarcely less warm than hers;
and whose mind--Oh! how infinitely superior!"--

"Your indifference, however, towards that unfortunate
girl--I must say it, unpleasant to me as the discussion
of such a subject may well be--your indifference is no
apology for your cruel neglect of her.  Do not think yourself
excused by any weakness, any natural defect of understanding
on her side, in the wanton cruelty so evident on yours.
You must have known, that while you were enjoying yourself
in Devonshire pursuing fresh schemes, always gay,
always happy, she was reduced to the extremest indigence."

"But, upon my soul, I did NOT know it," he warmly
replied; "I did not recollect that I had omitted to give
her my direction; and common sense might have told her
how to find it out."

"Well, sir, and what said Mrs. Smith?"

"She taxed me with the offence at once, and my confusion
may be guessed.  The purity of her life, the formality
of her notions, her ignorance of the world--every thing
was against me.  The matter itself I could not deny,
and vain was every endeavour to soften it.  She was
previously disposed, I believe, to doubt the morality of my
conduct in general, and was moreover discontented with
the very little attention, the very little portion of my
time that I had bestowed on her, in my present visit.
In short, it ended in a total breach.  By one measure I
might have saved myself.  In the height of her morality,
good woman! she offered to forgive the past, if I would
marry Eliza.  That could not be--and I was formally
dismissed from her favour and her house.  The night
following this affair--I was to go the next morning--
was spent by me in deliberating on what my future conduct
should be.  The struggle was great--but it ended too soon.
My affection for Marianne, my thorough conviction of her
attachment to me--it was all insufficient to outweigh
that dread of poverty, or get the better of those false
ideas of the necessity of riches, which I was naturally
inclined to feel, and expensive society had increased.
I had reason to believe myself secure of my present wife,
if I chose to address her, and I persuaded myself to think
that nothing else in common prudence remained for me to do.
A heavy scene however awaited me, before I could leave
Devonshire;--I was engaged to dine with you on that very day;
some apology was therefore necessary for my breaking
this engagement.  But whether I should write this apology,
or deliver it in person, was a point of long debate.
To see Marianne, I felt, would be dreadful, and I even doubted
whether I could see her again, and keep to my resolution.
In that point, however, I undervalued my own magnanimity,
as the event declared; for I went, I saw her, and saw
her miserable, and left her miserable--and left her hoping
never to see her again."

"Why did you call, Mr. Willoughby?" said Elinor,
reproachfully; "a note would have answered every purpose.--
Why was it necessary to call?"

"It was necessary to my own pride.  I could not bear
to leave the country in a manner that might lead you,
or the rest of the neighbourhood, to suspect any part
of what had really passed between Mrs. Smith and myself--
and I resolved therefore on calling at the cottage,
in my way to Honiton.  The sight of your dear sister,
however, was really dreadful; and, to heighten the matter,
I found her alone.  You were all gone I do not know where.
I had left her only the evening before, so fully,
so firmly resolved within my self on doing right!
A few hours were to have engaged her to me for ever;
and I remember how happy, how gay were my spirits, as I
walked from the cottage to Allenham, satisfied with myself,
delighted with every body!  But in this, our last interview
of friendship, I approached her with a sense of guilt
that almost took from me the power of dissembling.
Her sorrow, her disappointment, her deep regret, when I told
her that I was obliged to leave Devonshire so immediately--I
never shall forget it--united too with such reliance,
such confidence in me!--Oh, God!--what a hard-hearted
rascal I was!"

They were both silent for a few moments.
Elinor first spoke.

"Did you tell her that you should soon return?"

"I do not know what I told her," he replied, impatiently;
"less than was due to the past, beyond a doubt, and in all
likelihood much more than was justified by the future.
I cannot think of it.--It won't do.--Then came your dear mother
to torture me farther, with all her kindness and confidence.
Thank Heaven! it DID torture me.  I was miserable.
Miss Dashwood, you cannot have an idea of the comfort it
gives me to look back on my own misery.  I owe such a grudge
to myself for the stupid, rascally folly of my own heart,
that all my past sufferings under it are only triumph and
exultation to me now.  Well, I went, left all that I loved,
and went to those to whom, at best, I was only indifferent.
My journey to town--travelling with my own horses,
and therefore so tediously--no creature to speak to--my
own reflections so cheerful--when I looked forward
every thing so inviting!--when I looked back at Barton,
the picture so soothing!--oh, it was a blessed journey!"

He stopped.

"Well, sir," said Elinor, who, though pitying him,
grew impatient for his departure, "and this is all?"

"Ah!--no,--have you forgot what passed in town?--
That infamous letter--Did she shew it you?"

"Yes, I saw every note that passed."

"When the first of hers reached me (as it immediately did,
for I was in town the whole time,) what I felt is--
in the common phrase, not to be expressed; in a more
simple one--perhaps too simple to raise any emotion--
my feelings were very, very painful.--Every line, every word
was--in the hackneyed metaphor which their dear writer,
were she here, would forbid--a dagger to my heart.
To know that Marianne was in town was--in the same language--
a thunderbolt.--Thunderbolts and daggers!--what a reproof
would she have given me!--her taste, her opinions--I believe
they are better known to me than my own,--and I am sure
they are dearer."

Elinor's heart, which had undergone many changes
in the course of this extraordinary conversation,
was now softened again;--yet she felt it her duty to check
such ideas in her companion as the last.

"This is not right, Mr. Willoughby.--Remember that
you are married.  Relate only what in your conscience
you think necessary for me to hear."

"Marianne's note, by assuring me that I was still
as dear to her as in former days, that in spite of the many,
many weeks we had been separated, she was as constant
in her own feelings, and as full of faith in the constancy
of mine as ever, awakened all my remorse.  I say awakened,
because time and London, business and dissipation,
had in some measure quieted it, and I had been growing
a fine hardened villain, fancying myself indifferent to her,
and chusing to fancy that she too must have become
indifferent to me; talking to myself of our past attachment
as a mere idle, trifling business, shrugging up my shoulders
in proof of its being so, and silencing every reproach,
overcoming every scruple, by secretly saying now and then,
'I shall be heartily glad to hear she is well married.'--
But this note made me know myself better.  I felt that
she was infinitely dearer to me than any other woman
in the world, and that I was using her infamously.
But every thing was then just settled between Miss Grey
and me.  To retreat was impossible.  All that I had to do,
was to avoid you both.  I sent no answer to Marianne,
intending by that to preserve myself from her farther notice;
and for some time I was even determined not to call in
Berkeley Street;--but at last, judging it wiser to affect
the air of a cool, common acquaintance than anything else,
I watched you all safely out of the house one morning,
and left my name."

"Watched us out of the house!"

"Even so.  You would be surprised to hear how often
I watched you, how often I was on the point of falling
in with you.  I have entered many a shop to avoid your sight,
as the carriage drove by.  Lodging as I did in Bond Street,
there was hardly a day in which I did not catch a glimpse
of one or other of you; and nothing but the most constant
watchfulness on my side, a most invariably prevailing
desire to keep out of your sight, could have separated us
so long.  I avoided the Middletons as much as possible,
as well as everybody else who was likely to prove
an acquaintance in common.  Not aware of their being
in town, however, I blundered on Sir John, I believe,
the first day of his coming, and the day after I had called
at Mrs. Jennings's.  He asked me to a party, a dance at his
house in the evening.--Had he NOT told me as an inducement
that you and your sister were to be there, I should have
felt it too certain a thing, to trust myself near him.
The next morning brought another short note from Marianne--
still affectionate, open, artless, confiding--everything
that could make MY conduct most hateful.  I could not
answer it.  I tried--but could not frame a sentence.
But I thought of her, I believe, every moment of the day.
If you CAN pity me, Miss Dashwood, pity my situation as it
was THEN.  With my head and heart full of your sister,
I was forced to play the happy lover to another woman!--Those
three or four weeks were worse than all.  Well, at last,
as I need not tell you, you were forced on me; and what a
sweet figure I cut!--what an evening of agony it was!--
Marianne, beautiful as an angel on one side, calling me
Willoughby in such a tone!--Oh, God!--holding out her hand
to me, asking me for an explanation, with those bewitching
eyes fixed in such speaking solicitude on my face!--and
Sophia, jealous as the devil on the other hand, looking
all that was--Well, it does not signify; it is over now.--
Such an evening!--I ran away from you all as soon as I could;
but not before I had seen Marianne's sweet face as white
as death.--THAT was the last, last look I ever had of her;--
the last manner in which she appeared to me.  It was a horrid
sight!--yet when I thought of her to-day as really dying,
it was a kind of comfort to me to imagine that I knew
exactly how she would appear to those, who saw her last
in this world.  She was before me, constantly before me,
as I travelled, in the same look and hue."

A short pause of mutual thoughtfulness succeeded.
Willoughby first rousing himself, broke it thus:

"Well, let me make haste and be gone.  Your sister
is certainly better, certainly out of danger?"

"We are assured of it."

"Your poor mother, too!--doting on Marianne."

"But the letter, Mr. Willoughby, your own letter;
have you any thing to say about that?"

"Yes, yes, THAT in particular.  Your sister
wrote to me again, you know, the very next morning.
You saw what she said.  I was breakfasting at the
Ellisons,--and her letter, with some others, was brought
to me there from my lodgings.  It happened to catch
Sophia's eye before it caught mine--and its size,
the elegance of the paper, the hand-writing altogether,
immediately gave her a suspicion.  Some vague report had
reached her before of my attachment to some young lady
in Devonshire, and what had passed within her observation
the preceding evening had marked who the young lady was,
and made her more jealous than ever.  Affecting that air
of playfulness, therefore, which is delightful in a woman
one loves, she opened the letter directly, and read
its contents.  She was well paid for her impudence.
She read what made her wretched.  Her wretchedness I could
have borne, but her passion--her malice--At all events it
must be appeased.  And, in short--what do you think of my
wife's style of letter-writing?--delicate--tender--
truly feminine--was it not?"

"Your wife!--The letter was in your own hand-writing."

"Yes, but I had only the credit of servilely copying
such sentences as I was ashamed to put my name to.
The original was all her own--her own happy thoughts
and gentle diction.  But what could I do!--we were engaged,
every thing in preparation, the day almost fixed--But I am
talking like a fool.  Preparation!--day!--In honest words,
her money was necessary to me, and in a situation like
mine, any thing was to be done to prevent a rupture.
And after all, what did it signify to my character
in the opinion of Marianne and her friends, in what language
my answer was couched?--It must have been only to one end.
My business was to declare myself a scoundrel, and whether
I did it with a bow or a bluster was of little importance.--
'I am ruined for ever in their opinion--' said I to
myself--'I am shut out for ever from their society,
they already think me an unprincipled fellow, this letter
will only make them think me a blackguard one.' Such were
my reasonings, as, in a sort of desperate carelessness,
I copied my wife's words, and parted with the last relics
of Marianne.  Her three notes--unluckily they were all
in my pocketbook, or I should have denied their existence,
and hoarded them for ever--I was forced to put them up,
and could not even kiss them.  And the lock of hair--that too
I had always carried about me in the same pocket-book,
which was now searched by Madam with the most ingratiating
virulence,--the dear lock--all, every memento was torn from me."

"You are very wrong, Mr. Willoughby, very blamable,"
said Elinor, while her voice, in spite of herself,
betrayed her compassionate emotion; "you ought not to speak
in this way, either of Mrs. Willoughby or my sister.
You had made your own choice.  It was not forced on you.
Your wife has a claim to your politeness, to your respect,
at least.  She must be attached to you, or she would not
have married you.  To treat her with unkindness, to speak
of her slightingly is no atonement to Marianne--nor can I
suppose it a relief to your own conscience."

"Do not talk to me of my wife," said he with a heavy sigh.--
"She does not deserve your compassion.--She knew I had no
regard for her when we married.--Well, married we were,
and came down to Combe Magna to be happy, and afterwards
returned to town to be gay.--And now do you pity me,
Miss Dashwood?--or have I said all this to no purpose?--
Am I--be it only one degree--am I less guilty in your opinion
than I was before?--My intentions were not always wrong.
Have I explained away any part of my guilt?"

"Yes, you have certainly removed something--a little.--
You have proved yourself, on the whole, less faulty than
I had believed you.  You have proved your heart less wicked,
much less wicked.  But I hardly know--the misery that
you have inflicted--I hardly know what could have made
it worse."

"Will you repeat to your sister when she is recovered,
what I have been telling you?--Let me be a little lightened
too in her opinion as well as in yours.  You tell me that
she has forgiven me already.  Let me be able to fancy that
a better knowledge of my heart, and of my present feelings,
will draw from her a more spontaneous, more natural, more
gentle, less dignified, forgiveness.  Tell her of my misery
and my penitence--tell her that my heart was never inconstant
to her, and if you will, that at this moment she is dearer
to me than ever."

"I will tell her all that is necessary to what may
comparatively be called, your justification.  But you have
not explained to me the particular reason of your coming now,
nor how you heard of her illness."

"Last night, in Drury Lane lobby, I ran against Sir
John Middleton, and when he saw who I was--for the first
time these two months--he spoke to me.--That he had cut
me ever since my marriage, I had seen without surprise
or resentment.  Now, however, his good-natured, honest,
stupid soul, full of indignation against me, and concern
for your sister, could not resist the temptation of telling
me what he knew ought to--though probably he did not
think it WOULD--vex me horridly.  As bluntly as he could
speak it, therefore, he told me that Marianne Dashwood
was dying of a putrid fever at Cleveland--a letter that
morning received from Mrs. Jennings declared her danger
most imminent--the Palmers are all gone off in a fright,
&c.--I was too much shocked to be able to pass myself
off as insensible even to the undiscerning Sir John.
His heart was softened in seeing mine suffer; and so much
of his ill-will was done away, that when we parted,
he almost shook me by the hand while he reminded me of an
old promise about a pointer puppy.  What I felt on hearing
that your sister was dying--and dying too, believing me
the greatest villain upon earth, scorning, hating me
in her latest moments--for how could I tell what horrid
projects might not have been imputed?  ONE person I
was sure would represent me as capable of any thing--
What I felt was dreadful!--My resolution was soon made,
and at eight o'clock this morning I was in my carriage.
Now you know all."

Elinor made no answer.  Her thoughts were silently fixed
on the irreparable injury which too early an independence
and its consequent habits of idleness, dissipation, and luxury,
had made in the mind, the character, the happiness,
of a man who, to every advantage of person and talents,
united a disposition naturally open and honest, and a
feeling, affectionate temper.  The world had made him
extravagant and vain--Extravagance and vanity had made him
cold-hearted and selfish.  Vanity, while seeking its own
guilty triumph at the expense of another, had involved
him in a real attachment, which extravagance, or at least
its offspring, necessity, had required to be sacrificed.
Each faulty propensity in leading him to evil, had led
him likewise to punishment.  The attachment, from which
against honour, against feeling, against every better interest
he had outwardly torn himself, now, when no longer allowable,
governed every thought; and the connection, for the sake
of which he had, with little scruple, left her sister
to misery, was likely to prove a source of unhappiness
to himself of a far more incurable nature.  From a reverie
of this kind she was recalled at the end of some minutes
by Willoughby, who, rousing himself from a reverie at least
equally painful, started up in preparation for going, and said--

"There is no use in staying here; I must be off."

"Are you going back to town?"

"No--to Combe Magna.  I have business there;
from thence to town in a day or two.  Good bye."

He held out his hand.  She could not refuse to give
him hers's;--he pressed it with affection.

"And you DO think something better of me than
you did?"--said he, letting it fall, and leaning against
the mantel-piece as if forgetting he was to go.

Elinor assured him that she did;--that she forgave,
pitied, wished him well--was even interested in his
happiness--and added some gentle counsel as to the behaviour
most likely to promote it.  His answer was not very encouraging.

"As to that," said he, "I must rub through the world
as well as I can.  Domestic happiness is out of the question.
If, however, I am allowed to think that you and yours feel
an interest in my fate and actions, it may be the means--it
may put me on my guard--at least, it may be something to
live for.  Marianne to be sure is lost to me for ever.
Were I even by any blessed chance at liberty again--"

Elinor stopped him with a reproof.

"Well,"--he replied--"once more good bye. I shall
now go away and live in dread of one event."

"What do you mean?"

"Your sister's marriage."

"You are very wrong.  She can never be more lost
to you than she is now."

"But she will be gained by some one else.  And if
that some one should be the very he whom, of all others,
I could least bear--but I will not stay to rob myself
of all your compassionate goodwill, by shewing
that where I have most injured I can least forgive.
Good bye,--God bless you!"

And with these words, he almost ran out of the room.
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Chapter 45


Elinor, for some time after he left her, for some time
even after the sound of his carriage had died away, remained
too much oppressed by a crowd of ideas, widely differing in
themselves, but of which sadness was the general result,
to think even of her sister.

Willoughby, he, whom only half an hour ago she had
abhorred as the most worthless of men, Willoughby, in spite
of all his faults, excited a degree of commiseration
for the sufferings produced by them, which made her
think of him as now separated for ever from her family,
with a tenderness, a regret, rather in proportion, as she
soon acknowledged within herself--to his wishes than to
his merits.  She felt that his influence over her mind
was heightened by circumstances which ought not in reason
to have weight; by that person of uncommon attraction,
that open, affectionate, and lively manner which it
was no merit to possess; and by that still ardent love
for Marianne, which it was not even innocent to indulge.
But she felt that it was so, long, long before she could
feel his influence less.

When at last she returned to the unconscious Marianne,
she found her just awaking, refreshed by so long and sweet
a sleep to the extent of her hopes.  Elinor's heart was full.
The past, the present, the future, Willoughby's visit,
Marianne's safety, and her mother's expected arrival,
threw her altogether into an agitation of spirits
which kept off every indication of fatigue, and made
her only fearful of betraying herself to her sister.
Short was the time, however, in which that fear could
affect her, for within half an hour after Willoughby's
leaving the house, she was again called down stairs
by the sound of another carriage.--Eager to save her
mother from every unnecessary moment's horrible suspense,
she ran immediately into the hall, and reached the outward
door just in time to receive and support her as she entered it.

Mrs. Dashwood, whose terror as they drew near the
house had produced almost the conviction of Marianne's
being no more, had no voice to inquire after her,
no voice even for Elinor; but SHE, waiting neither for
salutation nor inquiry, instantly gave the joyful relief;--
and her mother, catching it with all her usual warmth,
was in a moment as much overcome by her happiness, as she
had been before by her fears.  She was supported into
the drawing-room between her daughter and her friend;--
and there, shedding tears of joy, though still unable
to speak, embraced Elinor again and again, turning from her
at intervals to press Colonel Brandon's hand, with a look
which spoke at once her gratitude, and her conviction
of his sharing with herself in the bliss of the moment.
He shared it, however, in a silence even greater than her own.

As soon as Mrs. Dashwood had recovered herself,
to see Marianne was her first desire; and in two minutes she
was with her beloved child, rendered dearer to her than ever
by absence, unhappiness, and danger.  Elinor's delight,
as she saw what each felt in the meeting, was only checked
by an apprehension of its robbing Marianne of farther sleep;--
but Mrs. Dashwood could be calm, could be even prudent,
when the life of a child was at stake, and Marianne,
satisfied in knowing her mother was near her, and conscious
of being too weak for conversation, submitted readily to the
silence and quiet prescribed by every nurse around her.
Mrs. Dashwood WOULD sit up with her all night; and Elinor,
in compliance with her mother's entreaty, went to bed.
But the rest, which one night entirely sleepless,
and many hours of the most wearing anxiety seemed to
make requisite, was kept off by irritation of spirits.
Willoughby, "poor Willoughby," as she now allowed
herself to call him, was constantly in her thoughts; she
would not but have heard his vindication for the world,
and now blamed, now acquitted herself for having judged him
so harshly before.  But her promise of relating it to her
sister was invariably painful.  She dreaded the performance
of it, dreaded what its effect on Marianne might be;
doubted whether after such an explanation she could ever
be happy with another; and for a moment wished Willoughby
a widower.  Then, remembering Colonel Brandon, reproved herself,
felt that to HIS sufferings and his constancy far more
than to his rival's, the reward of her sister was due,
and wished any thing rather than Mrs. Willoughby's death.

The shock of Colonel Brandon's errand at Barton had been
much softened to Mrs. Dashwood by her own previous alarm;
for so great was her uneasiness about Marianne, that she
had already determined to set out for Cleveland on that
very day, without waiting for any further intelligence,
and had so far settled her journey before his arrival,
that the Careys were then expected every moment to fetch
Margaret away, as her mother was unwilling to take her
where there might be infection.

Marianne continued to mend every day, and the brilliant
cheerfulness of Mrs. Dashwood's looks and spirits proved
her to be, as she repeatedly declared herself, one of
the happiest women in the world.  Elinor could not hear
the declaration, nor witness its proofs without sometimes
wondering whether her mother ever recollected Edward.
But Mrs. Dashwood, trusting to the temperate account
of her own disappointment which Elinor had sent her,
was led away by the exuberance of her joy to think only
of what would increase it.  Marianne was restored to her
from a danger in which, as she now began to feel,
her own mistaken judgment in encouraging the unfortunate
attachment to Willoughby, had contributed to place her;--
and in her recovery she had yet another source of joy
unthought of by Elinor.  It was thus imparted to her,
as soon as any opportunity of private conference
between them occurred.

"At last we are alone.  My Elinor, you do not yet
know all my happiness.  Colonel Brandon loves Marianne.
He has told me so himself."

Her daughter, feeling by turns both pleased and pained,
surprised and not surprised, was all silent attention.

"You are never like me, dear Elinor, or I should
wonder at your composure now.  Had I sat down to wish
for any possible good to my family, I should have fixed
on Colonel Brandon's marrying one of you as the object
most desirable.  And I believe Marianne will be the most
happy with him of the two."

Elinor was half inclined to ask her reason for thinking so,
because satisfied that none founded on an impartial
consideration of their age, characters, or feelings,
could be given;--but her mother must always be carried
away by her imagination on any interesting subject,
and therefore instead of an inquiry, she passed it off with a
smile.

"He opened his whole heart to me yesterday as we travelled.
It came out quite unawares, quite undesignedly.  I, you may
well believe, could talk of nothing but my child;--he could
not conceal his distress; I saw that it equalled my own,
and he perhaps, thinking that mere friendship, as the world
now goes, would not justify so warm a sympathy--or rather,
not thinking at all, I suppose--giving way to irresistible
feelings, made me acquainted with his earnest, tender, constant,
affection for Marianne.  He has loved her, my Elinor, ever since
the first moment of seeing her."

Here, however, Elinor perceived,--not the language,
not the professions of Colonel Brandon, but the natural
embellishments of her mother's active fancy, which fashioned
every thing delightful to her as it chose.

"His regard for her, infinitely surpassing anything
that Willoughby ever felt or feigned, as much more warm,
as more sincere or constant--which ever we are to call it--
has subsisted through all the knowledge of dear Marianne's
unhappy prepossession for that worthless young man!--and
without selfishness--without encouraging a hope!--could
he have seen her happy with another--Such a noble mind!--
such openness, such sincerity!--no one can be deceived
in HIM."

"Colonel Brandon's character," said Elinor,
"as an excellent man, is well established."

"I know it is"--replied her mother seriously, "or
after such a warning, I should be the last to encourage
such affection, or even to be pleased by it.  But his coming
for me as he did, with such active, such ready friendship,
is enough to prove him one of the worthiest of men."

"His character, however," answered Elinor, "does not rest
on ONE act of kindness, to which his affection for Marianne,
were humanity out of the case, would have prompted him.
To Mrs. Jennings, to the Middletons, he has been long
and intimately known; they equally love and respect him;
and even my own knowledge of him, though lately acquired,
is very considerable; and so highly do I value and esteem him,
that if Marianne can be happy with him, I shall be as ready
as yourself to think our connection the greatest blessing
to us in the world.  What answer did you give him?--Did you
allow him to hope?"

"Oh! my love, I could not then talk of hope to him
or to myself.  Marianne might at that moment be dying.
But he did not ask for hope or encouragement.  His was
an involuntary confidence, an irrepressible effusion
to a soothing friend--not an application to a parent.
Yet after a time I DID say, for at first I was quite
overcome--that if she lived, as I trusted she might,
my greatest happiness would lie in promoting their marriage;
and since our arrival, since our delightful security,
I have repeated it to him more fully, have given him every
encouragement in my power.  Time, a very little time,
I tell him, will do everything;--Marianne's heart is
not to be wasted for ever on such a man as Willoughby.--
His own merits must soon secure it."

"To judge from the Colonel's spirits, however,
you have not yet made him equally sanguine."

"No.--He thinks Marianne's affection too deeply
rooted for any change in it under a great length of time,
and even supposing her heart again free, is too diffident
of himself to believe, that with such a difference of age
and disposition he could ever attach her.  There, however,
he is quite mistaken.  His age is only so much beyond
hers as to be an advantage, as to make his character and
principles fixed;--and his disposition, I am well convinced,
is exactly the very one to make your sister happy.
And his person, his manners too, are all in his favour.
My partiality does not blind me; he certainly is not
so handsome as Willoughby--but at the same time,
there is something much more pleasing in his countenance.--
There was always a something,--if you remember,--in Willoughby's
eyes at times, which I did not like."

Elinor could NOT remember it;--but her mother,
without waiting for her assent, continued,

"And his manners, the Colonel's manners are not only
more pleasing to me than Willoughby's ever were, but they
are of a kind I well know to be more solidly attaching
to Marianne.  Their gentleness, their genuine attention
to other people, and their manly unstudied simplicity
is much more accordant with her real disposition, than
the liveliness--often artificial, and often ill-timed
of the other.  I am very sure myself, that had Willoughby
turned out as really amiable, as he has proved himself
the contrary, Marianne would yet never have been so happy
with HIM, as she will be with Colonel Brandon."

She paused.--Her daughter could not quite agree
with her, but her dissent was not heard, and therefore
gave no offence.

"At Delaford, she will be within an easy distance of me,"
added Mrs. Dashwood, "even if I remain at Barton; and in all
probability,--for I hear it is a large village,--indeed there
certainly MUST be some small house or cottage close by,
that would suit us quite as well as our present situation."

Poor Elinor!--here was a new scheme for getting
her to Delaford!--but her spirit was stubborn.

"His fortune too!--for at my time of life you know,
everybody cares about THAT;--and though I neither know
nor desire to know, what it really is, I am sure it must be
a good one."

Here they were interrupted by the entrance of a
third person, and Elinor withdrew to think it all over
in private, to wish success to her friend, and yet
in wishing it, to feel a pang for Willoughby.
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Chapter 46


Marianne's illness, though weakening in its kind,
had not been long enough to make her recovery slow;
and with youth, natural strength, and her mother's presence
in aid, it proceeded so smoothly as to enable her to remove,
within four days after the arrival of the latter,
into Mrs. Palmer's dressing-room.  When there, at her own
particular request, for she was impatient to pour forth
her thanks to him for fetching her mother, Colonel Brandon
was invited to visit her.

His emotion on entering the room, in seeing her altered
looks, and in receiving the pale hand which she immediately
held out to him, was such, as, in Elinor's conjecture,
must arise from something more than his affection for Marianne,
or the consciousness of its being known to others;
and she soon discovered in his melancholy eye and varying
complexion as he looked at her sister, the probable
recurrence of many past scenes of misery to his mind,
brought back by that resemblance between Marianne and Eliza
already acknowledged, and now strengthened by the hollow eye,
the sickly skin, the posture of reclining weakness,
and the warm acknowledgment of peculiar obligation.

Mrs. Dashwood, not less watchful of what passed than
her daughter, but with a mind very differently influenced,
and therefore watching to very different effect,
saw nothing in the Colonel's behaviour but what arose
from the most simple and self-evident sensations, while in
the actions and words of Marianne she persuaded herself
to think that something more than gratitude already dawned.

At the end of another day or two, Marianne growing
visibly stronger every twelve hours, Mrs. Dashwood,
urged equally by her own and her daughter's wishes,
began to talk of removing to Barton.  On HER measures
depended those of her two friends; Mrs. Jennings could
not quit Cleveland during the Dashwoods' stay; and Colonel
Brandon was soon brought, by their united request,
to consider his own abode there as equally determinate,
if not equally indispensable.  At his and Mrs. Jennings's
united request in return, Mrs. Dashwood was prevailed
on to accept the use of his carriage on her journey back,
for the better accommodation of her sick child; and the Colonel,
at the joint invitation of Mrs. Dashwood and Mrs. Jennings,
whose active good-nature made her friendly and hospitable
for other people as well as herself, engaged with pleasure
to redeem it by a visit at the cottage, in the course
of a few weeks.

The day of separation and departure arrived;
and Marianne, after taking so particular and lengthened
a leave of Mrs. Jennings, one so earnestly grateful, so full
of respect and kind wishes as seemed due to her own heart
from a secret acknowledgment of past inattention, and bidding
Colonel Brandon farewell with a cordiality of a friend,
was carefully assisted by him into the carriage, of which he
seemed anxious that she should engross at least half.
Mrs. Dashwood and Elinor then followed, and the others
were left by themselves, to talk of the travellers,
and feel their own dullness, till Mrs. Jennings was summoned
to her chaise to take comfort in the gossip of her maid
for the loss of her two young companions; and Colonel Brandon
immediately afterwards took his solitary way to Delaford.

The Dashwoods were two days on the road, and Marianne
bore her journey on both, without essential fatigue.
Every thing that the most zealous affection, the most
solicitous care could do to render her comfortable,
was the office of each watchful companion, and each
found their reward in her bodily ease, and her calmness
of spirits.  To Elinor, the observation of the latter
was particularly grateful.  She, who had seen her week
after week so constantly suffering, oppressed by anguish
of heart which she had neither courage to speak of,
nor fortitude to conceal, now saw with a joy, which no other
could equally share, an apparent composure of mind, which,
in being the result as she trusted of serious reflection,
must eventually lead her to contentment and cheerfulness.

As they approached Barton, indeed, and entered
on scenes of which every field and every tree brought
some peculiar, some painful recollection, she grew silent
and thoughtful, and turning away her face from their notice,
sat earnestly gazing through the window.  But here,
Elinor could neither wonder nor blame; and when she saw,
as she assisted Marianne from the carriage, that she
had been crying, she saw only an emotion too natural
in itself to raise any thing less tender than pity,
and in its unobtrusiveness entitled to praise.  In the
whole of her subsequent manner, she traced the direction
of a mind awakened to reasonable exertion; for no sooner
had they entered their common sitting-room, than Marianne
turned her eyes around it with a look of resolute firmness,
as if determined at once to accustom herself to the sight
of every object with which the remembrance of Willoughby could
be connected.--She said little, but every sentence aimed
at cheerfulness, and though a sigh sometimes escaped her,
it never passed away without the atonement of a smile.
After dinner she would try her piano-forte. She went to it;
but the music on which her eye first rested was an opera,
procured for her by Willoughby, containing some of their
favourite duets, and bearing on its outward leaf her own name
in his hand-writing.--That would not do.--She shook her head,
put the music aside, and after running over the keys
for a minute, complained of feebleness in her fingers,
and closed the instrument again; declaring however with firmness
as she did so, that she should in future practice much.

The next morning produced no abatement in these
happy symptoms.  On the contrary, with a mind and body
alike strengthened by rest, she looked and spoke with
more genuine spirit, anticipating the pleasure of
Margaret's return, and talking of the dear family party
which would then be restored, of their mutual pursuits
and cheerful society, as the only happiness worth a wish.

"When the weather is settled, and I have recovered
my strength," said she, "we will take long walks together
every day.  We will walk to the farm at the edge of the down,
and see how the children go on; we will walk to Sir John's
new plantations at Barton Cross, and the Abbeyland;
and we will often go the old ruins of the Priory,
and try to trace its foundations as far as we are told
they once reached.  I know we shall be happy.  I know
the summer will pass happily away.  I mean never to be
later in rising than six, and from that time till dinner
I shall divide every moment between music and reading.
I have formed my plan, and am determined to enter on a course
of serious study.  Our own library is too well known to me,
to be resorted to for any thing beyond mere amusement.
But there are many works well worth reading at the Park;
and there are others of more modern production which I
know I can borrow of Colonel Brandon.  By reading only six
hours a-day, I shall gain in the course of a twelve-month
a great deal of instruction which I now feel myself to want."

Elinor honoured her for a plan which originated
so nobly as this; though smiling to see the same eager
fancy which had been leading her to the extreme of languid
indolence and selfish repining, now at work in introducing
excess into a scheme of such rational employment and virtuous
self-control. Her smile however changed to a sigh when she
remembered that promise to Willoughby was yet unfulfilled,
and feared she had that to communicate which might again
unsettle the mind of Marianne, and ruin at least for a time
this fair prospect of busy tranquillity.  Willing therefore
to delay the evil hour, she resolved to wait till her
sister's health were more secure, before she appointed it.
But the resolution was made only to be broken.

Marianne had been two or three days at home, before
the weather was fine enough for an invalid like herself
to venture out.  But at last a soft, genial morning appeared;
such as might tempt the daughter's wishes and the
mother's confidence; and Marianne, leaning on Elinor's arm,
was authorised to walk as long as she could without fatigue,
in the lane before the house.

The sisters set out at a pace, slow as the feebleness
of Marianne in an exercise hitherto untried since her
illness required;--and they had advanced only so far
beyond the house as to admit a full view of the hill,
the important hill behind, when pausing with her eyes
turned towards it, Marianne calmly said,

"There, exactly there,"--pointing with one hand,
"on that projecting mound,--there I fell; and there
I first saw Willoughby."

Her voice sunk with the word, but presently reviving she added,

"I am thankful to find that I can look with so little pain
on the spot!--shall we ever talk on that subject, Elinor?"--
hesitatingly it was said.--"Or will it be wrong?--I can talk
of it now, I hope, as I ought to do."--

Elinor tenderly invited her to be open.

"As for regret," said Marianne, "I have done with that,
as far as HE is concerned.  I do not mean to talk to you
of what my feelings have been for him, but what they
are NOW.--At present, if I could be satisfied on one point,
if I could be allowed to think that he was not ALWAYS
acting a part, not ALWAYS deceiving me;--but above all,
if I could be assured that he never was so VERY wicked
as my fears have sometimes fancied him, since the story
of that unfortunate girl"--

She stopt.  Elinor joyfully treasured her words
as she answered,

"If you could be assured of that, you think you
should be easy."

"Yes. My peace of mind is doubly involved in it;--
for not only is it horrible to suspect a person, who has
been what HE has been to ME, of such designs,--but what must
it make me appear to myself?--What in a situation like mine,
but a most shamefully unguarded affection could expose
me to"--

"How then," asked her sister, "would you account
for his behaviour?"

"I would suppose him,--Oh, how gladly would I suppose him,
only fickle, very, very fickle."

Elinor said no more.  She was debating within herself
on the eligibility of beginning her story directly,
or postponing it till Marianne were in stronger health;--
and they crept on for a few minutes in silence.

"I am not wishing him too much good," said Marianne
at last with a sigh, "when I wish his secret reflections
may be no more unpleasant than my own.  He will suffer
enough in them."

"Do you compare your conduct with his?"

"No. I compare it with what it ought to have been;
I compare it with yours."

"Our situations have borne little resemblance."

"They have borne more than our conduct.--Do not,
my dearest Elinor, let your kindness defend what I know
your judgment must censure.  My illness has made me think--
It has given me leisure and calmness for serious recollection.
Long before I was enough recovered to talk, I was perfectly
able to reflect.  I considered the past: I saw in my
own behaviour, since the beginning of our acquaintance
with him last autumn, nothing but a series of imprudence
towards myself, and want of kindness to others.
I saw that my own feelings had prepared my sufferings,
and that my want of fortitude under them had almost led
me to the grave.  My illness, I well knew, had been
entirely brought on by myself by such negligence of my
own health, as I had felt even at the time to be wrong.
Had I died,--it would have been self-destruction. I
did not know my danger till the danger was removed;
but with such feelings as these reflections gave me,
I wonder at my recovery,--wonder that the very eagerness
of my desire to live, to have time for atonement to my God,
and to you all, did not kill me at once.  Had I died,--
in what peculiar misery should I have left you, my nurse,
my friend, my sister!--You, who had seen all the fretful
selfishness of my latter days; who had known all the
murmurings of my heart!--How should I have lived in YOUR
remembrance!--My mother too! How could you have consoled
her!--I cannot express my own abhorrence of myself.
Whenever I looked towards the past, I saw some duty neglected,
or some failing indulged.  Every body seemed injured by me.
The kindness, the unceasing kindness of Mrs. Jennings,
I had repaid with ungrateful contempt.  To the Middletons,
to the Palmers, the Steeles, to every common acquaintance even,
I had been insolent and unjust; with a heart hardened
against their merits, and a temper irritated by their
very attention.--To John, to Fanny,--yes, even to them,
little as they deserve, I had given less than their due.
But you,--you above all, above my mother, had been wronged
by me.  I, and only I, knew your heart and its sorrows;
yet to what did it influence me?--not to any compassion
that could benefit you or myself.--Your example was
before me; but to what avail?--Was I more considerate
of you and your comfort?  Did I imitate your forbearance,
or lessen your restraints, by taking any part in those
offices of general complaisance or particular gratitude
which you had hitherto been left to discharge alone?--No;--
not less when I knew you to be unhappy, than when I
had believed you at ease, did I turn away from every
exertion of duty or friendship; scarcely allowing sorrow
to exist but with me, regretting only THAT heart
which had deserted and wronged me, and leaving you,
for or I professed an unbounded affection, to be miserable
for my sake."

Here ceased the rapid flow of her self-reproving spirit;
and Elinor, impatient to soothe, though too honest
to flatter, gave her instantly that praise and support
which her frankness and her contrition so well deserved.
Marianne pressed her hand and replied,

"You are very good.--The future must be my proof.
I have laid down my plan, and if I am capable of adhering
to it--my feelings shall be governed and my temper improved.
They shall no longer worry others, nor torture myself.
I shall now live solely for my family.  You, my mother,
and Margaret, must henceforth be all the world to me;
you will share my affections entirely between you.
From you, from my home, I shall never again have the smallest
incitement to move; and if I do mix in other society,
it will be only to shew that my spirit is humbled,
my heart amended, and that I can practise the civilities,
the lesser duties of life, with gentleness and forbearance.
As for Willoughby--to say that I shall soon or that I shall
ever forget him, would be idle.  His remembrance can be overcome
by no change of circumstances or opinions.  But it shall
be regulated, it shall be checked by religion, by reason,
by constant employment."

She paused--and added in a low voice, "If I could
but know HIS heart, everything would become easy."

Elinor, who had now been for some time reflecting
on the propriety or impropriety of speedily hazarding
her narration, without feeling at all nearer decision than
at first, heard this; and perceiving that as reflection
did nothing, resolution must do all, soon found herself
leading to the fact.

She managed the recital, as she hoped, with address;
prepared her anxious listener with caution; related simply
and honestly the chief points on which Willoughby
grounded his apology; did justice to his repentance,
and softened only his protestations of present regard.
Marianne said not a word.--She trembled, her eyes
were fixed on the ground, and her lips became whiter
than even sickness had left them.  A thousand inquiries
sprung up from her heart, but she dared not urge one.
She caught every syllable with panting eagerness; her hand,
unknowingly to herself, closely pressed her sister's, and
tears covered her cheeks.

Elinor, dreading her being tired, led her towards home;
and till they reached the door of the cottage,
easily conjecturing what her curiosity must be
though no question was suffered to speak it, talked of
nothing but Willoughby, and their conversation together;
and was carefully minute in every particular of speech
and look, where minuteness could be safely indulged.
As soon as they entered the house, Marianne with a kiss
of gratitude and these two words just articulate through
her tears, "Tell mama," withdrew from her sister and
walked slowly up stairs.  Elinor would not attempt
to disturb a solitude so reasonable as what she now sought;
and with a mind anxiously pre-arranging its result,
and a resolution of reviving the subject again,
should Marianne fail to do it, she turned into the parlour
to fulfill her parting injunction.
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Chapter 47


Mrs. Dashwood did not hear unmoved the vindication
of her former favourite.  She rejoiced in his being
cleared from some part of his imputed guilt;--she was
sorry for him;--she wished him happy.  But the feelings
of the past could not be recalled.--Nothing could restore
him with a faith unbroken--a character unblemished,
to Marianne.  Nothing could do away the knowledge
of what the latter had suffered through his means,
nor remove the guilt of his conduct towards Eliza.
Nothing could replace him, therefore, in her former esteem,
nor injure the interests of Colonel Brandon.

Had Mrs. Dashwood, like her daughter, heard Willoughby's
story from himself--had she witnessed his distress,
and been under the influence of his countenance and his
manner, it is probable that her compassion would have
been greater.  But it was neither in Elinor's power,
nor in her wish, to rouse such feelings in another, by her
retailed explanation, as had at first been called forth
in herself.  Reflection had given calmness to her judgment,
and sobered her own opinion of Willoughby's deserts;--
she wished, therefore, to declare only the simple truth,
and lay open such facts as were really due to his character,
without any embellishment of tenderness to lead the
fancy astray.

In the evening, when they were all three together,
Marianne began voluntarily to speak of him again;--
but that it was not without an effort, the restless,
unquiet thoughtfulness in which she had been for some time
previously sitting--her rising colour, as she spoke,--
and her unsteady voice, plainly shewed.

"I wish to assure you both," said she, "that I see
every thing--as you can desire me to do."

Mrs. Dashwood would have interrupted her instantly
with soothing tenderness, had not Elinor, who really wished
to hear her sister's unbiased opinion, by an eager sign,
engaged her silence.  Marianne slowly continued--

"It is a great relief to me--what Elinor told
me this morning--I have now heard exactly what I
wished to hear."--For some moments her voice was lost;
but recovering herself, she added, and with greater
calmness than before--"I am now perfectly satisfied,
I wish for no change.  I never could have been happy
with him, after knowing, as sooner or later I must
have known, all this.--I should have had no confidence,
no esteem.  Nothing could have done it away to my feelings."

"I know it--I know it," cried her mother.
"Happy with a man of libertine practices!--With one
who so injured the peace of the dearest of our friends,
and the best of men!--No--my Marianne has not a heart
to be made happy with such a man!--Her conscience, her
sensitive conscience, would have felt all that the
conscience of her husband ought to have felt."

Marianne sighed, and repeated, "I wish for no change."

"You consider the matter," said Elinor, "exactly as
a good mind and a sound understanding must consider it;
and I dare say you perceive, as well as myself, not only
in this, but in many other circumstances, reason enough
to be convinced that your marriage must have involved you
in many certain troubles and disappointments, in which
you would have been poorly supported by an affection,
on his side, much less certain.  Had you married,
you must have been always poor.  His expensiveness is
acknowledged even by himself, and his whole conduct declares
that self-denial is a word hardly understood by him.
His demands and your inexperience together, on a small,
very small income, must have brought on distresses which
would not be the LESS grievous to you, from having been
entirely unknown and unthought of before.  YOUR sense
of honour and honesty would have led you, I know,
when aware of your situation, to attempt all the economy
that would appear to you possible: and, perhaps, as long
as your frugality retrenched only on your own comfort,
you might have been suffered to practice it, but beyond that--
and how little could the utmost of your single management
do to stop the ruin which had begun before your marriage?--
Beyond THAT, had you endeavoured, however reasonably,
to abridge HIS enjoyments, is it not to be feared, that instead
of prevailing on feelings so selfish to consent to it,
you would have lessened your own influence on his heart,
and made him regret the connection which had involved him
in such difficulties?"

Marianne's lips quivered, and she repeated the word
"Selfish?" in a tone that implied--"do you really think
him selfish?"

"The whole of his behaviour," replied Elinor,
"from the beginning to the end of the affair, has been
grounded on selfishness.  It was selfishness which first
made him sport with your affections; which afterwards,
when his own were engaged, made him delay the confession
of it, and which finally carried him from Barton.
His own enjoyment, or his own ease, was, in every particular,
his ruling principle."

"It is very true.  MY happiness never was his object."

"At present," continued Elinor, "he regrets what he
has done.  And why does he regret it?--Because he finds
it has not answered towards himself.  It has not made
him happy.  His circumstances are now unembarrassed--he
suffers from no evil of that kind; and he thinks only
that he has married a woman of a less amiable temper
than yourself.  But does it follow that had he married you,
he would have been happy?--The inconveniences would have
been different.  He would then have suffered under the
pecuniary distresses which, because they are removed,
he now reckons as nothing.  He would have had a wife
of whose temper he could make no complaint, but he would
have been always necessitous--always poor; and probably
would soon have learned to rank the innumerable comforts
of a clear estate and good income as of far more importance,
even to domestic happiness, than the mere temper of a wife."

"I have not a doubt of it," said Marianne; "and I
have nothing to regret--nothing but my own folly."

"Rather say your mother's imprudence, my child,"
said Mrs. Dashwood; "SHE must be answerable."

Marianne would not let her proceed;--and Elinor,
satisfied that each felt their own error, wished to avoid
any survey of the past that might weaken her sister's
spirits; she, therefore, pursuing the first subject,
immediately continued,

"One observation may, I think, be fairly drawn from
the whole of the story--that all Willoughby's difficulties
have arisen from the first offence against virtue, in his
behaviour to Eliza Williams.  That crime has been the origin
of every lesser one, and of all his present discontents."

Marianne assented most feelingly to the remark;
and her mother was led by it to an enumeration of Colonel
Brandon's injuries and merits, warm as friendship
and design could unitedly dictate.  Her daughter did
not look, however, as if much of it were heard by her.

Elinor, according to her expectation, saw on the two
or three following days, that Marianne did not continue
to gain strength as she had done; but while her resolution
was unsubdued, and she still tried to appear cheerful
and easy, her sister could safely trust to the effect
of time upon her health.

Margaret returned, and the family were again all
restored to each other, again quietly settled at the cottage;
and if not pursuing their usual studies with quite
so much vigour as when they first came to Barton,
at least planning a vigorous prosecution of them in future.

Elinor grew impatient for some tidings of Edward.
She had heard nothing of him since her leaving London,
nothing new of his plans, nothing certain even of his
present abode.  Some letters had passed between her
and her brother, in consequence of Marianne's illness;
and in the first of John's, there had been this sentence:--
"We know nothing of our unfortunate Edward, and can make no
enquiries on so prohibited a subject, but conclude him
to be still at Oxford;" which was all the intelligence
of Edward afforded her by the correspondence, for his name
was not even mentioned in any of the succeeding letters.
She was not doomed, however, to be long in ignorance of
his measures.

Their man-servant had been sent one morning to Exeter
on business; and when, as he waited at table, he had
satisfied the inquiries of his mistress as to the event
of his errand, this was his voluntary communication--

"I suppose you know, ma'am, that Mr. Ferrars is married."

Marianne gave a violent start, fixed her eyes
upon Elinor, saw her turning pale, and fell back in her
chair in hysterics.  Mrs. Dashwood, whose eyes, as she
answered the servant's inquiry, had intuitively taken
the same direction, was shocked to perceive by Elinor's
countenance how much she really suffered, and a moment
afterwards, alike distressed by Marianne's situation,
knew not on which child to bestow her principal attention.

The servant, who saw only that Miss Marianne was
taken ill, had sense enough to call one of the maids,
who, with Mrs. Dashwood's assistance, supported her into
the other room.  By that time, Marianne was rather better,
and her mother leaving her to the care of Margaret
and the maid, returned to Elinor, who, though still
much disordered, had so far recovered the use of her reason
and voice as to be just beginning an inquiry of Thomas,
as to the source of his intelligence.  Mrs. Dashwood
immediately took all that trouble on herself; and Elinor
had the benefit of the information without the exertion
of seeking it.

"Who told you that Mr. Ferrars was married, Thomas?"

"I see Mr. Ferrars myself, ma'am, this morning
in Exeter, and his lady too, Miss Steele as was.  They was
stopping in a chaise at the door of the New London Inn,
as I went there with a message from Sally at the Park
to her brother, who is one of the post-boys. I happened
to look up as I went by the chaise, and so I see directly
it was the youngest Miss Steele; so I took off my hat,
and she knew me and called to me, and inquired after you,
ma'am, and the young ladies, especially Miss Marianne,
and bid me I should give her compliments and Mr. Ferrars's,
their best compliments and service, and how sorry they
was they had not time to come on and see you, but they was
in a great hurry to go forwards, for they was going further
down for a little while, but howsever, when they come back,
they'd make sure to come and see you."

"But did she tell you she was married, Thomas?"

"Yes, ma'am. She smiled, and said how she
had changed her name since she was in these parts.
She was always a very affable and free-spoken young lady,
and very civil behaved.  So, I made free to wish her joy."

"Was Mr. Ferrars in the carriage with her?"

"Yes, ma'am, I just see him leaning back in it,
but he did not look up;--he never was a gentleman much
for talking."

Elinor's heart could easily account for his not
putting himself forward; and Mrs. Dashwood probably
found the same explanation.

"Was there no one else in the carriage?"

"No, ma'am, only they two."

"Do you know where they came from?"

"They come straight from town, as Miss Lucy--
Mrs. Ferrars told me."

"And are they going farther westward?"

"Yes, ma'am--but not to bide long.  They will soon
be back again, and then they'd be sure and call here."

Mrs. Dashwood now looked at her daughter;
but Elinor knew better than to expect them.
She recognised the whole of Lucy in the message, and was
very confident that Edward would never come near them.
She observed in a low voice, to her mother, that they
were probably going down to Mr. Pratt's, near Plymouth.

Thomas's intelligence seemed over.  Elinor looked
as if she wished to hear more.

"Did you see them off, before you came away?"

"No, ma'am--the horses were just coming out, but I
could not bide any longer; I was afraid of being late."

"Did Mrs. Ferrars look well?"

"Yes, ma'am, she said how she was very well;
and to my mind she was always a very handsome young
lady--and she seemed vastly contented."

Mrs. Dashwood could think of no other question,
and Thomas and the tablecloth, now alike needless,
were soon afterwards dismissed.  Marianne had already sent
to say, that she should eat nothing more.  Mrs. Dashwood's
and Elinor's appetites were equally lost, and Margaret
might think herself very well off, that with so much
uneasiness as both her sisters had lately experienced,
so much reason as they had often had to be careless
of their meals, she had never been obliged to go without
her dinner before.

When the dessert and the wine were arranged,
and Mrs. Dashwood and Elinor were left by themselves,
they remained long together in a similarity of thoughtfulness
and silence.  Mrs. Dashwood feared to hazard any remark,
and ventured not to offer consolation.  She now found
that she had erred in relying on Elinor's representation
of herself; and justly concluded that every thing
had been expressly softened at the time, to spare her
from an increase of unhappiness, suffering as she then
had suffered for Marianne.  She found that she had been
misled by the careful, the considerate attention of
her daughter, to think the attachment, which once she
had so well understood, much slighter in reality, than
she had been wont to believe, or than it was now proved
to be.  She feared that under this persuasion she had
been unjust, inattentive, nay, almost unkind, to her Elinor;--
that Marianne's affliction, because more acknowledged,
more immediately before her, had too much engrossed
her tenderness, and led her away to forget that in Elinor
she might have a daughter suffering almost as much,
certainly with less self-provocation, and greater fortitude.
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