Tantissimi classici della letteratura e della cultura politica,
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Abbe Prevost - MANON LESCAUT
Alcott, Louisa M. - AN OLDFASHIONED GIRL
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE MEN
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE WOMEN
Alcott, Louisa May - JACK AND JILL
Alcott, Louisa May - LIFE LETTERS AND JOURNALS
Andersen, Hans Christian - FAIRY TALES
Anonimo - BEOWULF
Ariosto, Ludovico - ORLANDO ENRAGED
Aurelius, Marcus - MEDITATIONS
Austen, Jane - EMMA
Austen, Jane - MANSFIELD PARK
Austen, Jane - NORTHANGER ABBEY
Austen, Jane - PERSUASION
Austen, Jane - PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Austen, Jane - SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
Authors, Various - LETTERS OF ABELARD AND HELOISE
Authors, Various - SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS
Autori Vari - THE WORLD ENGLISH BIBLE
Bacon, Francis - THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING
Balzac, Honore de - EUGENIE GRANDET
Balzac, Honore de - FATHER GORIOT
Baroness Orczy - THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
Barrie, J. M. - PETER AND WENDY
Barrie, James M. - PETER PAN
Bierce, Ambrose - THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
Blake, William - SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE
Boccaccio, Giovanni - DECAMERONE
Brent, Linda - INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL
Bronte, Charlotte - JANE EYRE
Bronte, Charlotte - VILLETTE
Buchan, John - GREENMANTLE
Buchan, John - MR STANDFAST
Buchan, John - THE 39 STEPS
Bunyan, John - THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
Burckhardt, Jacob - THE CIVILIZATION OF THE RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
Burnett, Frances H. - A LITTLE PRINCESS
Burnett, Frances H. - LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY
Burnett, Frances H. - THE SECRET GARDEN
Butler, Samuel - EREWHON
Carlyle, Thomas - PAST AND PRESENT
Carlyle, Thomas - THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
Cellini, Benvenuto - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Cervantes - DON QUIXOTE
Chaucer, Geoffrey - THE CANTERBURY TALES
Chesterton, G. K. - A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLAND
Chesterton, G. K. - THE BALLAD OF THE WHITE HORSE
Chesterton, G. K. - THE INNOCENCE OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
Chesterton, G. K. - THE WISDOM OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - TWELVE TYPES
Chesterton, G. K. - WHAT I SAW IN AMERICA
Chesterton, Gilbert K. - HERETICS
Chopin, Kate - AT FAULT
Chopin, Kate - BAYOU FOLK
Chopin, Kate - THE AWAKENING AND SELECTED SHORT STORIES
Clark Hall, John R. - A CONCISE ANGLOSAXON DICTIONARY
Clarkson, Thomas - AN ESSAY ON THE SLAVERY AND COMMERCE OF THE HUMAN SPECIES
Clausewitz, Carl von - ON WAR
Coleridge, Herbert - A DICTIONARY OF THE FIRST OR OLDEST WORDS IN THE ENGLISH
Coleridge, S. T. - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Coleridge, S. T. - HINTS TOWARDS THE FORMATION OF A MORE COMPREHENSIVE THEORY
Coleridge, S. T. - THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER
Collins, Wilkie - THE MOONSTONE
Collodi - PINOCCHIO
Conan Doyle, Arthur - A STUDY IN SCARLET
Conan Doyle, Arthur - MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE SIGN OF THE FOUR
Conrad, Joseph - HEART OF DARKNESS
Conrad, Joseph - LORD JIM
Conrad, Joseph - NOSTROMO
Conrad, Joseph - THE NIGGER OF THE NARCISSUS
Conrad, Joseph - TYPHOON
Crane, Stephen - LAST WORDS
Crane, Stephen - MAGGIE
Crane, Stephen - THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE
Crane, Stephen - WOUNDS IN THE RAIN
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: HELL
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PARADISE
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PURGATORY
Darwin, Charles - THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES DARWIN
Darwin, Charles - THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
Defoe, Daniel - A GENERAL HISTORY OF THE PYRATES
Defoe, Daniel - A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR
Defoe, Daniel - CAPTAIN SINGLETON
Defoe, Daniel - MOLL FLANDERS
Defoe, Daniel - ROBINSON CRUSOE
Defoe, Daniel - THE COMPLETE ENGLISH TRADESMAN
Defoe, Daniel - THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE
Deledda, Grazia - AFTER THE DIVORCE
Dickens, Charles - A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Dickens, Charles - A TALE OF TWO CITIES
Dickens, Charles - BLEAK HOUSE
Dickens, Charles - DAVID COPPERFIELD
Dickens, Charles - DONBEY AND SON
Dickens, Charles - GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Dickens, Charles - HARD TIMES
Dickens, Charles - LETTERS VOLUME 1
Dickens, Charles - LITTLE DORRIT
Dickens, Charles - MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT
Dickens, Charles - NICHOLAS NICKLEBY
Dickens, Charles - OLIVER TWIST
Dickens, Charles - OUR MUTUAL FRIEND
Dickens, Charles - PICTURES FROM ITALY
Dickens, Charles - THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
Dickens, Charles - THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP
Dickens, Charles - THE PICKWICK PAPERS
Dickinson, Emily - POEMS
Dostoevsky, Fyodor - CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
Du Maurier, George - TRILBY
Dumas, Alexandre - THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
Dumas, Alexandre - THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
Dumas, Alexandre - THE THREE MUSKETEERS
Eliot, George - DANIEL DERONDA
Eliot, George - MIDDLEMARCH
Eliot, George - SILAS MARNER
Eliot, George - THE MILL ON THE FLOSS
Engels, Frederick - THE CONDITION OF THE WORKING-CLASS IN ENGLAND IN 1844
Equiano - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Esopo - FABLES
Fenimore Cooper, James - THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
Fielding, Henry - TOM JONES
France, Anatole - THAIS
France, Anatole - THE GODS ARE ATHIRST
France, Anatole - THE LIFE OF JOAN OF ARC
France, Anatole - THE SEVEN WIVES OF BLUEBEARD
Frank Baum, L. - THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ
Frank Baum, L. - THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ
Franklin, Benjamin - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Frazer, James George - THE GOLDEN BOUGH
Freud, Sigmund - DREAM PSYCHOLOGY
Galsworthy, John - COMPLETE PLAYS
Galsworthy, John - STRIFE
Galsworthy, John - STUDIES AND ESSAYS
Galsworthy, John - THE FIRST AND THE LAST
Galsworthy, John - THE FORSYTE SAGA
Galsworthy, John - THE LITTLE MAN
Galsworthy, John - THE SILVER BOX
Galsworthy, John - THE SKIN GAME
Gaskell, Elizabeth - CRANFORD
Gaskell, Elizabeth - MARY BARTON
Gaskell, Elizabeth - NORTH AND SOUTH
Gaskell, Elizabeth - THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE
Gay, John - THE BEGGAR'S OPERA
Gentile, Maria - THE ITALIAN COOK BOOK
Gilbert and Sullivan - PLAYS
Goethe - FAUST
Gogol - DEAD SOULS
Goldsmith, Oliver - SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER
Goldsmith, Oliver - THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD
Grahame, Kenneth - THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
Grimm, Brothers - FAIRY TALES
Harding, A. R. - GINSENG AND OTHER MEDICINAL PLANTS
Hardy, Thomas - A CHANGED MAN AND OTHER TALES
Hardy, Thomas - FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
Hardy, Thomas - JUDE THE OBSCURE
Hardy, Thomas - TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES
Hardy, Thomas - THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE
Hartley, Cecil B. - THE GENTLEMEN'S BOOK OF ETIQUETTE
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - LITTLE MASTERPIECES
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - THE SCARLET LETTER
Henry VIII - LOVE LETTERS TO ANNE BOLEYN
Henry, O. - CABBAGES AND KINGS
Henry, O. - SIXES AND SEVENS
Henry, O. - THE FOUR MILLION
Henry, O. - THE TRIMMED LAMP
Henry, O. - WHIRLIGIGS
Hindman Miller, Gustavus - TEN THOUSAND DREAMS INTERPRETED
Hobbes, Thomas - LEVIATHAN
Homer - THE ILIAD
Homer - THE ODYSSEY
Hornaday, William T. - THE EXTERMINATION OF THE AMERICAN BISON
Hume, David - A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE
Hume, David - AN ENQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING
Hume, David - DIALOGUES CONCERNING NATURAL RELIGION
Ibsen, Henrik - A DOLL'S HOUSE
Ibsen, Henrik - AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
Ibsen, Henrik - GHOSTS
Ibsen, Henrik - HEDDA GABLER
Ibsen, Henrik - JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN
Ibsen, Henrik - ROSMERHOLM
Ibsen, Henrik - THE LADY FROM THE SEA
Ibsen, Henrik - THE MASTER BUILDER
Ibsen, Henrik - WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN
Irving, Washington - THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
James, Henry - ITALIAN HOURS
James, Henry - THE ASPERN PAPERS
James, Henry - THE BOSTONIANS
James, Henry - THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
James, Henry - THE TURN OF THE SCREW
James, Henry - WASHINGTON SQUARE
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN IN A BOAT
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN ON THE BUMMEL
Jevons, Stanley - POLITICAL ECONOMY
Johnson, Samuel - A GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH TONGUE
Jonson, Ben - THE ALCHEMIST
Jonson, Ben - VOLPONE
Joyce, James - A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN
Joyce, James - CHAMBER MUSIC
Joyce, James - DUBLINERS
Joyce, James - ULYSSES
Keats, John - ENDYMION
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1817
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1820
King James - THE BIBLE
Kipling, Rudyard - CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS
Kipling, Rudyard - INDIAN TALES
Kipling, Rudyard - JUST SO STORIES
Kipling, Rudyard - KIM
Kipling, Rudyard - THE JUNGLE BOOK
Kipling, Rudyard - THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
Kipling, Rudyard - THE SECOND JUNGLE BOOK
Lawrence, D. H - THE RAINBOW
Lawrence, D. H - THE WHITE PEACOCK
Lawrence, D. H - TWILIGHT IN ITALY
Lawrence, D. H. - AARON'S ROD
Lawrence, D. H. - SONS AND LOVERS
Lawrence, D. H. - THE LOST GIRL
Lawrence, D. H. - WOMEN IN LOVE
Lear, Edward - BOOK OF NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - LAUGHABLE LYRICS
Lear, Edward - MORE NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - NONSENSE SONG
Leblanc, Maurice - ARSENE LUPIN VS SHERLOCK HOLMES
Leblanc, Maurice - THE ADVENTURES OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE CONFESSIONS OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE HOLLOW NEEDLE
Leblanc, Maurice - THE RETURN OF ARSENE LUPIN
Lehmann, Lilli - HOW TO SING
Leroux, Gaston - THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER
Leroux, Gaston - THE MYSTERY OF THE YELLOW ROOM
Leroux, Gaston - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
London, Jack - MARTIN EDEN
London, Jack - THE CALL OF THE WILD
London, Jack - WHITE FANG
Machiavelli, Nicolo' - THE PRINCE
Malthus, Thomas - PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION
Mansfield, Katherine - THE GARDEN PARTY AND OTHER STORIES
Marlowe, Christopher - THE JEW OF MALTA
Marryat, Captain - THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST
Maupassant, Guy De - BEL AMI
Melville, Hermann - MOBY DICK
Melville, Hermann - TYPEE
Mill, John Stuart - PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY
Milton, John - PARADISE LOST
Mitra, S. M. - HINDU TALES FROM THE SANSKRIT
Montaigne, Michel de - ESSAYS
Montgomery, Lucy Maud - ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
More, Thomas - UTOPIA
Nesbit, E. - FIVE CHILDREN AND IT
Nesbit, E. - THE PHOENIX AND THE CARPET
Nesbit, E. - THE RAILWAY CHILDREN
Nesbit, E. - THE STORY OF THE AMULET
Newton, Isaac - OPTICKS
Nietsche, Friedrich - BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
Nietsche, Friedrich - THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA
Nightingale, Florence - NOTES ON NURSING
Owen, Wilfred - POEMS
Ozaki, Yei Theodora - JAPANESE FAIRY TALES
Pascal, Blaise - PENSEES
Pellico, Silvio - MY TEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT
Perrault, Charles - FAIRY TALES
Pirandello, Luigi - THREE PLAYS
Plato - THE REPUBLIC
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 1
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 2
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 3
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 4
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 5
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
Potter, Beatrix - THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT
Proust, Marcel - SWANN'S WAY
Radcliffe, Ann - A SICILIAN ROMANCE
Ricardo, David - ON THE PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY AND TAXATION
Richardson, Samuel - PAMELA
Rider Haggard, H. - ALLAN QUATERMAIN
Rider Haggard, H. - KING SOLOMON'S MINES
Rousseau, J. J. - THE ORIGIN AND FOUNDATION OF INEQUALITY AMONG MANKIND
Ruskin, John - THE SEVEN LAMPS OF ARCHITECTURE
Schiller, Friedrich - THE DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN
Schiller, Friedrich - THE PICCOLOMINI
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE ART OF CONTROVERSY
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE WISDOM OF LIFE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - FLAPPERS AND PHILOSOPHERS
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THIS SIDE OF PARADISE
Scott, Walter - IVANHOE
Scott, Walter - QUENTIN DURWARD
Scott, Walter - ROB ROY
Scott, Walter - THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR
Scott, Walter - WAVERLEY
Sedgwick, Anne Douglas - THE THIRD WINDOW
Sewell, Anna - BLACK BEAUTY
Shakespeare, William - COMPLETE WORKS
Shakespeare, William - HAMLET
Shakespeare, William - OTHELLO
Shakespeare, William - ROMEO AND JULIET
Shelley, Mary - FRANKENSTEIN
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - A DEFENCE OF POETRY AND OTHER ESSAYS
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Sheridan, Richard B. - THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL
Sienkiewicz, Henryk - QUO VADIS
Smith, Adam - THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
Smollett, Tobias - TRAVELS THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY
Spencer, Herbert - ESSAYS ON EDUCATION AND KINDRED SUBJECTS
Spyri, Johanna - HEIDI
Sterne, Laurence - A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
Sterne, Laurence - TRISTRAM SHANDY
Stevenson, Robert Louis - A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES
Stevenson, Robert Louis - ESSAYS IN THE ART OF WRITING
Stevenson, Robert Louis - KIDNAPPED
Stevenson, Robert Louis - NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE BLACK ARROW
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
Stevenson, Robert Louis - TREASURE ISLAND
Stoker, Bram - DRACULA
Strindberg, August - LUCKY PEHR
Strindberg, August - MASTER OLOF
Strindberg, August - THE RED ROOM
Strindberg, August - THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS
Strindberg, August - THERE ARE CRIMES AND CRIMES
Swift, Jonathan - A MODEST PROPOSAL
Swift, Jonathan - A TALE OF A TUB
Swift, Jonathan - GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
Swift, Jonathan - THE BATTLE OF THE BOOKS AND OTHER SHORT PIECES
Tagore, Rabindranath - FRUIT GATHERING
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE GARDENER
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE HUNGRY STONES AND OTHER STORIES
Thackeray, William - BARRY LYNDON
Thackeray, William - VANITY FAIR
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE BOOK OF SNOBS
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE ROSE AND THE RING
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE VIRGINIANS
Thoreau, Henry David - WALDEN
Tolstoi, Leo - A LETTER TO A HINDU
Tolstoy, Lev - ANNA KARENINA
Tolstoy, Lev - WAR AND PEACE
Trollope, Anthony - AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Trollope, Anthony - BARCHESTER TOWERS
Trollope, Anthony - FRAMLEY PARSONAGE
Trollope, Anthony - THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS
Trollope, Anthony - THE MAN WHO KEPT HIS MONEY IN A BOX
Trollope, Anthony - THE WARDEN
Trollope, Anthony - THE WAY WE LIVE NOW
Twain, Mark - LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI
Twain, Mark - SPEECHES
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER
Twain, Mark - THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER
Vari, Autori - THE MAGNA CARTA
Verga, Giovanni - SICILIAN STORIES
Verne, Jules - 20000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS
Verne, Jules - A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH
Verne, Jules - ALL AROUND THE MOON
Verne, Jules - AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
Verne, Jules - FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON
Verne, Jules - FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
Verne, Jules - MICHAEL STROGOFF
Verne, Jules - THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
Voltaire - PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY
Vyasa - MAHABHARATA
Wallace, Edgar - SANDERS OF THE RIVER
Wallace, Edgar - THE DAFFODIL MYSTERY
Wallace, Lew - BEN HUR
Webster, Jean - DADDY LONG LEGS
Wedekind, Franz - THE AWAKENING OF SPRING
Wells, H. G. - KIPPS
Wells, H. G. - THE INVISIBLE MAN
Wells, H. G. - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU
Wells, H. G. - THE STOLEN BACILLUS AND OTHER INCIDENTS
Wells, H. G. - THE TIME MACHINE
Wells, H. G. - THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
Wells, H. G. - WHAT IS COMING
Wharton, Edith - THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
White, Andrew Dickson - FIAT MONEY INFLATION IN FRANCE
Wilde, Oscar - A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
Wilde, Oscar - AN IDEAL HUSBAND
Wilde, Oscar - DE PROFUNDIS
Wilde, Oscar - LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN
Wilde, Oscar - SALOME
Wilde, Oscar - SELECTED POEMS
Wilde, Oscar - THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL
Wilde, Oscar - THE CANTERVILLE GHOST
Wilde, Oscar - THE HAPPY PRINCE AND OTHER TALES
Wilde, Oscar - THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
Wilde, Oscar - THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY
Wilde, Oscar - THE SOUL OF MAN
Wilson, Epiphanius - SACRED BOOKS OF THE EAST
Wollstonecraft, Mary - A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN
Woolf, Virgina - NIGHT AND DAY
Woolf, Virgina - THE VOYAGE OUT
Woolf, Virginia - JACOB'S ROOM
Woolf, Virginia - MONDAY OR TUESDAY
Wordsworth, William - POEMS
Wordsworth, William - PROSE WORKS
Zola, Emile - THERESE RAQUIN
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ISTRUZIONI D'USO DETTAGLIATE
SENSE AND SENSIBILITY.
by Jane Austen.
The family of Dashwood had long been settled in Sussex. Their estate
was large, and their residence was at Norland Park, in the centre of
their property, where, for many generations, they had lived in so
respectable a manner as to engage the general good opinion of their
surrounding acquaintance. The late owner of this estate was a single
man, who lived to a very advanced age, and who for many years of his
life, had a constant companion and housekeeper in his sister. But her
death, which happened ten years before his own, produced a great
alteration in his home; for to supply her loss, he invited and received
into his house the family of his nephew Mr. Henry Dashwood, the legal
inheritor of the Norland estate, and the person to whom he intended to
bequeath it. In the society of his nephew and niece, and their
children, the old Gentleman's days were comfortably spent. His
attachment to them all increased. The constant attention of Mr. and
Mrs. Henry Dashwood to his wishes, which proceeded not merely from
interest, but from goodness of heart, gave him every degree of solid
comfort which his age could receive; and the cheerfulness of the
children added a relish to his existence.
By a former marriage, Mr. Henry Dashwood had one son: by his present
lady, three daughters. The son, a steady respectable young man, was
amply provided for by the fortune of his mother, which had been large,
and half of which devolved on him on his coming of age. By his own
marriage, likewise, which happened soon afterwards, he added to his
wealth. To him therefore the succession to the Norland estate was not
so really important as to his sisters; for their fortune, independent
of what might arise to them from their father's inheriting that
property, could be but small. Their mother had nothing, and their
father only seven thousand pounds in his own disposal; for the
remaining moiety of his first wife's fortune was also secured to her
child, and he had only a life-interest in it.
The old gentleman died: his will was read, and like almost every other
will, gave as much disappointment as pleasure. He was neither so
unjust, nor so ungrateful, as to leave his estate from his nephew;--but
he left it to him on such terms as destroyed half the value of the
bequest. Mr. Dashwood had wished for it more for the sake of his wife
and daughters than for himself or his son;--but to his son, and his
son's son, a child of four years old, it was secured, in such a way, as
to leave to himself no power of providing for those who were most dear
to him, and who most needed a provision by any charge on the estate, or
by any sale of its valuable woods. The whole was tied up for the
benefit of this child, who, in occasional visits with his father and
mother at Norland, had so far gained on the affections of his uncle, by
such attractions as are by no means unusual in children of two or three
years old; an imperfect articulation, an earnest desire of having his
own way, many cunning tricks, and a great deal of noise, as to outweigh
all the value of all the attention which, for years, he had received
from his niece and her daughters. He meant not to be unkind, however,
and, as a mark of his affection for the three girls, he left them a
thousand pounds a-piece.
Mr. Dashwood's disappointment was, at first, severe; but his temper was
cheerful and sanguine; and he might reasonably hope to live many years,
and by living economically, lay by a considerable sum from the produce
of an estate already large, and capable of almost immediate
improvement. But the fortune, which had been so tardy in coming, was
his only one twelvemonth. He survived his uncle no longer; and ten
thousand pounds, including the late legacies, was all that remained for
his widow and daughters.
His son was sent for as soon as his danger was known, and to him Mr.
Dashwood recommended, with all the strength and urgency which illness
could command, the interest of his mother-in-law and sisters.
Mr. John Dashwood had not the strong feelings of the rest of the
family; but he was affected by a recommendation of such a nature at
such a time, and he promised to do every thing in his power to make
them comfortable. His father was rendered easy by such an assurance,
and Mr. John Dashwood had then leisure to consider how much there might
prudently be in his power to do for them.
He was not an ill-disposed young man, unless to be rather cold hearted
and rather selfish is to be ill-disposed: but he was, in general, well
respected; for he conducted himself with propriety in the discharge of
his ordinary duties. Had he married a more amiable woman, he might
have been made still more respectable than he was:--he might even have
been made amiable himself; for he was very young when he married, and
very fond of his wife. But Mrs. John Dashwood was a strong caricature
of himself;--more narrow-minded and selfish.
When he gave his promise to his father, he meditated within himself to
increase the fortunes of his sisters by the present of a thousand
pounds a-piece. He then really thought himself equal to it. The
prospect of four thousand a-year, in addition to his present income,
besides the remaining half of his own mother's fortune, warmed his
heart, and made him feel capable of generosity.-- "Yes, he would give
them three thousand pounds: it would be liberal and handsome! It would
be enough to make them completely easy. Three thousand pounds! he
could spare so considerable a sum with little inconvenience."-- He
thought of it all day long, and for many days successively, and he did
No sooner was his father's funeral over, than Mrs. John Dashwood,
without sending any notice of her intention to her mother-in-law,
arrived with her child and their attendants. No one could dispute her
right to come; the house was her husband's from the moment of his
father's decease; but the indelicacy of her conduct was so much the
greater, and to a woman in Mrs. Dashwood's situation, with only common
feelings, must have been highly unpleasing;--but in HER mind there was
a sense of honor so keen, a generosity so romantic, that any offence of
the kind, by whomsoever given or received, was to her a source of
immoveable disgust. Mrs. John Dashwood had never been a favourite with
any of her husband's family; but she had had no opportunity, till the
present, of shewing them with how little attention to the comfort of
other people she could act when occasion required it.
So acutely did Mrs. Dashwood feel this ungracious behaviour, and so
earnestly did she despise her daughter-in-law for it, that, on the
arrival of the latter, she would have quitted the house for ever, had
not the entreaty of her eldest girl induced her first to reflect on the
propriety of going, and her own tender love for all her three children
determined her afterwards to stay, and for their sakes avoid a breach
with their brother.
Elinor, this eldest daughter, whose advice was so effectual, possessed
a strength of understanding, and coolness of judgment, which qualified
her, though only nineteen, to be the counsellor of her mother, and
enabled her frequently to counteract, to the advantage of them all,
that eagerness of mind in Mrs. Dashwood which must generally have led
to imprudence. She had an excellent heart;--her disposition was
affectionate, and her feelings were strong; but she knew how to govern
them: it was a knowledge which her mother had yet to learn; and which
one of her sisters had resolved never to be taught.
Marianne's abilities were, in many respects, quite equal to Elinor's.
She was sensible and clever; but eager in everything: her sorrows, her
joys, could have no moderation. She was generous, amiable,
interesting: she was everything but prudent. The resemblance between
her and her mother was strikingly great.
Elinor saw, with concern, the excess of her sister's sensibility; but
by Mrs. Dashwood it was valued and cherished. They encouraged each
other now in the violence of their affliction. The agony of grief
which overpowered them at first, was voluntarily renewed, was sought
for, was created again and again. They gave themselves up wholly to
their sorrow, seeking increase of wretchedness in every reflection that
could afford it, and resolved against ever admitting consolation in
future. Elinor, too, was deeply afflicted; but still she could
struggle, she could exert herself. She could consult with her brother,
could receive her sister-in-law on her arrival, and treat her with
proper attention; and could strive to rouse her mother to similar
exertion, and encourage her to similar forbearance.
Margaret, the other sister, was a good-humored, well-disposed girl; but
as she had already imbibed a good deal of Marianne's romance, without
having much of her sense, she did not, at thirteen, bid fair to equal
her sisters at a more advanced period of life.
Mrs. John Dashwood now installed herself mistress of Norland; and her
mother and sisters-in-law were degraded to the condition of visitors.
As such, however, they were treated by her with quiet civility; and by
her husband with as much kindness as he could feel towards anybody
beyond himself, his wife, and their child. He really pressed them,
with some earnestness, to consider Norland as their home; and, as no
plan appeared so eligible to Mrs. Dashwood as remaining there till she
could accommodate herself with a house in the neighbourhood, his
invitation was accepted.
A continuance in a place where everything reminded her of former
delight, was exactly what suited her mind. In seasons of cheerfulness,
no temper could be more cheerful than hers, or possess, in a greater
degree, that sanguine expectation of happiness which is happiness
itself. But in sorrow she must be equally carried away by her fancy,
and as far beyond consolation as in pleasure she was beyond alloy.
Mrs. John Dashwood did not at all approve of what her husband intended
to do for his sisters. To take three thousand pounds from the fortune
of their dear little boy would be impoverishing him to the most
dreadful degree. She begged him to think again on the subject. How
could he answer it to himself to rob his child, and his only child too,
of so large a sum? And what possible claim could the Miss Dashwoods,
who were related to him only by half blood, which she considered as no
relationship at all, have on his generosity to so large an amount. It
was very well known that no affection was ever supposed to exist
between the children of any man by different marriages; and why was he
to ruin himself, and their poor little Harry, by giving away all his
money to his half sisters?
"It was my father's last request to me," replied her husband, "that I
should assist his widow and daughters."
"He did not know what he was talking of, I dare say; ten to one but he
was light-headed at the time. Had he been in his right senses, he
could not have thought of such a thing as begging you to give away half
your fortune from your own child."
"He did not stipulate for any particular sum, my dear Fanny; he only
requested me, in general terms, to assist them, and make their
situation more comfortable than it was in his power to do. Perhaps it
would have been as well if he had left it wholly to myself. He could
hardly suppose I should neglect them. But as he required the promise,
I could not do less than give it; at least I thought so at the time.
The promise, therefore, was given, and must be performed. Something
must be done for them whenever they leave Norland and settle in a new
"Well, then, LET something be done for them; but THAT something need
not be three thousand pounds. Consider," she added, "that when the
money is once parted with, it never can return. Your sisters will
marry, and it will be gone for ever. If, indeed, it could be restored
to our poor little boy--"
"Why, to be sure," said her husband, very gravely, "that would make
great difference. The time may come when Harry will regret that so
large a sum was parted with. If he should have a numerous family, for
instance, it would be a very convenient addition."
"To be sure it would."
"Perhaps, then, it would be better for all parties, if the sum were
diminished one half.--Five hundred pounds would be a prodigious
increase to their fortunes!"
"Oh! beyond anything great! What brother on earth would do half so
much for his sisters, even if REALLY his sisters! And as it is--only
half blood!--But you have such a generous spirit!"
"I would not wish to do any thing mean," he replied. "One had rather,
on such occasions, do too much than too little. No one, at least, can
think I have not done enough for them: even themselves, they can hardly
"There is no knowing what THEY may expect," said the lady, "but we are
not to think of their expectations: the question is, what you can
afford to do."
"Certainly--and I think I may afford to give them five hundred pounds
a-piece. As it is, without any addition of mine, they will each have
about three thousand pounds on their mother's death--a very comfortable
fortune for any young woman."
"To be sure it is; and, indeed, it strikes me that they can want no
addition at all. They will have ten thousand pounds divided amongst
them. If they marry, they will be sure of doing well, and if they do
not, they may all live very comfortably together on the interest of ten
"That is very true, and, therefore, I do not know whether, upon the
whole, it would not be more advisable to do something for their mother
while she lives, rather than for them--something of the annuity kind I
mean.--My sisters would feel the good effects of it as well as herself.
A hundred a year would make them all perfectly comfortable."
His wife hesitated a little, however, in giving her consent to this
"To be sure," said she, "it is better than parting with fifteen hundred
pounds at once. But, then, if Mrs. Dashwood should live fifteen years
we shall be completely taken in."
"Fifteen years! my dear Fanny; her life cannot be worth half that
"Certainly not; but if you observe, people always live for ever when
there is an annuity to be paid them; and she is very stout and healthy,
and hardly forty. An annuity is a very serious business; it comes over
and over every year, and there is no getting rid of it. You are not
aware of what you are doing. I have known a great deal of the trouble
of annuities; for my mother was clogged with the payment of three to
old superannuated servants by my father's will, and it is amazing how
disagreeable she found it. Twice every year these annuities were to be
paid; and then there was the trouble of getting it to them; and then
one of them was said to have died, and afterwards it turned out to be
no such thing. My mother was quite sick of it. Her income was not her
own, she said, with such perpetual claims on it; and it was the more
unkind in my father, because, otherwise, the money would have been
entirely at my mother's disposal, without any restriction whatever. It
has given me such an abhorrence of annuities, that I am sure I would
not pin myself down to the payment of one for all the world."
"It is certainly an unpleasant thing," replied Mr. Dashwood, "to have
those kind of yearly drains on one's income. One's fortune, as your
mother justly says, is NOT one's own. To be tied down to the regular
payment of such a sum, on every rent day, is by no means desirable: it
takes away one's independence."
"Undoubtedly; and after all you have no thanks for it. They think
themselves secure, you do no more than what is expected, and it raises
no gratitude at all. If I were you, whatever I did should be done at
my own discretion entirely. I would not bind myself to allow them any
thing yearly. It may be very inconvenient some years to spare a
hundred, or even fifty pounds from our own expenses."
"I believe you are right, my love; it will be better that there should
by no annuity in the case; whatever I may give them occasionally will
be of far greater assistance than a yearly allowance, because they
would only enlarge their style of living if they felt sure of a larger
income, and would not be sixpence the richer for it at the end of the
year. It will certainly be much the best way. A present of fifty
pounds, now and then, will prevent their ever being distressed for
money, and will, I think, be amply discharging my promise to my father."
"To be sure it will. Indeed, to say the truth, I am convinced within
myself that your father had no idea of your giving them any money at
all. The assistance he thought of, I dare say, was only such as might
be reasonably expected of you; for instance, such as looking out for a
comfortable small house for them, helping them to move their things,
and sending them presents of fish and game, and so forth, whenever they
are in season. I'll lay my life that he meant nothing farther; indeed,
it would be very strange and unreasonable if he did. Do but consider,
my dear Mr. Dashwood, how excessively comfortable your mother-in-law
and her daughters may live on the interest of seven thousand pounds,
besides the thousand pounds belonging to each of the girls, which
brings them in fifty pounds a year a-piece, and, of course, they will
pay their mother for their board out of it. Altogether, they will have
five hundred a-year amongst them, and what on earth can four women want
for more than that?--They will live so cheap! Their housekeeping will
be nothing at all. They will have no carriage, no horses, and hardly
any servants; they will keep no company, and can have no expenses of
any kind! Only conceive how comfortable they will be! Five hundred a
year! I am sure I cannot imagine how they will spend half of it; and as
to your giving them more, it is quite absurd to think of it. They will
be much more able to give YOU something."
"Upon my word," said Mr. Dashwood, "I believe you are perfectly right.
My father certainly could mean nothing more by his request to me than
what you say. I clearly understand it now, and I will strictly fulfil
my engagement by such acts of assistance and kindness to them as you
have described. When my mother removes into another house my services
shall be readily given to accommodate her as far as I can. Some little
present of furniture too may be acceptable then."
"Certainly," returned Mrs. John Dashwood. "But, however, ONE thing
must be considered. When your father and mother moved to Norland,
though the furniture of Stanhill was sold, all the china, plate, and
linen was saved, and is now left to your mother. Her house will
therefore be almost completely fitted up as soon as she takes it."
"That is a material consideration undoubtedly. A valuable legacy
indeed! And yet some of the plate would have been a very pleasant
addition to our own stock here."
"Yes; and the set of breakfast china is twice as handsome as what
belongs to this house. A great deal too handsome, in my opinion, for
any place THEY can ever afford to live in. But, however, so it is.
Your father thought only of THEM. And I must say this: that you owe no
particular gratitude to him, nor attention to his wishes; for we very
well know that if he could, he would have left almost everything in the
world to THEM."
This argument was irresistible. It gave to his intentions whatever of
decision was wanting before; and he finally resolved, that it would be
absolutely unnecessary, if not highly indecorous, to do more for the
widow and children of his father, than such kind of neighbourly acts as
his own wife pointed out.
Mrs. Dashwood remained at Norland several months; not from any
disinclination to move when the sight of every well known spot ceased
to raise the violent emotion which it produced for a while; for when
her spirits began to revive, and her mind became capable of some other
exertion than that of heightening its affliction by melancholy
remembrances, she was impatient to be gone, and indefatigable in her
inquiries for a suitable dwelling in the neighbourhood of Norland; for
to remove far from that beloved spot was impossible. But she could
hear of no situation that at once answered her notions of comfort and
ease, and suited the prudence of her eldest daughter, whose steadier
judgment rejected several houses as too large for their income, which
her mother would have approved.
Mrs. Dashwood had been informed by her husband of the solemn promise on
the part of his son in their favour, which gave comfort to his last
earthly reflections. She doubted the sincerity of this assurance no
more than he had doubted it himself, and she thought of it for her
daughters' sake with satisfaction, though as for herself she was
persuaded that a much smaller provision than 7000L would support her in
affluence. For their brother's sake, too, for the sake of his own
heart, she rejoiced; and she reproached herself for being unjust to his
merit before, in believing him incapable of generosity. His attentive
behaviour to herself and his sisters convinced her that their welfare
was dear to him, and, for a long time, she firmly relied on the
liberality of his intentions.
The contempt which she had, very early in their acquaintance, felt for
her daughter-in-law, was very much increased by the farther knowledge
of her character, which half a year's residence in her family afforded;
and perhaps in spite of every consideration of politeness or maternal
affection on the side of the former, the two ladies might have found it
impossible to have lived together so long, had not a particular
circumstance occurred to give still greater eligibility, according to
the opinions of Mrs. Dashwood, to her daughters' continuance at Norland.
This circumstance was a growing attachment between her eldest girl and
the brother of Mrs. John Dashwood, a gentleman-like and pleasing young
man, who was introduced to their acquaintance soon after his sister's
establishment at Norland, and who had since spent the greatest part of
his time there.
Some mothers might have encouraged the intimacy from motives of
interest, for Edward Ferrars was the eldest son of a man who had died
very rich; and some might have repressed it from motives of prudence,
for, except a trifling sum, the whole of his fortune depended on the
will of his mother. But Mrs. Dashwood was alike uninfluenced by either
consideration. It was enough for her that he appeared to be amiable,
that he loved her daughter, and that Elinor returned the partiality.
It was contrary to every doctrine of her's that difference of fortune
should keep any couple asunder who were attracted by resemblance of
disposition; and that Elinor's merit should not be acknowledged by
every one who knew her, was to her comprehension impossible.
Edward Ferrars was not recommended to their good opinion by any
peculiar graces of person or address. He was not handsome, and his
manners required intimacy to make them pleasing. He was too diffident
to do justice to himself; but when his natural shyness was overcome,
his behaviour gave every indication of an open, affectionate heart.
His understanding was good, and his education had given it solid
improvement. But he was neither fitted by abilities nor disposition to
answer the wishes of his mother and sister, who longed to see him
distinguished--as--they hardly knew what. They wanted him to make a
fine figure in the world in some manner or other. His mother wished to
interest him in political concerns, to get him into parliament, or to
see him connected with some of the great men of the day. Mrs. John
Dashwood wished it likewise; but in the mean while, till one of these
superior blessings could be attained, it would have quieted her
ambition to see him driving a barouche. But Edward had no turn for
great men or barouches. All his wishes centered in domestic comfort
and the quiet of private life. Fortunately he had a younger brother
who was more promising.
Edward had been staying several weeks in the house before he engaged
much of Mrs. Dashwood's attention; for she was, at that time, in such
affliction as rendered her careless of surrounding objects. She saw
only that he was quiet and unobtrusive, and she liked him for it. He
did not disturb the wretchedness of her mind by ill-timed conversation.
She was first called to observe and approve him farther, by a
reflection which Elinor chanced one day to make on the difference
between him and his sister. It was a contrast which recommended him
most forcibly to her mother.
"It is enough," said she; "to say that he is unlike Fanny is enough.
It implies everything amiable. I love him already."
"I think you will like him," said Elinor, "when you know more of him."
"Like him!" replied her mother with a smile. "I feel no sentiment of
approbation inferior to love."
"You may esteem him."
"I have never yet known what it was to separate esteem and love."
Mrs. Dashwood now took pains to get acquainted with him. Her manners
were attaching, and soon banished his reserve. She speedily
comprehended all his merits; the persuasion of his regard for Elinor
perhaps assisted her penetration; but she really felt assured of his
worth: and even that quietness of manner, which militated against all
her established ideas of what a young man's address ought to be, was no
longer uninteresting when she knew his heart to be warm and his temper
No sooner did she perceive any symptom of love in his behaviour to
Elinor, than she considered their serious attachment as certain, and
looked forward to their marriage as rapidly approaching.
"In a few months, my dear Marianne." said she, "Elinor will, in all
probability be settled for life. We shall miss her; but SHE will be
"Oh! Mamma, how shall we do without her?"
"My love, it will be scarcely a separation. We shall live within a few
miles of each other, and shall meet every day of our lives. You will
gain a brother, a real, affectionate brother. I have the highest
opinion in the world of Edward's heart. But you look grave, Marianne;
do you disapprove your sister's choice?"
"Perhaps," said Marianne, "I may consider it with some surprise.
Edward is very amiable, and I love him tenderly. But yet--he is not
the kind of young man--there is something wanting--his figure is not
striking; it has none of that grace which I should expect in the man
who could seriously attach my sister. His eyes want all that spirit,
that fire, which at once announce virtue and intelligence. And besides
all this, I am afraid, Mamma, he has no real taste. Music seems
scarcely to attract him, and though he admires Elinor's drawings very
much, it is not the admiration of a person who can understand their
worth. It is evident, in spite of his frequent attention to her while
she draws, that in fact he knows nothing of the matter. He admires as
a lover, not as a connoisseur. To satisfy me, those characters must be
united. I could not be happy with a man whose taste did not in every
point coincide with my own. He must enter into all my feelings; the
same books, the same music must charm us both. Oh! mama, how
spiritless, how tame was Edward's manner in reading to us last night!
I felt for my sister most severely. Yet she bore it with so much
composure, she seemed scarcely to notice it. I could hardly keep my
seat. To hear those beautiful lines which have frequently almost
driven me wild, pronounced with such impenetrable calmness, such
dreadful indifference!"-- "He would certainly have done more justice to
simple and elegant prose. I thought so at the time; but you WOULD give
"Nay, Mamma, if he is not to be animated by Cowper!--but we must allow
for difference of taste. Elinor has not my feelings, and therefore she
may overlook it, and be happy with him. But it would have broke MY
heart, had I loved him, to hear him read with so little sensibility.
Mama, the more I know of the world, the more am I convinced that I
shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much! He
must have all Edward's virtues, and his person and manners must
ornament his goodness with every possible charm."
"Remember, my love, that you are not seventeen. It is yet too early in
life to despair of such a happiness. Why should you be less fortunate
than your mother? In one circumstance only, my Marianne, may your
destiny be different from her's!"
"What a pity it is, Elinor," said Marianne, "that Edward should have no
taste for drawing."
"No taste for drawing!" replied Elinor, "why should you think so? He
does not draw himself, indeed, but he has great pleasure in seeing the
performances of other people, and I assure you he is by no means
deficient in natural taste, though he has not had opportunities of
improving it. Had he ever been in the way of learning, I think he
would have drawn very well. He distrusts his own judgment in such
matters so much, that he is always unwilling to give his opinion on any
picture; but he has an innate propriety and simplicity of taste, which
in general direct him perfectly right."
Marianne was afraid of offending, and said no more on the subject; but
the kind of approbation which Elinor described as excited in him by the
drawings of other people, was very far from that rapturous delight,
which, in her opinion, could alone be called taste. Yet, though
smiling within herself at the mistake, she honoured her sister for that
blind partiality to Edward which produced it.
"I hope, Marianne," continued Elinor, "you do not consider him as
deficient in general taste. Indeed, I think I may say that you cannot,
for your behaviour to him is perfectly cordial, and if THAT were your
opinion, I am sure you could never be civil to him."
Marianne hardly knew what to say. She would not wound the feelings of
her sister on any account, and yet to say what she did not believe was
impossible. At length she replied:
"Do not be offended, Elinor, if my praise of him is not in every thing
equal to your sense of his merits. I have not had so many
opportunities of estimating the minuter propensities of his mind, his
inclinations and tastes, as you have; but I have the highest opinion in
the world of his goodness and sense. I think him every thing that is
worthy and amiable."
"I am sure," replied Elinor, with a smile, "that his dearest friends
could not be dissatisfied with such commendation as that. I do not
perceive how you could express yourself more warmly."
Marianne was rejoiced to find her sister so easily pleased.
"Of his sense and his goodness," continued Elinor, "no one can, I
think, be in doubt, who has seen him often enough to engage him in
unreserved conversation. The excellence of his understanding and his
principles can be concealed only by that shyness which too often keeps
him silent. You know enough of him to do justice to his solid worth.
But of his minuter propensities, as you call them you have from
peculiar circumstances been kept more ignorant than myself. He and I
have been at times thrown a good deal together, while you have been
wholly engrossed on the most affectionate principle by my mother. I
have seen a great deal of him, have studied his sentiments and heard
his opinion on subjects of literature and taste; and, upon the whole, I
venture to pronounce that his mind is well-informed, enjoyment of books
exceedingly great, his imagination lively, his observation just and
correct, and his taste delicate and pure. His abilities in every
respect improve as much upon acquaintance as his manners and person.
At first sight, his address is certainly not striking; and his person
can hardly be called handsome, till the expression of his eyes, which
are uncommonly good, and the general sweetness of his countenance, is
perceived. At present, I know him so well, that I think him really
handsome; or at least, almost so. What say you, Marianne?"
"I shall very soon think him handsome, Elinor, if I do not now. When
you tell me to love him as a brother, I shall no more see imperfection
in his face, than I now do in his heart."
Elinor started at this declaration, and was sorry for the warmth she
had been betrayed into, in speaking of him. She felt that Edward stood
very high in her opinion. She believed the regard to be mutual; but
she required greater certainty of it to make Marianne's conviction of
their attachment agreeable to her. She knew that what Marianne and her
mother conjectured one moment, they believed the next--that with them,
to wish was to hope, and to hope was to expect. She tried to explain
the real state of the case to her sister.
"I do not attempt to deny," said she, "that I think very highly of
him--that I greatly esteem, that I like him."
Marianne here burst forth with indignation--
"Esteem him! Like him! Cold-hearted Elinor! Oh! worse than
cold-hearted! Ashamed of being otherwise. Use those words again, and I
will leave the room this moment."
Elinor could not help laughing. "Excuse me," said she; "and be assured
that I meant no offence to you, by speaking, in so quiet a way, of my
own feelings. Believe them to be stronger than I have declared;
believe them, in short, to be such as his merit, and the suspicion--the
hope of his affection for me may warrant, without imprudence or folly.
But farther than this you must not believe. I am by no means assured
of his regard for me. There are moments when the extent of it seems
doubtful; and till his sentiments are fully known, you cannot wonder at
my wishing to avoid any encouragement of my own partiality, by
believing or calling it more than it is. In my heart I feel
little--scarcely any doubt of his preference. But there are other
points to be considered besides his inclination. He is very far from
being independent. What his mother really is we cannot know; but, from
Fanny's occasional mention of her conduct and opinions, we have never
been disposed to think her amiable; and I am very much mistaken if
Edward is not himself aware that there would be many difficulties in
his way, if he were to wish to marry a woman who had not either a great
fortune or high rank."
Marianne was astonished to find how much the imagination of her mother
and herself had outstripped the truth.
"And you really are not engaged to him!" said she. "Yet it certainly
soon will happen. But two advantages will proceed from this delay. I
shall not lose you so soon, and Edward will have greater opportunity of
improving that natural taste for your favourite pursuit which must be
so indispensably necessary to your future felicity. Oh! if he should
be so far stimulated by your genius as to learn to draw himself, how
delightful it would be!"
Elinor had given her real opinion to her sister. She could not
consider her partiality for Edward in so prosperous a state as Marianne
had believed it. There was, at times, a want of spirits about him
which, if it did not denote indifference, spoke of something almost as
unpromising. A doubt of her regard, supposing him to feel it, need not
give him more than inquietude. It would not be likely to produce that
dejection of mind which frequently attended him. A more reasonable
cause might be found in the dependent situation which forbade the
indulgence of his affection. She knew that his mother neither behaved
to him so as to make his home comfortable at present, nor to give him
any assurance that he might form a home for himself, without strictly
attending to her views for his aggrandizement. With such a knowledge
as this, it was impossible for Elinor to feel easy on the subject. She
was far from depending on that result of his preference of her, which
her mother and sister still considered as certain. Nay, the longer
they were together the more doubtful seemed the nature of his regard;
and sometimes, for a few painful minutes, she believed it to be no more
But, whatever might really be its limits, it was enough, when perceived
by his sister, to make her uneasy, and at the same time, (which was
still more common,) to make her uncivil. She took the first
opportunity of affronting her mother-in-law on the occasion, talking to
her so expressively of her brother's great expectations, of Mrs.
Ferrars's resolution that both her sons should marry well, and of the
danger attending any young woman who attempted to DRAW HIM IN; that
Mrs. Dashwood could neither pretend to be unconscious, nor endeavor to
be calm. She gave her an answer which marked her contempt, and
instantly left the room, resolving that, whatever might be the
inconvenience or expense of so sudden a removal, her beloved Elinor
should not be exposed another week to such insinuations.
In this state of her spirits, a letter was delivered to her from the
post, which contained a proposal particularly well timed. It was the
offer of a small house, on very easy terms, belonging to a relation of
her own, a gentleman of consequence and property in Devonshire. The
letter was from this gentleman himself, and written in the true spirit
of friendly accommodation. He understood that she was in need of a
dwelling; and though the house he now offered her was merely a cottage,
he assured her that everything should be done to it which she might
think necessary, if the situation pleased her. He earnestly pressed
her, after giving the particulars of the house and garden, to come with
her daughters to Barton Park, the place of his own residence, from
whence she might judge, herself, whether Barton Cottage, for the houses
were in the same parish, could, by any alteration, be made comfortable
to her. He seemed really anxious to accommodate them and the whole of
his letter was written in so friendly a style as could not fail of
giving pleasure to his cousin; more especially at a moment when she was
suffering under the cold and unfeeling behaviour of her nearer
connections. She needed no time for deliberation or inquiry. Her
resolution was formed as she read. The situation of Barton, in a
county so far distant from Sussex as Devonshire, which, but a few hours
before, would have been a sufficient objection to outweigh every
possible advantage belonging to the place, was now its first
recommendation. To quit the neighbourhood of Norland was no longer an
evil; it was an object of desire; it was a blessing, in comparison of
the misery of continuing her daughter-in-law's guest; and to remove for
ever from that beloved place would be less painful than to inhabit or
visit it while such a woman was its mistress. She instantly wrote Sir
John Middleton her acknowledgment of his kindness, and her acceptance
of his proposal; and then hastened to shew both letters to her
daughters, that she might be secure of their approbation before her
answer were sent.
Elinor had always thought it would be more prudent for them to settle
at some distance from Norland, than immediately amongst their present
acquaintance. On THAT head, therefore, it was not for her to oppose
her mother's intention of removing into Devonshire. The house, too, as
described by Sir John, was on so simple a scale, and the rent so
uncommonly moderate, as to leave her no right of objection on either
point; and, therefore, though it was not a plan which brought any charm
to her fancy, though it was a removal from the vicinity of Norland
beyond her wishes, she made no attempt to dissuade her mother from
sending a letter of acquiescence.
No sooner was her answer dispatched, than Mrs. Dashwood indulged
herself in the pleasure of announcing to her son-in-law and his wife
that she was provided with a house, and should incommode them no longer
than till every thing were ready for her inhabiting it. They heard her
with surprise. Mrs. John Dashwood said nothing; but her husband
civilly hoped that she would not be settled far from Norland. She had
great satisfaction in replying that she was going into
Devonshire.--Edward turned hastily towards her, on hearing this, and,
in a voice of surprise and concern, which required no explanation to
her, repeated, "Devonshire! Are you, indeed, going there? So far from
hence! And to what part of it?" She explained the situation. It was
within four miles northward of Exeter.
"It is but a cottage," she continued, "but I hope to see many of my
friends in it. A room or two can easily be added; and if my friends
find no difficulty in travelling so far to see me, I am sure I will
find none in accommodating them."
She concluded with a very kind invitation to Mr. and Mrs. John Dashwood
to visit her at Barton; and to Edward she gave one with still greater
affection. Though her late conversation with her daughter-in-law had
made her resolve on remaining at Norland no longer than was
unavoidable, it had not produced the smallest effect on her in that
point to which it principally tended. To separate Edward and Elinor
was as far from being her object as ever; and she wished to show Mrs.
John Dashwood, by this pointed invitation to her brother, how totally
she disregarded her disapprobation of the match.
Mr. John Dashwood told his mother again and again how exceedingly sorry
he was that she had taken a house at such a distance from Norland as to
prevent his being of any service to her in removing her furniture. He
really felt conscientiously vexed on the occasion; for the very
exertion to which he had limited the performance of his promise to his
father was by this arrangement rendered impracticable.-- The furniture
was all sent around by water. It chiefly consisted of household linen,
plate, china, and books, with a handsome pianoforte of Marianne's.
Mrs. John Dashwood saw the packages depart with a sigh: she could not
help feeling it hard that as Mrs. Dashwood's income would be so
trifling in comparison with their own, she should have any handsome
article of furniture.
Mrs. Dashwood took the house for a twelvemonth; it was ready furnished,
and she might have immediate possession. No difficulty arose on either
side in the agreement; and she waited only for the disposal of her
effects at Norland, and to determine her future household, before she
set off for the west; and this, as she was exceedingly rapid in the
performance of everything that interested her, was soon done.--The
horses which were left her by her husband had been sold soon after his
death, and an opportunity now offering of disposing of her carriage,
she agreed to sell that likewise at the earnest advice of her eldest
daughter. For the comfort of her children, had she consulted only her
own wishes, she would have kept it; but the discretion of Elinor
prevailed. HER wisdom too limited the number of their servants to
three; two maids and a man, with whom they were speedily provided from
amongst those who had formed their establishment at Norland.
The man and one of the maids were sent off immediately into Devonshire,
to prepare the house for their mistress's arrival; for as Lady
Middleton was entirely unknown to Mrs. Dashwood, she preferred going
directly to the cottage to being a visitor at Barton Park; and she
relied so undoubtingly on Sir John's description of the house, as to
feel no curiosity to examine it herself till she entered it as her own.
Her eagerness to be gone from Norland was preserved from diminution by
the evident satisfaction of her daughter-in-law in the prospect of her
removal; a satisfaction which was but feebly attempted to be concealed
under a cold invitation to her to defer her departure. Now was the
time when her son-in-law's promise to his father might with particular
propriety be fulfilled. Since he had neglected to do it on first
coming to the estate, their quitting his house might be looked on as
the most suitable period for its accomplishment. But Mrs. Dashwood
began shortly to give over every hope of the kind, and to be convinced,
from the general drift of his discourse, that his assistance extended
no farther than their maintenance for six months at Norland. He so
frequently talked of the increasing expenses of housekeeping, and of
the perpetual demands upon his purse, which a man of any consequence in
the world was beyond calculation exposed to, that he seemed rather to
stand in need of more money himself than to have any design of giving
In a very few weeks from the day which brought Sir John Middleton's
first letter to Norland, every thing was so far settled in their future
abode as to enable Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters to begin their
Many were the tears shed by them in their last adieus to a place so
much beloved. "Dear, dear Norland!" said Marianne, as she wandered
alone before the house, on the last evening of their being there; "when
shall I cease to regret you!--when learn to feel a home elsewhere!--Oh!
happy house, could you know what I suffer in now viewing you from this
spot, from whence perhaps I may view you no more!--And you, ye
well-known trees!--but you will continue the same.--No leaf will decay
because we are removed, nor any branch become motionless although we
can observe you no longer!--No; you will continue the same; unconscious
of the pleasure or the regret you occasion, and insensible of any
change in those who walk under your shade!--But who will remain to
The first part of their journey was performed in too melancholy a
disposition to be otherwise than tedious and unpleasant. But as they
drew towards the end of it, their interest in the appearance of a
country which they were to inhabit overcame their dejection, and a view
of Barton Valley as they entered it gave them cheerfulness. It was a
pleasant fertile spot, well wooded, and rich in pasture. After winding
along it for more than a mile, they reached their own house. A small
green court was the whole of its demesne in front; and a neat wicket
gate admitted them into it.
As a house, Barton Cottage, though small, was comfortable and compact;
but as a cottage it was defective, for the building was regular, the
roof was tiled, the window shutters were not painted green, nor were
the walls covered with honeysuckles. A narrow passage led directly
through the house into the garden behind. On each side of the entrance
was a sitting room, about sixteen feet square; and beyond them were the
offices and the stairs. Four bed-rooms and two garrets formed the rest
of the house. It had not been built many years and was in good repair.
In comparison of Norland, it was poor and small indeed!--but the tears
which recollection called forth as they entered the house were soon
dried away. They were cheered by the joy of the servants on their
arrival, and each for the sake of the others resolved to appear happy.
It was very early in September; the season was fine, and from first
seeing the place under the advantage of good weather, they received an
impression in its favour which was of material service in recommending
it to their lasting approbation.
The situation of the house was good. High hills rose immediately
behind, and at no great distance on each side; some of which were open
downs, the others cultivated and woody. The village of Barton was
chiefly on one of these hills, and formed a pleasant view from the
cottage windows. The prospect in front was more extensive; it
commanded the whole of the valley, and reached into the country beyond.
The hills which surrounded the cottage terminated the valley in that
direction; under another name, and in another course, it branched out
again between two of the steepest of them.
With the size and furniture of the house Mrs. Dashwood was upon the
whole well satisfied; for though her former style of life rendered many
additions to the latter indispensable, yet to add and improve was a
delight to her; and she had at this time ready money enough to supply
all that was wanted of greater elegance to the apartments. "As for the
house itself, to be sure," said she, "it is too small for our family,
but we will make ourselves tolerably comfortable for the present, as it
is too late in the year for improvements. Perhaps in the spring, if I
have plenty of money, as I dare say I shall, we may think about
building. These parlors are both too small for such parties of our
friends as I hope to see often collected here; and I have some thoughts
of throwing the passage into one of them with perhaps a part of the
other, and so leave the remainder of that other for an entrance; this,
with a new drawing room which may be easily added, and a bed-chamber
and garret above, will make it a very snug little cottage. I could
wish the stairs were handsome. But one must not expect every thing;
though I suppose it would be no difficult matter to widen them. I
shall see how much I am before-hand with the world in the spring, and
we will plan our improvements accordingly."
In the mean time, till all these alterations could be made from the
savings of an income of five hundred a-year by a woman who never saved
in her life, they were wise enough to be contented with the house as it
was; and each of them was busy in arranging their particular concerns,
and endeavoring, by placing around them books and other possessions, to
form themselves a home. Marianne's pianoforte was unpacked and
properly disposed of; and Elinor's drawings were affixed to the walls
of their sitting room.
In such employments as these they were interrupted soon after breakfast
the next day by the entrance of their landlord, who called to welcome
them to Barton, and to offer them every accommodation from his own
house and garden in which theirs might at present be deficient. Sir
John Middleton was a good looking man about forty. He had formerly
visited at Stanhill, but it was too long for his young cousins to
remember him. His countenance was thoroughly good-humoured; and his
manners were as friendly as the style of his letter. Their arrival
seemed to afford him real satisfaction, and their comfort to be an
object of real solicitude to him. He said much of his earnest desire
of their living in the most sociable terms with his family, and pressed
them so cordially to dine at Barton Park every day till they were
better settled at home, that, though his entreaties were carried to a
point of perseverance beyond civility, they could not give offence.
His kindness was not confined to words; for within an hour after he
left them, a large basket full of garden stuff and fruit arrived from
the park, which was followed before the end of the day by a present of
game. He insisted, moreover, on conveying all their letters to and
from the post for them, and would not be denied the satisfaction of
sending them his newspaper every day.
Lady Middleton had sent a very civil message by him, denoting her
intention of waiting on Mrs. Dashwood as soon as she could be assured
that her visit would be no inconvenience; and as this message was
answered by an invitation equally polite, her ladyship was introduced
to them the next day.
They were, of course, very anxious to see a person on whom so much of
their comfort at Barton must depend; and the elegance of her appearance
was favourable to their wishes. Lady Middleton was not more than six
or seven and twenty; her face was handsome, her figure tall and
striking, and her address graceful. Her manners had all the elegance
which her husband's wanted. But they would have been improved by some
share of his frankness and warmth; and her visit was long enough to
detract something from their first admiration, by shewing that, though
perfectly well-bred, she was reserved, cold, and had nothing to say for
herself beyond the most common-place inquiry or remark.
Conversation however was not wanted, for Sir John was very chatty, and
Lady Middleton had taken the wise precaution of bringing with her their
eldest child, a fine little boy about six years old, by which means
there was one subject always to be recurred to by the ladies in case of
extremity, for they had to enquire his name and age, admire his beauty,
and ask him questions which his mother answered for him, while he hung
about her and held down his head, to the great surprise of her
ladyship, who wondered at his being so shy before company, as he could
make noise enough at home. On every formal visit a child ought to be
of the party, by way of provision for discourse. In the present case
it took up ten minutes to determine whether the boy were most like his
father or mother, and in what particular he resembled either, for of
course every body differed, and every body was astonished at the
opinion of the others.
An opportunity was soon to be given to the Dashwoods of debating on the
rest of the children, as Sir John would not leave the house without
securing their promise of dining at the park the next day.
Barton Park was about half a mile from the cottage. The ladies had
passed near it in their way along the valley, but it was screened from
their view at home by the projection of a hill. The house was large
and handsome; and the Middletons lived in a style of equal hospitality
and elegance. The former was for Sir John's gratification, the latter
for that of his lady. They were scarcely ever without some friends
staying with them in the house, and they kept more company of every
kind than any other family in the neighbourhood. It was necessary to
the happiness of both; for however dissimilar in temper and outward
behaviour, they strongly resembled each other in that total want of
talent and taste which confined their employments, unconnected with
such as society produced, within a very narrow compass. Sir John was a
sportsman, Lady Middleton a mother. He hunted and shot, and she
humoured her children; and these were their only resources. Lady
Middleton had the advantage of being able to spoil her children all the
year round, while Sir John's independent employments were in existence
only half the time. Continual engagements at home and abroad, however,
supplied all the deficiencies of nature and education; supported the
good spirits of Sir John, and gave exercise to the good breeding of his
Lady Middleton piqued herself upon the elegance of her table, and of
all her domestic arrangements; and from this kind of vanity was her
greatest enjoyment in any of their parties. But Sir John's
satisfaction in society was much more real; he delighted in collecting
about him more young people than his house would hold, and the noisier
they were the better was he pleased. He was a blessing to all the
juvenile part of the neighbourhood, for in summer he was for ever
forming parties to eat cold ham and chicken out of doors, and in winter
his private balls were numerous enough for any young lady who was not
suffering under the unsatiable appetite of fifteen.
The arrival of a new family in the country was always a matter of joy
to him, and in every point of view he was charmed with the inhabitants
he had now procured for his cottage at Barton. The Miss Dashwoods were
young, pretty, and unaffected. It was enough to secure his good
opinion; for to be unaffected was all that a pretty girl could want to
make her mind as captivating as her person. The friendliness of his
disposition made him happy in accommodating those, whose situation
might be considered, in comparison with the past, as unfortunate. In
showing kindness to his cousins therefore he had the real satisfaction
of a good heart; and in settling a family of females only in his
cottage, he had all the satisfaction of a sportsman; for a sportsman,
though he esteems only those of his sex who are sportsmen likewise, is
not often desirous of encouraging their taste by admitting them to a
residence within his own manor.
Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters were met at the door of the house by
Sir John, who welcomed them to Barton Park with unaffected sincerity;
and as he attended them to the drawing room repeated to the young
ladies the concern which the same subject had drawn from him the day
before, at being unable to get any smart young men to meet them. They
would see, he said, only one gentleman there besides himself; a
particular friend who was staying at the park, but who was neither very
young nor very gay. He hoped they would all excuse the smallness of
the party, and could assure them it should never happen so again. He
had been to several families that morning in hopes of procuring some
addition to their number, but it was moonlight and every body was full
of engagements. Luckily Lady Middleton's mother had arrived at Barton
within the last hour, and as she was a very cheerful agreeable woman,
he hoped the young ladies would not find it so very dull as they might
imagine. The young ladies, as well as their mother, were perfectly
satisfied with having two entire strangers of the party, and wished for
Mrs. Jennings, Lady Middleton's mother, was a good-humoured, merry,
fat, elderly woman, who talked a great deal, seemed very happy, and
rather vulgar. She was full of jokes and laughter, and before dinner
was over had said many witty things on the subject of lovers and
husbands; hoped they had not left their hearts behind them in Sussex,
and pretended to see them blush whether they did or not. Marianne was
vexed at it for her sister's sake, and turned her eyes towards Elinor
to see how she bore these attacks, with an earnestness which gave
Elinor far more pain than could arise from such common-place raillery
as Mrs. Jennings's.
Colonel Brandon, the friend of Sir John, seemed no more adapted by
resemblance of manner to be his friend, than Lady Middleton was to be
his wife, or Mrs. Jennings to be Lady Middleton's mother. He was
silent and grave. His appearance however was not unpleasing, in spite
of his being in the opinion of Marianne and Margaret an absolute old
bachelor, for he was on the wrong side of five and thirty; but though
his face was not handsome, his countenance was sensible, and his
address was particularly gentlemanlike.
There was nothing in any of the party which could recommend them as
companions to the Dashwoods; but the cold insipidity of Lady Middleton
was so particularly repulsive, that in comparison of it the gravity of
Colonel Brandon, and even the boisterous mirth of Sir John and his
mother-in-law was interesting. Lady Middleton seemed to be roused to
enjoyment only by the entrance of her four noisy children after dinner,
who pulled her about, tore her clothes, and put an end to every kind of
discourse except what related to themselves.
In the evening, as Marianne was discovered to be musical, she was
invited to play. The instrument was unlocked, every body prepared to
be charmed, and Marianne, who sang very well, at their request went
through the chief of the songs which Lady Middleton had brought into
the family on her marriage, and which perhaps had lain ever since in
the same position on the pianoforte, for her ladyship had celebrated
that event by giving up music, although by her mother's account, she
had played extremely well, and by her own was very fond of it.
Marianne's performance was highly applauded. Sir John was loud in his
admiration at the end of every song, and as loud in his conversation
with the others while every song lasted. Lady Middleton frequently
called him to order, wondered how any one's attention could be diverted
from music for a moment, and asked Marianne to sing a particular song
which Marianne had just finished. Colonel Brandon alone, of all the
party, heard her without being in raptures. He paid her only the
compliment of attention; and she felt a respect for him on the
occasion, which the others had reasonably forfeited by their shameless
want of taste. His pleasure in music, though it amounted not to that
ecstatic delight which alone could sympathize with her own, was
estimable when contrasted against the horrible insensibility of the
others; and she was reasonable enough to allow that a man of five and
thirty might well have outlived all acuteness of feeling and every
exquisite power of enjoyment. She was perfectly disposed to make every
allowance for the colonel's advanced state of life which humanity
Mrs. Jennings was a widow with an ample jointure. She had only two
daughters, both of whom she had lived to see respectably married, and
she had now therefore nothing to do but to marry all the rest of the
world. In the promotion of this object she was zealously active, as
far as her ability reached; and missed no opportunity of projecting
weddings among all the young people of her acquaintance. She was
remarkably quick in the discovery of attachments, and had enjoyed the
advantage of raising the blushes and the vanity of many a young lady by
insinuations of her power over such a young man; and this kind of
discernment enabled her soon after her arrival at Barton decisively to
pronounce that Colonel Brandon was very much in love with Marianne
Dashwood. She rather suspected it to be so, on the very first evening
of their being together, from his listening so attentively while she
sang to them; and when the visit was returned by the Middletons' dining
at the cottage, the fact was ascertained by his listening to her again.
It must be so. She was perfectly convinced of it. It would be an
excellent match, for HE was rich, and SHE was handsome. Mrs. Jennings
had been anxious to see Colonel Brandon well married, ever since her
connection with Sir John first brought him to her knowledge; and she
was always anxious to get a good husband for every pretty girl.
The immediate advantage to herself was by no means inconsiderable, for
it supplied her with endless jokes against them both. At the park she
laughed at the colonel, and in the cottage at Marianne. To the former
her raillery was probably, as far as it regarded only himself,
perfectly indifferent; but to the latter it was at first
incomprehensible; and when its object was understood, she hardly knew
whether most to laugh at its absurdity, or censure its impertinence,
for she considered it as an unfeeling reflection on the colonel's
advanced years, and on his forlorn condition as an old bachelor.
Mrs. Dashwood, who could not think a man five years younger than
herself, so exceedingly ancient as he appeared to the youthful fancy of
her daughter, ventured to clear Mrs. Jennings from the probability of
wishing to throw ridicule on his age.
"But at least, Mamma, you cannot deny the absurdity of the accusation,
though you may not think it intentionally ill-natured. Colonel Brandon
is certainly younger than Mrs. Jennings, but he is old enough to be MY
father; and if he were ever animated enough to be in love, must have
long outlived every sensation of the kind. It is too ridiculous! When
is a man to be safe from such wit, if age and infirmity will not
"Infirmity!" said Elinor, "do you call Colonel Brandon infirm? I can
easily suppose that his age may appear much greater to you than to my
mother; but you can hardly deceive yourself as to his having the use of
"Did not you hear him complain of the rheumatism? and is not that the
commonest infirmity of declining life?"
"My dearest child," said her mother, laughing, "at this rate you must
be in continual terror of MY decay; and it must seem to you a miracle
that my life has been extended to the advanced age of forty."
"Mamma, you are not doing me justice. I know very well that Colonel
Brandon is not old enough to make his friends yet apprehensive of
losing him in the course of nature. He may live twenty years longer.
But thirty-five has nothing to do with matrimony."
"Perhaps," said Elinor, "thirty-five and seventeen had better not have
any thing to do with matrimony together. But if there should by any
chance happen to be a woman who is single at seven and twenty, I should
not think Colonel Brandon's being thirty-five any objection to his
"A woman of seven and twenty," said Marianne, after pausing a moment,
"can never hope to feel or inspire affection again, and if her home be
uncomfortable, or her fortune small, I can suppose that she might bring
herself to submit to the offices of a nurse, for the sake of the
provision and security of a wife. In his marrying such a woman
therefore there would be nothing unsuitable. It would be a compact of
convenience, and the world would be satisfied. In my eyes it would be
no marriage at all, but that would be nothing. To me it would seem
only a commercial exchange, in which each wished to be benefited at the
expense of the other."
"It would be impossible, I know," replied Elinor, "to convince you that
a woman of seven and twenty could feel for a man of thirty-five
anything near enough to love, to make him a desirable companion to her.
But I must object to your dooming Colonel Brandon and his wife to the
constant confinement of a sick chamber, merely because he chanced to
complain yesterday (a very cold damp day) of a slight rheumatic feel in
one of his shoulders."
"But he talked of flannel waistcoats," said Marianne; "and with me a
flannel waistcoat is invariably connected with aches, cramps,
rheumatisms, and every species of ailment that can afflict the old and
"Had he been only in a violent fever, you would not have despised him
half so much. Confess, Marianne, is not there something interesting to
you in the flushed cheek, hollow eye, and quick pulse of a fever?"
Soon after this, upon Elinor's leaving the room, "Mamma," said
Marianne, "I have an alarm on the subject of illness which I cannot
conceal from you. I am sure Edward Ferrars is not well. We have now
been here almost a fortnight, and yet he does not come. Nothing but
real indisposition could occasion this extraordinary delay. What else
can detain him at Norland?"
"Had you any idea of his coming so soon?" said Mrs. Dashwood. "I had
none. On the contrary, if I have felt any anxiety at all on the
subject, it has been in recollecting that he sometimes showed a want of
pleasure and readiness in accepting my invitation, when I talked of his
coming to Barton. Does Elinor expect him already?"
"I have never mentioned it to her, but of course she must."
"I rather think you are mistaken, for when I was talking to her
yesterday of getting a new grate for the spare bedchamber, she observed
that there was no immediate hurry for it, as it was not likely that the
room would be wanted for some time."
"How strange this is! what can be the meaning of it! But the whole of
their behaviour to each other has been unaccountable! How cold, how
composed were their last adieus! How languid their conversation the
last evening of their being together! In Edward's farewell there was no
distinction between Elinor and me: it was the good wishes of an
affectionate brother to both. Twice did I leave them purposely
together in the course of the last morning, and each time did he most
unaccountably follow me out of the room. And Elinor, in quitting
Norland and Edward, cried not as I did. Even now her self-command is
invariable. When is she dejected or melancholy? When does she try to
avoid society, or appear restless and dissatisfied in it?"
The Dashwoods were now settled at Barton with tolerable comfort to
themselves. The house and the garden, with all the objects surrounding
them, were now become familiar, and the ordinary pursuits which had
given to Norland half its charms were engaged in again with far greater
enjoyment than Norland had been able to afford, since the loss of their
father. Sir John Middleton, who called on them every day for the first
fortnight, and who was not in the habit of seeing much occupation at
home, could not conceal his amazement on finding them always employed.
Their visitors, except those from Barton Park, were not many; for, in
spite of Sir John's urgent entreaties that they would mix more in the
neighbourhood, and repeated assurances of his carriage being always at
their service, the independence of Mrs. Dashwood's spirit overcame the
wish of society for her children; and she was resolute in declining to
visit any family beyond the distance of a walk. There were but few who
could be so classed; and it was not all of them that were attainable.
About a mile and a half from the cottage, along the narrow winding
valley of Allenham, which issued from that of Barton, as formerly
described, the girls had, in one of their earliest walks, discovered an
ancient respectable looking mansion which, by reminding them a little
of Norland, interested their imagination and made them wish to be
better acquainted with it. But they learnt, on enquiry, that its
possessor, an elderly lady of very good character, was unfortunately
too infirm to mix with the world, and never stirred from home.
The whole country about them abounded in beautiful walks. The high
downs which invited them from almost every window of the cottage to
seek the exquisite enjoyment of air on their summits, were a happy
alternative when the dirt of the valleys beneath shut up their superior
beauties; and towards one of these hills did Marianne and Margaret one
memorable morning direct their steps, attracted by the partial sunshine
of a showery sky, and unable longer to bear the confinement which the
settled rain of the two preceding days had occasioned. The weather was
not tempting enough to draw the two others from their pencil and their
book, in spite of Marianne's declaration that the day would be
lastingly fair, and that every threatening cloud would be drawn off
from their hills; and the two girls set off together.
They gaily ascended the downs, rejoicing in their own penetration at
every glimpse of blue sky; and when they caught in their faces the
animating gales of a high south-westerly wind, they pitied the fears
which had prevented their mother and Elinor from sharing such
"Is there a felicity in the world," said Marianne, "superior to
this?--Margaret, we will walk here at least two hours."
Margaret agreed, and they pursued their way against the wind, resisting
it with laughing delight for about twenty minutes longer, when suddenly
the clouds united over their heads, and a driving rain set full in
their face.-- Chagrined and surprised, they were obliged, though
unwillingly, to turn back, for no shelter was nearer than their own
house. One consolation however remained for them, to which the
exigence of the moment gave more than usual propriety; it was that of
running with all possible speed down the steep side of the hill which
led immediately to their garden gate.
They set off. Marianne had at first the advantage, but a false step
brought her suddenly to the ground; and Margaret, unable to stop
herself to assist her, was involuntarily hurried along, and reached the
bottom in safety.
A gentleman carrying a gun, with two pointers playing round him, was
passing up the hill and within a few yards of Marianne, when her
accident happened. He put down his gun and ran to her assistance. She
had raised herself from the ground, but her foot had been twisted in
her fall, and she was scarcely able to stand. The gentleman offered
his services; and perceiving that her modesty declined what her
situation rendered necessary, took her up in his arms without farther
delay, and carried her down the hill. Then passing through the garden,
the gate of which had been left open by Margaret, he bore her directly
into the house, whither Margaret was just arrived, and quitted not his
hold till he had seated her in a chair in the parlour.
Elinor and her mother rose up in amazement at their entrance, and while
the eyes of both were fixed on him with an evident wonder and a secret
admiration which equally sprung from his appearance, he apologized for
his intrusion by relating its cause, in a manner so frank and so
graceful that his person, which was uncommonly handsome, received
additional charms from his voice and expression. Had he been even old,
ugly, and vulgar, the gratitude and kindness of Mrs. Dashwood would
have been secured by any act of attention to her child; but the
influence of youth, beauty, and elegance, gave an interest to the
action which came home to her feelings.
She thanked him again and again; and, with a sweetness of address which
always attended her, invited him to be seated. But this he declined,
as he was dirty and wet. Mrs. Dashwood then begged to know to whom she
was obliged. His name, he replied, was Willoughby, and his present
home was at Allenham, from whence he hoped she would allow him the
honour of calling tomorrow to enquire after Miss Dashwood. The honour
was readily granted, and he then departed, to make himself still more
interesting, in the midst of a heavy rain.
His manly beauty and more than common gracefulness were instantly the
theme of general admiration, and the laugh which his gallantry raised
against Marianne received particular spirit from his exterior
attractions.-- Marianne herself had seen less of his person that the
rest, for the confusion which crimsoned over her face, on his lifting
her up, had robbed her of the power of regarding him after their
entering the house. But she had seen enough of him to join in all the
admiration of the others, and with an energy which always adorned her
praise. His person and air were equal to what her fancy had ever drawn
for the hero of a favourite story; and in his carrying her into the
house with so little previous formality, there was a rapidity of
thought which particularly recommended the action to her. Every
circumstance belonging to him was interesting. His name was good, his
residence was in their favourite village, and she soon found out that
of all manly dresses a shooting-jacket was the most becoming. Her
imagination was busy, her reflections were pleasant, and the pain of a
sprained ankle was disregarded.
Sir John called on them as soon as the next interval of fair weather
that morning allowed him to get out of doors; and Marianne's accident
being related to him, he was eagerly asked whether he knew any
gentleman of the name of Willoughby at Allenham.
"Willoughby!" cried Sir John; "what, is HE in the country? That is good
news however; I will ride over tomorrow, and ask him to dinner on
"You know him then," said Mrs. Dashwood.
"Know him! to be sure I do. Why, he is down here every year."
"And what sort of a young man is he?"
"As good a kind of fellow as ever lived, I assure you. A very decent
shot, and there is not a bolder rider in England."
"And is that all you can say for him?" cried Marianne, indignantly.
"But what are his manners on more intimate acquaintance? What his
pursuits, his talents, and genius?"
Sir John was rather puzzled.
"Upon my soul," said he, "I do not know much about him as to all THAT.
But he is a pleasant, good humoured fellow, and has got the nicest
little black bitch of a pointer I ever saw. Was she out with him
But Marianne could no more satisfy him as to the colour of Mr.
Willoughby's pointer, than he could describe to her the shades of his
"But who is he?" said Elinor. "Where does he come from? Has he a
house at Allenham?"
On this point Sir John could give more certain intelligence; and he
told them that Mr. Willoughby had no property of his own in the
country; that he resided there only while he was visiting the old lady
at Allenham Court, to whom he was related, and whose possessions he was
to inherit; adding, "Yes, yes, he is very well worth catching I can
tell you, Miss Dashwood; he has a pretty little estate of his own in
Somersetshire besides; and if I were you, I would not give him up to my
younger sister, in spite of all this tumbling down hills. Miss
Marianne must not expect to have all the men to herself. Brandon will
be jealous, if she does not take care."
"I do not believe," said Mrs. Dashwood, with a good humoured smile,
"that Mr. Willoughby will be incommoded by the attempts of either of MY
daughters towards what you call CATCHING him. It is not an employment
to which they have been brought up. Men are very safe with us, let
them be ever so rich. I am glad to find, however, from what you say,
that he is a respectable young man, and one whose acquaintance will not
"He is as good a sort of fellow, I believe, as ever lived," repeated
Sir John. "I remember last Christmas at a little hop at the park, he
danced from eight o'clock till four, without once sitting down."
"Did he indeed?" cried Marianne with sparkling eyes, "and with
elegance, with spirit?"
"Yes; and he was up again at eight to ride to covert."
"That is what I like; that is what a young man ought to be. Whatever
be his pursuits, his eagerness in them should know no moderation, and
leave him no sense of fatigue."
"Aye, aye, I see how it will be," said Sir John, "I see how it will be.
You will be setting your cap at him now, and never think of poor
"That is an expression, Sir John," said Marianne, warmly, "which I
particularly dislike. I abhor every common-place phrase by which wit
is intended; and 'setting one's cap at a man,' or 'making a conquest,'
are the most odious of all. Their tendency is gross and illiberal; and
if their construction could ever be deemed clever, time has long ago
destroyed all its ingenuity."
Sir John did not much understand this reproof; but he laughed as
heartily as if he did, and then replied,
"Ay, you will make conquests enough, I dare say, one way or other.
Poor Brandon! he is quite smitten already, and he is very well worth
setting your cap at, I can tell you, in spite of all this tumbling
about and spraining of ankles."
Marianne's preserver, as Margaret, with more elegance than precision,
styled Willoughby, called at the cottage early the next morning to make
his personal enquiries. He was received by Mrs. Dashwood with more
than politeness; with a kindness which Sir John's account of him and
her own gratitude prompted; and every thing that passed during the
visit tended to assure him of the sense, elegance, mutual affection,
and domestic comfort of the family to whom accident had now introduced
him. Of their personal charms he had not required a second interview
to be convinced.
Miss Dashwood had a delicate complexion, regular features, and a
remarkably pretty figure. Marianne was still handsomer. Her form,
though not so correct as her sister's, in having the advantage of
height, was more striking; and her face was so lovely, that when in the
common cant of praise, she was called a beautiful girl, truth was less
violently outraged than usually happens. Her skin was very brown, but,
from its transparency, her complexion was uncommonly brilliant; her
features were all good; her smile was sweet and attractive; and in her
eyes, which were very dark, there was a life, a spirit, an eagerness,
which could hardily be seen without delight. From Willoughby their
expression was at first held back, by the embarrassment which the
remembrance of his assistance created. But when this passed away, when
her spirits became collected, when she saw that to the perfect
good-breeding of the gentleman, he united frankness and vivacity, and
above all, when she heard him declare, that of music and dancing he was
passionately fond, she gave him such a look of approbation as secured
the largest share of his discourse to herself for the rest of his stay.
It was only necessary to mention any favourite amusement to engage her
to talk. She could not be silent when such points were introduced, and
she had neither shyness nor reserve in their discussion. They speedily
discovered that their enjoyment of dancing and music was mutual, and
that it arose from a general conformity of judgment in all that related
to either. Encouraged by this to a further examination of his
opinions, she proceeded to question him on the subject of books; her
favourite authors were brought forward and dwelt upon with so rapturous
a delight, that any young man of five and twenty must have been
insensible indeed, not to become an immediate convert to the excellence
of such works, however disregarded before. Their taste was strikingly
alike. The same books, the same passages were idolized by each--or if
any difference appeared, any objection arose, it lasted no longer than
till the force of her arguments and the brightness of her eyes could be
displayed. He acquiesced in all her decisions, caught all her
enthusiasm; and long before his visit concluded, they conversed with
the familiarity of a long-established acquaintance.
"Well, Marianne," said Elinor, as soon as he had left them, "for ONE
morning I think you have done pretty well. You have already
ascertained Mr. Willoughby's opinion in almost every matter of
importance. You know what he thinks of Cowper and Scott; you are
certain of his estimating their beauties as he ought, and you have
received every assurance of his admiring Pope no more than is proper.
But how is your acquaintance to be long supported, under such
extraordinary despatch of every subject for discourse? You will soon
have exhausted each favourite topic. Another meeting will suffice to
explain his sentiments on picturesque beauty, and second marriages, and
then you can have nothing farther to ask."--
"Elinor," cried Marianne, "is this fair? is this just? are my ideas so
scanty? But I see what you mean. I have been too much at my ease, too
happy, too frank. I have erred against every common-place notion of
decorum; I have been open and sincere where I ought to have been
reserved, spiritless, dull, and deceitful--had I talked only of the
weather and the roads, and had I spoken only once in ten minutes, this
reproach would have been spared."
"My love," said her mother, "you must not be offended with Elinor--she
was only in jest. I should scold her myself, if she were capable of
wishing to check the delight of your conversation with our new
friend."-- Marianne was softened in a moment.
Willoughby, on his side, gave every proof of his pleasure in their
acquaintance, which an evident wish of improving it could offer. He
came to them every day. To enquire after Marianne was at first his
excuse; but the encouragement of his reception, to which every day gave
greater kindness, made such an excuse unnecessary before it had ceased
to be possible, by Marianne's perfect recovery. She was confined for
some days to the house; but never had any confinement been less
irksome. Willoughby was a young man of good abilities, quick
imagination, lively spirits, and open, affectionate manners. He was
exactly formed to engage Marianne's heart, for with all this, he joined
not only a captivating person, but a natural ardour of mind which was
now roused and increased by the example of her own, and which
recommended him to her affection beyond every thing else.
His society became gradually her most exquisite enjoyment. They read,
they talked, they sang together; his musical talents were considerable;
and he read with all the sensibility and spirit which Edward had
In Mrs. Dashwood's estimation he was as faultless as in Marianne's; and
Elinor saw nothing to censure in him but a propensity, in which he
strongly resembled and peculiarly delighted her sister, of saying too
much what he thought on every occasion, without attention to persons or
circumstances. In hastily forming and giving his opinion of other
people, in sacrificing general politeness to the enjoyment of undivided
attention where his heart was engaged, and in slighting too easily the
forms of worldly propriety, he displayed a want of caution which Elinor
could not approve, in spite of all that he and Marianne could say in
Marianne began now to perceive that the desperation which had seized
her at sixteen and a half, of ever seeing a man who could satisfy her
ideas of perfection, had been rash and unjustifiable. Willoughby was
all that her fancy had delineated in that unhappy hour and in every
brighter period, as capable of attaching her; and his behaviour
declared his wishes to be in that respect as earnest, as his abilities
Her mother too, in whose mind not one speculative thought of their
marriage had been raised, by his prospect of riches, was led before the
end of a week to hope and expect it; and secretly to congratulate
herself on having gained two such sons-in-law as Edward and Willoughby.
Colonel Brandon's partiality for Marianne, which had so early been
discovered by his friends, now first became perceptible to Elinor, when
it ceased to be noticed by them. Their attention and wit were drawn
off to his more fortunate rival; and the raillery which the other had
incurred before any partiality arose, was removed when his feelings
began really to call for the ridicule so justly annexed to sensibility.
Elinor was obliged, though unwillingly, to believe that the sentiments
which Mrs. Jennings had assigned him for her own satisfaction, were now
actually excited by her sister; and that however a general resemblance
of disposition between the parties might forward the affection of Mr.
Willoughby, an equally striking opposition of character was no
hindrance to the regard of Colonel Brandon. She saw it with concern;
for what could a silent man of five and thirty hope, when opposed to a
very lively one of five and twenty? and as she could not even wish him
successful, she heartily wished him indifferent. She liked him--in
spite of his gravity and reserve, she beheld in him an object of
interest. His manners, though serious, were mild; and his reserve
appeared rather the result of some oppression of spirits than of any
natural gloominess of temper. Sir John had dropped hints of past
injuries and disappointments, which justified her belief of his being
an unfortunate man, and she regarded him with respect and compassion.
Perhaps she pitied and esteemed him the more because he was slighted by
Willoughby and Marianne, who, prejudiced against him for being neither
lively nor young, seemed resolved to undervalue his merits.
"Brandon is just the kind of man," said Willoughby one day, when they
were talking of him together, "whom every body speaks well of, and
nobody cares about; whom all are delighted to see, and nobody remembers
to talk to."
"That is exactly what I think of him," cried Marianne.
"Do not boast of it, however," said Elinor, "for it is injustice in
both of you. He is highly esteemed by all the family at the park, and
I never see him myself without taking pains to converse with him."
"That he is patronised by YOU," replied Willoughby, "is certainly in
his favour; but as for the esteem of the others, it is a reproach in
itself. Who would submit to the indignity of being approved by such a
woman as Lady Middleton and Mrs. Jennings, that could command the
indifference of any body else?"
"But perhaps the abuse of such people as yourself and Marianne will
make amends for the regard of Lady Middleton and her mother. If their
praise is censure, your censure may be praise, for they are not more
undiscerning, than you are prejudiced and unjust."
"In defence of your protege you can even be saucy."
"My protege, as you call him, is a sensible man; and sense will always
have attractions for me. Yes, Marianne, even in a man between thirty
and forty. He has seen a great deal of the world; has been abroad, has
read, and has a thinking mind. I have found him capable of giving me
much information on various subjects; and he has always answered my
inquiries with readiness of good-breeding and good nature."
"That is to say," cried Marianne contemptuously, "he has told you, that
in the East Indies the climate is hot, and the mosquitoes are
"He WOULD have told me so, I doubt not, had I made any such inquiries,
but they happened to be points on which I had been previously informed."
"Perhaps," said Willoughby, "his observations may have extended to the
existence of nabobs, gold mohrs, and palanquins."
"I may venture to say that HIS observations have stretched much further
than your candour. But why should you dislike him?"
"I do not dislike him. I consider him, on the contrary, as a very
respectable man, who has every body's good word, and nobody's notice;
who, has more money than he can spend, more time than he knows how to
employ, and two new coats every year."
"Add to which," cried Marianne, "that he has neither genius, taste, nor
spirit. That his understanding has no brilliancy, his feelings no
ardour, and his voice no expression."
"You decide on his imperfections so much in the mass," replied Elinor,
"and so much on the strength of your own imagination, that the
commendation I am able to give of him is comparatively cold and
insipid. I can only pronounce him to be a sensible man, well-bred,
well-informed, of gentle address, and, I believe, possessing an amiable
"Miss Dashwood," cried Willoughby, "you are now using me unkindly. You
are endeavouring to disarm me by reason, and to convince me against my
will. But it will not do. You shall find me as stubborn as you can be
artful. I have three unanswerable reasons for disliking Colonel
Brandon; he threatened me with rain when I wanted it to be fine; he has
found fault with the hanging of my curricle, and I cannot persuade him
to buy my brown mare. If it will be any satisfaction to you, however,
to be told, that I believe his character to be in other respects
irreproachable, I am ready to confess it. And in return for an
acknowledgment, which must give me some pain, you cannot deny me the
privilege of disliking him as much as ever."
Little had Mrs. Dashwood or her daughters imagined when they first came
into Devonshire, that so many engagements would arise to occupy their
time as shortly presented themselves, or that they should have such
frequent invitations and such constant visitors as to leave them little
leisure for serious employment. Yet such was the case. When Marianne
was recovered, the schemes of amusement at home and abroad, which Sir
John had been previously forming, were put into execution. The private
balls at the park then began; and parties on the water were made and
accomplished as often as a showery October would allow. In every
meeting of the kind Willoughby was included; and the ease and
familiarity which naturally attended these parties were exactly
calculated to give increasing intimacy to his acquaintance with the
Dashwoods, to afford him opportunity of witnessing the excellencies of
Marianne, of marking his animated admiration of her, and of receiving,
in her behaviour to himself, the most pointed assurance of her
Elinor could not be surprised at their attachment. She only wished
that it were less openly shewn; and once or twice did venture to
suggest the propriety of some self-command to Marianne. But Marianne
abhorred all concealment where no real disgrace could attend unreserve;
and to aim at the restraint of sentiments which were not in themselves
illaudable, appeared to her not merely an unnecessary effort, but a
disgraceful subjection of reason to common-place and mistaken notions.
Willoughby thought the same; and their behaviour at all times, was an
illustration of their opinions.
When he was present she had no eyes for any one else. Every thing he
did, was right. Every thing he said, was clever. If their evenings at
the park were concluded with cards, he cheated himself and all the rest
of the party to get her a good hand. If dancing formed the amusement
of the night, they were partners for half the time; and when obliged to
separate for a couple of dances, were careful to stand together and
scarcely spoke a word to any body else. Such conduct made them of
course most exceedingly laughed at; but ridicule could not shame, and
seemed hardly to provoke them.
Mrs. Dashwood entered into all their feelings with a warmth which left
her no inclination for checking this excessive display of them. To her
it was but the natural consequence of a strong affection in a young and
This was the season of happiness to Marianne. Her heart was devoted to
Willoughby, and the fond attachment to Norland, which she brought with
her from Sussex, was more likely to be softened than she had thought it
possible before, by the charms which his society bestowed on her
Elinor's happiness was not so great. Her heart was not so much at
ease, nor her satisfaction in their amusements so pure. They afforded
her no companion that could make amends for what she had left behind,
nor that could teach her to think of Norland with less regret than
ever. Neither Lady Middleton nor Mrs. Jennings could supply to her the
conversation she missed; although the latter was an everlasting talker,
and from the first had regarded her with a kindness which ensured her a
large share of her discourse. She had already repeated her own history
to Elinor three or four times; and had Elinor's memory been equal to
her means of improvement, she might have known very early in their
acquaintance all the particulars of Mr. Jenning's last illness, and
what he said to his wife a few minutes before he died. Lady Middleton
was more agreeable than her mother only in being more silent. Elinor
needed little observation to perceive that her reserve was a mere
calmness of manner with which sense had nothing to do. Towards her
husband and mother she was the same as to them; and intimacy was
therefore neither to be looked for nor desired. She had nothing to say
one day that she had not said the day before. Her insipidity was
invariable, for even her spirits were always the same; and though she
did not oppose the parties arranged by her husband, provided every
thing were conducted in style and her two eldest children attended her,
she never appeared to receive more enjoyment from them than she might
have experienced in sitting at home;--and so little did her presence
add to the pleasure of the others, by any share in their conversation,
that they were sometimes only reminded of her being amongst them by her
solicitude about her troublesome boys.
In Colonel Brandon alone, of all her new acquaintance, did Elinor find
a person who could in any degree claim the respect of abilities, excite
the interest of friendship, or give pleasure as a companion.
Willoughby was out of the question. Her admiration and regard, even
her sisterly regard, was all his own; but he was a lover; his
attentions were wholly Marianne's, and a far less agreeable man might
have been more generally pleasing. Colonel Brandon, unfortunately for
himself, had no such encouragement to think only of Marianne, and in
conversing with Elinor he found the greatest consolation for the
indifference of her sister.
Elinor's compassion for him increased, as she had reason to suspect
that the misery of disappointed love had already been known to him.
This suspicion was given by some words which accidently dropped from
him one evening at the park, when they were sitting down together by
mutual consent, while the others were dancing. His eyes were fixed on
Marianne, and, after a silence of some minutes, he said, with a faint
smile, "Your sister, I understand, does not approve of second
"No," replied Elinor, "her opinions are all romantic."
"Or rather, as I believe, she considers them impossible to exist."
"I believe she does. But how she contrives it without reflecting on
the character of her own father, who had himself two wives, I know not.
A few years however will settle her opinions on the reasonable basis of
common sense and observation; and then they may be more easy to define
and to justify than they now are, by any body but herself."
"This will probably be the case," he replied; "and yet there is
something so amiable in the prejudices of a young mind, that one is
sorry to see them give way to the reception of more general opinions."
"I cannot agree with you there," said Elinor. "There are
inconveniences attending such feelings as Marianne's, which all the
charms of enthusiasm and ignorance of the world cannot atone for. Her
systems have all the unfortunate tendency of setting propriety at
nought; and a better acquaintance with the world is what I look forward
to as her greatest possible advantage."
After a short pause he resumed the conversation by saying,--
"Does your sister make no distinction in her objections against a
second attachment? or is it equally criminal in every body? Are those
who have been disappointed in their first choice, whether from the
inconstancy of its object, or the perverseness of circumstances, to be
equally indifferent during the rest of their lives?"
"Upon my word, I am not acquainted with the minutiae of her principles.
I only know that I never yet heard her admit any instance of a second
attachment's being pardonable."
"This," said he, "cannot hold; but a change, a total change of
sentiments--No, no, do not desire it; for when the romantic refinements
of a young mind are obliged to give way, how frequently are they
succeeded by such opinions as are but too common, and too dangerous! I
speak from experience. I once knew a lady who in temper and mind
greatly resembled your sister, who thought and judged like her, but who
from an inforced change--from a series of unfortunate circumstances"--
Here he stopt suddenly; appeared to think that he had said too much,
and by his countenance gave rise to conjectures, which might not
otherwise have entered Elinor's head. The lady would probably have
passed without suspicion, had he not convinced Miss Dashwood that what
concerned her ought not to escape his lips. As it was, it required but
a slight effort of fancy to connect his emotion with the tender
recollection of past regard. Elinor attempted no more. But Marianne,
in her place, would not have done so little. The whole story would
have been speedily formed under her active imagination; and every thing
established in the most melancholy order of disastrous love.
As Elinor and Marianne were walking together the next morning the
latter communicated a piece of news to her sister, which in spite of
all that she knew before of Marianne's imprudence and want of thought,
surprised her by its extravagant testimony of both. Marianne told her,
with the greatest delight, that Willoughby had given her a horse, one
that he had bred himself on his estate in Somersetshire, and which was
exactly calculated to carry a woman. Without considering that it was
not in her mother's plan to keep any horse, that if she were to alter
her resolution in favour of this gift, she must buy another for the
servant, and keep a servant to ride it, and after all, build a stable
to receive them, she had accepted the present without hesitation, and
told her sister of it in raptures.
"He intends to send his groom into Somersetshire immediately for it,"
she added, "and when it arrives we will ride every day. You shall
share its use with me. Imagine to yourself, my dear Elinor, the
delight of a gallop on some of these downs."
Most unwilling was she to awaken from such a dream of felicity to
comprehend all the unhappy truths which attended the affair; and for
some time she refused to submit to them. As to an additional servant,
the expense would be a trifle; Mamma she was sure would never object to
it; and any horse would do for HIM; he might always get one at the
park; as to a stable, the merest shed would be sufficient. Elinor then
ventured to doubt the propriety of her receiving such a present from a
man so little, or at least so lately known to her. This was too much.
"You are mistaken, Elinor," said she warmly, "in supposing I know very
little of Willoughby. I have not known him long indeed, but I am much
better acquainted with him, than I am with any other creature in the
world, except yourself and mama. It is not time or opportunity that is
to determine intimacy;--it is disposition alone. Seven years would be
insufficient to make some people acquainted with each other, and seven
days are more than enough for others. I should hold myself guilty of
greater impropriety in accepting a horse from my brother, than from
Willoughby. Of John I know very little, though we have lived together
for years; but of Willoughby my judgment has long been formed."
Elinor thought it wisest to touch that point no more. She knew her
sister's temper. Opposition on so tender a subject would only attach
her the more to her own opinion. But by an appeal to her affection for
her mother, by representing the inconveniences which that indulgent
mother must draw on herself, if (as would probably be the case) she
consented to this increase of establishment, Marianne was shortly
subdued; and she promised not to tempt her mother to such imprudent
kindness by mentioning the offer, and to tell Willoughby when she saw
him next, that it must be declined.
She was faithful to her word; and when Willoughby called at the
cottage, the same day, Elinor heard her express her disappointment to
him in a low voice, on being obliged to forego the acceptance of his
present. The reasons for this alteration were at the same time
related, and they were such as to make further entreaty on his side
impossible. His concern however was very apparent; and after
expressing it with earnestness, he added, in the same low voice,--"But,
Marianne, the horse is still yours, though you cannot use it now. I
shall keep it only till you can claim it. When you leave Barton to
form your own establishment in a more lasting home, Queen Mab shall
This was all overheard by Miss Dashwood; and in the whole of the
sentence, in his manner of pronouncing it, and in his addressing her
sister by her Christian name alone, she instantly saw an intimacy so
decided, a meaning so direct, as marked a perfect agreement between
them. From that moment she doubted not of their being engaged to each
other; and the belief of it created no other surprise than that she, or
any of their friends, should be left by tempers so frank, to discover
it by accident.
Margaret related something to her the next day, which placed this
matter in a still clearer light. Willoughby had spent the preceding
evening with them, and Margaret, by being left some time in the parlour
with only him and Marianne, had had opportunity for observations,
which, with a most important face, she communicated to her eldest
sister, when they were next by themselves.
"Oh, Elinor!" she cried, "I have such a secret to tell you about
Marianne. I am sure she will be married to Mr. Willoughby very soon."
"You have said so," replied Elinor, "almost every day since they first
met on High-church Down; and they had not known each other a week, I
believe, before you were certain that Marianne wore his picture round
her neck; but it turned out to be only the miniature of our great
"But indeed this is quite another thing. I am sure they will be
married very soon, for he has got a lock of her hair."
"Take care, Margaret. It may be only the hair of some great uncle of
"But, indeed, Elinor, it is Marianne's. I am almost sure it is, for I
saw him cut it off. Last night after tea, when you and mama went out
of the room, they were whispering and talking together as fast as could
be, and he seemed to be begging something of her, and presently he took
up her scissors and cut off a long lock of her hair, for it was all
tumbled down her back; and he kissed it, and folded it up in a piece of
white paper; and put it into his pocket-book."
For such particulars, stated on such authority, Elinor could not
withhold her credit; nor was she disposed to it, for the circumstance
was in perfect unison with what she had heard and seen herself.
Margaret's sagacity was not always displayed in a way so satisfactory
to her sister. When Mrs. Jennings attacked her one evening at the
park, to give the name of the young man who was Elinor's particular
favourite, which had been long a matter of great curiosity to her,
Margaret answered by looking at her sister, and saying, "I must not
tell, may I, Elinor?"
This of course made every body laugh; and Elinor tried to laugh too.
But the effort was painful. She was convinced that Margaret had fixed
on a person whose name she could not bear with composure to become a
standing joke with Mrs. Jennings.
Marianne felt for her most sincerely; but she did more harm than good
to the cause, by turning very red and saying in an angry manner to
"Remember that whatever your conjectures may be, you have no right to
"I never had any conjectures about it," replied Margaret; "it was you
who told me of it yourself."
This increased the mirth of the company, and Margaret was eagerly
pressed to say something more.
"Oh! pray, Miss Margaret, let us know all about it," said Mrs.
Jennings. "What is the gentleman's name?"
"I must not tell, ma'am. But I know very well what it is; and I know
where he is too."
"Yes, yes, we can guess where he is; at his own house at Norland to be
sure. He is the curate of the parish I dare say."
"No, THAT he is not. He is of no profession at all."
"Margaret," said Marianne with great warmth, "you know that all this is
an invention of your own, and that there is no such person in
"Well, then, he is lately dead, Marianne, for I am sure there was such
a man once, and his name begins with an F."
Most grateful did Elinor feel to Lady Middleton for observing, at this
moment, "that it rained very hard," though she believed the
interruption to proceed less from any attention to her, than from her
ladyship's great dislike of all such inelegant subjects of raillery as
delighted her husband and mother. The idea however started by her, was
immediately pursued by Colonel Brandon, who was on every occasion
mindful of the feelings of others; and much was said on the subject of
rain by both of them. Willoughby opened the piano-forte, and asked
Marianne to sit down to it; and thus amidst the various endeavours of
different people to quit the topic, it fell to the ground. But not so
easily did Elinor recover from the alarm into which it had thrown her.
A party was formed this evening for going on the following day to see a
very fine place about twelve miles from Barton, belonging to a
brother-in-law of Colonel Brandon, without whose interest it could not
be seen, as the proprietor, who was then abroad, had left strict orders
on that head. The grounds were declared to be highly beautiful, and
Sir John, who was particularly warm in their praise, might be allowed
to be a tolerable judge, for he had formed parties to visit them, at
least, twice every summer for the last ten years. They contained a
noble piece of water; a sail on which was to a form a great part of the
morning's amusement; cold provisions were to be taken, open carriages
only to be employed, and every thing conducted in the usual style of a
complete party of pleasure.
To some few of the company it appeared rather a bold undertaking,
considering the time of year, and that it had rained every day for the
last fortnight;--and Mrs. Dashwood, who had already a cold, was
persuaded by Elinor to stay at home.
Their intended excursion to Whitwell turned out very different from
what Elinor had expected. She was prepared to be wet through,
fatigued, and frightened; but the event was still more unfortunate, for
they did not go at all.
By ten o'clock the whole party was assembled at the park, where they
were to breakfast. The morning was rather favourable, though it had
rained all night, as the clouds were then dispersing across the sky,
and the sun frequently appeared. They were all in high spirits and
good humour, eager to be happy, and determined to submit to the
greatest inconveniences and hardships rather than be otherwise.
While they were at breakfast the letters were brought in. Among the
rest there was one for Colonel Brandon;--he took it, looked at the
direction, changed colour, and immediately left the room.
"What is the matter with Brandon?" said Sir John.
Nobody could tell.
"I hope he has had no bad news," said Lady Middleton. "It must be
something extraordinary that could make Colonel Brandon leave my
breakfast table so suddenly."
In about five minutes he returned.
"No bad news, Colonel, I hope;" said Mrs. Jennings, as soon as he
entered the room.
"None at all, ma'am, I thank you."
"Was it from Avignon? I hope it is not to say that your sister is
"No, ma'am. It came from town, and is merely a letter of business."
"But how came the hand to discompose you so much, if it was only a
letter of business? Come, come, this won't do, Colonel; so let us hear
the truth of it."
"My dear madam," said Lady Middleton, "recollect what you are saying."
"Perhaps it is to tell you that your cousin Fanny is married?" said
Mrs. Jennings, without attending to her daughter's reproof.
"No, indeed, it is not."
"Well, then, I know who it is from, Colonel. And I hope she is well."
"Whom do you mean, ma'am?" said he, colouring a little.
"Oh! you know who I mean."
"I am particularly sorry, ma'am," said he, addressing Lady Middleton,
"that I should receive this letter today, for it is on business which
requires my immediate attendance in town."
"In town!" cried Mrs. Jennings. "What can you have to do in town at
this time of year?"
"My own loss is great," he continued, "in being obliged to leave so
agreeable a party; but I am the more concerned, as I fear my presence
is necessary to gain your admittance at Whitwell."
What a blow upon them all was this!
"But if you write a note to the housekeeper, Mr. Brandon," said
Marianne, eagerly, "will it not be sufficient?"
He shook his head.
"We must go," said Sir John.--"It shall not be put off when we are so
near it. You cannot go to town till tomorrow, Brandon, that is all."
"I wish it could be so easily settled. But it is not in my power to
delay my journey for one day!"
"If you would but let us know what your business is," said Mrs.
Jennings, "we might see whether it could be put off or not."
"You would not be six hours later," said Willoughby, "if you were to
defer your journey till our return."
"I cannot afford to lose ONE hour."--
Elinor then heard Willoughby say, in a low voice to Marianne, "There
are some people who cannot bear a party of pleasure. Brandon is one of
them. He was afraid of catching cold I dare say, and invented this
trick for getting out of it. I would lay fifty guineas the letter was
of his own writing."
"I have no doubt of it," replied Marianne.
"There is no persuading you to change your mind, Brandon, I know of
old," said Sir John, "when once you are determined on anything. But,
however, I hope you will think better of it. Consider, here are the
two Miss Careys come over from Newton, the three Miss Dashwoods walked
up from the cottage, and Mr. Willoughby got up two hours before his
usual time, on purpose to go to Whitwell."
Colonel Brandon again repeated his sorrow at being the cause of
disappointing the party; but at the same time declared it to be
"Well, then, when will you come back again?"
"I hope we shall see you at Barton," added her ladyship, "as soon as
you can conveniently leave town; and we must put off the party to
Whitwell till you return."
"You are very obliging. But it is so uncertain, when I may have it in
my power to return, that I dare not engage for it at all."
"Oh! he must and shall come back," cried Sir John. "If he is not here
by the end of the week, I shall go after him."
"Ay, so do, Sir John," cried Mrs. Jennings, "and then perhaps you may
find out what his business is."
"I do not want to pry into other men's concerns. I suppose it is
something he is ashamed of."
Colonel Brandon's horses were announced.
"You do not go to town on horseback, do you?" added Sir John.
"No. Only to Honiton. I shall then go post."
"Well, as you are resolved to go, I wish you a good journey. But you
had better change your mind."
"I assure you it is not in my power."
He then took leave of the whole party.
"Is there no chance of my seeing you and your sisters in town this
winter, Miss Dashwood?"
"I am afraid, none at all."
"Then I must bid you farewell for a longer time than I should wish to
To Marianne, he merely bowed and said nothing.
"Come Colonel," said Mrs. Jennings, "before you go, do let us know what
you are going about."
He wished her a good morning, and, attended by Sir John, left the room.
The complaints and lamentations which politeness had hitherto
restrained, now burst forth universally; and they all agreed again and
again how provoking it was to be so disappointed.
"I can guess what his business is, however," said Mrs. Jennings
"Can you, ma'am?" said almost every body.
"Yes; it is about Miss Williams, I am sure."
"And who is Miss Williams?" asked Marianne.
"What! do not you know who Miss Williams is? I am sure you must have
heard of her before. She is a relation of the Colonel's, my dear; a
very near relation. We will not say how near, for fear of shocking the
young ladies." Then, lowering her voice a little, she said to Elinor,
"She is his natural daughter."
"Oh, yes; and as like him as she can stare. I dare say the Colonel
will leave her all his fortune."
When Sir John returned, he joined most heartily in the general regret
on so unfortunate an event; concluding however by observing, that as
they were all got together, they must do something by way of being
happy; and after some consultation it was agreed, that although
happiness could only be enjoyed at Whitwell, they might procure a
tolerable composure of mind by driving about the country. The
carriages were then ordered; Willoughby's was first, and Marianne never
looked happier than when she got into it. He drove through the park
very fast, and they were soon out of sight; and nothing more of them
was seen till their return, which did not happen till after the return
of all the rest. They both seemed delighted with their drive; but said
only in general terms that they had kept in the lanes, while the others
went on the downs.
It was settled that there should be a dance in the evening, and that
every body should be extremely merry all day long. Some more of the
Careys came to dinner, and they had the pleasure of sitting down nearly
twenty to table, which Sir John observed with great contentment.
Willoughby took his usual place between the two elder Miss Dashwoods.
Mrs. Jennings sat on Elinor's right hand; and they had not been long
seated, before she leant behind her and Willoughby, and said to
Marianne, loud enough for them both to hear, "I have found you out in
spite of all your tricks. I know where you spent the morning."
Marianne coloured, and replied very hastily, "Where, pray?"--
"Did not you know," said Willoughby, "that we had been out in my
"Yes, yes, Mr. Impudence, I know that very well, and I was determined
to find out WHERE you had been to.-- I hope you like your house, Miss
Marianne. It is a very large one, I know; and when I come to see you,
I hope you will have new-furnished it, for it wanted it very much when
I was there six years ago."
Marianne turned away in great confusion. Mrs. Jennings laughed
heartily; and Elinor found that in her resolution to know where they
had been, she had actually made her own woman enquire of Mr.
Willoughby's groom; and that she had by that method been informed that
they had gone to Allenham, and spent a considerable time there in
walking about the garden and going all over the house.
Elinor could hardly believe this to be true, as it seemed very unlikely
that Willoughby should propose, or Marianne consent, to enter the house
while Mrs. Smith was in it, with whom Marianne had not the smallest
As soon as they left the dining-room, Elinor enquired of her about it;
and great was her surprise when she found that every circumstance
related by Mrs. Jennings was perfectly true. Marianne was quite angry
with her for doubting it.
"Why should you imagine, Elinor, that we did not go there, or that we
did not see the house? Is not it what you have often wished to do
"Yes, Marianne, but I would not go while Mrs. Smith was there, and with
no other companion than Mr. Willoughby."
"Mr. Willoughby however is the only person who can have a right to shew
that house; and as he went in an open carriage, it was impossible to
have any other companion. I never spent a pleasanter morning in my
"I am afraid," replied Elinor, "that the pleasantness of an employment
does not always evince its propriety."
"On the contrary, nothing can be a stronger proof of it, Elinor; for if
there had been any real impropriety in what I did, I should have been
sensible of it at the time, for we always know when we are acting
wrong, and with such a conviction I could have had no pleasure."
"But, my dear Marianne, as it has already exposed you to some very
impertinent remarks, do you not now begin to doubt the discretion of
your own conduct?"
"If the impertinent remarks of Mrs. Jennings are to be the proof of
impropriety in conduct, we are all offending every moment of our lives.
I value not her censure any more than I should do her commendation. I
am not sensible of having done anything wrong in walking over Mrs.
Smith's grounds, or in seeing her house. They will one day be Mr.
"If they were one day to be your own, Marianne, you would not be
justified in what you have done."
She blushed at this hint; but it was even visibly gratifying to her;
and after a ten minutes' interval of earnest thought, she came to her
sister again, and said with great good humour, "Perhaps, Elinor, it WAS
rather ill-judged in me to go to Allenham; but Mr. Willoughby wanted
particularly to shew me the place; and it is a charming house, I assure
you.--There is one remarkably pretty sitting room up stairs; of a nice
comfortable size for constant use, and with modern furniture it would
be delightful. It is a corner room, and has windows on two sides. On
one side you look across the bowling-green, behind the house, to a
beautiful hanging wood, and on the other you have a view of the church
and village, and, beyond them, of those fine bold hills that we have so
often admired. I did not see it to advantage, for nothing could be
more forlorn than the furniture,--but if it were newly fitted up--a
couple of hundred pounds, Willoughby says, would make it one of the
pleasantest summer-rooms in England."
Could Elinor have listened to her without interruption from the others,
she would have described every room in the house with equal delight.
The sudden termination of Colonel Brandon's visit at the park, with his
steadiness in concealing its cause, filled the mind, and raised the
wonder of Mrs. Jennings for two or three days; she was a great
wonderer, as every one must be who takes a very lively interest in all
the comings and goings of all their acquaintance. She wondered, with
little intermission what could be the reason of it; was sure there must
be some bad news, and thought over every kind of distress that could
have befallen him, with a fixed determination that he should not escape
"Something very melancholy must be the matter, I am sure," said she.
"I could see it in his face. Poor man! I am afraid his circumstances
may be bad. The estate at Delaford was never reckoned more than two
thousand a year, and his brother left everything sadly involved. I do
think he must have been sent for about money matters, for what else can
it be? I wonder whether it is so. I would give anything to know the
truth of it. Perhaps it is about Miss Williams and, by the bye, I dare
say it is, because he looked so conscious when I mentioned her. May be
she is ill in town; nothing in the world more likely, for I have a
notion she is always rather sickly. I would lay any wager it is about
Miss Williams. It is not so very likely he should be distressed in his
circumstances NOW, for he is a very prudent man, and to be sure must
have cleared the estate by this time. I wonder what it can be! May be
his sister is worse at Avignon, and has sent for him over. His setting
off in such a hurry seems very like it. Well, I wish him out of all
his trouble with all my heart, and a good wife into the bargain."
So wondered, so talked Mrs. Jennings. Her opinion varying with every
fresh conjecture, and all seeming equally probable as they arose.
Elinor, though she felt really interested in the welfare of Colonel
Brandon, could not bestow all the wonder on his going so suddenly away,
which Mrs. Jennings was desirous of her feeling; for besides that the
circumstance did not in her opinion justify such lasting amazement or
variety of speculation, her wonder was otherwise disposed of. It was
engrossed by the extraordinary silence of her sister and Willoughby on
the subject, which they must know to be peculiarly interesting to them
all. As this silence continued, every day made it appear more strange
and more incompatible with the disposition of both. Why they should
not openly acknowledge to her mother and herself, what their constant
behaviour to each other declared to have taken place, Elinor could not
She could easily conceive that marriage might not be immediately in
their power; for though Willoughby was independent, there was no reason
to believe him rich. His estate had been rated by Sir John at about
six or seven hundred a year; but he lived at an expense to which that
income could hardly be equal, and he had himself often complained of
his poverty. But for this strange kind of secrecy maintained by them
relative to their engagement, which in fact concealed nothing at all,
she could not account; and it was so wholly contradictory to their
general opinions and practice, that a doubt sometimes entered her mind
of their being really engaged, and this doubt was enough to prevent her
making any inquiry of Marianne.
Nothing could be more expressive of attachment to them all, than
Willoughby's behaviour. To Marianne it had all the distinguishing
tenderness which a lover's heart could give, and to the rest of the
family it was the affectionate attention of a son and a brother. The
cottage seemed to be considered and loved by him as his home; many more
of his hours were spent there than at Allenham; and if no general
engagement collected them at the park, the exercise which called him
out in the morning was almost certain of ending there, where the rest
of the day was spent by himself at the side of Marianne, and by his
favourite pointer at her feet.
One evening in particular, about a week after Colonel Brandon left the
country, his heart seemed more than usually open to every feeling of
attachment to the objects around him; and on Mrs. Dashwood's happening
to mention her design of improving the cottage in the spring, he warmly
opposed every alteration of a place which affection had established as
perfect with him.
"What!" he exclaimed--"Improve this dear cottage! No. THAT I will
never consent to. Not a stone must be added to its walls, not an inch
to its size, if my feelings are regarded."
"Do not be alarmed," said Miss Dashwood, "nothing of the kind will be
done; for my mother will never have money enough to attempt it."
"I am heartily glad of it," he cried. "May she always be poor, if she
can employ her riches no better."
"Thank you, Willoughby. But you may be assured that I would not
sacrifice one sentiment of local attachment of yours, or of any one
whom I loved, for all the improvements in the world. Depend upon it
that whatever unemployed sum may remain, when I make up my accounts in
the spring, I would even rather lay it uselessly by than dispose of it
in a manner so painful to you. But are you really so attached to this
place as to see no defect in it?"
"I am," said he. "To me it is faultless. Nay, more, I consider it as
the only form of building in which happiness is attainable, and were I
rich enough I would instantly pull Combe down, and build it up again in
the exact plan of this cottage."
"With dark narrow stairs and a kitchen that smokes, I suppose," said
"Yes," cried he in the same eager tone, "with all and every thing
belonging to it;--in no one convenience or INconvenience about it,
should the least variation be perceptible. Then, and then only, under
such a roof, I might perhaps be as happy at Combe as I have been at
"I flatter myself," replied Elinor, "that even under the disadvantage
of better rooms and a broader staircase, you will hereafter find your
own house as faultless as you now do this."
"There certainly are circumstances," said Willoughby, "which might
greatly endear it to me; but this place will always have one claim of
my affection, which no other can possibly share."
Mrs. Dashwood looked with pleasure at Marianne, whose fine eyes were
fixed so expressively on Willoughby, as plainly denoted how well she
"How often did I wish," added he, "when I was at Allenham this time
twelvemonth, that Barton cottage were inhabited! I never passed within
view of it without admiring its situation, and grieving that no one
should live in it. How little did I then think that the very first
news I should hear from Mrs. Smith, when I next came into the country,
would be that Barton cottage was taken: and I felt an immediate
satisfaction and interest in the event, which nothing but a kind of
prescience of what happiness I should experience from it, can account
for. Must it not have been so, Marianne?" speaking to her in a lowered
voice. Then continuing his former tone, he said, "And yet this house
you would spoil, Mrs. Dashwood? You would rob it of its simplicity by
imaginary improvement! and this dear parlour in which our acquaintance
first began, and in which so many happy hours have been since spent by
us together, you would degrade to the condition of a common entrance,
and every body would be eager to pass through the room which has
hitherto contained within itself more real accommodation and comfort
than any other apartment of the handsomest dimensions in the world
could possibly afford."
Mrs. Dashwood again assured him that no alteration of the kind should
"You are a good woman," he warmly replied. "Your promise makes me
easy. Extend it a little farther, and it will make me happy. Tell me
that not only your house will remain the same, but that I shall ever
find you and yours as unchanged as your dwelling; and that you will
always consider me with the kindness which has made everything
belonging to you so dear to me."
The promise was readily given, and Willoughby's behaviour during the
whole of the evening declared at once his affection and happiness.
"Shall we see you tomorrow to dinner?" said Mrs. Dashwood, when he was
leaving them. "I do not ask you to come in the morning, for we must
walk to the park, to call on Lady Middleton."
He engaged to be with them by four o'clock.
Mrs. Dashwood's visit to Lady Middleton took place the next day, and
two of her daughters went with her; but Marianne excused herself from
being of the party, under some trifling pretext of employment; and her
mother, who concluded that a promise had been made by Willoughby the
night before of calling on her while they were absent, was perfectly
satisfied with her remaining at home.
On their return from the park they found Willoughby's curricle and
servant in waiting at the cottage, and Mrs. Dashwood was convinced that
her conjecture had been just. So far it was all as she had foreseen;
but on entering the house she beheld what no foresight had taught her
to expect. They were no sooner in the passage than Marianne came
hastily out of the parlour apparently in violent affliction, with her
handkerchief at her eyes; and without noticing them ran up stairs.
Surprised and alarmed they proceeded directly into the room she had
just quitted, where they found only Willoughby, who was leaning against
the mantel-piece with his back towards them. He turned round on their
coming in, and his countenance shewed that he strongly partook of the
emotion which over-powered Marianne.
"Is anything the matter with her?" cried Mrs. Dashwood as she
entered--"is she ill?"
"I hope not," he replied, trying to look cheerful; and with a forced
smile presently added, "It is I who may rather expect to be ill--for I
am now suffering under a very heavy disappointment!"
"Yes, for I am unable to keep my engagement with you. Mrs. Smith has
this morning exercised the privilege of riches upon a poor dependent
cousin, by sending me on business to London. I have just received my
dispatches, and taken my farewell of Allenham; and by way of
exhilaration I am now come to take my farewell of you."
"To London!--and are you going this morning?"
"Almost this moment."
"This is very unfortunate. But Mrs. Smith must be obliged;--and her
business will not detain you from us long I hope."
He coloured as he replied, "You are very kind, but I have no idea of
returning into Devonshire immediately. My visits to Mrs. Smith are
never repeated within the twelvemonth."
"And is Mrs. Smith your only friend? Is Allenham the only house in the
neighbourhood to which you will be welcome? For shame, Willoughby, can
you wait for an invitation here?"
His colour increased; and with his eyes fixed on the ground he only
replied, "You are too good."
Mrs. Dashwood looked at Elinor with surprise. Elinor felt equal
amazement. For a few moments every one was silent. Mrs. Dashwood
"I have only to add, my dear Willoughby, that at Barton cottage you
will always be welcome; for I will not press you to return here
immediately, because you only can judge how far THAT might be pleasing
to Mrs. Smith; and on this head I shall be no more disposed to question
your judgment than to doubt your inclination."
"My engagements at present," replied Willoughby, confusedly, "are of
such a nature--that--I dare not flatter myself"--
He stopt. Mrs. Dashwood was too much astonished to speak, and another
pause succeeded. This was broken by Willoughby, who said with a faint
smile, "It is folly to linger in this manner. I will not torment
myself any longer by remaining among friends whose society it is
impossible for me now to enjoy."
He then hastily took leave of them all and left the room. They saw him
step into his carriage, and in a minute it was out of sight.
Mrs. Dashwood felt too much for speech, and instantly quitted the
parlour to give way in solitude to the concern and alarm which this
sudden departure occasioned.
Elinor's uneasiness was at least equal to her mother's. She thought of
what had just passed with anxiety and distrust. Willoughby's behaviour
in taking leave of them, his embarrassment, and affectation of
cheerfulness, and, above all, his unwillingness to accept her mother's
invitation, a backwardness so unlike a lover, so unlike himself,
greatly disturbed her. One moment she feared that no serious design
had ever been formed on his side; and the next that some unfortunate
quarrel had taken place between him and her sister;--the distress in
which Marianne had quitted the room was such as a serious quarrel could
most reasonably account for, though when she considered what Marianne's
love for him was, a quarrel seemed almost impossible.
But whatever might be the particulars of their separation, her sister's
affliction was indubitable; and she thought with the tenderest
compassion of that violent sorrow which Marianne was in all probability
not merely giving way to as a relief, but feeding and encouraging as a
In about half an hour her mother returned, and though her eyes were
red, her countenance was not uncheerful.
"Our dear Willoughby is now some miles from Barton, Elinor," said she,
as she sat down to work, "and with how heavy a heart does he travel?"
"It is all very strange. So suddenly to be gone! It seems but the work
of a moment. And last night he was with us so happy, so cheerful, so
affectionate? And now, after only ten minutes notice--Gone too without
intending to return!--Something more than what he owned to us must have
happened. He did not speak, he did not behave like himself. YOU must
have seen the difference as well as I. What can it be? Can they have
quarrelled? Why else should he have shewn such unwillingness to accept
your invitation here?"--
"It was not inclination that he wanted, Elinor; I could plainly see
THAT. He had not the power of accepting it. I have thought it all
over I assure you, and I can perfectly account for every thing that at
first seemed strange to me as well as to you."
"Can you, indeed!"
"Yes. I have explained it to myself in the most satisfactory way;--but
you, Elinor, who love to doubt where you can--it will not satisfy YOU,
I know; but you shall not talk ME out of my trust in it. I am
persuaded that Mrs. Smith suspects his regard for Marianne, disapproves
of it, (perhaps because she has other views for him,) and on that
account is eager to get him away;--and that the business which she
sends him off to transact is invented as an excuse to dismiss him.
This is what I believe to have happened. He is, moreover, aware that
she DOES disapprove the connection, he dares not therefore at present
confess to her his engagement with Marianne, and he feels himself
obliged, from his dependent situation, to give into her schemes, and
absent himself from Devonshire for a while. You will tell me, I know,
that this may or may NOT have happened; but I will listen to no cavil,
unless you can point out any other method of understanding the affair
as satisfactory at this. And now, Elinor, what have you to say?"
"Nothing, for you have anticipated my answer."
"Then you would have told me, that it might or might not have happened.
Oh, Elinor, how incomprehensible are your feelings! You had rather
take evil upon credit than good. You had rather look out for misery
for Marianne, and guilt for poor Willoughby, than an apology for the
latter. You are resolved to think him blameable, because he took leave
of us with less affection than his usual behaviour has shewn. And is
no allowance to be made for inadvertence, or for spirits depressed by
recent disappointment? Are no probabilities to be accepted, merely
because they are not certainties? Is nothing due to the man whom we
have all such reason to love, and no reason in the world to think ill
of? To the possibility of motives unanswerable in themselves, though
unavoidably secret for a while? And, after all, what is it you suspect
"I can hardly tell myself. But suspicion of something unpleasant is
the inevitable consequence of such an alteration as we just witnessed
in him. There is great truth, however, in what you have now urged of
the allowances which ought to be made for him, and it is my wish to be
candid in my judgment of every body. Willoughby may undoubtedly have
very sufficient reasons for his conduct, and I will hope that he has.
But it would have been more like Willoughby to acknowledge them at
once. Secrecy may be advisable; but still I cannot help wondering at
its being practiced by him."
"Do not blame him, however, for departing from his character, where the
deviation is necessary. But you really do admit the justice of what I
have said in his defence?--I am happy--and he is acquitted."
"Not entirely. It may be proper to conceal their engagement (if they
ARE engaged) from Mrs. Smith--and if that is the case, it must be
highly expedient for Willoughby to be but little in Devonshire at
present. But this is no excuse for their concealing it from us."
"Concealing it from us! my dear child, do you accuse Willoughby and
Marianne of concealment? This is strange indeed, when your eyes have
been reproaching them every day for incautiousness."
"I want no proof of their affection," said Elinor; "but of their
engagement I do."
"I am perfectly satisfied of both."
"Yet not a syllable has been said to you on the subject, by either of
"I have not wanted syllables where actions have spoken so plainly. Has
not his behaviour to Marianne and to all of us, for at least the last
fortnight, declared that he loved and considered her as his future
wife, and that he felt for us the attachment of the nearest relation?
Have we not perfectly understood each other? Has not my consent been
daily asked by his looks, his manner, his attentive and affectionate
respect? My Elinor, is it possible to doubt their engagement? How
could such a thought occur to you? How is it to be supposed that
Willoughby, persuaded as he must be of your sister's love, should leave
her, and leave her perhaps for months, without telling her of his
affection;--that they should part without a mutual exchange of
"I confess," replied Elinor, "that every circumstance except ONE is in
favour of their engagement; but that ONE is the total silence of both
on the subject, and with me it almost outweighs every other."
"How strange this is! You must think wretchedly indeed of Willoughby,
if, after all that has openly passed between them, you can doubt the
nature of the terms on which they are together. Has he been acting a
part in his behaviour to your sister all this time? Do you suppose him
really indifferent to her?"
"No, I cannot think that. He must and does love her I am sure."
"But with a strange kind of tenderness, if he can leave her with such
indifference, such carelessness of the future, as you attribute to him."
"You must remember, my dear mother, that I have never considered this
matter as certain. I have had my doubts, I confess; but they are
fainter than they were, and they may soon be entirely done away. If we
find they correspond, every fear of mine will be removed."
"A mighty concession indeed! If you were to see them at the altar, you
would suppose they were going to be married. Ungracious girl! But I
require no such proof. Nothing in my opinion has ever passed to
justify doubt; no secrecy has been attempted; all has been uniformly
open and unreserved. You cannot doubt your sister's wishes. It must
be Willoughby therefore whom you suspect. But why? Is he not a man of
honour and feeling? Has there been any inconsistency on his side to
create alarm? can he be deceitful?"
"I hope not, I believe not," cried Elinor. "I love Willoughby,
sincerely love him; and suspicion of his integrity cannot be more
painful to yourself than to me. It has been involuntary, and I will
not encourage it. I was startled, I confess, by the alteration in his
manners this morning;--he did not speak like himself, and did not
return your kindness with any cordiality. But all this may be
explained by such a situation of his affairs as you have supposed. He
had just parted from my sister, had seen her leave him in the greatest
affliction; and if he felt obliged, from a fear of offending Mrs.
Smith, to resist the temptation of returning here soon, and yet aware
that by declining your invitation, by saying that he was going away for
some time, he should seem to act an ungenerous, a suspicious part by
our family, he might well be embarrassed and disturbed. In such a
case, a plain and open avowal of his difficulties would have been more
to his honour I think, as well as more consistent with his general
character;--but I will not raise objections against any one's conduct
on so illiberal a foundation, as a difference in judgment from myself,
or a deviation from what I may think right and consistent."
"You speak very properly. Willoughby certainly does not deserve to be
suspected. Though WE have not known him long, he is no stranger in
this part of the world; and who has ever spoken to his disadvantage?
Had he been in a situation to act independently and marry immediately,
it might have been odd that he should leave us without acknowledging
everything to me at once: but this is not the case. It is an
engagement in some respects not prosperously begun, for their marriage
must be at a very uncertain distance; and even secrecy, as far as it
can be observed, may now be very advisable."
They were interrupted by the entrance of Margaret; and Elinor was then
at liberty to think over the representations of her mother, to
acknowledge the probability of many, and hope for the justice of all.
They saw nothing of Marianne till dinner time, when she entered the
room and took her place at the table without saying a word. Her eyes
were red and swollen; and it seemed as if her tears were even then
restrained with difficulty. She avoided the looks of them all, could
neither eat nor speak, and after some time, on her mother's silently
pressing her hand with tender compassion, her small degree of fortitude
was quite overcome, she burst into tears and left the room.
This violent oppression of spirits continued the whole evening. She
was without any power, because she was without any desire of command
over herself. The slightest mention of anything relative to Willoughby
overpowered her in an instant; and though her family were most
anxiously attentive to her comfort, it was impossible for them, if they
spoke at all, to keep clear of every subject which her feelings
connected with him.
Marianne would have thought herself very inexcusable had she been able
to sleep at all the first night after parting from Willoughby. She
would have been ashamed to look her family in the face the next
morning, had she not risen from her bed in more need of repose than
when she lay down in it. But the feelings which made such composure a
disgrace, left her in no danger of incurring it. She was awake the
whole night, and she wept the greatest part of it. She got up with a
headache, was unable to talk, and unwilling to take any nourishment;
giving pain every moment to her mother and sisters, and forbidding all
attempt at consolation from either. Her sensibility was potent enough!
When breakfast was over she walked out by herself, and wandered about
the village of Allenham, indulging the recollection of past enjoyment
and crying over the present reverse for the chief of the morning.
The evening passed off in the equal indulgence of feeling. She played
over every favourite song that she had been used to play to Willoughby,
every air in which their voices had been oftenest joined, and sat at
the instrument gazing on every line of music that he had written out
for her, till her heart was so heavy that no farther sadness could be
gained; and this nourishment of grief was every day applied. She spent
whole hours at the pianoforte alternately singing and crying; her voice
often totally suspended by her tears. In books too, as well as in
music, she courted the misery which a contrast between the past and
present was certain of giving. She read nothing but what they had been
used to read together.
Such violence of affliction indeed could not be supported for ever; it
sunk within a few days into a calmer melancholy; but these employments,
to which she daily recurred, her solitary walks and silent meditations,
still produced occasional effusions of sorrow as lively as ever.
No letter from Willoughby came; and none seemed expected by Marianne.
Her mother was surprised, and Elinor again became uneasy. But Mrs.
Dashwood could find explanations whenever she wanted them, which at
least satisfied herself.
"Remember, Elinor," said she, "how very often Sir John fetches our
letters himself from the post, and carries them to it. We have already
agreed that secrecy may be necessary, and we must acknowledge that it
could not be maintained if their correspondence were to pass through
Sir John's hands."
Elinor could not deny the truth of this, and she tried to find in it a
motive sufficient for their silence. But there was one method so
direct, so simple, and in her opinion so eligible of knowing the real
state of the affair, and of instantly removing all mystery, that she
could not help suggesting it to her mother.
"Why do you not ask Marianne at once," said she, "whether she is or she
is not engaged to Willoughby? From you, her mother, and so kind, so
indulgent a mother, the question could not give offence. It would be
the natural result of your affection for her. She used to be all
unreserve, and to you more especially."
"I would not ask such a question for the world. Supposing it possible
that they are not engaged, what distress would not such an enquiry
inflict! At any rate it would be most ungenerous. I should never
deserve her confidence again, after forcing from her a confession of
what is meant at present to be unacknowledged to any one. I know
Marianne's heart: I know that she dearly loves me, and that I shall not
be the last to whom the affair is made known, when circumstances make
the revealment of it eligible. I would not attempt to force the
confidence of any one; of a child much less; because a sense of duty
would prevent the denial which her wishes might direct."
Elinor thought this generosity overstrained, considering her sister's
youth, and urged the matter farther, but in vain; common sense, common
care, common prudence, were all sunk in Mrs. Dashwood's romantic
It was several days before Willoughby's name was mentioned before
Marianne by any of her family; Sir John and Mrs. Jennings, indeed, were
not so nice; their witticisms added pain to many a painful hour;--but
one evening, Mrs. Dashwood, accidentally taking up a volume of
"We have never finished Hamlet, Marianne; our dear Willoughby went away
before we could get through it. We will put it by, that when he comes
again...But it may be months, perhaps, before THAT happens."
"Months!" cried Marianne, with strong surprise. "No--nor many weeks."
Mrs. Dashwood was sorry for what she had said; but it gave Elinor
pleasure, as it produced a reply from Marianne so expressive of
confidence in Willoughby and knowledge of his intentions.
One morning, about a week after his leaving the country, Marianne was
prevailed on to join her sisters in their usual walk, instead of
wandering away by herself. Hitherto she had carefully avoided every
companion in her rambles. If her sisters intended to walk on the
downs, she directly stole away towards the lanes; if they talked of the
valley, she was as speedy in climbing the hills, and could never be
found when the others set off. But at length she was secured by the
exertions of Elinor, who greatly disapproved such continual seclusion.
They walked along the road through the valley, and chiefly in silence,
for Marianne's MIND could not be controlled, and Elinor, satisfied with
gaining one point, would not then attempt more. Beyond the entrance of
the valley, where the country, though still rich, was less wild and
more open, a long stretch of the road which they had travelled on first
coming to Barton, lay before them; and on reaching that point, they
stopped to look around them, and examine a prospect which formed the
distance of their view from the cottage, from a spot which they had
never happened to reach in any of their walks before.
Amongst the objects in the scene, they soon discovered an animated one;
it was a man on horseback riding towards them. In a few minutes they
could distinguish him to be a gentleman; and in a moment afterwards
Marianne rapturously exclaimed,
"It is he; it is indeed;--I know it is!"--and was hastening to meet
him, when Elinor cried out,
"Indeed, Marianne, I think you are mistaken. It is not Willoughby.
The person is not tall enough for him, and has not his air."
"He has, he has," cried Marianne, "I am sure he has. His air, his
coat, his horse. I knew how soon he would come."
She walked eagerly on as she spoke; and Elinor, to screen Marianne from
particularity, as she felt almost certain of its not being Willoughby,
quickened her pace and kept up with her. They were soon within thirty
yards of the gentleman. Marianne looked again; her heart sunk within
her; and abruptly turning round, she was hurrying back, when the voices
of both her sisters were raised to detain her; a third, almost as well
known as Willoughby's, joined them in begging her to stop, and she
turned round with surprise to see and welcome Edward Ferrars.
He was the only person in the world who could at that moment be
forgiven for not being Willoughby; the only one who could have gained a
smile from her; but she dispersed her tears to smile on HIM, and in her
sister's happiness forgot for a time her own disappointment.
He dismounted, and giving his horse to his servant, walked back with
them to Barton, whither he was purposely coming to visit them.
He was welcomed by them all with great cordiality, but especially by
Marianne, who showed more warmth of regard in her reception of him than
even Elinor herself. To Marianne, indeed, the meeting between Edward
and her sister was but a continuation of that unaccountable coldness
which she had often observed at Norland in their mutual behaviour. On
Edward's side, more particularly, there was a deficiency of all that a
lover ought to look and say on such an occasion. He was confused,
seemed scarcely sensible of pleasure in seeing them, looked neither
rapturous nor gay, said little but what was forced from him by
questions, and distinguished Elinor by no mark of affection. Marianne
saw and listened with increasing surprise. She began almost to feel a
dislike of Edward; and it ended, as every feeling must end with her, by
carrying back her thoughts to Willoughby, whose manners formed a
contrast sufficiently striking to those of his brother elect.
After a short silence which succeeded the first surprise and enquiries
of meeting, Marianne asked Edward if he came directly from London. No,
he had been in Devonshire a fortnight.
"A fortnight!" she repeated, surprised at his being so long in the same
county with Elinor without seeing her before.
He looked rather distressed as he added, that he had been staying with
some friends near Plymouth.
"Have you been lately in Sussex?" said Elinor.
"I was at Norland about a month ago."
"And how does dear, dear Norland look?" cried Marianne.
"Dear, dear Norland," said Elinor, "probably looks much as it always
does at this time of the year. The woods and walks thickly covered
with dead leaves."
"Oh," cried Marianne, "with what transporting sensation have I formerly
seen them fall! How have I delighted, as I walked, to see them driven
in showers about me by the wind! What feelings have they, the season,
the air altogether inspired! Now there is no one to regard them. They
are seen only as a nuisance, swept hastily off, and driven as much as
possible from the sight."
"It is not every one," said Elinor, "who has your passion for dead
"No; my feelings are not often shared, not often understood. But
SOMETIMES they are."--As she said this, she sunk into a reverie for a
few moments;--but rousing herself again, "Now, Edward," said she,
calling his attention to the prospect, "here is Barton valley. Look up
to it, and be tranquil if you can. Look at those hills! Did you ever
see their equals? To the left is Barton park, amongst those woods and
plantations. You may see the end of the house. And there, beneath
that farthest hill, which rises with such grandeur, is our cottage."
"It is a beautiful country," he replied; "but these bottoms must be
dirty in winter."
"How can you think of dirt, with such objects before you?"
"Because," replied he, smiling, "among the rest of the objects before
me, I see a very dirty lane."
"How strange!" said Marianne to herself as she walked on.
"Have you an agreeable neighbourhood here? Are the Middletons pleasant
"No, not all," answered Marianne; "we could not be more unfortunately
"Marianne," cried her sister, "how can you say so? How can you be so
unjust? They are a very respectable family, Mr. Ferrars; and towards
us have behaved in the friendliest manner. Have you forgot, Marianne,
how many pleasant days we have owed to them?"
"No," said Marianne, in a low voice, "nor how many painful moments."
Elinor took no notice of this; and directing her attention to their
visitor, endeavoured to support something like discourse with him, by
talking of their present residence, its conveniences, &c. extorting
from him occasional questions and remarks. His coldness and reserve
mortified her severely; she was vexed and half angry; but resolving to
regulate her behaviour to him by the past rather than the present, she
avoided every appearance of resentment or displeasure, and treated him
as she thought he ought to be treated from the family connection.
Mrs. Dashwood was surprised only for a moment at seeing him; for his
coming to Barton was, in her opinion, of all things the most natural.
Her joy and expression of regard long outlived her wonder. He received
the kindest welcome from her; and shyness, coldness, reserve could not
stand against such a reception. They had begun to fail him before he
entered the house, and they were quite overcome by the captivating
manners of Mrs. Dashwood. Indeed a man could not very well be in love
with either of her daughters, without extending the passion to her; and
Elinor had the satisfaction of seeing him soon become more like
himself. His affections seemed to reanimate towards them all, and his
interest in their welfare again became perceptible. He was not in
spirits, however; he praised their house, admired its prospect, was
attentive, and kind; but still he was not in spirits. The whole family
perceived it, and Mrs. Dashwood, attributing it to some want of
liberality in his mother, sat down to table indignant against all
"What are Mrs. Ferrars's views for you at present, Edward?" said she,
when dinner was over and they had drawn round the fire; "are you still
to be a great orator in spite of yourself?"
"No. I hope my mother is now convinced that I have no more talents than
inclination for a public life!"
"But how is your fame to be established? for famous you must be to
satisfy all your family; and with no inclination for expense, no
affection for strangers, no profession, and no assurance, you may find
it a difficult matter."
"I shall not attempt it. I have no wish to be distinguished; and have
every reason to hope I never shall. Thank Heaven! I cannot be forced
into genius and eloquence."
"You have no ambition, I well know. Your wishes are all moderate."
"As moderate as those of the rest of the world, I believe. I wish as
well as every body else to be perfectly happy; but, like every body
else it must be in my own way. Greatness will not make me so."
"Strange that it would!" cried Marianne. "What have wealth or grandeur
to do with happiness?"
"Grandeur has but little," said Elinor, "but wealth has much to do with
"Elinor, for shame!" said Marianne, "money can only give happiness
where there is nothing else to give it. Beyond a competence, it can
afford no real satisfaction, as far as mere self is concerned."
"Perhaps," said Elinor, smiling, "we may come to the same point. YOUR
competence and MY wealth are very much alike, I dare say; and without
them, as the world goes now, we shall both agree that every kind of
external comfort must be wanting. Your ideas are only more noble than
mine. Come, what is your competence?"
"About eighteen hundred or two thousand a year; not more than THAT."
Elinor laughed. "TWO thousand a year! ONE is my wealth! I guessed how
it would end."
"And yet two thousand a-year is a very moderate income," said Marianne.
"A family cannot well be maintained on a smaller. I am sure I am not
extravagant in my demands. A proper establishment of servants, a
carriage, perhaps two, and hunters, cannot be supported on less."
Elinor smiled again, to hear her sister describing so accurately their
future expenses at Combe Magna.
"Hunters!" repeated Edward--"but why must you have hunters? Every body
does not hunt."
Marianne coloured as she replied, "But most people do."
"I wish," said Margaret, striking out a novel thought, "that somebody
would give us all a large fortune apiece!"
"Oh that they would!" cried Marianne, her eyes sparkling with
animation, and her cheeks glowing with the delight of such imaginary
"We are all unanimous in that wish, I suppose," said Elinor, "in spite
of the insufficiency of wealth."
"Oh dear!" cried Margaret, "how happy I should be! I wonder what I
should do with it!"
Marianne looked as if she had no doubt on that point.
"I should be puzzled to spend so large a fortune myself," said Mrs.
Dashwood, "if my children were all to be rich without my help."
"You must begin your improvements on this house," observed Elinor, "and
your difficulties will soon vanish."
"What magnificent orders would travel from this family to London," said
Edward, "in such an event! What a happy day for booksellers,
music-sellers, and print-shops! You, Miss Dashwood, would give a
general commission for every new print of merit to be sent you--and as
for Marianne, I know her greatness of soul, there would not be music
enough in London to content her. And books!--Thomson, Cowper,
Scott--she would buy them all over and over again: she would buy up
every copy, I believe, to prevent their falling into unworthy hands;
and she would have every book that tells her how to admire an old
twisted tree. Should not you, Marianne? Forgive me, if I am very
saucy. But I was willing to shew you that I had not forgot our old
"I love to be reminded of the past, Edward--whether it be melancholy or
gay, I love to recall it--and you will never offend me by talking of
former times. You are very right in supposing how my money would be
spent--some of it, at least--my loose cash would certainly be employed
in improving my collection of music and books."
"And the bulk of your fortune would be laid out in annuities on the
authors or their heirs."
"No, Edward, I should have something else to do with it."
"Perhaps, then, you would bestow it as a reward on that person who
wrote the ablest defence of your favourite maxim, that no one can ever
be in love more than once in their life--your opinion on that point is
unchanged, I presume?"
"Undoubtedly. At my time of life opinions are tolerably fixed. It is
not likely that I should now see or hear any thing to change them."
"Marianne is as steadfast as ever, you see," said Elinor, "she is not
at all altered."
"She is only grown a little more grave than she was."
"Nay, Edward," said Marianne, "you need not reproach me. You are not
very gay yourself."
"Why should you think so!" replied he, with a sigh. "But gaiety never
was a part of MY character."
"Nor do I think it a part of Marianne's," said Elinor; "I should hardly
call her a lively girl--she is very earnest, very eager in all she
does--sometimes talks a great deal and always with animation--but she
is not often really merry."
"I believe you are right," he replied, "and yet I have always set her
down as a lively girl."
"I have frequently detected myself in such kind of mistakes," said
Elinor, "in a total misapprehension of character in some point or
other: fancying people so much more gay or grave, or ingenious or
stupid than they really are, and I can hardly tell why or in what the
deception originated. Sometimes one is guided by what they say of
themselves, and very frequently by what other people say of them,
without giving oneself time to deliberate and judge."
"But I thought it was right, Elinor," said Marianne, "to be guided
wholly by the opinion of other people. I thought our judgments were
given us merely to be subservient to those of neighbours. This has
always been your doctrine, I am sure."
"No, Marianne, never. My doctrine has never aimed at the subjection of
the understanding. All I have ever attempted to influence has been the
behaviour. You must not confound my meaning. I am guilty, I confess,
of having often wished you to treat our acquaintance in general with
greater attention; but when have I advised you to adopt their
sentiments or to conform to their judgment in serious matters?"
"You have not been able to bring your sister over to your plan of
general civility," said Edward to Elinor. "Do you gain no ground?"
"Quite the contrary," replied Elinor, looking expressively at Marianne.
"My judgment," he returned, "is all on your side of the question; but I
am afraid my practice is much more on your sister's. I never wish to
offend, but I am so foolishly shy, that I often seem negligent, when I
am only kept back by my natural awkwardness. I have frequently thought
that I must have been intended by nature to be fond of low company, I
am so little at my ease among strangers of gentility!"
"Marianne has not shyness to excuse any inattention of hers," said
"She knows her own worth too well for false shame," replied Edward.
"Shyness is only the effect of a sense of inferiority in some way or
other. If I could persuade myself that my manners were perfectly easy
and graceful, I should not be shy."
"But you would still be reserved," said Marianne, "and that is worse."
Edward started--"Reserved! Am I reserved, Marianne?"
"I do not understand you," replied he, colouring. "Reserved!--how, in
what manner? What am I to tell you? What can you suppose?"
Elinor looked surprised at his emotion; but trying to laugh off the
subject, she said to him, "Do not you know my sister well enough to
understand what she means? Do not you know she calls every one
reserved who does not talk as fast, and admire what she admires as
rapturously as herself?"
Edward made no answer. His gravity and thoughtfulness returned on him
in their fullest extent--and he sat for some time silent and dull.
Elinor saw, with great uneasiness the low spirits of her friend. His
visit afforded her but a very partial satisfaction, while his own
enjoyment in it appeared so imperfect. It was evident that he was
unhappy; she wished it were equally evident that he still distinguished
her by the same affection which once she had felt no doubt of
inspiring; but hitherto the continuance of his preference seemed very
uncertain; and the reservedness of his manner towards her contradicted
one moment what a more animated look had intimated the preceding one.
He joined her and Marianne in the breakfast-room the next morning
before the others were down; and Marianne, who was always eager to
promote their happiness as far as she could, soon left them to
themselves. But before she was half way upstairs she heard the parlour
door open, and, turning round, was astonished to see Edward himself
"I am going into the village to see my horses," said he, "as you are
not yet ready for breakfast; I shall be back again presently."
Edward returned to them with fresh admiration of the surrounding
country; in his walk to the village, he had seen many parts of the
valley to advantage; and the village itself, in a much higher situation
than the cottage, afforded a general view of the whole, which had
exceedingly pleased him. This was a subject which ensured Marianne's
attention, and she was beginning to describe her own admiration of
these scenes, and to question him more minutely on the objects that had
particularly struck him, when Edward interrupted her by saying, "You
must not enquire too far, Marianne--remember I have no knowledge in the
picturesque, and I shall offend you by my ignorance and want of taste
if we come to particulars. I shall call hills steep, which ought to be
bold; surfaces strange and uncouth, which ought to be irregular and
rugged; and distant objects out of sight, which ought only to be
indistinct through the soft medium of a hazy atmosphere. You must be
satisfied with such admiration as I can honestly give. I call it a
very fine country--the hills are steep, the woods seem full of fine
timber, and the valley looks comfortable and snug--with rich meadows
and several neat farm houses scattered here and there. It exactly
answers my idea of a fine country, because it unites beauty with
utility--and I dare say it is a picturesque one too, because you admire
it; I can easily believe it to be full of rocks and promontories, grey
moss and brush wood, but these are all lost on me. I know nothing of
"I am afraid it is but too true," said Marianne; "but why should you
boast of it?"
"I suspect," said Elinor, "that to avoid one kind of affectation,
Edward here falls into another. Because he believes many people
pretend to more admiration of the beauties of nature than they really
feel, and is disgusted with such pretensions, he affects greater
indifference and less discrimination in viewing them himself than he
possesses. He is fastidious and will have an affectation of his own."
"It is very true," said Marianne, "that admiration of landscape scenery
is become a mere jargon. Every body pretends to feel and tries to
describe with the taste and elegance of him who first defined what
picturesque beauty was. I detest jargon of every kind, and sometimes I
have kept my feelings to myself, because I could find no language to
describe them in but what was worn and hackneyed out of all sense and
"I am convinced," said Edward, "that you really feel all the delight in
a fine prospect which you profess to feel. But, in return, your sister
must allow me to feel no more than I profess. I like a fine prospect,
but not on picturesque principles. I do not like crooked, twisted,
blasted trees. I admire them much more if they are tall, straight, and
flourishing. I do not like ruined, tattered cottages. I am not fond
of nettles or thistles, or heath blossoms. I have more pleasure in a
snug farm-house than a watch-tower--and a troop of tidy, happy villages
please me better than the finest banditti in the world."
Marianne looked with amazement at Edward, with compassion at her
sister. Elinor only laughed.
The subject was continued no farther; and Marianne remained
thoughtfully silent, till a new object suddenly engaged her attention.
She was sitting by Edward, and in taking his tea from Mrs. Dashwood,
his hand passed so directly before her, as to make a ring, with a plait
of hair in the centre, very conspicuous on one of his fingers.
"I never saw you wear a ring before, Edward," she cried. "Is that
Fanny's hair? I remember her promising to give you some. But I should
have thought her hair had been darker."
Marianne spoke inconsiderately what she really felt--but when she saw
how much she had pained Edward, her own vexation at her want of thought
could not be surpassed by his. He coloured very deeply, and giving a
momentary glance at Elinor, replied, "Yes; it is my sister's hair. The
setting always casts a different shade on it, you know."
Elinor had met his eye, and looked conscious likewise. That the hair
was her own, she instantaneously felt as well satisfied as Marianne;
the only difference in their conclusions was, that what Marianne
considered as a free gift from her sister, Elinor was conscious must
have been procured by some theft or contrivance unknown to herself.
She was not in a humour, however, to regard it as an affront, and
affecting to take no notice of what passed, by instantly talking of
something else, she internally resolved henceforward to catch every
opportunity of eyeing the hair and of satisfying herself, beyond all
doubt, that it was exactly the shade of her own.
Edward's embarrassment lasted some time, and it ended in an absence of
mind still more settled. He was particularly grave the whole morning.
Marianne severely censured herself for what she had said; but her own
forgiveness might have been more speedy, had she known how little
offence it had given her sister.
Before the middle of the day, they were visited by Sir John and Mrs.
Jennings, who, having heard of the arrival of a gentleman at the
cottage, came to take a survey of the guest. With the assistance of
his mother-in-law, Sir John was not long in discovering that the name
of Ferrars began with an F. and this prepared a future mine of raillery
against the devoted Elinor, which nothing but the newness of their
acquaintance with Edward could have prevented from being immediately
sprung. But, as it was, she only learned, from some very significant
looks, how far their penetration, founded on Margaret's instructions,
Sir John never came to the Dashwoods without either inviting them to
dine at the park the next day, or to drink tea with them that evening.
On the present occasion, for the better entertainment of their visitor,
towards whose amusement he felt himself bound to contribute, he wished
to engage them for both.
"You MUST drink tea with us to night," said he, "for we shall be quite
alone--and tomorrow you must absolutely dine with us, for we shall be a
Mrs. Jennings enforced the necessity. "And who knows but you may raise
a dance," said she. "And that will tempt YOU, Miss Marianne."
"A dance!" cried Marianne. "Impossible! Who is to dance?"
"Who! why yourselves, and the Careys, and Whitakers to be sure.--What!
you thought nobody could dance because a certain person that shall be
nameless is gone!"
"I wish with all my soul," cried Sir John, "that Willoughby were among
This, and Marianne's blushing, gave new suspicions to Edward. "And who
is Willoughby?" said he, in a low voice, to Miss Dashwood, by whom he
She gave him a brief reply. Marianne's countenance was more
communicative. Edward saw enough to comprehend, not only the meaning
of others, but such of Marianne's expressions as had puzzled him
before; and when their visitors left them, he went immediately round
her, and said, in a whisper, "I have been guessing. Shall I tell you
"What do you mean?"
"Shall I tell you."
"Well then; I guess that Mr. Willoughby hunts."
Marianne was surprised and confused, yet she could not help smiling at
the quiet archness of his manner, and after a moment's silence, said,
"Oh, Edward! How can you?--But the time will come I hope...I am sure
you will like him."
"I do not doubt it," replied he, rather astonished at her earnestness
and warmth; for had he not imagined it to be a joke for the good of her
acquaintance in general, founded only on a something or a nothing
between Mr. Willoughby and herself, he would not have ventured to
Edward remained a week at the cottage; he was earnestly pressed by Mrs.
Dashwood to stay longer; but, as if he were bent only on
self-mortification, he seemed resolved to be gone when his enjoyment
among his friends was at the height. His spirits, during the last two
or three days, though still very unequal, were greatly improved--he
grew more and more partial to the house and environs--never spoke of
going away without a sigh--declared his time to be wholly
disengaged--even doubted to what place he should go when he left
them--but still, go he must. Never had any week passed so quickly--he
could hardly believe it to be gone. He said so repeatedly; other
things he said too, which marked the turn of his feelings and gave the
lie to his actions. He had no pleasure at Norland; he detested being
in town; but either to Norland or London, he must go. He valued their
kindness beyond any thing, and his greatest happiness was in being with
them. Yet, he must leave them at the end of a week, in spite of their
wishes and his own, and without any restraint on his time.
Elinor placed all that was astonishing in this way of acting to his
mother's account; and it was happy for her that he had a mother whose
character was so imperfectly known to her, as to be the general excuse
for every thing strange on the part of her son. Disappointed, however,
and vexed as she was, and sometimes displeased with his uncertain
behaviour to herself, she was very well disposed on the whole to regard
his actions with all the candid allowances and generous qualifications,
which had been rather more painfully extorted from her, for
Willoughby's service, by her mother. His want of spirits, of openness,
and of consistency, were most usually attributed to his want of
independence, and his better knowledge of Mrs. Ferrars's disposition
and designs. The shortness of his visit, the steadiness of his purpose
in leaving them, originated in the same fettered inclination, the same
inevitable necessity of temporizing with his mother. The old
well-established grievance of duty against will, parent against child,
was the cause of all. She would have been glad to know when these
difficulties were to cease, this opposition was to yield,--when Mrs.
Ferrars would be reformed, and her son be at liberty to be happy. But
from such vain wishes she was forced to turn for comfort to the renewal
of her confidence in Edward's affection, to the remembrance of every
mark of regard in look or word which fell from him while at Barton, and
above all to that flattering proof of it which he constantly wore round
"I think, Edward," said Mrs. Dashwood, as they were at breakfast the
last morning, "you would be a happier man if you had any profession to
engage your time and give an interest to your plans and actions. Some
inconvenience to your friends, indeed, might result from it--you would
not be able to give them so much of your time. But (with a smile) you
would be materially benefited in one particular at least--you would
know where to go when you left them."
"I do assure you," he replied, "that I have long thought on this point,
as you think now. It has been, and is, and probably will always be a
heavy misfortune to me, that I have had no necessary business to engage
me, no profession to give me employment, or afford me any thing like
independence. But unfortunately my own nicety, and the nicety of my
friends, have made me what I am, an idle, helpless being. We never
could agree in our choice of a profession. I always preferred the
church, as I still do. But that was not smart enough for my family.
They recommended the army. That was a great deal too smart for me.
The law was allowed to be genteel enough; many young men, who had
chambers in the Temple, made a very good appearance in the first
circles, and drove about town in very knowing gigs. But I had no
inclination for the law, even in this less abstruse study of it, which
my family approved. As for the navy, it had fashion on its side, but I
was too old when the subject was first started to enter it--and, at
length, as there was no necessity for my having any profession at all,
as I might be as dashing and expensive without a red coat on my back as
with one, idleness was pronounced on the whole to be most advantageous
and honourable, and a young man of eighteen is not in general so
earnestly bent on being busy as to resist the solicitations of his
friends to do nothing. I was therefore entered at Oxford and have been
properly idle ever since."
"The consequence of which, I suppose, will be," said Mrs. Dashwood,
"since leisure has not promoted your own happiness, that your sons will
be brought up to as many pursuits, employments, professions, and trades
"They will be brought up," said he, in a serious accent, "to be as
unlike myself as is possible. In feeling, in action, in condition, in
"Come, come; this is all an effusion of immediate want of spirits,
Edward. You are in a melancholy humour, and fancy that any one unlike
yourself must be happy. But remember that the pain of parting from
friends will be felt by every body at times, whatever be their
education or state. Know your own happiness. You want nothing but
patience--or give it a more fascinating name, call it hope. Your
mother will secure to you, in time, that independence you are so
anxious for; it is her duty, and it will, it must ere long become her
happiness to prevent your whole youth from being wasted in discontent.
How much may not a few months do?"
"I think," replied Edward, "that I may defy many months to produce any
good to me."
This desponding turn of mind, though it could not be communicated to
Mrs. Dashwood, gave additional pain to them all in the parting, which
shortly took place, and left an uncomfortable impression on Elinor's
feelings especially, which required some trouble and time to subdue.
But as it was her determination to subdue it, and to prevent herself
from appearing to suffer more than what all her family suffered on his
going away, she did not adopt the method so judiciously employed by
Marianne, on a similar occasion, to augment and fix her sorrow, by
seeking silence, solitude and idleness. Their means were as different
as their objects, and equally suited to the advancement of each.
Elinor sat down to her drawing-table as soon as he was out of the
house, busily employed herself the whole day, neither sought nor
avoided the mention of his name, appeared to interest herself almost as
much as ever in the general concerns of the family, and if, by this
conduct, she did not lessen her own grief, it was at least prevented
from unnecessary increase, and her mother and sisters were spared much
solicitude on her account.
Such behaviour as this, so exactly the reverse of her own, appeared no
more meritorious to Marianne, than her own had seemed faulty to her.
The business of self-command she settled very easily;--with strong
affections it was impossible, with calm ones it could have no merit.
That her sister's affections WERE calm, she dared not deny, though she
blushed to acknowledge it; and of the strength of her own, she gave a
very striking proof, by still loving and respecting that sister, in
spite of this mortifying conviction.
Without shutting herself up from her family, or leaving the house in
determined solitude to avoid them, or lying awake the whole night to
indulge meditation, Elinor found every day afforded her leisure enough
to think of Edward, and of Edward's behaviour, in every possible
variety which the different state of her spirits at different times
could produce,--with tenderness, pity, approbation, censure, and doubt.
There were moments in abundance, when, if not by the absence of her
mother and sisters, at least by the nature of their employments,
conversation was forbidden among them, and every effect of solitude was
produced. Her mind was inevitably at liberty; her thoughts could not
be chained elsewhere; and the past and the future, on a subject so
interesting, must be before her, must force her attention, and engross
her memory, her reflection, and her fancy.
From a reverie of this kind, as she sat at her drawing-table, she was
roused one morning, soon after Edward's leaving them, by the arrival of
company. She happened to be quite alone. The closing of the little
gate, at the entrance of the green court in front of the house, drew
her eyes to the window, and she saw a large party walking up to the
door. Amongst them were Sir John and Lady Middleton and Mrs. Jennings,
but there were two others, a gentleman and lady, who were quite unknown
to her. She was sitting near the window, and as soon as Sir John
perceived her, he left the rest of the party to the ceremony of
knocking at the door, and stepping across the turf, obliged her to open
the casement to speak to him, though the space was so short between the
door and the window, as to make it hardly possible to speak at one
without being heard at the other.
"Well," said he, "we have brought you some strangers. How do you like
"Hush! they will hear you."
"Never mind if they do. It is only the Palmers. Charlotte is very
pretty, I can tell you. You may see her if you look this way."
As Elinor was certain of seeing her in a couple of minutes, without
taking that liberty, she begged to be excused.
"Where is Marianne? Has she run away because we are come? I see her
instrument is open."
"She is walking, I believe."
They were now joined by Mrs. Jennings, who had not patience enough to
wait till the door was opened before she told HER story. She came
hallooing to the window, "How do you do, my dear? How does Mrs.
Dashwood do? And where are your sisters? What! all alone! you will be
glad of a little company to sit with you. I have brought my other son
and daughter to see you. Only think of their coming so suddenly! I
thought I heard a carriage last night, while we were drinking our tea,
but it never entered my head that it could be them. I thought of
nothing but whether it might not be Colonel Brandon come back again; so
I said to Sir John, I do think I hear a carriage; perhaps it is Colonel
Brandon come back again"--
Elinor was obliged to turn from her, in the middle of her story, to
receive the rest of the party; Lady Middleton introduced the two
strangers; Mrs. Dashwood and Margaret came down stairs at the same
time, and they all sat down to look at one another, while Mrs. Jennings
continued her story as she walked through the passage into the parlour,
attended by Sir John.
Mrs. Palmer was several years younger than Lady Middleton, and totally
unlike her in every respect. She was short and plump, had a very
pretty face, and the finest expression of good humour in it that could
possibly be. Her manners were by no means so elegant as her sister's,
but they were much more prepossessing. She came in with a smile,
smiled all the time of her visit, except when she laughed, and smiled
when she went away. Her husband was a grave looking young man of five
or six and twenty, with an air of more fashion and sense than his wife,
but of less willingness to please or be pleased. He entered the room
with a look of self-consequence, slightly bowed to the ladies, without
speaking a word, and, after briefly surveying them and their
apartments, took up a newspaper from the table, and continued to read
it as long as he staid.
Mrs. Palmer, on the contrary, who was strongly endowed by nature with a
turn for being uniformly civil and happy, was hardly seated before her
admiration of the parlour and every thing in it burst forth.
"Well! what a delightful room this is! I never saw anything so
charming! Only think, Mamma, how it is improved since I was here last!
I always thought it such a sweet place, ma'am! (turning to Mrs.
Dashwood) but you have made it so charming! Only look, sister, how
delightful every thing is! How I should like such a house for myself!
Should not you, Mr. Palmer?"
Mr. Palmer made her no answer, and did not even raise his eyes from the
"Mr. Palmer does not hear me," said she, laughing; "he never does
sometimes. It is so ridiculous!"
This was quite a new idea to Mrs. Dashwood; she had never been used to
find wit in the inattention of any one, and could not help looking with
surprise at them both.
Mrs. Jennings, in the meantime, talked on as loud as she could, and
continued her account of their surprise, the evening before, on seeing
their friends, without ceasing till every thing was told. Mrs. Palmer
laughed heartily at the recollection of their astonishment, and every
body agreed, two or three times over, that it had been quite an
"You may believe how glad we all were to see them," added Mrs.
Jennings, leaning forward towards Elinor, and speaking in a low voice
as if she meant to be heard by no one else, though they were seated on
different sides of the room; "but, however, I can't help wishing they
had not travelled quite so fast, nor made such a long journey of it,
for they came all round by London upon account of some business, for
you know (nodding significantly and pointing to her daughter) it was
wrong in her situation. I wanted her to stay at home and rest this
morning, but she would come with us; she longed so much to see you all!"
Mrs. Palmer laughed, and said it would not do her any harm.
"She expects to be confined in February," continued Mrs. Jennings.
Lady Middleton could no longer endure such a conversation, and
therefore exerted herself to ask Mr. Palmer if there was any news in
"No, none at all," he replied, and read on.
"Here comes Marianne," cried Sir John. "Now, Palmer, you shall see a
monstrous pretty girl."
He immediately went into the passage, opened the front door, and
ushered her in himself. Mrs. Jennings asked her, as soon as she
appeared, if she had not been to Allenham; and Mrs. Palmer laughed so
heartily at the question, as to show she understood it. Mr. Palmer
looked up on her entering the room, stared at her some minutes, and
then returned to his newspaper. Mrs. Palmer's eye was now caught by
the drawings which hung round the room. She got up to examine them.
"Oh! dear, how beautiful these are! Well! how delightful! Do but
look, mama, how sweet! I declare they are quite charming; I could look
at them for ever." And then sitting down again, she very soon forgot
that there were any such things in the room.
When Lady Middleton rose to go away, Mr. Palmer rose also, laid down
the newspaper, stretched himself and looked at them all around.
"My love, have you been asleep?" said his wife, laughing.
He made her no answer; and only observed, after again examining the
room, that it was very low pitched, and that the ceiling was crooked.
He then made his bow, and departed with the rest.
Sir John had been very urgent with them all to spend the next day at
the park. Mrs. Dashwood, who did not chuse to dine with them oftener
than they dined at the cottage, absolutely refused on her own account;
her daughters might do as they pleased. But they had no curiosity to
see how Mr. and Mrs. Palmer ate their dinner, and no expectation of
pleasure from them in any other way. They attempted, therefore,
likewise, to excuse themselves; the weather was uncertain, and not
likely to be good. But Sir John would not be satisfied--the carriage
should be sent for them and they must come. Lady Middleton too, though
she did not press their mother, pressed them. Mrs. Jennings and Mrs.
Palmer joined their entreaties, all seemed equally anxious to avoid a
family party; and the young ladies were obliged to yield.
"Why should they ask us?" said Marianne, as soon as they were gone.
"The rent of this cottage is said to be low; but we have it on very
hard terms, if we are to dine at the park whenever any one is staying
either with them, or with us."
"They mean no less to be civil and kind to us now," said Elinor, "by
these frequent invitations, than by those which we received from them a
few weeks ago. The alteration is not in them, if their parties are
grown tedious and dull. We must look for the change elsewhere."
As the Miss Dashwoods entered the drawing-room of the park the next
day, at one door, Mrs. Palmer came running in at the other, looking as
good humoured and merry as before. She took them all most
affectionately by the hand, and expressed great delight in seeing them
"I am so glad to see you!" said she, seating herself between Elinor and
Marianne, "for it is so bad a day I was afraid you might not come,
which would be a shocking thing, as we go away again tomorrow. We must
go, for the Westons come to us next week you know. It was quite a
sudden thing our coming at all, and I knew nothing of it till the
carriage was coming to the door, and then Mr. Palmer asked me if I
would go with him to Barton. He is so droll! He never tells me any
thing! I am so sorry we cannot stay longer; however we shall meet again
in town very soon, I hope."
They were obliged to put an end to such an expectation.
"Not go to town!" cried Mrs. Palmer, with a laugh, "I shall be quite
disappointed if you do not. I could get the nicest house in world for
you, next door to ours, in Hanover-square. You must come, indeed. I
am sure I shall be very happy to chaperon you at any time till I am
confined, if Mrs. Dashwood should not like to go into public."
They thanked her; but were obliged to resist all her entreaties.
"Oh, my love," cried Mrs. Palmer to her husband, who just then entered
the room--"you must help me to persuade the Miss Dashwoods to go to
town this winter."
Her love made no answer; and after slightly bowing to the ladies, began
complaining of the weather.
"How horrid all this is!" said he. "Such weather makes every thing and
every body disgusting. Dullness is as much produced within doors as
without, by rain. It makes one detest all one's acquaintance. What
the devil does Sir John mean by not having a billiard room in his
house? How few people know what comfort is! Sir John is as stupid as
The rest of the company soon dropt in.
"I am afraid, Miss Marianne," said Sir John, "you have not been able to
take your usual walk to Allenham today."
Marianne looked very grave and said nothing.
"Oh, don't be so sly before us," said Mrs. Palmer; "for we know all
about it, I assure you; and I admire your taste very much, for I think
he is extremely handsome. We do not live a great way from him in the
country, you know. Not above ten miles, I dare say."
"Much nearer thirty," said her husband.
"Ah, well! there is not much difference. I never was at his house; but
they say it is a sweet pretty place."
"As vile a spot as I ever saw in my life," said Mr. Palmer.
Marianne remained perfectly silent, though her countenance betrayed her
interest in what was said.
"Is it very ugly?" continued Mrs. Palmer--"then it must be some other
place that is so pretty I suppose."
When they were seated in the dining room, Sir John observed with regret
that they were only eight all together.
"My dear," said he to his lady, "it is very provoking that we should be
so few. Why did not you ask the Gilberts to come to us today?"
"Did not I tell you, Sir John, when you spoke to me about it before,
that it could not be done? They dined with us last."
"You and I, Sir John," said Mrs. Jennings, "should not stand upon such
"Then you would be very ill-bred," cried Mr. Palmer.
"My love you contradict every body," said his wife with her usual
laugh. "Do you know that you are quite rude?"
"I did not know I contradicted any body in calling your mother
"Ay, you may abuse me as you please," said the good-natured old lady,
"you have taken Charlotte off my hands, and cannot give her back again.
So there I have the whip hand of you."
Charlotte laughed heartily to think that her husband could not get rid
of her; and exultingly said, she did not care how cross he was to her,
as they must live together. It was impossible for any one to be more
thoroughly good-natured, or more determined to be happy than Mrs.
Palmer. The studied indifference, insolence, and discontent of her
husband gave her no pain; and when he scolded or abused her, she was
"Mr. Palmer is so droll!" said she, in a whisper, to Elinor. "He is
always out of humour."
Elinor was not inclined, after a little observation, to give him credit
for being so genuinely and unaffectedly ill-natured or ill-bred as he
wished to appear. His temper might perhaps be a little soured by
finding, like many others of his sex, that through some unaccountable
bias in favour of beauty, he was the husband of a very silly
woman,--but she knew that this kind of blunder was too common for any
sensible man to be lastingly hurt by it.-- It was rather a wish of
distinction, she believed, which produced his contemptuous treatment of
every body, and his general abuse of every thing before him. It was
the desire of appearing superior to other people. The motive was too
common to be wondered at; but the means, however they might succeed by
establishing his superiority in ill-breeding, were not likely to attach
any one to him except his wife.
"Oh, my dear Miss Dashwood," said Mrs. Palmer soon afterwards, "I have
got such a favour to ask of you and your sister. Will you come and
spend some time at Cleveland this Christmas? Now, pray do,--and come
while the Westons are with us. You cannot think how happy I shall be!
It will be quite delightful!--My love," applying to her husband, "don't
you long to have the Miss Dashwoods come to Cleveland?"
"Certainly," he replied, with a sneer--"I came into Devonshire with no
"There now,"--said his lady, "you see Mr. Palmer expects you; so you
cannot refuse to come."
They both eagerly and resolutely declined her invitation.
"But indeed you must and shall come. I am sure you will like it of all
things. The Westons will be with us, and it will be quite delightful.
You cannot think what a sweet place Cleveland is; and we are so gay
now, for Mr. Palmer is always going about the country canvassing
against the election; and so many people came to dine with us that I
never saw before, it is quite charming! But, poor fellow! it is very
fatiguing to him! for he is forced to make every body like him."
Elinor could hardly keep her countenance as she assented to the
hardship of such an obligation.
"How charming it will be," said Charlotte, "when he is in
Parliament!--won't it? How I shall laugh! It will be so ridiculous to
see all his letters directed to him with an M.P.--But do you know, he
says, he will never frank for me? He declares he won't. Don't you,
Mr. Palmer took no notice of her.
"He cannot bear writing, you know," she continued--"he says it is quite
"No," said he, "I never said any thing so irrational. Don't palm all
your abuses of languages upon me."
"There now; you see how droll he is. This is always the way with him!
Sometimes he won't speak to me for half a day together, and then he
comes out with something so droll--all about any thing in the world."
She surprised Elinor very much as they returned into the drawing-room,
by asking her whether she did not like Mr. Palmer excessively.
"Certainly," said Elinor; "he seems very agreeable."
"Well--I am so glad you do. I thought you would, he is so pleasant;
and Mr. Palmer is excessively pleased with you and your sisters I can
tell you, and you can't think how disappointed he will be if you don't
come to Cleveland.--I can't imagine why you should object to it."
Elinor was again obliged to decline her invitation; and by changing the
subject, put a stop to her entreaties. She thought it probable that as
they lived in the same county, Mrs. Palmer might be able to give some
more particular account of Willoughby's general character, than could
be gathered from the Middletons' partial acquaintance with him; and she
was eager to gain from any one, such a confirmation of his merits as
might remove the possibility of fear from Marianne. She began by
inquiring if they saw much of Mr. Willoughby at Cleveland, and whether
they were intimately acquainted with him.
"Oh dear, yes; I know him extremely well," replied Mrs. Palmer;--"Not
that I ever spoke to him, indeed; but I have seen him for ever in town.
Somehow or other I never happened to be staying at Barton while he was
at Allenham. Mama saw him here once before;--but I was with my uncle
at Weymouth. However, I dare say we should have seen a great deal of
him in Somersetshire, if it had not happened very unluckily that we
should never have been in the country together. He is very little at
Combe, I believe; but if he were ever so much there, I do not think Mr.
Palmer would visit him, for he is in the opposition, you know, and
besides it is such a way off. I know why you inquire about him, very
well; your sister is to marry him. I am monstrous glad of it, for then
I shall have her for a neighbour you know."
"Upon my word," replied Elinor, "you know much more of the matter than
I do, if you have any reason to expect such a match."
"Don't pretend to deny it, because you know it is what every body talks
of. I assure you I heard of it in my way through town."
"My dear Mrs. Palmer!"
"Upon my honour I did.--I met Colonel Brandon Monday morning in
Bond-street, just before we left town, and he told me of it directly."
"You surprise me very much. Colonel Brandon tell you of it! Surely
you must be mistaken. To give such intelligence to a person who could
not be interested in it, even if it were true, is not what I should
expect Colonel Brandon to do."
"But I do assure you it was so, for all that, and I will tell you how
it happened. When we met him, he turned back and walked with us; and
so we began talking of my brother and sister, and one thing and
another, and I said to him, 'So, Colonel, there is a new family come to
Barton cottage, I hear, and mama sends me word they are very pretty,
and that one of them is going to be married to Mr. Willoughby of Combe
Magna. Is it true, pray? for of course you must know, as you have been
in Devonshire so lately.'"
"And what did the Colonel say?"
"Oh--he did not say much; but he looked as if he knew it to be true, so
from that moment I set it down as certain. It will be quite
delightful, I declare! When is it to take place?"
"Mr. Brandon was very well I hope?"
"Oh! yes, quite well; and so full of your praises, he did nothing but
say fine things of you."
"I am flattered by his commendation. He seems an excellent man; and I
think him uncommonly pleasing."
"So do I.--He is such a charming man, that it is quite a pity he should
be so grave and so dull. Mamma says HE was in love with your sister
too.-- I assure you it was a great compliment if he was, for he hardly
ever falls in love with any body."
"Is Mr. Willoughby much known in your part of Somersetshire?" said
"Oh! yes, extremely well; that is, I do not believe many people are
acquainted with him, because Combe Magna is so far off; but they all
think him extremely agreeable I assure you. Nobody is more liked than
Mr. Willoughby wherever he goes, and so you may tell your sister. She
is a monstrous lucky girl to get him, upon my honour; not but that he
is much more lucky in getting her, because she is so very handsome and
agreeable, that nothing can be good enough for her. However, I don't
think her hardly at all handsomer than you, I assure you; for I think
you both excessively pretty, and so does Mr. Palmer too I am sure,
though we could not get him to own it last night."
Mrs. Palmer's information respecting Willoughby was not very material;
but any testimony in his favour, however small, was pleasing to her.
"I am so glad we are got acquainted at last," continued
Charlotte.--"And now I hope we shall always be great friends. You
can't think how much I longed to see you! It is so delightful that you
should live at the cottage! Nothing can be like it, to be sure! And I
am so glad your sister is going to be well married! I hope you will be
a great deal at Combe Magna. It is a sweet place, by all accounts."
"You have been long acquainted with Colonel Brandon, have not you?"
"Yes, a great while; ever since my sister married.-- He was a
particular friend of Sir John's. I believe," she added in a low voice,
"he would have been very glad to have had me, if he could. Sir John
and Lady Middleton wished it very much. But mama did not think the
match good enough for me, otherwise Sir John would have mentioned it to
the Colonel, and we should have been married immediately."
"Did not Colonel Brandon know of Sir John's proposal to your mother
before it was made? Had he never owned his affection to yourself?"
"Oh, no; but if mama had not objected to it, I dare say he would have
liked it of all things. He had not seen me then above twice, for it
was before I left school. However, I am much happier as I am. Mr.
Palmer is the kind of man I like."
The Palmers returned to Cleveland the next day, and the two families at
Barton were again left to entertain each other. But this did not last
long; Elinor had hardly got their last visitors out of her head, had
hardly done wondering at Charlotte's being so happy without a cause, at
Mr. Palmer's acting so simply, with good abilities, and at the strange
unsuitableness which often existed between husband and wife, before Sir
John's and Mrs. Jennings's active zeal in the cause of society,
procured her some other new acquaintance to see and observe.
In a morning's excursion to Exeter, they had met with two young ladies,
whom Mrs. Jennings had the satisfaction of discovering to be her
relations, and this was enough for Sir John to invite them directly to
the park, as soon as their present engagements at Exeter were over.
Their engagements at Exeter instantly gave way before such an
invitation, and Lady Middleton was thrown into no little alarm on the
return of Sir John, by hearing that she was very soon to receive a
visit from two girls whom she had never seen in her life, and of whose
elegance,--whose tolerable gentility even, she could have no proof; for
the assurances of her husband and mother on that subject went for
nothing at all. Their being her relations too made it so much the
worse; and Mrs. Jennings's attempts at consolation were therefore
unfortunately founded, when she advised her daughter not to care about
their being so fashionable; because they were all cousins and must put
up with one another. As it was impossible, however, now to prevent
their coming, Lady Middleton resigned herself to the idea of it, with
all the philosophy of a well-bred woman, contenting herself with merely
giving her husband a gentle reprimand on the subject five or six times
The young ladies arrived: their appearance was by no means ungenteel or
unfashionable. Their dress was very smart, their manners very civil,
they were delighted with the house, and in raptures with the furniture,
and they happened to be so doatingly fond of children that Lady
Middleton's good opinion was engaged in their favour before they had
been an hour at the Park. She declared them to be very agreeable girls
indeed, which for her ladyship was enthusiastic admiration. Sir John's
confidence in his own judgment rose with this animated praise, and he
set off directly for the cottage to tell the Miss Dashwoods of the Miss
Steeles' arrival, and to assure them of their being the sweetest girls
in the world. From such commendation as this, however, there was not
much to be learned; Elinor well knew that the sweetest girls in the
world were to be met with in every part of England, under every
possible variation of form, face, temper and understanding. Sir John
wanted the whole family to walk to the Park directly and look at his
guests. Benevolent, philanthropic man! It was painful to him even to
keep a third cousin to himself.
"Do come now," said he--"pray come--you must come--I declare you shall
come--You can't think how you will like them. Lucy is monstrous
pretty, and so good humoured and agreeable! The children are all
hanging about her already, as if she was an old acquaintance. And they
both long to see you of all things, for they have heard at Exeter that
you are the most beautiful creatures in the world; and I have told them
it is all very true, and a great deal more. You will be delighted with
them I am sure. They have brought the whole coach full of playthings
for the children. How can you be so cross as not to come? Why they
are your cousins, you know, after a fashion. YOU are my cousins, and
they are my wife's, so you must be related."
But Sir John could not prevail. He could only obtain a promise of
their calling at the Park within a day or two, and then left them in
amazement at their indifference, to walk home and boast anew of their
attractions to the Miss Steeles, as he had been already boasting of the
Miss Steeles to them.
When their promised visit to the Park and consequent introduction to
these young ladies took place, they found in the appearance of the
eldest, who was nearly thirty, with a very plain and not a sensible
face, nothing to admire; but in the other, who was not more than two or
three and twenty, they acknowledged considerable beauty; her features
were pretty, and she had a sharp quick eye, and a smartness of air,
which though it did not give actual elegance or grace, gave distinction
to her person.-- Their manners were particularly civil, and Elinor soon
allowed them credit for some kind of sense, when she saw with what
constant and judicious attention they were making themselves agreeable
to Lady Middleton. With her children they were in continual raptures,
extolling their beauty, courting their notice, and humouring their
whims; and such of their time as could be spared from the importunate
demands which this politeness made on it, was spent in admiration of
whatever her ladyship was doing, if she happened to be doing any thing,
or in taking patterns of some elegant new dress, in which her
appearance the day before had thrown them into unceasing delight.
Fortunately for those who pay their court through such foibles, a fond
mother, though, in pursuit of praise for her children, the most
rapacious of human beings, is likewise the most credulous; her demands
are exorbitant; but she will swallow any thing; and the excessive
affection and endurance of the Miss Steeles towards her offspring were
viewed therefore by Lady Middleton without the smallest surprise or
distrust. She saw with maternal complacency all the impertinent
encroachments and mischievous tricks to which her cousins submitted.
She saw their sashes untied, their hair pulled about their ears, their
work-bags searched, and their knives and scissors stolen away, and felt
no doubt of its being a reciprocal enjoyment. It suggested no other
surprise than that Elinor and Marianne should sit so composedly by,
without claiming a share in what was passing.
"John is in such spirits today!" said she, on his taking Miss Steeles's
pocket handkerchief, and throwing it out of window--"He is full of
And soon afterwards, on the second boy's violently pinching one of the
same lady's fingers, she fondly observed, "How playful William is!"
"And here is my sweet little Annamaria," she added, tenderly caressing
a little girl of three years old, who had not made a noise for the last
two minutes; "And she is always so gentle and quiet--Never was there
such a quiet little thing!"
But unfortunately in bestowing these embraces, a pin in her ladyship's
head dress slightly scratching the child's neck, produced from this
pattern of gentleness such violent screams, as could hardly be outdone
by any creature professedly noisy. The mother's consternation was
excessive; but it could not surpass the alarm of the Miss Steeles, and
every thing was done by all three, in so critical an emergency, which
affection could suggest as likely to assuage the agonies of the little
sufferer. She was seated in her mother's lap, covered with kisses, her
wound bathed with lavender-water, by one of the Miss Steeles, who was
on her knees to attend her, and her mouth stuffed with sugar plums by
the other. With such a reward for her tears, the child was too wise to
cease crying. She still screamed and sobbed lustily, kicked her two
brothers for offering to touch her, and all their united soothings were
ineffectual till Lady Middleton luckily remembering that in a scene of
similar distress last week, some apricot marmalade had been
successfully applied for a bruised temple, the same remedy was eagerly
proposed for this unfortunate scratch, and a slight intermission of
screams in the young lady on hearing it, gave them reason to hope that
it would not be rejected.-- She was carried out of the room therefore
in her mother's arms, in quest of this medicine, and as the two boys
chose to follow, though earnestly entreated by their mother to stay
behind, the four young ladies were left in a quietness which the room
had not known for many hours.
"Poor little creatures!" said Miss Steele, as soon as they were gone.
"It might have been a very sad accident."
"Yet I hardly know how," cried Marianne, "unless it had been under
totally different circumstances. But this is the usual way of
heightening alarm, where there is nothing to be alarmed at in reality."
"What a sweet woman Lady Middleton is!" said Lucy Steele.
Marianne was silent; it was impossible for her to say what she did not
feel, however trivial the occasion; and upon Elinor therefore the whole
task of telling lies when politeness required it, always fell. She did
her best when thus called on, by speaking of Lady Middleton with more
warmth than she felt, though with far less than Miss Lucy.
"And Sir John too," cried the elder sister, "what a charming man he is!"
Here too, Miss Dashwood's commendation, being only simple and just,
came in without any eclat. She merely observed that he was perfectly
good humoured and friendly.
"And what a charming little family they have! I never saw such fine
children in my life.--I declare I quite doat upon them already, and
indeed I am always distractedly fond of children."
"I should guess so," said Elinor, with a smile, "from what I have
witnessed this morning."
"I have a notion," said Lucy, "you think the little Middletons rather
too much indulged; perhaps they may be the outside of enough; but it is
so natural in Lady Middleton; and for my part, I love to see children
full of life and spirits; I cannot bear them if they are tame and
"I confess," replied Elinor, "that while I am at Barton Park, I never
think of tame and quiet children with any abhorrence."
A short pause succeeded this speech, which was first broken by Miss
Steele, who seemed very much disposed for conversation, and who now
said rather abruptly, "And how do you like Devonshire, Miss Dashwood?
I suppose you were very sorry to leave Sussex."
In some surprise at the familiarity of this question, or at least of
the manner in which it was spoken, Elinor replied that she was.
"Norland is a prodigious beautiful place, is not it?" added Miss Steele.
"We have heard Sir John admire it excessively," said Lucy, who seemed
to think some apology necessary for the freedom of her sister.
"I think every one MUST admire it," replied Elinor, "who ever saw the
place; though it is not to be supposed that any one can estimate its
beauties as we do."
"And had you a great many smart beaux there? I suppose you have not so
many in this part of the world; for my part, I think they are a vast
"But why should you think," said Lucy, looking ashamed of her sister,
"that there are not as many genteel young men in Devonshire as Sussex?"
"Nay, my dear, I'm sure I don't pretend to say that there an't. I'm
sure there's a vast many smart beaux in Exeter; but you know, how could
I tell what smart beaux there might be about Norland; and I was only
afraid the Miss Dashwoods might find it dull at Barton, if they had not
so many as they used to have. But perhaps you young ladies may not
care about the beaux, and had as lief be without them as with them.
For my part, I think they are vastly agreeable, provided they dress
smart and behave civil. But I can't bear to see them dirty and nasty.
Now there's Mr. Rose at Exeter, a prodigious smart young man, quite a
beau, clerk to Mr. Simpson, you know, and yet if you do but meet him of
a morning, he is not fit to be seen.-- I suppose your brother was quite
a beau, Miss Dashwood, before he married, as he was so rich?"
"Upon my word," replied Elinor, "I cannot tell you, for I do not
perfectly comprehend the meaning of the word. But this I can say, that
if he ever was a beau before he married, he is one still for there is
not the smallest alteration in him."
"Oh! dear! one never thinks of married men's being beaux--they have
something else to do."
"Lord! Anne," cried her sister, "you can talk of nothing but
beaux;--you will make Miss Dashwood believe you think of nothing else."
And then to turn the discourse, she began admiring the house and the
This specimen of the Miss Steeles was enough. The vulgar freedom and
folly of the eldest left her no recommendation, and as Elinor was not
blinded by the beauty, or the shrewd look of the youngest, to her want
of real elegance and artlessness, she left the house without any wish
of knowing them better.
Not so the Miss Steeles.--They came from Exeter, well provided with
admiration for the use of Sir John Middleton, his family, and all his
relations, and no niggardly proportion was now dealt out to his fair
cousins, whom they declared to be the most beautiful, elegant,
accomplished, and agreeable girls they had ever beheld, and with whom
they were particularly anxious to be better acquainted.-- And to be
better acquainted therefore, Elinor soon found was their inevitable
lot, for as Sir John was entirely on the side of the Miss Steeles,
their party would be too strong for opposition, and that kind of
intimacy must be submitted to, which consists of sitting an hour or two
together in the same room almost every day. Sir John could do no more;
but he did not know that any more was required: to be together was, in
his opinion, to be intimate, and while his continual schemes for their
meeting were effectual, he had not a doubt of their being established
To do him justice, he did every thing in his power to promote their
unreserve, by making the Miss Steeles acquainted with whatever he knew
or supposed of his cousins' situations in the most delicate
particulars,--and Elinor had not seen them more than twice, before the
eldest of them wished her joy on her sister's having been so lucky as
to make a conquest of a very smart beau since she came to Barton.
"'Twill be a fine thing to have her married so young to be sure," said
she, "and I hear he is quite a beau, and prodigious handsome. And I
hope you may have as good luck yourself soon,--but perhaps you may have
a friend in the corner already."
Elinor could not suppose that Sir John would be more nice in
proclaiming his suspicions of her regard for Edward, than he had been
with respect to Marianne; indeed it was rather his favourite joke of
the two, as being somewhat newer and more conjectural; and since
Edward's visit, they had never dined together without his drinking to
her best affections with so much significancy and so many nods and
winks, as to excite general attention. The letter F--had been likewise
invariably brought forward, and found productive of such countless
jokes, that its character as the wittiest letter in the alphabet had
been long established with Elinor.
The Miss Steeles, as she expected, had now all the benefit of these
jokes, and in the eldest of them they raised a curiosity to know the
name of the gentleman alluded to, which, though often impertinently
expressed, was perfectly of a piece with her general inquisitiveness
into the concerns of their family. But Sir John did not sport long
with the curiosity which he delighted to raise, for he had at least as
much pleasure in telling the name, as Miss Steele had in hearing it.
"His name is Ferrars," said he, in a very audible whisper; "but pray do
not tell it, for it's a great secret."
"Ferrars!" repeated Miss Steele; "Mr. Ferrars is the happy man, is he?
What! your sister-in-law's brother, Miss Dashwood? a very agreeable
young man to be sure; I know him very well."
"How can you say so, Anne?" cried Lucy, who generally made an amendment
to all her sister's assertions. "Though we have seen him once or twice
at my uncle's, it is rather too much to pretend to know him very well."
Elinor heard all this with attention and surprise. "And who was this
uncle? Where did he live? How came they acquainted?" She wished very
much to have the subject continued, though she did not chuse to join in
it herself; but nothing more of it was said, and for the first time in
her life, she thought Mrs. Jennings deficient either in curiosity after
petty information, or in a disposition to communicate it. The manner
in which Miss Steele had spoken of Edward, increased her curiosity; for
it struck her as being rather ill-natured, and suggested the suspicion
of that lady's knowing, or fancying herself to know something to his
disadvantage.--But her curiosity was unavailing, for no farther notice
was taken of Mr. Ferrars's name by Miss Steele when alluded to, or even
openly mentioned by Sir John.
Marianne, who had never much toleration for any thing like
impertinence, vulgarity, inferiority of parts, or even difference of
taste from herself, was at this time particularly ill-disposed, from
the state of her spirits, to be pleased with the Miss Steeles, or to
encourage their advances; and to the invariable coldness of her
behaviour towards them, which checked every endeavour at intimacy on
their side, Elinor principally attributed that preference of herself
which soon became evident in the manners of both, but especially of
Lucy, who missed no opportunity of engaging her in conversation, or of
striving to improve their acquaintance by an easy and frank
communication of her sentiments.
Lucy was naturally clever; her remarks were often just and amusing; and
as a companion for half an hour Elinor frequently found her agreeable;
but her powers had received no aid from education: she was ignorant and
illiterate; and her deficiency of all mental improvement, her want of
information in the most common particulars, could not be concealed from
Miss Dashwood, in spite of her constant endeavour to appear to
advantage. Elinor saw, and pitied her for, the neglect of abilities
which education might have rendered so respectable; but she saw, with
less tenderness of feeling, the thorough want of delicacy, of
rectitude, and integrity of mind, which her attentions, her
assiduities, her flatteries at the Park betrayed; and she could have no
lasting satisfaction in the company of a person who joined insincerity
with ignorance; whose want of instruction prevented their meeting in
conversation on terms of equality, and whose conduct toward others made
every shew of attention and deference towards herself perfectly
"You will think my question an odd one, I dare say," said Lucy to her
one day, as they were walking together from the park to the
cottage--"but pray, are you personally acquainted with your
sister-in-law's mother, Mrs. Ferrars?"
Elinor DID think the question a very odd one, and her countenance
expressed it, as she answered that she had never seen Mrs. Ferrars.
"Indeed!" replied Lucy; "I wonder at that, for I thought you must have
seen her at Norland sometimes. Then, perhaps, you cannot tell me what
sort of a woman she is?"
"No," returned Elinor, cautious of giving her real opinion of Edward's
mother, and not very desirous of satisfying what seemed impertinent
curiosity-- "I know nothing of her."
"I am sure you think me very strange, for enquiring about her in such a
way," said Lucy, eyeing Elinor attentively as she spoke; "but perhaps
there may be reasons--I wish I might venture; but however I hope you
will do me the justice of believing that I do not mean to be
Elinor made her a civil reply, and they walked on for a few minutes in
silence. It was broken by Lucy, who renewed the subject again by
saying, with some hesitation,
"I cannot bear to have you think me impertinently curious. I am sure I
would rather do any thing in the world than be thought so by a person
whose good opinion is so well worth having as yours. And I am sure I
should not have the smallest fear of trusting YOU; indeed, I should be
very glad of your advice how to manage in such and uncomfortable
situation as I am; but, however, there is no occasion to trouble YOU.
I am sorry you do not happen to know Mrs. Ferrars."
"I am sorry I do NOT," said Elinor, in great astonishment, "if it could
be of any use to YOU to know my opinion of her. But really I never
understood that you were at all connected with that family, and
therefore I am a little surprised, I confess, at so serious an inquiry
into her character."
"I dare say you are, and I am sure I do not at all wonder at it. But
if I dared tell you all, you would not be so much surprised. Mrs.
Ferrars is certainly nothing to me at present--but the time MAY
come--how soon it will come must depend upon herself--when we may be
very intimately connected."
She looked down as she said this, amiably bashful, with only one side
glance at her companion to observe its effect on her.
"Good heavens!" cried Elinor, "what do you mean? Are you acquainted
with Mr. Robert Ferrars? Can you be?" And she did not feel much
delighted with the idea of such a sister-in-law.
"No," replied Lucy, "not to Mr. ROBERT Ferrars--I never saw him in my
life; but," fixing her eyes upon Elinor, "to his eldest brother."
What felt Elinor at that moment? Astonishment, that would have been as
painful as it was strong, had not an immediate disbelief of the
assertion attended it. She turned towards Lucy in silent amazement,
unable to divine the reason or object of such a declaration; and though
her complexion varied, she stood firm in incredulity, and felt in no
danger of an hysterical fit, or a swoon.
"You may well be surprised," continued Lucy; "for to be sure you could
have had no idea of it before; for I dare say he never dropped the
smallest hint of it to you or any of your family; because it was always
meant to be a great secret, and I am sure has been faithfully kept so
by me to this hour. Not a soul of all my relations know of it but
Anne, and I never should have mentioned it to you, if I had not felt
the greatest dependence in the world upon your secrecy; and I really
thought my behaviour in asking so many questions about Mrs. Ferrars
must seem so odd, that it ought to be explained. And I do not think
Mr. Ferrars can be displeased, when he knows I have trusted you,
because I know he has the highest opinion in the world of all your
family, and looks upon yourself and the other Miss Dashwoods quite as
his own sisters."--She paused.
Elinor for a few moments remained silent. Her astonishment at what she
heard was at first too great for words; but at length forcing herself
to speak, and to speak cautiously, she said, with calmness of manner,
which tolerably well concealed her surprise and solicitude-- "May I ask
if your engagement is of long standing?"
"We have been engaged these four years."
Elinor, though greatly shocked, still felt unable to believe it.
"I did not know," said she, "that you were even acquainted till the
"Our acquaintance, however, is of many years date. He was under my
uncle's care, you know, a considerable while."
"Yes; Mr. Pratt. Did you never hear him talk of Mr. Pratt?"
"I think I have," replied Elinor, with an exertion of spirits, which
increased with her increase of emotion.
"He was four years with my uncle, who lives at Longstaple, near
Plymouth. It was there our acquaintance begun, for my sister and me
was often staying with my uncle, and it was there our engagement was
formed, though not till a year after he had quitted as a pupil; but he
was almost always with us afterwards. I was very unwilling to enter
into it, as you may imagine, without the knowledge and approbation of
his mother; but I was too young, and loved him too well, to be so
prudent as I ought to have been.-- Though you do not know him so well
as me, Miss Dashwood, you must have seen enough of him to be sensible
he is very capable of making a woman sincerely attached to him."
"Certainly," answered Elinor, without knowing what she said; but after
a moment's reflection, she added, with revived security of Edward's
honour and love, and her companion's falsehood--"Engaged to Mr. Edward
Ferrars!--I confess myself so totally surprised at what you tell me,
that really--I beg your pardon; but surely there must be some mistake
of person or name. We cannot mean the same Mr. Ferrars."
"We can mean no other," cried Lucy, smiling. "Mr. Edward Ferrars, the
eldest son of Mrs. Ferrars, of Park Street, and brother of your
sister-in-law, Mrs. John Dashwood, is the person I mean; you must allow
that I am not likely to be deceived as to the name of the man on who
all my happiness depends."
"It is strange," replied Elinor, in a most painful perplexity, "that I
should never have heard him even mention your name."
"No; considering our situation, it was not strange. Our first care has
been to keep the matter secret.-- You knew nothing of me, or my family,
and, therefore, there could be no OCCASION for ever mentioning my name
to you; and, as he was always particularly afraid of his sister's
suspecting any thing, THAT was reason enough for his not mentioning it."
She was silent.--Elinor's security sunk; but her self-command did not
sink with it.
"Four years you have been engaged," said she with a firm voice.
"Yes; and heaven knows how much longer we may have to wait. Poor
Edward! It puts him quite out of heart." Then taking a small miniature
from her pocket, she added, "To prevent the possibility of mistake, be
so good as to look at this face. It does not do him justice, to be
sure, but yet I think you cannot be deceived as to the person it was
drew for.--I have had it above these three years."
She put it into her hands as she spoke; and when Elinor saw the
painting, whatever other doubts her fear of a too hasty decision, or
her wish of detecting falsehood might suffer to linger in her mind, she
could have none of its being Edward's face. She returned it almost
instantly, acknowledging the likeness.
"I have never been able," continued Lucy, "to give him my picture in
return, which I am very much vexed at, for he has been always so
anxious to get it! But I am determined to set for it the very first
"You are quite in the right," replied Elinor calmly. They then
proceeded a few paces in silence. Lucy spoke first.
"I am sure," said she, "I have no doubt in the world of your faithfully
keeping this secret, because you must know of what importance it is to
us, not to have it reach his mother; for she would never approve of it,
I dare say. I shall have no fortune, and I fancy she is an exceeding
"I certainly did not seek your confidence," said Elinor; "but you do me
no more than justice in imagining that I may be depended on. Your
secret is safe with me; but pardon me if I express some surprise at so
unnecessary a communication. You must at least have felt that my being
acquainted with it could not add to its safety."
As she said this, she looked earnestly at Lucy, hoping to discover
something in her countenance; perhaps the falsehood of the greatest
part of what she had been saying; but Lucy's countenance suffered no
"I was afraid you would think I was taking a great liberty with you,"
said she, "in telling you all this. I have not known you long to be
sure, personally at least, but I have known you and all your family by
description a great while; and as soon as I saw you, I felt almost as
if you was an old acquaintance. Besides in the present case, I really
thought some explanation was due to you after my making such particular
inquiries about Edward's mother; and I am so unfortunate, that I have
not a creature whose advice I can ask. Anne is the only person that
knows of it, and she has no judgment at all; indeed, she does me a
great deal more harm than good, for I am in constant fear of her
betraying me. She does not know how to hold her tongue, as you must
perceive, and I am sure I was in the greatest fright in the world
t'other day, when Edward's name was mentioned by Sir John, lest she
should out with it all. You can't think how much I go through in my
mind from it altogether. I only wonder that I am alive after what I
have suffered for Edward's sake these last four years. Every thing in
such suspense and uncertainty; and seeing him so seldom--we can hardly
meet above twice a-year. I am sure I wonder my heart is not quite
Here she took out her handkerchief; but Elinor did not feel very
"Sometimes." continued Lucy, after wiping her eyes, "I think whether it
would not be better for us both to break off the matter entirely." As
she said this, she looked directly at her companion. "But then at
other times I have not resolution enough for it.-- I cannot bear the
thoughts of making him so miserable, as I know the very mention of such
a thing would do. And on my own account too--so dear as he is to me--I
don't think I could be equal to it. What would you advise me to do in
such a case, Miss Dashwood? What would you do yourself?"
"Pardon me," replied Elinor, startled by the question; "but I can give
you no advice under such circumstances. Your own judgment must direct
"To be sure," continued Lucy, after a few minutes silence on both
sides, "his mother must provide for him sometime or other; but poor
Edward is so cast down by it! Did you not think him dreadful
low-spirited when he was at Barton? He was so miserable when he left
us at Longstaple, to go to you, that I was afraid you would think him
"Did he come from your uncle's, then, when he visited us?"
"Oh, yes; he had been staying a fortnight with us. Did you think he
came directly from town?"
"No," replied Elinor, most feelingly sensible of every fresh
circumstance in favour of Lucy's veracity; "I remember he told us, that
he had been staying a fortnight with some friends near Plymouth." She
remembered too, her own surprise at the time, at his mentioning nothing
farther of those friends, at his total silence with respect even to
"Did not you think him sadly out of spirits?" repeated Lucy.
"We did, indeed, particularly so when he first arrived."
"I begged him to exert himself for fear you should suspect what was the
matter; but it made him so melancholy, not being able to stay more than
a fortnight with us, and seeing me so much affected.-- Poor fellow!--I
am afraid it is just the same with him now; for he writes in wretched
spirits. I heard from him just before I left Exeter;" taking a letter
from her pocket and carelessly showing the direction to Elinor. "You
know his hand, I dare say, a charming one it is; but that is not
written so well as usual.--He was tired, I dare say, for he had just
filled the sheet to me as full as possible."
Elinor saw that it WAS his hand, and she could doubt no longer. This
picture, she had allowed herself to believe, might have been
accidentally obtained; it might not have been Edward's gift; but a
correspondence between them by letter, could subsist only under a
positive engagement, could be authorised by nothing else; for a few
moments, she was almost overcome--her heart sunk within her, and she
could hardly stand; but exertion was indispensably necessary; and she
struggled so resolutely against the oppression of her feelings, that
her success was speedy, and for the time complete.
"Writing to each other," said Lucy, returning the letter into her
pocket, "is the only comfort we have in such long separations. Yes, I
have one other comfort in his picture, but poor Edward has not even
THAT. If he had but my picture, he says he should be easy. I gave him
a lock of my hair set in a ring when he was at Longstaple last, and
that was some comfort to him, he said, but not equal to a picture.
Perhaps you might notice the ring when you saw him?"
"I did," said Elinor, with a composure of voice, under which was
concealed an emotion and distress beyond any thing she had ever felt
before. She was mortified, shocked, confounded.
Fortunately for her, they had now reached the cottage, and the
conversation could be continued no farther. After sitting with them a
few minutes, the Miss Steeles returned to the Park, and Elinor was then
at liberty to think and be wretched.
[At this point in the first and second editions, Volume 1 ends.]
However small Elinor's general dependence on Lucy's veracity might be,
it was impossible for her on serious reflection to suspect it in the
present case, where no temptation could be answerable to the folly of
inventing a falsehood of such a description. What Lucy had asserted to
be true, therefore, Elinor could not, dared not longer doubt; supported
as it was too on every side by such probabilities and proofs, and
contradicted by nothing but her own wishes. Their opportunity of
acquaintance in the house of Mr. Pratt was a foundation for the rest,
at once indisputable and alarming; and Edward's visit near Plymouth,
his melancholy state of mind, his dissatisfaction at his own prospects,
his uncertain behaviour towards herself, the intimate knowledge of the
Miss Steeles as to Norland and their family connections, which had
often surprised her, the picture, the letter, the ring, formed
altogether such a body of evidence, as overcame every fear of
condemning him unfairly, and established as a fact, which no partiality
could set aside, his ill-treatment of herself.--Her resentment of such
behaviour, her indignation at having been its dupe, for a short time
made her feel only for herself; but other ideas, other considerations,
soon arose. Had Edward been intentionally deceiving her? Had he
feigned a regard for her which he did not feel? Was his engagement to
Lucy an engagement of the heart? No; whatever it might once have been,
she could not believe it such at present. His affection was all her
own. She could not be deceived in that. Her mother, sisters, Fanny,
all had been conscious of his regard for her at Norland; it was not an
illusion of her own vanity. He certainly loved her. What a softener
of the heart was this persuasion! How much could it not tempt her to
forgive! He had been blamable, highly blamable, in remaining at
Norland after he first felt her influence over him to be more than it
ought to be. In that, he could not be defended; but if he had injured
her, how much more had he injured himself; if her case were pitiable,
his was hopeless. His imprudence had made her miserable for a while;
but it seemed to have deprived himself of all chance of ever being
otherwise. She might in time regain tranquillity; but HE, what had he
to look forward to? Could he ever be tolerably happy with Lucy Steele;
could he, were his affection for herself out of the question, with his
integrity, his delicacy, and well-informed mind, be satisfied with a
wife like her--illiterate, artful, and selfish?
The youthful infatuation of nineteen would naturally blind him to every
thing but her beauty and good nature; but the four succeeding
years--years, which if rationally spent, give such improvement to the
understanding, must have opened his eyes to her defects of education,
while the same period of time, spent on her side in inferior society
and more frivolous pursuits, had perhaps robbed her of that simplicity
which might once have given an interesting character to her beauty.
If in the supposition of his seeking to marry herself, his difficulties
from his mother had seemed great, how much greater were they now likely
to be, when the object of his engagement was undoubtedly inferior in
connections, and probably inferior in fortune to herself. These
difficulties, indeed, with a heart so alienated from Lucy, might not
press very hard upon his patience; but melancholy was the state of the
person by whom the expectation of family opposition and unkindness,
could be felt as a relief!
As these considerations occurred to her in painful succession, she wept
for him, more than for herself. Supported by the conviction of having
done nothing to merit her present unhappiness, and consoled by the
belief that Edward had done nothing to forfeit her esteem, she thought
she could even now, under the first smart of the heavy blow, command
herself enough to guard every suspicion of the truth from her mother
and sisters. And so well was she able to answer her own expectations,
that when she joined them at dinner only two hours after she had first
suffered the extinction of all her dearest hopes, no one would have
supposed from the appearance of the sisters, that Elinor was mourning
in secret over obstacles which must divide her for ever from the object
of her love, and that Marianne was internally dwelling on the
perfections of a man, of whose whole heart she felt thoroughly
possessed, and whom she expected to see in every carriage which drove
near their house.
The necessity of concealing from her mother and Marianne, what had been
entrusted in confidence to herself, though it obliged her to unceasing
exertion, was no aggravation of Elinor's distress. On the contrary it
was a relief to her, to be spared the communication of what would give
such affliction to them, and to be saved likewise from hearing that
condemnation of Edward, which would probably flow from the excess of
their partial affection for herself, and which was more than she felt
equal to support.
From their counsel, or their conversation, she knew she could receive
no assistance, their tenderness and sorrow must add to her distress,
while her self-command would neither receive encouragement from their
example nor from their praise. She was stronger alone, and her own
good sense so well supported her, that her firmness was as unshaken,
her appearance of cheerfulness as invariable, as with regrets so
poignant and so fresh, it was possible for them to be.
Much as she had suffered from her first conversation with Lucy on the
subject, she soon felt an earnest wish of renewing it; and this for
more reasons than one. She wanted to hear many particulars of their
engagement repeated again, she wanted more clearly to understand what
Lucy really felt for Edward, whether there were any sincerity in her
declaration of tender regard for him, and she particularly wanted to
convince Lucy, by her readiness to enter on the matter again, and her
calmness in conversing on it, that she was no otherwise interested in
it than as a friend, which she very much feared her involuntary
agitation, in their morning discourse, must have left at least
doubtful. That Lucy was disposed to be jealous of her appeared very
probable: it was plain that Edward had always spoken highly in her
praise, not merely from Lucy's assertion, but from her venturing to
trust her on so short a personal acquaintance, with a secret so
confessedly and evidently important. And even Sir John's joking
intelligence must have had some weight. But indeed, while Elinor
remained so well assured within herself of being really beloved by
Edward, it required no other consideration of probabilities to make it
natural that Lucy should be jealous; and that she was so, her very
confidence was a proof. What other reason for the disclosure of the
affair could there be, but that Elinor might be informed by it of
Lucy's superior claims on Edward, and be taught to avoid him in future?
She had little difficulty in understanding thus much of her rival's
intentions, and while she was firmly resolved to act by her as every
principle of honour and honesty directed, to combat her own affection
for Edward and to see him as little as possible; she could not deny
herself the comfort of endeavouring to convince Lucy that her heart was
unwounded. And as she could now have nothing more painful to hear on
the subject than had already been told, she did not mistrust her own
ability of going through a repetition of particulars with composure.
But it was not immediately that an opportunity of doing so could be
commanded, though Lucy was as well disposed as herself to take
advantage of any that occurred; for the weather was not often fine
enough to allow of their joining in a walk, where they might most
easily separate themselves from the others; and though they met at
least every other evening either at the park or cottage, and chiefly at
the former, they could not be supposed to meet for the sake of
conversation. Such a thought would never enter either Sir John or Lady
Middleton's head; and therefore very little leisure was ever given for
a general chat, and none at all for particular discourse. They met for
the sake of eating, drinking, and laughing together, playing at cards,
or consequences, or any other game that was sufficiently noisy.
One or two meetings of this kind had taken place, without affording
Elinor any chance of engaging Lucy in private, when Sir John called at
the cottage one morning, to beg, in the name of charity, that they
would all dine with Lady Middleton that day, as he was obliged to
attend the club at Exeter, and she would otherwise be quite alone,
except her mother and the two Miss Steeles. Elinor, who foresaw a
fairer opening for the point she had in view, in such a party as this
was likely to be, more at liberty among themselves under the tranquil
and well-bred direction of Lady Middleton than when her husband united
them together in one noisy purpose, immediately accepted the
invitation; Margaret, with her mother's permission, was equally
compliant, and Marianne, though always unwilling to join any of their
parties, was persuaded by her mother, who could not bear to have her
seclude herself from any chance of amusement, to go likewise.
The young ladies went, and Lady Middleton was happily preserved from
the frightful solitude which had threatened her. The insipidity of the
meeting was exactly such as Elinor had expected; it produced not one
novelty of thought or expression, and nothing could be less interesting
than the whole of their discourse both in the dining parlour and
drawing room: to the latter, the children accompanied them, and while
they remained there, she was too well convinced of the impossibility of
engaging Lucy's attention to attempt it. They quitted it only with the
removal of the tea-things. The card-table was then placed, and Elinor
began to wonder at herself for having ever entertained a hope of
finding time for conversation at the park. They all rose up in
preparation for a round game.
"I am glad," said Lady Middleton to Lucy, "you are not going to finish
poor little Annamaria's basket this evening; for I am sure it must hurt
your eyes to work filigree by candlelight. And we will make the dear
little love some amends for her disappointment to-morrow, and then I
hope she will not much mind it."
This hint was enough, Lucy recollected herself instantly and replied,
"Indeed you are very much mistaken, Lady Middleton; I am only waiting
to know whether you can make your party without me, or I should have
been at my filigree already. I would not disappoint the little angel
for all the world: and if you want me at the card-table now, I am
resolved to finish the basket after supper."
"You are very good, I hope it won't hurt your eyes--will you ring the
bell for some working candles? My poor little girl would be sadly
disappointed, I know, if the basket was not finished tomorrow, for
though I told her it certainly would not, I am sure she depends upon
having it done."
Lucy directly drew her work table near her and reseated herself with an
alacrity and cheerfulness which seemed to infer that she could taste no
greater delight than in making a filigree basket for a spoilt child.
Lady Middleton proposed a rubber of Casino to the others. No one made
any objection but Marianne, who with her usual inattention to the forms
of general civility, exclaimed, "Your Ladyship will have the goodness
to excuse ME--you know I detest cards. I shall go to the piano-forte;
I have not touched it since it was tuned." And without farther
ceremony, she turned away and walked to the instrument.
Lady Middleton looked as if she thanked heaven that SHE had never made
so rude a speech.
"Marianne can never keep long from that instrument you know, ma'am,"
said Elinor, endeavouring to smooth away the offence; "and I do not
much wonder at it; for it is the very best toned piano-forte I ever
The remaining five were now to draw their cards.
"Perhaps," continued Elinor, "if I should happen to cut out, I may be
of some use to Miss Lucy Steele, in rolling her papers for her; and
there is so much still to be done to the basket, that it must be
impossible I think for her labour singly, to finish it this evening. I
should like the work exceedingly, if she would allow me a share in it."
"Indeed I shall be very much obliged to you for your help," cried Lucy,
"for I find there is more to be done to it than I thought there was;
and it would be a shocking thing to disappoint dear Annamaria after
"Oh! that would be terrible, indeed," said Miss Steele-- "Dear little
soul, how I do love her!"
"You are very kind," said Lady Middleton to Elinor; "and as you really
like the work, perhaps you will be as well pleased not to cut in till
another rubber, or will you take your chance now?"
Elinor joyfully profited by the first of these proposals, and thus by a
little of that address which Marianne could never condescend to
practise, gained her own end, and pleased Lady Middleton at the same
time. Lucy made room for her with ready attention, and the two fair
rivals were thus seated side by side at the same table, and, with the
utmost harmony, engaged in forwarding the same work. The pianoforte at
which Marianne, wrapped up in her own music and her own thoughts, had
by this time forgotten that any body was in the room besides herself,
was luckily so near them that Miss Dashwood now judged she might
safely, under the shelter of its noise, introduce the interesting
subject, without any risk of being heard at the card-table.
In a firm, though cautious tone, Elinor thus began.
"I should be undeserving of the confidence you have honoured me with,
if I felt no desire for its continuance, or no farther curiosity on its
subject. I will not apologize therefore for bringing it forward again."
"Thank you," cried Lucy warmly, "for breaking the ice; you have set my
heart at ease by it; for I was somehow or other afraid I had offended
you by what I told you that Monday."
"Offended me! How could you suppose so? Believe me," and Elinor spoke
it with the truest sincerity, "nothing could be farther from my
intention than to give you such an idea. Could you have a motive for
the trust, that was not honourable and flattering to me?"
"And yet I do assure you," replied Lucy, her little sharp eyes full of
meaning, "there seemed to me to be a coldness and displeasure in your
manner that made me quite uncomfortable. I felt sure that you was
angry with me; and have been quarrelling with myself ever since, for
having took such a liberty as to trouble you with my affairs. But I am
very glad to find it was only my own fancy, and that you really do not
blame me. If you knew what a consolation it was to me to relieve my
heart speaking to you of what I am always thinking of every moment of
my life, your compassion would make you overlook every thing else I am
"Indeed, I can easily believe that it was a very great relief to you,
to acknowledge your situation to me, and be assured that you shall
never have reason to repent it. Your case is a very unfortunate one;
you seem to me to be surrounded with difficulties, and you will have
need of all your mutual affection to support you under them. Mr.
Ferrars, I believe, is entirely dependent on his mother."
"He has only two thousand pounds of his own; it would be madness to
marry upon that, though for my own part, I could give up every prospect
of more without a sigh. I have been always used to a very small
income, and could struggle with any poverty for him; but I love him too
well to be the selfish means of robbing him, perhaps, of all that his
mother might give him if he married to please her. We must wait, it
may be for many years. With almost every other man in the world, it
would be an alarming prospect; but Edward's affection and constancy
nothing can deprive me of I know."
"That conviction must be every thing to you; and he is undoubtedly
supported by the same trust in your's. If the strength of your
reciprocal attachment had failed, as between many people, and under
many circumstances it naturally would during a four years' engagement,
your situation would have been pitiable, indeed."
Lucy here looked up; but Elinor was careful in guarding her countenance
from every expression that could give her words a suspicious tendency.
"Edward's love for me," said Lucy, "has been pretty well put to the
test, by our long, very long absence since we were first engaged, and
it has stood the trial so well, that I should be unpardonable to doubt
it now. I can safely say that he has never gave me one moment's alarm
on that account from the first."
Elinor hardly knew whether to smile or sigh at this assertion.
Lucy went on. "I am rather of a jealous temper too by nature, and from
our different situations in life, from his being so much more in the
world than me, and our continual separation, I was enough inclined for
suspicion, to have found out the truth in an instant, if there had been
the slightest alteration in his behaviour to me when we met, or any
lowness of spirits that I could not account for, or if he had talked
more of one lady than another, or seemed in any respect less happy at
Longstaple than he used to be. I do not mean to say that I am
particularly observant or quick-sighted in general, but in such a case
I am sure I could not be deceived."
"All this," thought Elinor, "is very pretty; but it can impose upon
neither of us."
"But what," said she after a short silence, "are your views? or have
you none but that of waiting for Mrs. Ferrars's death, which is a
melancholy and shocking extremity?--Is her son determined to submit to
this, and to all the tediousness of the many years of suspense in which
it may involve you, rather than run the risk of her displeasure for a
while by owning the truth?"
"If we could be certain that it would be only for a while! But Mrs.
Ferrars is a very headstrong proud woman, and in her first fit of anger
upon hearing it, would very likely secure every thing to Robert, and
the idea of that, for Edward's sake, frightens away all my inclination
for hasty measures."
"And for your own sake too, or you are carrying your disinterestedness
Lucy looked at Elinor again, and was silent.
"Do you know Mr. Robert Ferrars?" asked Elinor.
"Not at all--I never saw him; but I fancy he is very unlike his
brother--silly and a great coxcomb."
"A great coxcomb!" repeated Miss Steele, whose ear had caught those
words by a sudden pause in Marianne's music.-- "Oh, they are talking of
their favourite beaux, I dare say."
"No sister," cried Lucy, "you are mistaken there, our favourite beaux
are NOT great coxcombs."
"I can answer for it that Miss Dashwood's is not," said Mrs. Jennings,
laughing heartily; "for he is one of the modestest, prettiest behaved
young men I ever saw; but as for Lucy, she is such a sly little
creature, there is no finding out who SHE likes."
"Oh," cried Miss Steele, looking significantly round at them, "I dare
say Lucy's beau is quite as modest and pretty behaved as Miss
Elinor blushed in spite of herself. Lucy bit her lip, and looked
angrily at her sister. A mutual silence took place for some time.
Lucy first put an end to it by saying in a lower tone, though Marianne
was then giving them the powerful protection of a very magnificent
"I will honestly tell you of one scheme which has lately come into my
head, for bringing matters to bear; indeed I am bound to let you into
the secret, for you are a party concerned. I dare say you have seen
enough of Edward to know that he would prefer the church to every other
profession; now my plan is that he should take orders as soon as he
can, and then through your interest, which I am sure you would be kind
enough to use out of friendship for him, and I hope out of some regard
to me, your brother might be persuaded to give him Norland living;
which I understand is a very good one, and the present incumbent not
likely to live a great while. That would be enough for us to marry
upon, and we might trust to time and chance for the rest."
"I should always be happy," replied Elinor, "to show any mark of my
esteem and friendship for Mr. Ferrars; but do you not perceive that my
interest on such an occasion would be perfectly unnecessary? He is
brother to Mrs. John Dashwood--THAT must be recommendation enough to
"But Mrs. John Dashwood would not much approve of Edward's going into
"Then I rather suspect that my interest would do very little."
They were again silent for many minutes. At length Lucy exclaimed with
a deep sigh,
"I believe it would be the wisest way to put an end to the business at
once by dissolving the engagement. We seem so beset with difficulties
on every side, that though it would make us miserable for a time, we
should be happier perhaps in the end. But you will not give me your
advice, Miss Dashwood?"
"No," answered Elinor, with a smile, which concealed very agitated
feelings, "on such a subject I certainly will not. You know very well
that my opinion would have no weight with you, unless it were on the
side of your wishes."
"Indeed you wrong me," replied Lucy, with great solemnity; "I know
nobody of whose judgment I think so highly as I do of yours; and I do
really believe, that if you was to say to me, 'I advise you by all
means to put an end to your engagement with Edward Ferrars, it will be
more for the happiness of both of you,' I should resolve upon doing it
Elinor blushed for the insincerity of Edward's future wife, and
replied, "This compliment would effectually frighten me from giving any
opinion on the subject had I formed one. It raises my influence much
too high; the power of dividing two people so tenderly attached is too
much for an indifferent person."
"'Tis because you are an indifferent person," said Lucy, with some
pique, and laying a particular stress on those words, "that your
judgment might justly have such weight with me. If you could be
supposed to be biased in any respect by your own feelings, your opinion
would not be worth having."
Elinor thought it wisest to make no answer to this, lest they might
provoke each other to an unsuitable increase of ease and unreserve; and
was even partly determined never to mention the subject again. Another
pause therefore of many minutes' duration, succeeded this speech, and
Lucy was still the first to end it.
"Shall you be in town this winter, Miss Dashwood?" said she with all
her accustomary complacency.
"I am sorry for that," returned the other, while her eyes brightened at
the information, "it would have gave me such pleasure to meet you
there! But I dare say you will go for all that. To be sure, your
brother and sister will ask you to come to them."
"It will not be in my power to accept their invitation if they do."
"How unlucky that is! I had quite depended upon meeting you there.
Anne and me are to go the latter end of January to some relations who
have been wanting us to visit them these several years! But I only go
for the sake of seeing Edward. He will be there in February, otherwise
London would have no charms for me; I have not spirits for it."
Elinor was soon called to the card-table by the conclusion of the first
rubber, and the confidential discourse of the two ladies was therefore
at an end, to which both of them submitted without any reluctance, for
nothing had been said on either side to make them dislike each other
less than they had done before; and Elinor sat down to the card table
with the melancholy persuasion that Edward was not only without
affection for the person who was to be his wife; but that he had not
even the chance of being tolerably happy in marriage, which sincere
affection on HER side would have given, for self-interest alone could
induce a woman to keep a man to an engagement, of which she seemed so
thoroughly aware that he was weary.
From this time the subject was never revived by Elinor, and when
entered on by Lucy, who seldom missed an opportunity of introducing it,
and was particularly careful to inform her confidante, of her happiness
whenever she received a letter from Edward, it was treated by the
former with calmness and caution, and dismissed as soon as civility
would allow; for she felt such conversations to be an indulgence which
Lucy did not deserve, and which were dangerous to herself.
The visit of the Miss Steeles at Barton Park was lengthened far beyond
what the first invitation implied. Their favour increased; they could
not be spared; Sir John would not hear of their going; and in spite of
their numerous and long arranged engagements in Exeter, in spite of the
absolute necessity of returning to fulfill them immediately, which was
in full force at the end of every week, they were prevailed on to stay
nearly two months at the park, and to assist in the due celebration of
that festival which requires a more than ordinary share of private
balls and large dinners to proclaim its importance.
Though Mrs. Jennings was in the habit of spending a large portion of
the year at the houses of her children and friends, she was not without
a settled habitation of her own. Since the death of her husband, who
had traded with success in a less elegant part of the town, she had
resided every winter in a house in one of the streets near Portman
Square. Towards this home, she began on the approach of January to
turn her thoughts, and thither she one day abruptly, and very
unexpectedly by them, asked the elder Misses Dashwood to accompany her.
Elinor, without observing the varying complexion of her sister, and the
animated look which spoke no indifference to the plan, immediately gave
a grateful but absolute denial for both, in which she believed herself
to be speaking their united inclinations. The reason alleged was their
determined resolution of not leaving their mother at that time of the
year. Mrs. Jennings received the refusal with some surprise, and
repeated her invitation immediately.
"Oh, Lord! I am sure your mother can spare you very well, and I DO beg
you will favour me with your company, for I've quite set my heart upon
it. Don't fancy that you will be any inconvenience to me, for I shan't
put myself at all out of my way for you. It will only be sending Betty
by the coach, and I hope I can afford THAT. We three shall be able to
go very well in my chaise; and when we are in town, if you do not like
to go wherever I do, well and good, you may always go with one of my
daughters. I am sure your mother will not object to it; for I have had
such good luck in getting my own children off my hands that she will
think me a very fit person to have the charge of you; and if I don't
get one of you at least well married before I have done with you, it
shall not be my fault. I shall speak a good word for you to all the
young men, you may depend upon it."
"I have a notion," said Sir John, "that Miss Marianne would not object
to such a scheme, if her elder sister would come into it. It is very
hard indeed that she should not have a little pleasure, because Miss
Dashwood does not wish it. So I would advise you two, to set off for
town, when you are tired of Barton, without saying a word to Miss
Dashwood about it."
"Nay," cried Mrs. Jennings, "I am sure I shall be monstrous glad of
Miss Marianne's company, whether Miss Dashwood will go or not, only the
more the merrier say I, and I thought it would be more comfortable for
them to be together; because, if they got tired of me, they might talk
to one another, and laugh at my old ways behind my back. But one or
the other, if not both of them, I must have. Lord bless me! how do you
think I can live poking by myself, I who have been always used till
this winter to have Charlotte with me. Come, Miss Marianne, let us
strike hands upon the bargain, and if Miss Dashwood will change her
mind by and bye, why so much the better."
"I thank you, ma'am, sincerely thank you," said Marianne, with warmth:
"your invitation has insured my gratitude for ever, and it would give
me such happiness, yes, almost the greatest happiness I am capable of,
to be able to accept it. But my mother, my dearest, kindest mother,--I
feel the justice of what Elinor has urged, and if she were to be made
less happy, less comfortable by our absence--Oh! no, nothing should
tempt me to leave her. It should not, must not be a struggle."
Mrs. Jennings repeated her assurance that Mrs. Dashwood could spare
them perfectly well; and Elinor, who now understood her sister, and saw
to what indifference to almost every thing else she was carried by her
eagerness to be with Willoughby again, made no farther direct
opposition to the plan, and merely referred it to her mother's
decision, from whom however she scarcely expected to receive any
support in her endeavour to prevent a visit, which she could not
approve of for Marianne, and which on her own account she had
particular reasons to avoid. Whatever Marianne was desirous of, her
mother would be eager to promote--she could not expect to influence the
latter to cautiousness of conduct in an affair respecting which she had
never been able to inspire her with distrust; and she dared not explain
the motive of her own disinclination for going to London. That
Marianne, fastidious as she was, thoroughly acquainted with Mrs.
Jennings' manners, and invariably disgusted by them, should overlook
every inconvenience of that kind, should disregard whatever must be
most wounding to her irritable feelings, in her pursuit of one object,
was such a proof, so strong, so full, of the importance of that object
to her, as Elinor, in spite of all that had passed, was not prepared to
On being informed of the invitation, Mrs. Dashwood, persuaded that such
an excursion would be productive of much amusement to both her
daughters, and perceiving through all her affectionate attention to
herself, how much the heart of Marianne was in it, would not hear of
their declining the offer upon HER account; insisted on their both
accepting it directly; and then began to foresee, with her usual
cheerfulness, a variety of advantages that would accrue to them all,
from this separation.
"I am delighted with the plan," she cried, "it is exactly what I could
wish. Margaret and I shall be as much benefited by it as yourselves.
When you and the Middletons are gone, we shall go on so quietly and
happily together with our books and our music! You will find Margaret
so improved when you come back again! I have a little plan of
alteration for your bedrooms too, which may now be performed without
any inconvenience to any one. It is very right that you SHOULD go to
town; I would have every young woman of your condition in life
acquainted with the manners and amusements of London. You will be
under the care of a motherly good sort of woman, of whose kindness to
you I can have no doubt. And in all probability you will see your
brother, and whatever may be his faults, or the faults of his wife,
when I consider whose son he is, I cannot bear to have you so wholly
estranged from each other."
"Though with your usual anxiety for our happiness," said Elinor, "you
have been obviating every impediment to the present scheme which
occurred to you, there is still one objection which, in my opinion,
cannot be so easily removed."
Marianne's countenance sunk.
"And what," said Mrs. Dashwood, "is my dear prudent Elinor going to
suggest? What formidable obstacle is she now to bring forward? Do let
me hear a word about the expense of it."
"My objection is this; though I think very well of Mrs. Jennings's
heart, she is not a woman whose society can afford us pleasure, or
whose protection will give us consequence."
"That is very true," replied her mother, "but of her society,
separately from that of other people, you will scarcely have any thing
at all, and you will almost always appear in public with Lady
"If Elinor is frightened away by her dislike of Mrs. Jennings," said
Marianne, "at least it need not prevent MY accepting her invitation. I
have no such scruples, and I am sure I could put up with every
unpleasantness of that kind with very little effort."
Elinor could not help smiling at this display of indifference towards
the manners of a person, to whom she had often had difficulty in
persuading Marianne to behave with tolerable politeness; and resolved
within herself, that if her sister persisted in going, she would go
likewise, as she did not think it proper that Marianne should be left
to the sole guidance of her own judgment, or that Mrs. Jennings should
be abandoned to the mercy of Marianne for all the comfort of her
domestic hours. To this determination she was the more easily
reconciled, by recollecting that Edward Ferrars, by Lucy's account, was
not to be in town before February; and that their visit, without any
unreasonable abridgement, might be previously finished.
"I will have you BOTH go," said Mrs. Dashwood; "these objections are
nonsensical. You will have much pleasure in being in London, and
especially in being together; and if Elinor would ever condescend to
anticipate enjoyment, she would foresee it there from a variety of
sources; she would, perhaps, expect some from improving her
acquaintance with her sister-in-law's family."
Elinor had often wished for an opportunity of attempting to weaken her
mother's dependence on the attachment of Edward and herself, that the
shock might be less when the whole truth were revealed, and now on this
attack, though almost hopeless of success, she forced herself to begin
her design by saying, as calmly as she could, "I like Edward Ferrars
very much, and shall always be glad to see him; but as to the rest of
the family, it is a matter of perfect indifference to me, whether I am
ever known to them or not."
Mrs. Dashwood smiled, and said nothing. Marianne lifted up her eyes in
astonishment, and Elinor conjectured that she might as well have held
After very little farther discourse, it was finally settled that the
invitation should be fully accepted. Mrs. Jennings received the
information with a great deal of joy, and many assurances of kindness
and care; nor was it a matter of pleasure merely to her. Sir John was
delighted; for to a man, whose prevailing anxiety was the dread of
being alone, the acquisition of two, to the number of inhabitants in
London, was something. Even Lady Middleton took the trouble of being
delighted, which was putting herself rather out of her way; and as for
the Miss Steeles, especially Lucy, they had never been so happy in
their lives as this intelligence made them.
Elinor submitted to the arrangement which counteracted her wishes with
less reluctance than she had expected to feel. With regard to herself,
it was now a matter of unconcern whether she went to town or not, and
when she saw her mother so thoroughly pleased with the plan, and her
sister exhilarated by it in look, voice, and manner, restored to all
her usual animation, and elevated to more than her usual gaiety, she
could not be dissatisfied with the cause, and would hardly allow
herself to distrust the consequence.
Marianne's joy was almost a degree beyond happiness, so great was the
perturbation of her spirits and her impatience to be gone. Her
unwillingness to quit her mother was her only restorative to calmness;
and at the moment of parting her grief on that score was excessive.
Her mother's affliction was hardly less, and Elinor was the only one of
the three, who seemed to consider the separation as any thing short of
Their departure took place in the first week in January. The
Middletons were to follow in about a week. The Miss Steeles kept their
station at the park, and were to quit it only with the rest of the
Elinor could not find herself in the carriage with Mrs. Jennings, and
beginning a journey to London under her protection, and as her guest,
without wondering at her own situation, so short had their acquaintance
with that lady been, so wholly unsuited were they in age and
disposition, and so many had been her objections against such a measure
only a few days before! But these objections had all, with that happy
ardour of youth which Marianne and her mother equally shared, been
overcome or overlooked; and Elinor, in spite of every occasional doubt
of Willoughby's constancy, could not witness the rapture of delightful
expectation which filled the whole soul and beamed in the eyes of
Marianne, without feeling how blank was her own prospect, how cheerless
her own state of mind in the comparison, and how gladly she would
engage in the solicitude of Marianne's situation to have the same
animating object in view, the same possibility of hope. A short, a
very short time however must now decide what Willoughby's intentions
were; in all probability he was already in town. Marianne's eagerness
to be gone declared her dependence on finding him there; and Elinor was
resolved not only upon gaining every new light as to his character
which her own observation or the intelligence of others could give her,
but likewise upon watching his behaviour to her sister with such
zealous attention, as to ascertain what he was and what he meant,
before many meetings had taken place. Should the result of her
observations be unfavourable, she was determined at all events to open
the eyes of her sister; should it be otherwise, her exertions would be
of a different nature--she must then learn to avoid every selfish
comparison, and banish every regret which might lessen her satisfaction
in the happiness of Marianne.
They were three days on their journey, and Marianne's behaviour as they
travelled was a happy specimen of what future complaisance and
companionableness to Mrs. Jennings might be expected to be. She sat in
silence almost all the way, wrapt in her own meditations, and scarcely
ever voluntarily speaking, except when any object of picturesque beauty
within their view drew from her an exclamation of delight exclusively
addressed to her sister. To atone for this conduct therefore, Elinor
took immediate possession of the post of civility which she had
assigned herself, behaved with the greatest attention to Mrs. Jennings,
talked with her, laughed with her, and listened to her whenever she
could; and Mrs. Jennings on her side treated them both with all
possible kindness, was solicitous on every occasion for their ease and
enjoyment, and only disturbed that she could not make them choose their
own dinners at the inn, nor extort a confession of their preferring
salmon to cod, or boiled fowls to veal cutlets. They reached town by
three o'clock the third day, glad to be released, after such a journey,
from the confinement of a carriage, and ready to enjoy all the luxury
of a good fire.
The house was handsome, and handsomely fitted up, and the young ladies
were immediately put in possession of a very comfortable apartment. It
had formerly been Charlotte's, and over the mantelpiece still hung a
landscape in coloured silks of her performance, in proof of her having
spent seven years at a great school in town to some effect.
As dinner was not to be ready in less than two hours from their
arrival, Elinor determined to employ the interval in writing to her
mother, and sat down for that purpose. In a few moments Marianne did
the same. "I am writing home, Marianne," said Elinor; "had not you
better defer your letter for a day or two?"
"I am NOT going to write to my mother," replied Marianne, hastily, and
as if wishing to avoid any farther inquiry. Elinor said no more; it
immediately struck her that she must then be writing to Willoughby; and
the conclusion which as instantly followed was, that, however
mysteriously they might wish to conduct the affair, they must be
engaged. This conviction, though not entirely satisfactory, gave her
pleasure, and she continued her letter with greater alacrity.
Marianne's was finished in a very few minutes; in length it could be no
more than a note; it was then folded up, sealed, and directed with
eager rapidity. Elinor thought she could distinguish a large W in the
direction; and no sooner was it complete than Marianne, ringing the
bell, requested the footman who answered it to get that letter conveyed
for her to the two-penny post. This decided the matter at once.
Her spirits still continued very high; but there was a flutter in them
which prevented their giving much pleasure to her sister, and this
agitation increased as the evening drew on. She could scarcely eat any
dinner, and when they afterwards returned to the drawing room, seemed
anxiously listening to the sound of every carriage.
It was a great satisfaction to Elinor that Mrs. Jennings, by being much
engaged in her own room, could see little of what was passing. The tea
things were brought in, and already had Marianne been disappointed more
than once by a rap at a neighbouring door, when a loud one was suddenly
heard which could not be mistaken for one at any other house, Elinor
felt secure of its announcing Willoughby's approach, and Marianne,
starting up, moved towards the door. Every thing was silent; this
could not be borne many seconds; she opened the door, advanced a few
steps towards the stairs, and after listening half a minute, returned
into the room in all the agitation which a conviction of having heard
him would naturally produce; in the ecstasy of her feelings at that
instant she could not help exclaiming, "Oh, Elinor, it is Willoughby,
indeed it is!" and seemed almost ready to throw herself into his arms,
when Colonel Brandon appeared.
It was too great a shock to be borne with calmness, and she immediately
left the room. Elinor was disappointed too; but at the same time her
regard for Colonel Brandon ensured his welcome with her; and she felt
particularly hurt that a man so partial to her sister should perceive
that she experienced nothing but grief and disappointment in seeing
him. She instantly saw that it was not unnoticed by him, that he even
observed Marianne as she quitted the room, with such astonishment and
concern, as hardly left him the recollection of what civility demanded
"Is your sister ill?" said he.
Elinor answered in some distress that she was, and then talked of
head-aches, low spirits, and over fatigues; and of every thing to which
she could decently attribute her sister's behaviour.
He heard her with the most earnest attention, but seeming to recollect
himself, said no more on the subject, and began directly to speak of
his pleasure at seeing them in London, making the usual inquiries about
their journey, and the friends they had left behind.
In this calm kind of way, with very little interest on either side,
they continued to talk, both of them out of spirits, and the thoughts
of both engaged elsewhere. Elinor wished very much to ask whether
Willoughby were then in town, but she was afraid of giving him pain by
any enquiry after his rival; and at length, by way of saying something,
she asked if he had been in London ever since she had seen him last.
"Yes," he replied, with some embarrassment, "almost ever since; I have
been once or twice at Delaford for a few days, but it has never been in
my power to return to Barton."
This, and the manner in which it was said, immediately brought back to
her remembrance all the circumstances of his quitting that place, with
the uneasiness and suspicions they had caused to Mrs. Jennings, and she
was fearful that her question had implied much more curiosity on the
subject than she had ever felt.
Mrs. Jennings soon came in. "Oh! Colonel," said she, with her usual
noisy cheerfulness, "I am monstrous glad to see you--sorry I could not
come before--beg your pardon, but I have been forced to look about me a
little, and settle my matters; for it is a long while since I have been
at home, and you know one has always a world of little odd things to do
after one has been away for any time; and then I have had Cartwright to
settle with-- Lord, I have been as busy as a bee ever since dinner!
But pray, Colonel, how came you to conjure out that I should be in town
"I had the pleasure of hearing it at Mr. Palmer's, where I have been
"Oh, you did; well, and how do they all do at their house? How does
Charlotte do? I warrant you she is a fine size by this time."
"Mrs. Palmer appeared quite well, and I am commissioned to tell you,
that you will certainly see her to-morrow."
"Ay, to be sure, I thought as much. Well, Colonel, I have brought two
young ladies with me, you see--that is, you see but one of them now,
but there is another somewhere. Your friend, Miss Marianne, too--which
you will not be sorry to hear. I do not know what you and Mr.
Willoughby will do between you about her. Ay, it is a fine thing to be
young and handsome. Well! I was young once, but I never was very
handsome--worse luck for me. However, I got a very good husband, and I
don't know what the greatest beauty can do more. Ah! poor man! he has
been dead these eight years and better. But Colonel, where have you
been to since we parted? And how does your business go on? Come,
come, let's have no secrets among friends."
He replied with his accustomary mildness to all her inquiries, but
without satisfying her in any. Elinor now began to make the tea, and
Marianne was obliged to appear again.
After her entrance, Colonel Brandon became more thoughtful and silent
than he had been before, and Mrs. Jennings could not prevail on him to
stay long. No other visitor appeared that evening, and the ladies were
unanimous in agreeing to go early to bed.
Marianne rose the next morning with recovered spirits and happy looks.
The disappointment of the evening before seemed forgotten in the
expectation of what was to happen that day. They had not long finished
their breakfast before Mrs. Palmer's barouche stopped at the door, and
in a few minutes she came laughing into the room: so delighted to see
them all, that it was hard to say whether she received most pleasure
from meeting her mother or the Miss Dashwoods again. So surprised at
their coming to town, though it was what she had rather expected all
along; so angry at their accepting her mother's invitation after having
declined her own, though at the same time she would never have forgiven
them if they had not come!
"Mr. Palmer will be so happy to see you," said she; "What do you think
he said when he heard of your coming with Mamma? I forget what it was
now, but it was something so droll!"
After an hour or two spent in what her mother called comfortable chat,
or in other words, in every variety of inquiry concerning all their
acquaintance on Mrs. Jennings's side, and in laughter without cause on
Mrs. Palmer's, it was proposed by the latter that they should all
accompany her to some shops where she had business that morning, to
which Mrs. Jennings and Elinor readily consented, as having likewise
some purchases to make themselves; and Marianne, though declining it at
first was induced to go likewise.
Wherever they went, she was evidently always on the watch. In Bond
Street especially, where much of their business lay, her eyes were in
constant inquiry; and in whatever shop the party were engaged, her mind
was equally abstracted from every thing actually before them, from all
that interested and occupied the others. Restless and dissatisfied
every where, her sister could never obtain her opinion of any article
of purchase, however it might equally concern them both: she received
no pleasure from anything; was only impatient to be at home again, and
could with difficulty govern her vexation at the tediousness of Mrs.
Palmer, whose eye was caught by every thing pretty, expensive, or new;
who was wild to buy all, could determine on none, and dawdled away her
time in rapture and indecision.
It was late in the morning before they returned home; and no sooner had
they entered the house than Marianne flew eagerly up stairs, and when
Elinor followed, she found her turning from the table with a sorrowful
countenance, which declared that no Willoughby had been there.
"Has no letter been left here for me since we went out?" said she to
the footman who then entered with the parcels. She was answered in the
negative. "Are you quite sure of it?" she replied. "Are you certain
that no servant, no porter has left any letter or note?"
The man replied that none had.
"How very odd!" said she, in a low and disappointed voice, as she
turned away to the window.
"How odd, indeed!" repeated Elinor within herself, regarding her sister
with uneasiness. "If she had not known him to be in town she would not
have written to him, as she did; she would have written to Combe Magna;
and if he is in town, how odd that he should neither come nor write!
Oh! my dear mother, you must be wrong in permitting an engagement
between a daughter so young, a man so little known, to be carried on in
so doubtful, so mysterious a manner! I long to inquire; and how will
MY interference be borne."
She determined, after some consideration, that if appearances continued
many days longer as unpleasant as they now were, she would represent in
the strongest manner to her mother the necessity of some serious
enquiry into the affair.
Mrs. Palmer and two elderly ladies of Mrs. Jennings's intimate
acquaintance, whom she had met and invited in the morning, dined with
them. The former left them soon after tea to fulfill her evening
engagements; and Elinor was obliged to assist in making a whist table
for the others. Marianne was of no use on these occasions, as she
would never learn the game; but though her time was therefore at her
own disposal, the evening was by no means more productive of pleasure
to her than to Elinor, for it was spent in all the anxiety of
expectation and the pain of disappointment. She sometimes endeavoured
for a few minutes to read; but the book was soon thrown aside, and she
returned to the more interesting employment of walking backwards and
forwards across the room, pausing for a moment whenever she came to the
window, in hopes of distinguishing the long-expected rap.
"If this open weather holds much longer," said Mrs. Jennings, when they
met at breakfast the following morning, "Sir John will not like leaving
Barton next week; 'tis a sad thing for sportsmen to lose a day's
pleasure. Poor souls! I always pity them when they do; they seem to
take it so much to heart."
"That is true," cried Marianne, in a cheerful voice, and walking to the
window as she spoke, to examine the day. "I had not thought of that.
This weather will keep many sportsmen in the country."
It was a lucky recollection, all her good spirits were restored by it.
"It is charming weather for THEM indeed," she continued, as she sat
down to the breakfast table with a happy countenance. "How much they
must enjoy it! But" (with a little return of anxiety) "it cannot be
expected to last long. At this time of the year, and after such a
series of rain, we shall certainly have very little more of it. Frosts
will soon set in, and in all probability with severity. In another day
or two perhaps; this extreme mildness can hardly last longer--nay,
perhaps it may freeze tonight!"
"At any rate," said Elinor, wishing to prevent Mrs. Jennings from
seeing her sister's thoughts as clearly as she did, "I dare say we
shall have Sir John and Lady Middleton in town by the end of next week."
"Ay, my dear, I'll warrant you we do. Mary always has her own way."
"And now," silently conjectured Elinor, "she will write to Combe by
this day's post."
But if she DID, the letter was written and sent away with a privacy
which eluded all her watchfulness to ascertain the fact. Whatever the
truth of it might be, and far as Elinor was from feeling thorough
contentment about it, yet while she saw Marianne in spirits, she could
not be very uncomfortable herself. And Marianne was in spirits; happy
in the mildness of the weather, and still happier in her expectation of
The morning was chiefly spent in leaving cards at the houses of Mrs.
Jennings's acquaintance to inform them of her being in town; and
Marianne was all the time busy in observing the direction of the wind,
watching the variations of the sky and imagining an alteration in the
"Don't you find it colder than it was in the morning, Elinor? There
seems to me a very decided difference. I can hardly keep my hands warm
even in my muff. It was not so yesterday, I think. The clouds seem
parting too, the sun will be out in a moment, and we shall have a clear
Elinor was alternately diverted and pained; but Marianne persevered,
and saw every night in the brightness of the fire, and every morning in
the appearance of the atmosphere, the certain symptoms of approaching
The Miss Dashwoods had no greater reason to be dissatisfied with Mrs.
Jennings's style of living, and set of acquaintance, than with her
behaviour to themselves, which was invariably kind. Every thing in her
household arrangements was conducted on the most liberal plan, and
excepting a few old city friends, whom, to Lady Middleton's regret, she
had never dropped, she visited no one to whom an introduction could at
all discompose the feelings of her young companions. Pleased to find
herself more comfortably situated in that particular than she had
expected, Elinor was very willing to compound for the want of much real
enjoyment from any of their evening parties, which, whether at home or
abroad, formed only for cards, could have little to amuse her.
Colonel Brandon, who had a general invitation to the house, was with
them almost every day; he came to look at Marianne and talk to Elinor,
who often derived more satisfaction from conversing with him than from
any other daily occurrence, but who saw at the same time with much
concern his continued regard for her sister. She feared it was a
strengthening regard. It grieved her to see the earnestness with which
he often watched Marianne, and his spirits were certainly worse than
when at Barton.
About a week after their arrival, it became certain that Willoughby was
also arrived. His card was on the table when they came in from the
"Good God!" cried Marianne, "he has been here while we were out."
Elinor, rejoiced to be assured of his being in London, now ventured to
say, "Depend upon it, he will call again tomorrow." But Marianne
seemed hardly to hear her, and on Mrs. Jenning's entrance, escaped with
the precious card.
This event, while it raised the spirits of Elinor, restored to those of
her sister all, and more than all, their former agitation. From this
moment her mind was never quiet; the expectation of seeing him every
hour of the day, made her unfit for any thing. She insisted on being
left behind, the next morning, when the others went out.
Elinor's thoughts were full of what might be passing in Berkeley Street
during their absence; but a moment's glance at her sister when they
returned was enough to inform her, that Willoughby had paid no second
visit there. A note was just then brought in, and laid on the table,
"For me!" cried Marianne, stepping hastily forward.
"No, ma'am, for my mistress."
But Marianne, not convinced, took it instantly up.
"It is indeed for Mrs. Jennings; how provoking!"
"You are expecting a letter, then?" said Elinor, unable to be longer
"Yes, a little--not much."
After a short pause. "You have no confidence in me, Marianne."
"Nay, Elinor, this reproach from YOU--you who have confidence in no
"Me!" returned Elinor in some confusion; "indeed, Marianne, I have
nothing to tell."
"Nor I," answered Marianne with energy, "our situations then are alike.
We have neither of us any thing to tell; you, because you do not
communicate, and I, because I conceal nothing."
Elinor, distressed by this charge of reserve in herself, which she was
not at liberty to do away, knew not how, under such circumstances, to
press for greater openness in Marianne.
Mrs. Jennings soon appeared, and the note being given her, she read it
aloud. It was from Lady Middleton, announcing their arrival in Conduit
Street the night before, and requesting the company of her mother and
cousins the following evening. Business on Sir John's part, and a
violent cold on her own, prevented their calling in Berkeley Street.
The invitation was accepted; but when the hour of appointment drew
near, necessary as it was in common civility to Mrs. Jennings, that
they should both attend her on such a visit, Elinor had some difficulty
in persuading her sister to go, for still she had seen nothing of
Willoughby; and therefore was not more indisposed for amusement abroad,
than unwilling to run the risk of his calling again in her absence.
Elinor found, when the evening was over, that disposition is not
materially altered by a change of abode, for although scarcely settled
in town, Sir John had contrived to collect around him, nearly twenty
young people, and to amuse them with a ball. This was an affair,
however, of which Lady Middleton did not approve. In the country, an
unpremeditated dance was very allowable; but in London, where the
reputation of elegance was more important and less easily attained, it
was risking too much for the gratification of a few girls, to have it
known that Lady Middleton had given a small dance of eight or nine
couple, with two violins, and a mere side-board collation.
Mr. and Mrs. Palmer were of the party; from the former, whom they had
not seen before since their arrival in town, as he was careful to avoid
the appearance of any attention to his mother-in-law, and therefore
never came near her, they received no mark of recognition on their
entrance. He looked at them slightly, without seeming to know who they
were, and merely nodded to Mrs. Jennings from the other side of the
room. Marianne gave one glance round the apartment as she entered: it
was enough--HE was not there--and she sat down, equally ill-disposed to
receive or communicate pleasure. After they had been assembled about
an hour, Mr. Palmer sauntered towards the Miss Dashwoods to express his
surprise on seeing them in town, though Colonel Brandon had been first
informed of their arrival at his house, and he had himself said
something very droll on hearing that they were to come.
"I thought you were both in Devonshire," said he.
"Did you?" replied Elinor.
"When do you go back again?"
"I do not know." And thus ended their discourse.
Never had Marianne been so unwilling to dance in her life, as she was
that evening, and never so much fatigued by the exercise. She
complained of it as they returned to Berkeley Street.
"Aye, aye," said Mrs. Jennings, "we know the reason of all that very
well; if a certain person who shall be nameless, had been there, you
would not have been a bit tired: and to say the truth it was not very
pretty of him not to give you the meeting when he was invited."
"Invited!" cried Marianne.
"So my daughter Middleton told me, for it seems Sir John met him
somewhere in the street this morning." Marianne said no more, but
looked exceedingly hurt. Impatient in this situation to be doing
something that might lead to her sister's relief, Elinor resolved to
write the next morning to her mother, and hoped by awakening her fears
for the health of Marianne, to procure those inquiries which had been
so long delayed; and she was still more eagerly bent on this measure by
perceiving after breakfast on the morrow, that Marianne was again
writing to Willoughby, for she could not suppose it to be to any other
About the middle of the day, Mrs. Jennings went out by herself on
business, and Elinor began her letter directly, while Marianne, too
restless for employment, too anxious for conversation, walked from one
window to the other, or sat down by the fire in melancholy meditation.
Elinor was very earnest in her application to her mother, relating all
that had passed, her suspicions of Willoughby's inconstancy, urging her
by every plea of duty and affection to demand from Marianne an account
of her real situation with respect to him.
Her letter was scarcely finished, when a rap foretold a visitor, and
Colonel Brandon was announced. Marianne, who had seen him from the
window, and who hated company of any kind, left the room before he
entered it. He looked more than usually grave, and though expressing
satisfaction at finding Miss Dashwood alone, as if he had somewhat in
particular to tell her, sat for some time without saying a word.
Elinor, persuaded that he had some communication to make in which her
sister was concerned, impatiently expected its opening. It was not the
first time of her feeling the same kind of conviction; for, more than
once before, beginning with the observation of "your sister looks
unwell to-day," or "your sister seems out of spirits," he had appeared
on the point, either of disclosing, or of inquiring, something
particular about her. After a pause of several minutes, their silence
was broken, by his asking her in a voice of some agitation, when he was
to congratulate her on the acquisition of a brother? Elinor was not
prepared for such a question, and having no answer ready, was obliged
to adopt the simple and common expedient, of asking what he meant? He
tried to smile as he replied, "your sister's engagement to Mr.
Willoughby is very generally known."
"It cannot be generally known," returned Elinor, "for her own family do
not know it."
He looked surprised and said, "I beg your pardon, I am afraid my
inquiry has been impertinent; but I had not supposed any secrecy
intended, as they openly correspond, and their marriage is universally
"How can that be? By whom can you have heard it mentioned?"
"By many--by some of whom you know nothing, by others with whom you are
most intimate, Mrs. Jennings, Mrs. Palmer, and the Middletons. But
still I might not have believed it, for where the mind is perhaps
rather unwilling to be convinced, it will always find something to
support its doubts, if I had not, when the servant let me in today,
accidentally seen a letter in his hand, directed to Mr. Willoughby in
your sister's writing. I came to inquire, but I was convinced before I
could ask the question. Is every thing finally settled? Is it
impossible to-? But I have no right, and I could have no chance of
succeeding. Excuse me, Miss Dashwood. I believe I have been wrong in
saying so much, but I hardly know what to do, and on your prudence I
have the strongest dependence. Tell me that it is all absolutely
resolved on, that any attempt, that in short concealment, if
concealment be possible, is all that remains."
These words, which conveyed to Elinor a direct avowal of his love for
her sister, affected her very much. She was not immediately able to
say anything, and even when her spirits were recovered, she debated for
a short time, on the answer it would be most proper to give. The real
state of things between Willoughby and her sister was so little known
to herself, that in endeavouring to explain it, she might be as liable
to say too much as too little. Yet as she was convinced that
Marianne's affection for Willoughby, could leave no hope of Colonel
Brandon's success, whatever the event of that affection might be, and
at the same time wished to shield her conduct from censure, she thought
it most prudent and kind, after some consideration, to say more than
she really knew or believed. She acknowledged, therefore, that though
she had never been informed by themselves of the terms on which they
stood with each other, of their mutual affection she had no doubt, and
of their correspondence she was not astonished to hear.
He listened to her with silent attention, and on her ceasing to speak,
rose directly from his seat, and after saying in a voice of emotion,
"to your sister I wish all imaginable happiness; to Willoughby that he
may endeavour to deserve her,"--took leave, and went away.
Elinor derived no comfortable feelings from this conversation, to
lessen the uneasiness of her mind on other points; she was left, on the
contrary, with a melancholy impression of Colonel Brandon's
unhappiness, and was prevented even from wishing it removed, by her
anxiety for the very event that must confirm it.
Nothing occurred during the next three or four days, to make Elinor
regret what she had done, in applying to her mother; for Willoughby
neither came nor wrote. They were engaged about the end of that time
to attend Lady Middleton to a party, from which Mrs. Jennings was kept
away by the indisposition of her youngest daughter; and for this party,
Marianne, wholly dispirited, careless of her appearance, and seeming
equally indifferent whether she went or staid, prepared, without one
look of hope or one expression of pleasure. She sat by the
drawing-room fire after tea, till the moment of Lady Middleton's
arrival, without once stirring from her seat, or altering her attitude,
lost in her own thoughts, and insensible of her sister's presence; and
when at last they were told that Lady Middleton waited for them at the
door, she started as if she had forgotten that any one was expected.
They arrived in due time at the place of destination, and as soon as
the string of carriages before them would allow, alighted, ascended the
stairs, heard their names announced from one landing-place to another
in an audible voice, and entered a room splendidly lit up, quite full
of company, and insufferably hot. When they had paid their tribute of
politeness by curtsying to the lady of the house, they were permitted
to mingle in the crowd, and take their share of the heat and
inconvenience, to which their arrival must necessarily add. After some
time spent in saying little or doing less, Lady Middleton sat down to
Cassino, and as Marianne was not in spirits for moving about, she and
Elinor luckily succeeding to chairs, placed themselves at no great
distance from the table.
They had not remained in this manner long, before Elinor perceived
Willoughby, standing within a few yards of them, in earnest
conversation with a very fashionable looking young woman. She soon
caught his eye, and he immediately bowed, but without attempting to
speak to her, or to approach Marianne, though he could not but see her;
and then continued his discourse with the same lady. Elinor turned
involuntarily to Marianne, to see whether it could be unobserved by
her. At that moment she first perceived him, and her whole countenance
glowing with sudden delight, she would have moved towards him
instantly, had not her sister caught hold of her.
"Good heavens!" she exclaimed, "he is there--he is there--Oh! why does
he not look at me? why cannot I speak to him?"
"Pray, pray be composed," cried Elinor, "and do not betray what you
feel to every body present. Perhaps he has not observed you yet."
This however was more than she could believe herself; and to be
composed at such a moment was not only beyond the reach of Marianne, it
was beyond her wish. She sat in an agony of impatience which affected
At last he turned round again, and regarded them both; she started up,
and pronouncing his name in a tone of affection, held out her hand to
him. He approached, and addressing himself rather to Elinor than
Marianne, as if wishing to avoid her eye, and determined not to observe
her attitude, inquired in a hurried manner after Mrs. Dashwood, and
asked how long they had been in town. Elinor was robbed of all
presence of mind by such an address, and was unable to say a word. But
the feelings of her sister were instantly expressed. Her face was
crimsoned over, and she exclaimed, in a voice of the greatest emotion,
"Good God! Willoughby, what is the meaning of this? Have you not
received my letters? Will you not shake hands with me?"
He could not then avoid it, but her touch seemed painful to him, and he
held her hand only for a moment. During all this time he was evidently
struggling for composure. Elinor watched his countenance and saw its
expression becoming more tranquil. After a moment's pause, he spoke
"I did myself the honour of calling in Berkeley Street last Tuesday,
and very much regretted that I was not fortunate enough to find
yourselves and Mrs. Jennings at home. My card was not lost, I hope."
"But have you not received my notes?" cried Marianne in the wildest
anxiety. "Here is some mistake I am sure--some dreadful mistake. What
can be the meaning of it? Tell me, Willoughby; for heaven's s
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