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Chapter 12

  • Sir Thomas was to return in November, and his eldest son had duties to cal_im earlier home. The approach of September brought tidings of Mr. Bertram,
  • first in a letter to the gamekeeper and then in a letter to Edmund; and by th_nd of August he arrived himself, to be gay, agreeable, and gallant again a_ccasion served, or Miss Crawford demanded; to tell of races and Weymouth, an_arties and friends, to which she might have listened six weeks before wit_ome interest, and altogether to give her the fullest conviction, by the powe_f actual comparison, of her preferring his younger brother.
  • It was very vexatious, and she was heartily sorry for it; but so it was; an_o far from now meaning to marry the elder, she did not even want to attrac_im beyond what the simplest claims of conscious beauty required: hi_engthened absence from Mansfield, without anything but pleasure in view, an_is own will to consult, made it perfectly clear that he did not care abou_er; and his indifference was so much more than equalled by her own, that wer_e now to step forth the owner of Mansfield Park, the Sir Thomas complete,
  • which he was to be in time, she did not believe she could accept him.
  • The season and duties which brought Mr. Bertram back to Mansfield took Mr.
  • Crawford into Norfolk. Everingham could not do without him in the beginning o_eptember. He went for a fortnight—a fortnight of such dullness to the Mis_ertrams as ought to have put them both on their guard, and made even Juli_dmit, in her jealousy of her sister, the absolute necessity of distrustin_is attentions, and wishing him not to return; and a fortnight of sufficien_eisure, in the intervals of shooting and sleeping, to have convinced th_entleman that he ought to keep longer away, had he been more in the habit o_xamining his own motives, and of reflecting to what the indulgence of hi_dle vanity was tending; but, thoughtless and selfish from prosperity and ba_xample, he would not look beyond the present moment. The sisters, handsome,
  • clever, and encouraging, were an amusement to his sated mind; and findin_othing in Norfolk to equal the social pleasures of Mansfield, he gladl_eturned to it at the time appointed, and was welcomed thither quite as gladl_y those whom he came to trifle with further.
  • Maria, with only Mr. Rushworth to attend to her, and doomed to the repeate_etails of his day's sport, good or bad, his boast of his dogs, his jealous_f his neighbours, his doubts of their qualifications, and his zeal afte_oachers, subjects which will not find their way to female feelings withou_ome talent on one side or some attachment on the other, had missed Mr.
  • Crawford grievously; and Julia, unengaged and unemployed, felt all the righ_f missing him much more. Each sister believed herself the favourite. Juli_ight be justified in so doing by the hints of Mrs. Grant, inclined to credi_hat she wished, and Maria by the hints of Mr. Crawford himself. Everythin_eturned into the same channel as before his absence; his manners being t_ach so animated and agreeable as to lose no ground with either, and jus_topping short of the consistence, the steadiness, the solicitude, and th_armth which might excite general notice.
  • Fanny was the only one of the party who found anything to dislike; but sinc_he day at Sotherton, she could never see Mr. Crawford with either siste_ithout observation, and seldom without wonder or censure; and had he_onfidence in her own judgment been equal to her exercise of it in every othe_espect, had she been sure that she was seeing clearly, and judging candidly,
  • she would probably have made some important communications to her usua_onfidant. As it was, however, she only hazarded a hint, and the hint wa_ost. "I am rather surprised," said she, "that Mr. Crawford should come bac_gain so soon, after being here so long before, full seven weeks; for I ha_nderstood he was so very fond of change and moving about, that I though_omething would certainly occur, when he was once gone, to take him elsewhere.
  • He is used to much gayer places than Mansfield."
  • "It is to his credit," was Edmund's answer; "and I dare say it gives hi_ister pleasure. She does not like his unsettled habits."
  • "What a favourite he is with my cousins!"
  • "Yes, his manners to women are such as must please. Mrs. Grant, I believe,
  • suspects him of a preference for Julia; I have never seen much symptom of it,
  • but I wish it may be so. He has no faults but what a serious attachment woul_emove."
  • "If Miss Bertram were not engaged," said Fanny cautiously, "I could sometime_lmost think that he admired her more than Julia."
  • "Which is, perhaps, more in favour of his liking Julia best, than you, Fanny,
  • may be aware; for I believe it often happens that a man, before he has quit_ade up his own mind, will distinguish the sister or intimate friend of th_oman he is really thinking of more than the woman herself Crawford has to_uch sense to stay here if he found himself in any danger from Maria; and I a_ot at all afraid for her, after such a proof as she has given that he_eelings are not strong."
  • Fanny supposed she must have been mistaken, and meant to think differently i_uture; but with all that submission to Edmund could do, and all the help o_he coinciding looks and hints which she occasionally noticed in some of th_thers, and which seemed to say that Julia was Mr. Crawford's choice, she kne_ot always what to think. She was privy, one evening, to the hopes of her aun_orris on the subject, as well as to her feelings, and the feelings of Mrs.
  • Rushworth, on a point of some similarity, and could not help wondering as sh_istened; and glad would she have been not to be obliged to listen, for it wa_hile all the other young people were dancing, and she sitting, mos_nwillingly, among the chaperons at the fire, longing for the re-entrance o_er elder cousin, on whom all her own hopes of a partner then depended. It wa_anny's first ball, though without the preparation or splendour of many _oung lady's first ball, being the thought only of the afternoon, built on th_ate acquisition of a violin player in the servants' hall, and the possibilit_f raising five couple with the help of Mrs. Grant and a new intimate frien_f Mr. Bertram's just arrived on a visit. It had, however, been a very happ_ne to Fanny through four dances, and she was quite grieved to be losing eve_ quarter of an hour. While waiting and wishing, looking now at the dancer_nd now at the door, this dialogue between the two above-mentioned ladies wa_orced on her—
  • "I think, ma'am," said Mrs. Norris, her eyes directed towards Mr. Rushwort_nd Maria, who were partners for the second time, "we shall see some happ_aces again now."
  • "Yes, ma'am, indeed," replied the other, with a stately simper, "there will b_ome satisfaction in looking on now, and I think it was rather a pity the_hould have been obliged to part. Young folks in their situation should b_xcused complying with the common forms. I wonder my son did not propose it."
  • "I dare say he did, ma'am. Mr. Rushworth is never remiss. But dear Maria ha_uch a strict sense of propriety, so much of that true delicacy which on_eldom meets with nowadays, Mrs. Rushworth—that wish of avoidin_articularity! Dear ma'am, only look at her face at this moment; how differen_rom what it was the two last dances!"
  • Miss Bertram did indeed look happy, her eyes were sparkling with pleasure, an_he was speaking with great animation, for Julia and her partner, Mr.
  • Crawford, were close to her; they were all in a cluster together. How she ha_ooked before, Fanny could not recollect, for she had been dancing with Edmun_erself, and had not thought about her.
  • Mrs. Norris continued, "It is quite delightful, ma'am, to see young people s_roperly happy, so well suited, and so much the thing! I cannot but think o_ear Sir Thomas's delight. And what do you say, ma'am, to the chance o_nother match? Mr. Rushworth has set a good example, and such things are ver_atching."
  • Mrs. Rushworth, who saw nothing but her son, was quite at a loss.
  • "The couple above, ma'am. Do you see no symptoms there?"
  • "Oh dear! Miss Julia and Mr. Crawford. Yes, indeed, a very pretty match. Wha_s his property?"
  • "Four thousand a year."
  • "Very well. Those who have not more must be satisfied with what they have.
  • Four thousand a year is a pretty estate, and he seems a very genteel, stead_oung man, so I hope Miss Julia will be very happy."
  • "It is not a settled thing, ma'am, yet. We only speak of it among friends. Bu_ have very little doubt it will be. He is growing extremely particular in hi_ttentions."
  • Fanny could listen no farther. Listening and wondering were all suspended fo_ time, for Mr. Bertram was in the room again; and though feeling it would b_ great honour to be asked by him, she thought it must happen. He came toward_heir little circle; but instead of asking her to dance, drew a chair nea_er, and gave her an account of the present state of a sick horse, and th_pinion of the groom, from whom he had just parted. Fanny found that it wa_ot to be, and in the modesty of her nature immediately felt that she had bee_nreasonable in expecting it. When he had told of his horse, he took _ewspaper from the table, and looking over it, said in a languid way, "If yo_ant to dance, Fanny, I will stand up with you." With more than equal civilit_he offer was declined; she did not wish to dance. "I am glad of it," said he,
  • in a much brisker tone, and throwing down the newspaper again, "for I am tire_o death. I only wonder how the good people can keep it up so long. They ha_eed be all in love, to find any amusement in such folly; and so they are, _ancy. If you look at them you may see they are so many couple of lovers—al_ut Yates and Mrs. Grant—and, between ourselves, she, poor woman, must want _over as much as any one of them. A desperate dull life hers must be with th_octor," making a sly face as he spoke towards the chair of the latter, wh_roving, however, to be close at his elbow, made so instantaneous a change o_xpression and subject necessary, as Fanny, in spite of everything, coul_ardly help laughing at. "A strange business this in America, Dr. Grant! Wha_s your opinion? I always come to you to know what I am to think of publi_atters."
  • "My dear Tom," cried his aunt soon afterwards, "as you are not dancing, I dar_ay you will have no objection to join us in a rubber; shall you?" The_eaving her seat, and coming to him to enforce the proposal, added in _hisper, "We want to make a table for Mrs. Rushworth, you know. Your mother i_uite anxious about it, but cannot very well spare time to sit down herself,
  • because of her fringe. Now, you and I and Dr. Grant will just do; and thoug_e play but half-crowns, you know, you may bet half-guineas with him."
  • "I should be most happy," replied he aloud, and jumping up with alacrity, "i_ould give me the greatest pleasure; but that I am this moment going t_ance." Come, Fanny, taking her hand, "do not be dawdling any longer, or th_ance will be over."
  • Fanny was led off very willingly, though it was impossible for her to fee_uch gratitude towards her cousin, or distinguish, as he certainly did,
  • between the selfishness of another person and his own.
  • "A pretty modest request upon my word," he indignantly exclaimed as the_alked away. "To want to nail me to a card-table for the next two hours wit_erself and Dr. Grant, who are always quarrelling, and that poking old woman,
  • who knows no more of whist than of algebra. I wish my good aunt would be _ittle less busy! And to ask me in such a way too! without ceremony, befor_hem all, so as to leave me no possibility of refusing. That is what I dislik_ost particularly. It raises my spleen more than anything, to have th_retence of being asked, of being given a choice, and at the same tim_ddressed in such a way as to oblige one to do the very thing, whatever it be!
  • If I had not luckily thought of standing up with you I could not have got ou_f it. It is a great deal too bad. But when my aunt has got a fancy in he_ead, nothing can stop her."