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Chapter 25

  • The intercourse of the two families was at this period more nearly restored t_hat it had been in the autumn, than any member of the old intimacy ha_hought ever likely to be again. The return of Henry Crawford, and the arriva_f William Price, had much to do with it, but much was still owing to Si_homas's more than toleration of the neighbourly attempts at the Parsonage.
  • His mind, now disengaged from the cares which had pressed on him at first, wa_t leisure to find the Grants and their young inmates really worth visiting; and though infinitely above scheming or contriving for any the mos_dvantageous matrimonial establishment that could be among the apparen_ossibilities of any one most dear to him, and disdaining even as a littlenes_he being quick-sighted on such points, he could not avoid perceiving, in _rand and careless way, that Mr. Crawford was somewhat distinguishing hi_iece— nor perhaps refrain (though unconsciously) from giving a more willin_ssent to invitations on that account.
  • His readiness, however, in agreeing to dine at the Parsonage, when the genera_nvitation was at last hazarded, after many debates and many doubts as t_hether it were worth while, "because Sir Thomas seemed so ill inclined, an_ady Bertram was so indolent!" proceeded from good-breeding and goodwil_lone, and had nothing to do with Mr. Crawford, but as being one in a_greeable group: for it was in the course of that very visit that he firs_egan to think that any one in the habit of such idle observations would hav_hought that Mr. Crawford was the admirer of Fanny Price.
  • The meeting was generally felt to be a pleasant one, being composed in a goo_roportion of those who would talk and those who would listen; and the dinne_tself was elegant and plentiful, according to the usual style of the Grants, and too much according to the usual habits of all to raise any emotion excep_n Mrs. Norris, who could never behold either the wide table or the number o_ishes on it with patience, and who did always contrive to experience som_vil from the passing of the servants behind her chair, and to bring away som_resh conviction of its being impossible among so many dishes but that som_ust be cold.
  • In the evening it was found, according to the predetermination of Mrs. Gran_nd her sister, that after making up the whist-table there would remai_ufficient for a round game, and everybody being as perfectly complying an_ithout a choice as on such occasions they always are, speculation was decide_n almost as soon as whist; and Lady Bertram soon found herself in th_ritical situation of being applied to for her own choice between the games, and being required either to draw a card for whist or not. She hesitated.
  • Luckily Sir Thomas was at hand.
  • "What shall I do, Sir Thomas? Whist and speculation; which will amuse m_ost?"
  • Sir Thomas, after a moment's thought, recommended speculation. He was a whis_layer himself, and perhaps might feel that it would not much amuse him t_ave her for a partner.
  • "Very well," was her ladyship's contented answer; "then speculation, if yo_lease, Mrs. Grant. I know nothing about it, but Fanny must teach me."
  • Here Fanny interposed, however, with anxious protestations of her own equa_gnorance; she had never played the game nor seen it played in her life; an_ady Bertram felt a moment's indecision again; but upon everybody's assurin_er that nothing could be so easy, that it was the easiest game on the cards, and Henry Crawford's stepping forward with a most earnest request to b_llowed to sit between her ladyship and Miss Price, and teach them both, i_as so settled; and Sir Thomas, Mrs. Norris, and Dr. and Mrs. Grant bein_eated at the table of prime intellectual state and dignity, the remainin_ix, under Miss Crawford's direction, were arranged round the other. It was _ine arrangement for Henry Crawford, who was close to Fanny, and with hi_ands full of business, having two persons' cards to manage as well as hi_wn; for though it was impossible for Fanny not to feel herself mistress o_he rules of the game in three minutes, he had yet to inspirit her play, sharpen her avarice, and harden her heart, which, especially in an_ompetition with William, was a work of some difficulty; and as for Lad_ertram, he must continue in charge of all her fame and fortune through th_hole evening; and if quick enough to keep her from looking at her cards whe_he deal began, must direct her in whatever was to be done with them to th_nd of it.
  • He was in high spirits, doing everything with happy ease, and preeminent i_ll the lively turns, quick resources, and playful impudence that could d_onour to the game; and the round table was altogether a very comfortabl_ontrast to the steady sobriety and orderly silence of the other.
  • Twice had Sir Thomas inquired into the enjoyment and success of his lady, bu_n vain; no pause was long enough for the time his measured manner needed; an_ery little of her state could be known till Mrs. Grant was able, at the en_f the first rubber, to go to her and pay her compliments.
  • "I hope your ladyship is pleased with the game."
  • "Oh dear, yes! very entertaining indeed. A very odd game. I do not know wha_t is all about. I am never to see my cards; and Mr. Crawford does all th_est."
  • "Bertram," said Crawford, some time afterwards, taking the opportunity of _ittle languor in the game, "I have never told you what happened to m_esterday in my ride home." They had been hunting together, and were in th_idst of a good run, and at some distance from Mansfield, when his horse bein_ound to have flung a shoe, Henry Crawford had been obliged to give up, an_ake the best of his way back. "I told you I lost my way after passing tha_ld farmhouse with the yew-trees, because I can never bear to ask; but I hav_ot told you that, with my usual luck—for I never do wrong without gaining b_t—I found myself in due time in the very place which I had a curiosity t_ee. I was suddenly, upon turning the corner of a steepish downy field, in th_idst of a retired little village between gently rising hills; a small strea_efore me to be forded, a church standing on a sort of knoll to my right— which church was strikingly large and handsome for the place, and not _entleman or half a gentleman's house to be seen excepting one—to be presume_he Parsonage— within a stone's throw of the said knoll and church. I foun_yself, in short, in Thornton Lacey."
  • "It sounds like it," said Edmund; "but which way did you turn after passin_ewell's farm?"
  • "I answer no such irrelevant and insidious questions; though were I to answe_ll that you could put in the course of an hour, you would never be able t_rove that it was not Thornton Lacey—for such it certainly was."
  • "You inquired, then?"
  • "No, I never inquire. But I told a man mending a hedge that it was Thornto_acey, and he agreed to it."
  • "You have a good memory. I had forgotten having ever told you half so much o_he place."
  • Thornton Lacey was the name of his impending living, as Miss Crawford wel_new; and her interest in a negotiation for William Price's knave increased.
  • "Well," continued Edmund, "and how did you like what you saw?"
  • "Very much indeed. You are a lucky fellow. There will be work for five summer_t least before the place is liveable."
  • "No, no, not so bad as that. The farmyard must be moved, I grant you; but I a_ot aware of anything else. The house is by no means bad, and when the yard i_emoved, there may be a very tolerable approach to it."
  • "The farmyard must be cleared away entirely, and planted up to shut out th_lacksmith's shop. The house must be turned to front the east instead of th_orth— the entrance and principal rooms, I mean, must be on that side, wher_he view is really very pretty; I am sure it may be done. And there must b_our approach, through what is at present the garden. You must make a ne_arden at what is now the back of the house; which will be giving it the bes_spect in the world, sloping to the south-east. The ground seems precisel_ormed for it. I rode fifty yards up the lane, between the church and th_ouse, in order to look about me; and saw how it might all be. Nothing can b_asier. The meadows beyond what will be the garden, as well as what now is, sweeping round from the lane I stood in to the north-east, that is, to th_rincipal road through the village, must be all laid together, of course; ver_retty meadows they are, finely sprinkled with timber. They belong to th_iving, I suppose; if not, you must purchase them. Then the stream—somethin_ust be done with the stream; but I could not quite determine what. I had tw_r three ideas."
  • "And I have two or three ideas also," said Edmund, "and one of them is, tha_ery little of your plan for Thornton Lacey will ever be put in practice. _ust be satisfied with rather less ornament and beauty. I think the house an_remises may be made comfortable, and given the air of a gentleman'_esidence, without any very heavy expense, and that must suffice me; and, _ope, may suffice all who care about me."
  • Miss Crawford, a little suspicious and resentful of a certain tone of voice, and a certain half-look attending the last expression of his hope, made _asty finish of her dealings with William Price; and securing his knave at a_xorbitant rate, exclaimed, "There, I will stake my last like a woman o_pirit. No cold prudence for me. I am not born to sit still and do nothing. I_ lose the game, it shall not be from not striving for it."
  • The game was hers, and only did not pay her for what she had given to secur_t. Another deal proceeded, and Crawford began again about Thornton Lacey.
  • "My plan may not be the best possible: I had not many minutes to form it in; but you must do a good deal. The place deserves it, and you will find yoursel_ot satisfied with much less than it is capable of. (Excuse me, your ladyshi_ust not see your cards. There, let them lie just before you.) The plac_eserves it, Bertram. You talk of giving it the air of a gentleman'_esidence. That will be done by the removal of the farmyard; for, independen_f that terrible nuisance, I never saw a house of the kind which had in itsel_o much the air of a gentleman's residence, so much the look of a somethin_bove a mere parsonage-house—above the expenditure of a few hundreds a year.
  • It is not a scrambling collection of low single rooms, with as many roofs a_indows; it is not cramped into the vulgar compactness of a square farmhouse: it is a solid, roomy, mansion-like looking house, such as one might suppose _espectable old country family had lived in from generation to generation, through two centuries at least, and were now spending from two to thre_housand a year in." Miss Crawford listened, and Edmund agreed to this. "Th_ir of a gentleman's residence, therefore, you cannot but give it, if you d_nything. But it is capable of much more. (Let me see, Mary; Lady Bertram bid_ dozen for that queen; no, no, a dozen is more than it is worth. Lady Bertra_oes not bid a dozen. She will have nothing to say to it. Go on, go on.) B_ome such improvements as I have suggested (I do not really require you t_roceed upon my plan, though, by the bye, I doubt anybody's striking out _etter) you may give it a higher character. You may raise it into a place.
  • From being the mere gentleman's residence, it becomes, by judiciou_mprovement, the residence of a man of education, taste, modern manners, goo_onnexions. All this may be stamped on it; and that house receive such an ai_s to make its owner be set down as the great landholder of the parish b_very creature travelling the road; especially as there is no real squire'_ouse to dispute the point—a circumstance, between ourselves, to enhance th_alue of such a situation in point of privilege and independence beyond al_alculation. You think with me, I hope" (turning with a softened voice t_anny). "Have you ever seen the place?"
  • Fanny gave a quick negative, and tried to hide her interest in the subject b_n eager attention to her brother, who was driving as hard a bargain, an_mposing on her as much as he could; but Crawford pursued with "No, no, yo_ust not part with the queen. You have bought her too dearly, and your brothe_oes not offer half her value. No, no, sir, hands off, hands off. Your siste_oes not part with the queen. She is quite determined. The game will b_ours," turning to her again; "it will certainly be yours."
  • "And Fanny had much rather it were William's," said Edmund, smiling at her.
  • "Poor Fanny! not allowed to cheat herself as she wishes!"
  • "Mr. Bertram," said Miss Crawford, a few minutes afterwards, "you know Henr_o be such a capital improver, that you cannot possibly engage in anything o_he sort at Thornton Lacey without accepting his help. Only think how usefu_e was at Sotherton! Only think what grand things were produced there by ou_ll going with him one hot day in August to drive about the grounds, and se_is genius take fire. There we went, and there we came home again; and wha_as done there is not to be told!"
  • Fanny's eyes were turned on Crawford for a moment with an expression more tha_rave—even reproachful; but on catching his, were instantly withdrawn. Wit_omething of consciousness he shook his head at his sister, and laughingl_eplied, "I cannot say there was much done at Sotherton; but it was a hot day, and we were all walking after each other, and bewildered." As soon as _eneral buzz gave him shelter, he added, in a low voice, directed solely a_anny, "I should be sorry to have my powers of planning judged of by the da_t Sotherton. I see things very differently now. Do not think of me as _ppeared then."
  • Sotherton was a word to catch Mrs. Norris, and being just then in the happ_eisure which followed securing the odd trick by Sir Thomas's capital play an_er own against Dr. and Mrs. Grant's great hands, she called out, in hig_ood-humour, "Sotherton! Yes, that is a place, indeed, and we had a charmin_ay there. William, you are quite out of luck; but the next time you come, _ope dear Mr. and Mrs. Rushworth will be at home, and I am sure I can answe_or your being kindly received by both. Your cousins are not of a sort t_orget their relations, and Mr. Rushworth is a most amiable man. They are a_righton now, you know; in one of the best houses there, as Mr. Rushworth'_ine fortune gives them a right to be. I do not exactly know the distance, bu_hen you get back to Portsmouth, if it is not very far off, you ought to g_ver and pay your respects to them; and I could send a little parcel by yo_hat I want to get conveyed to your cousins."
  • "I should be very happy, aunt; but Brighton is almost by Beachey Head; and i_ could get so far, I could not expect to be welcome in such a smart place a_hat— poor scrubby midshipman as I am."
  • Mrs. Norris was beginning an eager assurance of the affability he might depen_n, when she was stopped by Sir Thomas's saying with authority, "I do no_dvise your going to Brighton, William, as I trust you may soon have mor_onvenient opportunities of meeting; but my daughters would be happy to se_heir cousins anywhere; and you will find Mr. Rushworth most sincerel_isposed to regard all the connexions of our family as his own."
  • "I would rather find him private secretary to the First Lord than anythin_lse," was William's only answer, in an undervoice, not meant to reach far, and the subject dropped.
  • As yet Sir Thomas had seen nothing to remark in Mr. Crawford's behaviour; bu_hen the whist-table broke up at the end of the second rubber, and leaving Dr.
  • Grant and Mrs. Norris to dispute over their last play, he became a looker-o_t the other, he found his niece the object of attentions, or rather o_rofessions, of a somewhat pointed character.
  • Henry Crawford was in the first glow of another scheme about Thornton Lacey; and not being able to catch Edmund's ear, was detailing it to his fai_eighbour with a look of considerable earnestness. His scheme was to rent th_ouse himself the following winter, that he might have a home of his own i_hat neighbourhood; and it was not merely for the use of it in the hunting- season (as he was then telling her), though that consideration had certainl_ome weight, feeling as he did that, in spite of all Dr. Grant's very grea_indness, it was impossible for him and his horses to be accommodated wher_hey now were without material inconvenience; but his attachment to tha_eighbourhood did not depend upon one amusement or one season of the year: h_ad set his heart upon having a something there that he could come to at an_ime, a little homestall at his command, where all the holidays of his yea_ight be spent, and he might find himself continuing, improving, an_erfecting that friendship and intimacy with the Mansfield Park family whic_as increasing in value to him every day. Sir Thomas heard and was no_ffended. There was no want of respect in the young man's address; and Fanny'_eception of it was so proper and modest, so calm and uninviting, that he ha_othing to censure in her. She said little, assented only here and there, an_etrayed no inclination either of appropriating any part of the compliment t_erself, or of strengthening his views in favour of Northamptonshire. Findin_y whom he was observed, Henry Crawford addressed himself on the same subjec_o Sir Thomas, in a more everyday tone, but still with feeling.
  • "I want to be your neighbour, Sir Thomas, as you have, perhaps, heard m_elling Miss Price. May I hope for your acquiescence, and for your no_nfluencing your son against such a tenant?"
  • Sir Thomas, politely bowing, replied, "It is the only way, sir, in which _ould not wish you established as a permanent neighbour; but I hope, an_elieve, that Edmund will occupy his own house at Thornton Lacey. Edmund, am _aying too much?"
  • Edmund, on this appeal, had first to hear what was going on; but, o_nderstanding the question, was at no loss for an answer.
  • "Certainly, sir, I have no idea but of residence. But, Crawford, though _efuse you as a tenant, come to me as a friend. Consider the house as hal_our own every winter, and we will add to the stables on your own improve_lan, and with all the improvements of your improved plan that may occur t_ou this spring."
  • "We shall be the losers," continued Sir Thomas. "His going, though only eigh_iles, will be an unwelcome contraction of our family circle; but I shoul_ave been deeply mortified if any son of mine could reconcile himself to doin_ess. It is perfectly natural that you should not have thought much on th_ubject, Mr. Crawford. But a parish has wants and claims which can be know_nly by a clergyman constantly resident, and which no proxy can be capable o_atisfying to the same extent. Edmund might, in the common phrase, do the dut_f Thornton, that is, he might read prayers and preach, without giving u_ansfield Park: he might ride over every Sunday, to a house nominall_nhabited, and go through divine service; he might be the clergyman o_hornton Lacey every seventh day, for three or four hours, if that woul_ontent him. But it will not. He knows that human nature needs more lesson_han a weekly sermon can convey; and that if he does not live among hi_arishioners, and prove himself, by constant attention, their well-wisher an_riend, he does very little either for their good or his own."
  • Mr. Crawford bowed his acquiescence.
  • "I repeat again," added Sir Thomas, "that Thornton Lacey is the only house i_he neighbourhood in which I should not be happy to wait on Mr. Crawford a_ccupier."
  • Mr. Crawford bowed his thanks.
  • "Sir Thomas," said Edmund, "undoubtedly understands the duty of a paris_riest. We must hope his son may prove that he knows it too."
  • Whatever effect Sir Thomas's little harangue might really produce on Mr.
  • Crawford, it raised some awkward sensations in two of the others, two of hi_ost attentive listeners— Miss Crawford and Fanny. One of whom, having neve_efore understood that Thornton was so soon and so completely to be his home, was pondering with downcast eyes on what it would be not to see Edmund ever_ay; and the other, startled from the agreeable fancies she had bee_reviously indulging on the strength of her brother's description, no longe_ble, in the picture she had been forming of a future Thornton, to shut ou_he church, sink the clergyman, and see only the respectable, elegant, modernised, and occasional residence of a man of independent fortune, wa_onsidering Sir Thomas, with decided ill-will, as the destroyer of all this, and suffering the more from that involuntary forbearance which his characte_nd manner commanded, and from not daring to relieve herself by a singl_ttempt at throwing ridicule on his cause.
  • All the agreeable of her speculation was over for that hour. It was time t_ave done with cards, if sermons prevailed; and she was glad to find i_ecessary to come to a conclusion, and be able to refresh her spirits by _hange of place and neighbour.
  • The chief of the party were now collected irregularly round the fire, an_aiting the final break-up. William and Fanny were the most detached. The_emained together at the otherwise deserted card-table, talking ver_omfortably, and not thinking of the rest, till some of the rest began t_hink of them. Henry Crawford's chair was the first to be given a directio_owards them, and he sat silently observing them for a few minutes; himself, in the meanwhile, observed by Sir Thomas, who was standing in chat with Dr.
  • Grant.
  • "This is the assembly night," said William. "If I were at Portsmouth I shoul_e at it, perhaps."
  • "But you do not wish yourself at Portsmouth, William?"
  • "No, Fanny, that I do not. I shall have enough of Portsmouth and of dancin_oo, when I cannot have you. And I do not know that there would be any good i_oing to the assembly, for I might not get a partner. The Portsmouth girl_urn up their noses at anybody who has not a commission. One might as well b_othing as a midshipman. One is nothing, indeed. You remember the Gregorys; they are grown up amazing fine girls, but they will hardly speak to me, because Lucy is courted by a lieutenant."
  • "Oh! shame, shame! But never mind it, William" (her own cheeks in a glow o_ndignation as she spoke). "It is not worth minding. It is no reflection o_ou; it is no more than what the greatest admirals have all experienced, mor_r less, in their time. You must think of that, you must try to make up you_ind to it as one of the hardships which fall to every sailor's share, lik_ad weather and hard living, only with this advantage, that there will be a_nd to it, that there will come a time when you will have nothing of that sor_o endure. When you are a lieutenant! only think, William, when you are _ieutenant, how little you will care for any nonsense of this kind."
  • "I begin to think I shall never be a lieutenant, Fanny. Everybody gets mad_ut me."
  • "Oh! my dear William, do not talk so; do not be so desponding. My uncle say_othing, but I am sure he will do everything in his power to get you made. H_nows, as well as you do, of what consequence it is."
  • She was checked by the sight of her uncle much nearer to them than she had an_uspicion of, and each found it necessary to talk of something else.
  • "Are you fond of dancing, Fanny?"
  • "Yes, very; only I am soon tired."
  • "I should like to go to a ball with you and see you dance. Have you never an_alls at Northampton? I should like to see you dance, and I'd dance with yo_f you would, for nobody would know who I was here, and I should like to b_our partner once more. We used to jump about together many a time, did no_e? when the hand-organ was in the street? I am a pretty good dancer in m_ay, but I dare say you are a better." And turning to his uncle, who was no_lose to them, "Is not Fanny a very good dancer, sir?"
  • Fanny, in dismay at such an unprecedented question, did not know which way t_ook, or how to be prepared for the answer. Some very grave reproof, or a_east the coldest expression of indifference, must be coming to distress he_rother, and sink her to the ground. But, on the contrary, it was no wors_han, "I am sorry to say that I am unable to answer your question. I hav_ever seen Fanny dance since she was a little girl; but I trust we shall bot_hink she acquits herself like a gentlewoman when we do see her, which, perhaps, we may have an opportunity of doing ere long."
  • "I have had the pleasure of seeing your sister dance, Mr. Price," said Henr_rawford, leaning forward, "and will engage to answer every inquiry which yo_an make on the subject, to your entire satisfaction. But I believe" (seein_anny looked distressed) "it must be at some other time. There is one perso_n company who does not like to have Miss Price spoken of."
  • True enough, he had once seen Fanny dance; and it was equally true that h_ould now have answered for her gliding about with quiet, light elegance, an_n admirable time; but, in fact, he could not for the life of him recall wha_er dancing had been, and rather took it for granted that she had been presen_han remembered anything about her.
  • He passed, however, for an admirer of her dancing; and Sir Thomas, by no mean_ispleased, prolonged the conversation on dancing in general, and was so wel_ngaged in describing the balls of Antigua, and listening to what his nephe_ould relate of the different modes of dancing which had fallen within hi_bservation, that he had not heard his carriage announced, and was firs_alled to the knowledge of it by the bustle of Mrs. Norris.
  • "Come, Fanny, Fanny, what are you about? We are going. Do not you see you_unt is going? Quick, quick! I cannot bear to keep good old Wilcox waiting.
  • You should always remember the coachman and horses. My dear Sir Thomas, w_ave settled it that the carriage should come back for you, and Edmund an_illiam."
  • Sir Thomas could not dissent, as it had been his own arrangement, previousl_ommunicated to his wife and sister; but that seemed forgotten by Mrs. Norris, who must fancy that she settled it all herself.
  • Fanny's last feeling in the visit was disappointment: for the shawl whic_dmund was quietly taking from the servant to bring and put round he_houlders was seized by Mr. Crawford's quicker hand, and she was obliged to b_ndebted to his more prominent attention.