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Chapter 29

  • The ball was over, and the breakfast was soon over too; the last kiss wa_iven, and William was gone. Mr. Crawford had, as he foretold, been ver_unctual, and short and pleasant had been the meal.
  • After seeing William to the last moment, Fanny walked back to the breakfast-
  • room with a very saddened heart to grieve over the melancholy change; an_here her uncle kindly left her to cry in peace, conceiving, perhaps, that th_eserted chair of each young man might exercise her tender enthusiasm, an_hat the remaining cold pork bones and mustard in William's plate might bu_ivide her feelings with the broken egg-shells in Mr. Crawford's. She sat an_ried con amore as her uncle intended, but it was con amore fraternal and n_ther. William was gone, and she now felt as if she had wasted half his visi_n idle cares and selfish solicitudes unconnected with him.
  • Fanny's disposition was such that she could never even think of her aun_orris in the meagreness and cheerlessness of her own small house, withou_eproaching herself for some little want of attention to her when they ha_een last together; much less could her feelings acquit her of having done an_aid and thought everything by William that was due to him for a whol_ortnight.
  • It was a heavy, melancholy day. Soon after the second breakfast, Edmund bad_hem good-bye for a week, and mounted his horse for Peterborough, and then al_ere gone. Nothing remained of last night but remembrances, which she ha_obody to share in. She talked to her aunt Bertram— she must talk to somebod_f the ball; but her aunt had seen so little of what had passed, and had s_ittle curiosity, that it was heavy work. Lady Bertram was not certain o_nybody's dress or anybody's place at supper but her own. "She could no_ecollect what it was that she had heard about one of the Miss Maddoxes, o_hat it was that Lady Prescott had noticed in Fanny: she was not sure whethe_olonel Harrison had been talking of Mr. Crawford or of William when he sai_e was the finest young man in the room— somebody had whispered something t_er; she had forgot to ask Sir Thomas what it could be." And these were he_ongest speeches and clearest communications: the rest was only a languid
  • "Yes, yes; very well; did you? did he? I did not see that; I should not kno_ne from the other." This was very bad. It was only better than Mrs. Norris'_harp answers would have been; but she being gone home with all th_upernumerary jellies to nurse a sick maid, there was peace and good-humour i_heir little party, though it could not boast much beside.
  • The evening was heavy like the day. "I cannot think what is the matter wit_e," said Lady Bertram, when the tea-things were removed. "I feel quit_tupid. It must be sitting up so late last night. Fanny, you must do somethin_o keep me awake. I cannot work. Fetch the cards; I feel so very stupid."
  • The cards were brought, and Fanny played at cribbage with her aunt til_edtime; and as Sir Thomas was reading to himself, no sounds were heard in th_oom for the next two hours beyond the reckonings of the game—"And that make_hirty-one; four in hand and eight in crib. You are to deal, ma'am; shall _eal for you?" Fanny thought and thought again of the difference which twenty-
  • four hours had made in that room, and all that part of the house. Last nigh_t had been hope and smiles, bustle and motion, noise and brilliancy, in th_rawing-room, and out of the drawing-room, and everywhere. Now it was languor,
  • and all but solitude.
  • A good night's rest improved her spirits. She could think of William the nex_ay more cheerfully; and as the morning afforded her an opportunity of talkin_ver Thursday night with Mrs. Grant and Miss Crawford, in a very handsom_tyle, with all the heightenings of imagination, and all the laughs o_layfulness which are so essential to the shade of a departed ball, she coul_fterwards bring her mind without much effort into its everyday state, an_asily conform to the tranquillity of the present quiet week.
  • They were indeed a smaller party than she had ever known there for a whole da_ogether, and he was gone on whom the comfort and cheerfulness of every famil_eeting and every meal chiefly depended. But this must be learned to b_ndured. He would soon be always gone; and she was thankful that she could no_it in the same room with her uncle, hear his voice, receive his questions,
  • and even answer them, without such wretched feelings as she had formerl_nown.
  • "We miss our two young men," was Sir Thomas's observation on both the firs_nd second day, as they formed their very reduced circle after dinner; and i_onsideration of Fanny's swimming eyes, nothing more was said on the first da_han to drink their good health; but on the second it led to somethin_arther. William was kindly commended and his promotion hoped for. "And ther_s no reason to suppose," added Sir Thomas, "but that his visits to us may no_e tolerably frequent. As to Edmund, we must learn to do without him. Thi_ill be the last winter of his belonging to us, as he has done."
  • "Yes," said Lady Bertram, "but I wish he was not going away. They are al_oing away, I think. I wish they would stay at home."
  • This wish was levelled principally at Julia, who had just applied fo_ermission to go to town with Maria; and as Sir Thomas thought it best fo_ach daughter that the permission should be granted, Lady Bertram, though i_er own good-nature she would not have prevented it, was lamenting the chang_t made in the prospect of Julia's return, which would otherwise have take_lace about this time. A great deal of good sense followed on Sir Thomas'_ide, tending to reconcile his wife to the arrangement. Everything that _onsiderate parent ought to feel was advanced for her use; and everything tha_n affectionate mother must feel in promoting her children's enjoyment wa_ttributed to her nature. Lady Bertram agreed to it all with a calm "Yes"; an_t the end of a quarter of an hour's silent consideration spontaneousl_bserved, "Sir Thomas, I have been thinking—and I am very glad we took Fann_s we did, for now the others are away we feel the good of it."
  • Sir Thomas immediately improved this compliment by adding, "Very true. We she_anny what a good girl we think her by praising her to her face, she is now _ery valuable companion. If we have been kind to her, she is now quite a_ecessary to us."
  • "Yes," said Lady Bertram presently; "and it is a comfort to think that w_hall always have her."
  • Sir Thomas paused, half smiled, glanced at his niece, and then gravel_eplied, "She will never leave us, I hope, till invited to some other hom_hat may reasonably promise her greater happiness than she knows here."
  • "And that is not very likely to be, Sir Thomas. Who should invite her? Mari_ight be very glad to see her at Sotherton now and then, but she would no_hink of asking her to live there; and I am sure she is better off here; an_esides, I cannot do without her."
  • The week which passed so quietly and peaceably at the great house in Mansfiel_ad a very different character at the Parsonage. To the young lady, at least,
  • in each family, it brought very different feelings. What was tranquillity an_omfort to Fanny was tediousness and vexation to Mary. Something arose fro_ifference of disposition and habit: one so easily satisfied, the other s_nused to endure; but still more might be imputed to difference o_ircumstances. In some points of interest they were exactly opposed to eac_ther. To Fanny's mind, Edmund's absence was really, in its cause and it_endency, a relief. To Mary it was every way painful. She felt the want of hi_ociety every day, almost every hour, and was too much in want of it to deriv_nything but irritation from considering the object for which he went. H_ould not have devised anything more likely to raise his consequence than thi_eek's absence, occurring as it did at the very time of her brother's goin_way, of William Price's going too, and completing the sort of general break-
  • up of a party which had been so animated. She felt it keenly. They were now _iserable trio, confined within doors by a series of rain and snow, wit_othing to do and no variety to hope for. Angry as she was with Edmund fo_dhering to his own notions, and acting on them in defiance of her (and sh_ad been so angry that they had hardly parted friends at the ball), she coul_ot help thinking of him continually when absent, dwelling on his merit an_ffection, and longing again for the almost daily meetings they lately had.
  • His absence was unnecessarily long. He should not have planned such a_bsence—he should not have left home for a week, when her own departure fro_ansfield was so near. Then she began to blame herself. She wished she had no_poken so warmly in their last conversation. She was afraid she had used som_trong, some contemptuous expressions in speaking of the clergy, and tha_hould not have been. It was ill-bred; it was wrong. She wished such word_nsaid with all her heart.
  • Her vexation did not end with the week. All this was bad, but she had stil_ore to feel when Friday came round again and brought no Edmund; when Saturda_ame and still no Edmund; and when, through the slight communication with th_ther family which Sunday produced, she learned that he had actually writte_ome to defer his return, having promised to remain some days longer with hi_riend.
  • If she had felt impatience and regret before—if she had been sorry for wha_he said, and feared its too strong effect on him—she now felt and feared i_ll tenfold more. She had, moreover, to contend with one disagreeable emotio_ntirely new to her—jealousy. His friend Mr. Owen had sisters; he might fin_hem attractive. But, at any rate, his staying away at a time when, accordin_o all preceding plans, she was to remove to London, meant something that sh_ould not bear. Had Henry returned, as he talked of doing, at the end of thre_r four days, she should now have been leaving Mansfield. It became absolutel_ecessary for her to get to Fanny and try to learn something more. She coul_ot live any longer in such solitary wretchedness; and she made her way to th_ark, through difficulties of walking which she had deemed unconquerable _eek before, for the chance of hearing a little in addition, for the sake o_t least hearing his name.
  • The first half-hour was lost, for Fanny and Lady Bertram were together, an_nless she had Fanny to herself she could hope for nothing. But at last Lad_ertram left the room, and then almost immediately Miss Crawford thus began,
  • with a voice as well regulated as she could—"And how do you like your cousi_dmund's staying away so long? Being the only young person at home, I conside_ou as the greatest sufferer. You must miss him. Does his staying longe_urprise you?"
  • "I do not know," said Fanny hesitatingly. "Yes; I had not particularl_xpected it."
  • "Perhaps he will always stay longer than he talks of. It is the general wa_ll young men do."
  • "He did not, the only time he went to see Mr. Owen before."
  • "He finds the house more agreeable now. He is a very— a very pleasing youn_an himself, and I cannot help being rather concerned at not seeing him agai_efore I go to London, as will now undoubtedly be the case. I am looking fo_enry every day, and as soon as he comes there will be nothing to detain me a_ansfield. I should like to have seen him once more, I confess. But you mus_ive my compliments to him. Yes; I think it must be compliments. Is not ther_ something wanted, Miss Price, in our language—a something betwee_ompliments and— and love—to suit the sort of friendly acquaintance we hav_ad together? So many months' acquaintance! But compliments may be sufficien_ere. Was his letter a long one? Does he give you much account of what he i_oing? Is it Christmas gaieties that he is staying for?"
  • "I only heard a part of the letter; it was to my uncle; but I believe it wa_ery short; indeed I am sure it was but a few lines. All that I heard was tha_is friend had pressed him to stay longer, and that he had agreed to do so. _ew days longer, or some days longer; I am not quite sure which."
  • "Oh! if he wrote to his father; but I thought it might have been to Lad_ertram or you. But if he wrote to his father, no wonder he was concise. Wh_ould write chat to Sir Thomas? If he had written to you, there would hav_een more particulars. You would have heard of balls and parties. He woul_ave sent you a description of everything and everybody. How many Miss Owen_re there?"
  • "Three grown up."
  • "Are they musical?"
  • "I do not at all know. I never heard."
  • "That is the first question, you know," said Miss Crawford, trying to appea_ay and unconcerned, "which every woman who plays herself is sure to ask abou_nother. But it is very foolish to ask questions about any young ladies—abou_ny three sisters just grown up; for one knows, without being told, exactl_hat they are: all very accomplished and pleasing, and one very pretty. Ther_s a beauty in every family; it is a regular thing. Two play on th_ianoforte, and one on the harp; and all sing, or would sing if they wer_aught, or sing all the better for not being taught; or something like it."
  • "I know nothing of the Miss Owens," said Fanny calmly.
  • "You know nothing and you care less, as people say. Never did tone expres_ndifference plainer. Indeed, how can one care for those one has never seen?
  • Well, when your cousin comes back, he will find Mansfield very quiet; all th_oisy ones gone, your brother and mine and myself I do not like the idea o_eaving Mrs. Grant now the time draws near. She does not like my going."
  • Fanny felt obliged to speak. "You cannot doubt your being missed by many,"
  • said she. "You will be very much missed."
  • Miss Crawford turned her eye on her, as if wanting to hear or see more, an_hen laughingly said, "Oh yes! missed as every noisy evil is missed when it i_aken away; that is, there is a great difference felt. But I am not fishing;
  • don't compliment me. If I am missed, it will appear. I may be discovered b_hose who want to see me. I shall not be in any doubtful, or distant, o_napproachable region."
  • Now Fanny could not bring herself to speak, and Miss Crawford wa_isappointed; for she had hoped to hear some pleasant assurance of her powe_rom one who she thought must know, and her spirits were clouded again.
  • "The Miss Owens," said she, soon afterwards; "suppose you were to have one o_he Miss Owens settled at Thornton Lacey; how should you like it? Strange_hings have happened. I dare say they are trying for it. And they are quite i_he light, for it would be a very pretty establishment for them. I do not a_ll wonder or blame them. It is everybody's duty to do as well for themselve_s they can. Sir Thomas Bertram's son is somebody; and now he is in their ow_ine. Their father is a clergyman, and their brother is a clergyman, and the_re all clergymen together. He is their lawful property; he fairly belongs t_hem. You don't speak, Fanny; Miss Price, you don't speak. But honestly now,
  • do not you rather expect it than otherwise?"
  • "No," said Fanny stoutly, "I do not expect it at all."
  • "Not at all!" cried Miss Crawford with alacrity. "I wonder at that. But I dar_ay you know exactly— I always imagine you are—perhaps you do not think hi_ikely to marry at all—or not at present."
  • "No, I do not," said Fanny softly, hoping she did not err either in the belie_r the acknowledgment of it.
  • Her companion looked at her keenly; and gathering greater spirit from th_lush soon produced from such a look, only said, "He is best off as he is,"
  • and turned the subject.