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Chapter 35

  • Edmund had determined that it belonged entirely to Fanny to chuse whether he_ituation with regard to Crawford should be mentioned between them or not; an_hat if she did not lead the way, it should never be touched on by him; bu_fter a day or two of mutual reserve, he was induced by his father to chang_is mind, and try what his influence might do for his friend.
  • A day, and a very early day, was actually fixed for the Crawfords' departure; and Sir Thomas thought it might be as well to make one more effort for th_oung man before he left Mansfield, that all his professions and vows o_nshaken attachment might have as much hope to sustain them as possible.
  • Sir Thomas was most cordially anxious for the perfection of Mr. Crawford'_haracter in that point. He wished him to be a model of constancy; and fancie_he best means of effecting it would be by not trying him too long.
  • Edmund was not unwilling to be persuaded to engage in the business; he wante_o know Fanny's feelings. She had been used to consult him in ever_ifficulty, and he loved her too well to bear to be denied her confidence now; he hoped to be of service to her, he thought he must be of service to her; whom else had she to open her heart to? If she did not need counsel, she mus_eed the comfort of communication. Fanny estranged from him, silent an_eserved, was an unnatural state of things; a state which he must brea_hrough, and which he could easily learn to think she was wanting him to brea_hrough.
  • "I will speak to her, sir: I will take the first opportunity of speaking t_er alone," was the result of such thoughts as these; and upon Sir Thomas'_nformation of her being at that very time walking alone in the shrubbery, h_nstantly joined her.
  • "I am come to walk with you, Fanny," said he. "Shall I?" Drawing her ar_ithin his. "It is a long while since we have had a comfortable wal_ogether."
  • She assented to it all rather by look than word. Her spirits were low.
  • "But, Fanny," he presently added, "in order to have a comfortable walk, something more is necessary than merely pacing this gravel together. You mus_alk to me. I know you have something on your mind. I know what you ar_hinking of. You cannot suppose me uninformed. Am I to hear of it fro_verybody but Fanny herself?"
  • Fanny, at once agitated and dejected, replied, "If you hear of it fro_verybody, cousin, there can be nothing for me to tell."
  • "Not of facts, perhaps; but of feelings, Fanny. No one but you can tell m_hem. I do not mean to press you, however. If it is not what you wis_ourself, I have done. I had thought it might be a relief."
  • "I am afraid we think too differently for me to find any relief in talking o_hat I feel."
  • "Do you suppose that we think differently? I have no idea of it. I dare sa_hat, on a comparison of our opinions, they would be found as much alike a_hey have been used to be: to the point—I consider Crawford's proposals a_ost advantageous and desirable, if you could return his affection. I conside_t as most natural that all your family should wish you could return it; bu_hat, as you cannot, you have done exactly as you ought in refusing him. Ca_here be any disagreement between us here?"
  • "Oh no! But I thought you blamed me. I thought you were against me. This i_uch a comfort!"
  • "This comfort you might have had sooner, Fanny, had you sought it. But ho_ould you possibly suppose me against you? How could you imagine me a_dvocate for marriage without love? Were I even careless in general on suc_atters, how could you imagine me so where your happiness was at stake?"
  • "My uncle thought me wrong, and I knew he had been talking to you."
  • "As far as you have gone, Fanny, I think you perfectly right. I may be sorry, I may be surprised—though hardly that, for you had not had time to attac_ourself—but I think you perfectly right. Can it admit of a question? It i_isgraceful to us if it does. You did not love him; nothing could hav_ustified your accepting him."
  • Fanny had not felt so comfortable for days and days.
  • "So far your conduct has been faultless, and they were quite mistaken wh_ished you to do otherwise. But the matter does not end here. Crawford's is n_ommon attachment; he perseveres, with the hope of creating that regard whic_ad not been created before. This, we know, must be a work of time. But" (wit_n affectionate smile) "let him succeed at last, Fanny, let him succeed a_ast. You have proved yourself upright and disinterested, prove yoursel_rateful and tender-hearted; and then you will be the perfect model of a woma_hich I have always believed you born for."
  • "Oh! never, never, never! he never will succeed with me." And she spoke with _armth which quite astonished Edmund, and which she blushed at th_ecollection of herself, when she saw his look, and heard him reply, "Never!
  • Fanny!— so very determined and positive! This is not like yourself, you_ational self."
  • "I mean," she cried, sorrowfully correcting herself, "that I think I neve_hall, as far as the future can be answered for; I think I never shall retur_is regard."
  • "I must hope better things. I am aware, more aware than Crawford can be, tha_he man who means to make you love him (you having due notice of hi_ntentions) must have very uphill work, for there are all your earl_ttachments and habits in battle array; and before he can get your heart fo_is own use he has to unfasten it from all the holds upon things animate an_nanimate, which so many years' growth have confirmed, and which ar_onsiderably tightened for the moment by the very idea of separation. I kno_hat the apprehension of being forced to quit Mansfield will for a time b_rming you against him. I wish he had not been obliged to tell you what he wa_rying for. I wish he had known you as well as I do, Fanny. Between us, _hink we should have won you. My theoretical and his practical knowledg_ogether could not have failed. He should have worked upon my plans. I mus_ope, however, that time, proving him (as I firmly believe it will) to deserv_ou by his steady affection, will give him his reward. I cannot suppose tha_ou have not the wish to love him—the natural wish of gratitude. You must hav_ome feeling of that sort. You must be sorry for your own indifference."
  • "We are so totally unlike," said Fanny, avoiding a direct answer, "we are s_ery, very different in all our inclinations and ways, that I consider it a_uite impossible we should ever be tolerably happy together, even if I coul_ike him. There never were two people more dissimilar. We have not one tast_n common. We should be miserable."
  • "You are mistaken, Fanny. The dissimilarity is not so strong. You are quit_nough alike. You have tastes in common. You have moral and literary tastes i_ommon. You have both warm hearts and benevolent feelings; and, Fanny, wh_hat heard him read, and saw you listen to Shakespeare the other night, wil_hink you unfitted as companions? You forget yourself: there is a decide_ifference in your tempers, I allow. He is lively, you are serious; but s_uch the better: his spirits will support yours. It is your disposition to b_asily dejected and to fancy difficulties greater than they are. Hi_heerfulness will counteract this. He sees difficulties nowhere: and hi_leasantness and gaiety will be a constant support to you. Your being so fa_nlike, Fanny, does not in the smallest degree make against the probability o_our happiness together: do not imagine it. I am myself convinced that it i_ather a favourable circumstance. I am perfectly persuaded that the temper_ad better be unlike: I mean unlike in the flow of the spirits, in th_anners, in the inclination for much or little company, in the propensity t_alk or to be silent, to be grave or to be gay. Some opposition here is, I a_horoughly convinced, friendly to matrimonial happiness. I exclude extremes, of course; and a very close resemblance in all those points would be th_ikeliest way to produce an extreme. A counteraction, gentle and continual, i_he best safeguard of manners and conduct."
  • Full well could Fanny guess where his thoughts were now: Miss Crawford's powe_as all returning. He had been speaking of her cheerfully from the hour of hi_oming home. His avoiding her was quite at an end. He had dined at th_arsonage only the preceding day.
  • After leaving him to his happier thoughts for some minutes, Fanny, feeling i_ue to herself, returned to Mr. Crawford, and said, "It is not merely i_emper that I consider him as totally unsuited to myself; though, in tha_espect, I think the difference between us too great, infinitely too great: his spirits often oppress me; but there is something in him which I object t_till more. I must say, cousin, that I cannot approve his character. I hav_ot thought well of him from the time of the play. I then saw him behaving, a_t appeared to me, so very improperly and unfeelingly—I may speak of it no_ecause it is all over—so improperly by poor Mr. Rushworth, not seeming t_are how he exposed or hurt him, and paying attentions to my cousin Maria, which—in short, at the time of the play, I received an impression which wil_ever be got over."
  • "My dear Fanny," replied Edmund, scarcely hearing her to the end, "let us not, any of us, be judged by what we appeared at that period of general folly. Th_ime of the play is a time which I hate to recollect. Maria was wrong, Crawford was wrong, we were all wrong together; but none so wrong as myself.
  • Compared with me, all the rest were blameless. I was playing the fool with m_yes open."
  • "As a bystander," said Fanny, "perhaps I saw more than you did; and I do thin_hat Mr. Rushworth was sometimes very jealous."
  • "Very possibly. No wonder. Nothing could be more improper than the whol_usiness. I am shocked whenever I think that Maria could be capable of it; but, if she could undertake the part, we must not be surprised at the rest."
  • "Before the play, I am much mistaken if Julia did not think he was paying he_ttentions."
  • "Julia! I have heard before from some one of his being in love with Julia; bu_ could never see anything of it. And, Fanny, though I hope I do justice to m_isters' good qualities, I think it very possible that they might, one o_oth, be more desirous of being admired by Crawford, and might shew tha_esire rather more unguardedly than was perfectly prudent. I can remember tha_hey were evidently fond of his society; and with such encouragement, a ma_ike Crawford, lively, and it may be, a little unthinking, might be led o_o—there could be nothing very striking, because it is clear that he had n_retensions: his heart was reserved for you. And I must say, that its bein_or you has raised him inconceivably in my opinion. It does him the highes_onour; it shews his proper estimation of the blessing of domestic happines_nd pure attachment. It proves him unspoilt by his uncle. It proves him, i_hort, everything that I had been used to wish to believe him, and feared h_as not."
  • "I am persuaded that he does not think, as he ought, on serious subjects."
  • "Say, rather, that he has not thought at all upon serious subjects, which _elieve to be a good deal the case. How could it be otherwise, with such a_ducation and adviser? Under the disadvantages, indeed, which both have had, is it not wonderful that they should be what they are? Crawford's feelings, _m ready to acknowledge, have hitherto been too much his guides. Happily, those feelings have generally been good. You will supply the rest; and a mos_ortunate man he is to attach himself to such a creature— to a woman who, fir_s a rock in her own principles, has a gentleness of character so well adapte_o recommend them. He has chosen his partner, indeed, with rare felicity. H_ill make you happy, Fanny; I know he will make you happy; but you will mak_im everything."
  • "I would not engage in such a charge," cried Fanny, in a shrinking accent; "i_uch an office of high responsibility!"
  • "As usual, believing yourself unequal to anything! fancying everything to_uch for you! Well, though I may not be able to persuade you into differen_eelings, you will be persuaded into them, I trust. I confess myself sincerel_nxious that you may. I have no common interest in Crawford's well-doing. Nex_o your happiness, Fanny, his has the first claim on me. You are aware of m_aving no common interest in Crawford."
  • Fanny was too well aware of it to have anything to say; and they walked o_ogether some fifty yards in mutual silence and abstraction. Edmund firs_egan again—
  • "I was very much pleased by her manner of speaking of it yesterday, particularly pleased, because I had not depended upon her seeing everything i_o just a light. I knew she was very fond of you; but yet I was afraid of he_ot estimating your worth to her brother quite as it deserved, and of he_egretting that he had not rather fixed on some woman of distinction o_ortune. I was afraid of the bias of those worldly maxims, which she has bee_oo much used to hear. But it was very different. She spoke of you, Fanny, just as she ought. She desires the connexion as warmly as your uncle o_yself. We had a long talk about it. I should not have mentioned the subject, though very anxious to know her sentiments; but I had not been in the roo_ive minutes before she began introducing it with all that openness of heart, and sweet peculiarity of manner, that spirit and ingenuousness which are s_uch a part of herself. Mrs. Grant laughed at her for her rapidity."
  • "Was Mrs. Grant in the room, then?"
  • "Yes, when I reached the house I found the two sisters together by themselves; and when once we had begun, we had not done with you, Fanny, till Crawford an_r. Grant came in."
  • "It is above a week since I saw Miss Crawford."
  • "Yes, she laments it; yet owns it may have been best. You will see her, however, before she goes. She is very angry with you, Fanny; you must b_repared for that. She calls herself very angry, but you can imagine he_nger. It is the regret and disappointment of a sister, who thinks her brothe_as a right to everything he may wish for, at the first moment. She is hurt, as you would be for William; but she loves and esteems you with all he_eart."
  • "I knew she would be very angry with me."
  • "My dearest Fanny," cried Edmund, pressing her arm closer to him, "do not le_he idea of her anger distress you. It is anger to be talked of rather tha_elt. Her heart is made for love and kindness, not for resentment. I wish yo_ould have overheard her tribute of praise; I wish you could have seen he_ountenance, when she said that you should be Henry's wife. And I observe_hat she always spoke of you as 'Fanny,' which she was never used to do; an_t had a sound of most sisterly cordiality."
  • "And Mrs. Grant, did she say—did she speak; was she there all the time?"
  • "Yes, she was agreeing exactly with her sister. The surprise of your refusal, Fanny, seems to have been unbounded. That you could refuse such a man as Henr_rawford seems more than they can understand. I said what I could for you; bu_n good truth, as they stated the case—you must prove yourself to be in you_enses as soon as you can by a different conduct; nothing else will satisf_hem. But this is teasing you. I have done. Do not turn away from me."
  • "I should have thought," said Fanny, after a pause of recollection an_xertion, "that every woman must have felt the possibility of a man's no_eing approved, not being loved by some one of her sex at least, let him b_ver so generally agreeable. Let him have all the perfections in the world, _hink it ought not to be set down as certain that a man must be acceptable t_very woman he may happen to like himself. But, even supposing it is so, allowing Mr. Crawford to have all the claims which his sisters think he has, how was I to be prepared to meet him with any feeling answerable to his own?
  • He took me wholly by surprise. I had not an idea that his behaviour to m_efore had any meaning; and surely I was not to be teaching myself to like hi_nly because he was taking what seemed very idle notice of me. In m_ituation, it would have been the extreme of vanity to be forming expectation_n Mr. Crawford. I am sure his sisters, rating him as they do, must hav_hought it so, supposing he had meant nothing. How, then, was I to be— to b_n love with him the moment he said he was with me? How was I to have a_ttachment at his service, as soon as it was asked for? His sisters shoul_onsider me as well as him. The higher his deserts, the more improper for m_ver to have thought of him. And, and—we think very differently of the natur_f women, if they can imagine a woman so very soon capable of returning a_ffection as this seems to imply."
  • "My dear, dear Fanny, now I have the truth. I know this to be the truth; an_ost worthy of you are such feelings. I had attributed them to you before. _hought I could understand you. You have now given exactly the explanatio_hich I ventured to make for you to your friend and Mrs. Grant, and they wer_oth better satisfied, though your warm-hearted friend was still run away wit_ little by the enthusiasm of her fondness for Henry. I told them that yo_ere of all human creatures the one over whom habit had most power and novelt_east; and that the very circumstance of the novelty of Crawford's addresse_as against him. Their being so new and so recent was all in their disfavour; that you could tolerate nothing that you were not used to; and a great dea_ore to the same purpose, to give them a knowledge of your character. Mis_rawford made us laugh by her plans of encouragement for her brother. Sh_eant to urge him to persevere in the hope of being loved in time, and o_aving his addresses most kindly received at the end of about ten years' happ_arriage."
  • Fanny could with difficulty give the smile that was here asked for. He_eelings were all in revolt. She feared she had been doing wrong: saying to_uch, overacting the caution which she had been fancying necessary; i_uarding against one evil, laying herself open to another; and to have Mis_rawford's liveliness repeated to her at such a moment, and on such a subject, was a bitter aggravation.
  • Edmund saw weariness and distress in her face, and immediately resolved t_orbear all farther discussion; and not even to mention the name of Crawfor_gain, except as it might be connected with what must be agreeable to her. O_his principle, he soon afterwards observed— "They go on Monday. You are sure, therefore, of seeing your friend either to-morrow or Sunday. They really go o_onday; and I was within a trifle of being persuaded to stay at Lessingby til_hat very day! I had almost promised it. What a difference it might have made!
  • Those five or six days more at Lessingby might have been felt all my life."
  • "You were near staying there?"
  • "Very. I was most kindly pressed, and had nearly consented. Had I received an_etter from Mansfield, to tell me how you were all going on, I believe _hould certainly have staid; but I knew nothing that had happened here for _ortnight, and felt that I had been away long enough."
  • "You spent your time pleasantly there?"
  • "Yes; that is, it was the fault of my own mind if I did not. They were al_ery pleasant. I doubt their finding me so. I took uneasiness with me, an_here was no getting rid of it till I was in Mansfield again."
  • "The Miss Owens—you liked them, did not you?"
  • "Yes, very well. Pleasant, good-humoured, unaffected girls. But I am spoilt, Fanny, for common female society. Good-humoured, unaffected girls will not d_or a man who has been used to sensible women. They are two distinct orders o_eing. You and Miss Crawford have made me too nice."
  • Still, however, Fanny was oppressed and wearied; he saw it in her looks, i_ould not be talked away; and attempting it no more, he led her directly, wit_he kind authority of a privileged guardian, into the house.