Could Sir Thomas have seen all his niece's feelings, when she wrote her firs_etter to her aunt, he would not have despaired; for though a good night'_est, a pleasant morning, the hope of soon seeing William again, and th_omparatively quiet state of the house, from Tom and Charles being gone t_chool, Sam on some project of his own, and her father on his usual lounges,
enabled her to express herself cheerfully on the subject of home, there wer_till, to her own perfect consciousness, many drawbacks suppressed. Could h_ave seen only half that she felt before the end of a week, he would hav_hought Mr. Crawford sure of her, and been delighted with his own sagacity.
Before the week ended, it was all disappointment. In the first place, Willia_as gone. The Thrush had had her orders, the wind had changed, and he wa_ailed within four days from their reaching Portsmouth; and during those day_he had seen him only twice, in a short and hurried way, when he had com_shore on duty. There had been no free conversation, no walk on the ramparts,
no visit to the dockyard, no acquaintance with the Thrush, nothing of all tha_hey had planned and depended on. Everything in that quarter failed her,
except William's affection. His last thought on leaving home was for her. H_tepped back again to the door to say, "Take care of Fanny, mother. She i_ender, and not used to rough it like the rest of us. I charge you, take car_f Fanny."
William was gone: and the home he had left her in was, Fanny could not concea_t from herself, in almost every respect the very reverse of what she coul_ave wished. It was the abode of noise, disorder, and impropriety. Nobody wa_n their right place, nothing was done as it ought to be. She could no_espect her parents as she had hoped. On her father, her confidence had no_een sanguine, but he was more negligent of his family, his habits were worse,
and his manners coarser, than she had been prepared for. He did not wan_bilities but he had no curiosity, and no information beyond his profession;
he read only the newspaper and the navy-list; he talked only of the dockyard,
the harbour, Spithead, and the Motherbank; he swore and he drank, he was dirt_nd gross. She had never been able to recall anything approaching t_enderness in his former treatment of herself. There had remained only _eneral impression of roughness and loudness; and now he scarcely ever notice_er, but to make her the object of a coarse joke.
Her disappointment in her mother was greater: there she had hoped much, an_ound almost nothing. Every flattering scheme of being of consequence to he_oon fell to the ground. Mrs. Price was not unkind; but, instead of gaining o_er affection and confidence, and becoming more and more dear, her daughte_ever met with greater kindness from her than on the first day of her arrival.
The instinct of nature was soon satisfied, and Mrs. Price's attachment had n_ther source. Her heart and her time were already quite full; she had neithe_eisure nor affection to bestow on Fanny. Her daughters never had been much t_er. She was fond of her sons, especially of William, but Betsey was the firs_f her girls whom she had ever much regarded. To her she was mos_njudiciously indulgent. William was her pride; Betsey her darling; and John,
Richard, Sam, Tom, and Charles occupied all the rest of her materna_olicitude, alternately her worries and her comforts. These shared her heart:
her time was given chiefly to her house and her servants. Her days were spen_n a kind of slow bustle; all was busy without getting on, always behindhan_nd lamenting it, without altering her ways; wishing to be an economist,
without contrivance or regularity; dissatisfied with her servants, withou_kill to make them better, and whether helping, or reprimanding, or indulgin_hem, without any power of engaging their respect.
Of her two sisters, Mrs. Price very much more resembled Lady Bertram than Mrs.
Norris. She was a manager by necessity, without any of Mrs. Norris'_nclination for it, or any of her activity. Her disposition was naturally eas_nd indolent, like Lady Bertram's; and a situation of similar affluence an_o-nothingness would have been much more suited to her capacity than th_xertions and self-denials of the one which her imprudent marriage had place_er in. She might have made just as good a woman of consequence as Lad_ertram, but Mrs. Norris would have been a more respectable mother of nin_hildren on a small income.
Much of all this Fanny could not but be sensible of. She might scruple to mak_se of the words, but she must and did feel that her mother was a partial,
ill-judging parent, a dawdle, a slattern, who neither taught nor restraine_er children, whose house was the scene of mismanagement and discomfort fro_eginning to end, and who had no talent, no conversation, no affection toward_erself; no curiosity to know her better, no desire of her friendship, and n_nclination for her company that could lessen her sense of such feelings.
Fanny was very anxious to be useful, and not to appear above her home, or i_ny way disqualified or disinclined, by her foreign education, fro_ontributing her help to its comforts, and therefore set about working for Sa_mmediately; and by working early and late, with perseverance and grea_espatch, did so much that the boy was shipped off at last, with more tha_alf his linen ready. She had great pleasure in feeling her usefulness, bu_ould not conceive how they would have managed without her.
Sam, loud and overbearing as he was, she rather regretted when he went, for h_as clever and intelligent, and glad to be employed in any errand in the town;
and though spurning the remonstrances of Susan, given as they were, thoug_ery reasonable in themselves, with ill-timed and powerless warmth, wa_eginning to be influenced by Fanny's services and gentle persuasions; and sh_ound that the best of the three younger ones was gone in him: Tom and Charle_eing at least as many years as they were his juniors distant from that age o_eeling and reason, which might suggest the expediency of making friends, an_f endeavouring to be less disagreeable. Their sister soon despaired of makin_he smallest impression on them; they were quite untameable by any means o_ddress which she had spirits or time to attempt. Every afternoon brought _eturn of their riotous games all over the house; and she very early learne_o sigh at the approach of Saturday's constant half-holiday.
Betsey, too, a spoiled child, trained up to think the alphabet her greates_nemy, left to be with the servants at her pleasure, and then encouraged t_eport any evil of them, she was almost as ready to despair of being able t_ove or assist; and of Susan's temper she had many doubts. Her continua_isagreements with her mother, her rash squabbles with Tom and Charles, an_etulance with Betsey, were at least so distressing to Fanny that, thoug_dmitting they were by no means without provocation, she feared th_isposition that could push them to such length must be far from amiable, an_rom affording any repose to herself.
Such was the home which was to put Mansfield out of her head, and teach her t_hink of her cousin Edmund with moderated feelings. On the contrary, she coul_hink of nothing but Mansfield, its beloved inmates, its happy ways.
Everything where she now was in full contrast to it. The elegance, propriety,
regularity, harmony, and perhaps, above all, the peace and tranquillity o_ansfield, were brought to her remembrance every hour of the day, by th_revalence of everything opposite to them here.
The living in incessant noise was, to a frame and temper delicate and nervou_ike Fanny's, an evil which no superadded elegance or harmony could hav_ntirely atoned for. It was the greatest misery of all. At Mansfield, n_ounds of contention, no raised voice, no abrupt bursts, no tread of violence,
was ever heard; all proceeded in a regular course of cheerful orderliness;
everybody had their due importance; everybody's feelings were consulted. I_enderness could be ever supposed wanting, good sense and good breedin_upplied its place; and as to the little irritations sometimes introduced b_unt Norris, they were short, they were trifling, they were as a drop of wate_o the ocean, compared with the ceaseless tumult of her present abode. Her_verybody was noisy, every voice was loud (excepting, perhaps, her mother's,
which resembled the soft monotony of Lady Bertram's, only worn int_retfulness). Whatever was wanted was hallooed for, and the servants hallooe_ut their excuses from the kitchen. The doors were in constant banging, th_tairs were never at rest, nothing was done without a clatter, nobody sa_till, and nobody could command attention when they spoke.
In a review of the two houses, as they appeared to her before the end of _eek, Fanny was tempted to apply to them Dr. Johnson's celebrated judgment a_o matrimony and celibacy, and say, that though Mansfield Park might have som_ains, Portsmouth could have no pleasures.