Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Chapter 41

  • A week was gone since Edmund might be supposed in town, and Fanny had hear_othing of him. There were three different conclusions to be drawn from hi_ilence, between which her mind was in fluctuation; each of them at time_eing held the most probable. Either his going had been again delayed, or h_ad yet procured no opportunity of seeing Miss Crawford alone, or he was to_appy for letter-writing!
  • One morning, about this time, Fanny having now been nearly four weeks fro_ansfield, a point which she never failed to think over and calculate ever_ay, as she and Susan were preparing to remove, as usual, upstairs, they wer_topped by the knock of a visitor, whom they felt they could not avoid, fro_ebecca's alertness in going to the door, a duty which always interested he_eyond any other.
  • It was a gentleman's voice; it was a voice that Fanny was just turning pal_bout, when Mr. Crawford walked into the room.
  • Good sense, like hers, will always act when really called upon; and she foun_hat she had been able to name him to her mother, and recall her remembranc_f the name, as that of "William's friend," though she could not previousl_ave believed herself capable of uttering a syllable at such a moment. Th_onsciousness of his being known there only as William's friend was som_upport. Having introduced him, however, and being all reseated, the terror_hat occurred of what this visit might lead to were overpowering, and sh_ancied herself on the point of fainting away.
  • While trying to keep herself alive, their visitor, who had at first approache_er with as animated a countenance as ever, was wisely and kindly keeping hi_yes away, and giving her time to recover, while he devoted himself entirel_o her mother, addressing her, and attending to her with the utmost politenes_nd propriety, at the same time with a degree of friendliness, of interest a_east, which was making his manner perfect.
  • Mrs. Price's manners were also at their best. Warmed by the sight of such _riend to her son, and regulated by the wish of appearing to advantage befor_im, she was overflowing with gratitude—artless, maternal gratitude— whic_ould not be unpleasing. Mr. Price was out, which she regretted very much.
  • Fanny was just recovered enough to feel that she could not regret it; for t_er many other sources of uneasiness was added the severe one of shame for th_ome in which he found her. She might scold herself for the weakness, bu_here was no scolding it away. She was ashamed, and she would have been ye_ore ashamed of her father than of all the rest.
  • They talked of William, a subject on which Mrs. Price could never tire; an_r. Crawford was as warm in his commendation as even her heart could wish. Sh_elt that she had never seen so agreeable a man in her life; and was onl_stonished to find that, so great and so agreeable as he was, he should b_ome down to Portsmouth neither on a visit to the port-admiral, nor th_ommissioner, nor yet with the intention of going over to the island, nor o_eeing the dockyard. Nothing of all that she had been used to think of as th_roof of importance, or the employment of wealth, had brought him t_ortsmouth. He had reached it late the night before, was come for a day o_wo, was staying at the Crown, had accidentally met with a navy officer or tw_f his acquaintance since his arrival, but had no object of that kind i_oming.
  • By the time he had given all this information, it was not unreasonable t_uppose that Fanny might be looked at and spoken to; and she was tolerabl_ble to bear his eye, and hear that he had spent half an hour with his siste_he evening before his leaving London; that she had sent her best and kindes_ove, but had had no time for writing; that he thought himself lucky in seein_ary for even half an hour, having spent scarcely twenty-four hours in London,
  • after his return from Norfolk, before he set off again; that her cousin Edmun_as in town, had been in town, he understood, a few days; that he had not see_im himself, but that he was well, had left them all well at Mansfield, an_as to dine, as yesterday, with the Frasers.
  • Fanny listened collectedly, even to the last-mentioned circumstance; nay, i_eemed a relief to her worn mind to be at any certainty; and the words, "the_y this time it is all settled," passed internally, without more evidence o_motion than a faint blush.
  • After talking a little more about Mansfield, a subject in which her interes_as most apparent, Crawford began to hint at the expediency of an early walk.
  • "It was a lovely morning, and at that season of the year a fine morning s_ften turned off, that it was wisest for everybody not to delay thei_xercise"; and such hints producing nothing, he soon proceeded to a positiv_ecommendation to Mrs. Price and her daughters to take their walk without los_f time. Now they came to an understanding. Mrs. Price, it appeared, scarcel_ver stirred out of doors, except of a Sunday; she owned she could seldom,
  • with her large family, find time for a walk. "Would she not, then, persuad_er daughters to take advantage of such weather, and allow him the pleasure o_ttending them?" Mrs. Price was greatly obliged and very complying. "He_aughters were very much confined; Portsmouth was a sad place; they did no_ften get out; and she knew they had some errands in the town, which the_ould be very glad to do." And the consequence was, that Fanny, strange as i_as— strange, awkward, and distressing—found herself and Susan, within te_inutes, walking towards the High Street with Mr. Crawford.
  • It was soon pain upon pain, confusion upon confusion; for they were hardly i_he High Street before they met her father, whose appearance was not th_etter from its being Saturday. He stopt; and, ungentlemanlike as he looked,
  • Fanny was obliged to introduce him to Mr. Crawford. She could not have a doub_f the manner in which Mr. Crawford must be struck. He must be ashamed an_isgusted altogether. He must soon give her up, and cease to have the smalles_nclination for the match; and yet, though she had been so much wanting hi_ffection to be cured, this was a sort of cure that would be almost as bad a_he complaint; and I believe there is scarcely a young lady in the Unite_ingdoms who would not rather put up with the misfortune of being sought by _lever, agreeable man, than have him driven away by the vulgarity of he_earest relations.
  • Mr. Crawford probably could not regard his future father-in-law with any ide_f taking him for a model in dress; but (as Fanny instantly, and to her grea_elief, discerned) her father was a very different man, a very different Mr.
  • Price in his behaviour to this most highly respected stranger, from what h_as in his own family at home. His manners now, though not polished, were mor_han passable: they were grateful, animated, manly; his expressions were thos_f an attached father, and a sensible man; his loud tones did very well in th_pen air, and there was not a single oath to be heard. Such was hi_nstinctive compliment to the good manners of Mr. Crawford; and, be th_onsequence what it might, Fanny's immediate feelings were infinitely soothed.
  • The conclusion of the two gentlemen's civilities was an offer of Mr. Price'_o take Mr. Crawford into the dockyard, which Mr. Crawford, desirous o_ccepting as a favour what was intended as such, though he had seen th_ockyard again and again, and hoping to be so much the longer with Fanny, wa_ery gratefully disposed to avail himself of, if the Miss Prices were no_fraid of the fatigue; and as it was somehow or other ascertained, o_nferred, or at least acted upon, that they were not at all afraid, to th_ockyard they were all to go; and but for Mr. Crawford, Mr. Price would hav_urned thither directly, without the smallest consideration for his daughters'
  • errands in the High Street. He took care, however, that they should be allowe_o go to the shops they came out expressly to visit; and it did not delay the_ong, for Fanny could so little bear to excite impatience, or be waited for,
  • that before the gentlemen, as they stood at the door, could do more than begi_pon the last naval regulations, or settle the number of three-deckers now i_ommission, their companions were ready to proceed.
  • They were then to set forward for the dockyard at once, and the walk woul_ave been conducted—according to Mr. Crawford's opinion—in a singular manner,
  • had Mr. Price been allowed the entire regulation of it, as the two girls, h_ound, would have been left to follow, and keep up with them or not, as the_ould, while they walked on together at their own hasty pace. He was able t_ntroduce some improvement occasionally, though by no means to the extent h_ished; he absolutely would not walk away from them; and at any crossing o_ny crowd, when Mr. Price was only calling out, "Come, girls; come, Fan; come,
  • Sue, take care of yourselves; keep a sharp lookout!" he would give them hi_articular attendance.
  • Once fairly in the dockyard, he began to reckon upon some happy intercours_ith Fanny, as they were very soon joined by a brother lounger of Mr. Price's,
  • who was come to take his daily survey of how things went on, and who mus_rove a far more worthy companion than himself; and after a time the tw_fficers seemed very well satisfied going about together, and discussin_atters of equal and never-failing interest, while the young people sat dow_pon some timbers in the yard, or found a seat on board a vessel in the stock_hich they all went to look at. Fanny was most conveniently in want of rest.
  • Crawford could not have wished her more fatigued or more ready to sit down;
  • but he could have wished her sister away. A quick-looking girl of Susan's ag_as the very worst third in the world: totally different from Lady Bertram,
  • all eyes and ears; and there was no introducing the main point before her. H_ust content himself with being only generally agreeable, and letting Susa_ave her share of entertainment, with the indulgence, now and then, of a loo_r hint for the better-informed and conscious Fanny. Norfolk was what he ha_ostly to talk of: there he had been some time, and everything there wa_ising in importance from his present schemes. Such a man could come from n_lace, no society, without importing something to amuse; his journeys and hi_cquaintance were all of use, and Susan was entertained in a way quite new t_er. For Fanny, somewhat more was related than the accidental agreeableness o_he parties he had been in. For her approbation, the particular reason of hi_oing into Norfolk at all, at this unusual time of year, was given. It ha_een real business, relative to the renewal of a lease in which the welfare o_ large and—he believed— industrious family was at stake. He had suspected hi_gent of some underhand dealing; of meaning to bias him against the deserving;
  • and he had determined to go himself, and thoroughly investigate the merits o_he case. He had gone, had done even more good than he had foreseen, had bee_seful to more than his first plan had comprehended, and was now able t_ongratulate himself upon it, and to feel that in performing a duty, he ha_ecured agreeable recollections for his own mind. He had introduced himself t_ome tenants whom he had never seen before; he had begun making acquaintanc_ith cottages whose very existence, though on his own estate, had bee_itherto unknown to him. This was aimed, and well aimed, at Fanny. It wa_leasing to hear him speak so properly; here he had been acting as he ought t_o. To be the friend of the poor and the oppressed! Nothing could be mor_rateful to her; and she was on the point of giving him an approving look,
  • when it was all frightened off by his adding a something too pointed of hi_oping soon to have an assistant, a friend, a guide in every plan of utilit_r charity for Everingham: a somebody that would make Everingham and all abou_t a dearer object than it had ever been yet.
  • She turned away, and wished he would not say such things. She was willing t_llow he might have more good qualities than she had been wont to suppose. Sh_egan to feel the possibility of his turning out well at last; but he was an_ust ever be completely unsuited to her, and ought not to think of her.
  • He perceived that enough had been said of Everingham, and that it would be a_ell to talk of something else, and turned to Mansfield. He could not hav_hosen better; that was a topic to bring back her attention and her look_lmost instantly. It was a real indulgence to her to hear or to speak o_ansfield. Now so long divided from everybody who knew the place, she felt i_uite the voice of a friend when he mentioned it, and led the way to her fon_xclamations in praise of its beauties and comforts, and by his honourabl_ribute to its inhabitants allowed her to gratify her own heart in the warmes_ulogium, in speaking of her uncle as all that was clever and good, and he_unt as having the sweetest of all sweet tempers.
  • He had a great attachment to Mansfield himself; he said so; he looked forwar_ith the hope of spending much, very much, of his time there; always there, o_n the neighbourhood. He particularly built upon a very happy summer an_utumn there this year; he felt that it would be so: he depended upon it; _ummer and autumn infinitely superior to the last. As animated, a_iversified, as social, but with circumstances of superiority undescribable.
  • "Mansfield, Sotherton, Thornton Lacey," he continued; "what a society will b_omprised in those houses! And at Michaelmas, perhaps, a fourth may be added:
  • some small hunting-box in the vicinity of everything so dear; for as to an_artnership in Thornton Lacey, as Edmund Bertram once good-humouredl_roposed, I hope I foresee two objections: two fair, excellent, irresistibl_bjections to that plan."
  • Fanny was doubly silenced here; though when the moment was passed, coul_egret that she had not forced herself into the acknowledged comprehension o_ne half of his meaning, and encouraged him to say something more of hi_ister and Edmund. It was a subject which she must learn to speak of, and th_eakness that shrunk from it would soon be quite unpardonable.
  • When Mr. Price and his friend had seen all that they wished, or had time for,
  • the others were ready to return; and in the course of their walk back, Mr.
  • Crawford contrived a minute's privacy for telling Fanny that his only busines_n Portsmouth was to see her; that he was come down for a couple of days o_er account, and hers only, and because he could not endure a longer tota_eparation. She was sorry, really sorry; and yet in spite of this and the tw_r three other things which she wished he had not said, she thought hi_ltogether improved since she had seen him; he was much more gentle, obliging,
  • and attentive to other people's feelings than he had ever been at Mansfield;
  • she had never seen him so agreeable—so near being agreeable; his behaviour t_er father could not offend, and there was something particularly kind an_roper in the notice he took of Susan. He was decidedly improved. She wishe_he next day over, she wished he had come only for one day; but it was not s_ery bad as she would have expected: the pleasure of talking of Mansfield wa_o very great!
  • Before they parted, she had to thank him for another pleasure, and one of n_rivial kind. Her father asked him to do them the honour of taking his mutto_ith them, and Fanny had time for only one thrill of horror, before h_eclared himself prevented by a prior engagement. He was engaged to dinne_lready both for that day and the next; he had met with some acquaintance a_he Crown who would not be denied; he should have the honour, however, o_aiting on them again on the morrow, etc., and so they parted—Fanny in a stat_f actual felicity from escaping so horrible an evil!
  • To have had him join their family dinner-party, and see all thei_eficiencies, would have been dreadful! Rebecca's cookery and Rebecca'_aiting, and Betsey's eating at table without restraint, and pullin_verything about as she chose, were what Fanny herself was not yet enoug_nured to for her often to make a tolerable meal. She was nice only fro_atural delicacy, but he had been brought up in a school of luxury an_picurism.