Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Chapter 42

  • The Prices were just setting off for church the next day when Mr. Crawfor_ppeared again. He came, not to stop, but to join them; he was asked to g_ith them to the Garrison chapel, which was exactly what he had intended, an_hey all walked thither together.
  • The family were now seen to advantage. Nature had given them no inconsiderabl_hare of beauty, and every Sunday dressed them in their cleanest skins an_est attire. Sunday always brought this comfort to Fanny, and on this Sunda_he felt it more than ever. Her poor mother now did not look so very unworth_f being Lady Bertram's sister as she was but too apt to look. It ofte_rieved her to the heart to think of the contrast between them; to think tha_here nature had made so little difference, circumstances should have made s_uch, and that her mother, as handsome as Lady Bertram, and some years he_unior, should have an appearance so much more worn and faded, so comfortless,
  • so slatternly, so shabby. But Sunday made her a very creditable and tolerabl_heerful-looking Mrs. Price, coming abroad with a fine family of children,
  • feeling a little respite of her weekly cares, and only discomposed if she sa_er boys run into danger, or Rebecca pass by with a flower in her hat.
  • In chapel they were obliged to divide, but Mr. Crawford took care not to b_ivided from the female branch; and after chapel he still continued with them,
  • and made one in the family party on the ramparts.
  • Mrs. Price took her weekly walk on the ramparts every fine Sunday throughou_he year, always going directly after morning service and staying till dinner-
  • time. It was her public place: there she met her acquaintance, heard a littl_ews, talked over the badness of the Portsmouth servants, and wound up he_pirits for the six days ensuing.
  • Thither they now went; Mr. Crawford most happy to consider the Miss Prices a_is peculiar charge; and before they had been there long, somehow or other,
  • there was no saying how, Fanny could not have believed it, but he was walkin_etween them with an arm of each under his, and she did not know how t_revent or put an end to it. It made her uncomfortable for a time, but ye_here were enjoyments in the day and in the view which would be felt.
  • The day was uncommonly lovely. It was really March; but it was April in it_ild air, brisk soft wind, and bright sun, occasionally clouded for a minute;
  • and everything looked so beautiful under the influence of such a sky, th_ffects of the shadows pursuing each other on the ships at Spithead and th_sland beyond, with the ever-varying hues of the sea, now at high water,
  • dancing in its glee and dashing against the ramparts with so fine a sound,
  • produced altogether such a combination of charms for Fanny, as made he_radually almost careless of the circumstances under which she felt them. Nay,
  • had she been without his arm, she would soon have known that she needed it,
  • for she wanted strength for a two hours' saunter of this kind, coming, as i_enerally did, upon a week's previous inactivity. Fanny was beginning to fee_he effect of being debarred from her usual regular exercise; she had los_round as to health since her being in Portsmouth; and but for Mr. Crawfor_nd the beauty of the weather would soon have been knocked up now.
  • The loveliness of the day, and of the view, he felt like herself. They ofte_topt with the same sentiment and taste, leaning against the wall, som_inutes, to look and admire; and considering he was not Edmund, Fanny coul_ot but allow that he was sufficiently open to the charms of nature, and ver_ell able to express his admiration. She had a few tender reveries now an_hen, which he could sometimes take advantage of to look in her face withou_etection; and the result of these looks was, that though as bewitching a_ver, her face was less blooming than it ought to be. She said she was ver_ell, and did not like to be supposed otherwise; but take it all in all, h_as convinced that her present residence could not be comfortable, an_herefore could not be salutary for her, and he was growing anxious for he_eing again at Mansfield, where her own happiness, and his in seeing her, mus_e so much greater.
  • "You have been here a month, I think?" said he.
  • "No; not quite a month. It is only four weeks to-morrow since I lef_ansfield."
  • "You are a most accurate and honest reckoner. I should call that a month."
  • "I did not arrive here till Tuesday evening."
  • "And it is to be a two months' visit, is not?"
  • "Yes. My uncle talked of two months. I suppose it will not be less."
  • "And how are you to be conveyed back again? Who comes for you?"
  • "I do not know. I have heard nothing about it yet from my aunt. Perhaps I ma_e to stay longer. It may not be convenient for me to be fetched exactly a_he two months' end."
  • After a moment's reflection, Mr. Crawford replied, "I know Mansfield, I kno_ts way, I know its faults towards you. I know the danger of your being so fa_orgotten, as to have your comforts give way to the imaginary convenience o_ny single being in the family. I am aware that you may be left here wee_fter week, if Sir Thomas cannot settle everything for coming himself, o_ending your aunt's maid for you, without involving the slightest alteratio_f the arrangements which he may have laid down for the next quarter of _ear. This will not do. Two months is an ample allowance; I should think si_eeks quite enough. I am considering your sister's health," said he,
  • addressing himself to Susan, "which I think the confinement of Portsmout_nfavourable to. She requires constant air and exercise. When you know her a_ell as I do, I am sure you will agree that she does, and that she ought neve_o be long banished from the free air and liberty of the country. If,
  • therefore" (turning again to Fanny), "you find yourself growing unwell, an_ny difficulties arise about your returning to Mansfield, without waiting fo_he two months to be ended, that must not be regarded as of any consequence,
  • if you feel yourself at all less strong or comfortable than usual, and wil_nly let my sister know it, give her only the slightest hint, she and I wil_mmediately come down, and take you back to Mansfield. You know the ease an_he pleasure with which this would be done. You know all that would be felt o_he occasion."
  • Fanny thanked him, but tried to laugh it off.
  • "I am perfectly serious," he replied, "as you perfectly know. And I hope yo_ill not be cruelly concealing any tendency to indisposition. Indeed, yo_hall not; it shall not be in your power; for so long only as you positivel_ay, in every letter to Mary, 'I am well,' and I know you cannot speak o_rite a falsehood, so long only shall you be considered as well."
  • Fanny thanked him again, but was affected and distressed to a degree that mad_t impossible for her to say much, or even to be certain of what she ought t_ay. This was towards the close of their walk. He attended them to the last,
  • and left them only at the door of their own house, when he knew them to b_oing to dinner, and therefore pretended to be waited for elsewhere.
  • "I wish you were not so tired," said he, still detaining Fanny after all th_thers were in the house—"I wish I left you in stronger health. Is ther_nything I can do for you in town? I have half an idea of going into Norfol_gain soon. I am not satisfied about Maddison. I am sure he still means t_mpose on me if possible, and get a cousin of his own into a certain mill,
  • which I design for somebody else. I must come to an understanding with him. _ust make him know that I will not be tricked on the south side of Everingham,
  • any more than on the north: that I will be master of my own property. I wa_ot explicit enough with him before. The mischief such a man does on a_state, both as to the credit of his employer and the welfare of the poor, i_nconceivable. I have a great mind to go back into Norfolk directly, and pu_verything at once on such a footing as cannot be afterwards swerved from.
  • Maddison is a clever fellow; I do not wish to displace him, provided he doe_ot try to displace me; but it would be simple to be duped by a man who has n_ight of creditor to dupe me, and worse than simple to let him give me a hard-
  • hearted, griping fellow for a tenant, instead of an honest man, to whom I hav_iven half a promise already. Would it not be worse than simple? Shall I go?
  • Do you advise it?"
  • "I advise! You know very well what is right."
  • "Yes. When you give me your opinion, I always know what is right. You_udgment is my rule of right."
  • "Oh, no! do not say so. We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we woul_ttend to it, than any other person can be. Good-bye; I wish you a pleasan_ourney to-morrow."
  • "Is there nothing I can do for you in town?"
  • "Nothing; I am much obliged to you."
  • "Have you no message for anybody?"
  • "My love to your sister, if you please; and when you see my cousin, my cousi_dmund, I wish you would be so good as to say that I suppose I shall soon hea_rom him."
  • "Certainly; and if he is lazy or negligent, I will write his excuses myself."
  • He could say no more, for Fanny would be no longer detained. He pressed he_and, looked at her, and was gone. He went to while away the next three hour_s he could, with his other acquaintance, till the best dinner that a capita_nn afforded was ready for their enjoyment, and she turned in to her mor_imple one immediately.
  • Their general fare bore a very different character; and could he hav_uspected how many privations, besides that of exercise, she endured in he_ather's house, he would have wondered that her looks were not much mor_ffected than he found them. She was so little equal to Rebecca's puddings an_ebecca's hashes, brought to table, as they all were, with such accompaniment_f half-cleaned plates, and not half-cleaned knives and forks, that she wa_ery often constrained to defer her heartiest meal till she could send he_rothers in the evening for biscuits and buns. After being nursed up a_ansfield, it was too late in the day to be hardened at Portsmouth; and thoug_ir Thomas, had he known all, might have thought his niece in the mos_romising way of being starved, both mind and body, into a much juster valu_or Mr. Crawford's good company and good fortune, he would probably hav_eared to push his experiment farther, lest she might die under the cure.
  • Fanny was out of spirits all the rest of the day. Though tolerably secure o_ot seeing Mr. Crawford again, she could not help being low. It was partin_ith somebody of the nature of a friend; and though, in one light, glad t_ave him gone, it seemed as if she was now deserted by everybody; it was _ort of renewed separation from Mansfield; and she could not think of hi_eturning to town, and being frequently with Mary and Edmund, without feeling_o near akin to envy as made her hate herself for having them.
  • Her dejection had no abatement from anything passing around her; a friend o_wo of her father's, as always happened if he was not with them, spent th_ong, long evening there; and from six o'clock till half-past nine, there wa_ittle intermission of noise or grog. She was very low. The wonderfu_mprovement which she still fancied in Mr. Crawford was the nearest t_dministering comfort of anything within the current of her thoughts. No_onsidering in how different a circle she had been just seeing him, nor ho_uch might be owing to contrast, she was quite persuaded of his bein_stonishingly more gentle and regardful of others than formerly. And, if i_ittle things, must it not be so in great? So anxious for her health an_omfort, so very feeling as he now expressed himself, and really seemed, migh_ot it be fairly supposed that he would not much longer persevere in a suit s_istressing to her?