Sir Walter had taken a very good house in Camden Place, a lofty dignifie_ituation, such as becomes a man of consequence; and both he and Elizabet_ere settled there, much to their satisfaction.
Anne entered it with a sinking heart, anticipating an imprisonment of man_onths, and anxiously saying to herself, "Oh! when shall I leave you again?" _egree of unexpected cordiality, however, in the welcome she received, did he_ood. Her father and sister were glad to see her, for the sake of shewing he_he house and furniture, and met her with kindness. Her making a fourth, whe_hey sat down to dinner, was noticed as an advantage.
Mrs Clay was very pleasant, and very smiling, but her courtesies and smile_ere more a matter of course. Anne had always felt that she would pretend wha_as proper on her arrival, but the complaisance of the others was unlooke_or. They were evidently in excellent spirits, and she was soon to listen t_he causes. They had no inclination to listen to her. After laying out fo_ome compliments of being deeply regretted in their old neighbourhood, whic_nne could not pay, they had only a few faint enquiries to make, before th_alk must be all their own. Uppercross excited no interest, Kellynch ver_ittle: it was all Bath.
They had the pleasure of assuring her that Bath more than answered thei_xpectations in every respect. Their house was undoubtedly the best in Camde_lace; their drawing-rooms had many decided advantages over all the other_hich they had either seen or heard of, and the superiority was not less i_he style of the fitting-up, or the taste of the furniture. Their acquaintanc_as exceedingly sought after. Everybody was wanting to visit them. They ha_rawn back from many introductions, and still were perpetually having card_eft by people of whom they knew nothing.
Here were funds of enjoyment. Could Anne wonder that her father and siste_ere happy? She might not wonder, but she must sigh that her father shoul_eel no degradation in his change, should see nothing to regret in the dutie_nd dignity of the resident landholder, should find so much to be vain of i_he littlenesses of a town; and she must sigh, and smile, and wonder too, a_lizabeth threw open the folding-doors and walked with exultation from on_rawing-room to the other, boasting of their space; at the possibility of tha_oman, who had been mistress of Kellynch Hall, finding extent to be proud o_etween two walls, perhaps thirty feet asunder.
But this was not all which they had to make them happy. They had Mr Ellio_oo. Anne had a great deal to hear of Mr Elliot. He was not only pardoned,
they were delighted with him. He had been in Bath about a fortnight; (he ha_assed through Bath in November, in his way to London, when the intelligenc_f Sir Walter's being settled there had of course reached him, though onl_wenty-four hours in the place, but he had not been able to avail himself o_t;) but he had now been a fortnight in Bath, and his first object o_rriving, had been to leave his card in Camden Place, following it up by suc_ssiduous endeavours to meet, and when they did meet, by such great opennes_f conduct, such readiness to apologize for the past, such solicitude to b_eceived as a relation again, that their former good understanding wa_ompletely re-established.
They had not a fault to find in him. He had explained away all the appearanc_f neglect on his own side. It had originated in misapprehension entirely. H_ad never had an idea of throwing himself off; he had feared that he wa_hrown off, but knew not why, and delicacy had kept him silent. Upon the hin_f having spoken disrespectfully or carelessly of the family and the famil_onours, he was quite indignant. He, who had ever boasted of being an Elliot,
and whose feelings, as to connection, were only too strict to suit th_nfeudal tone of the present day. He was astonished, indeed, but his characte_nd general conduct must refute it. He could refer Sir Walter to all who kne_im; and certainly, the pains he had been taking on this, the firs_pportunity of reconciliation, to be restored to the footing of a relation an_eir-presumptive, was a strong proof of his opinions on the subject.
The circumstances of his marriage, too, were found to admit of muc_xtenuation. This was an article not to be entered on by himself; but a ver_ntimate friend of his, a Colonel Wallis, a highly respectable man, perfectl_he gentleman, (and not an ill-looking man, Sir Walter added), who was livin_n very good style in Marlborough Buildings, and had, at his own particula_equest, been admitted to their acquaintance through Mr Elliot, had mentione_ne or two things relative to the marriage, which made a material differenc_n the discredit of it.
Colonel Wallis had known Mr Elliot long, had been well acquainted also wit_is wife, had perfectly understood the whole story. She was certainly not _oman of family, but well educated, accomplished, rich, and excessively i_ove with his friend. There had been the charm. She had sought him. Withou_hat attraction, not all her money would have tempted Elliot, and Sir Walte_as, moreover, assured of her having been a very fine woman. Here was a grea_eal to soften the business. A very fine woman with a large fortune, in lov_ith him! Sir Walter seemed to admit it as complete apology; and thoug_lizabeth could not see the circumstance in quite so favourable a light, sh_llowed it be a great extenuation.
Mr Elliot had called repeatedly, had dined with them once, evidently delighte_y the distinction of being asked, for they gave no dinners in general;
delighted, in short, by every proof of cousinly notice, and placing his whol_appiness in being on intimate terms in Camden Place.
Anne listened, but without quite understanding it. Allowances, larg_llowances, she knew, must be made for the ideas of those who spoke. She hear_t all under embellishment. All that sounded extravagant or irrational in th_rogress of the reconciliation might have no origin but in the language of th_elators. Still, however, she had the sensation of there being something mor_han immediately appeared, in Mr Elliot's wishing, after an interval of s_any years, to be well received by them. In a worldly view, he had nothing t_ain by being on terms with Sir Walter; nothing to risk by a state o_ariance. In all probability he was already the richer of the two, and th_ellynch estate would as surely be his hereafter as the title. A sensible man,
and he had looked like a very sensible man, why should it be an object to him?
She could only offer one solution; it was, perhaps, for Elizabeth's sake.
There might really have been a liking formerly, though convenience an_ccident had drawn him a different way; and now that he could afford to pleas_imself, he might mean to pay his addresses to her. Elizabeth was certainl_ery handsome, with well-bred, elegant manners, and her character might neve_ave been penetrated by Mr Elliot, knowing her but in public, and when ver_oung himself. How her temper and understanding might bear the investigatio_f his present keener time of life was another concern and rather a fearfu_ne. Most earnestly did she wish that he might not be too nice, or to_bservant if Elizabeth were his object; and that Elizabeth was disposed t_elieve herself so, and that her friend Mrs Clay was encouraging the idea,
seemed apparent by a glance or two between them, while Mr Elliot's frequen_isits were talked of.
Anne mentioned the glimpses she had had of him at Lyme, but without being muc_ttended to. "Oh! yes, perhaps, it had been Mr Elliot. They did not know. I_ight be him, perhaps." They could not listen to her description of him. The_ere describing him themselves; Sir Walter especially. He did justice to hi_ery gentlemanlike appearance, his air of elegance and fashion, his goo_haped face, his sensible eye; but, at the same time, "must lament his bein_ery much under-hung, a defect which time seemed to have increased; nor coul_e pretend to say that ten years had not altered almost every feature for th_orse. Mr Elliot appeared to think that he (Sir Walter) was looking exactly a_e had done when they last parted;" but Sir Walter had "not been able t_eturn the compliment entirely, which had embarrassed him. He did not mean t_omplain, however. Mr Elliot was better to look at than most men, and he ha_o objection to being seen with him anywhere."
Mr Elliot, and his friends in Marlborough Buildings, were talked of the whol_vening. "Colonel Wallis had been so impatient to be introduced to them! an_r Elliot so anxious that he should!" and there was a Mrs Wallis, at presen_nown only to them by description, as she was in daily expectation of he_onfinement; but Mr Elliot spoke of her as "a most charming woman, quit_orthy of being known in Camden Place," and as soon as she recovered they wer_o be acquainted. Sir Walter thought much of Mrs Wallis; she was said to be a_xcessively pretty woman, beautiful. "He longed to see her. He hoped she migh_ake some amends for the many very plain faces he was continually passing i_he streets. The worst of Bath was the number of its plain women. He did no_ean to say that there were no pretty women, but the number of the plain wa_ut of all proportion. He had frequently observed, as he walked, that on_andsome face would be followed by thirty, or five-and-thirty frights; an_nce, as he had stood in a shop on Bond Street, he had counted eighty-seve_omen go by, one after another, without there being a tolerable face amon_hem. It had been a frosty morning, to be sure, a sharp frost, which hardl_ne woman in a thousand could stand the test of. But still, there certainl_ere a dreadful multitude of ugly women in Bath; and as for the men! they wer_nfinitely worse. Such scarecrows as the streets were full of! It was eviden_ow little the women were used to the sight of anything tolerable, by th_ffect which a man of decent appearance produced. He had never walked anywher_rm-in-arm with Colonel Wallis (who was a fine military figure, though sandy-
haired) without observing that every woman's eye was upon him; every woman'_ye was sure to be upon Colonel Wallis." Modest Sir Walter! He was not allowe_o escape, however. His daughter and Mrs Clay united in hinting that Colone_allis's companion might have as good a figure as Colonel Wallis, an_ertainly was not sandy-haired.
"How is Mary looking?" said Sir Walter, in the height of his good humour. "Th_ast time I saw her she had a red nose, but I hope that may not happen ever_ay."
"Oh! no, that must have been quite accidental. In general she has been in ver_ood health and very good looks since Michaelmas."
"If I thought it would not tempt her to go out in sharp winds, and gro_oarse, I would send her a new hat and pelisse."
Anne was considering whether she should venture to suggest that a gown, or _ap, would not be liable to any such misuse, when a knock at the doo_uspended everything. "A knock at the door! and so late! It was ten o'clock.
Could it be Mr Elliot? They knew he was to dine in Lansdown Crescent. It wa_ossible that he might stop in his way home to ask them how they did. The_ould think of no one else. Mrs Clay decidedly thought it Mr Elliot's knock."
Mrs Clay was right. With all the state which a butler and foot-boy could give,
Mr Elliot was ushered into the room.
It was the same, the very same man, with no difference but of dress. Anne dre_ little back, while the others received his compliments, and her sister hi_pologies for calling at so unusual an hour, but "he could not be so nea_ithout wishing to know that neither she nor her friend had taken cold the da_efore," &c. &c; which was all as politely done, and as politely taken, a_ossible, but her part must follow then. Sir Walter talked of his younges_aughter; "Mr Elliot must give him leave to present him to his younges_aughter" (there was no occasion for remembering Mary); and Anne, smiling an_lushing, very becomingly shewed to Mr Elliot the pretty features which he ha_y no means forgotten, and instantly saw, with amusement at his little star_f surprise, that he had not been at all aware of who she was. He looke_ompletely astonished, but not more astonished than pleased; his eye_rightened! and with the most perfect alacrity he welcomed the relationship,
alluded to the past, and entreated to be received as an acquaintance already.
He was quite as good-looking as he had appeared at Lyme, his countenanc_mproved by speaking, and his manners were so exactly what they ought to be,
so polished, so easy, so particularly agreeable, that she could compare the_n excellence to only one person's manners. They were not the same, but the_ere, perhaps, equally good.
He sat down with them, and improved their conversation very much. There coul_e no doubt of his being a sensible man. Ten minutes were enough to certif_hat. His tone, his expressions, his choice of subject, his knowing where t_top; it was all the operation of a sensible, discerning mind. As soon as h_ould, he began to talk to her of Lyme, wanting to compare opinions respectin_he place, but especially wanting to speak of the circumstance of thei_appening to be guests in the same inn at the same time; to give his ow_oute, understand something of hers, and regret that he should have lost suc_n opportunity of paying his respects to her. She gave him a short account o_er party and business at Lyme. His regret increased as he listened. He ha_pent his whole solitary evening in the room adjoining theirs; had hear_oices, mirth continually; thought they must be a most delightful set o_eople, longed to be with them, but certainly without the smallest suspicio_f his possessing the shadow of a right to introduce himself. If he had bu_sked who the party were! The name of Musgrove would have told him enough.
"Well, it would serve to cure him of an absurd practice of never asking _uestion at an inn, which he had adopted, when quite a young man, on th_rincipal of its being very ungenteel to be curious.
"The notions of a young man of one or two and twenty," said he, "as to what i_ecessary in manners to make him quite the thing, are more absurd, I believe,
than those of any other set of beings in the world. The folly of the mean_hey often employ is only to be equalled by the folly of what they have i_iew."
But he must not be addressing his reflections to Anne alone: he knew it; h_as soon diffused again among the others, and it was only at intervals that h_ould return to Lyme.
His enquiries, however, produced at length an account of the scene she ha_een engaged in there, soon after his leaving the place. Having alluded to "a_ccident," he must hear the whole. When he questioned, Sir Walter an_lizabeth began to question also, but the difference in their manner of doin_t could not be unfelt. She could only compare Mr Elliot to Lady Russell, i_he wish of really comprehending what had passed, and in the degree of concer_or what she must have suffered in witnessing it.
He staid an hour with them. The elegant little clock on the mantel- piece ha_truck "eleven with its silver sounds," and the watchman was beginning to b_eard at a distance telling the same tale, before Mr Elliot or any of the_eemed to feel that he had been there long.
Anne could not have supposed it possible that her first evening in Camde_lace could have passed so well!