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Chapter 9

  • Anne recollected with pleasure the next morning her promise of going to Mr_mith, meaning that it should engage her from home at the time when Mr Ellio_ould be most likely to call; for to avoid Mr Elliot was almost a firs_bject.
  • She felt a great deal of good-will towards him. In spite of the mischief o_is attentions, she owed him gratitude and regard, perhaps compassion. Sh_ould not help thinking much of the extraordinary circumstances attendin_heir acquaintance, of the right which he seemed to have to interest her, b_verything in situation, by his own sentiments, by his early prepossession. I_as altogether very extraordinary; flattering, but painful. There was much t_egret. How she might have felt had there been no Captain Wentworth in th_ase, was not worth enquiry; for there was a Captain Wentworth; and be th_onclusion of the present suspense good or bad, her affection would be his fo_ver. Their union, she believed, could not divide her more from other men, than their final separation.
  • Prettier musings of high-wrought love and eternal constancy, could never hav_assed along the streets of Bath, than Anne was sporting with from Camde_lace to Westgate Buildings. It was almost enough to spread purification an_erfume all the way.
  • She was sure of a pleasant reception; and her friend seemed this mornin_articularly obliged to her for coming, seemed hardly to have expected her, though it had been an appointment.
  • An account of the concert was immediately claimed; and Anne's recollections o_he concert were quite happy enough to animate her features and make he_ejoice to talk of it. All that she could tell she told most gladly, but th_ll was little for one who had been there, and unsatisfactory for such a_nquirer as Mrs Smith, who had already heard, through the short cut of _aundress and a waiter, rather more of the general success and produce of th_vening than Anne could relate, and who now asked in vain for severa_articulars of the company. Everybody of any consequence or notoriety in Bat_as well know by name to Mrs Smith.
  • "The little Durands were there, I conclude," said she, "with their mouths ope_o catch the music, like unfledged sparrows ready to be fed. They never miss _oncert."
  • "Yes; I did not see them myself, but I heard Mr Elliot say they were in th_oom."
  • "The Ibbotsons, were they there? and the two new beauties, with the tall Iris_fficer, who is talked of for one of them."
  • "I do not know. I do not think they were."
  • "Old Lady Mary Maclean? I need not ask after her. She never misses, I know; and you must have seen her. She must have been in your own circle; for as yo_ent with Lady Dalrymple, you were in the seats of grandeur, round th_rchestra, of course."
  • "No, that was what I dreaded. It would have been very unpleasant to me i_very respect. But happily Lady Dalrymple always chooses to be farther off; and we were exceedingly well placed, that is, for hearing; I must not say fo_eeing, because I appear to have seen very little."
  • "Oh! you saw enough for your own amusement. I can understand. There is a sor_f domestic enjoyment to be known even in a crowd, and this you had. You wer_ large party in yourselves, and you wanted nothing beyond."
  • "But I ought to have looked about me more," said Anne, conscious while sh_poke that there had in fact been no want of looking about, that the objec_nly had been deficient.
  • "No, no; you were better employed. You need not tell me that you had _leasant evening. I see it in your eye. I perfectly see how the hours passed: that you had always something agreeable to listen to. In the intervals of th_oncert it was conversation.
  • Anne half smiled and said, "Do you see that in my eye?"
  • "Yes, I do. Your countenance perfectly informs me that you were in compan_ast night with the person whom you think the most agreeable in the world, th_erson who interests you at this present time more than all the rest of th_orld put together."
  • A blush overspread Anne's cheeks. She could say nothing.
  • "And such being the case," continued Mrs Smith, after a short pause, "I hop_ou believe that I do know how to value your kindness in coming to me thi_orning. It is really very good of you to come and sit with me, when you mus_ave so many pleasanter demands upon your time."
  • Anne heard nothing of this. She was still in the astonishment and confusio_xcited by her friend's penetration, unable to imagine how any report o_aptain Wentworth could have reached her. After another short silence—
  • "Pray," said Mrs Smith, "is Mr Elliot aware of your acquaintance with me? Doe_e know that I am in Bath?"
  • "Mr Elliot!" repeated Anne, looking up surprised. A moment's reflection shewe_er the mistake she had been under. She caught it instantaneously; an_ecovering her courage with the feeling of safety, soon added, mor_omposedly, "Are you acquainted with Mr Elliot?"
  • "I have been a good deal acquainted with him," replied Mrs Smith, gravely,
  • "but it seems worn out now. It is a great while since we met."
  • "I was not at all aware of this. You never mentioned it before. Had I know_t, I would have had the pleasure of talking to him about you."
  • "To confess the truth," said Mrs Smith, assuming her usual air o_heerfulness, "that is exactly the pleasure I want you to have. I want you t_alk about me to Mr Elliot. I want your interest with him. He can be o_ssential service to me; and if you would have the goodness, my dear Mis_lliot, to make it an object to yourself, of course it is done."
  • "I should be extremely happy; I hope you cannot doubt my willingness to be o_ven the slightest use to you," replied Anne; "but I suspect that you ar_onsidering me as having a higher claim on Mr Elliot, a greater right t_nfluence him, than is really the case. I am sure you have, somehow or other, imbibed such a notion. You must consider me only as Mr Elliot's relation. I_n that light there is anything which you suppose his cousin might fairly as_f him, I beg you would not hesitate to employ me."
  • Mrs Smith gave her a penetrating glance, and then, smiling, said—
  • "I have been a little premature, I perceive; I beg your pardon. I ought t_ave waited for official information, But now, my dear Miss Elliot, as an ol_riend, do give me a hint as to when I may speak. Next week? To be sure b_ext week I may be allowed to think it all settled, and build my own selfis_chemes on Mr Elliot's good fortune."
  • "No," replied Anne, "nor next week, nor next, nor next. I assure you tha_othing of the sort you are thinking of will be settled any week. I am no_oing to marry Mr Elliot. I should like to know why you imagine I am?"
  • Mrs Smith looked at her again, looked earnestly, smiled, shook her head, an_xclaimed—
  • "Now, how I do wish I understood you! How I do wish I knew what you were at! _ave a great idea that you do not design to be cruel, when the right momen_ccurs. Till it does come, you know, we women never mean to have anybody. I_s a thing of course among us, that every man is refused, till he offers. Bu_hy should you be cruel? Let me plead for my—present friend I cannot call him, but for my former friend. Where can you look for a more suitable match? Wher_ould you expect a more gentlemanlike, agreeable man? Let me recommend M_lliot. I am sure you hear nothing but good of him from Colonel Wallis; an_ho can know him better than Colonel Wallis?"
  • "My dear Mrs Smith, Mr Elliot's wife has not been dead much above half a year.
  • He ought not to be supposed to be paying his addresses to any one."
  • "Oh! if these are your only objections," cried Mrs Smith, archly, "Mr Ellio_s safe, and I shall give myself no more trouble about him. Do not forget m_hen you are married, that's all. Let him know me to be a friend of yours, an_hen he will think little of the trouble required, which it is very natura_or him now, with so many affairs and engagements of his own, to avoid and ge_id of as he can; very natural, perhaps. Ninety-nine out of a hundred would d_he same. Of course, he cannot be aware of the importance to me. Well, my dea_iss Elliot, I hope and trust you will be very happy. Mr Elliot has sense t_nderstand the value of such a woman. Your peace will not be shipwrecked a_ine has been. You are safe in all worldly matters, and safe in his character.
  • He will not be led astray; he will not be misled by others to his ruin."
  • "No," said Anne, "I can readily believe all that of my cousin. He seems t_ave a calm decided temper, not at all open to dangerous impressions. _onsider him with great respect. I have no reason, from any thing that ha_allen within my observation, to do otherwise. But I have not known him long; and he is not a man, I think, to be known intimately soon. Will not thi_anner of speaking of him, Mrs Smith, convince you that he is nothing to me?
  • Surely this must be calm enough. And, upon my word, he is nothing to me.
  • Should he ever propose to me (which I have very little reason to imagine h_as any thought of doing), I shall not accept him. I assure you I shall not. _ssure you, Mr Elliot had not the share which you have been supposing, i_hatever pleasure the concert of last night might afford: not Mr Elliot; it i_ot Mr Elliot that—"
  • She stopped, regretting with a deep blush that she had implied so much; bu_ess would hardly have been sufficient. Mrs Smith would hardly have believe_o soon in Mr Elliot's failure, but from the perception of there being _omebody else. As it was, she instantly submitted, and with all the semblanc_f seeing nothing beyond; and Anne, eager to escape farther notice, wa_mpatient to know why Mrs Smith should have fancied she was to marry M_lliot; where she could have received the idea, or from whom she could hav_eard it.
  • "Do tell me how it first came into your head."
  • "It first came into my head," replied Mrs Smith, "upon finding how much yo_ere together, and feeling it to be the most probable thing in the world to b_ished for by everybody belonging to either of you; and you may depend upon i_hat all your acquaintance have disposed of you in the same way. But I neve_eard it spoken of till two days ago."
  • "And has it indeed been spoken of?"
  • "Did you observe the woman who opened the door to you when you calle_esterday?"
  • "No. Was not it Mrs Speed, as usual, or the maid? I observed no one i_articular."
  • "It was my friend Mrs Rooke; Nurse Rooke; who, by-the-bye, had a grea_uriosity to see you, and was delighted to be in the way to let you in. Sh_ame away from Marlborough Buildings only on Sunday; and she it was who tol_e you were to marry Mr Elliot. She had had it from Mrs Wallis herself, whic_id not seem bad authority. She sat an hour with me on Monday evening, an_ave me the whole history." "The whole history," repeated Anne, laughing. "Sh_ould not make a very long history, I think, of one such little article o_nfounded news."
  • Mrs Smith said nothing.
  • "But," continued Anne, presently, "though there is no truth in my having thi_laim on Mr Elliot, I should be extremely happy to be of use to you in any wa_hat I could. Shall I mention to him your being in Bath? Shall I take an_essage?"
  • "No, I thank you: no, certainly not. In the warmth of the moment, and under _istaken impression, I might, perhaps, have endeavoured to interest you i_ome circumstances; but not now. No, I thank you, I have nothing to troubl_ou with."
  • "I think you spoke of having known Mr Elliot many years?"
  • "I did."
  • "Not before he was married, I suppose?"
  • "Yes; he was not married when I knew him first."
  • "And—were you much acquainted?"
  • "Intimately."
  • "Indeed! Then do tell me what he was at that time of life. I have a grea_uriosity to know what Mr Elliot was as a very young man. Was he at all suc_s he appears now?"
  • "I have not seen Mr Elliot these three years," was Mrs Smith's answer, give_o gravely that it was impossible to pursue the subject farther; and Anne fel_hat she had gained nothing but an increase of curiosity. They were bot_ilent: Mrs Smith very thoughtful. At last—
  • "I beg your pardon, my dear Miss Elliot," she cried, in her natural tone o_ordiality, "I beg your pardon for the short answers I have been giving you, but I have been uncertain what I ought to do. I have been doubting an_onsidering as to what I ought to tell you. There were many things to be take_nto the account. One hates to be officious, to be giving bad impressions, making mischief. Even the smooth surface of family-union seems wort_reserving, though there may be nothing durable beneath. However, I hav_etermined; I think I am right; I think you ought to be made acquainted wit_r Elliot's real character. Though I fully believe that, at present, you hav_ot the smallest intention of accepting him, there is no saying what ma_appen. You might, some time or other, be differently affected towards him.
  • Hear the truth, therefore, now, while you are unprejudiced. Mr Elliot is a ma_ithout heart or conscience; a designing, wary, cold-blooded being, who think_nly of himself; whom for his own interest or ease, would be guilty of an_ruelty, or any treachery, that could be perpetrated without risk of hi_eneral character. He has no feeling for others. Those whom he has been th_hief cause of leading into ruin, he can neglect and desert without th_mallest compunction. He is totally beyond the reach of any sentiment o_ustice or compassion. Oh! he is black at heart, hollow and black!"
  • Anne's astonished air, and exclamation of wonder, made her pause, and in _almer manner, she added,
  • "My expressions startle you. You must allow for an injured, angry woman. But _ill try to command myself. I will not abuse him. I will only tell you what _ave found him. Facts shall speak. He was the intimate friend of my dea_usband, who trusted and loved him, and thought him as good as himself. Th_ntimacy had been formed before our marriage. I found them most intimat_riends; and I, too, became excessively pleased with Mr Elliot, an_ntertained the highest opinion of him. At nineteen, you know, one does no_hink very seriously; but Mr Elliot appeared to me quite as good as others, and much more agreeable than most others, and we were almost always together.
  • We were principally in town, living in very good style. He was then th_nferior in circumstances; he was then the poor one; he had chambers in th_emple, and it was as much as he could do to support the appearance of _entleman. He had always a home with us whenever he chose it; he was alway_elcome; he was like a brother. My poor Charles, who had the finest, mos_enerous spirit in the world, would have divided his last farthing with him; and I know that his purse was open to him; I know that he often assisted him."
  • "This must have been about that very period of Mr Elliot's life," said Anne,
  • "which has always excited my particular curiosity. It must have been about th_ame time that he became known to my father and sister. I never knew hi_yself; I only heard of him; but there was a something in his conduct then, with regard to my father and sister, and afterwards in the circumstances o_is marriage, which I never could quite reconcile with present times. I_eemed to announce a different sort of man."
  • "I know it all, I know it all," cried Mrs Smith. "He had been introduced t_ir Walter and your sister before I was acquainted with him, but I heard hi_peak of them for ever. I know he was invited and encouraged, and I know h_id not choose to go. I can satisfy you, perhaps, on points which you woul_ittle expect; and as to his marriage, I knew all about it at the time. I wa_rivy to all the fors and againsts; I was the friend to whom he confided hi_opes and plans; and though I did not know his wife previously, her inferio_ituation in society, indeed, rendered that impossible, yet I knew her all he_ife afterwards, or at least till within the last two years of her life, an_an answer any question you may wish to put."
  • "Nay," said Anne, "I have no particular enquiry to make about her. I hav_lways understood they were not a happy couple. But I should like to know why, at that time of his life, he should slight my father's acquaintance as he did.
  • My father was certainly disposed to take very kind and proper notice of him.
  • Why did Mr Elliot draw back?"
  • "Mr Elliot," replied Mrs Smith, "at that period of his life, had one object i_iew: to make his fortune, and by a rather quicker process than the law. H_as determined to make it by marriage. He was determined, at least, not to ma_t by an imprudent marriage; and I know it was his belief (whether justly o_ot, of course I cannot decide), that your father and sister, in thei_ivilities and invitations, were designing a match between the heir and th_oung lady, and it was impossible that such a match should have answered hi_deas of wealth and independence. That was his motive for drawing back, I ca_ssure you. He told me the whole story. He had no concealments with me. It wa_urious, that having just left you behind me in Bath, my first and principa_cquaintance on marrying should be your cousin; and that, through him, _hould be continually hearing of your father and sister. He described one Mis_lliot, and I thought very affectionately of the other."
  • "Perhaps," cried Anne, struck by a sudden idea, "you sometimes spoke of me t_r Elliot?"
  • "To be sure I did; very often. I used to boast of my own Anne Elliot, an_ouch for your being a very different creature from—"
  • She checked herself just in time.
  • "This accounts for something which Mr Elliot said last night," cried Anne.
  • "This explains it. I found he had been used to hear of me. I could no_omprehend how. What wild imaginations one forms where dear self is concerned!
  • How sure to be mistaken! But I beg your pardon; I have interrupted you. M_lliot married then completely for money? The circumstances, probably, whic_irst opened your eyes to his character."
  • Mrs Smith hesitated a little here. "Oh! those things are too common. When on_ives in the world, a man or woman's marrying for money is too common t_trike one as it ought. I was very young, and associated only with the young, and we were a thoughtless, gay set, without any strict rules of conduct. W_ived for enjoyment. I think differently now; time and sickness and sorro_ave given me other notions; but at that period I must own I saw nothin_eprehensible in what Mr Elliot was doing. `To do the best for himself,'
  • passed as a duty."
  • "But was not she a very low woman?"
  • "Yes; which I objected to, but he would not regard. Money, money, was all tha_e wanted. Her father was a grazier, her grandfather had been a butcher, bu_hat was all nothing. She was a fine woman, had had a decent education, wa_rought forward by some cousins, thrown by chance into Mr Elliot's company, and fell in love with him; and not a difficulty or a scruple was there on hi_ide, with respect to her birth. All his caution was spent in being secured o_he real amount of her fortune, before he committed himself. Depend upon it, whatever esteem Mr Elliot may have for his own situation in life now, as _oung man he had not the smallest value for it. His chance for the Kellync_state was something, but all the honour of the family he held as cheap a_irt. I have often heard him declare, that if baronetcies were saleable, anybody should have his for fifty pounds, arms and motto, name and liver_ncluded; but I will not pretend to repeat half that I used to hear him say o_hat subject. It would not be fair; and yet you ought to have proof, for wha_s all this but assertion, and you shall have proof."
  • "Indeed, my dear Mrs Smith, I want none," cried Anne. "You have asserte_othing contradictory to what Mr Elliot appeared to be some years ago. This i_ll in confirmation, rather, of what we used to hear and believe. I am mor_urious to know why he should be so different now."
  • "But for my satisfaction, if you will have the goodness to ring for Mary; stay: I am sure you will have the still greater goodness of going yoursel_nto my bedroom, and bringing me the small inlaid box which you will find o_he upper shelf of the closet."
  • Anne, seeing her friend to be earnestly bent on it, did as she was desired.
  • The box was brought and placed before her, and Mrs Smith, sighing over it a_he unlocked it, said—
  • "This is full of papers belonging to him, to my husband; a small portion onl_f what I had to look over when I lost him. The letter I am looking for wa_ne written by Mr Elliot to him before our marriage, and happened to be saved; why, one can hardly imagine. But he was careless and immethodical, like othe_en, about those things; and when I came to examine his papers, I found i_ith others still more trivial, from different people scattered here an_here, while many letters and memorandums of real importance had bee_estroyed. Here it is; I would not burn it, because being even then ver_ittle satisfied with Mr Elliot, I was determined to preserve every documen_f former intimacy. I have now another motive for being glad that I ca_roduce it."
  • This was the letter, directed to "Charles Smith, Esq. Tunbridge Wells," an_ated from London, as far back as July, 1803: —
  • "Dear Smith,—I have received yours. Your kindness almost overpowers me. I wis_ature had made such hearts as yours more common, but I have lived three-and- twenty years in the world, and have seen none like it. At present, believe me, I have no need of your services, being in cash again. Give me joy: I have go_id of Sir Walter and Miss. They are gone back to Kellynch, and almost made m_wear to visit them this summer; but my first visit to Kellynch will be with _urveyor, to tell me how to bring it with best advantage to the hammer. Th_aronet, nevertheless, is not unlikely to marry again; he is quite foo_nough. If he does, however, they will leave me in peace, which may be _ecent equivalent for the reversion. He is worse than last year.
  • "I wish I had any name but Elliot. I am sick of it. The name of Walter I ca_rop, thank God! and I desire you will never insult me with my second W.
  • again, meaning, for the rest of my life, to be only yours truly,—Wm. Elliot."
  • Such a letter could not be read without putting Anne in a glow; and Mrs Smith, observing the high colour in her face, said—
  • "The language, I know, is highly disrespectful. Though I have forgot the exac_erms, I have a perfect impression of the general meaning. But it shows yo_he man. Mark his professions to my poor husband. Can any thing be stronger?"
  • Anne could not immediately get over the shock and mortification of findin_uch words applied to her father. She was obliged to recollect that her seein_he letter was a violation of the laws of honour, that no one ought to b_udged or to be known by such testimonies, that no private correspondenc_ould bear the eye of others, before she could recover calmness enough t_eturn the letter which she had been meditating over, and say—
  • "Thank you. This is full proof undoubtedly; proof of every thing you wer_aying. But why be acquainted with us now?"
  • "I can explain this too," cried Mrs Smith, smiling.
  • "Can you really?"
  • "Yes. I have shewn you Mr Elliot as he was a dozen years ago, and I will she_im as he is now. I cannot produce written proof again, but I can give a_uthentic oral testimony as you can desire, of what he is now wanting, an_hat he is now doing. He is no hypocrite now. He truly wants to marry you. Hi_resent attentions to your family are very sincere: quite from the heart. _ill give you my authority: his friend Colonel Wallis."
  • "Colonel Wallis! you are acquainted with him?"
  • "No. It does not come to me in quite so direct a line as that; it takes a ben_r two, but nothing of consequence. The stream is as good as at first; th_ittle rubbish it collects in the turnings is easily moved away. Mr Ellio_alks unreservedly to Colonel Wallis of his views on you, which said Colone_allis, I imagine to be, in himself, a sensible, careful, discerning sort o_haracter; but Colonel Wallis has a very pretty silly wife, to whom he tell_hings which he had better not, and he repeats it all to her. She in th_verflowing spirits of her recovery, repeats it all to her nurse; and th_urse knowing my acquaintance with you, very naturally brings it all to me. O_onday evening, my good friend Mrs Rooke let me thus much into the secrets o_arlborough Buildings. When I talked of a whole history, therefore, you see _as not romancing so much as you supposed."
  • "My dear Mrs Smith, your authority is deficient. This will not do. Mr Elliot'_aving any views on me will not in the least account for the efforts he mad_owards a reconciliation with my father. That was all prior to my coming t_ath. I found them on the most friendly terms when I arrived."
  • "I know you did; I know it all perfectly, but—"
  • "Indeed, Mrs Smith, we must not expect to get real information in such a line.
  • Facts or opinions which are to pass through the hands of so many, to b_isconceived by folly in one, and ignorance in another, can hardly have muc_ruth left."
  • "Only give me a hearing. You will soon be able to judge of the general credi_ue, by listening to some particulars which you can yourself immediatel_ontradict or confirm. Nobody supposes that you were his first inducement. H_ad seen you indeed, before he came to Bath, and admired you, but withou_nowing it to be you. So says my historian, at least. Is this true? Did he se_ou last summer or autumn, `somewhere down in the west,' to use her own words, without knowing it to be you?"
  • "He certainly did. So far it is very true. At Lyme. I happened to be at Lyme."
  • "Well," continued Mrs Smith, triumphantly, "grant my friend the credit due t_he establishment of the first point asserted. He saw you then at Lyme, an_iked you so well as to be exceedingly pleased to meet with you again i_amden Place, as Miss Anne Elliot, and from that moment, I have no doubt, ha_ double motive in his visits there. But there was another, and an earlier, which I will now explain. If there is anything in my story which you know t_e either false or improbable, stop me. My account states, that your sister'_riend, the lady now staying with you, whom I have heard you mention, came t_ath with Miss Elliot and Sir Walter as long ago as September (in short whe_hey first came themselves), and has been staying there ever since; that sh_s a clever, insinuating, handsome woman, poor and plausible, and altogethe_uch in situation and manner, as to give a general idea, among Sir Walter'_cquaintance, of her meaning to be Lady Elliot, and as general a surprise tha_iss Elliot should be apparently, blind to the danger."
  • Here Mrs Smith paused a moment; but Anne had not a word to say, and sh_ontinued—
  • "This was the light in which it appeared to those who knew the family, lon_efore you returned to it; and Colonel Wallis had his eye upon your fathe_nough to be sensible of it, though he did not then visit in Camden Place; bu_is regard for Mr Elliot gave him an interest in watching all that was goin_n there, and when Mr Elliot came to Bath for a day or two, as he happened t_o a little before Christmas, Colonel Wallis made him acquainted with th_ppearance of things, and the reports beginning to prevail. Now you are t_nderstand, that time had worked a very material change in Mr Elliot'_pinions as to the value of a baronetcy. Upon all points of blood an_onnexion he is a completely altered man. Having long had as much money as h_ould spend, nothing to wish for on the side of avarice or indulgence, he ha_een gradually learning to pin his happiness upon the consequence he is hei_o. I thought it coming on before our acquaintance ceased, but it is now _onfirmed feeling. He cannot bear the idea of not being Sir William. You ma_uess, therefore, that the news he heard from his friend could not be ver_greeable, and you may guess what it produced; the resolution of coming bac_o Bath as soon as possible, and of fixing himself here for a time, with th_iew of renewing his former acquaintance, and recovering such a footing in th_amily as might give him the means of ascertaining the degree of his danger, and of circumventing the lady if he found it material. This was agreed upo_etween the two friends as the only thing to be done; and Colonel Wallis wa_o assist in every way that he could. He was to be introduced, and Mrs Walli_as to be introduced, and everybody was to be introduced. Mr Elliot came bac_ccordingly; and on application was forgiven, as you know, and re-admitte_nto the family; and there it was his constant object, and his only object (till your arrival added another motive), to watch Sir Walter and Mrs Clay. H_mitted no opportunity of being with them, threw himself in their way, calle_t all hours; but I need not be particular on this subject. You can imagin_hat an artful man would do; and with this guide, perhaps, may recollect wha_ou have seen him do."
  • "Yes," said Anne, "you tell me nothing which does not accord with what I hav_nown, or could imagine. There is always something offensive in the details o_unning. The manoeuvres of selfishness and duplicity must ever be revolting, but I have heard nothing which really surprises me. I know those who would b_hocked by such a representation of Mr Elliot, who would have difficulty i_elieving it; but I have never been satisfied. I have always wanted some othe_otive for his conduct than appeared. I should like to know his presen_pinion, as to the probability of the event he has been in dread of; whethe_e considers the danger to be lessening or not."
  • "Lessening, I understand," replied Mrs Smith. "He thinks Mrs Clay afraid o_im, aware that he sees through her, and not daring to proceed as she might d_n his absence. But since he must be absent some time or other, I do no_erceive how he can ever be secure while she holds her present influence. Mr_allis has an amusing idea, as nurse tells me, that it is to be put into th_arriage articles when you and Mr Elliot marry, that your father is not t_arry Mrs Clay. A scheme, worthy of Mrs Wallis's understanding, by al_ccounts; but my sensible nurse Rooke sees the absurdity of it. `Why, to b_ure, ma'am,' said she, `it would not prevent his marrying anybody else.' And, indeed, to own the truth, I do not think nurse, in her heart, is a ver_trenuous opposer of Sir Walter's making a second match. She must be allowe_o be a favourer of matrimony, you know; and (since self will intrude) who ca_ay that she may not have some flying visions of attending the next Lad_lliot, through Mrs Wallis's recommendation?"
  • "I am very glad to know all this," said Anne, after a little thoughtfulness.
  • "It will be more painful to me in some respects to be in company with him, bu_ shall know better what to do. My line of conduct will be more direct. M_lliot is evidently a disingenuous, artificial, worldly man, who has never ha_ny better principle to guide him than selfishness."
  • But Mr Elliot was not done with. Mrs Smith had been carried away from he_irst direction, and Anne had forgotten, in the interest of her own famil_oncerns, how much had been originally implied against him; but her attentio_as now called to the explanation of those first hints, and she listened to _ecital which, if it did not perfectly justify the unqualified bitterness o_rs Smith, proved him to have been very unfeeling in his conduct towards her; very deficient both in justice and compassion.
  • She learned that (the intimacy between them continuing unimpaired by M_lliot's marriage) they had been as before always together, and Mr Elliot ha_ed his friend into expenses much beyond his fortune. Mrs Smith did not wan_o take blame to herself, and was most tender of throwing any on her husband; but Anne could collect that their income had never been equal to their styl_f living, and that from the first there had been a great deal of general an_oint extravagance. From his wife's account of him she could discern Mr Smit_o have been a man of warm feelings, easy temper, careless habits, and no_trong understanding, much more amiable than his friend, and very unlike him, led by him, and probably despised by him. Mr Elliot, raised by his marriage t_reat affluence, and disposed to every gratification of pleasure and vanit_hich could be commanded without involving himself, (for with all his self- indulgence he had become a prudent man), and beginning to be rich, just as hi_riend ought to have found himself to be poor, seemed to have had no concer_t all for that friend's probable finances, but, on the contrary, had bee_rompting and encouraging expenses which could end only in ruin; and th_miths accordingly had been ruined.
  • The husband had died just in time to be spared the full knowledge of it. The_ad previously known embarrassments enough to try the friendship of thei_riends, and to prove that Mr Elliot's had better not be tried; but it was no_ill his death that the wretched state of his affairs was fully known. With _onfidence in Mr Elliot's regard, more creditable to his feelings than hi_udgement, Mr Smith had appointed him the executor of his will; but Mr Ellio_ould not act, and the difficulties and distress which this refusal had heape_n her, in addition to the inevitable sufferings of her situation, had bee_uch as could not be related without anguish of spirit, or listened to withou_orresponding indignation.
  • Anne was shewn some letters of his on the occasion, answers to urgen_pplications from Mrs Smith, which all breathed the same stern resolution o_ot engaging in a fruitless trouble, and, under a cold civility, the sam_ard-hearted indifference to any of the evils it might bring on her. It was _readful picture of ingratitude and inhumanity; and Anne felt, at som_oments, that no flagrant open crime could have been worse. She had a grea_eal to listen to; all the particulars of past sad scenes, all the minutiae o_istress upon distress, which in former conversations had been merely hinte_t, were dwelt on now with a natural indulgence. Anne could perfectl_omprehend the exquisite relief, and was only the more inclined to wonder a_he composure of her friend's usual state of mind.
  • There was one circumstance in the history of her grievances of particula_rritation. She had good reason to believe that some property of her husban_n the West Indies, which had been for many years under a sort o_equestration for the payment of its own incumbrances, might be recoverable b_roper measures; and this property, though not large, would be enough to mak_er comparatively rich. But there was nobody to stir in it. Mr Elliot would d_othing, and she could do nothing herself, equally disabled from persona_xertion by her state of bodily weakness, and from employing others by he_ant of money. She had no natural connexions to assist her even with thei_ounsel, and she could not afford to purchase the assistance of the law. Thi_as a cruel aggravation of actually streightened means. To feel that she ough_o be in better circumstances, that a little trouble in the right place migh_o it, and to fear that delay might be even weakening her claims, was hard t_ear.
  • It was on this point that she had hoped to engage Anne's good offices with M_lliot. She had previously, in the anticipation of their marriage, been ver_pprehensive of losing her friend by it; but on being assured that he coul_ave made no attempt of that nature, since he did not even know her to be i_ath, it immediately occurred, that something might be done in her favour b_he influence of the woman he loved, and she had been hastily preparing t_nterest Anne's feelings, as far as the observances due to Mr Elliot'_haracter would allow, when Anne's refutation of the supposed engagemen_hanged the face of everything; and while it took from her the new-formed hop_f succeeding in the object of her first anxiety, left her at least th_omfort of telling the whole story her own way.
  • After listening to this full description of Mr Elliot, Anne could not bu_xpress some surprise at Mrs Smith's having spoken of him so favourably in th_eginning of their conversation. "She had seemed to recommend and praise him!"
  • "My dear," was Mrs Smith's reply, "there was nothing else to be done. _onsidered your marrying him as certain, though he might not yet have made th_ffer, and I could no more speak the truth of him, than if he had been you_usband. My heart bled for you, as I talked of happiness; and yet he i_ensible, he is agreeable, and with such a woman as you, it was not absolutel_opeless. He was very unkind to his first wife. They were wretched together.
  • But she was too ignorant and giddy for respect, and he had never loved her. _as willing to hope that you must fare better."
  • Anne could just acknowledge within herself such a possibility of having bee_nduced to marry him, as made her shudder at the idea of the misery which mus_ave followed. It was just possible that she might have been persuaded by Lad_ussell! And under such a supposition, which would have been most miserable, when time had disclosed all, too late?
  • It was very desirable that Lady Russell should be no longer deceived; and on_f the concluding arrangements of this important conference, which carrie_hem through the greater part of the morning, was, that Anne had full libert_o communicate to her friend everything relative to Mrs Smith, in which hi_onduct was involved.