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Chapter 13

  • Their intended excursion to Whitwell turned out very different from wha_linor had expected. She was prepared to be wet through, fatigued, an_rightened; but the event was still more unfortunate, for they did not go a_ll.
  • By ten o'clock the whole party was assembled at the park, where they were t_reakfast. The morning was rather favourable, though it had rained all night, as the clouds were then dispersing across the sky, and the sun frequentl_ppeared. They were all in high spirits and good humour, eager to be happy, and determined to submit to the greatest inconveniences and hardships rathe_han be otherwise.
  • While they were at breakfast the letters were brought in. Among the rest ther_as one for Colonel Brandon;—he took it, looked at the direction, change_olour, and immediately left the room.
  • "What is the matter with Brandon?" said Sir John.
  • Nobody could tell.
  • "I hope he has had no bad news," said Lady Middleton. "It must be somethin_xtraordinary that could make Colonel Brandon leave my breakfast table s_uddenly."
  • In about five minutes he returned.
  • "No bad news, Colonel, I hope;" said Mrs. Jennings, as soon as he entered th_oom.
  • "None at all, ma'am, I thank you."
  • "Was it from Avignon? I hope it is not to say that your sister is worse."
  • "No, ma'am. It came from town, and is merely a letter of business."
  • "But how came the hand to discompose you so much, if it was only a letter o_usiness? Come, come, this won't do, Colonel; so let us hear the truth of it."
  • "My dear madam," said Lady Middleton, "recollect what you are saying."
  • "Perhaps it is to tell you that your cousin Fanny is married?" said Mrs.
  • Jennings, without attending to her daughter's reproof.
  • "No, indeed, it is not."
  • "Well, then, I know who it is from, Colonel. And I hope she is well."
  • "Whom do you mean, ma'am?" said he, colouring a little.
  • "Oh! you know who I mean."
  • "I am particularly sorry, ma'am," said he, addressing Lady Middleton, "that _hould receive this letter today, for it is on business which requires m_mmediate attendance in town."
  • "In town!" cried Mrs. Jennings. "What can you have to do in town at this tim_f year?"
  • "My own loss is great," he continued, "in being obliged to leave so agreeabl_ party; but I am the more concerned, as I fear my presence is necessary t_ain your admittance at Whitwell."
  • What a blow upon them all was this!
  • "But if you write a note to the housekeeper, Mr. Brandon," said Marianne, eagerly, "will it not be sufficient?"
  • He shook his head.
  • "We must go," said Sir John.—"It shall not be put off when we are so near it.
  • You cannot go to town till tomorrow, Brandon, that is all."
  • "I wish it could be so easily settled. But it is not in my power to delay m_ourney for one day!"
  • "If you would but let us know what your business is," said Mrs. Jennings, "w_ight see whether it could be put off or not."
  • "You would not be six hours later," said Willoughby, "if you were to defe_our journey till our return."
  • "I cannot afford to lose ONE hour."—
  • Elinor then heard Willoughby say, in a low voice to Marianne, "There are som_eople who cannot bear a party of pleasure. Brandon is one of them. He wa_fraid of catching cold I dare say, and invented this trick for getting out o_t. I would lay fifty guineas the letter was of his own writing."
  • "I have no doubt of it," replied Marianne.
  • "There is no persuading you to change your mind, Brandon, I know of old," sai_ir John, "when once you are determined on anything. But, however, I hope yo_ill think better of it. Consider, here are the two Miss Careys come over fro_ewton, the three Miss Dashwoods walked up from the cottage, and Mr.
  • Willoughby got up two hours before his usual time, on purpose to go t_hitwell."
  • Colonel Brandon again repeated his sorrow at being the cause of disappointin_he party; but at the same time declared it to be unavoidable.
  • "Well, then, when will you come back again?"
  • "I hope we shall see you at Barton," added her ladyship, "as soon as you ca_onveniently leave town; and we must put off the party to Whitwell till yo_eturn."
  • "You are very obliging. But it is so uncertain, when I may have it in my powe_o return, that I dare not engage for it at all."
  • "Oh! he must and shall come back," cried Sir John. "If he is not here by th_nd of the week, I shall go after him."
  • "Ay, so do, Sir John," cried Mrs. Jennings, "and then perhaps you may find ou_hat his business is."
  • "I do not want to pry into other men's concerns. I suppose it is something h_s ashamed of."
  • Colonel Brandon's horses were announced.
  • "You do not go to town on horseback, do you?" added Sir John.
  • "No. Only to Honiton. I shall then go post."
  • "Well, as you are resolved to go, I wish you a good journey. But you ha_etter change your mind."
  • "I assure you it is not in my power."
  • He then took leave of the whole party.
  • "Is there no chance of my seeing you and your sisters in town this winter, Miss Dashwood?"
  • "I am afraid, none at all."
  • "Then I must bid you farewell for a longer time than I should wish to do."
  • To Marianne, he merely bowed and said nothing.
  • "Come Colonel," said Mrs. Jennings, "before you go, do let us know what yo_re going about."
  • He wished her a good morning, and, attended by Sir John, left the room.
  • The complaints and lamentations which politeness had hitherto restrained, no_urst forth universally; and they all agreed again and again how provoking i_as to be so disappointed.
  • "I can guess what his business is, however," said Mrs. Jennings exultingly.
  • "Can you, ma'am?" said almost every body.
  • "Yes; it is about Miss Williams, I am sure."
  • "And who is Miss Williams?" asked Marianne.
  • "What! do not you know who Miss Williams is? I am sure you must have heard o_er before. She is a relation of the Colonel's, my dear; a very near relation.
  • We will not say how near, for fear of shocking the young ladies." Then, lowering her voice a little, she said to Elinor, "She is his natura_aughter."
  • "Indeed!"
  • "Oh, yes; and as like him as she can stare. I dare say the Colonel will leav_er all his fortune."
  • When Sir John returned, he joined most heartily in the general regret on s_nfortunate an event; concluding however by observing, that as they were al_ot together, they must do something by way of being happy; and after som_onsultation it was agreed, that although happiness could only be enjoyed a_hitwell, they might procure a tolerable composure of mind by driving abou_he country. The carriages were then ordered; Willoughby's was first, an_arianne never looked happier than when she got into it. He drove through th_ark very fast, and they were soon out of sight; and nothing more of them wa_een till their return, which did not happen till after the return of all th_est. They both seemed delighted with their drive; but said only in genera_erms that they had kept in the lanes, while the others went on the downs.
  • It was settled that there should be a dance in the evening, and that ever_ody should be extremely merry all day long. Some more of the Careys came t_inner, and they had the pleasure of sitting down nearly twenty to table, which Sir John observed with great contentment. Willoughby took his usua_lace between the two elder Miss Dashwoods. Mrs. Jennings sat on Elinor'_ight hand; and they had not been long seated, before she leant behind her an_illoughby, and said to Marianne, loud enough for them both to hear, "I hav_ound you out in spite of all your tricks. I know where you spent th_orning."
  • Marianne coloured, and replied very hastily, "Where, pray?"—
  • "Did not you know," said Willoughby, "that we had been out in my curricle?"
  • "Yes, yes, Mr. Impudence, I know that very well, and I was determined to fin_ut WHERE you had been to.— I hope you like your house, Miss Marianne. It is _ery large one, I know; and when I come to see you, I hope you will have new- furnished it, for it wanted it very much when I was there six years ago."
  • Marianne turned away in great confusion. Mrs. Jennings laughed heartily; an_linor found that in her resolution to know where they had been, she ha_ctually made her own woman enquire of Mr. Willoughby's groom; and that sh_ad by that method been informed that they had gone to Allenham, and spent _onsiderable time there in walking about the garden and going all over th_ouse.
  • Elinor could hardly believe this to be true, as it seemed very unlikely tha_illoughby should propose, or Marianne consent, to enter the house while Mrs.
  • Smith was in it, with whom Marianne had not the smallest acquaintance.
  • As soon as they left the dining-room, Elinor enquired of her about it; an_reat was her surprise when she found that every circumstance related by Mrs.
  • Jennings was perfectly true. Marianne was quite angry with her for doubtin_t.
  • "Why should you imagine, Elinor, that we did not go there, or that we did no_ee the house? Is not it what you have often wished to do yourself?"
  • "Yes, Marianne, but I would not go while Mrs. Smith was there, and with n_ther companion than Mr. Willoughby."
  • "Mr. Willoughby however is the only person who can have a right to shew tha_ouse; and as he went in an open carriage, it was impossible to have any othe_ompanion. I never spent a pleasanter morning in my life."
  • "I am afraid," replied Elinor, "that the pleasantness of an employment doe_ot always evince its propriety."
  • "On the contrary, nothing can be a stronger proof of it, Elinor; for if ther_ad been any real impropriety in what I did, I should have been sensible of i_t the time, for we always know when we are acting wrong, and with such _onviction I could have had no pleasure."
  • "But, my dear Marianne, as it has already exposed you to some very impertinen_emarks, do you not now begin to doubt the discretion of your own conduct?"
  • "If the impertinent remarks of Mrs. Jennings are to be the proof o_mpropriety in conduct, we are all offending every moment of our lives. _alue not her censure any more than I should do her commendation. I am no_ensible of having done anything wrong in walking over Mrs. Smith's grounds, or in seeing her house. They will one day be Mr. Willoughby's, and—"
  • "If they were one day to be your own, Marianne, you would not be justified i_hat you have done."
  • She blushed at this hint; but it was even visibly gratifying to her; and afte_ ten minutes' interval of earnest thought, she came to her sister again, an_aid with great good humour, "Perhaps, Elinor, it WAS rather ill-judged in m_o go to Allenham; but Mr. Willoughby wanted particularly to shew me th_lace; and it is a charming house, I assure you.—There is one remarkabl_retty sitting room up stairs; of a nice comfortable size for constant use, and with modern furniture it would be delightful. It is a corner room, and ha_indows on two sides. On one side you look across the bowling-green, behin_he house, to a beautiful hanging wood, and on the other you have a view o_he church and village, and, beyond them, of those fine bold hills that w_ave so often admired. I did not see it to advantage, for nothing could b_ore forlorn than the furniture,—but if it were newly fitted up—a couple o_undred pounds, Willoughby says, would make it one of the pleasantest summer- rooms in England."
  • Could Elinor have listened to her without interruption from the others, sh_ould have described every room in the house with equal delight.