Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Chapter 40

  • "Well, Miss Dashwood," said Mrs. Jennings, sagaciously smiling, as soon as th_entleman had withdrawn, "I do not ask you what the Colonel has been saying t_ou; for though, upon my honour, I TRIED to keep out of hearing, I could no_elp catching enough to understand his business. And I assure you I never wa_etter pleased in my life, and I wish you joy of it with all my heart."
  • "Thank you, ma'am," said Elinor. "It is a matter of great joy to me; and _eel the goodness of Colonel Brandon most sensibly. There are not many men wh_ould act as he has done. Few people who have so compassionate a heart! _ever was more astonished in my life."
  • "Lord! my dear, you are very modest. I an't the least astonished at it in th_orld, for I have often thought of late, there was nothing more likely t_appen."
  • "You judged from your knowledge of the Colonel's general benevolence; but a_east you could not foresee that the opportunity would so very soon occur."
  • "Opportunity!" repeated Mrs. Jennings—"Oh! as to that, when a man has onc_ade up his mind to such a thing, somehow or other he will soon find a_pportunity. Well, my dear, I wish you joy of it again and again; and if eve_here was a happy couple in the world, I think I shall soon know where to loo_or them."
  • "You mean to go to Delaford after them I suppose," said Elinor, with a fain_mile.
  • "Aye, my dear, that I do, indeed. And as to the house being a bad one, I d_ot know what the Colonel would be at, for it is as good a one as ever I saw."
  • "He spoke of its being out of repair."
  • "Well, and whose fault is that? why don't he repair it?— who should do it bu_imself?"
  • They were interrupted by the servant's coming in to announce the carriag_eing at the door; and Mrs. Jennings immediately preparing to go, said,—
  • "Well, my dear, I must be gone before I have had half my talk out. But, however, we may have it all over in the evening; for we shall be quite alone.
  • I do not ask you to go with me, for I dare say your mind is too full of th_atter to care for company; and besides, you must long to tell your sister al_bout it."
  • Marianne had left the room before the conversation began.
  • "Certainly, ma'am, I shall tell Marianne of it; but I shall not mention it a_resent to any body else."
  • "Oh! very well," said Mrs. Jennings rather disappointed. "Then you would no_ave me tell it to Lucy, for I think of going as far as Holborn to-day."
  • "No, ma'am, not even Lucy if you please. One day's delay will not be ver_aterial; and till I have written to Mr. Ferrars, I think it ought not to b_entioned to any body else. I shall do THAT directly. It is of importance tha_o time should be lost with him, for he will of course have much to d_elative to his ordination."
  • This speech at first puzzled Mrs. Jennings exceedingly. Why Mr. Ferrars was t_ave been written to about it in such a hurry, she could not immediatel_omprehend. A few moments' reflection, however, produced a very happy idea, and she exclaimed;—
  • "Oh, ho!—I understand you. Mr. Ferrars is to be the man. Well, so much th_etter for him. Ay, to be sure, he must be ordained in readiness; and I a_ery glad to find things are so forward between you. But, my dear, is not thi_ather out of character? Should not the Colonel write himself?—sure, he is th_roper person."
  • Elinor did not quite understand the beginning of Mrs. Jennings's speech, neither did she think it worth inquiring into; and therefore only replied t_ts conclusion.
  • "Colonel Brandon is so delicate a man, that he rather wished any one t_nnounce his intentions to Mr. Ferrars than himself."
  • "And so YOU are forced to do it. Well THAT is an odd kind of delicacy!
  • However, I will not disturb you (seeing her preparing to write.) You know you_wn concerns best. So goodby, my dear. I have not heard of any thing to pleas_e so well since Charlotte was brought to bed."
  • And away she went; but returning again in a moment,
  • "I have just been thinking of Betty's sister, my dear. I should be very gla_o get her so good a mistress. But whether she would do for a lady's maid, _m sure I can't tell. She is an excellent housemaid, and works very well a_er needle. However, you will think of all that at your leisure."
  • "Certainly, ma'am," replied Elinor, not hearing much of what she said, an_ore anxious to be alone, than to be mistress of the subject.
  • How she should begin—how she should express herself in her note to Edward, wa_ow all her concern. The particular circumstances between them made _ifficulty of that which to any other person would have been the easiest thin_n the world; but she equally feared to say too much or too little, and sa_eliberating over her paper, with the pen in her hand, till broken in on b_he entrance of Edward himself.
  • He had met Mrs. Jennings at the door in her way to the carriage, as he came t_eave his farewell card; and she, after apologising for not returning herself, had obliged him to enter, by saying that Miss Dashwood was above, and wante_o speak with him on very particular business.
  • Elinor had just been congratulating herself, in the midst of her perplexity, that however difficult it might be to express herself properly by letter, i_as at least preferable to giving the information by word of mouth, when he_isitor entered, to force her upon this greatest exertion of all. He_stonishment and confusion were very great on his so sudden appearance. Sh_ad not seen him before since his engagement became public, and therefore no_ince his knowing her to be acquainted with it; which, with the consciousnes_f what she had been thinking of, and what she had to tell him, made her fee_articularly uncomfortable for some minutes. He too was much distressed; an_hey sat down together in a most promising state of embarrassment.—Whether h_ad asked her pardon for his intrusion on first coming into the room, he coul_ot recollect; but determining to be on the safe side, he made his apology i_orm as soon as he could say any thing, after taking a chair.
  • "Mrs. Jennings told me," said he, "that you wished to speak with me, at leas_ understood her so—or I certainly should not have intruded on you in such _anner; though at the same time, I should have been extremely sorry to leav_ondon without seeing you and your sister; especially as it will most likel_e some time—it is not probable that I should soon have the pleasure o_eeting you again. I go to Oxford tomorrow."
  • "You would not have gone, however," said Elinor, recovering herself, an_etermined to get over what she so much dreaded as soon as possible, "withou_eceiving our good wishes, even if we had not been able to give them i_erson. Mrs. Jennings was quite right in what she said. I have something o_onsequence to inform you of, which I was on the point of communicating b_aper. I am charged with a most agreeable office (breathing rather faster tha_sual as she spoke.) Colonel Brandon, who was here only ten minutes ago, ha_esired me to say, that understanding you mean to take orders, he has grea_leasure in offering you the living of Delaford now just vacant, and onl_ishes it were more valuable. Allow me to congratulate you on having s_espectable and well-judging a friend, and to join in his wish that th_iving—it is about two hundred a-year—were much more considerable, and such a_ight better enable you to—as might be more than a temporary accommodation t_ourself—such, in short, as might establish all your views of happiness."
  • What Edward felt, as he could not say it himself, it cannot be expected tha_ny one else should say for him. He LOOKED all the astonishment which suc_nexpected, such unthought-of information could not fail of exciting; but h_aid only these two words,
  • "Colonel Brandon!"
  • "Yes," continued Elinor, gathering more resolution, as some of the worst wa_ver, "Colonel Brandon means it as a testimony of his concern for what ha_ately passed—for the cruel situation in which the unjustifiable conduct o_our family has placed you—a concern which I am sure Marianne, myself, and al_our friends, must share; and likewise as a proof of his high esteem for you_eneral character, and his particular approbation of your behaviour on th_resent occasion."
  • "Colonel Brandon give ME a living!—Can it be possible?"
  • "The unkindness of your own relations has made you astonished to fin_riendship any where."
  • "No," replied be, with sudden consciousness, "not to find it in YOU; for _annot be ignorant that to you, to your goodness, I owe it all.—I feel it—_ould express it if I could—but, as you well know, I am no orator."
  • "You are very much mistaken. I do assure you that you owe it entirely, a_east almost entirely, to your own merit, and Colonel Brandon's discernment o_t. I have had no hand in it. I did not even know, till I understood hi_esign, that the living was vacant; nor had it ever occurred to me that h_ight have had such a living in his gift. As a friend of mine, of my family, he may, perhaps—indeed I know he HAS, still greater pleasure in bestowing it; but, upon my word, you owe nothing to my solicitation."
  • Truth obliged her to acknowledge some small share in the action, but she wa_t the same time so unwilling to appear as the benefactress of Edward, tha_he acknowledged it with hesitation; which probably contributed to fix tha_uspicion in his mind which had recently entered it. For a short time he sa_eep in thought, after Elinor had ceased to speak;—at last, and as if it wer_ather an effort, he said,
  • "Colonel Brandon seems a man of great worth and respectability. I have alway_eard him spoken of as such, and your brother I know esteems him highly. He i_ndoubtedly a sensible man, and in his manners perfectly the gentleman."
  • "Indeed," replied Elinor, "I believe that you will find him, on farthe_cquaintance, all that you have heard him to be, and as you will be such ver_ear neighbours (for I understand the parsonage is almost close to th_ansion-house,) it is particularly important that he SHOULD be all this."
  • Edward made no answer; but when she had turned away her head, gave her a loo_o serious, so earnest, so uncheerful, as seemed to say, that he migh_ereafter wish the distance between the parsonage and the mansion-house muc_reater.
  • "Colonel Brandon, I think, lodges in St. James Street," said he, soo_fterwards, rising from his chair.
  • Elinor told him the number of the house.
  • "I must hurry away then, to give him those thanks which you will not allow m_o give YOU; to assure him that he has made me a very—an exceedingly happ_an."
  • Elinor did not offer to detain him; and they parted, with a very earnes_ssurance on HER side of her unceasing good wishes for his happiness in ever_hange of situation that might befall him; on HIS, with rather an attempt t_eturn the same good will, than the power of expressing it.
  • "When I see him again," said Elinor to herself, as the door shut him out, "_hall see him the husband of Lucy."
  • And with this pleasing anticipation, she sat down to reconsider the past, recall the words and endeavour to comprehend all the feelings of Edward; and, of course, to reflect on her own with discontent.
  • When Mrs. Jennings came home, though she returned from seeing people whom sh_ad never seen before, and of whom therefore she must have a great deal t_ay, her mind was so much more occupied by the important secret in he_ossession, than by anything else, that she reverted to it again as soon a_linor appeared.
  • "Well, my dear," she cried, "I sent you up to the young man. Did not I d_ight?—And I suppose you had no great difficulty—You did not find him ver_nwilling to accept your proposal?"
  • "No, ma'am; THAT was not very likely."
  • "Well, and how soon will he be ready?—For it seems all to depend upon that."
  • "Really," said Elinor, "I know so little of these kind of forms, that I ca_ardly even conjecture as to the time, or the preparation necessary; but _uppose two or three months will complete his ordination."
  • "Two or three months!" cried Mrs. Jennings; "Lord! my dear, how calmly yo_alk of it; and can the Colonel wait two or three months! Lord bless me!—I a_ure it would put ME quite out of patience!—And though one would be very gla_o do a kindness by poor Mr. Ferrars, I do think it is not worth while to wai_wo or three months for him. Sure somebody else might be found that would d_s well; somebody that is in orders already."
  • "My dear ma'am," said Elinor, "what can you be thinking of?— Why, Colone_randon's only object is to be of use to Mr. Ferrars."
  • "Lord bless you, my dear!—Sure you do not mean to persuade me that the Colone_nly marries you for the sake of giving ten guineas to Mr. Ferrars!"
  • The deception could not continue after this; and an explanation immediatel_ook place, by which both gained considerable amusement for the moment, without any material loss of happiness to either, for Mrs. Jennings onl_xchanged one form of delight for another, and still without forfeiting he_xpectation of the first.
  • "Aye, aye, the parsonage is but a small one," said she, after the firs_bullition of surprise and satisfaction was over, "and very likely MAY be ou_f repair; but to hear a man apologising, as I thought, for a house that to m_nowledge has five sitting rooms on the ground-floor, and I think th_ousekeeper told me could make up fifteen beds!— and to you too, that had bee_sed to live in Barton cottage!— It seems quite ridiculous. But, my dear, w_ust touch up the Colonel to do some thing to the parsonage, and make i_omfortable for them, before Lucy goes to it."
  • "But Colonel Brandon does not seem to have any idea of the living's bein_nough to allow them to marry."
  • "The Colonel is a ninny, my dear; because he has two thousand a-year himself, he thinks that nobody else can marry on less. Take my word for it, that, if _m alive, I shall be paying a visit at Delaford Parsonage before Michaelmas; and I am sure I shan't go if Lucy an't there."
  • Elinor was quite of her opinion, as to the probability of their not waitin_or any thing more.