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Chapter 45

  • Elinor, for some time after he left her, for some time even after the sound o_is carriage had died away, remained too much oppressed by a crowd of ideas,
  • widely differing in themselves, but of which sadness was the general result,
  • to think even of her sister.
  • Willoughby, he, whom only half an hour ago she had abhorred as the mos_orthless of men, Willoughby, in spite of all his faults, excited a degree o_ommiseration for the sufferings produced by them, which made her think of hi_s now separated for ever from her family, with a tenderness, a regret, rathe_n proportion, as she soon acknowledged within herself—to his wishes than t_is merits. She felt that his influence over her mind was heightened b_ircumstances which ought not in reason to have weight; by that person o_ncommon attraction, that open, affectionate, and lively manner which it wa_o merit to possess; and by that still ardent love for Marianne, which it wa_ot even innocent to indulge. But she felt that it was so, long, long befor_he could feel his influence less.
  • When at last she returned to the unconscious Marianne, she found her jus_waking, refreshed by so long and sweet a sleep to the extent of her hopes.
  • Elinor's heart was full. The past, the present, the future, Willoughby'_isit, Marianne's safety, and her mother's expected arrival, threw he_ltogether into an agitation of spirits which kept off every indication o_atigue, and made her only fearful of betraying herself to her sister. Shor_as the time, however, in which that fear could affect her, for within half a_our after Willoughby's leaving the house, she was again called down stairs b_he sound of another carriage.—Eager to save her mother from every unnecessar_oment's horrible suspense, she ran immediately into the hall, and reached th_utward door just in time to receive and support her as she entered it.
  • Mrs. Dashwood, whose terror as they drew near the house had produced almos_he conviction of Marianne's being no more, had no voice to inquire after her,
  • no voice even for Elinor; but SHE, waiting neither for salutation nor inquiry,
  • instantly gave the joyful relief;— and her mother, catching it with all he_sual warmth, was in a moment as much overcome by her happiness, as she ha_een before by her fears. She was supported into the drawing-room between he_aughter and her friend;— and there, shedding tears of joy, though stil_nable to speak, embraced Elinor again and again, turning from her a_ntervals to press Colonel Brandon's hand, with a look which spoke at once he_ratitude, and her conviction of his sharing with herself in the bliss of th_oment. He shared it, however, in a silence even greater than her own.
  • As soon as Mrs. Dashwood had recovered herself, to see Marianne was her firs_esire; and in two minutes she was with her beloved child, rendered dearer t_er than ever by absence, unhappiness, and danger. Elinor's delight, as sh_aw what each felt in the meeting, was only checked by an apprehension of it_obbing Marianne of farther sleep;— but Mrs. Dashwood could be calm, could b_ven prudent, when the life of a child was at stake, and Marianne, satisfie_n knowing her mother was near her, and conscious of being too weak fo_onversation, submitted readily to the silence and quiet prescribed by ever_urse around her. Mrs. Dashwood WOULD sit up with her all night; and Elinor,
  • in compliance with her mother's entreaty, went to bed. But the rest, which on_ight entirely sleepless, and many hours of the most wearing anxiety seemed t_ake requisite, was kept off by irritation of spirits. Willoughby, "poo_illoughby," as she now allowed herself to call him, was constantly in he_houghts; she would not but have heard his vindication for the world, and no_lamed, now acquitted herself for having judged him so harshly before. But he_romise of relating it to her sister was invariably painful. She dreaded th_erformance of it, dreaded what its effect on Marianne might be; doubte_hether after such an explanation she could ever be happy with another; an_or a moment wished Willoughby a widower. Then, remembering Colonel Brandon,
  • reproved herself, felt that to HIS sufferings and his constancy far more tha_o his rival's, the reward of her sister was due, and wished any thing rathe_han Mrs. Willoughby's death.
  • The shock of Colonel Brandon's errand at Barton had been much softened to Mrs.
  • Dashwood by her own previous alarm; for so great was her uneasiness abou_arianne, that she had already determined to set out for Cleveland on tha_ery day, without waiting for any further intelligence, and had so far settle_er journey before his arrival, that the Careys were then expected ever_oment to fetch Margaret away, as her mother was unwilling to take her wher_here might be infection.
  • Marianne continued to mend every day, and the brilliant cheerfulness of Mrs.
  • Dashwood's looks and spirits proved her to be, as she repeatedly declare_erself, one of the happiest women in the world. Elinor could not hear th_eclaration, nor witness its proofs without sometimes wondering whether he_other ever recollected Edward. But Mrs. Dashwood, trusting to the temperat_ccount of her own disappointment which Elinor had sent her, was led away b_he exuberance of her joy to think only of what would increase it. Mariann_as restored to her from a danger in which, as she now began to feel, her ow_istaken judgment in encouraging the unfortunate attachment to Willoughby, ha_ontributed to place her;— and in her recovery she had yet another source o_oy unthought of by Elinor. It was thus imparted to her, as soon as an_pportunity of private conference between them occurred.
  • "At last we are alone. My Elinor, you do not yet know all my happiness.
  • Colonel Brandon loves Marianne. He has told me so himself."
  • Her daughter, feeling by turns both pleased and pained, surprised and no_urprised, was all silent attention.
  • "You are never like me, dear Elinor, or I should wonder at your composure now.
  • Had I sat down to wish for any possible good to my family, I should have fixe_n Colonel Brandon's marrying one of you as the object most desirable. And _elieve Marianne will be the most happy with him of the two."
  • Elinor was half inclined to ask her reason for thinking so, because satisfie_hat none founded on an impartial consideration of their age, characters, o_eelings, could be given;—but her mother must always be carried away by he_magination on any interesting subject, and therefore instead of an inquiry,
  • she passed it off with a smile.
  • "He opened his whole heart to me yesterday as we travelled. It came out quit_nawares, quite undesignedly. I, you may well believe, could talk of nothin_ut my child;—he could not conceal his distress; I saw that it equalled m_wn, and he perhaps, thinking that mere friendship, as the world now goes,
  • would not justify so warm a sympathy—or rather, not thinking at all, _uppose—giving way to irresistible feelings, made me acquainted with hi_arnest, tender, constant, affection for Marianne. He has loved her, m_linor, ever since the first moment of seeing her."
  • Here, however, Elinor perceived,—not the language, not the professions o_olonel Brandon, but the natural embellishments of her mother's active fancy,
  • which fashioned every thing delightful to her as it chose.
  • "His regard for her, infinitely surpassing anything that Willoughby ever fel_r feigned, as much more warm, as more sincere or constant—which ever we ar_o call it— has subsisted through all the knowledge of dear Marianne's unhapp_repossession for that worthless young man!—and without selfishness—withou_ncouraging a hope!—could he have seen her happy with another—Such a nobl_ind!— such openness, such sincerity!—no one can be deceived in HIM."
  • "Colonel Brandon's character," said Elinor, "as an excellent man, is wel_stablished."
  • "I know it is"—replied her mother seriously, "or after such a warning, _hould be the last to encourage such affection, or even to be pleased by it.
  • But his coming for me as he did, with such active, such ready friendship, i_nough to prove him one of the worthiest of men."
  • "His character, however," answered Elinor, "does not rest on ONE act o_indness, to which his affection for Marianne, were humanity out of the case,
  • would have prompted him. To Mrs. Jennings, to the Middletons, he has been lon_nd intimately known; they equally love and respect him; and even my ow_nowledge of him, though lately acquired, is very considerable; and so highl_o I value and esteem him, that if Marianne can be happy with him, I shall b_s ready as yourself to think our connection the greatest blessing to us i_he world. What answer did you give him?—Did you allow him to hope?"
  • "Oh! my love, I could not then talk of hope to him or to myself. Mariann_ight at that moment be dying. But he did not ask for hope or encouragement.
  • His was an involuntary confidence, an irrepressible effusion to a soothin_riend—not an application to a parent. Yet after a time I DID say, for a_irst I was quite overcome—that if she lived, as I trusted she might, m_reatest happiness would lie in promoting their marriage; and since ou_rrival, since our delightful security, I have repeated it to him more fully,
  • have given him every encouragement in my power. Time, a very little time, _ell him, will do everything;—Marianne's heart is not to be wasted for ever o_uch a man as Willoughby.— His own merits must soon secure it."
  • "To judge from the Colonel's spirits, however, you have not yet made hi_qually sanguine."
  • "No.—He thinks Marianne's affection too deeply rooted for any change in i_nder a great length of time, and even supposing her heart again free, is to_iffident of himself to believe, that with such a difference of age an_isposition he could ever attach her. There, however, he is quite mistaken.
  • His age is only so much beyond hers as to be an advantage, as to make hi_haracter and principles fixed;—and his disposition, I am well convinced, i_xactly the very one to make your sister happy. And his person, his manner_oo, are all in his favour. My partiality does not blind me; he certainly i_ot so handsome as Willoughby—but at the same time, there is something muc_ore pleasing in his countenance.— There was always a something,—if yo_emember,—in Willoughby's eyes at times, which I did not like."
  • Elinor could NOT remember it;—but her mother, without waiting for her assent,
  • continued,
  • "And his manners, the Colonel's manners are not only more pleasing to me tha_illoughby's ever were, but they are of a kind I well know to be more solidl_ttaching to Marianne. Their gentleness, their genuine attention to othe_eople, and their manly unstudied simplicity is much more accordant with he_eal disposition, than the liveliness—often artificial, and often ill-timed o_he other. I am very sure myself, that had Willoughby turned out as reall_miable, as he has proved himself the contrary, Marianne would yet never hav_een so happy with HIM, as she will be with Colonel Brandon."
  • She paused.—Her daughter could not quite agree with her, but her dissent wa_ot heard, and therefore gave no offence.
  • "At Delaford, she will be within an easy distance of me," added Mrs. Dashwood,
  • "even if I remain at Barton; and in all probability,—for I hear it is a larg_illage,—indeed there certainly MUST be some small house or cottage close by,
  • that would suit us quite as well as our present situation."
  • Poor Elinor!—here was a new scheme for getting her to Delaford!—but her spiri_as stubborn.
  • "His fortune too!—for at my time of life you know, everybody cares abou_HAT;—and though I neither know nor desire to know, what it really is, I a_ure it must be a good one."
  • Here they were interrupted by the entrance of a third person, and Elino_ithdrew to think it all over in private, to wish success to her friend, an_et in wishing it, to feel a pang for Willoughby.