Elinor now found the difference between the expectation of an unpleasan_vent, however certain the mind may be told to consider it, and certaint_tself. She now found, that in spite of herself, she had always admitted _ope, while Edward remained single, that something would occur to prevent hi_arrying Lucy; that some resolution of his own, some mediation of friends, o_ome more eligible opportunity of establishment for the lady, would arise t_ssist the happiness of all. But he was now married; and she condemned he_eart for the lurking flattery, which so much heightened the pain of th_ntelligence.
That he should be married soon, before (as she imagined) he could be i_rders, and consequently before he could be in possession of the living,
surprised her a little at first. But she soon saw how likely it was that Lucy,
in her self-provident care, in her haste to secure him, should overlook ever_hing but the risk of delay. They were married, married in town, and no_astening down to her uncle's. What had Edward felt on being within four mile_rom Barton, on seeing her mother's servant, on hearing Lucy's message!
They would soon, she supposed, be settled at Delaford.—Delaford,—that place i_hich so much conspired to give her an interest; which she wished to b_cquainted with, and yet desired to avoid. She saw them in an instant in thei_arsonage-house; saw in Lucy, the active, contriving manager, uniting at onc_ desire of smart appearance with the utmost frugality, and ashamed to b_uspected of half her economical practices;— pursuing her own interest i_very thought, courting the favour of Colonel Brandon, of Mrs. Jennings, an_f every wealthy friend. In Edward—she knew not what she saw, nor what sh_ished to see;—happy or unhappy,—nothing pleased her; she turned away her hea_rom every sketch of him.
Elinor flattered herself that some one of their connections in London woul_rite to them to announce the event, and give farther particulars,—but da_fter day passed off, and brought no letter, no tidings. Though uncertain tha_ny one were to blame, she found fault with every absent friend. They were al_houghtless or indolent.
"When do you write to Colonel Brandon, ma'am?" was an inquiry which sprun_rom the impatience of her mind to have something going on.
"I wrote to him, my love, last week, and rather expect to see, than to hea_rom him again. I earnestly pressed his coming to us, and should not b_urprised to see him walk in today or tomorrow, or any day."
This was gaining something, something to look forward to. Colonel Brandon mus_ave some information to give.
Scarcely had she so determined it, when the figure of a man on horseback dre_er eyes to the window. He stopt at their gate. It was a gentleman, it wa_olonel Brandon himself. Now she could hear more; and she trembled i_xpectation of it. But—it was NOT Colonel Brandon—neither his air—nor hi_eight. Were it possible, she must say it must be Edward. She looked again. H_ad just dismounted;—she could not be mistaken,—it WAS Edward. She moved awa_nd sat down. "He comes from Mr. Pratt's purposely to see us. I WILL be calm;
I WILL be mistress of myself."
In a moment she perceived that the others were likewise aware of the mistake.
She saw her mother and Marianne change colour; saw them look at herself, an_hisper a few sentences to each other. She would have given the world to b_ble to speak—and to make them understand that she hoped no coolness, n_light, would appear in their behaviour to him;—but she had no utterance, an_as obliged to leave all to their own discretion.
Not a syllable passed aloud. They all waited in silence for the appearance o_heir visitor. His footsteps were heard along the gravel path; in a moment h_as in the passage, and in another he was before them.
His countenance, as he entered the room, was not too happy, even for Elinor.
His complexion was white with agitation, and he looked as if fearful of hi_eception, and conscious that he merited no kind one. Mrs. Dashwood, however,
conforming, as she trusted, to the wishes of that daughter, by whom she the_eant in the warmth of her heart to be guided in every thing, met with a loo_f forced complacency, gave him her hand, and wished him joy.
He coloured, and stammered out an unintelligible reply. Elinor's lips ha_oved with her mother's, and, when the moment of action was over, she wishe_hat she had shaken hands with him too. But it was then too late, and with _ountenance meaning to be open, she sat down again and talked of the weather.
Marianne had retreated as much as possible out of sight, to conceal he_istress; and Margaret, understanding some part, but not the whole of th_ase, thought it incumbent on her to be dignified, and therefore took a sea_s far from him as she could, and maintained a strict silence.
When Elinor had ceased to rejoice in the dryness of the season, a very awfu_ause took place. It was put an end to by Mrs. Dashwood, who felt obliged t_ope that he had left Mrs. Ferrars very well. In a hurried manner, he replie_n the affirmative.
Elinor resolving to exert herself, though fearing the sound of her own voice,
"Is Mrs. Ferrars at Longstaple?"
"At Longstaple!" he replied, with an air of surprise.— "No, my mother is i_own."
"I meant," said Elinor, taking up some work from the table, "to inquire fo_rs. EDWARD Ferrars."
She dared not look up;—but her mother and Marianne both turned their eyes o_im. He coloured, seemed perplexed, looked doubtingly, and, after som_esitation, said,—
"Perhaps you mean—my brother—you mean Mrs.—Mrs. ROBERT Ferrars."
"Mrs. Robert Ferrars!"—was repeated by Marianne and her mother in an accent o_he utmost amazement;—and though Elinor could not speak, even HER eyes wer_ixed on him with the same impatient wonder. He rose from his seat, and walke_o the window, apparently from not knowing what to do; took up a pair o_cissors that lay there, and while spoiling both them and their sheath b_utting the latter to pieces as he spoke, said, in a hurried voice,
"Perhaps you do not know—you may not have heard that my brother is latel_arried to—to the youngest—to Miss Lucy Steele."
His words were echoed with unspeakable astonishment by all but Elinor, who sa_ith her head leaning over her work, in a state of such agitation as made he_ardly know where she was.
"Yes," said he, "they were married last week, and are now at Dawlish."
Elinor could sit it no longer. She almost ran out of the room, and as soon a_he door was closed, burst into tears of joy, which at first she thought woul_ever cease. Edward, who had till then looked any where, rather than at her,
saw her hurry away, and perhaps saw— or even heard, her emotion; fo_mmediately afterwards he fell into a reverie, which no remarks, no inquiries,
no affectionate address of Mrs. Dashwood could penetrate, and at last, withou_aying a word, quitted the room, and walked out towards the village—leavin_he others in the greatest astonishment and perplexity on a change in hi_ituation, so wonderful and so sudden;—a perplexity which they had no means o_essening but by their own conjectures.