Elinor thought this generosity overstrained,
considering her sister's youth, and urged the matter farther,
but in vain; common sense, common care, common prudence,
were all sunk in Mrs. Dashwood's romantic delicacy.
It was several days before Willoughby's name
was mentioned before Marianne by any of her family;
Sir John and Mrs. Jennings, indeed, were not so nice;
their witticisms added pain to many a painful hour;--
but one evening, Mrs. Dashwood, accidentally taking up a
volume of Shakespeare, exclaimed,
"We have never finished Hamlet, Marianne; our dear
Willoughby went away before we could get through it.
We will put it by, that when he comes again...But it may
be months, perhaps, before THAT happens."
"Months!" cried Marianne, with strong surprise.
"No--nor many weeks."
Mrs. Dashwood was sorry for what she had said;
but it gave Elinor pleasure, as it produced a reply
from Marianne so expressive of confidence in Willoughby
and knowledge of his intentions.
One morning, about a week after his leaving the country,
Marianne was prevailed on to join her sisters in their
usual walk, instead of wandering away by herself.
Hitherto she had carefully avoided every companion in
her rambles. If her sisters intended to walk on the downs,
she directly stole away towards the lanes; if they talked
of the valley, she was as speedy in climbing the hills,
and could never be found when the others set off.
But at length she was secured by the exertions of Elinor,
who greatly disapproved such continual seclusion. They walked
along the road through the valley, and chiefly in silence,
for Marianne's MIND could not be controlled, and Elinor,
satisfied with gaining one point, would not then attempt more.
Beyond the entrance of the valley, where the country,
though still rich, was less wild and more open, a long
stretch of the road which they had travelled on first coming
to Barton, lay before them; and on reaching that point,
they stopped to look around them, and examine a prospect
which formed the distance of their view from the cottage,
from a spot which they had never happened to reach in any
of their walks before.
Amongst the objects in the scene, they soon discovered
an animated one; it was a man on horseback riding towards them.
In a few minutes they could distinguish him to be a gentleman;
and in a moment afterwards Marianne rapturously exclaimed,
"It is he; it is indeed;--I know it is!"--and was
hastening to meet him, when Elinor cried out,
"Indeed, Marianne, I think you are mistaken. It is
not Willoughby. The person is not tall enough for him,
and has not his air."
"He has, he has," cried Marianne, "I am sure he has.
His air, his coat, his horse. I knew how soon he would come."
She walked eagerly on as she spoke; and Elinor,
to screen Marianne from particularity, as she felt almost
certain of its not being Willoughby, quickened her
pace and kept up with her. They were soon within
thirty yards of the gentleman. Marianne looked again;
her heart sunk within her; and abruptly turning round,
she was hurrying back, when the voices of both her sisters
were raised to detain her; a third, almost as well known
as Willoughby's, joined them in begging her to stop,
and she turned round with surprise to see and welcome
He was the only person in the world who could
at that moment be forgiven for not being Willoughby;
the only one who could have gained a smile from her;
but she dispersed her tears to smile on HIM, and in her
sister's happiness forgot for a time her own disappointment.
He dismounted, and giving his horse to his servant,
walked back with them to Barton, whither he was purposely
coming to visit them.
He was welcomed by them all with great cordiality,
but especially by Marianne, who showed more warmth of
regard in her reception of him than even Elinor herself.
To Marianne, indeed, the meeting between Edward and her sister
was but a continuation of that unaccountable coldness which she
had often observed at Norland in their mutual behaviour.
On Edward's side, more particularly, there was a deficiency
of all that a lover ought to look and say on such an occasion.
He was confused, seemed scarcely sensible of pleasure
in seeing them, looked neither rapturous nor gay,
said little but what was forced from him by questions,
and distinguished Elinor by no mark of affection.
Marianne saw and listened with increasing surprise.
She began almost to feel a dislike of Edward; and it ended,
as every feeling must end with her, by carrying back her
thoughts to Willoughby, whose manners formed a contrast
sufficiently striking to those of his brother elect.
After a short silence which succeeded the first
surprise and enquiries of meeting, Marianne asked
Edward if he came directly from London. No, he had
been in Devonshire a fortnight.
"A fortnight!" she repeated, surprised at his being
so long in the same county with Elinor without seeing
He looked rather distressed as he added, that he
had been staying with some friends near Plymouth.
"Have you been lately in Sussex?" said Elinor.
"I was at Norland about a month ago."
"And how does dear, dear Norland look?" cried Marianne.
"Dear, dear Norland," said Elinor, "probably looks
much as it always does at this time of the year.
The woods and walks thickly covered with dead leaves."
"Oh," cried Marianne, "with what transporting sensation
have I formerly seen them fall! How have I delighted,
as I walked, to see them driven in showers about me
by the wind! What feelings have they, the season, the air
altogether inspired! Now there is no one to regard them.
They are seen only as a nuisance, swept hastily off,
and driven as much as possible from the sight."
"It is not every one," said Elinor, "who has your
passion for dead leaves."
"No; my feelings are not often shared, not often
understood. But SOMETIMES they are."--As she said this,
she sunk into a reverie for a few moments;--but rousing
herself again, "Now, Edward," said she, calling his attention
to the prospect, "here is Barton valley. Look up to it,
and be tranquil if you can. Look at those hills!
Did you ever see their equals? To the left is Barton park,
amongst those woods and plantations. You may see the end
of the house. And there, beneath that farthest hill,
which rises with such grandeur, is our cottage."
"It is a beautiful country," he replied; "but these
bottoms must be dirty in winter."
"How can you think of dirt, with such objects before you?"
"Because," replied he, smiling, "among the rest of the
objects before me, I see a very dirty lane."
"How strange!" said Marianne to herself as she walked on.
"Have you an agreeable neighbourhood here? Are the
Middletons pleasant people?"
"No, not all," answered Marianne; "we could not
be more unfortunately situated."
"Marianne," cried her sister, "how can you say so? How can
you be so unjust? They are a very respectable family, Mr. Ferrars;
and towards us have behaved in the friendliest manner. Have you
forgot, Marianne, how many pleasant days we have owed to them?"
"No," said Marianne, in a low voice, "nor how many
Elinor took no notice of this; and directing
her attention to their visitor, endeavoured to support
something like discourse with him, by talking of their
present residence, its conveniences, &c. extorting from him
occasional questions and remarks. His coldness and reserve
mortified her severely; she was vexed and half angry;
but resolving to regulate her behaviour to him by the past
rather than the present, she avoided every appearance
of resentment or displeasure, and treated him as she
thought he ought to be treated from the family connection.
Mrs. Dashwood was surprised only for a moment at
seeing him; for his coming to Barton was, in her opinion,
of all things the most natural. Her joy and expression
of regard long outlived her wonder. He received the kindest
welcome from her; and shyness, coldness, reserve could not
stand against such a reception. They had begun to fail him
before he entered the house, and they were quite overcome
by the captivating manners of Mrs. Dashwood. Indeed a man
could not very well be in love with either of her daughters,
without extending the passion to her; and Elinor had the
satisfaction of seeing him soon become more like himself.
His affections seemed to reanimate towards them all,
and his interest in their welfare again became perceptible.
He was not in spirits, however; he praised their house,
admired its prospect, was attentive, and kind; but still
he was not in spirits. The whole family perceived it,
and Mrs. Dashwood, attributing it to some want of liberality
in his mother, sat down to table indignant against all
"What are Mrs. Ferrars's views for you at present, Edward?"
said she, when dinner was over and they had drawn round
the fire; "are you still to be a great orator in spite of yourself?"
"No. I hope my mother is now convinced that I have
no more talents than inclination for a public life!"
"But how is your fame to be established? for famous you
must be to satisfy all your family; and with no inclination
for expense, no affection for strangers, no profession,
and no assurance, you may find it a difficult matter."