"Poor soul!" cried Mrs. Jennings, as soon as she was gone,
"how it grieves me to see her! And I declare if she is
not gone away without finishing her wine! And the dried
cherries too! Lord! nothing seems to do her any good.
I am sure if I knew of any thing she would like, I would
send all over the town for it. Well, it is the oddest
thing to me, that a man should use such a pretty girl
so ill! But when there is plenty of money on one side,
and next to none on the other, Lord bless you! they care
no more about such things!--"
"The lady then--Miss Grey I think you called her--
is very rich?"
"Fifty thousand pounds, my dear. Did you ever see
her? a smart, stylish girl they say, but not handsome.
I remember her aunt very well, Biddy Henshawe; she married
a very wealthy man. But the family are all rich together.
Fifty thousand pounds! and by all accounts, it won't come
before it's wanted; for they say he is all to pieces.
No wonder! dashing about with his curricle and hunters!
Well, it don't signify talking; but when a young man,
be who he will, comes and makes love to a pretty girl,
and promises marriage, he has no business to fly off
from his word only because he grows poor, and a richer
girl is ready to have him. Why don't he, in such a case,
sell his horses, let his house, turn off his servants,
and make a thorough reform at once? I warrant you,
Miss Marianne would have been ready to wait till matters
came round. But that won't do now-a-days; nothing in the
way of pleasure can ever be given up by the young men of
"Do you know what kind of a girl Miss Grey is?
Is she said to be amiable?"
"I never heard any harm of her; indeed I hardly ever
heard her mentioned; except that Mrs. Taylor did say
this morning, that one day Miss Walker hinted to her,
that she believed Mr. and Mrs. Ellison would not be sorry
to have Miss Grey married, for she and Mrs. Ellison could
"And who are the Ellisons?"
"Her guardians, my dear. But now she is of age
and may choose for herself; and a pretty choice she has
made!--What now," after pausing a moment--"your poor sister
is gone to her own room, I suppose, to moan by herself.
Is there nothing one can get to comfort her? Poor dear,
it seems quite cruel to let her be alone. Well, by-and-by we
shall have a few friends, and that will amuse her a little.
What shall we play at? She hates whist I know; but is there
no round game she cares for?"
"Dear ma'am, this kindness is quite unnecessary.
Marianne, I dare say, will not leave her room again
this evening. I shall persuade her if I can to go
early to bed, for I am sure she wants rest."
"Aye, I believe that will be best for her. Let her name
her own supper, and go to bed. Lord! no wonder she has
been looking so bad and so cast down this last week or two,
for this matter I suppose has been hanging over her head as
long as that. And so the letter that came today finished it!
Poor soul! I am sure if I had had a notion of it,
I would not have joked her about it for all my money.
But then you know, how should I guess such a thing? I made
sure of its being nothing but a common love letter, and
you know young people like to be laughed at about them. Lord!
how concerned Sir John and my daughters will be when they
hear it! If I had my senses about me I might have called
in Conduit Street in my way home, and told them of it.
But I shall see them tomorrow."
"It would be unnecessary I am sure, for you to caution
Mrs. Palmer and Sir John against ever naming Mr. Willoughby,
or making the slightest allusion to what has passed,
before my sister. Their own good-nature must point out
to them the real cruelty of appearing to know any thing
about it when she is present; and the less that may ever
be said to myself on the subject, the more my feelings
will be spared, as you my dear madam will easily believe."
"Oh! Lord! yes, that I do indeed. It must be terrible
for you to hear it talked of; and as for your sister,
I am sure I would not mention a word about it to her
for the world. You saw I did not all dinner time.
No more would Sir John, nor my daughters, for they are
all very thoughtful and considerate; especially if I
give them a hint, as I certainly will. For my part,
I think the less that is said about such things, the better,
the sooner 'tis blown over and forgot. And what does
talking ever do you know?"
"In this affair it can only do harm; more so
perhaps than in many cases of a similar kind, for it
has been attended by circumstances which, for the sake
of every one concerned in it, make it unfit to become
the public conversation. I must do THIS justice to
Mr. Willoughby--he has broken no positive engagement
with my sister."
"Law, my dear! Don't pretend to defend him.
No positive engagement indeed! after taking her all
over Allenham House, and fixing on the very rooms they
were to live in hereafter!"
Elinor, for her sister's sake, could not press the
subject farther, and she hoped it was not required of her
for Willoughby's; since, though Marianne might lose much,
he could gain very little by the enforcement of the real truth.
After a short silence on both sides, Mrs. Jennings,
with all her natural hilarity, burst forth again.
"Well, my dear, 'tis a true saying about an ill-wind,
for it will be all the better for Colonel Brandon.
He will have her at last; aye, that he will. Mind me,
now, if they an't married by Mid-summer. Lord! how he'll
chuckle over this news! I hope he will come tonight.
It will be all to one a better match for your sister.
Two thousand a year without debt or drawback--except
the little love-child, indeed; aye, I had forgot her;
but she may be 'prenticed out at a small cost, and then
what does it signify? Delaford is a nice place, I can
tell you; exactly what I call a nice old fashioned place,
full of comforts and conveniences; quite shut in with great
garden walls that are covered with the best fruit-trees
in the country; and such a mulberry tree in one corner!
Lord! how Charlotte and I did stuff the only time we
were there! Then, there is a dove-cote, some delightful
stew-ponds, and a very pretty canal; and every thing,
in short, that one could wish for; and, moreover, it is
close to the church, and only a quarter of a mile from
the turnpike-road, so 'tis never dull, for if you only
go and sit up in an old yew arbour behind the house,
you may see all the carriages that pass along.
Oh! 'tis a nice place! A butcher hard by in the village,
and the parsonage-house within a stone's throw.
To my fancy, a thousand times prettier than Barton Park,
where they are forced to send three miles for their meat,
and have not a neighbour nearer than your mother.
Well, I shall spirit up the Colonel as soon as I can.
One shoulder of mutton, you know, drives another down.
If we CAN but put Willoughby out of her head!"
"Ay, if we can do THAT, Ma'am," said Elinor,
"we shall do very well with or without Colonel Brandon."
And then rising, she went away to join Marianne,
whom she found, as she expected, in her own room, leaning,
in silent misery, over the small remains of a fire,
which, till Elinor's entrance, had been her only light.
"You had better leave me," was all the notice
that her sister received from her.
"I will leave you," said Elinor, "if you will go
to bed." But this, from the momentary perverseness
of impatient suffering, she at first refused to do.
Her sister's earnest, though gentle persuasion, however,
soon softened her to compliance, and Elinor saw her
lay her aching head on the pillow, and as she hoped,
in a way to get some quiet rest before she left her.
In the drawing-room, whither she then repaired,
she was soon joined by Mrs. Jennings, with a wine-glass,
full of something, in her hand.
"My dear," said she, entering, "I have just recollected
that I have some of the finest old Constantia wine in the
house that ever was tasted, so I have brought a glass of it
for your sister. My poor husband! how fond he was of it!
Whenever he had a touch of his old colicky gout, he said
it did him more good than any thing else in the world.
Do take it to your sister."
"Dear Ma'am," replied Elinor, smiling at the difference
of the complaints for which it was recommended, "how good
you are! But I have just left Marianne in bed, and, I hope,
almost asleep; and as I think nothing will be of so much
service to her as rest, if you will give me leave,
I will drink the wine myself."
Mrs. Jennings, though regretting that she had not been
five minutes earlier, was satisfied with the compromise;
and Elinor, as she swallowed the chief of it, reflected,
that though its effects on a colicky gout were, at present,
of little importance to her, its healing powers,
on a disappointed heart might be as reasonably tried
on herself as on her sister.
Colonel Brandon came in while the party were at tea,
and by his manner of looking round the room for Marianne,
Elinor immediately fancied that he neither expected
nor wished to see her there, and, in short, that he
was already aware of what occasioned her absence.
Mrs. Jennings was not struck by the same thought;
for soon after his entrance, she walked across the room
to the tea-table where Elinor presided, and whispered--
"The Colonel looks as grave as ever you see. He knows
nothing of it; do tell him, my dear."
He shortly afterwards drew a chair close to her's,
and, with a look which perfectly assured her of his
good information, inquired after her sister.