"Oh, if that's all," cried Miss Steele, "we can
just as well go and see HER."
Elinor began to find this impertinence too much for
her temper; but she was saved the trouble of checking it,
by Lucy's sharp reprimand, which now, as on many occasions,
though it did not give much sweetness to the manners
of one sister, was of advantage in governing those of
After some opposition, Marianne yielded to her
sister's entreaties, and consented to go out with her
and Mrs. Jennings one morning for half an hour. She
expressly conditioned, however, for paying no visits,
and would do no more than accompany them to Gray's in
Sackville Street, where Elinor was carrying on a negotiation
for the exchange of a few old-fashioned jewels of her mother.
When they stopped at the door, Mrs. Jennings recollected
that there was a lady at the other end of the street
on whom she ought to call; and as she had no business
at Gray's, it was resolved, that while her young friends
transacted their's, she should pay her visit and
return for them.
On ascending the stairs, the Miss Dashwoods found
so many people before them in the room, that there was
not a person at liberty to tend to their orders; and they
were obliged to wait. All that could be done was, to sit
down at that end of the counter which seemed to promise the
quickest succession; one gentleman only was standing there,
and it is probable that Elinor was not without hope
of exciting his politeness to a quicker despatch.
But the correctness of his eye, and the delicacy
of his taste, proved to be beyond his politeness.
He was giving orders for a toothpick-case for himself,
and till its size, shape, and ornaments were determined,
all of which, after examining and debating for a quarter
of an hour over every toothpick-case in the shop,
were finally arranged by his own inventive fancy, he had
no leisure to bestow any other attention on the two ladies,
than what was comprised in three or four very broad stares;
a kind of notice which served to imprint on Elinor
the remembrance of a person and face, of strong,
natural, sterling insignificance, though adorned in
the first style of fashion.
Marianne was spared from the troublesome feelings
of contempt and resentment, on this impertinent examination
of their features, and on the puppyism of his manner
in deciding on all the different horrors of the different
toothpick-cases presented to his inspection, by remaining
unconscious of it all; for she was as well able to collect
her thoughts within herself, and be as ignorant of what was
passing around her, in Mr. Gray's shop, as in her own bedroom.
At last the affair was decided. The ivory,
the gold, and the pearls, all received their appointment,
and the gentleman having named the last day on which his
existence could be continued without the possession of the
toothpick-case, drew on his gloves with leisurely care,
and bestowing another glance on the Miss Dashwoods, but such
a one as seemed rather to demand than express admiration,
walked off with a happy air of real conceit and affected indifference.
Elinor lost no time in bringing her business forward,
was on the point of concluding it, when another gentleman
presented himself at her side. She turned her eyes towards
his face, and found him with some surprise to be her brother.
Their affection and pleasure in meeting was just enough
to make a very creditable appearance in Mr. Gray's shop.
John Dashwood was really far from being sorry to see
his sisters again; it rather gave them satisfaction;
and his inquiries after their mother were respectful
Elinor found that he and Fanny had been in town
"I wished very much to call upon you yesterday,"
said he, "but it was impossible, for we were obliged
to take Harry to see the wild beasts at Exeter Exchange;
and we spent the rest of the day with Mrs. Ferrars.
Harry was vastly pleased. THIS morning I had fully intended
to call on you, if I could possibly find a spare half hour,
but one has always so much to do on first coming to town.
I am come here to bespeak Fanny a seal. But tomorrow I
think I shall certainly be able to call in Berkeley Street,
and be introduced to your friend Mrs. Jennings.
I understand she is a woman of very good fortune.
And the Middletons too, you must introduce me to THEM.
As my mother-in-law's relations, I shall be happy to show
them every respect. They are excellent neighbours to you in
the country, I understand."
"Excellent indeed. Their attention to our comfort,
their friendliness in every particular, is more than I
"I am extremely glad to hear it, upon my word;
extremely glad indeed. But so it ought to be; they are
people of large fortune, they are related to you, and
every civility and accommodation that can serve to make
your situation pleasant might be reasonably expected.
And so you are most comfortably settled in your little cottage
and want for nothing! Edward brought us a most charming
account of the place: the most complete thing of its kind,
he said, that ever was, and you all seemed to enjoy it beyond
any thing. It was a great satisfaction to us to hear it,
I assure you."
Elinor did feel a little ashamed of her brother;
and was not sorry to be spared the necessity of answering him,
by the arrival of Mrs. Jennings's servant, who came to tell
her that his mistress waited for them at the door.
Mr. Dashwood attended them down stairs, was introduced
to Mrs. Jennings at the door of her carriage, and repeating
his hope of being able to call on them the next day,
His visit was duly paid. He came with a pretence at
an apology from their sister-in-law, for not coming too;
"but she was so much engaged with her mother, that really
she had no leisure for going any where." Mrs. Jennings,
however, assured him directly, that she should not stand
upon ceremony, for they were all cousins, or something
like it, and she should certainly wait on Mrs. John
Dashwood very soon, and bring her sisters to see her.
His manners to THEM, though calm, were perfectly kind;
to Mrs. Jennings, most attentively civil; and on Colonel
Brandon's coming in soon after himself, he eyed him with a
curiosity which seemed to say, that he only wanted to know
him to be rich, to be equally civil to HIM.
After staying with them half an hour, he asked
Elinor to walk with him to Conduit Street, and introduce
him to Sir John and Lady Middleton. The weather was
remarkably fine, and she readily consented. As soon
as they were out of the house, his enquiries began.
"Who is Colonel Brandon? Is he a man of fortune?"
"Yes; he has very good property in Dorsetshire."
"I am glad of it. He seems a most gentlemanlike man;
and I think, Elinor, I may congratulate you on the prospect
of a very respectable establishment in life."
"Me, brother! what do you mean?"
"He likes you. I observed him narrowly, and am
convinced of it. What is the amount of his fortune?"
"I believe about two thousand a year."
"Two thousand a-year;" and then working himself
up to a pitch of enthusiastic generosity, he added,
"Elinor, I wish with all my heart it were TWICE as much,
for your sake."
"Indeed I believe you," replied Elinor; "but I am
very sure that Colonel Brandon has not the smallest wish
of marrying ME."
"You are mistaken, Elinor; you are very much mistaken.
A very little trouble on your side secures him.
Perhaps just at present he may be undecided; the smallness
of your fortune may make him hang back; his friends
may all advise him against it. But some of those little
attentions and encouragements which ladies can so easily
give will fix him, in spite of himself. And there can be
no reason why you should not try for him. It is not to be
supposed that any prior attachment on your side--in short,
you know as to an attachment of that kind, it is quite
out of the question, the objections are insurmountable--
you have too much sense not to see all that. Colonel Brandon
must be the man; and no civility shall be wanting on
my part to make him pleased with you and your family.
It is a match that must give universal satisfaction.
In short, it is a kind of thing that"--lowering his voice
to an important whisper--"will be exceedingly welcome
to ALL PARTIES." Recollecting himself, however, he added,
"That is, I mean to say--your friends are all truly
anxious to see you well settled; Fanny particularly,
for she has your interest very much at heart, I assure you.
And her mother too, Mrs. Ferrars, a very good-natured woman,
I am sure it would give her great pleasure; she said as much
the other day."
Elinor would not vouchsafe any answer.
"It would be something remarkable, now," he continued,
"something droll, if Fanny should have a brother and I
a sister settling at the same time. And yet it is not
"Is Mr. Edward Ferrars," said Elinor, with resolution,
"going to be married?"
"It is not actually settled, but there is such
a thing in agitation. He has a most excellent mother.
Mrs. Ferrars, with the utmost liberality, will come forward,
and settle on him a thousand a year, if the match
takes place. The lady is the Hon. Miss Morton, only daughter
of the late Lord Morton, with thirty thousand pounds.
A very desirable connection on both sides, and I have not
a doubt of its taking place in time. A thousand a-year
is a great deal for a mother to give away, to make over
for ever; but Mrs. Ferrars has a noble spirit. To give
you another instance of her liberality:--The other day,
as soon as we came to town, aware that money could
not be very plenty with us just now, she put bank-notes
into Fanny's hands to the amount of two hundred pounds.
And extremely acceptable it is, for we must live at a great
expense while we are here."