Sense and sensibility, p.44
Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font       Night Mode Off   Night Mode

       Sense and Sensibility, p.44

           Jane Austen


  One other short call in Harley Street, in which Elinor received herbrother's congratulations on their travelling so far towards Bartonwithout any expense, and on Colonel Brandon's being to follow them toCleveland in a day or two, completed the intercourse of the brotherand sisters in town;--and a faint invitation from Fanny, to come toNorland whenever it should happen to be in their way, which of allthings was the most unlikely to occur, with a more warm, though lesspublic, assurance, from John to Elinor, of the promptitude with whichhe should come to see her at Delaford, was all that foretold anymeeting in the country.

  It amused her to observe that all her friends seemed determined tosend her to Delaford;--a place, in which, of all others, she would nowleast choose to visit, or wish to reside; for not only was itconsidered as her future home by her brother and Mrs. Jennings, buteven Lucy, when they parted, gave her a pressing invitation to visither there.

  Very early in April, and tolerably early in the day, the two partiesfrom Hanover Square and Berkeley Street set out from their respectivehomes, to meet, by appointment, on the road. For the convenience ofCharlotte and her child, they were to be more than two days on theirjourney, and Mr. Palmer, travelling more expeditiously with ColonelBrandon, was to join them at Cleveland soon after their arrival.

  Marianne, few as had been her hours of comfort in London, and eager asshe had long been to quit it, could not, when it came to the point,bid adieu to the house in which she had for the last time enjoyedthose hopes, and that confidence, in Willoughby, which were nowextinguished for ever, without great pain. Nor could she leave theplace in which Willoughby remained, busy in new engagements, and newschemes, in which _she_ could have no share, without shedding manytears.

  Elinor's satisfaction, at the moment of removal, was more positive.She had no such object for her lingering thoughts to fix on, she leftno creature behind, from whom it would give her a moment's regret tobe divided for ever, she was pleased to be free herself from thepersecution of Lucy's friendship, she was grateful for bringing hersister away unseen by Willoughby since his marriage, and she lookedforward with hope to what a few months of tranquility at Barton mightdo towards restoring Marianne's peace of mind, and confirming her own.

  Their journey was safely performed. The second day brought them intothe cherished, or the prohibited, county of Somerset, for as such wasit dwelt on by turns in Marianne's imagination; and in the forenoon ofthe third they drove up to Cleveland.

  Cleveland was a spacious, modern-built house, situated on a slopinglawn. It had no park, but the pleasure-grounds were tolerablyextensive; and like every other place of the same degree ofimportance, it had its open shrubbery, and closer wood walk, a road ofsmooth gravel winding round a plantation, led to the front, the lawnwas dotted over with timber, the house itself was under theguardianship of the fir, the mountain-ash, and the acacia, and a thickscreen of them altogether, interspersed with tall Lombardy poplars,shut out the offices.

  Marianne entered the house with a heart swelling with emotion from theconsciousness of being only eighty miles from Barton, and not thirtyfrom Combe Magna; and before she had been five minutes within itswalls, while the others were busily helping Charlotte to show herchild to the housekeeper, she quitted it again, stealing away throughthe winding shrubberies, now just beginning to be in beauty, to gain adistant eminence; where, from its Grecian temple, her eye, wanderingover a wide tract of country to the south-east, could fondly rest onthe farthest ridge of hills in the horizon, and fancy that from theirsummits Combe Magna might be seen.

  In such moments of precious, invaluable misery, she rejoiced in tearsof agony to be at Cleveland; and as she returned by a differentcircuit to the house, feeling all the happy privilege of countryliberty, of wandering from place to place in free and luxurioussolitude, she resolved to spend almost every hour of every day whileshe remained with the Palmers, in the indulgence of such solitaryrambles.

  _Showing her child to the housekeeper._]

  She returned just in time to join the others as they quitted thehouse, on an excursion through its more immediate premises; and therest of the morning was easily whiled away, in lounging round thekitchen garden, examining the bloom upon its walls, and listening tothe gardener's lamentations upon blights, in dawdling through thegreen-house, where the loss of her favourite plants, unwarily exposed,and nipped by the lingering frost, raised the laughter ofCharlotte,--and in visiting her poultry-yard, where, in thedisappointed hopes of her dairy-maid, by hens forsaking their nests,or being stolen by a fox, or in the rapid decrease of a promisingyoung brood, she found fresh sources of merriment.

  The morning was fine and dry, and Marianne, in her plan of employmentabroad, had not calculated for any change of weather during their stayat Cleveland. With great surprise therefore, did she find herselfprevented by a settled rain from going out again after dinner. She haddepended on a twilight walk to the Grecian temple, and perhaps allover the grounds, and an evening merely cold or damp would not havedeterred her from it; but a heavy and settled rain even _she_ couldnot fancy dry or pleasant weather for walking.

  Their party was small, and the hours passed quietly away. Mrs. Palmerhad her child, and Mrs. Jennings her carpet-work; they talked of thefriends they had left behind, arranged Lady Middleton's engagements,and wondered whether Mr. Palmer and Colonel Brandon would get fartherthan Reading that night. Elinor, however little concerned in it,joined in their discourse; and Marianne, who had the knack of findingher way in every house to the library, however it might be avoided bythe family in general, soon procured herself a book.

  Nothing was wanting on Mrs. Palmer's side that constant and friendlygood humour could do, to make them feel themselves welcome. Theopenness and heartiness of her manner more than atoned for that wantof recollection and elegance which made her often deficient in theforms of politeness; her kindness, recommended by so pretty a face,was engaging; her folly, though evident was not disgusting, because itwas not conceited; and Elinor could have forgiven every thing but herlaugh.

  _The gardener's lamentations._]

  The two gentlemen arrived the next day to a very late dinner,affording a pleasant enlargement of the party, and a very welcomevariety to their conversation, which a long morning of the samecontinued rain had reduced very low.

  Elinor had seen so little of Mr. Palmer, and in that little had seenso much variety in his address to her sister and herself, that sheknew not what to expect to find him in his own family. She found him,however, perfectly the gentleman in his behaviour to all his visitors,and only occasionally rude to his wife and her mother; she found himvery capable of being a pleasant companion, and only prevented frombeing so always, by too great an aptitude to fancy himself as muchsuperior to people in general, as he must feel himself to be to Mrs.Jennings and Charlotte. For the rest of his character and habits, theywere marked, as far as Elinor could perceive, with no traits at allunusual in his sex and time of life. He was nice in his eating,uncertain in his hours; fond of his child, though affecting to slightit; and idled away the mornings at billiards, which ought to have beendevoted to business. She liked him, however, upon the whole, muchbetter than she had expected, and in her heart was not sorry that shecould like him no more; not sorry to be driven by the observation ofhis epicurism, his selfishness, and his conceit, to rest withcomplacency on the remembrance of Edward's generous temper, simpletaste, and diffident feelings.

  Of Edward, or at least of some of his concerns, she now receivedintelligence from Colonel Brandon, who had been into Dorsetshirelately; and who, treating her at once as the disinterested friend ofMr. Ferrars, and the kind confidante of himself, talked to her agreat deal of the parsonage at Delaford, described its deficiencies,and told her what he meant to do himself towards removing them. Hisbehaviour to her in this, as well as in every other particular, hisopen pleasure in meeting her after an absence of only ten days, hisreadiness to converse with her, and his deference for her opinion,might very well justify Mrs. Jenning
s's persuasion of his attachment,and would have been enough, perhaps, had not Elinor still, as from thefirst, believed Marianne his real favourite, to make her suspect itherself. But as it was, such a notion had scarcely ever entered herhead, except by Mrs. Jennings's suggestion; and she could not helpbelieving herself the nicest observer of the two: she watched hiseyes, while Mrs. Jennings thought only of his behaviour; and while hislooks of anxious solicitude on Marianne's feeling, in her head andthroat, the beginning of a heavy cold, because unexpressed by words,entirely escaped the latter lady's observation,--_she_ could discoverin them the quick feelings, and needless alarm of a lover.

  Two delightful twilight walks on the third and fourth evenings of herbeing there, not merely on the dry gravel of the shrubbery, but allover the grounds, and especially in the most distant parts of them,where there was something more of wildness than in the rest, where thetrees were the oldest, and the grass was the longest and wettest,had--assisted by the still greater imprudence of sitting in her wetshoes and stockings--given Marianne a cold so violent as, though for aday or two trifled with or denied, would force itself by increasingailments on the concern of every body, and the notice of herself.Prescriptions poured in from all quarters, and as usual, were alldeclined. Though heavy and feverish, with a pain in her limbs, and acough, and a sore throat, a good night's rest was to cure herentirely; and it was with difficulty that Elinor prevailed on her,when she went to bed, to try one or two of the simplest of theremedies.

Turn Navi Off
Turn Navi On
Scroll Up
  • 59 832
  • 0
Add comment

Add comment