Sense and sensibility, p.5
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       Sense and Sensibility, p.5
 

           Jane Austen

  CHAPTER III

  Mrs. Dashwood remained at Norland several months; not from anydisinclination to move when the sight of every well known spot ceasedto raise the violent emotion which it produced for a while; for whenher spirits began to revive, and her mind became capable of some otherexertion than that of heightening its affliction by melancholyremembrances, she was impatient to be gone, and indefatigable in herinquiries for a suitable dwelling in the neighbourhood of Norland; forto remove far from that beloved spot was impossible. But she couldhear of no situation that at once answered her notions of comfort andease, and suited the prudence of her eldest daughter, whose steadierjudgment rejected several houses as too large for their income, whichher mother would have approved.

  "_I cannot imagine how they will spend half of it._"]

  Mrs. Dashwood had been informed by her husband of the solemn promiseon the part of his son in their favour, which gave comfort to his lastearthly reflections. She doubted the sincerity of this assurance nomore than he had doubted it himself, and she thought of it for herdaughters' sake with satisfaction, though as for herself she waspersuaded that a much smaller provision than 7000L would support herin affluence. For their brother's sake, too, for the sake of his ownheart, she rejoiced; and she reproached herself for being unjust tohis merit before, in believing him incapable of generosity. Hisattentive behaviour to herself and his sisters convinced her thattheir welfare was dear to him, and, for a long time, she firmly reliedon the liberality of his intentions.

  The contempt which she had, very early in their acquaintance, felt forher daughter-in-law, was very much increased by the farther knowledgeof her character, which half a year's residence in her familyafforded; and perhaps in spite of every consideration of politeness ormaternal affection on the side of the former, the two ladies mighthave found it impossible to have lived together so long, had not aparticular circumstance occurred to give still greater eligibility,according to the opinions of Mrs. Dashwood, to her daughters'continuance at Norland.

  This circumstance was a growing attachment between her eldest girl andthe brother of Mrs. John Dashwood, a gentlemanlike and pleasing youngman, who was introduced to their acquaintance soon after his sister'sestablishment at Norland, and who had since spent the greatest part ofhis time there.

  Some mothers might have encouraged the intimacy from motives ofinterest, for Edward Ferrars was the eldest son of a man who had diedvery rich; and some might have repressed it from motives of prudence,for, except a trifling sum, the whole of his fortune depended on thewill of his mother. But Mrs. Dashwood was alike uninfluenced by eitherconsideration. It was enough for her that he appeared to be amiable,that he loved her daughter, and that Elinor returned the partiality.It was contrary to every doctrine of her's that difference of fortuneshould keep any couple asunder who were attracted by resemblance ofdisposition; and that Elinor's merit should not be acknowledged byevery one who knew her, was to her comprehension impossible.

  Edward Ferrars was not recommended to their good opinion by anypeculiar graces of person or address. He was not handsome, and hismanners required intimacy to make them pleasing. He was too diffidentto do justice to himself; but when his natural shyness was overcome,his behaviour gave every indication of an open, affectionate heart.His understanding was good, and his education had given it solidimprovement. But he was neither fitted by abilities nor disposition toanswer the wishes of his mother and sister, who longed to see himdistinguished as--they hardly knew what. They wanted him to make afine figure in the world in some manner or other. His mother wished tointerest him in political concerns, to get him into parliament, or tosee him connected with some of the great men of the day. Mrs. JohnDashwood wished it likewise; but in the mean while, till one of thesesuperior blessings could be attained, it would have quieted herambition to see him driving a barouche. But Edward had no turn forgreat men or barouches. All his wishes centered in domestic comfortand the quiet of private life. Fortunately he had a younger brotherwho was more promising.

  Edward had been staying several weeks in the house before he engagedmuch of Mrs. Dashwood's attention; for she was, at that time, in suchaffliction as rendered her careless of surrounding objects. She sawonly that he was quiet and unobtrusive, and she liked him for it. Hedid not disturb the wretchedness of her mind by ill-timedconversation. She was first called to observe and approve him farther,by a reflection which Elinor chanced one day to make on thedifference between him and his sister. It was a contrast whichrecommended him most forcibly to her mother.

  "It is enough," said she; "to say that he is unlike Fanny is enough.It implies everything amiable. I love him already."

  "I think you will like him," said Elinor, "when you know more of him."

  "Like him!" replied her mother with a smile. "I feel no sentiment ofapprobation inferior to love."

  "You may esteem him."

  "I have never yet known what it was to separate esteem and love."

  Mrs. Dashwood now took pains to get acquainted with him. Her mannerswere attaching, and soon banished his reserve. She speedilycomprehended all his merits; the persuasion of his regard for Elinorperhaps assisted her penetration; but she really felt assured of hisworth: and even that quietness of manner, which militated against allher established ideas of what a young man's address ought to be, wasno longer uninteresting when she knew his heart to be warm and histemper affectionate.

  No sooner did she perceive any symptom of love in his behaviour toElinor, than she considered their serious attachment as certain, andlooked forward to their marriage as rapidly approaching.

  "In a few months, my dear Marianne," said she, "Elinor will, in allprobability be settled for life. We shall miss her; but _she_ will behappy."

  "Oh! Mamma, how shall we do without her?"

  "My love, it will be scarcely a separation. We shall live within a fewmiles of each other, and shall meet every day of our lives. You willgain a brother--a real, affectionate brother. I have the highestopinion in the world of Edward's heart. But you look grave, Marianne;do you disapprove your sister's choice?"

  "Perhaps," said Marianne, "I may consider it with some surprise.Edward is very amiable, and I love him tenderly. But yet--he is notthe kind of young man; there is something wanting--his figure is notstriking; it has none of that grace which I should expect in the manwho could seriously attach my sister. His eyes want all that spirit,that fire, which at once announce virtue and intelligence. And besidesall this, I am afraid, Mamma, he has no real taste. Music seemsscarcely to attract him, and though he admires Elinor's drawings verymuch, it is not the admiration of a person who can understand theirworth. It is evident, in spite of his frequent attention to her whileshe draws, that in fact he knows nothing of the matter. He admires asa lover, not as a connoisseur. To satisfy me, those characters must beunited. I could not be happy with a man whose taste did not in everypoint coincide with my own. He must enter into all my feelings; thesame books, the same music must charm us both. Oh! mama, howspiritless, how tame was Edward's manner in reading to us last night!I felt for my sister most severely. Yet she bore it with so muchcomposure, she seemed scarcely to notice it. I could hardly keep myseat. To hear those beautiful lines which have frequently almostdriven me wild, pronounced with such impenetrable calmness, suchdreadful indifference!"

  "He would certainly have done more justice to simple and elegantprose. I thought so at the time; but you _would_ give him Cowper."

  "Nay, Mamma, if he is not to be animated by Cowper!--but we must allowfor difference of taste. Elinor has not my feelings, and therefore shemay overlook it, and be happy with him. But it would have broke _my_heart, had I loved him, to hear him read with so little sensibility.Mama, the more I know of the world, the more am I convinced that Ishall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much! Hemust have all Edward's virtues, and his person and manners mustornament his goodness with every possible charm."

  "Remember, my love, that you are not seventeen. It is yet too early inlif
e to despair of such a happiness. Why should you be less fortunatethan your mother? In one circumstance only, my Marianne, may yourdestiny be different from her's!"

 
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