Miss Crawford's uneasiness was much lightened by this conversation, and she
walked home again in spirits which might have defied almost another week of the
same small party in the same bad weather, had they been put to the proof; but as
that very evening brought her brother down from London again in quite, or more
than quite, his usual cheerfulness, she had nothing farther to try her own. His still
refusing to tell her what he had gone for was but the promotion of gaiety; a day
before it might have irritated, but now it was a pleasant joke-- suspected only of
concealing something planned as a pleasant surprise to herself. And the next
day did bring a surprise to her. Henry had said he should just go and ask the
Bertrams how they did, and be back in ten minutes, but he was gone above an
hour; and when his sister, who had been waiting for him to walk with her in the
garden, met him at last most impatiently in the sweep, and cried out, "My dear
Henry, where can you have been all this time?" he had only to say that he had
been sitting with Lady Bertram and Fanny.
"Sitting with them an hour and a half!" exclaimed Mary.
But this was only the beginning of her surprise.
"Yes, Mary," said he, drawing her arm within his, and walking along the sweep as
if not knowing where he was: "I could not get away sooner; Fanny looked so
lovely! I am quite determined, Mary. My mind is entirely made up. Will it astonish
you? No: you must be aware that I am quite determined to marry Fanny Price."
The surprise was now complete; for, in spite of whatever his consciousness
might suggest, a suspicion of his having any such views had never entered his
sister's imagination; and she looked so truly the astonishment she felt, that he
was obliged to repeat what he had said, and more fully and more solemnly. The
conviction of his determination once admitted, it was not unwelcome. There was
even pleasure with the surprise. Mary was in a state of mind to rejoice in a
connection with the Bertram family, and to be not displeased with her brother's
marrying a little beneath him.
"Yes, Mary," was Henry's concluding assurance. "I am fairly caught. You know
with what idle designs I began; but this is the end of them. I have, I flatter myself,
made no inconsiderable progress in her affections; but my own are entirely
"Lucky, lucky girl!" cried Mary, as soon as she could speak; "what a match for
her! My dearest Henry, this must be my first feeling; but my second, which you
shall have as sincerely, is, that I approve your choice from my soul, and foresee
your happiness as heartily as I wish and desire it. You will have a sweet little
wife; all gratitude and devotion. Exactly what you deserve. What an amazing
match for her! Mrs. Norris often talks of her luck; what will she say now? The
delight of all the family, indeed! And she has some true friends in it! How they will
rejoice! But tell me all about it! Talk to me for ever. When did you begin to think
seriously about her?"
Nothing could be more impossible than to answer such a question, though
nothing could be more agreeable than to have it asked. "How the pleasing plague