Mr. Crawford gone, Sir Thomas's next object was that he should be missed; and
he entertained great hope that his niece would find a blank in the loss of those
attentions which at the time she had felt, or fancied, an evil. She had tasted of
consequence in its most flattering form; and he did hope that the loss of it, the
sinking again into nothing, would awaken very wholesome regrets in her mind.
He watched her with this idea; but he could hardly tell with what success. He
hardly knew whether there were any difference in her spirits or not. She was
always so gentle and retiring that her emotions were beyond his discrimination.
He did not understand her: he felt that he did not; and therefore applied to
Edmund to tell him how she stood affected on the present occasion, and whether
she were more or less happy than she had been.
Edmund did not discern any symptoms of regret, and thought his father a little
unreasonable in supposing the first three or four days could produce any.
What chiefly surprised Edmund was, that Crawford's sister, the friend and
companion who had been so much to her, should not be more visibly regretted.
He wondered that Fanny spoke so seldom of her, and had so little voluntarily to
say of her concern at this separation.
Alas! it was this sister, this friend and companion, who was now the chief bane of
Fanny's comfort. If she could have believed Mary's future fate as unconnected
with Mansfield as she was determined the brother's should be, if she could have
hoped her return thither to be as distant as she was much inclined to think his,
she would have been light of heart indeed; but the more she recollected and
observed, the more deeply was she convinced that everything was now in a
fairer train for Miss Crawford's marrying Edmund than it had ever been before.
On his side the inclination was stronger, on hers less equivocal. His objections,
the scruples of his integrity, seemed all done away, nobody could tell how; and
the doubts and hesitations of her ambition were equally got over--and equally
without apparent reason. It could only be imputed to increasing attachment. His
good and her bad feelings yielded to love, and such love must unite them. He
was to go to town as soon as some business relative to Thornton Lacey were
completed-- perhaps within a fortnight; he talked of going, he loved to talk of it;
and when once with her again, Fanny could not doubt the rest. Her acceptance
must be as certain as his offer; and yet there were bad feelings still remaining
which made the prospect of it most sorrowful to her, independently, she believed,
independently of self.
In their very last conversation, Miss Crawford, in spite of some amiable
sensations, and much personal kindness, had still been Miss Crawford; still
shown a mind led astray and bewildered, and without any suspicion of being so;
darkened, yet fancying itself light. She might love, but she did not deserve
Edmund by any other sentiment. Fanny believed there was scarcely a second
feeling in common between them; and she may be forgiven by older sages for
looking on the chance of Miss Crawford's future improvement as nearly
desperate, for thinking that if Edmund's influence in this season of love had