Mr. Bertram set off for--------, and Miss Crawford was prepared to find a great
chasm in their society, and to miss him decidedly in the meetings which were
now becoming almost daily between the families; and on their all dining together
at the Park soon after his going, she retook her chosen place near the bottom of
the table, fully expecting to feel a most melancholy difference in the change of
masters. It would be a very flat business, she was sure. In comparison with his
brother, Edmund would have nothing to say. The soup would be sent round in a
most spiritless manner, wine drank without any smiles or agreeable trifling, and
the venison cut up without supplying one pleasant anecdote of any former
haunch, or a single entertaining story, about "my friend such a one." She must try
to find amusement in what was passing at the upper end of the table, and in
observing Mr. Rushworth, who was now making his appearance at Mansfield for
the first time since the Crawfords' arrival. He had been visiting a friend in the
neighbouring county, and that friend having recently had his grounds laid out by
an improver, Mr. Rushworth was returned with his head full of the subject, and
very eager to be improving his own place in the same way; and though not
saying much to the purpose, could talk of nothing else. The subject had been
already handled in the drawing-room; it was revived in the dining-parlour. Miss
Bertram's attention and opinion was evidently his chief aim; and though her
deportment showed rather conscious superiority than any solicitude to oblige
him, the mention of Sotherton Court, and the ideas attached to it, gave her a
feeling of complacency, which prevented her from being very ungracious.
"I wish you could see Compton," said he; "it is the most complete thing! I never
saw a place so altered in my life. I told Smith I did not know where I was. The
approach now, is one of the finest things in the country: you see the house in the
most surprising manner. I declare, when I got back to Sotherton yesterday, it
looked like a prison-- quite a dismal old prison."
"Oh, for shame!" cried Mrs. Norris. "A prison indeed? Sotherton Court is the
noblest old place in the world."
"It wants improvement, ma'am, beyond anything. I never saw a place that wanted
so much improvement in my life; and it is so forlorn that I do not know what can
be done with it."
"No wonder that Mr. Rushworth should think so at present," said Mrs. Grant to
Mrs. Norris, with a smile; "but depend upon it, Sotherton will have every
improvement in time which his heart can desire."
"I must try to do something with it," said Mr. Rushworth, "but I do not know what. I
hope I shall have some good friend to help me."
"Your best friend upon such an occasion," said Miss Bertram calmly, "would be
Mr. Repton, I imagine."
"That is what I was thinking of. As he has done so well by Smith, I think I had
better have him at once. His terms are five guineas a day."
"Well, and if they were ten," cried Mrs. Norris, "I am sure you need not regard it.
The expense need not be any impediment. If I were you, I should not think of the