A quarter of an hour, twenty minutes, passed away, and Fanny was still thinking
of Edmund, Miss Crawford, and herself, without interruption from any one. She
began to be surprised at being left so long, and to listen with an anxious desire of
hearing their steps and their voices again. She listened, and at length she heard;
she heard voices and feet approaching; but she had just satisfied herself that it
was not those she wanted, when Miss Bertram, Mr. Rushworth, and Mr.
Crawford issued from the same path which she had trod herself, and were before
"Miss Price all alone" and "My dear Fanny, how comes this?" were the first
salutations. She told her story. "Poor dear Fanny," cried her cousin, "how ill you
have been used by them! You had better have staid with us."
Then seating herself with a gentleman on each side, she resumed the
conversation which had engaged them before, and discussed the possibility of
improvements with much animation. Nothing was fixed on; but Henry Crawford
was full of ideas and projects, and, generally speaking, whatever he proposed
was immediately approved, first by her, and then by Mr. Rushworth, whose
principal business seemed to be to hear the others, and who scarcely risked an
original thought of his own beyond a wish that they had seen his friend Smith's
After some minutes spent in this way, Miss Bertram, observing the iron gate,
expressed a wish of passing through it into the park, that their views and their
plans might be more comprehensive. It was the very thing of all others to be
wished, it was the best, it was the only way of proceeding with any advantage, in
Henry Crawford's opinion; and he directly saw a knoll not half a mile off, which
would give them exactly the requisite command of the house. Go therefore they
must to that knoll, and through that gate; but the gate was locked. Mr. Rushworth
wished he had brought the key; he had been very near thinking whether he
should not bring the key; he was determined he would never come without the
key again; but still this did not remove the present evil. They could not get
through; and as Miss Bertram's inclination for so doing did by no means lessen, it
ended in Mr. Rushworth's declaring outright that he would go and fetch the key.
He set off accordingly.
"It is undoubtedly the best thing we can do now, as we are so far from the house
already," said Mr. Crawford, when he was gone.
"Yes, there is nothing else to be done. But now, sincerely, do not you find the
place altogether worse than you expected?"
"No, indeed, far otherwise. I find it better, grander, more complete in its style,
though that style may not be the best. And to tell you the truth," speaking rather
lower, "I do not think that I shall ever see Sotherton again with so much pleasure
as I do now. Another summer will hardly improve it to me."
After a moment's embarrassment the lady replied, "You are too much a man of
the world not to see with the eyes of the world. If other people think Sotherton
improved, I have no doubt that you will."