The day at Sotherton, with all its imperfections, afforded the Miss Bertrams much
more agreeable feelings than were derived from the letters from Antigua, which
soon afterwards reached Mansfield. It was much pleasanter to think of Henry
Crawford than of their father; and to think of their father in England again within a
certain period, which these letters obliged them to do, was a most unwelcome
November was the black month fixed for his return. Sir Thomas wrote of it with as
much decision as experience and anxiety could authorize. His business was so
nearly concluded as to justify him in proposing to take his passage in the
September packet, and he consequently looked forward with the hope of being
with his beloved family again early in November.
Maria was more to be pitied than Julia; for to her the father brought a husband,
and the return of the friend most solicitous for her happiness would unite her to
the lover, on whom she had chosen that happiness should depend. It was a
gloomy prospect, and all she could do was to throw a mist over it, and hope
when the mist cleared away she should see something else. It would hardly be
early in November, there were generally delays, a bad passage or something;
that favouring something which everybody who shuts their eyes while they look,
or their understandings while they reason, feels the comfort of. It would probably
be the middle of November at least; the middle of November was three months
off. Three months comprised thirteen weeks. Much might happen in thirteen
Sir Thomas would have been deeply mortified by a suspicion of half that his
daughters felt on the subject of his return, and would hardly have found
consolation in a knowledge of the interest it excited in the breast of another
young lady. Miss Crawford, on walking up with her brother to spend the evening
at Mansfield Park, heard the good news; and though seeming to have no
concern in the affair beyond politeness, and to have vented all her feelings in a
quiet congratulation, heard it with an attention not so easily satisfied. Mrs. Norris
gave the particulars of the letters, and the subject was dropt; but after tea, as
Miss Crawford was standing at an open window with Edmund and Fanny looking
out on a twilight scene, while the Miss Bertrams, Mr. Rushworth, and Henry
Crawford were all busy with candles at the pianoforte, she suddenly revived it by
turning round towards the group, and saying, "How happy Mr. Rushworth looks!
He is thinking of November."
Edmund looked round at Mr. Rushworth too, but had nothing to say.
"Your father's return will be a very interesting event."
"It will, indeed, after such an absence; an absence not only long, but including so
"It will be the forerunner also of other interesting events: your sister's marriage,
and your taking orders."