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Lady Susan by Jane Austen. - HTML preview

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II

LADY SUSAN VERNON TO MRS. JOHNSON

Langford.

You were mistaken, my dear Alicia, in supposing me fixed at this place

for the rest of the winter: it grieves me to say how greatly you were

mistaken, for I have seldom spent three months more agreeably than those

which have just flown away. At present, nothing goes smoothly; the females

of the family are united against me. You foretold how it would be when I

first came to Langford, and Mainwaring is so uncommonly pleasing that I was

not without apprehensions for myself. I remember saying to myself, as I

drove to the house, "I like this man, pray Heaven no harm come of it!" But

I was determined to be discreet, to bear in mind my being only four months

a widow, and to be as quiet as possible: and I have been so, my dear

creature; I have admitted no one's attentions but Mainwaring's. I have

avoided all general flirtation whatever; I have distinguished no creature

besides, of all the numbers resorting hither, except Sir James Martin, on

whom I bestowed a little notice, in order to detach him from Miss

Mainwaring; but, if the world could know my motive THERE they would honour

me. I have been called an unkind mother, but it was the sacred impulse of

maternal affection, it was the advantage of my daughter that led me on; and

if that daughter were not the greatest simpleton on earth, I might have

been rewarded for my exertions as I ought.

Sir James did make proposals to me for Frederica; but Frederica, who was

born to be the torment of my life, chose to set herself so violently

against the match that I thought it better to lay aside the scheme for the

present. I have more than once repented that I did not marry him myself;

and were he but one degree less contemptibly weak I certainly should: but I

must own myself rather romantic in that respect, and that riches only will

not satisfy me. The event of all this is very provoking: Sir James is gone,

Maria highly incensed, and Mrs. Mainwaring insupportably jealous; so

jealous, in short, and so enraged against me, that, in the fury of her

temper, I should not be surprized at her appealing to her guardian, if she

had the liberty of addressing him: but there your husband stands my friend;

and the kindest, most amiable action of his life was his throwing her off

for ever on her marriage. Keep up his resentment, therefore, I charge you.

We are now in a sad state; no house was ever more altered; the whole party

are at war, and Mainwaring scarcely dares speak to me. It is time for me to

be gone; I have therefore determined on leaving them, and shall spend, I

hope, a comfortable day with you in town within this week. If I am as

little in favour with Mr. Johnson as ever, you must come to me at 10

Wigmore street; but I hope this may not be the case, for as Mr. Johnson,

with all his faults, is a man to whom that great word "respectable" is

always given, and I am known to be so intimate with his wife, his slighting

me has an awkward look.

I take London in my way to that insupportable spot, a country village;

for I am really going to Churchhill. Forgive me, my dear friend, it is my

last resource. Were there another place in England open to me I would

prefer it. Charles Vernon is my aversion; and I am afraid of his wife. At

Churchhill, however, I must remain till I have something better in view. My

young lady accompanies me to town, where I shall deposit her under the care

of Miss Summers, in Wigmore street, till she becomes a little more

reasonable. She will made good connections there, as the girls are all

of the best families. The price is immense, and much beyond what I can ever

attempt to pay.

Adieu, I will send you a line as soon as I arrive in town.

Yours ever,

S. VERNON.