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Chapter 18
Everything was now in a regular train: theatre, actors, actresses, and dresses,
were all getting forward; but though no other great impediments arose, Fanny
found, before many days were past, that it was not all uninterrupted enjoyment to
the party themselves, and that she had not to witness the continuance of such
unanimity and delight as had been almost too much for her at first. Everybody
began to have their vexation. Edmund had many. Entirely against his judgment, a
scene-painter arrived from town, and was at work, much to the increase of the
expenses, and, what was worse, of the eclat of their proceedings; and his
brother, instead of being really guided by him as to the privacy of the
representation, was giving an invitation to every family who came in his way.
Tom himself began to fret over the scene-painter's slow progress, and to feel the
miseries of waiting. He had learned his part--all his parts, for he took every trifling
one that could be united with the Butler, and began to be impatient to be acting;
and every day thus unemployed was tending to increase his sense of the
insignificance of all his parts together, and make him more ready to regret that
some other play had not been chosen.
Fanny, being always a very courteous listener, and often the only listener at
hand, came in for the complaints and the distresses of most of them. She knew
that Mr. Yates was in general thought to rant dreadfully; that Mr. Yates was
disappointed in Henry Crawford; that Tom Bertram spoke so quick he would be
unintelligible; that Mrs. Grant spoiled everything by laughing; that Edmund was
behindhand with his part, and that it was misery to have anything to do with Mr.
Rushworth, who was wanting a prompter through every speech. She knew, also,
that poor Mr. Rushworth could seldom get anybody to rehearse with him: his
complaint came before her as well as the rest; and so decided to her eye was her
cousin Maria's avoidance of him, and so needlessly often the rehearsal of the
first scene between her and Mr. Crawford, that she had soon all the terror of
other complaints from him. So far from being all satisfied and all enjoying, she
found everybody requiring something they had not, and giving occasion of
discontent to the others. Everybody had a part either too long or too short;
nobody would attend as they ought; nobody would remember on which side they
were to come in; nobody but the complainer would observe any directions.
Fanny believed herself to derive as much innocent enjoyment from the play as
any of them; Henry Crawford acted well, and it was a pleasure to her to creep
into the theatre, and attend the rehearsal of the first act, in spite of the feelings it
excited in some speeches for Maria. Maria, she also thought, acted well, too well;
and after the first rehearsal or two, Fanny began to be their only audience; and
sometimes as prompter, sometimes as spectator, was often very useful. As far
as she could judge, Mr. Crawford was considerably the best actor of all: he had
more confidence than Edmund, more judgment than Tom, more talent and taste
than Mr. Yates. She did not like him as a man, but she must admit him to be the
best actor, and on this point there were not many who differed from her. Mr.
Yates, indeed, exclaimed against his tameness and insipidity; and the day came
at last, when Mr. Rushworth turned to her with a black look, and said, "Do you