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Chapter 24
Henry Crawford had quite made up his mind by the next morning to give another
fortnight to Mansfield, and having sent for his hunters, and written a few lines of
explanation to the Admiral, he looked round at his sister as he sealed and threw
the letter from him, and seeing the coast clear of the rest of the family, said, with
a smile, "And how do you think I mean to amuse myself, Mary, on the days that I
do not hunt? I am grown too old to go out more than three times a week; but I
have a plan for the intermediate days, and what do you think it is?"
"To walk and ride with me, to be sure."
"Not exactly, though I shall be happy to do both, but that would be exercise only
to my body, and I must take care of my mind. Besides, that would be all
recreation and indulgence, without the wholesome alloy of labour, and I do not
like to eat the bread of idleness. No, my plan is to make Fanny Price in love with
"Fanny Price! Nonsense! No, no. You ought to be satisfied with her two cousins."
"But I cannot be satisfied without Fanny Price, without making a small hole in
Fanny Price's heart. You do not seem properly aware of her claims to notice.
When we talked of her last night, you none of you seemed sensible of the
wonderful improvement that has taken place in her looks within the last six
weeks. You see her every day, and therefore do not notice it; but I assure you
she is quite a different creature from what she was in the autumn. She was then
merely a quiet, modest, not plain-looking girl, but she is now absolutely pretty. I
used to think she had neither complexion nor countenance; but in that soft skin of
hers, so frequently tinged with a blush as it was yesterday, there is decided
beauty; and from what I observed of her eyes and mouth, I do not despair of their
being capable of expression enough when she has anything to express. And
then, her air, her manner, her tout ensemble, is so indescribably improved! She
must be grown two inches, at least, since October."
"Phoo! phoo! This is only because there were no tall women to compare her with,
and because she has got a new gown, and you never saw her so well dressed
before. She is just what she was in October, believe me. The truth is, that she
was the only girl in company for you to notice, and you must have a somebody. I
have always thought her pretty--not strikingly pretty--but 'pretty enough,' as
people say; a sort of beauty that grows on one. Her eyes should be darker, but
she has a sweet smile; but as for this wonderful degree of improvement, I am
sure it may all be resolved into a better style of dress, and your having nobody
else to look at; and therefore, if you do set about a flirtation with her, you never
will persuade me that it is in compliment to her beauty, or that it proceeds from
anything but your own idleness and folly."
Her brother gave only a smile to this accusation, and soon afterwards said, "I do
not quite know what to make of Miss Fanny. I do not understand her. I could not
tell what she would be at yesterday. What is her character? Is she solemn? Is
she queer? Is she prudish? Why did she draw back and look so grave at me? I
could hardly get her to speak. I never was so long in company with a girl in my