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Chapter 3
The first event of any importance in the family was the death of Mr. Norris, which
happened when Fanny was about fifteen, and necessarily introduced alterations
and novelties. Mrs. Norris, on quitting the Parsonage, removed first to the Park,
and afterwards to a small house of Sir Thomas's in the village, and consoled
herself for the loss of her husband by considering that she could do very well
without him; and for her reduction of income by the evident necessity of stricter
The living was hereafter for Edmund; and, had his uncle died a few years sooner,
it would have been duly given to some friend to hold till he were old enough for
orders. But Tom's extravagance had, previous to that event, been so great as to
render a different disposal of the next presentation necessary, and the younger
brother must help to pay for the pleasures of the elder. There was another family
living actually held for Edmund; but though this circumstance had made the
arrangement somewhat easier to Sir Thomas's conscience, he could not but feel
it to be an act of injustice, and he earnestly tried to impress his eldest son with
the same conviction, in the hope of its producing a better effect than anything he
had yet been able to say or do.
"I blush for you, Tom," said he, in his most dignified manner; "I blush for the
expedient which I am driven on, and I trust I may pity your feelings as a brother
on the occasion. You have robbed Edmund for ten, twenty, thirty years, perhaps
for life, of more than half the income which ought to be his. It may hereafter be in
my power, or in yours (I hope it will), to procure him better preferment; but it must
not be forgotten that no benefit of that sort would have been beyond his natural
claims on us, and that nothing can, in fact, be an equivalent for the certain
advantage which he is now obliged to forego through the urgency of your debts."
Tom listened with some shame and some sorrow; but escaping as quickly as
possible, could soon with cheerful selfishness reflect, firstly, that he had not been
half so much in debt as some of his friends; secondly, that his father had made a
most tiresome piece of work of it; and, thirdly, that the future incumbent, whoever
he might be, would, in all probability, die very soon.
On Mr. Norris's death the presentation became the right of a Dr. Grant, who
came consequently to reside at Mansfield; and on proving to be a hearty man of
forty-five, seemed likely to disappoint Mr. Bertram's calculations. But "no, he was
a short-necked, apoplectic sort of fellow, and, plied well with good things, would
soon pop off."
He had a wife about fifteen years his junior, but no children; and they entered the
neighbourhood with the usual fair report of being very respectable, agreeable
The time was now come when Sir Thomas expected his sister-in-law to claim her
share in their niece, the change in Mrs. Norris's situation, and the improvement in
Fanny's age, seeming not merely to do away any former objection to their living
together, but even to give it the most decided eligibility; and as his own
circumstances were rendered less fair than heretofore, by some recent losses on