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Chapter 31
Henry Crawford was at Mansfield Park again the next morning, and at an earlier
hour than common visiting warrants. The two ladies were together in the
breakfast-room, and, fortunately for him, Lady Bertram was on the very point of
quitting it as he entered. She was almost at the door, and not choosing by any
means to take so much trouble in vain, she still went on, after a civil reception, a
short sentence about being waited for, and a "Let Sir Thomas know" to the
Henry, overjoyed to have her go, bowed and watched her off, and without losing
another moment, turned instantly to Fanny, and, taking out some letters, said,
with a most animated look, "I must acknowledge myself infinitely obliged to any
creature who gives me such an opportunity of seeing you alone: I have been
wishing it more than you can have any idea. Knowing as I do what your feelings
as a sister are, I could hardly have borne that any one in the house should share
with you in the first knowledge of the news I now bring. He is made. Your brother
is a lieutenant. I have the infinite satisfaction of congratulating you on your
brother's promotion. Here are the letters which announce it, this moment come to
hand. You will, perhaps, like to see them."
Fanny could not speak, but he did not want her to speak. To see the expression
of her eyes, the change of her complexion, the progress of her feelings, their
doubt, confusion, and felicity, was enough. She took the letters as he gave them.
The first was from the Admiral to inform his nephew, in a few words, of his having
succeeded in the object he had undertaken, the promotion of young Price, and
enclosing two more, one from the Secretary of the First Lord to a friend, whom
the Admiral had set to work in the business, the other from that friend to himself,
by which it appeared that his lordship had the very great happiness of attending
to the recommendation of Sir Charles; that Sir Charles was much delighted in
having such an opportunity of proving his regard for Admiral Crawford, and that
the circumstance of Mr. William Price's commission as Second Lieutenant of
H.M. Sloop Thrush being made out was spreading general joy through a wide
circle of great people.
While her hand was trembling under these letters, her eye running from one to
the other, and her heart swelling with emotion, Crawford thus continued, with
unfeigned eagerness, to express his interest in the event--
"I will not talk of my own happiness," said he, "great as it is, for I think only of
yours. Compared with you, who has a right to be happy? I have almost grudged
myself my own prior knowledge of what you ought to have known before all the
world. I have not lost a moment, however. The post was late this morning, but
there has not been since a moment's delay. How impatient, how anxious, how
wild I have been on the subject, I will not attempt to describe; how severely
mortified, how cruelly disappointed, in not having it finished while I was in
London! I was kept there from day to day in the hope of it, for nothing less dear to
me than such an object would have detained me half the time from Mansfield.
But though my uncle entered into my wishes with all the warmth I could desire,