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Chapter 39
Could Sir Thomas have seen all his niece's feelings, when she wrote her first
letter to her aunt, he would not have despaired; for though a good night's rest, a
pleasant morning, the hope of soon seeing William again, and the comparatively
quiet state of the house, from Tom and Charles being gone to school, Sam on
some project of his own, and her father on his usual lounges, enabled her to
express herself cheerfully on the subject of home, there were still, to her own
perfect consciousness, many drawbacks suppressed. Could he have seen only
half that she felt before the end of a week, he would have thought Mr. Crawford
sure of her, and been delighted with his own sagacity.
Before the week ended, it was all disappointment. In the first place, William was
gone. The Thrush had had her orders, the wind had changed, and he was sailed
within four days from their reaching Portsmouth; and during those days she had
seen him only twice, in a short and hurried way, when he had come ashore on
duty. There had been no free conversation, no walk on the ramparts, no visit to
the dockyard, no acquaintance with the Thrush, nothing of all that they had
planned and depended on. Everything in that quarter failed her, except William's
affection. His last thought on leaving home was for her. He stepped back again to
the door to say, "Take care of Fanny, mother. She is tender, and not used to
rough it like the rest of us. I charge you, take care of Fanny."
William was gone: and the home he had left her in was, Fanny could not conceal
it from herself, in almost every respect the very reverse of what she could have
wished. It was the abode of noise, disorder, and impropriety. Nobody was in their
right place, nothing was done as it ought to be. She could not respect her parents
as she had hoped. On her father, her confidence had not been sanguine, but he
was more negligent of his family, his habits were worse, and his manners
coarser, than she had been prepared for. He did not want abilities but he had no
curiosity, and no information beyond his profession; he read only the newspaper
and the navy-list; he talked only of the dockyard, the harbour, Spithead, and the
Motherbank; he swore and he drank, he was dirty and gross. She had never
been able to recall anything approaching to tenderness in his former treatment of
herself. There had remained only a general impression of roughness and
loudness; and now he scarcely ever noticed her, but to make her the object of a
coarse joke.
Her disappointment in her mother was greater: there she had hoped much, and
found almost nothing. Every flattering scheme of being of consequence to her
soon fell to the ground. Mrs. Price was not unkind; but, instead of gaining on her
affection and confidence, and becoming more and more dear, her daughter
never met with greater kindness from her than on the first day of her arrival. The
instinct of nature was soon satisfied, and Mrs. Price's attachment had no other
source. Her heart and her time were already quite full; she had neither leisure nor
affection to bestow on Fanny. Her daughters never had been much to her. She
was fond of her sons, especially of William, but Betsey was the first of her girls
whom she had ever much regarded. To her she was most injudiciously indulgent.