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Chapter 40
Fanny was right enough in not expecting to hear from Miss Crawford now at the
rapid rate in which their correspondence had begun; Mary's next letter was after
a decidedly longer interval than the last, but she was not right in supposing that
such an interval would be felt a great relief to herself. Here was another strange
revolution of mind! She was really glad to receive the letter when it did come. In
her present exile from good society, and distance from everything that had been
wont to interest her, a letter from one belonging to the set where her heart lived,
written with affection, and some degree of elegance, was thoroughly acceptable.
The usual plea of increasing engagements was made in excuse for not having
written to her earlier; "And now that I have begun," she continued, "my letter will
not be worth your reading, for there will be no little offering of love at the end, no
three or four lines passionées from the most devoted H. C. in the world, for Henry
is in Norfolk; business called him to Everingham ten days ago, or perhaps he
only pretended to call, for the sake of being travelling at the same time that you
were. But there he is, and, by the bye, his absence may sufficiently account for
any remissness of his sister's in writing, for there has been no 'Well, Mary, when
do you write to Fanny? Is not it time for you to write to Fanny?' to spur me on. At
last, after various attempts at meeting, I have seen your cousins, 'dear Julia and
dearest Mrs. Rushworth'; they found me at home yesterday, and we were glad to
see each other again. We seemed very glad to see each other, and I do really
think we were a little. We had a vast deal to say. Shall I tell you how Mrs.
Rushworth looked when your name was mentioned? I did not use to think her
wanting in self-possession, but she had not quite enough for the demands of
yesterday. Upon the whole, Julia was in the best looks of the two, at least after
you were spoken of. There was no recovering the complexion from the moment
that I spoke of 'Fanny,' and spoke of her as a sister should. But Mrs. Rushworth's
day of good looks will come; we have cards for her first party on the 28th. Then
she will be in beauty, for she will open one of the best houses in Wimpole Street.
I was in it two years ago, when it was Lady Lascelle's, and prefer it to almost any
I know in London, and certainly she will then feel, to use a vulgar phrase, that
she has got her pennyworth for her penny. Henry could not have afforded her
such a house. I hope she will recollect it, and be satisfied, as well as she may,
with moving the queen of a palace, though the king may appear best in the
background; and as I have no desire to tease her, I shall never force your name
upon her again. She will grow sober by degrees. From all that I hear and guess,
Baron Wildenheim's attentions to Julia continue, but I do not know that he has
any serious encouragement. She ought to do better. A poor honourable is no
catch, and I cannot imagine any liking in the case, for take away his rants, and
the poor baron has nothing. What a difference a vowel makes! If his rents were
but equal to his rants! Your cousin Edmund moves slowly; detained, perchance,
by parish duties. There may be some old woman at Thornton Lacey to be
converted. I am unwilling to fancy myself neglected for a young one. Adieu! my
dear sweet Fanny, this is a long letter from London: write me a pretty one in reply