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Chapter 44
Seven weeks of the two months were very nearly gone, when the one letter, the
letter from Edmund, so long expected, was put into Fanny's hands. As she
opened, and saw its length, she prepared herself for a minute detail of happiness
and a profusion of love and praise towards the fortunate creature who was now
mistress of his fate. These were the contents--
"My Dear Fanny,--Excuse me that I have not written before. Crawford told me
that you were wishing to hear from me, but I found it impossible to write from
London, and persuaded myself that you would understand my silence. Could I
have sent a few happy lines, they should not have been wanting, but nothing of
that nature was ever in my power. I am returned to Mansfield in a less assured
state that when I left it. My hopes are much weaker. You are probably aware of
this already. So very fond of you as Miss Crawford is, it is most natural that she
should tell you enough of her own feelings to furnish a tolerable guess at mine. I
will not be prevented, however, from making my own communication. Our
confidences in you need not clash. I ask no questions. There is something
soothing in the idea that we have the same friend, and that whatever unhappy
differences of opinion may exist between us, we are united in our love of you. It
will be a comfort to me to tell you how things now are, and what are my present
plans, if plans I can be said to have. I have been returned since Saturday. I was
three weeks in London, and saw her (for London) very often. I had every
attention from the Frasers that could be reasonably expected. I dare say I was
not reasonable in carrying with me hopes of an intercourse at all like that of
Mansfield. It was her manner, however, rather than any unfrequency of meeting.
Had she been different when I did see her, I should have made no complaint, but
from the very first she was altered: my first reception was so unlike what I had
hoped, that I had almost resolved on leaving London again directly. I need not
particularise. You know the weak side of her character, and may imagine the
sentiments and expressions which were torturing me. She was in high spirits,
and surrounded by those who were giving all the support of their own bad sense
to her too lively mind. I do not like Mrs. Fraser. She is a cold-hearted, vain
woman, who has married entirely from convenience, and though evidently
unhappy in her marriage, places her disappointment not to faults of judgment, or
temper, or disproportion of age, but to her being, after all, less affluent than many
of her acquaintance, especially than her sister, Lady Stornaway, and is the
determined supporter of everything mercenary and ambitious, provided it be only
mercenary and ambitious enough. I look upon her intimacy with those two sisters
as the greatest misfortune of her life and mine. They have been leading her
astray for years. Could she be detached from them!-- and sometimes I do not
despair of it, for the affection appears to me principally on their side.
"They are very fond of her; but I am sure she does not love them as she loves
you. When I think of her great attachment to you, indeed, and the whole of her
judicious, upright conduct as a sister, she appears a very different creature,
capable of everything noble, and I am ready to blame myself for a too harsh