Mansfield Park HTML version

Chapter 47
It had been a miserable party, each of the three believing themselves most
miserable. Mrs. Norris, however, as most attached to Maria, was really the
greatest sufferer. Maria was her first favourite, the dearest of all; the match had
been her own contriving, as she had been wont with such pride of heart to feel
and say, and this conclusion of it almost overpowered her.
She was an altered creature, quieted, stupefied, indifferent to everything that
passed. The being left with her sister and nephew, and all the house under her
care, had been an advantage entirely thrown away; she had been unable to
direct or dictate, or even fancy herself useful. When really touched by affliction,
her active powers had been all benumbed; and neither Lady Bertram nor Tom
had received from her the smallest support or attempt at support. She had done
no more for them than they had done for each other. They had been all solitary,
helpless, and forlorn alike; and now the arrival of the others only established her
superiority in wretchedness. Her companions were relieved, but there was no
good for her. Edmund was almost as welcome to his brother as Fanny to her
aunt; but Mrs. Norris, instead of having comfort from either, was but the more
irritated by the sight of the person whom, in the blindness of her anger, she could
have charged as the daemon of the piece. Had Fanny accepted Mr. Crawford
this could not have happened.
Susan too was a grievance. She had not spirits to notice her in more than a few
repulsive looks, but she felt her as a spy, and an intruder, and an indigent niece,
and everything most odious. By her other aunt, Susan was received with quiet
kindness. Lady Bertram could not give her much time, or many words, but she
felt her, as Fanny's sister, to have a claim at Mansfield, and was ready to kiss
and like her; and Susan was more than satisfied, for she came perfectly aware
that nothing but ill-humour was to be expected from aunt Norris; and was so
provided with happiness, so strong in that best of blessings, an escape from
many certain evils, that she could have stood against a great deal more
indifference than she met with from the others.
She was now left a good deal to herself, to get acquainted with the house and
grounds as she could, and spent her days very happily in so doing, while those
who might otherwise have attended to her were shut up, or wholly occupied each
with the person quite dependent on them, at this time, for everything like comfort;
Edmund trying to bury his own feelings in exertions for the relief of his brother's,
and Fanny devoted to her aunt Bertram, returning to every former office with
more than former zeal, and thinking she could never do enough for one who
seemed so much to want her.
To talk over the dreadful business with Fanny, talk and lament, was all Lady
Bertram's consolation. To be listened to and borne with, and hear the voice of
kindness and sympathy in return, was everything that could be done for her. To
be otherwise comforted was out of the question. The case admitted of no
comfort. Lady Bertram did not think deeply, but, guided by Sir Thomas, she
thought justly on all important points; and she saw, therefore, in all its enormity,