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Chapter 48
Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. I quit such odious subjects as soon as I
can, impatient to restore everybody, not greatly in fault themselves, to tolerable
comfort, and to have done with all the rest.
My Fanny, indeed, at this very time, I have the satisfaction of knowing, must have
been happy in spite of everything. She must have been a happy creature in spite
of all that she felt, or thought she felt, for the distress of those around her. She
had sources of delight that must force their way. She was returned to Mansfield
Park, she was useful, she was beloved; she was safe from Mr. Crawford; and
when Sir Thomas came back she had every proof that could be given in his then
melancholy state of spirits, of his perfect approbation and increased regard; and
happy as all this must make her, she would still have been happy without any of
it, for Edmund was no longer the dupe of Miss Crawford.
It is true that Edmund was very far from happy himself. He was suffering from
disappointment and regret, grieving over what was, and wishing for what could
never be. She knew it was so, and was sorry; but it was with a sorrow so founded
on satisfaction, so tending to ease, and so much in harmony with every dearest
sensation, that there are few who might not have been glad to exchange their
greatest gaiety for it.
Sir Thomas, poor Sir Thomas, a parent, and conscious of errors in his own
conduct as a parent, was the longest to suffer. He felt that he ought not to have
allowed the marriage; that his daughter's sentiments had been sufficiently known
to him to render him culpable in authorizing it; that in so doing he had sacrificed
the right to the expedient, and been governed by motives of selfishness and
worldly wisdom. These were reflections that required some time to soften; but
time will do almost everything; and though little comfort arose on Mrs.
Rushworth's side for the misery she had occasioned, comfort was to be found
greater than he had supposed in his other children. Julia's match became a less
desperate business than he had considered it at first. She was humble, and
wishing to be forgiven; and Mr. Yates, desirous of being really received into the
family, was disposed to look up to him and be guided. He was not very solid; but
there was a hope of his becoming less trifling, of his being at least tolerably
domestic and quiet; and at any rate, there was comfort in finding his estate rather
more, and his debts much less, than he had feared, and in being consulted and
treated as the friend best worth attending to. There was comfort also in Tom, who
gradually regained his health, without regaining the thoughtlessness and
selfishness of his previous habits. He was the better for ever for his illness. He
had suffered, and he had learned to think: two advantages that he had never
known before; and the self-reproach arising from the deplorable event in
Wimpole Street, to which he felt himself accessory by all the dangerous intimacy
of his unjustifiable theatre, made an impression on his mind which, at the age of
six-and-twenty, with no want of sense or good companions, was durable in its
happy effects. He became what he ought to be: useful to his father, steady and
quiet, and not living merely for himself.