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Fanny's rides recommenced the very next day; and as it was a pleasant fresh-
feeling morning, less hot than the weather had lately been, Edmund trusted that
her losses, both of health and pleasure, would be soon made good. While she
was gone Mr. Rushworth arrived, escorting his mother, who came to be civil and
to show her civility especially, in urging the execution of the plan for visiting
Sotherton, which had been started a fortnight before, and which, in consequence
of her subsequent absence from home, had since lain dormant. Mrs. Norris and
her nieces were all well pleased with its revival, and an early day was named and
agreed to, provided Mr. Crawford should be disengaged: the young ladies did not
forget that stipulation, and though Mrs. Norris would willingly have answered for
his being so, they would neither authorize the liberty nor run the risk; and at last,
on a hint from Miss Bertram, Mr. Rushworth discovered that the properest thing
to be done was for him to walk down to the Parsonage directly, and call on Mr.
Crawford, and inquire whether Wednesday would suit him or not.
Before his return Mrs. Grant and Miss Crawford came in. Having been out some
time, and taken a different route to the house, they had not met him. Comfortable
hopes, however, were given that he would find Mr. Crawford at home. The
Sotherton scheme was mentioned of course. It was hardly possible, indeed, that
anything else should be talked of, for Mrs. Norris was in high spirits about it; and
Mrs. Rushworth, a well-meaning, civil, prosing, pompous woman, who thought
nothing of consequence, but as it related to her own and her son's concerns, had
not yet given over pressing Lady Bertram to be of the party. Lady Bertram
constantly declined it; but her placid manner of refusal made Mrs. Rushworth still
think she wished to come, till Mrs. Norris's more numerous words and louder
tone convinced her of the truth.
"The fatigue would be too much for my sister, a great deal too much, I assure
you, my dear Mrs. Rushworth. Ten miles there, and ten back, you know. You
must excuse my sister on this occasion, and accept of our two dear girls and
myself without her. Sotherton is the only place that could give her a wish to go so
far, but it cannot be, indeed. She will have a companion in Fanny Price, you
know, so it will all do very well; and as for Edmund, as he is not here to speak for
himself, I will answer for his being most happy to join the party. He can go on
horseback, you know."
Mrs. Rushworth being obliged to yield to Lady Bertram's staying at home, could
only be sorry. "The loss of her ladyship's company would be a great drawback,
and she should have been extremely happy to have seen the young lady too,
Miss Price, who had never been at Sotherton yet, and it was a pity she should
not see the place."
"You are very kind, you are all kindness, my dear madam," cried Mrs. Norris; "but
as to Fanny, she will have opportunities in plenty of seeing Sotherton. She has
time enough before her; and her going now is quite out of the question. Lady
Bertram could not possibly spare her."
"Oh no! I cannot do without Fanny."