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Chapter 2
The little girl performed her long journey in safety; and at Northampton was met
by Mrs. Norris, who thus regaled in the credit of being foremost to welcome her,
and in the importance of leading her in to the others, and recommending her to
their kindness.
Fanny Price was at this time just ten years old, and though there might not be
much in her first appearance to captivate, there was, at least, nothing to disgust
her relations. She was small of her age, with no glow of complexion, nor any
other striking beauty; exceedingly timid and shy, and shrinking from notice; but
her air, though awkward, was not vulgar, her voice was sweet, and when she
spoke her countenance was pretty. Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram received her
very kindly; and Sir Thomas, seeing how much she needed encouragement, tried
to be all that was conciliating: but he had to work against a most untoward gravity
of deportment; and Lady Bertram, without taking half so much trouble, or
speaking one word where he spoke ten, by the mere aid of a good-humoured
smile, became immediately the less awful character of the two.
The young people were all at home, and sustained their share in the introduction
very well, with much good humour, and no embarrassment, at least on the part of
the sons, who, at seventeen and sixteen, and tall of their age, had all the
grandeur of men in the eyes of their little cousin. The two girls were more at a
loss from being younger and in greater awe of their father, who addressed them
on the occasion with rather an injudicious particularity. But they were too much
used to company and praise to have anything like natural shyness; and their
confidence increasing from their cousin's total want of it, they were soon able to
take a full survey of her face and her frock in easy indifference.
They were a remarkably fine family, the sons very well-looking, the daughters
decidedly handsome, and all of them well-grown and forward of their age, which
produced as striking a difference between the cousins in person, as education
had given to their address; and no one would have supposed the girls so nearly
of an age as they really were. There were in fact but two years between the
youngest and Fanny. Julia Bertram was only twelve, and Maria but a year older.
The little visitor meanwhile was as unhappy as possible. Afraid of everybody,
ashamed of herself, and longing for the home she had left, she knew not how to
look up, and could scarcely speak to be heard, or without crying. Mrs. Norris had
been talking to her the whole way from Northampton of her wonderful good
fortune, and the extraordinary degree of gratitude and good behaviour which it
ought to produce, and her consciousness of misery was therefore increased by
the idea of its being a wicked thing for her not to be happy. The fatigue, too, of so
long a journey, became soon no trifling evil. In vain were the well-meant
condescensions of Sir Thomas, and all the officious prognostications of Mrs.
Norris that she would be a good girl; in vain did Lady Bertram smile and make
her sit on the sofa with herself and pug, and vain was even the sight of a
gooseberry tart towards giving her comfort; she could scarcely swallow two