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Chapter 17
It was, indeed, a triumphant day to Mr. Bertram and Maria. Such a victory over
Edmund's discretion had been beyond their hopes, and was most delightful.
There was no longer anything to disturb them in their darling project, and they
congratulated each other in private on the jealous weakness to which they
attributed the change, with all the glee of feelings gratified in every way. Edmund
might still look grave, and say he did not like the scheme in general, and must
disapprove the play in particular; their point was gained: he was to act, and he
was driven to it by the force of selfish inclinations only. Edmund had descended
from that moral elevation which he had maintained before, and they were both as
much the better as the happier for the descent.
They behaved very well, however, to him on the occasion, betraying no
exultation beyond the lines about the corners of the mouth, and seemed to think
it as great an escape to be quit of the intrusion of Charles Maddox, as if they had
been forced into admitting him against their inclination. "To have it quite in their
own family circle was what they had particularly wished. A stranger among them
would have been the destruction of all their comfort"; and when Edmund,
pursuing that idea, gave a hint of his hope as to the limitation of the audience,
they were ready, in the complaisance of the moment, to promise anything. It was
all good-humour and encouragement. Mrs. Norris offered to contrive his dress,
Mr. Yates assured him that Anhalt's last scene with the Baron admitted a good
deal of action and emphasis, and Mr. Rushworth undertook to count his
"Perhaps," said Tom, "Fanny may be more disposed to oblige us now. Perhaps
you may persuade her."
"No, she is quite determined. She certainly will not act."
"Oh! very well." And not another word was said; but Fanny felt herself again in
danger, and her indifference to the danger was beginning to fail her already.
There were not fewer smiles at the Parsonage than at the Park on this change in
Edmund; Miss Crawford looked very lovely in hers, and entered with such an
instantaneous renewal of cheerfulness into the whole affair as could have but
one effect on him. "He was certainly right in respecting such feelings; he was
glad he had determined on it." And the morning wore away in satisfactions very
sweet, if not very sound. One advantage resulted from it to Fanny: at the earnest
request of Miss Crawford, Mrs. Grant had, with her usual good-humour, agreed
to undertake the part for which Fanny had been wanted; and this was all that
occurred to gladden her heart during the day; and even this, when imparted by
Edmund, brought a pang with it, for it was Miss Crawford to whom she was
obliged--it was Miss Crawford whose kind exertions were to excite her gratitude,
and whose merit in making them was spoken of with a glow of admiration. She
was safe; but peace and safety were unconnected here. Her mind had been
never farther from peace. She could not feel that she had done wrong herself,
but she was disquieted in every other way. Her heart and her judgment were
equally against Edmund's decision: she could not acquit his unsteadiness, and