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Chapter 16
There was one point which Anne, on returning to her family, would have been
more thankful to ascertain even than Mr. Elliot's being in love with Elizabeth,
which was, her father's not being in love with Mrs. Clay; and she was very far
from easy about it, when she had been at home a few hours. On going down to
breakfast the next morning, she found there had just been a decent pretence on
the lady's side of meaning to leave them. She could imagine Mrs. Clay to have
said, that "now Miss Anne was come, she could not suppose herself at all
wanted;" for Elizabeth was replying in a sort of whisper, "That must not be any
reason, indeed. I assure you I feel it none. She is nothing to me, compared with
you;" and she was in full time to hear her father say, "My dear madam, this must
not be. As yet, you have seen nothing of Bath. You have been here only to be
useful. You must not run away from us now. You must stay to be acquainted with
Mrs. Wallis, the beautiful Mrs. Wallis. To your fine mind, I well know the sight of
beauty is a real gratification."
He spoke and looked so much in earnest, that Anne was not surprised to see
Mrs. Clay stealing a glance at Elizabeth and herself. Her countenance, perhaps,
might express some watchfulness; but the praise of the fine mind did not appear
to excite a thought in her sister. The lady could not but yield to such joint
entreaties, and promise to stay.
In the course of the same morning, Anne and her father chancing to be alone
together, he began to compliment her on her improved looks; he thought her
"less thin in her person, in her cheeks; her skin, her complexion, greatly
improved; clearer, fresher. Had she been using any thing in particular?" "No,
nothing." "Merely Gowland," he supposed. "No, nothing at all." "Ha! he was
surprised at that;" and added, "certainly you cannot do better than to continue as
you are; you cannot be better than well; or I should recommend Gowland, the
constant use of Gowland, during the spring months. Mrs. Clay has been using it
at my recommendation, and you see what it has done for her. You see how it has
carried away her freckles."
If Elizabeth could but have heard this! Such personal praise might have struck
her, especially as it did not appear to Anne that the freckles were at all lessened.
But everything must take its chance. The evil of a marriage would be much
diminished, if Elizabeth were also to marry. As for herself, she might always
command a home with Lady Russell.
Lady Russell's composed mind and polite manners were put to some trial on this
point, in her intercourse in Camden Place. The sight of Mrs. Clay in such favour,
and of Anne so overlooked, was a perpetual provocation to her there; and vexed
her as much when she was away, as a person in Bath who drinks the water, gets
all the new publications, and has a very large acquaintance, has time to be
As Mr. Elliot became known to her, she grew more charitable, or more indifferent,
towards the others. His manners were an immediate recommendation; and on
conversing with him she found the solid so fully supporting the superficial, that
she was at first, as she told Anne, almost ready to exclaim, "Can this be Mr.