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Chapter 27
"If this open weather holds much longer," said Mrs. Jennings, when they met at
breakfast the following morning, "Sir John will not like leaving Barton next week;
'tis a sad thing for sportsmen to lose a day's pleasure. Poor souls! I always pity
them when they do; they seem to take it so much to heart."
"That is true," cried Marianne, in a cheerful voice, and walking to the window as
she spoke, to examine the day. "I had not thought of that. This weather will keep
many sportsmen in the country."
It was a lucky recollection, all her good spirits were restored by it. "It is charming
weather for them indeed," she continued, as she sat down to the breakfast table
with a happy countenance. "How much they must enjoy it! But" (with a little return
of anxiety) "it cannot be expected to last long. At this time of the year, and after
such a series of rain, we shall certainly have very little more of it. Frosts will soon
set in, and in all probability with severity. In another day or two perhaps; this
extreme mildness can hardly last longer--nay, perhaps it may freeze tonight!"
"At any rate," said Elinor, wishing to prevent Mrs. Jennings from seeing her
sister's thoughts as clearly as she did, "I dare say we shall have Sir John and
Lady Middleton in town by the end of next week."
"Ay, my dear, I'll warrant you we do. Mary always has her own way."
"And now," silently conjectured Elinor, "she will write to Combe by this day's
But if she did, the letter was written and sent away with a privacy which eluded all
her watchfulness to ascertain the fact. Whatever the truth of it might be, and far
as Elinor was from feeling thorough contentment about it, yet while she saw
Marianne in spirits, she could not be very uncomfortable herself. And Marianne
was in spirits; happy in the mildness of the weather, and still happier in her
expectation of a frost.
The morning was chiefly spent in leaving cards at the houses of Mrs. Jennings's
acquaintance to inform them of her being in town; and Marianne was all the time
busy in observing the direction of the wind, watching the variations of the sky and
imagining an alteration in the air.
"Don't you find it colder than it was in the morning, Elinor? There seems to me a
very decided difference. I can hardly keep my hands warm even in my muff. It
was not so yesterday, I think. The clouds seem parting too, the sun will be out in
a moment, and we shall have a clear afternoon."
Elinor was alternately diverted and pained; but Marianne persevered, and saw
every night in the brightness of the fire, and every morning in the appearance of
the atmosphere, the certain symptoms of approaching frost.
The Miss Dashwoods had no greater reason to be dissatisfied with Mrs.
Jennings's style of living, and set of acquaintance, than with her behaviour to
themselves, which was invariably kind. Every thing in her household
arrangements was conducted on the most liberal plan, and excepting a few old
city friends, whom, to Lady Middleton's regret, she had never dropped, she
visited no one to whom an introduction could at all discompose the feelings of her