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Chapter 3
Mrs. Dashwood remained at Norland several months; not from any disinclination
to move when the sight of every well known spot ceased to raise the violent
emotion which it produced for a while; for when her spirits began to revive, and
her mind became capable of some other exertion than that of heightening its
affliction by melancholy remembrances, she was impatient to be gone, and
indefatigable in her inquiries for a suitable dwelling in the neighbourhood of
Norland; for to remove far from that beloved spot was impossible. But she could
hear of no situation that at once answered her notions of comfort and ease, and
suited the prudence of her eldest daughter, whose steadier judgment rejected
several houses as too large for their income, which her mother would have
Mrs. Dashwood had been informed by her husband of the solemn promise on the
part of his son in their favour, which gave comfort to his last earthly reflections.
She doubted the sincerity of this assurance no more than he had doubted it
himself, and she thought of it for her daughters' sake with satisfaction, though as
for herself she was persuaded that a much smaller provision than 7000L would
support her in affluence. For their brother's sake, too, for the sake of his own
heart, she rejoiced; and she reproached herself for being unjust to his merit
before, in believing him incapable of generosity. His attentive behaviour to herself
and his sisters convinced her that their welfare was dear to him, and, for a long
time, she firmly relied on the liberality of his intentions.
The contempt which she had, very early in their acquaintance, felt for her
daughter-in-law, was very much increased by the farther knowledge of her
character, which half a year's residence in her family afforded; and perhaps in
spite of every consideration of politeness or maternal affection on the side of the
former, the two ladies might have found it impossible to have lived together so
long, had not a particular circumstance occurred to give still greater eligibility,
according to the opinions of Mrs. Dashwood, to her daughters' continuance at
This circumstance was a growing attachment between her eldest girl and the
brother of Mrs. John Dashwood, a gentleman-like and pleasing young man, who
was introduced to their acquaintance soon after his sister's establishment at
Norland, and who had since spent the greatest part of his time there.
Some mothers might have encouraged the intimacy from motives of interest, for
Edward Ferrars was the eldest son of a man who had died very rich; and some
might have repressed it from motives of prudence, for, except a trifling sum, the
whole of his fortune depended on the will of his mother. But Mrs. Dashwood was
alike uninfluenced by either consideration. It was enough for her that he
appeared to be amiable, that he loved her daughter, and that Elinor returned the
partiality. It was contrary to every doctrine of hers that difference of fortune
should keep any couple asunder who were attracted by resemblance of
disposition; and that Elinor's merit should not be acknowledged by every one who
knew her, was to her comprehension impossible.