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Chapter 31
From a night of more sleep than she had expected, Marianne awoke the next
morning to the same consciousness of misery in which she had closed her eyes.
Elinor encouraged her as much as possible to talk of what she felt; and before
breakfast was ready, they had gone through the subject again and again; and
with the same steady conviction and affectionate counsel on Elinor's side, the
same impetuous feelings and varying opinions on Marianne's, as before.
Sometimes she could believe Willoughby to be as unfortunate and as innocent
as herself, and at others, lost every consolation in the impossibility of acquitting
him. At one moment she was absolutely indifferent to the observation of all the
world, at another she would seclude herself from it for ever, and at a third could
resist it with energy. In one thing, however, she was uniform, when it came to the
point, in avoiding, where it was possible, the presence of Mrs. Jennings, and in a
determined silence when obliged to endure it. Her heart was hardened against
the belief of Mrs. Jennings's entering into her sorrows with any compassion.
"No, no, no, it cannot be," she cried; "she cannot feel. Her kindness is not
sympathy; her good-nature is not tenderness. All that she wants is gossip, and
she only likes me now because I supply it."
Elinor had not needed this to be assured of the injustice to which her sister was
often led in her opinion of others, by the irritable refinement of her own mind, and
the too great importance placed by her on the delicacies of a strong sensibility,
and the graces of a polished manner. Like half the rest of the world, if more than
half there be that are clever and good, Marianne, with excellent abilities and an
excellent disposition, was neither reasonable nor candid. She expected from
other people the same opinions and feelings as her own, and she judged of their
motives by the immediate effect of their actions on herself. Thus a circumstance
occurred, while the sisters were together in their own room after breakfast, which
sunk the heart of Mrs. Jennings still lower in her estimation; because, through her
own weakness, it chanced to prove a source of fresh pain to herself, though Mrs.
Jennings was governed in it by an impulse of the utmost goodwill.
With a letter in her outstretched hand, and countenance gaily smiling, from the
persuasion of bringing comfort, she entered their room, saying,
"Now, my dear, I bring you something that I am sure will do you good."
Marianne heard enough. In one moment her imagination placed before her a
letter from Willoughby, full of tenderness and contrition, explanatory of all that
had passed, satisfactory, convincing; and instantly followed by Willoughby
himself, rushing eagerly into the room to enforce, at her feet, by the eloquence of
his eyes, the assurances of his letter. The work of one moment was destroyed by
the next. The hand writing of her mother, never till then unwelcome, was before
her; and, in the acuteness of the disappointment which followed such an ecstasy
of more than hope, she felt as if, till that instant, she had never suffered.
The cruelty of Mrs. Jennings no language, within her reach in her moments of
happiest eloquence, could have expressed; and now she could reproach her only
by the tears which streamed from her eyes with passionate violence--a reproach,