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Chapter 32
When the particulars of this conversation were repeated by Miss Dashwood to
her sister, as they very soon were, the effect on her was not entirely such as the
former had hoped to see. Not that Marianne appeared to distrust the truth of any
part of it, for she listened to it all with the most steady and submissive attention,
made neither objection nor remark, attempted no vindication of Willoughby, and
seemed to show by her tears that she felt it to be impossible. But though this
behaviour assured Elinor that the conviction of this guilt was carried home to her
mind, though she saw with satisfaction the effect of it, in her no longer avoiding
Colonel Brandon when he called, in her speaking to him, even voluntarily
speaking, with a kind of compassionate respect, and though she saw her spirits
less violently irritated than before, she did not see her less wretched. Her mind
did become settled, but it was settled in a gloomy dejection. She felt the loss of
Willoughby's character yet more heavily than she had felt the loss of his heart;
his seduction and desertion of Miss Williams, the misery of that poor girl, and the
doubt of what his designs might once have been on herself, preyed altogether so
much on her spirits, that she could not bring herself to speak of what she felt
even to Elinor; and, brooding over her sorrows in silence, gave more pain to her
sister than could have been communicated by the most open and most frequent
confession of them.
To give the feelings or the language of Mrs. Dashwood on receiving and
answering Elinor's letter would be only to give a repetition of what her daughters
had already felt and said; of a disappointment hardly less painful than
Marianne's, and an indignation even greater than Elinor's. Long letters from her,
quickly succeeding each other, arrived to tell all that she suffered and thought; to
express her anxious solicitude for Marianne, and entreat she would bear up with
fortitude under this misfortune. Bad indeed must the nature of Marianne's
affliction be, when her mother could talk of fortitude! mortifying and humiliating
must be the origin of those regrets, which she could wish her not to indulge!
Against the interest of her own individual comfort, Mrs. Dashwood had
determined that it would be better for Marianne to be any where, at that time,
than at Barton, where every thing within her view would be bringing back the past
in the strongest and most afflicting manner, by constantly placing Willoughby
before her, such as she had always seen him there. She recommended it to her
daughters, therefore, by all means not to shorten their visit to Mrs. Jennings; the
length of which, though never exactly fixed, had been expected by all to comprise
at least five or six weeks. A variety of occupations, of objects, and of company,
which could not be procured at Barton, would be inevitable there, and might yet,
she hoped, cheat Marianne, at times, into some interest beyond herself, and
even into some amusement, much as the ideas of both might now be spurned by
From all danger of seeing Willoughby again, her mother considered her to be at
least equally safe in town as in the country, since his acquaintance must now be
dropped by all who called themselves her friends. Design could never bring them