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Chapter 33
After some opposition, Marianne yielded to her sister's entreaties, and consented
to go out with her and Mrs. Jennings one morning for half an hour. She expressly
conditioned, however, for paying no visits, and would do no more than
accompany them to Gray's in Sackville Street, where Elinor was carrying on a
negotiation for the exchange of a few old-fashioned jewels of her mother.
When they stopped at the door, Mrs. Jennings recollected that there was a lady
at the other end of the street on whom she ought to call; and as she had no
business at Gray's, it was resolved, that while her young friends transacted
theirs, she should pay her visit and return for them.
On ascending the stairs, the Miss Dashwoods found so many people before
them in the room, that there was not a person at liberty to tend to their orders;
and they were obliged to wait. All that could be done was, to sit down at that end
of the counter which seemed to promise the quickest succession; one gentleman
only was standing there, and it is probable that Elinor was not without hope of
exciting his politeness to a quicker despatch. But the correctness of his eye, and
the delicacy of his taste, proved to be beyond his politeness. He was giving
orders for a toothpick-case for himself, and till its size, shape, and ornaments
were determined, all of which, after examining and debating for a quarter of an
hour over every toothpick-case in the shop, were finally arranged by his own
inventive fancy, he had no leisure to bestow any other attention on the two
ladies, than what was comprised in three or four very broad stares; a kind of
notice which served to imprint on Elinor the remembrance of a person and face,
of strong, natural, sterling insignificance, though adorned in the first style of
Marianne was spared from the troublesome feelings of contempt and
resentment, on this impertinent examination of their features, and on the
puppyism of his manner in deciding on all the different horrors of the different
toothpick-cases presented to his inspection, by remaining unconscious of it all;
for she was as well able to collect her thoughts within herself, and be as ignorant
of what was passing around her, in Mr. Gray's shop, as in her own bedroom.
At last the affair was decided. The ivory, the gold, and the pearls, all received
their appointment, and the gentleman having named the last day on which his
existence could be continued without the possession of the toothpick-case, drew
on his gloves with leisurely care, and bestowing another glance on the Miss
Dashwoods, but such a one as seemed rather to demand than express
admiration, walked off with a happy air of real conceit and affected indifference.
Elinor lost no time in bringing her business forward, was on the point of
concluding it, when another gentleman presented himself at her side. She turned
her eyes towards his face, and found him with some surprise to be her brother.
Their affection and pleasure in meeting was just enough to make a very
creditable appearance in Mr. Gray's shop. John Dashwood was really far from
being sorry to see his sisters again; it rather gave them satisfaction; and his
inquiries after their mother were respectful and attentive.