Sense and Sensibility HTML version

Chapter 12
As Elinor and Marianne were walking together the next morning the latter
communicated a piece of news to her sister, which in spite of all that she knew
before of Marianne's imprudence and want of thought, surprised her by its
extravagant testimony of both. Marianne told her, with the greatest delight, that
Willoughby had given her a horse, one that he had bred himself on his estate in
Somersetshire, and which was exactly calculated to carry a woman. Without
considering that it was not in her mother's plan to keep any horse, that if she
were to alter her resolution in favour of this gift, she must buy another for the
servant, and keep a servant to ride it, and after all, build a stable to receive them,
she had accepted the present without hesitation, and told her sister of it in
"He intends to send his groom into Somersetshire immediately for it," she added,
"and when it arrives we will ride every day. You shall share its use with me.
Imagine to yourself, my dear Elinor, the delight of a gallop on some of these
Most unwilling was she to awaken from such a dream of felicity to comprehend
all the unhappy truths which attended the affair; and for some time she refused to
submit to them. As to an additional servant, the expense would be a trifle;
Mamma she was sure would never object to it; and any horse would do for him;
he might always get one at the park; as to a stable, the merest shed would be
sufficient. Elinor then ventured to doubt the propriety of her receiving such a
present from a man so little, or at least so lately known to her. This was too
"You are mistaken, Elinor," said she warmly, "in supposing I know very little of
Willoughby. I have not known him long indeed, but I am much better acquainted
with him, than I am with any other creature in the world, except yourself and
mama. It is not time or opportunity that is to determine intimacy;-- it is disposition
alone. Seven years would be insufficient to make some people acquainted with
each other, and seven days are more than enough for others. I should hold
myself guilty of greater impropriety in accepting a horse from my brother, than
from Willoughby. Of John I know very little, though we have lived together for
years; but of Willoughby my judgment has long been formed."
Elinor thought it wisest to touch that point no more. She knew her sister's temper.
Opposition on so tender a subject would only attach her the more to her own
opinion. But by an appeal to her affection for her mother, by representing the
inconveniences which that indulgent mother must draw on herself, if (as would
probably be the case) she consented to this increase of establishment, Marianne
was shortly subdued; and she promised not to tempt her mother to such
imprudent kindness by mentioning the offer, and to tell Willoughby when she saw
him next, that it must be declined.
She was faithful to her word; and when Willoughby called at the cottage, the
same day, Elinor heard her express her disappointment to him in a low voice, on
being obliged to forego the acceptance of his present. The reasons for this