Sense and Sensibility HTML version

Chapter 19
Edward remained a week at the cottage; he was earnestly pressed by Mrs.
Dashwood to stay longer; but, as if he were bent only on self-mortification, he
seemed resolved to be gone when his enjoyment among his friends was at the
height. His spirits, during the last two or three days, though still very unequal,
were greatly improved--he grew more and more partial to the house and
environs--never spoke of going away without a sigh--declared his time to be
wholly disengaged--even doubted to what place he should go when he left them--
but still, go he must. Never had any week passed so quickly--he could hardly
believe it to be gone. He said so repeatedly; other things he said too, which
marked the turn of his feelings and gave the lie to his actions. He had no
pleasure at Norland; he detested being in town; but either to Norland or London,
he must go. He valued their kindness beyond any thing, and his greatest
happiness was in being with them. Yet, he must leave them at the end of a week,
in spite of their wishes and his own, and without any restraint on his time.
Elinor placed all that was astonishing in this way of acting to his mother's
account; and it was happy for her that he had a mother whose character was so
imperfectly known to her, as to be the general excuse for every thing strange on
the part of her son. Disappointed, however, and vexed as she was, and
sometimes displeased with his uncertain behaviour to herself, she was very well
disposed on the whole to regard his actions with all the candid allowances and
generous qualifications, which had been rather more painfully extorted from her,
for Willoughby's service, by her mother. His want of spirits, of openness, and of
consistency, were most usually attributed to his want of independence, and his
better knowledge of Mrs. Ferrars's disposition and designs. The shortness of his
visit, the steadiness of his purpose in leaving them, originated in the same
fettered inclination, the same inevitable necessity of temporizing with his mother.
The old well-established grievance of duty against will, parent against child, was
the cause of all. She would have been glad to know when these difficulties were
to cease, this opposition was to yield,--when Mrs. Ferrars would be reformed,
and her son be at liberty to be happy. But from such vain wishes she was forced
to turn for comfort to the renewal of her confidence in Edward's affection, to the
remembrance of every mark of regard in look or word which fell from him while at
Barton, and above all to that flattering proof of it which he constantly wore round
his finger.
"I think, Edward," said Mrs. Dashwood, as they were at breakfast the last
morning, "you would be a happier man if you had any profession to engage your
time and give an interest to your plans and actions. Some inconvenience to your
friends, indeed, might result from it--you would not be able to give them so much
of your time. But (with a smile) you would be materially benefited in one particular
at least--you would know where to go when you left them."
"I do assure you," he replied, "that I have long thought on this point, as you think
now. It has been, and is, and probably will always be a heavy misfortune to me,
that I have had no necessary business to engage me, no profession to give me