Sense and Sensibility HTML version
Mrs. John Dashwood now installed herself mistress of Norland; and her mother
and sisters-in-law were degraded to the condition of visitors. As such, however,
they were treated by her with quiet civility; and by her husband with as much
kindness as he could feel towards anybody beyond himself, his wife, and their
child. He really pressed them, with some earnestness, to consider Norland as
their home; and, as no plan appeared so eligible to Mrs. Dashwood as remaining
there till she could accommodate herself with a house in the neighbourhood, his
invitation was accepted.
A continuance in a place where everything reminded her of former delight, was
exactly what suited her mind. In seasons of cheerfulness, no temper could be
more cheerful than hers, or possess, in a greater degree, that sanguine
expectation of happiness which is happiness itself. But in sorrow she must be
equally carried away by her fancy, and as far beyond consolation as in pleasure
she was beyond alloy.
Mrs. John Dashwood did not at all approve of what her husband intended to do
for his sisters. To take three thousand pounds from the fortune of their dear little
boy would be impoverishing him to the most dreadful degree. She begged him to
think again on the subject. How could he answer it to himself to rob his child, and
his only child too, of so large a sum? And what possible claim could the Miss
Dashwoods, who were related to him only by half blood, which she considered as
no relationship at all, have on his generosity to so large an amount. It was very
well known that no affection was ever supposed to exist between the children of
any man by different marriages; and why was he to ruin himself, and their poor
little Harry, by giving away all his money to his half sisters?
"It was my father's last request to me," replied her husband, "that I should assist
his widow and daughters."
"He did not know what he was talking of, I dare say; ten to one but he was light-
headed at the time. Had he been in his right senses, he could not have thought
of such a thing as begging you to give away half your fortune from your own
"He did not stipulate for any particular sum, my dear Fanny; he only requested
me, in general terms, to assist them, and make their situation more comfortable
than it was in his power to do. Perhaps it would have been as well if he had left it
wholly to myself. He could hardly suppose I should neglect them. But as he
required the promise, I could not do less than give it; at least I thought so at the
time. The promise, therefore, was given, and must be performed. Something
must be done for them whenever they leave Norland and settle in a new home."
"Well, then, let something be done for them; but that something need not be
three thousand pounds. Consider," she added, "that when the money is once
parted with, it never can return. Your sisters will marry, and it will be gone for
ever. If, indeed, it could be restored to our poor little boy. . ."
"Why, to be sure," said her husband, very gravely, "that would make great
difference. The time may come when Harry will regret that so large a sum was