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Chapter 21
The Palmers returned to Cleveland the next day, and the two families at Barton
were again left to entertain each other. But this did not last long; Elinor had
hardly got their last visitors out of her head, had hardly done wondering at
Charlotte's being so happy without a cause, at Mr. Palmer's acting so simply,
with good abilities, and at the strange unsuitableness which often existed
between husband and wife, before Sir John's and Mrs. Jennings's active zeal in
the cause of society, procured her some other new acquaintance to see and
In a morning's excursion to Exeter, they had met with two young ladies, whom
Mrs. Jennings had the satisfaction of discovering to be her relations, and this was
enough for Sir John to invite them directly to the park, as soon as their present
engagements at Exeter were over. Their engagements at Exeter instantly gave
way before such an invitation, and Lady Middleton was thrown into no little alarm
on the return of Sir John, by hearing that she was very soon to receive a visit
from two girls whom she had never seen in her life, and of whose elegance,--
whose tolerable gentility even, she could have no proof; for the assurances of her
husband and mother on that subject went for nothing at all. Their being her
relations too made it so much the worse; and Mrs. Jennings's attempts at
consolation were therefore unfortunately founded, when she advised her
daughter not to care about their being so fashionable; because they were all
cousins and must put up with one another. As it was impossible, however, now to
prevent their coming, Lady Middleton resigned herself to the idea of it, with all the
philosophy of a well-bred woman, contenting herself with merely giving her
husband a gentle reprimand on the subject five or six times every day.
The young ladies arrived: their appearance was by no means ungenteel or
unfashionable. Their dress was very smart, their manners very civil, they were
delighted with the house, and in raptures with the furniture, and they happened to
be so dotingly fond of children that Lady Middleton's good opinion was engaged
in their favour before they had been an hour at the Park. She declared them to
be very agreeable girls indeed, which for her ladyship was enthusiastic
admiration. Sir John's confidence in his own judgment rose with this animated
praise, and he set off directly for the cottage to tell the Miss Dashwoods of the
Miss Steeles' arrival, and to assure them of their being the sweetest girls in the
world. From such commendation as this, however, there was not much to be
learned; Elinor well knew that the sweetest girls in the world were to be met with
in every part of England, under every possible variation of form, face, temper and
understanding. Sir John wanted the whole family to walk to the Park directly and
look at his guests. Benevolent, philanthropic man! It was painful to him even to
keep a third cousin to himself.
"Do come now," said he--"pray come--you must come--I declare you shall come--
You can't think how you will like them. Lucy is monstrous pretty, and so good
humoured and agreeable! The children are all hanging about her already, as if
she was an old acquaintance. And they both long to see you of all things, for they