Sense and Sensibility HTML version
Marianne, who had never much toleration for any thing like impertinence,
vulgarity, inferiority of parts, or even difference of taste from herself, was at this
time particularly ill-disposed, from the state of her spirits, to be pleased with the
Miss Steeles, or to encourage their advances; and to the invariable coldness of
her behaviour towards them, which checked every endeavour at intimacy on their
side, Elinor principally attributed that preference of herself which soon became
evident in the manners of both, but especially of Lucy, who missed no
opportunity of engaging her in conversation, or of striving to improve their
acquaintance by an easy and frank communication of her sentiments.
Lucy was naturally clever; her remarks were often just and amusing; and as a
companion for half an hour Elinor frequently found her agreeable; but her powers
had received no aid from education: she was ignorant and illiterate; and her
deficiency of all mental improvement, her want of information in the most
common particulars, could not be concealed from Miss Dashwood, in spite of her
constant endeavour to appear to advantage. Elinor saw, and pitied her for, the
neglect of abilities which education might have rendered so respectable; but she
saw, with less tenderness of feeling, the thorough want of delicacy, of rectitude,
and integrity of mind, which her attentions, her assiduities, her flatteries at the
Park betrayed; and she could have no lasting satisfaction in the company of a
person who joined insincerity with ignorance; whose want of instruction
prevented their meeting in conversation on terms of equality, and whose conduct
toward others made every shew of attention and deference towards herself
"You will think my question an odd one, I dare say," said Lucy to her one day, as
they were walking together from the park to the cottage--"but pray, are you
personally acquainted with your sister-in-law's mother, Mrs. Ferrars?"
Elinor did think the question a very odd one, and her countenance expressed it,
as she answered that she had never seen Mrs. Ferrars.
"Indeed!" replied Lucy; "I wonder at that, for I thought you must have seen her at
Norland sometimes. Then, perhaps, you cannot tell me what sort of a woman she
"No," returned Elinor, cautious of giving her real opinion of Edward's mother, and
not very desirous of satisfying what seemed impertinent curiosity-- "I know
nothing of her."
"I am sure you think me very strange, for enquiring about her in such a way," said
Lucy, eyeing Elinor attentively as she spoke; "but perhaps there may be reasons-
-I wish I might venture; but however I hope you will do me the justice of believing
that I do not mean to be impertinent."
Elinor made her a civil reply, and they walked on for a few minutes in silence. It
was broken by Lucy, who renewed the subject again by saying, with some
"I cannot bear to have you think me impertinently curious. I am sure I would
rather do any thing in the world than be thought so by a person whose good