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Chapter 25
Though Mrs. Jennings was in the habit of spending a large portion of the year at
the houses of her children and friends, she was not without a settled habitation of
her own. Since the death of her husband, who had traded with success in a less
elegant part of the town, she had resided every winter in a house in one of the
streets near Portman Square. Towards this home, she began on the approach of
January to turn her thoughts, and thither she one day abruptly, and very
unexpectedly by them, asked the elder Misses Dashwood to accompany her.
Elinor, without observing the varying complexion of her sister, and the animated
look which spoke no indifference to the plan, immediately gave a grateful but
absolute denial for both, in which she believed herself to be speaking their united
inclinations. The reason alleged was their determined resolution of not leaving
their mother at that time of the year. Mrs. Jennings received the refusal with
some surprise, and repeated her invitation immediately.
"Oh, Lord! I am sure your mother can spare you very well, and I do beg you will
favour me with your company, for I've quite set my heart upon it. Don't fancy that
you will be any inconvenience to me, for I shan't put myself at all out of my way
for you. It will only be sending Betty by the coach, and I hope I can afford that.
We three shall be able to go very well in my chaise; and when we are in town, if
you do not like to go wherever I do, well and good, you may always go with one
of my daughters. I am sure your mother will not object to it; for I have had such
good luck in getting my own children off my hands that she will think me a very fit
person to have the charge of you; and if I don't get one of you at least well
married before I have done with you, it shall not be my fault. I shall speak a good
word for you to all the young men, you may depend upon it."
"I have a notion," said Sir John, "that Miss Marianne would not object to such a
scheme, if her elder sister would come into it. It is very hard indeed that she
should not have a little pleasure, because Miss Dashwood does not wish it. So I
would advise you two, to set off for town, when you are tired of Barton, without
saying a word to Miss Dashwood about it."
"Nay," cried Mrs. Jennings, "I am sure I shall be monstrous glad of Miss
Marianne's company, whether Miss Dashwood will go or not, only the more the
merrier say I, and I thought it would be more comfortable for them to be together;
because, if they got tired of me, they might talk to one another, and laugh at my
old ways behind my back. But one or the other, if not both of them, I must have.
Lord bless me! how do you think I can live poking by myself, I who have been
always used till this winter to have Charlotte with me. Come, Miss Marianne, let
us strike hands upon the bargain, and if Miss Dashwood will change her mind by
and bye, why so much the better."
"I thank you, ma'am, sincerely thank you," said Marianne, with warmth: "your
invitation has insured my gratitude for ever, and it would give me such
happiness, yes, almost the greatest happiness I am capable of, to be able to
accept it. But my mother, my dearest, kindest mother,--I feel the justice of what
Elinor has urged, and if she were to be made less happy, less comfortable by our