hile Admiral Croft was taking this walk
with Anne, and expressing his wish of getting Captain Wentworth to Bath, Captain Wentworth was already on his way thither.
Before Mrs. Croft had written, he was arrived; and the very next time Anne walked out, she saw him.
Mr. Elliot was attending his two cousins and Mrs. Clay. They were in Milsom-street. It began to rain, not much, but enough to make shelter desirable for women, and quite
enough to make it very desirable for Miss Elliot to have the advantage of being conveyed home in Lady Dalrymple’s carriage,
which was seen waiting at a little distance; she, Anne, and Mrs. Clay, therefore, turned into Molland’s, while Mr.
Elliot stepped to Lady Dalrymple, to request her assistance. He soon joined them again, successful, of course; Lady
Dalrymple would be most happy to take them home, and would call for them in a few minutes.
Her ladyship’s carriage was a barouche, and did not hold more than four with any comfort. Miss Carteret was with her mother; consequently it was not reasonable to expect
accommodation for all the three Camden-place ladies.
There could be no doubt as to Miss Elliot. Whoever suffered
inconvenience, she must suffer none, but it occupied a little time to settle the point of civility between the other two. The rain was a mere trifle, and Anne was most sincere in preferring a walk with Mr. Elliot. But the rain was also a mere trifle to Mrs. Clay; she would hardly allow it even to
drop at all, and her boots were so thick! much thicker than Miss Anne’s; and, in short, her civility rendered her quite
as anxious to be left to walk with Mr. Elliot, as Anne could be, and it was discussed between them with a generosity so
polite and so determined, that the others were obliged to settle it for them; Miss Elliot maintaining that Mrs. Clay
had a little cold already, and Mr. Elliot deciding on appeal, that his cousin Anne’s boots were rather the thickest.
It was fixed accordingly that Mrs. Clay should be of the party in the carriage; and they had just reached this point, when Anne, as she sat near the window, descried, most decidedly and distinctly, Captain Wentworth walking down the street.
Her start was perceptible only to herself; but she instantly felt that she was the greatest simpleton in the world, the most unaccountable and absurd! For a few minutes she saw nothing before her. It was all confusion. She was lost; and when she had scolded back her senses, she found the others still waiting for the carriage, and Mr. Elliot (always
obliging) just setting off for Union-street on a commission of Mrs. Clay’s.
She now felt a great inclination to go to the outer door; she wanted to see if it rained. Why was she to suspect her self of another motive? Captain Wentworth must be out of
sight. She left her seat, she would go, one half of her should not be always so much wiser than the other half, or always suspecting the other of being worse than it was. She would see if it rained. She was sent back, however, in a moment by the entrance of Captain Wentworth himself, among a party of gentlemen and ladies, evidently his acquaintance, and whom he must have joined a little below Milsom-street. He was more obviously struck and confused by the sight of
her, than she had ever observed before; he looked quite red. For the first time, since their renewed acquaintance, she felt that she was betraying the least sensibility of the two. She had the advantage of him, in the preparation of the last few moments. All the overpowering, blinding, bewildering,
first effects of strong surprise were over with her. Still, however, she had enough to feel! It was agitation, pain, pleasure, a something between delight and misery. He spoke to her, and then turned away. The character of his manner was embarrassment. She could not have called it either cold or friendly, or anything so certainly as embarrassed.
After a short interval, however, he came towards her and spoke again. Mutual enquiries on common subjects passed; neither of them, probably, much the wiser for what they heard, and Anne continuing fully sensible of his being less at ease than formerly. They had, by dint of being so very much together, got to speak to each other with a considerable portion of apparent indifference and calmness; but he could not do it now. Time had changed him, or Louisa had changed him. There was consciousness of some sort or other. He looked very well, not as if he had been suffering
in health or spirits, and he talked of Uppercross, of the Musgroves, nay, even of Louisa, and had even a momentary look of his own arch significance as he named her; but yet it was Captain Wentworth not comfortable, not easy, not able to feign that he was.
It did not surprise, but it grieved Anne to observe that Elizabeth would not know him. She saw that he saw Elizabeth, that Elizabeth saw him, that there was complete
internal recognition on each side; she was convinced that he was ready to be acknowledged as an acquaintance, expecting it, and she had the pain of seeing her sister turn away with unalterable coldness.
Lady Dalrymple’s carriage, for which Miss Elliot was growing very impatient, now drew up; the servant came in to announce it. It was beginning to rain again, and altogether there was a delay, and a bustle, and a talking, which
must make all the little crowd in the shop understand that Lady Dalrymple was calling to convey Miss Elliot. At last Miss Elliot and her friend, unattended but by the servant, (for there was no cousin returned), were walking off; and Captain Wentworth, watching them, turned again to Anne, and by manner, rather than words, was offering his services to her.
“I am much obliged to you,” was her answer, “but I am not going with them. The carriage would not accommodate so many. I walk. I prefer walking.”
“But it rains.”
“Oh! very little, Nothing that I regard.” After a moment’s pause he said, “Though I came only yesterday, I have equipped myself properly for Bath already, you see,” (pointing to a new umbrella) “I wish you would make use of it, if you are determined to walk; though, I think it would be more prudent to let me get you a chair.” She was very much obliged to him, but declined it all, repeating her conviction, that the rain would come to nothing at present, and adding, “I am only waiting for Mr. Elliot. He will be here in a moment, I am sure.”
She had hardly spoken the words, when Mr. Elliot walked in. Captain Wentworth recollected him perfectly. There was no difference between him and the man who had stood on the steps at Lyme, admiring Anne as she passed,
except in the air and look and manner of the privileged relation and friend. He came in with eagerness, appeared to see and think only of her, apologised for his stay, was grieved to have kept her waiting, and anxious to get her away without further loss of time, and before the rain increased; and in another moment they walked off together, her arm under his, a gentle and embarrassed glance, and a “good morning to you,” being all that she had time for, as she passed away.
As soon as they were out of sight, the ladies of Captain Wentworth’s party began talking of them.
“Mr. Elliot does not dislike his cousin, I fancy?”
“Oh! no, that is clear enough. One can guess what will happen there. He is always with them; half lives in the family, I believe. What a very good-looking man!”
“Yes, and Miss Atkinson, who dined with him once at
the Wallises, says he is the most agreeable man she ever was in company with.”
“She is pretty, I think; Anne Elliot; very pretty, when one comes to look at her. It is not the fashion to say so, but I confess I admire her more than her sister.”
“Oh! so do I.”
“And so do I. No comparison. But the men are all wild after Miss Elliot. Anne is too delicate for them.”
Anne would have been particularly obliged to her cousin, if he would have walked by her side all the way to
Camden-place, without saying a word. She had never found it so difficult to listen to him, though nothing could exceed his solicitude and care, and though his subjects were principally such as were wont to be always interesting — praise, warm, just, and discriminating, of Lady Russell, and
insinuations highly rational against Mrs. Clay. But just now she could think only of Captain Wentworth. She could not understand his present feelings, whether he were really suffering much from disappointment or not; and till that point were settled, she could not be quite herself.
She hoped to be wise and reasonable in time; but alas! alas! she must confess to herself that she was not wise yet.
Another circumstance very essential for her to know, was how long he meant to be in Bath; he had not mentioned
it, or she could not recollect it. He might be only passing through. But it was more probable that he should be come to stay. In that case, so liable as every body was to meet every body in Bath, Lady Russell would in all likelihood see him somewhere. — Would she recollect him? How would it all be?
She had already been obliged to tell Lady Russell that Louisa Musgrove was to marry Captain Benwick. It had
cost her something to encounter Lady Russell’s surprise; and now, if she were by any chance to be thrown into company
with Captain Wentworth, her imperfect knowledge of the matter might add another shade of prejudice against him.
The following morning Anne was out with her friend, and for the first hour, in an incessant and fearful sort of watch for him in vain; but at last, in returning down
Pulteney-street, she distinguished him on the right hand pavement at such a distance as to have him in view the
greater part of the street. There were many other men about him, many groups walking the same way, but there was no
mistaking him. She looked instinctively at Lady Russell; but not from any mad idea of her recognising him so soon as she did herself. No, it was not to be supposed that Lady Russell would perceive him till they were nearly opposite.
She looked at her however, from time to time, anxiously; and when the moment approached which must point him out, though not daring to look again (for her own countenance
she knew was unfit to be seen), she was yet perfectly conscious of Lady Russell’s eyes being turned exactly in the direction for him, of her being in short intently observing him. She could thoroughly comprehend the sort of fascination he must possess over Lady Russell’s mind, the difficulty
it must be for her to withdraw her eyes, the astonishment she must be feeling that eight or nine years should have
passed over him, and in foreign climes and in active service too, without robbing him of one personal grace!
At last, Lady Russell drew back her head. — ”Now, how would she speak of him?”
“You will wonder,” said she, “what has been fixing my
eye so long; but I was looking after some window-curtains, which Lady Alicia and Mrs. Frankland were telling me of last night. They described the drawing-room window-curtains of one of the houses on this side of the way, and this part of the street, as being the handsomest and best hung
of any in Bath, but could not recollect the exact number, and I have been trying to find out which it could be; but I
confess I can see no curtains hereabouts that answer their description.”
Anne sighed and blushed and smiled, in pity and disdain,
either at her friend or herself. — The part which provoked her most, was that in all this waste of foresight and
caution, she should have lost the right moment for seeing whether he saw them.
A day or two passed without producing any thing. —
The theatre or the rooms, where he was most likely to be, were not fashionable enough for the Elliots, whose evening
amusements were solely in the elegant stupidity of private parties, in which they were getting more and more
engaged; and Anne, wearied of such a state of stagnation, sick of knowing nothing, and fancying herself stronger because
her strength was not tried, was quite impatient for
the concert evening. It was a concert for the benefit of a
person patronised by Lady Dalrymple. Of course they must
attend. It was really expected to be a good one, and Captain Wentworth was very fond of music. If she could only have
a few minutes conversation with him again, she fancied
she should be satisfied; and as to the power of addressing
him, she felt all over courage if the opportunity occurred.
Elizabeth had turned from him, Lady Russell overlooked
him; her nerves were strengthened by these circumstances; she felt that she owed him attention.
She had once partly promised Mrs. Smith to spend the evening with her; but in a short hurried call she excused
herself and put it off, with the more decided promise of a longer visit on the morrow. Mrs. Smith gave a most goodhumoured
“By all means,” said she; “only tell me all about it, when
you do come. Who is your party?”
Anne named them all. Mrs. Smith made no reply; but
when she was leaving her, said, and with an expression half serious, half arch, “Well, I heartily wish your concert may
answer; and do not fail me to-morrow if you can come; for I begin to have a foreboding that I may not have many more
visits from you.”
Anne was startled and confused, but after standing
in a moment’s suspense, was obliged, and not sorry to be obliged, to hurry away.
ir Walter, his two daughters, and Mrs. Clay, were the earliest of all their party at the rooms in the evening; and as Lady Dalrymple must be waited
for, they took their station by one of the fires in the octagon room. But hardly were they so settled, when the door opened again, and Captain Wentworth walked in alone. Anne was the nearest to him, and making yet a little advance, she instantly spoke. He was preparing only to bow and pass on, but her gentle “How do you do?” brought him out of the straight line to stand near her, and make enquiries in return, in spite of the formidable father and sister
in the back ground. Their being in the back ground was a support to Anne; she knew nothing of their looks, and felt equal to every thing which she believed right to be done.
While they were speaking, a whispering between her father and Elizabeth caught her ear. She could not distinguish, but she must guess the subject; and on Captain Wentworth’s making a distant bow, she comprehended that
her father had judged so well as to give him that simple acknowledgement of acquaintance, and she was just in time
by a side glance to see a slight curtsey from Elizabeth herself.
This, though late and reluctant and ungracious, was yet
better than nothing, and her spirits improved. After talking however of the weather and Bath and the
concert, their conversation began to flag, and so little was said at last, that she was expecting him to go every moment;
but he did not; he seemed in no hurry to leave her; and presently with renewed spirit, with a little smile, a little
glow, he said,
“I have hardly seen you since our day at Lyme. I am
afraid you must have suffered from the shock, and the more from its not overpowering you at the time.”
She assured him that she had not.
“It was a frightful hour,” said he, “a frightful day!” and he passed his hand across his eyes, as if the remembrance
were still too painful; but in a moment half smiling again, added, “The day has produced some effects however — has
had some consequences which must be considered as the very reverse of frightful. — When you had the presence of
mind to suggest that Benwick would be the properest person to fetch a surgeon, you could have little idea of his being
eventually one of those most concerned in her recovery.”
“Certainly I could have none. But it appears — I should
hope it would be a very happy match. There are on both sides good principles and good temper.”
“Yes,” said he, looking not exactly forward — ”but there I think ends the resemblance. With all my soul I wish them
happy, and rejoice over every circumstance in favour of it.
They have no difficulties to contend with at home, no
opposition, no caprice, no delays.— The Musgroves are behaving like themselves, most honourably and kindly, only anxious
with true parental hearts to promote their daughter’s comfort. All this is much, very much in favour of their happiness;
more than perhaps —”
He stopped. A sudden recollection seemed to occur,and to give him some taste of that emotion which was reddening Anne’s cheeks and fixing her eyes on the ground .— After clearing his throat, however, he proceeded thus, “I confess that I do think there is a disparity, too great a disparity, and in a point no less essential than mind. — I regard Louisa Musgrove as a very amiable; sweet-tempered
girl, and not deficient in understanding; but Benwick is something more. He is a clever man, a reading man — and I confess, that I do consider his attaching himself to her, with some surprise. Had it been the effect of gratitude, had he learnt to love her, because he believed her to be preferring
him, it would have been another thing. But I have no reason to suppose it so. It seems, on the contrary, to have been a perfectly spontaneous, untaught feeling on his side, and this surprises me. A man like him, in his situation! with a heart pierced, wounded, almost broken! Fanny Harville
was a very superior creature; and his attachment to her was indeed attachment. A man does not recover from such a devotion of the heart to such a woman! — He ought not — he does not.”
Either from the consciousness, however, that his friend had recovered, or from other consciousness, he went no farther; and Anne, who, in spite of the agitated voice in which the latter part had been uttered, and in spite of all the
various noises of the room, the almost ceaseless slam of the door, and ceaseless buzz of persons walking through, had distinguished every word, was struck, gratified, confused, and beginning to breathe very quick, and feel an hundred things in a moment. It was impossible for her to enter on
such a subject; and yet, after a pause, feeling the necessity of speaking, and having not the smallest wish for a total
change, she only deviated so far as to say,
“You were a good while at Lyme, I think?”
“About a fortnight. I could not leave it till Louisa’s doing well was quite ascertained. I had been too deeply concerned
in the mischief to be soon at peace. It had been my doing — solely mine. She would not have been obstinate if I
had not been weak. The country round Lyme is very fine. I walked and rode a great deal; and the more I saw, the more
I found to admire.”
“I should very much like to see Lyme again,” said Anne.
“Indeed! I should not have supposed that you could have found anything in Lyme to inspire such a feeling. The horror
and distress you were involved in — the stretch of mind, the wear of spirits! — I should have thought your last impressions
of Lyme must have been strong disgust.”
“The last hours were certainly very painful,” replied
Anne: “but when pain is over, the remembrance of it often becomes a pleasure. One does not love a place the less
for having suffered in it, unless it has been all suffering, nothing but suffering — which was by no means the case
at Lyme. We were only in anxiety and distress during the last two hours; and previously, there had been a great deal
of enjoyment. So much novelty and beauty! I have travelled so little, that every fresh place would be interesting to me —
but there is real beauty at Lyme: and in short” (with a faint blush at some recollections) “altogether my impressions of
the place are very agreeable.”
As she ceased, the entrance door opened again, and the
very party appeared for whom they were waiting. “Lady Dalrymple, Lady Dalrymple,” was the rejoicing sound; and
with all the eagerness compatible with anxious elegance, Sir Walter and his two ladies stepped forward to meet her. Lady
Dalrymple and Miss Carteret, escorted by Mr. Elliot and Colonel Wallis, who had happened to arrive nearly at the
same instant, advanced into the room. The others joined them, and it was a group in which Anne found herself also necessarily included. She was divided from Captain Wentworth. Their interesting, almost too interesting conversation must be broken up for a time; but slight was the penance compared with the happiness which brought it on!
She had learnt, in the last ten minutes, more of his feelings towards Louisa, more of all his feelings, than she dared to think of! and she gave herself up to the demands of the party, to the needful civilities of the moment, with exquisite,
though agitated sensations. She was in good humour with all. She had received ideas which disposed her to be courteous and kind to all, and to pity every one, as being less happy than herself.
The delightful emotions were a little subdued, when, on stepping back from the group, to be joined again by Captain Wentworth, she saw that he was gone. She was just in time to see him turn into the concert room. He was
gone—he had disappeared: she felt a moment’s regret. But “they should meet again. He would look for her—he would
find her out before the evening were over—and at present, perhaps, it was as well to be asunder. She was in need of a
little interval for recollection.”
Upon Lady Russell’s appearance soon afterwards, the
whole party was collected, and all that remained, was to marshal themselves, and proceed into the concert room;
and be of all the consequence in their power, draw as many eyes, excite as many whispers, and disturb as many people
as they could.
Very, very happy were both Elizabeth and Anne Elliot
as they walked in. Elizabeth, arm in arm with Miss Carteret, and looking on the broad back of the dowager Viscountess
Dalrymple before her, had nothing to wish for which did not seem within her reach; and Anne — but it would be an
insult to the nature of Anne’s felicity, to draw any comparison between it and her sister’s; the origin of one all selfish vanity, of the other all generous attachment.
Anne saw nothing, thought nothing of the brilliancy of the room. Her happiness was from within. Her eyes were bright and her cheeks glowed, — but she knew nothing about it. She was thinking only of the last half hour, and as they passed to their seats, her mind took a hasty range over it. His choice of subjects, his expressions, and still more his manner and look, had been such as she could see in only
one light. His opinion of Louisa Musgrove’s inferiority, an opinion which he had seemed solicitous to give, his wonder
at Captain Benwick, his feelings as to a first, strong attachment,— sentences begun which he could not finish — his
half averted eyes, and more than half expressive glance, — all, all declared that he had a heart returning to her at least;
that anger, resentment, avoidance, were no more; and that they were succeeded, not merely by friendship and regard,
but by the tenderness of the past; yes, some share of the tenderness of the past. She could not contemplate the change
as implying less.— He must love her.
These were thoughts, with their attendant visions,
which occupied and flurried her too much to leave her any power of observation; and she passed along the room without
having a glimpse of him, without even trying to discern him. When their places were determined on, and they were
all properly arranged, she looked round to see if he should happen to be in the same part of the room, but he was
not, her eye could not reach him; and the concert being just opening, she must consent for a time to be happy in a
The party was divided, and disposed of on two contiguous
benches: Anne was among those on the foremost, and Mr. Elliot had manoeuvred so well, with the assistance of
his friend Colonel Wallis, as to have a seat by her. Miss Elliot, surrounded by her cousins, and the principal object
of Colonel Wallis’s gallantry, was quite contented. Anne’s mind was in a most favourable state for the entertainment
of the evening: it was just occupation enough:
she had feelings for the tender, spirits for the gay, attention
for the scientific, and patience for the wearisome; and had never liked a concert better, at least during the first act.
Towards the close of it, in the interval succeeding an Italian song, she explained the words of the song to Mr. Elliot.—
They had a concert bill between them.
“This,” said she, “is nearly the sense, or rather the meaning
of the words, for certainly the sense of an Italian lovesong must not be talked of,—but it is as nearly the meaning
as I can give; for I do not pretend to understand the language. I am a very poor Italian scholar.”
“Yes, yes, I see you are. I see you know nothing of the matter. You have only knowledge enough of the language, to translate at sight these inverted, transposed, curtailed
Italian lines, into clear, comprehensible, elegant English. You need not say anything more of your ignorance.—Here
is complete proof.”
“I will not oppose such kind politeness; but I should be
sorry to be examined by a real proficient.”
“I have not had the pleasure of visiting in Camden-place
so long,” replied he, “without knowing something of Miss Anne Elliot; and I do regard her as one who is too modest,
for the world in general to be aware of half her accomplishments, and too highly accomplished for modesty to be
natural in any other woman.”
“For shame! for shame!—this is too much flattery. I forget
what we are to have next,” turning to the bill. “Perhaps,” said Mr. Elliot, speaking low, “I have had a
longer acquaintance with your character than you are aware of.”
“Indeed!—How so? You can have been acquainted with
it only since I came to Bath, excepting as you might hear me previously spoken of in my own family.”
“I knew you by report long before you came to Bath. I had heard you described by those who knew you intimately. I have been acquainted with you by character many years.
Your person, your disposition, accomplishments, manner — they were all present to me.”
Mr. Elliot was not disappointed in the interest he hoped to raise. No one can withstand the charm of such a mystery. To have been described long ago to a recent acquaintance,
by nameless people, is irresistible; and Anne was all curiosity. She wondered, and questioned him eagerly — but in
vain. He delighted in being asked, but he would not tell.
“No, no — some time or other, perhaps, but not now. He
would mention no names now; but such, he could assure her, had been the fact. He had many years ago received
such a description of Miss Anne Elliot, as had inspired him with the highest idea of her merit, and excited the warmest
curiosity to know her.”
Anne could think of no one so likely to have spoken with
partiality of her many years ago, as the Mr. Wentworth, of Monkford, Captain Wentworth’s brother. He might have
been in Mr. Elliot’s company, but she had not courage to ask the question.
“The name of Anne Elliot,” said he, “has long had an
interesting sound to me. Very long has it possessed a charm over my fancy; and, if I dared, I would breathe my wishes
that the name might never change.”
Such she believed were his words; but scarcely had
she received their sound, than her attention was caught by other sounds immediately behind her, which rendered every
thing else trivial. Her father and Lady Dalrymple were speaking.
“A well-looking man,” said Sir Walter, “a very well-looking
“A very fine young man indeed!” said Lady Dalrymple.
“More air than one often sees in Bath. — Irish, I dare say.”
“No, I just know his name. A bowing acquaintance.
Wentworth — Captain Wentworth of the navy. His sister married my tenant in Somersetshire,— the Croft, who rents
Before Sir Walter had reached this point, Anne’s eyes
had caught the right direction, and distinguished Captain Wentworth, standing among a cluster of men at a little distance.
As her eyes fell on him, his seemed to be withdrawn from her. It had that appearance. It seemed as if she had
been one moment too late; and as long as she dared observe, he did not look again: but the performance was re-commencing, and she was forced to seem to restore her attention to the orchestra, and look straight forward.
When she could give another glance, he had moved away. He could not have come nearer to her if he would; she was so surrounded and shut in: but she would rather have caught his eye.
Mr. Elliot’s speech too distressed her. She had no longer any inclination to talk to him. She wished him not so near her.
The first act was over. Now she hoped for some benefi- cial change; and, after a period of nothing-saying amongst the party, some of them did decide on going in quest of tea.
Anne was one of the few who did not choose to move. She remained in her seat, and so did Lady Russell; but she had
the pleasure of getting rid of Mr. Elliot; and she did not mean, whatever she might feel on Lady Russell’s account, to shrink from conversation with Captain Wentworth, if he gave her the opportunity. She was persuaded by Lady
Russell’s countenance that she had seen him.
He did not come however. Anne sometimes fancied she
discerned him at a distance, but he never came. The anxious interval wore away unproductively. The others returned, the
room filled again, benches were reclaimed and re-possessed, and another hour of pleasure or of penance was to be set
out, another hour of music was to give delight or the gapes, as real or affected taste for it prevailed. To Anne, it chiefly
wore the prospect of an hour of agitation. She could not quit that room in peace without seeing Captain Wentworth
once more, without the interchange of one friendly look. In re-settling themselves there were now many changes,
the result of which was favourable for her. Colonel Wallis declined sitting down again, and Mr. Elliot was invited by
Elizabeth and Miss Carteret, in a manner not to be refused, to sit between them; and by some other removals, and a
little scheming of her own, Anne was enabled to place herself much nearer the end of the bench than she had been before,
much more within reach of a passerby. She could not do so, without comparing herself with Miss Larolles, the
inimitable Miss Larolles, — but still she did it, and not with much happier effect; though by what seemed prosperity in
the shape of an early abdication in her next neighbours, she found herself at the very end of the bench before the concert closed.
Such was her situation, with a vacant space at hand, when Captain Wentworth was again in sight. She saw him
not far off. He saw her too; yet he looked grave, and seemed irresolute, and only by very slow degrees came at last near
enough to speak to her. She felt that something must be the matter. The change was indubitable. The difference between
his present air and what it had been in the octagon room was strikingly great. — Why was it? She thought of
her father — of Lady Russell. Could there have been any unpleasant glances? He began by speaking of the concert,
gravely; more like the Captain Wentworth of Uppercross; owned himself disappointed, had expected singing; and, in
short, must confess that he should not be sorry when it was
over. Anne replied, and spoke in defense of the performance
so well, and yet in allowance for his feelings, so pleasantly,
that his countenance improved, and he replied again with
almost a smile. They talked for a few minutes more; the
improvement held; he even looked down towards the bench,
as if he saw a place on it well worth occupying; when, at
that moment, a touch on her shoulder obliged Anne to turn
round. — It came from Mr. Elliot. He begged her pardon,
but she must be applied to, to explain Italian again. Miss
Carteret was very anxious to have a general idea of what was
next to be sung. Anne could not refuse; but never had she
sacrificed to politeness with a more suffering spirit.
A few minutes, though as few as possible, were inevitably
consumed; and when her own mistress again, when able
to turn and look as she had done before, she found herself
accosted by Captain Wentworth, in a reserved yet hurried
sort of farewell. “He must wish her good night. He was going —
he should get home as fast as he could.”
“Is not this song worth staying for?” said Anne, suddenly
struck by an idea which made her yet more anxious to be encouraging.
“No!” he replied impressively, “there is nothing worth
my staying for;” and he was gone directly. Jealousy of Mr. Elliot! It was the only intelligible motive.
Captain Wentworth jealous of her affection! Could she have believed it a week ago — three hours ago! For a moment
the gratification was exquisite. But alas! there were very different thoughts to succeed. How was such jealousy to be quieted? How was the truth to reach him? How, in all the peculiar disadvantages of their respective situations, would he ever learn of her real sentiments? It was misery to think
of Mr. Elliot’s attentions. — Their evil was incalculable.
nne recollected with pleasure the next morning her promise of going to Mrs. Smith; meaning that it should engage her from home at the time when Mr. Elliot would be most likely to call; for to avoid Mr. Elliot was almost a first object.
She felt a great deal of good will towards him. In spite of the mischief of his attentions, she owed him gratitude and regard, perhaps compassion. She could not help thinking much of the extraordinary circumstances attending their acquaintance; of the right which he seemed to have to interest her, by everything in situation, by his own sentiments, by his early prepossession. It was altogether very extraordinary. — Flattering, but painful. There was much to regret. How she might have felt, had there been no Captain Wentworth in the case, was not worth enquiry; for there was a Captain Wentworth: and be the conclusion of the present suspense good or bad, her affection would be his for ever. Their union, she believed, could not divide her more from other men, than their final separation.
Prettier musings of high-wrought love and eternal constancy, could never have passed along the streets of Bath, than Anne was sporting with from Camden-place to Westgate-buildings. It was almost enough to spread purification and perfume all the way.
She was sure of a pleasant reception; and her friend seemed this morning particularly obliged to her for coming,
seemed hardly to have expected her, though it had been an appointment.
An account of the concert was immediately claimed; and Anne’s recollections of the concert were quite happy enough to animate her features, and make her rejoice to talk of it. All that she could tell, she told most gladly; but the all was little for one who had been there, and unsatisfactory for such an enquirer as Mrs. Smith, who had already heard, through the short cut of a laundress and a waiter, rather more of the general success and produce of the evening than Anne could relate; and who now asked in vain for several particulars of the company. Every body of any consequence or notoriety in Bath was well know by name to Mrs. Smith.
“The little Durands were there, I conclude,” said she,“with their mouths open to catch the music; like unfledged sparrows ready to be fed. They never miss a concert.”
“Yes. I did not see them myself, but I heard Mr. Elliot say they were in the room.”
“The Ibbotsons — were they there? and the two new beauties, with the tall Irish officer, who is talked of for one of them.”
“I do not know.— I do not think they were.”
“Old Lady Mary Maclean? I need not ask after her. She never misses, I know; and you must have seen her. She must
have been in your own circle, for as you went with Lady Dalrymple, you were in the seats of grandeur; round the
orchestra, of course.”
“No, that was what I dreaded. It would have been very unpleasant to me in every respect. But happily Lady
Dalrymple always chooses to be farther off; and we were exceedingly well placed — that is for hearing; I must not say for seeing, because I appear to have seen very little.”
“Oh! you saw enough for your own amusement. — I can understand. There is a sort of domestic enjoyment to be known even in a crowd, and this you had. You were a large party in yourselves, and you wanted nothing beyond.”
“But I ought to have looked about me more,” said Anne, conscious while she spoke, that there had in fact been no
want of looking about; that the object only had been deficient.
“No, no — you were better employed. You need not tell me that you had a pleasant evening. I see it in your eye. I perfectly see how the hours passed — that you had always something agreeable to listen to. In the intervals of the concert, it was conversation.”
Anne half smiled and said, “Do you see that in my eye?”
“Yes, I do. Your countenance perfectly informs me that you were in company last night with the person, whom you think the most agreeable in the world, the person who interests you at this present time, more than all the rest of the world put together.”
A blush overspread Anne’s cheeks. She could say nothing.
“And such being the case,” continued Mrs. Smith, after a short pause, “I hope you believe that I do know how to value your kindness in coming to me this morning. It is really very good of you to come and sit with me, when you must have so many pleasanter demands upon your time.”
Anne heard nothing of this. She was still in the astonishment and confusion excited by her friend’s penetration, unable to imagine how any report of Captain Wentworth could have reached her. After another short silence,
“Pray,” said Mrs. Smith, “is Mr. Elliot aware of your acquaintance with me? Does he know that I am in Bath?”
“Mr. Elliot!” repeated Anne, looking up surprised. A moment’s reflection shewed her the mistake she had been under. She caught it instantaneously; and, recovering her courage with the feeling of safety, soon added, more composedly, “Are you acquainted with Mr. Elliot?”
“I have been a good deal acquainted with him,” replied Mrs. Smith, gravely, “but it seems worn out now. It is a great while since we met.”
“I was not at all aware of this. You never mentioned it before. Had I known it, I would have had the pleasure of talking to him about you.”
“To confess the truth,” said Mrs. Smith, assuming her usual air of cheerfulness, “that is exactly the pleasure I want you to have. I want you to talk about me to Mr. Elliot. I want your interest with him. He can be of essential service to me; and if you would have the goodness, my dear Miss Elliot, to make it an object to yourself, of course it is done.”
“I should be extremely happy — I hope you cannot doubt my willingness to be of even the slightest use to you,” replied
Anne; “but I suspect that you are considering me as having a higher claim on Mr. Elliot—a greater right to influence him, than is really the case. I am sure you have, somehow or other, imbibed such a notion. You must consider me only as Mr. Elliot’s relation. If in that light, if there is anything which you suppose his cousin might fairly ask of him, I beg you would not hesitate to employ me.”
Mrs. Smith gave her a penetrating glance, and then smiling, said,
“I have been a little premature, I perceive. I beg your pardon. I ought to have waited for official information. But now, my dear Miss Elliot, as an old friend, do give me a hint as to when I may speak. Next week? To be sure by next week I may be allowed to think it all settled, and build my own selfish schemes on Mr. Elliot’s good fortune.”
“No,” replied Anne, “nor next week, nor next, nor next. I assure you that nothing of the sort you are thinking of will be settled any week. I am not going to marry Mr. Elliot. I should like to know why you imagine I am.”
Mrs. Smith looked at her again, looked earnestly, smiled, shook her head, and exclaimed,
“Now, how I do wish I understood you! How I do wish I knew what you were at! I have a great idea that you do not
design to be cruel, when the right moment comes. Till it does come, you know, we women never mean to have any body. It is a thing of course among us, that every man is refused — till he offers. But why should you be cruel? Let me plead for my — present friend I cannot call him — but for my former friend. Where can you look for a more suitable match? Where could you expect a more gentlemanlike, agreeable man? Let me recommend Mr. Elliot. I am sure
you hear nothing but good of him from Colonel Wallis; and who can know him better than Colonel Wallis?”
“My dear Mrs. Smith, Mr. Elliot’s wife has not been dead much above half a year. He ought not to be supposed
to be paying his addresses to any one.”
“Oh! if these are your only objections,” cried Mrs. Smith,
archly, “Mr. Elliot is safe, and I shall give myself no more trouble about him. Do not forget me when you are married, that’s all. Let him know me to be a friend of yours, and then he will think little of the trouble required, which it is very natural for him now, with so many affairs and engagements
of his own, to avoid and get rid of as he can — very natural, perhaps. Ninety-nine out of a hundred would do the same. Of course, he cannot be aware of the importance to me. Well, my dear Miss Elliot, I hope and trust you will be very happy. Mr. Elliot has sense to understand the value of such
a woman. Your peace will not be shipwrecked as mine has been. You are safe in all worldly matters, and safe in his character. He will not be led astray, he will not be misled by others to his ruin.”
“No,” said Anne, “I can readily believe all that of my cousin. He seems to have a calm, decided temper, not at all open to dangerous impressions. I consider him with great respect. I have no reason, from any thing that has fallen within my observation, to do otherwise. But I have not known him long; and he is not a man, I think, to be known intimately soon. Will not this manner of speaking
of him, Mrs. Smith, convince you that he is nothing to me? Surely, this must be calm enough. And, upon my word, he is nothing to me. Should he ever propose to me (which I have very little reason to imagine he has any thought of doing), I shall not accept him. I assure you I shall not. I assure
you Mr. Elliot had not the share which you have been supposing, in whatever pleasure the concert of last night might afford: — not Mr. Elliot; it is not Mr. Elliot that — ”
She stopped, regretting with a deep blush that she had implied so much; but less would hardly have been suffi-cient. Mrs. Smith would hardly have believed so soon in Mr. Elliot’s failure, but from the perception of there being a somebody else. As it was, she instantly submitted, and with all the semblance of seeing nothing beyond; and Anne, eager to escape farther notice, was impatient to know why Mrs. Smith should have fancied she was to marry Mr. Elliot, where she could have received the idea, or from whom she could have heard it.
“Do tell me how it first came into your head.”
“It first came into my head,” replied Mrs. Smith, “upon finding how much you were together, and feeling it to be the most probable thing in the world to be wished for by everybody belonging to either of you; and you may depend upon it that all your acquaintance have disposed of you in the same way. But I never heard it spoken of till two days ago.”
“And has it indeed been spoken of?”
“Did you observe the woman who opened the door to you, when you called yesterday?”
“No. Was not it Mrs. Speed, as usual, or the maid? I
observed no one in particular.”
“It was my friend Mrs. Rooke — Nurse Rooke, who, by the bye, had a great curiosity to see you, and was delighted to be in the way to let you in. She came away from Marlborough-buildings only on Sunday; and she it was who told me you were to marry Mr. Elliot. She had had it
from Mrs. Wallis herself, which did not seem bad authority. She sat an hour with me on Monday evening, and gave me the whole history.”
“The whole history!” repeated Anne, laughing. “She could not make a very long history, I think, of one such little article of unfounded news.”
Mrs. Smith said nothing. “But,” continued Anne, presently, “though there is no truth in my having this claim on Mr. Elliot, I should be extremely happy to be of use to you, in any way that I could. Shall I mention to him your being in Bath? Shall I take any message?”
“No, I thank you: no, certainly not. In the warmth of the moment, and under a mistaken impression, I might, perhaps, have endeavoured to interest you in some circumstances. But not now: no, I thank you, I have nothing to trouble you with.”
“I think you spoke of having known Mr. Elliot many years?”
“Not before he was married, I suppose?”
“Yes; he was not married when I knew him first.”
“And—were you much acquainted?”
“Indeed! Then do tell me what he was at that time of life.
I have a great curiosity to know what Mr. Elliot was as a
very young man. Was he at all such as he appears now?”
“I have not seen Mr. Elliot these three years,” was Mrs.
Smith’s answer, given so gravely that it was impossible
to pursue the subject farther; and Anne felt that she had
gained nothing but an increase of curiosity. They were both
silent — Mrs. Smith very thoughtful. At last,
“I beg your pardon, my dear Miss Elliot,” she cried,
in her natural tone of cordiality, “I beg your pardon for
the short answers I have been giving you, but I have been
uncertain what I ought to do. I have been doubting and
considering as to what I ought to tell you. There were
many things to be taken into the account. One hates to
be officious, to be giving bad impressions, making mischief.
Even the smooth surface of family-union seems
worth preserving, though there may be nothing durable
beneath. However, I have determined; I think I am right;
I think you ought to be made acquainted with Mr. Elliot’s
real character. Though I fully believe that, at present, you
have not the smallest intention of accepting him, there
is no saying what may happen. You might, some time or
other, be differently affected towards him. Hear the truth,
therefore, now, while you are unprejudiced. Mr. Elliot is a
man without heart or conscience; a designing, wary, coldblooded
being, who thinks only of himself; who, for his
own interest or ease, would be guilty of any cruelty, or
any treachery, that could be perpetrated without risk of
his general character. He has no feeling for others. Those
whom he has been the chief cause of leading into ruin,
he can neglect and desert without the smallest compunction.
He is totally beyond the reach of any sentiment of justice or compassion. Oh! he is black at heart, hollow and black!”
Anne’s astonished air, and exclamation of wonder, made her pause, and in a calmer manner, she added,
“My expressions startle you. You must allow for an injured, angry woman. But I will try to command myself. I will not abuse him. I will only tell you what I have found him. Facts shall speak. He was the intimate friend of my dear husband, who trusted and loved him, and thought him as good as himself. The intimacy had been formed before our marriage. I found them most intimate friends; and I, too, became excessively pleased with Mr. Elliot, and entertained the highest opinion of him. At nineteen, you know, one does not think very seriously, but Mr. Elliot appeared to me quite as good as others, and much more agreeable than most others, and we were almost always together. We were principally in town, living in very good style. He was then the inferior in circumstances, he was then the poor one; he had chambers in the Temple, and it was as much as he could do to support the appearance of a gentleman. He had always a home with us whenever he chose it; he was always welcome; he was like a brother. My poor Charles, who had the finest, most generous spirit in the world, would have divided his last farthing with him; and I know that his purse was open to him; I know that he often assisted him.”
“This must have been about that very period of Mr. Elliot’s life,” said Anne, “which has always excited my particular curiosity. It must have been about the same time that he became known to my father and sister. I never knew him myself. I only heard of him, but there was a something in his conduct then with regard to my father and sister, and afterwards in the circumstances of his marriage, which I never could quite reconcile with present times. It seemed to announce a different sort of man.”
“I know it all, I know it all,” cried Mrs. Smith. “He had been introduced to Sir Walter and your sister before I was acquainted with him, but I heard him speak of them for
ever. I know he was invited and encouraged, and I know he
did not choose to go. I can satisfy you, perhaps, on points which you would little expect; and as to his marriage, I knew all about it at the time. I was privy to all the fors and againsts, I was the friend to whom he confided his hopes and plans, and though I did not know his wife previously
(her inferior situation in society, indeed, rendered that impossible) yet I knew her all her life afterwards, or, at least till within the last two years of her life, and can answer any question you may wish to put.”
“Nay,” said Anne, “I have no particular enquiry to make
about her. I have always understood they were not a happy couple. But I should like to know why, at that time of his
life, he should slight my father’s acquaintance as he did. My father was certainly disposed to take very kind and proper
notice of him. Why did Mr. Elliot draw back?”
“Mr. Elliot,” replied Mrs. Smith, `at that period of his
life, had one object in view — to make his fortune, and by a rather quicker process than the law. He was determined
to make it by marriage. He was determined, at least, not to mar it by an imprudent marriage; and I know it was
his belief, (whether justly or not, of course I cannot decide) that your father and sister, in their civilities and invitations,
were designing a match between the heir and the young lady; and it was impossible that such a match should have answered his ideas of wealth and independence.
That was his motive for drawing back, I can assure you. He told me the whole story. He had no concealments with me. It was curious, that having just left you behind me in Bath, my first and principal acquaintance on marrying, should be your cousin; and that, through him, I should be continually hearing of your father and sister. He described one Miss Elliot, and I thought very affectionately of the other.”
“Perhaps,” cried Anne, struck by a sudden idea, “you sometimes spoke of me to Mr. Elliot?”
“To be sure I did, very often. I used to boast of my own Anne Elliot, and vouch for your being a very different creature from —”
She checked herself just in time.
“This accounts for something which Mr. Elliot said last night,” cried Anne. “This explains it. I found he had been used to hear of me. I could not comprehend how. What wild imaginations one forms, where dear self is concerned! How sure to be mistaken! But I beg your pardon; I have interrupted you. Mr. Elliot married, then, completely for money? The circumstances, probably, which first opened your eyes to his character.”
Mrs. Smith hesitated a little here. “Oh! those things are too common. When one lives in the world, a man or
woman’s marrying for money is too common to strike one as it ought. I was very young, and associated only with the young, and we were a thoughtless, gay set, without any strict rules of conduct. We lived for enjoyment. I think differently now; time and sickness, and sorrow, have given me other notions; but, at that period, I must own I saw nothing reprehensible in what Mr. Elliot was doing. ‘To do the best for himself,’ passed as a duty.”
“But was not she a very low woman?”
“Yes; which I objected to, but he would not regard. Money, money, was all that he wanted. Her father was a grazier, her grandfather had been a butcher, but that was all nothing. She was a fine woman, had had a decent education, was brought forward by some cousins, thrown by chance into Mr. Elliot’s company, and fell in love with him; and not a difficulty or a scruple was there on his side, with respect to her birth. All his caution was spent in being secured
of the real amount of her fortune, before he committed himself. Depend upon it, whatever esteem Mr. Elliot may have for his own situation in life now, as a young man he had not the smallest value for it. His chance of the Kellynch estate was something, but all the honour of the family he held as cheap as dirt. I have often heard him declare, that if baronetcies were saleable, any body should have his for fifty pounds, arms and motto, name and livery included; but I will not pretend to repeat half that I used to hear him say on that subject. It would not be fair. And yet you ought to have proof; for what is all this but assertion? and you shall have proof.”
“Indeed, my dear Mrs. Smith, I want none,” cried Anne.
“You have asserted nothing contradictory to what Mr. Elliot appeared to be some years ago. This is all in confirmation, rather, of what we used to hear and believe. I am more curious to know why he should be so different now?”
“But for my satisfaction; if you will have the goodness to ring for Mary — stay, I am sure you will have the still greater
goodness of going yourself into my bed-room, and bringing me the small inlaid box which you will find on the upper shelf of the closet.”
Anne, seeing her friend to be earnestly bent on it, did as she was desired. The box was brought and placed before her,
and Mrs. Smith, sighing over it as she unlocked it, said,
“This is full of papers belonging to him, to my husband, a small portion only of what I had to look over when I lost him. The letter I am looking for, was one written by Mr. Elliot to him before our marriage, and happened to be saved; why, one can hardly imagine. But he was careless and immethodical, like other men, about those things; and when I came to examine his papers, I found it with others still more trivial from different people scattered here and there, while many letters and memorandums of real importance had been destroyed. Here it is. I would not burn it,
because being even then very little satisfied with Mr. Elliot, I was determined to preserve every document of former intimacy. I have now another motive for being glad that I can produce it.”
This was the letter, directed to “Charles Smith, Esq. Tunbridge Wells,” and dated from London, as far back as July, 180 .
I have received yours. Your kindness almost overpowers me. I wish nature had made such hearts as yours more common,
but I have lived three and twenty years in the world, and have seen none like it. At present, believe me, I have no need of your services, being in cash again. Give me joy: I have got rid of Sir Walter and Miss. They are gone back to Kellynch, and almost made me swear to visit them this summer, but my first visit to Kellynch will be with a surveyor, to tell me how to bring it with best advantage to the hammer. The baronet, nevertheless, is not unlikely to marry again; he is quite fool enough. If he does, however, they will leave me in peace, which may be a decent equivalent for the reversion. He is worse than last year.
I wish I had any name but Elliot. I am sick of it. The name of Walter I can drop, thank God! and I desire you will never insult me with my second W. again, meaning, for the rest of my life, to be only yours truly,
Such a letter could not be read without putting Anne in a glow; and Mrs. Smith, observing the high colour in her face, said,
“The language, I know, is highly disrespectful. Though I have forgot the exact terms, I have a perfect impression of the general meaning. But it shews you the man. Mark his professions to my poor husband. Can any thing be stronger?”
Anne could not immediately get over the shock and mortification of finding such words applied to her father.
She was obliged to recollect that her seeing the letter was a violation of the laws of honour, that no one ought to be judged or to be known by such testimonies, that no private correspondence could bear the eye of others, before she could recover calmness enough to return the letter which she had been meditating over, and say,
“Thank you. This is full proof undoubtedly, proof of every thing you were saying. But why be acquainted with us now?”
“I can explain this too,” cried Mrs. Smith, smiling.
“Can you really?”
“Yes. I have shewn you Mr. Elliot, as he was a dozen years ago, and I will shew him as he is now. I cannot produce
written proof again, but I can give as authentic oral testimony as you can desire, of what he is now wanting, and what he is now doing. He is no hypocrite now. He truly wants to marry you. His present attentions to your family are very sincere, quite from the heart. I will give you my authority; his friend Colonel Wallis.”
“Colonel Wallis! you are acquainted with him?”
“No. It does not come to me in quite so direct a line as that; it takes a bend or two, but nothing of consequence. The stream is as good as at first; the little rubbish it collects in the turnings, is easily moved away. Mr. Elliot talks unreservedly to Colonel Wallis of his views on you — which said Colonel Wallis I imagine to be in himself a sensible, careful, discerning sort of character; but Colonel Wallis has a very pretty silly wife, to whom he tells things which he had better not, and he repeats it all to her. She, in the overflowing spirits of her recovery, repeats it all to her nurse; and the nurse, knowing my acquaintance with you, very naturally brings it all to me. On Monday evening my good friend Mrs. Rooke let me thus much into the secrets of Marlboroughbuildings. When I talked of a whole history, therefore, you see, I was not romancing so much as you supposed.”
“My dear Mrs. Smith, your authority is deficient. This will not do. Mr. Elliot’s having any views on me will not in the least account for the efforts he made towards a
reconciliation with my father. That was all prior to my coming to Bath. I found them on the most friendly terms when I arrived.”
“I know you did; I know it all perfectly, but”—
“Indeed, Mrs. Smith, we must not expect to get real information in such a line. Facts or opinions which are to pass through the hands of so many, to be misconceived by folly in one, and ignorance in another, can hardly have much truth left.”
“Only give me a hearing. You will soon be able to judge of the general credit due, by listening to some particulars which you can yourself immediately contradict or confirm. Nobody supposes that you were his first inducement. He had seen you indeed, before he came to Bath and admired you, but without knowing it to be you. So says my historian at least. Is this true? Did he see you last summer or autumn, ‘somewhere down in the west,’ to use her own words, without knowing it to be you?”
“He certainly did. So far it is very true. At Lyme; I happened to be at Lyme.”
“Well,” continued Mrs. Smith, triumphantly, “grant my friend the credit due to the establishment of the first
point asserted. He saw you then at Lyme, and liked you so well as to be exceedingly pleased to meet with you again in Camden-place, as Miss Anne Elliot, and from that moment, I have no doubt, had a double motive in his visits there. But there was another, and an earlier; which I will now explain.
If there is anything in my story which you know to be either false or improbable, stop me. My account states, that
your sister’s friend, the lady now staying with you, whom I have heard you mention, came to Bath with Miss Elliot and Sir Walter as long ago as September, (in short when they first came themselves) and has been staying there ever since; that she is a clever, insinuating, handsome woman, poor and plausible, and altogether such in situation and manner, as to give a general idea among Sir Walter’s acquaintance, of her meaning to be Lady Elliot, and as general a surprise that Miss Elliot should be apparently, blind to the danger.” Here Mrs. Smith paused a moment; but Anne had not a word to say, and she continued.
“This was the light in which it appeared to those who knew the family, long before you returned to it; and Colonel Wallis had his eye upon your father enough to be sensible of it, though he did not then visit in Camden-place; but his regard for Mr. Elliot gave him an interest in watching all that was going on there, and when Mr. Elliot came to Bath for a day or two, as he happened to do a little before
Christmas, Colonel Wallis made him acquainted with the appearance of things, and the reports beginning to prevail.—
Now you are to understand that time had worked a very material change in Mr. Elliot’s opinions as to the
value of a baronetcy. Upon all points of blood and connexion, he is a completely altered man. Having long had as
much money as he could spend, nothing to wish for on the side of avarice or indulgence, he has been gradually learning
to pin his happiness upon the consequence he is heir to. I thought it coming on, before our acquaintance ceased, but
it is now a confirmed feeling. He cannot bear the idea of not being Sir William. You may guess therefore that the news
he heard from his friend, could not be very agreeable, and you may guess what it produced; the resolution of coming
back to Bath as soon as possible, and of fixing himself here for a time, with the view of renewing his former acquaintance
and recovering such a footing in the family, as might give him the means of ascertaining the degree of his danger,
and of circumventing the lady if he found it material. This was agreed upon between the two friends, as the only thing
to be done; and Colonel Wallis was to assist in every way that he could. He was to be introduced, and Mrs. Wallis
was to be introduced, and every body was to be introduced. Mr. Elliot came back accordingly; and on application was
forgiven, as you know, and re-admitted into the family; and
there it was his constant object, and his only object (till your arrival added another motive) to watch Sir Walter and Mrs. Clay. He omitted no opportunity of being with them, threw himself in their way, called at all hours — but I need not be particular on this subject. You can imagine what an artful man would do; and with this guide, perhaps, may recollect what you have seen him do.”
“Yes,” said Anne, “you tell me nothing which does not accord with what I have known, or could imagine. There is always something offensive in the details of cunning. The manoeuvres of selfishness and duplicity must ever be revolting, but I have heard nothing which really surprises me. I know those who would be shocked by such a representation of Mr. Elliot, who would have difficulty in believing it; but I have never been satisfied. I have always wanted some other motive for his conduct than appeared. — I should like toknow his present opinion, as to the probability of the event he has been in dread of; whether he considers the danger to be lessening or not.”
“Lessening, I understand,” replied Mrs. Smith. “He thinks Mrs. Clay afraid of him, aware that he sees through her, and not daring to proceed as she might do in his absence. But since he must be absent some time or other, I do not perceive how he can ever be secure, while she holds her present influence. Mrs. Wallis has an amusing idea, as nurse tells me, that it is to be put into the marriage articles when you and Mr. Elliot marry, that your father is not to marry Mrs. Clay. A scheme, worthy of Mrs. Wallis’s understanding, by all accounts; but my sensible nurse Rooke sees the absurdity of it.—
”Why, to be sure, ma’am,” said she, “it would not prevent his marrying any body else.” And indeed, to own the truth, I do not think nurse in her heart is a very strenuous opposer of Sir Walter’s making a second match. She must be allowed to be a favourer of matrimony you know, and (since self will intrude) who can say that she may not have some flying visions of attending the next Lady Elliot, through Mrs. Wallis’s recommendation?”
“I am very glad to know all this,’ said Anne, after a little thoughtfulness. “It will be more painful to me in some respects
to be in company with him, but I shall know better what to do. My line of conduct will be more direct. Mr. Elliot is evidently a disingenuous, artificial, worldly man, who has never had any better principle to guide him than selfishness.”
But Mr. Elliot was not done with. Mrs. Smith had been carried away from her first direction, and Anne had forgotten, in the interest of her own family concerns, how much had been originally implied against him; but her attention was now called to the explanation of those first hints, and she listened to a recital which, if it did not perfectly justify the unqualified bitterness of Mrs. Smith, proved him to
have been very unfeeling in his conduct towards her, very deficient both in justice and compassion.
She learned that (the intimacy between them continuing unimpaired by Mr. Elliot’s marriage) they had been as before always together, and Mr. Elliot had led his friend into expenses much beyond his fortune. Mrs. Smith did not want to take blame to herself, and was most tender of throwing any on her husband; but Anne could collect that their income had never been equal to their style of living, and that from the first, there had been a great deal of general and joint extravagance. From his wife’s account of him, she could discern Mr. Smith to have been a man of warm feelings, easy temper, careless habits, and not strong understanding, much more amiable than his friend, and very unlike him — led by him, and probably despised by him.
Mr. Elliot, raised by his marriage to great affluence, and disposed to every gratification of pleasure and vanity which could be commanded without involving himself (for with all his self-indulgence he had become a prudent man) and beginning to be rich, just as his friend ought to have found himself to be poor, seemed to have had no concern at all for that friend’s probable finances, but, on the contrary, had been prompting and encouraging expenses, which could end only in ruin. And the Smiths accordingly had been ruined.
The husband had died just in time to be spared the full knowledge of it. They had previously known embarrassments enough to try the friendship of their friends, and to prove that Mr. Elliot’s had better not be tried; but it was not till his death that the wretched state of his affairs was fully known. With a confidence in Mr. Elliot’s regard, more creditable to his feelings than his judgement, Mr. Smith had appointed him the executor of his will; but Mr. Elliot would not act, and the difficulties and distress which this refusal had heaped on her, in addition to the inevitable sufferings of her situation, had been such as could not be related without anguish of spirit, or listened to without corresponding indignation.
Anne was shewn some letters of his on the occasion, answers to urgent applications from Mrs. Smith, which all breathed the same stern resolution of not engaging in a fruitless trouble, and, under a cold civility, the same hardhearted indifference to any of the evils it might bring on her. It was a dreadful picture of ingratitude and inhumanity; and Anne felt at some moments, that no flagrant open crime could have been worse. She had a great deal to listen to; all the particulars of past sad scenes, all the minutiж of distress upon distress, which in former conversations had been merely hinted at, were dwelt on now with a natural indulgence. Anne could perfectly comprehend the exquisite relief, and was only the more inclined to wonder at the composure of her friend’s usual state of mind.
There was one circumstance in the history of her grievances of particular irritation. She had good reason to believe that some property of her husband in the West Indies,
which had been for many years under a sort of sequestration for the payment of its own incumbrances, might be recoverable
by proper measures; and this property, though not large, would be enough to make her comparatively rich. But
there was nobody to stir in it. Mr. Elliot would do nothing, and she could do nothing herself, equally disabled from
personal exertion by her state of bodily weakness, and from employing others by her want of money. She had no natural
connexions to assist her even with their counsel, and she could not afford to purchase the assistance of the law. This
was a cruel aggravation of actually streightened means. To feel that she ought to be in better circumstances, that a little
trouble in the right place might do it, and to fear that delay might be even weakening her claims, was hard to bear!
It was on this point that she had hoped to engage Anne’s good offices with Mr. Elliot. She had previously,
in the anticipation of their marriage, been very apprehensive of losing her friend by it; but on being assured that he
could have made no attempt of that nature, since he did not even know her to be in Bath, it immediately occurred, that
something might be done in her favour by the influence of the woman he loved, and she had been hastily preparing to
interest Anne’s feelings, as far as the observances due to Mr. Elliot’s character would allow, when Anne’s refutation of
the supposed engagement changed the face of every thing, and while it took from her the new-formed hope of succeeding
in the object of her first anxiety, left her at least the comfort of telling the whole story her own way.
After listening to this full description of Mr. Elliot, Anne could not but express some surprise at Mrs. Smith’s
having spoken of him so favourably in the beginning of their conversation. “She had seemed to recommend and praise him!”
“My dear,” was Mrs. Smith’s reply, “there was nothing else to be done. I considered your marrying him as certain,
though he might not yet have made the offer, and I could no more speak the truth of him, than if he had been your husband.
My heart bled for you, as I talked of happiness. And yet, he is sensible, he is agreeable, and with such a woman as
you, it was not absolutely hopeless. He was very unkind to his first wife. They were wretched together. But she was too
ignorant and giddy for respect, and he had never loved her. I was willing to hope that you must fare better.”
Anne could just acknowledge within herself such a possibility of having been induced to marry him, as made her shudder at the idea of the misery which must have followed. It was just possible that she might have been persuaded by Lady Russell! And under such a supposition, which would have been most miserable, when time had disclosed all, too late?
It was very desirable that Lady Russell should be no longer deceived; and one of the concluding arrangements of this important conference, which carried them through the greater part of the morning, was, that Anne had full liberty
to communicate to her friend everything relative to Mrs. Smith, in which his conduct was involved.
(перевод с англ.)