Elinor saw, with great uneasiness the low spirits of her friend. His
visit afforded her but a very partial satisfaction, while his own
enjoyment in it appeared so imperfect. It was evident that he was
unhappy; she wished it were equally evident that he still distinguished
her by the same affection which once she had felt no doubt of
inspiring; but hitherto the continuance of his preference seemed very
uncertain; and the reservedness of his manner towards her contradicted
one moment what a more animated look had intimated the preceding one.
He joined her and Marianne in the breakfast-room the next morning
before the others were down; and Marianne, who was always eager to
promote their happiness as far as she could, soon left them to
themselves. But before she was half way upstairs she heard the parlour
door open, and, turning round, was astonished to see Edward himself
"I am going into the village to see my horses," said he, "as you are
not yet ready for breakfast; I shall be back again presently."
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Edward returned to them with fresh admiration of the surrounding
country; in his walk to the village, he had seen many parts of the
valley to advantage; and the village itself, in a much higher situation
than the cottage, afforded a general view of the whole, which had
exceedingly pleased him. This was a subject which ensured Marianne's
attention, and she was beginning to describe her own admiration of
these scenes, and to question him more minutely on the objects that had
particularly struck him, when Edward interrupted her by saying, "You
must not enquire too far, Marianne—remember I have no knowledge in the
picturesque, and I shall offend you by my ignorance and want of taste
if we come to particulars. I shall call hills steep, which ought to be
bold; surfaces strange and uncouth, which ought to be irregular and
rugged; and distant objects out of sight, which ought only to be
indistinct through the soft medium of a hazy atmosphere. You must be
satisfied with such admiration as I can honestly give. I call it a
very fine country—the hills are steep, the woods seem full of fine
timber, and the valley looks comfortable and snug—with rich meadows
and several neat farm houses scattered here and there. It exactly
answers my idea of a fine country, because it unites beauty with
utility—and I dare say it is a picturesque one too, because you admire
it; I can easily believe it to be full of rocks and promontories, grey
moss and brush wood, but these are all lost on me. I know nothing of
"I am afraid it is but too true," said Marianne; "but why should you
boast of it?"
"I suspect," said Elinor, "that to avoid one kind of affectation,
Edward here falls into another. Because he believes many people
pretend to more admiration of the beauties of nature than they really
feel, and is disgusted with such pretensions, he affects greater
indifference and less discrimination in viewing them himself than he
possesses. He is fastidious and will have an affectation of his own."
"It is very true," said Marianne, "that admiration of landscape scenery
is become a mere jargon. Every body pretends to feel and tries to
describe with the taste and elegance of him who first defined what
picturesque beauty was. I detest jargon of every kind, and sometimes I
have kept my feelings to myself, because I could find no language to
describe them in but what was worn and hackneyed out of all sense and
"I am convinced," said Edward, "that you really feel all the delight in
a fine prospect which you profess to feel. But, in return, your sister
must allow me to feel no more than I profess. I like a fine prospect,
but not on picturesque principles. I do not like crooked, twisted,
blasted trees. I admire them much more if they are tall, straight, and
flourishing. I do not like ruined, tattered cottages. I am not fond
of nettles or thistles, or heath blossoms. I have more pleasure in a
snug farm-house than a watch-tower—and a troop of tidy, happy villages
please me better than the finest banditti in the world."
Marianne looked with amazement at Edward, with compassion at her
sister. Elinor only laughed.
The subject was continued no farther; and Marianne remained
thoughtfully silent, till a new object suddenly engaged her attention.
She was sitting by Edward, and in taking his tea from Mrs. Dashwood,
his hand passed so directly before her, as to make a ring, with a plait
of hair in the centre, very conspicuous on one of his fingers.
"I never saw you wear a ring before, Edward," she cried. "Is that
Fanny's hair? I remember her promising to give you some. But I should
have thought her hair had been darker."
Marianne spoke inconsiderately what she really felt—but when she saw
how much she had pained Edward, her own vexation at her want of thought
could not be surpassed by his. He coloured very deeply, and giving a
momentary glance at Elinor, replied, "Yes; it is my sister's hair. The
setting always casts a different shade on it, you know."
Elinor had met his eye, and looked conscious likewise. That the hair
was her own, she instantaneously felt as well satisfied as Marianne;
the only difference in their conclusions was, that what Marianne
considered as a free gift from her sister, Elinor was conscious must
have been procured by some theft or contrivance unknown to herself.
She was not in a humour, however, to regard it as an affront, and
affecting to take no notice of what passed, by instantly talking of
something else, she internally resolved henceforward to catch every
opportunity of eyeing the hair and of satisfying herself, beyond all
doubt, that it was exactly the shade of her own.
Edward's embarrassment lasted some time, and it ended in an absence of
mind still more settled. He was particularly grave the whole morning.
Marianne severely censured herself for what she had said; but her own
forgiveness might have been more speedy, had she known how little
offence it had given her sister.
Before the middle of the day, they were visited by Sir John and Mrs.
Jennings, who, having heard of the arrival of a gentleman at the
cottage, came to take a survey of the guest. With the assistance of
his mother-in-law, Sir John was not long in discovering that the name
of Ferrars began with an F. and this prepared a future mine of raillery
against the devoted Elinor, which nothing but the newness of their
acquaintance with Edward could have prevented from being immediately
sprung. But, as it was, she only learned, from some very significant
looks, how far their penetration, founded on Margaret's instructions,
Sir John never came to the Dashwoods without either inviting them to
dine at the park the next day, or to drink tea with them that evening.
On the present occasion, for the better entertainment of their visitor,
towards whose amusement he felt himself bound to contribute, he wished
to engage them for both.
"You MUST drink tea with us to night," said he, "for we shall be quite
alone—and tomorrow you must absolutely dine with us, for we shall be a
Mrs. Jennings enforced the necessity. "And who knows but you may raise
a dance," said she. "And that will tempt YOU, Miss Marianne."
"A dance!" cried Marianne. "Impossible! Who is to dance?"
"Who! why yourselves, and the Careys, and Whitakers to be sure.—What!
you thought nobody could dance because a certain person that shall be
nameless is gone!"
"I wish with all my soul," cried Sir John, "that Willoughby were among
This, and Marianne's blushing, gave new suspicions to Edward. "And who
is Willoughby?" said he, in a low voice, to Miss Dashwood, by whom he
She gave him a brief reply. Marianne's countenance was more
communicative. Edward saw enough to comprehend, not only the meaning
of others, but such of Marianne's expressions as had puzzled him
before; and when their visitors left them, he went immediately round
her, and said, in a whisper, "I have been guessing. Shall I tell you
"What do you mean?"
"Shall I tell you."
"Well then; I guess that Mr. Willoughby hunts."
Marianne was surprised and confused, yet she could not help smiling at
the quiet archness of his manner, and after a moment's silence, said,
"Oh, Edward! How can you?—But the time will come I hope...I am sure
you will like him."
"I do not doubt it," replied he, rather astonished at her earnestness
and warmth; for had he not imagined it to be a joke for the good of her
acquaintance in general, founded only on a something or a nothing
between Mr. Willoughby and herself, he would not have ventured to