Oh, Elinor! she cried, I have such a secret to tell you about Marianne. I am sure she will be married to Mr. Willoughby very soon.
You have said so, replied Elinor, almost every day since they first met on High-church Down; and they had not known each other a week, I believe, before you were certain that Marianne wore his picture round her neck; but it turned out to be only the miniature of our great uncle.
But indeed this is quite another thing. I am sure they will be married very soon, for he has got a lock of her hair.
Take care, Margaret. It may be only the hair of some great uncle of his.
But, indeed, Elinor, it is Mariannes. I am almost sure it is, for I saw him cut it off. Last night after tea, when you and mama went out of the room, they were whispering and talking together as fast as could be, and he seemed to be begging something of her, and presently he took up her scissors and cut off a long lock of her hair, for it was all tumbled down her back; and he kissed it, and folded it up in a piece of white paper; and put it into his pocket-book.
For such particulars, stated on such authority, Elinor could not withhold her credit; nor was she disposed to it, for the circumstance was in perfect unison with what she had heard and seen herself.
Margarets sagacity was not always displayed in a way so satisfactory to her sister. When Mrs. Jennings attacked her one evening at the park, to give the name of the young man who was Elinors particular favourite, which had been long a matter of great curiosity to her, Margaret answered by looking at her sister, and saying, I must not tell, may I, Elinor?
This of course made every body laugh; and Elinor tried to laugh too. But the effort was painful. She was convinced that Margaret had fixed on a person whose name she could not bear with composure to become a standing joke with Mrs. Jennings.
Marianne felt for her most sincerely; but she did more harm than good to the cause, by turning very red and saying in an angry manner to Margaret,
Remember that whatever your conjectures may be, you have no right to repeat them.
I never had any conjectures about it, replied Margaret; it was you who told me of it yourself.
This increased the mirth of the company, and Margaret was eagerly pressed to say something more.
Oh! pray, Miss Margaret, let us know all about it, said Mrs. Jennings. What is the gentlemans name?
I must not tell, maam. But I know very well what it is; and I know where he is too.
Yes, yes, we can guess where he is; at his own house at Norland to be sure. He is the curate of the parish I dare say.
No, that he is not. He is of no profession at all.
Margaret, said Marianne with great warmth, you know that all this is an invention of your own, and that there is no such person in existence.
Well, then, he is lately dead, Marianne, for I am sure there was such a man once, and his name begins with an F.
Most grateful did Elinor feel to Lady Middleton for observing, at this moment, that it rained very hard, though she believed the interruption to proceed less from any attention to her, than from her ladyships
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