As the Miss Dashwoods entered the drawing-room of the park the next day, at one door, Mrs. Palmer came running in at the other, looking as good humoured and merry as before. She took them all most affectionately by the hand, and expressed great delight in seeing them again.
I am so glad to see you! said she, seating herself between Elinor and Marianne, for it is so bad a day I was afraid you might not come, which would be a shocking thing, as we go away again to-morrow. We must go, for the Westons come to us next week you know. It was quite a sudden thing our coming at all, and I knew nothing of it till the carriage was coming to the door, and then Mr. Palmer asked me if I would go with him to Barton. He is so droll! He never tells me any thing! I am so sorry we cannot stay longer; however we shall meet again in town very soon, I hope.
They were obliged to put an end to such an expectation.
Not go to town! cried Mrs. Palmer, with a laugh, I shall be quite disappointed if you do not. I could get the nicest house in world for you, next door to ours, in Hanover-square. You must come, indeed. I am sure I shall be very happy to chaperon you at any time till I am confined, if Mrs. Dashwood should not like to go into public.
They thanked her; but were obliged to resist all her entreaties.
Oh, my love, cried Mrs. Palmer to her husband, who just then entered the roomYou must help me to persuade the Miss Dashwoods to go to town this winter.
Her love made no answer; and after slightly bowing to the ladies, began complaining of the weather.
How horrid all this is! said he. Such weather makes every thing and every body disgusting. Dullness is as much produced within doors as without, by rain. It makes one detest all ones acquaintance. What the devil does Sir John mean by not having a billiard room in his house? How few people know what comfort is! Sir John is as stupid as the weather.
The rest of the company soon dropt in.
I am afraid, Miss Marianne, said Sir John, you have not been able to take your usual walk to Allenham to-day.
Marianne looked very grave and said nothing.
Oh, dont be so sly before us, said Mrs. Palmer; for we know all about it, I assure you; and I admire your taste very much, for I think he is extremely handsome. We do not live a great way from him in the country, you know. Not above ten miles, I dare say.
Much nearer thirty, said her husband.
Ah, well! there is not much difference. I never was at his house; but they say it is a sweet pretty place.
As vile a spot as I ever saw in my life, said Mr. Palmer.
Marianne remained perfectly silent, though her countenance betrayed her interest in what was said.
Is it very ugly? continued Mrs. Palmerthen it must be some other place that is so pretty I suppose.
When they were seated in the dining room, Sir John observed with regret that they were only eight all together.
My dear, said he to his lady, it is very provoking that we should be so few. Why did not you ask the Gilberts to come to us to-day?
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