Good heavens! cried Elinor, what do you mean? Are you acquainted with Mr. Robert Ferrars? Can you be? And she did not feel much delighted with the idea of such a sister-in-law.
No, replied Lucy, not to Mr. Robert FerrarsI never saw him in my life; but, fixing her eyes upon Elinor, to his eldest brother.
What felt Elinor at that moment? Astonishment, that would have been as painful as it was strong, had not an immediate disbelief of the assertion attended it. She turned towards Lucy in silent amazement, unable to divine the reason or object of such a declaration; and though her complexion varied, she stood firm in incredulity, and felt in no danger of an hysterical fit, or a swoon.
You may well be surprised, continued Lucy; for to be sure you could have had no idea of it before; for I dare say he never dropped the smallest hint of it to you or any of your family; because it was always meant to be a great secret, and I am sure has been faithfully kept so by me to this hour. Not a soul of all my relations know of it but Anne, and I never should have mentioned it to you, if I had not felt the greatest dependence in the world upon your secrecy; and I really thought my behaviour in asking so many questions about Mrs. Ferrars must seem so odd, that it ought to be explained. And I do not think Mr. Ferrars can be displeased, when he knows I have trusted you, because I know he has the highest opinion in the world of all your family, and looks upon yourself and the other Miss Dashwoods quite as his own sisters.She paused.
Elinor for a few moments remained silent. Her astonishment at what she heard was at first too great for words; but at length forcing herself to speak, and to speak cautiously, she said, with calmness of manner, which tolerably well concealed her surprise and solicitude May I ask if your engagement is of long standing?
We have been engaged these four years.
Elinor, though greatly shocked, still felt unable to believe it.
I did not know, said she, that you were even acquainted till the other day.
Our acquaintance, however, is of many years date. He was under my uncles care, you know, a considerable while.
Yes; Mr. Pratt. Did you never hear him talk of Mr. Pratt?
I think I have, replied Elinor, with an exertion of spirits, which increased with her increase of emotion.
He was four years with my uncle, who lives at Longstaple, near Plymouth. It was there our acquaintance begun, for my sister and me was often staying with my uncle, and it was there our engagement was formed, though not till a year after he had quitted as a pupil; but he was almost always with us afterwards. I was very unwilling to enter into it, as you may imagine, without the knowledge and approbation of his mother; but I was too young, and loved him too well, to be so prudent as I ought to have been. Though you do not know him so well as me, Miss Dashwood, you must have seen enough of him to be sensible he is very capable of making a woman sincerely attached to him.
Certainly, answered Elinor, without knowing what she said; but after a moments reflection, she added, with revived security of Edwards honour and love, and her companions falsehoodEngaged to Mr.
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|