Fanny was right enough in not expecting to hear from Miss Crawford now at the rapid rate in which their correspondence had begun; Marys next letter was after a decidedly longer interval than the last, but she was not right in supposing that such an interval would be felt a great relief to herself. Here was another strange revolution of mind! She was really glad to receive the letter when it did come. In her present exile from good society, and distance from everything that had been wont to interest her, a letter from one belonging to the set where her heart lived, written with affection, and some degree of elegance, was thoroughly acceptable. The usual plea of increasing engagements was made in excuse for not having written to her earlier; And now that I have begun, she continued, my letter will not be worth your reading, for there will be no little offering of love at the end, no three or four lines _passionees_ from the most devoted H. C. in the world, for Henry is in Norfolk; business called him to Everingham ten days ago, or perhaps he only pretended to call, for the sake of being travelling at the same time that you were. But there he is, and, by the bye, his absence may sufficiently account for any remissness of his sisters in writing, for there has been no Well, Mary, when do you write to Fanny? Is not it time for you to write to Fanny? to spur me on. At last, after various attempts at meeting, I have seen your cousins, dear Julia and dearest Mrs. Rushworth; they found me at home yesterday, and we were glad to see each other again. We seemed very glad to see each other, and I do really think we were a little. We had a vast deal to say. Shall I tell you how Mrs. Rushworth looked when your name was mentioned? I did not use to think her wanting in self-possession, but she had not quite enough for the demands of yesterday. Upon the whole, Julia was in the best looks of the two, at least after you were spoken of. There was no recovering the complexion from the moment that I spoke of Fanny, and spoke of her as a sister should. But Mrs. Rushworths day of good looks will come; we have cards for her first party on the 28th. Then she will be in beauty, for she will open one of the best houses in Wimpole Street. I was in it two years ago, when it was Lady Lascelless, and prefer it to almost any I know in London, and certainly she will then feel, to use a vulgar phrase, that she has got her pennyworth for her penny. Henry could not have afforded her such a house. I hope she will recollect it, and be satisfied, as well as she may, with moving the queen of a palace, though the king may appear best in the background; and as I have no desire to tease her, I shall never force your name upon her again. She will grow sober by degrees. From all that I hear and guess, Baron Wildenhaims attentions to Julia continue, but I do not know that he has any serious encouragement. She ought to do better. A poor honourable is no catch, and I cannot imagine any liking in the case, for take away his rants, and the poor baron has nothing. What a difference a vowel makes! If his rents were but equal to his rants! Your cousin Edmund moves slowly; detained, perchance, by parish duties. There may be some old woman at Thornton Lacey to be converted. I am unwilling to fancy myself neglected for a young one. Adieu! my dear sweet Fanny, this is a long letter from London: write me a pretty one in reply to gladden Henrys eyes, when he comes back, and send me an account of all the dashing young captains whom you disdain for his sake.
There was great food for meditation in this letter, and chiefly for unpleasant meditation; and yet, with all the uneasiness it supplied, it connected her with the absent, it told her of people and things about whom she had never felt so much curiosity as now, and she would have been glad to have been sure of such a letter every week. Her correspondence with her aunt Bertram was her only concern of higher interest.
As for any society in Portsmouth, that could at all make amends for deficiencies at home, there were none within the circle of her fathers and mothers acquaintance to afford her the smallest satisfaction: she saw nobody in whose favour she could wish to overcome her own shyness and reserve. The men appeared to her all coarse, the women all pert, everybody under-bred; and she gave as little contentment as she received from introductions either to old or new acquaintance. The young ladies who approached her at first with some respect, in consideration of her coming from a baronets family, were soon offended by what they termed airs; for, as she neither played on the pianoforte nor wore fine pelisses, they could, on farther observation, admit no right of superiority.
The first solid consolation which Fanny received for the evils of home, the first which her judgment could entirely approve, and which gave any promise of durability, was in a better knowledge of Susan, and a hope of being of service to her. Susan had always behaved pleasantly to herself, but the determined character of her general manners had astonished and alarmed her, and it was at least a fortnight before
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