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
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 come out.
"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."
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 the picturesque."
"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 meaning."
"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,
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, extended.
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 large party."
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 us again."
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 was sitting.
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 mention it.