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|Separating the rumours from truth re: Colonel Brandon
Written by Barbara
(9/14/2009 1:48 a.m.)
In this section of the reading, we finally get to hear Colonel Brandon say something for himself, and we also learn more about him through Elinor's observations and through the gossip the Barton Park people are so happy to spread.
Considering Colonel Brandon's respectability and the good opinion (most) people seem to have of him, it's rather shocking to hear Mrs. Jennings declare that he has an illegitimate daughter!
Elinor's observations we can take at face value--she would not jump to conclusions or conjecture if there was nothing on which to base it. Directly from Brandon himself she has learned of his travels and his intelligence and his interest in books.
One of her observations is that Brandon does not seem to have a 'natural gloominess of temper', but rather that he seems to be under some present 'oppression of spirits' and she believes that he has suffered some misfortune, due, in part to the 'past injuries and disappointments' at which Sir John has hinted.
When Colonel Brandon takes his leave of them, Mrs. Jennings also seems to know a lot about his personal life--from his ailing sister in the south of France to his cousin's impending marriage. She gives him quite the grilling, but he neither denies nor contradicts anything she says at that time. I always wonder how it is that they know this much about him? He is bothered by the heavily-laden-with-meaning :
"Whom do you mean, ma'am?" said he, colouring a little.
"Oh! you know who I mean."
It must be rather astonishing for the Dashwoods--or for Elinor at least--to learn that he is self-conscious about some mysterious woman somewhere and that, according to Mrs. Jennings, he has had a child out of wedlock.
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