Fanny and Her Edmund
Mr. Edmund Bertram asked Browning to make haste with his dressing, yet to also take care. He did not mean to be rude, but he was so uneasy about the task that lay before him. He did not want to appear too prepared, yet he did want to look his best, so as to possibly change his results. As soon as Browning had done with him, he examined his face. "Not too shabby, Bertram," he thought. "At least not for the last nights he had had."
The reader obviously must be enlightened. Edmund had spent the last sen'night's-worth of nights awake, tossing and turning in his bed. No, the reason was not because he had no fire. It was, rather, because of another who at one point had no fire, the truth being that he had found himself to be deeply in love with his most lovely cousin Fanny.
This had not come so very suddenly, however. Ever since she had entered Mansfield Park at the babe's age of ten, he had felt a very strong affection for her, very similar to that of a sister. It is said that out of brotherly affection grows the strongest of passionate loves. Such can be said in this case.
Edmund realised his love of Miss Price completely only when his former 'fling,' Miss Mary Crawford, showed her true self. How foolish he was! He must have looked like such a fool to his dearest Fanny! To have appreciated such vulgar, haughty 'perfection,' while the real angel was right under his nose! He deserved to be refused for such foolish behaviour.
As he looked back on Henry Crawford's love of Fanny, his face paled when he thought of the possible consequences. What if Miss Price were to have accepted Mr. Crawford! It would possibly have awakened Edmund's feelings for her, but think of it! She very well could have accepted Crawford! He certainly wasn't ill-armed with charm, wit, passion, and fortune: three things Edmund searched for in himself and could not find. And if she had married him, would he still have run away with Maria?-How that event would have mortified Fanny's perfect sense of honour and morals!--What would have happened then?
But he resolved not to think of the what-might-have-been, else he would surely kill himself, an action --though not so very unpleasant to himself---which not only would upset his family, but also be the most ungrateful of actions towards the LORD!
As he examined his own face, he envisioned quite another, more feminine, face, encased by curls of tawny brown. Yet he realised that if he were to get this thing over with, it would not be by thinking of Fanny's face-- nay, that very picture might cause him to set propriety at naught!
So, he took a very deep breath and nearly barged out of his room, in order to be extra early for break-fast.
She was rather sleepy. Fanny Price had not slept overmuch, in fact not at all; and so she was not only very tired; she was also not thinking very clearly. Fanny, as usual, did not have a maid to help her to dress; so she did not realise that she wasn't wearing her normal shoes--actually not wearing any at all!--until she had gone down the steps from her remote bed-chamber; and almost to the breakfast-room. She had waked early enough, however--the grandfather-clock had just stroke five-thirty--to notice this shocking neglect of her dressing, by walking on the wooden floor.
In her embarrassment, she nearly flew up the first flight of stairs, barely noticing her Cousin Edmund, and his cry of, "Why Fanny!--whatever is the matter?"; and she certainly didn't notice the anguish in his voice. However, she did recognise him and his cry when he ran up the steps after her, taking them two-by-two. Fanny then abruptly stopped.
"Nothing is the matter, Cousin. I just seem to have forgotten something," she said not without a small blush creeping onto her face.
"Why would you rush, then? You need not doubt for a moment that you ought to tell me your problem," he said with a surge of feeling. "I, it appears, have burdened you with all mine," he added as his face darkened.
"No, no!--'Tis nothing like that. Trust me expressly when I say what I need to do now, if you don't mind, is neither deep nor dark. Only mortifying." Again, she coloured.
"Well, if you'll not tell me, then there is nothing else for me to do or say. But are you absolutely sure that nothing is the matter?" As that was said, he looked down at his feet; and noticed Fanny's. A smile slowly built itself on his countenance. "That was it! Thank goodness--there really is nothing that she was hiding from him!" he thought not without much relief. "Perhaps you would like to get to your--er--duty?" he added with some familiarity returning to his manner.
"Yes, I would. Thank-you. You truly are the most understanding friend," she said with a large grin, as she realised he knew her problem; and promptly ascended.
Fanny left her cousin Edmund watching her; and, when she was out of sight, looking at the spot where she had stood; and picturing her small, dainty, elegant feet. If he had any doubt of his love of her before, surely now was perfect proof! Watching the spot where one's "cousin" had last been and admiring every detail of a "cousin's" feet surely was unlikely! Rather, watching the spot where one's "lady-love" had last been and admiring every detail of a "lady-love's" feet was perfectly natural. His reverie was interrupted, however, when he remembered her calling him "the most understanding FRIEND." "Well, 'tis what you deserve, Bertram," he thought; then frowned, paled, shivered, and rapidly descended.
Meanwhile, Fanny was hastily pulling on her stockings and shoes, ripping both of the former in doing so. She sighed and searched for another pair, thinking of everything at once.
"Why did she spend the whole night thinking upon something which was so obvious? In short, why did she not marry Mr. Crawford?" thought she in a fit of regret. "He was certainly very kind to her, if not at the beginning, at least in Portsmouth, when his 'passion' ended. He was charming, witty, passionate, and --though it ought not to add up to much for her--endowed with a large fortune. Perhaps Aunt Norris was right.--His running away with Cousin Maria was her fault. She ought to have married him. She had thought foolishly that, once Cousin Edmund had been in the know about Miss Crawford's faults, he would have ceased to love her. Nevertheless, it appears that, even now, he was heart-broken over the fact that he can never make her his wife. She realised now that Edmund would never love her."
This last thought was made with finality; and she now resolved to marry the next man who happened to offer for her, as long as respected him enough to live with him.
Fanny had found her stockings a long while before; and proceeded to put them on; but only after she wiped the tears that were streaked down her cheeks.
"Mr. Edmund," asked Louise meekly. "Would you like to have some tea while you await the others?" He accepted her proposal with alacrity. He badly needed something to keep him thinking normally. He felt like everything he thought was an overreaction. Every word, action, or look she said, did, or gave threw him either into pure bliss or deep despair. What had started this? When exactly had he come to love Fanny so? He certainly needed to know if he were to propose; if not for his own satisfaction of curiosity. So again, when did he start to appreciate Fanny's perfections?
"Sir, your tea." Receiving the tea graciously, he began to think. Ah!--he had it! It was truly when Crawford had begun to love her, though obviously not as passionately.
He could picture the ball, that time (then) of total torture, but--now that he thought upon it--a time of ecstasy!----
Fanny had nearly glowed with beauty and elegance. She was universally admired; and even had several partners besides those with whom she was acquainted. He was so proud of her then. Though he had not yet realised it, not only that Crawford had asked her for the first two dances; but also how she was so beautiful, yet so modest, endeared her to him so much. He hated to think of the succeeding months, for he thought a ridiculous amount about one of whom he never wanted to think again. In any event, he recognised Mary Crawford's faults a long time hence.
When Edmund was in London, he slowly started to notice little things about Miss Crawford: how she would be a little too playful when he was being quite ardent, how she would disregard his wishes on several occasions, how she would let vulgar expressions slip from her mouth, how--but it was not she on whom he was focused. However, the largest blow came when Crawford ran away with Maria.
Then, his feelings were in such a whirlwind that he could not but feel dejected and topsy-turvy himself! Anger at the Crawfords, bitterness towards Miss C in particular, anger and pity for Maria, empathy for poor Rushworth, sympathy for his parents, love for Fanny, concern for HER welfare; all fought to overpower the other feelings.--That was certainly NOT a period of unmixed feeling.
The horrour of such immorality was not lost on him. Thinking so horribly of the brother definitely lowered his opinion of the sister. Not only that, but when Mary virtually denied her brother's part in any of it!--To think! A gentleman, and one of age as well, not having any blame in something so very detestable! He nearly shivered with the thought! Realising just how repugnant Miss Crawford was helped him to notice Fanny; and he soon did. When he had argued with her, he-----So THAT was when he had started to love Miss Price so!
It had been about time! She had always been as wonderful as she always had been; but of course, he had not recognised it. Edmund remembered the ride back to Mansfield.--what a ride! At THAT point, his feelings were unmixed; being that all he felt at that moment was how much he wanted to marry his cousin, to take her in his arms--Nay, such thoughts should never be written! Let it be said that he found himself in very close quarters with "his dearest Fanny," and had to bite his lip in order to prevent himself from saying something eloquent-and perhaps a little too heartfelt-in her praise. Then the torment of how he had neglected her and used her ill flooded everything else. How could she ever love a man who had treated her like a dog, who had unburdened all his "troubles" on her; yet never for a moment stopped to ask her if she had any herself? Surely he had neglected her when Crawford had courted her! Oh!--he could not think of it, for fear of doing something horrible to himself.
He had by then gotten up and paced the floor of the breakfast-room. The clock had just stroke six in the morning when he heard the door open. Edmund downed the remainder of his tea in one swallow; and turned to face Louise, yet saw Fanny!
Fanny had just entered the breakfast-room when she realised Cousin Edmund was there. Sighing inwardly, she gave him a smile and a friendly greeting. Using her new determination, Fanny tried to bridge the obvious awkwardness between them.
"What brings you down here so early, dear Cousin?" The reply she received wasn't as warm and cheerful as she had expected. After "the Crawford incident," Edmund had become more understanding and kind towards her, though she previously did not think such a thing at all possible! He had even spoken of Miss Crawford, with some pain, but without dwelling on his feelings. She could feel his slight rise to unqualified perfection. "I-was looking to finish re-reading--Macbeth. I had forgotten how-very good it was!" Fanny was perplexed; and replied exactly as she felt, "But, Cousin, I believed you always thought it too-repulsive. I had always thought that you did not like it!" Edmund's face became less rigid, -nay! he half-smiled!- as he cried, "Oh!,-Fanny! When do you not surprize me? Indeed, you were right; I was not reading Macbeth, nor anything of the kind. Actually, I-I-" "Yes?" "I wanted to talk to you." She winced for a moment as she said (almost bitterly), "Any time, Cousin. About Miss Crawford? I shan't mind at all." Her response visibly upset him. "Well, I suppose it is partly about her. In any case, may I speak?-But only after you sit! I have lost all kindness!" No indeed, thought she, but only thanked him for, and took advantage of, his offer. "What I am about to say, may perhaps up-set your gentle nature, but please hear my foolish words out as best as you can." She was even more perplexed now, but she acknowledged him with a nod and a smile.
He stood up again; faced his back to her, seemed to be contemplating something; and heaved an audible sigh and turned towards her with a pale face. His countenance pained her extremely; what horrific thoughts must have entered him to produce such an effect! Yet he continued with some amount of composure. "You know of my conference with Miss Crawford, of course?" Fanny hoped she did not appear too affected. "Yes; you told me of that some time previous." "Of course. Yes, well-I would like to mention that. You understand that I-I was [he disgustedly uttered the words] in love, though in my opinion merely youthfully infatuated, with her?" After she uncomfortably nodded, he began to pace the room, with no small amount of distress; and recommenced,
"I had thought that all the perfections that could ever bewitch a man lay in that woman's person. Beauty, poise, solicitude (most especially for you, dear Fanny), and Wit: all those were combined in her.-Never was I more misled! I thank God that Crawford ran away with Maria-if anyone could be thankful for such a thing!-because, without that hated event, I would perhaps have make the fatal errour of entering into marriage, with a woman whom I could never truly admire and respect. Such an indifference about her brother's folly!-But I need not mention it to you, for I 'm sure you noticed it from the first. Furthermore, I had realised something else, something that could make my life an existence of exultation, a perfect reality; though but a few words could perhaps propel me into unmixed misery, for at least some months at a time!"
Fanny was bemused by his choice of words; and did not comprehend his meaning, or why his countenance, at one moment, was nearly seething with light and mirth; and the next, as dark as (at least she had been told so) the foggy streets of London on a moonless night. Her bewilderment, however, merely added to her feminine and cousinly curiosity.
"I-I would like to-tell you what that something is." She was the most bewildered of any woman at that moment.
"It-it is actually rather the notice of someone. I-would like to tell you, Fanny, how much you delight-and-and charm me. Dearest, kindest, sweetest, most lovely, most virtuous, most pious, most perfect Fanny! I now know, that when Henry Crawford called you an angel, his words were not disproportionate drama. They were the truest words anyone ever spoke of you!-For you are not of this world, you are made of the stuff of the Catholic Saints and Apostles! Truly, I would not be at all surprized if you did not wish to accept the hand of this most foolish, selfish, unworthy man! Do not think of his feelings; for I know that pity might incline you to matrimony more than anything else; and I will not have your virtues crushing your heart!-In case your becoming modesty wanted to not understand this fool's speech, I am asking you to be my wife. All I can offer is a modest home, a village full of persons who shall jump to meet your glorious self; and my love and devotion. O!-Dearest, most beautiful, most strongly-convicted, most moral-minded, most fascinating, most radiant, most tender, most delightful girl! Please grace me with your fine hand, in one of the most glorious of actions, in short; please marry me!"
Fanny had already had her share of most stunning flattery; but there is a great difference in hearing a man whom you respect not a lot praise you so, and one whom you have adored for nearly ten years!-"Surely she must be hallucinating!" thought she. "Edmund! Loving her! Such a thing was only to be dreamt of! And what of Mary Crawford? Is he just proposing for convenience?-No, Edmund would surely never think of such a proposal, but-It just couldn't be true!"
The result of such shock was that she sprung to her feet (perhaps due to an overwhelming impulse to answer her cousin with alacrity-and "something more"). Inopportunely, that was not the most helpful reflex at that time. Though she was generally viewed as having a strong will against her outer weakness, despite her greatest desires for the opposite, Fanny Price, totally in shock, felt she was losing consciousness remarkably quickly; and left her state of perception a moment afterward.
Edmund had faltered when his opportunity came so unexpectedly; originally, he had feared his actions at the time of proposal, but he had nonetheless felt compelled to continue on with his plans. Presently, however, he hesitated when he saw the kind eyes shining with apparent pain. "No doubt," he had thought most bitterly, "They are upset with my cruel actions!" These ruminations did not help him in his speech; but he decided to continue as his level of passion rose. All his premeditation was forgotten; and half a minute after he had done, he failed to remember what he had previously said.
If he noticed any-thing, he noticed his dear Fanny's reactions. Whenever he looked at her, her cheeks were flushed; and her countenance was such a conundrum as to not be able to be understood, even by him who knew her best. When she stood, he was tortured: obviously, she felt horribly about refusing him, because she could never hold grudges against anyone for two long; even Crawford, she had forgiven. Probably, that was where the anxiety on her part was!--But, he had to remember to retain at least one grain of hope. She could marry him, as a matter of gratitude and affection; maybe his devotion could eventually bring about a return of his feelings! Though, he couldn't think so selfishly. These thoughts had flown about in his mind for less than a moment; that moment, being the one in which Fanny collapsed.
When she fainted, he rushed so fast as to be there to save her fall from almost half-across the room. His breath came quick and in short pants, as hers came light and deep. Her face, a moment before as pink as a rose, had changed to its cloud-white of old. His worry increased as his offices to wake his cousin were in vain. Edmund searched about for smelling-salts, anything!--but took out his hand-kerchief, raced upstairs to find a cleansing pitcher, and wiped her forehead ever-so gently, as only a man totally in love could do. Meanwhile, his cheek was flaming nearly as wildly as the unconscious' had been, and his hand shook at the closeness of his actions. He tenderly brushed away one of her soft, flaxen locks, barely controlling the impulse to tweak it adoringly.
But all the softness faded away when he realised she was slowly awakening. His felicity was not lessened, but his intimacy must be. He had laid her across his knees; and must presently place her on the chair next to him. He didn't resist carrying her, like a babe, to the place. She was as light as a fairy in his arms, thought he. Luckily for him, as soon as he restored her to her original seat, his beloved woke; but unluckily, her eyes widened as if by some long-dreaded horrour.
When Miss Price awoke, it was at first peacefully, then with a remembrance of all that had caused her to lose consciousness. She then jerked up quite suddenly, murmuring, as only in-sane or feverish persons do, that the whole thing was a lie; that it was her fantasy; that her cousin had somehow learned of her love for him, and that he was doing the thing out of honour; anything but the truth. He did not love her! It was too good to be true! And everything that was too good to be true, in her life, always was just that! This was what she truly thought; and no dramatisation of it. However, she was not so upset as to ignore the fact that he was sitting right next to her, peering into her countenance with not a little distress.
Fanny tried to smile a little; but though it seemed rather forced, Cousin Edmund's face lightened perceptibly. She then said, "I am better now, I think," choosing to neglect what she had heard him say before.
"Good," he smiled, and then for half a minute was at a loss for words, but somehow pathetically fumbled his way through a few more:
"Ah--I, hate to ask you about this at such an, er, innoportune time, but, ah, what did you, ah, think of my, er, speech? What is your response?"
Fanny was again stunned, but it is said that the second surprize is lessened by the knowledge of the first. This case being no exception, she was rather composed as she replied, "Cousin, I do not know of what you're talking." "Better to be looked on as forgetful or foolish than fantasizing!," thought she.
As soon as she let the words escape her lips, she felt much remorse, for Edmund clearly was taken aback, and in no good way. His expression seemed to say, "So that is of how much importance it was to her!" His words rather coldly said,
"My proposal, Ma'am?"
"Cousin, I beg of you, of course I knew, but--"
"It 's all right, Fanny, I know your meaning."
Fanny's cheeks turned a even-more-brilliant scarlet at her folly.
"Oh no!--Cousin, you don't. I was-I am almost ashamed to say now- I was only trying to make sure that this all was not a mere trick of my mind; in no way whatsoever did I mean to offend or hurt you, I would never want to do so. I--"
Here again she was interrupted in the middle of her near-confession of her love, by the fired Edmund--
"Kind, sweet Fanny!--I know you would never want to hurt anyone, therefore I will not say what effect it had on me. But, dearest Cousin, will you answer me true? Will you do me the highest honour, by consenting to marry me?"
The first time, his proposal was almost too unreal; however, when his fine blue eyes were fixed upon her countenance, trying to read every motion as an answer, and as his thin lips quivered, she could not deny this reality before her; and compounded her every thought about him for the last nine years into two words:
He was surely hearing things! A fate so perfect could not be in his fortune. Was not this the same girl who had denied knowledge of his proposal? Hope rose, however, when Edmund thought of what his cousin had said, that she was trying to make sure that this was not a trick of her mind. What if--No! She wouldn't! She couldn't! But--He could have sworn she had actually accepted him! He wasn't as bad as to be dreaming in the day, too, right?
He hoped so, and whispered, in a voice barely audible, "You will? Will you really?"
Edmund Bertram's breath was caught in his chest as he awaited the answer [though he would be lucky if she heard him].
Despite the odds, the perceptive Fanny had, apparently, heard him quite well enough. She curled her lips into a full smile; and gently replied that she would.
A 'fount of rapture sprang' to Edmund's lips as he realised, finally, his long-time dream was coming true. Fanny would marry him!
There is no need to explain the conversations that followed. Let it be said, though, that explanations were made, one side being humble apologies, and the other, condoning and tender pardons. There were plans made, discussions of the past and present, a date fixed upon; and, the lovers never tired of it, as a great authour once said: 'Between them [lovers] no subject is finished, no communication is even made, till it has been made at least twenty times over.'
There was a world existing besides that of the communal hearts, despite what the cousins might say or think. Therefore, why should it be unnatural that others should exist, and be hungry? And that a household should prepare for breakfast? To the reader, such things seem perfectly natural, but the world is different for a lover. Still, these conditions will happen, and so they did.
The flow of Edmund Bertram and Fanny Price's excited discourse was broken when Louise begged her pardon, but asked if the servants could bring out the break-fast, as it was already nearing the hour of seven-thirty.
The surprize the two had was not little, but they bore it admirably, and when it was suggested that they "join the others in the drawing-room," they consented graciously.
Edmund was greeted warmly by his Mama; Fanny gave her hand to her uncle and her cheek to her sister. No one, it appeared, had guessed anything, and the betrothed thought they might as well wait 'til a better moment befell them. By the grace of God, they were also able to refrain from speaking more than cousinly civility called for, for the whole of the meal.
Edmund's felicity was intense. "His happiness in knowing himself to have been so long the beloved of such a heart, must have been great enough to warrant any strength of language in which he could clothe it to her or to himself; it must have been a delightful happiness. But," as the non-pareil authour of the original book writ, "there was happiness elsewhere which no description can reach. Let no one presume to give the feelings of a young woman on receiving the assurance of that affection of which she has scarcely allowed herself to entertain a hope."
Hence, if the highly superiour penner of the book does not elabourate, it is not for this humble sequel-writer to do the same. Please allow the quote be enough to describe the long-awaited connubial felicity.
What of the other occupants of Mansfield Park? Surely there must be some feelings in their hearts! Of course there were.
When applied to for the hand of his niece, Sir Thomas Bertram was most definitely astonished, but nearly as definitely pleased. How happy was he that his son had finally forgotten about that Crawford girl! Sir Thomas was almost afraid that his son would always pine for the wretch. True, the man had grown to like his possible daughter-in-law; but whenever he thought too affectionately of her, he somehow was reminded of what kind of an estate he had come home to from Bahama. It was hard for him to forget!--One room turned into a stage, another a costume-room, others (including his own!) 'modified' to practice-rooms. His sons, his daughters-and she and her brother-tried to hide everything (now that he came to think of it, she and her non-moral brother had slunk into the Parsonage for several days thence); but the father of four witty children would not be gammoned. He understood their deception very clearly; Sir Thomas used to be valued for his wit, and he was certainly not without it still. Though he had a very genial disposition (if a little reserved), his powers of forgiveness would not reach this wanton. "Nor his own," he frowned.
Above all, Sir Thomas respected piety and ethics; so he came to take great pride in his niece for her fortitude and principles. Why should it not be natural, therefore, that he should be absolutely delighted when applied to? He was, as previously mentioned, surprized; but surprize never precludes joy, especially not for one who had hoped for such a match for a long time. Fanny was all he could ask for in a daughter-in-law: respect, honour, integrity, both religious and societal grace, piety, kindness, selflessness-all those combined in her; and that was more than enough for her uncle.
He congratulated, and shook the hand of, Edmund heartily, planted such an uncharacteristically fatherly kiss on the fiancee's cheek that it made her blush; and embraced his wife with much fervour. Only one event could have occasioned such emotion from one so reserved: Sir Thomas had something with which to find perfect happiness in one of his children. Maria was a disgrace, the laughing stock of London, and was living with her 'devoted' aunt in a far-off location; Julia was married to a boorish and ostentatious actor; Young Tom was on the mend, but as yet, unashamed of his foolish actions: why should a doating father not be depressed by all these things? But now, he had unadulterated delight, he had hope; perhaps Tom would reform, maybe Julia could learn to tame her adoring husband, Maria might even repent ashamedly! Anything was possible now; the sky was the limit.
Lady Bertram was also astounded; but the same sort of feelings-though perhaps for completely different reasons- sprung from her. Though perhaps she might not have "given her joy" as much as she did on another occasion; she had always thought, after all, that "they certainly were a handsome family!" She was truly happy for her niece and her son, and told them so as soon as was necessary for her mind. That Lady had even sought out her niece particularly--as the readers will know, that is a great step for her!--just to congratulate her on the subject. For, as much as she knew, Fanny's light, feminine features were much prettier than the dark, manly (so she had come to dub them) ones of Miss--Miss--Miss Crawford's! She would make a lovely parson's wife, to be sure! And, even now she could envision a portrait of Fanny as a blushing bride hanging proudly next to that of her aunt. Oh!--what a lovely picture that would be! She could hardly wait! And so, again she defied her idiosyncrasy and moved toward her husband, begging with quite unusual zeal, that her niece should have her portrait taken on her first day as a bride.
Young Thomas Bertram, as he was still partially recovering from his illness, did not notice much the ways of others, and had only to hope that his brother and cousin would do very well together. Tom had come to admire his young cousin for her strength of moral-based opinion (in which he seemed to be rather lacking), and thought her disposition in that sense just suited to a clergyman's wife. But even if it were n't, he could still see his brother and cousin ╬just right' for each other. He was not, however, disposed to giving much thought to anything, let alone amorous affairs, so he turned his mind to his recovery. It was not that he was a selfish boy, rather that he was unconsciously self-centered. As the other Miss Price did not know of any former attachment of Edmund's, she failed to see anything but pure devotion in him-which of course was what he had-but the more important note to make is that she never noticed the pain in him, only the joy of having his beloved's affection secured in his favour. Anytime she saw a darker glow in his eyes than that of the almost-Romantic lover, Susan attributed it to mere theological reflection on the darker sides of life. She may have been correct at times; but usually this was a remainder of his old feelings seething from his much-wounded heart. Correct or not, she was avidly happy for her sister whom she had really only known well for not more than four months; and her cousin who had always been so very kind toward herself.
Her cheeks reddened as she fingered the lavender satin gown. Why had she let him spoil her so? Fanny had no claim on her uncle most especially-quite the opposite, so why should he be so very generous? Why could not she be attired as a plain parson's wife-as she would soon be-ought? Why should Edmund delight in her protestations? But she gave in after all the Bertrams living at Mansfield entreated her to accept Sir Thomas' kind offer. She even had her own maid-servant to help her dress!
It was, however, time for Fanny to descend from the room which she had refused to quit for a better during the two-and-a-half-month engagement. So she did, but only warily, watching each and every step, and each fold of the gown. When she safely and delicately dropped her foot onto solid ground, she grinned at her silly cautiousness. Laughter soon followed; yet it was not hers-it was a more giddy one than even the feminine Fanny was used to make-it was her fiance's. He normally would not express his enjoyment so-er-strangely; but it was a brilliant devotion and glee on this particular day that brought him to such a indication of his feelings; a bridegroom's elation held the reins on this occasion.
Fanny was in such a distracted state as to overlook such a household occurrence. When she finally looked up out of curiosity, Edmund had already quitted his "outburst" for something odder. He stopped all communication. Despite Fanny's attempts at easing the awkwardness into flowing conversation (which was usually difficult on a wedding day, this being no exception), no words were emitted from the cousin's mouth. He stared-apparently at something behind Fanny; but then she found that no!-it was she at whom he was looking so; and she promptly and becomingly blushed, which did eventually manage to allay his "fit." In the end he smiled bashfully, took her arm with the uttermost gentleness; and helped her out of the hall as if she were a walking china figure. Only then, with his eyes-his whole countenance really- too eager to describe, did she realise that he was her Edmund; only then did she lose all regrets and fears which she had ever retained in the corner of her conscience and mind.
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