Posted on: 2010-09-27
"Fanny, are you all set, and is Susan to come?" Edmund asked.
"Yes I am ready, but Susan is needed at home, so she will follow at a later time." She would miss her family, and felt guilty that she was so relieved by her leaving. She sighed, and turned to hug her family goodbye, remembering the day that seemed so long ago, when she had first left home.
How long will it be this time? Will I ever return? Will I see them again? Fanny asked herself. She looked back one more time to her home. No, not home. Mansfield is home. And with that she turned to back to her cousin and took his hand as he aided her into the carriage.
"How is Tom, Cousin? Has Julia been found and how is Lady Bertram taking everything?" asked Fanny as soon as he sat beside her. "Tom", he sighed "Tom is not well; we fear for his lungs and, well, mother is anxious to have you back. She is especially stressed with the blow of Julia's elopement, and has taken to her bed. She asks for you constantly. I fear she is missing you most dearly, Cousin, as have we all, even father. It is why he asked me to come for you." He looked her in the eye and tried to smile even though it seemed to come out looking more like a grimace.
The carriage ride seemed longer now to her than it had months ago on her trip to her family home. "Fanny, did you enjoy your visit with your family? I am sorry I did not ask you before, are they all well?" he tried to cover the silence that had over taken them.
"I did, Cousin, and my family is well thank you for asking. William sent me letters, as did Miss Crawford, he is also well."
Fanny was trying hard to figure out why she had mentioned Mary; she should not have. Edmund looked dazed for a moment at the mention of Miss Crawford and remarked once he recovered, of course, "She loves you dearly, Fanny. I called on Maria several times while Miss Crawford stayed in London, and Miss Crawford mentioned her brother Mr. Crawford had called on you."
She gazed out the window of the carriage at the scenery, trying to gather her thoughts before she answered. "Yes, he called on my family and me several times, actually."
"And have your feelings towards him changed?" he asked, gazing in to her eyes as if to see the answers there.
"My feelings towards Mr. Crawford have not changed, however, my opinion of him has. I feel that… that is to say… I do not..."
"Surely you know that words are not needed when there clearly none to be said. I have always approved of Mr. Crawford, and you have yet some time to change your mind. He would be good for you." he said. He took her hand in his and squeezed it lightly, giving her hope that everything may yet turn out for the better. "I have missed your dearly, my sister" he said. With those words, unshed tears appeared in her eyes, causing Edmund to think of everything but the true cause.
"And I you" Fanny replied.
Posted on: 2010-10-11
As Edmund dozed off, he seemed to lean more into the warmth that was Fanny. Unfazed and undisturbed by the turmoil going through his cousin's mind, he slept on.
Fanny was still trying to get some rest, as the rays of light began to appear, making it even harder for her to get some sleep. She was so engrossed in her own mind that she had yet to notice her cousin's head had come to rest on her shoulder, giving her much needed warmth in the cold air. Fanny knew that the proper thing to do was to move, however, she did not want to. She had loved him for so long him that she can hardly recall a time when she did not. At last Fanny decided against moving, for the fear of waking him. Surely that was best, and it had nothing to do with wanting to keep Edmund close for as long as possible.
Fanny knew she would lose Edmund soon, for he loved another, and only saw her as a sister, but how could she tell her heart not to cry when it is broken. She finally allowed her bravely hidden tears to drop as she thought over her earlier conversation with Edmund. He believed Mary Crawford was only the women he could ever see himself marrying. No one else, not her.
She wanted to be disappointed in Edmund, but how could she be; he was brilliant, so it angered her, how could he not see the faults and flaws of the Crawford siblings. Perhaps it was because she was the one in error. Fanny could not in all conscience blame Edmund for falling for Miss Crawford, Mary was what a young woman ought to be: beautiful, accomplished, and with a sassy wit that could only make her charming in his eyes.
That however, did nothing for her. I must conquer this! She would, she had to; and by god, if it was his choice, she would be happy for him. Fanny had always valued him highly. Maybe with time, she could learn to love Edmund as she once had, as the brother he had always been, and the same way he loved her.
The tears that finally relented began anew, with more intensity than before No her mind whispered.
No. She would not give up hope so easily; not until the words were spoken and Edmund was forever bound to Mary. With that thought in
mind, a single small ray of hope was born from the ashes of a broken heart.
"Fanny… No, no, no Frances Price", her mind told her, you will fight for Edmund. In the words ironically taken from Mary "I shall not lose for the lack of trying."
Frances had, however, no idea where to even begin; propriety making the difficult undertaking even more impossible. She could follow the examples of the Crawford siblings, but that would never do. She could never risk comprising herself in such a way; it was not in her nature. If she won Edmund, however impossible it seemed she would go about it in an honorable way, for if she did not, then she did not deserve him.
More tears spilled from Fanny eyes. She was only fooling herself. She could not compete with Mary Crawford, not when his heart already belonged to Mary. She remembered how earlier he had called her 'sister,' and soft sobs escaped her as she tried to stifle them in her handkerchief.
Suddenly, a particularly harsh bump in the road threw Fanny and Edmund off their seats, effectively waking up Edmund and bringing Fanny's dreary thoughts to an end.
The carriage came to a sudden halt, and the driver could be heard getting out of his seat to make sure they were okay. "Mr. Bertram, all alright. Forgive me, sir, I did not see the hole in ground until it was to late? Miss Price, how about you? Are you hurt?" came the rushed inquiry of the driver.
Fanny quickly took her seat and replied, "I am well; only a little startled, but fine."
Edmund, who still fought drowsiness looked to the driver and said "I am fine, but please be more careful. Mercer, how much longer until we reach Mansfield Park?"
Gratefully, the driver released a sigh, knowing that had it been Sir Thomas, the resultant consequences would not have been the same. He quickly replied "Yes, sir, we are just about three hours to Mansfield Park." Shutting the carriage door and taking his seat quickly, he urged the horses on once again.
Edmund, finally more awake, realized Fanny had yet to face him staring only out the carriage window. "Fanny, are you truly well, Cousin?" he asked.
"Yes Edmund I am fine, thank you," she answered in a voice that clearly stated she was anything but.
Edmund sighed. "Fanny, look at me please."
In her mind, she knew she had to, but she could not, for he would instantly know she had been crying.
Edmund worried at her hesitation, and gently placed his hand on her chin and turned her face to him. "Fanny, oh, sweet Fanny, you have been crying, have you not? You fear for the family and your own heart. Look at me, please. Have hope, for we dearly need it. Dry your tears and be strong; mother will need you."
Fanny took the handkerchief offered and dried the remains of her tears, grateful he had answered his own question. She realized that how selfish she had been, thinking of nothing but her own heartbreak while Tom lay on his deathbed. And with Julia's elopement, how hard was her Aunt taking it all in?
Fanny resolved to think of it no more, as she chose to focus her energy and thoughts on how to better aid her family. After all, that was why she was being called back home.
The next three hours passed by slowly, as thoughts of home filled their minds. Almost as soon as they arrived at Mansfield Park, Lady Bertram and Mrs. Norris were out the front door, receiving them.
Lady Bertram quickly embraced her niece "Fanny, my dear Fanny, how glad I am that you are back. I missed you so. Now I shall be truly comforted." Lady Bertram sobbed quietly on her niece's shoulder.
"I have missed you as well, Lady Bertram. I am glad to be called back home." A soft snort could be heard by Mrs. Norris. "Good afternoon, Aunt Norris" Fanny said.
"Fanny I do not see why Edmund had to fetch you. You could of have easily come by post," greeted Mrs. Norris.
"Aunt, it is not safe for a young lady to travel unaccompanied," Edmund defended. "Besides, it is by my father's request that I fetched Fanny." This seemed to silence Mrs. Norris, and with that, they entered the house.
Fanny took Lady Bertram to her rooms to rest, while Edmund and Mrs. Norris went to Tom's chambers. After only a few minutes of comforting words to her aunt, Lady Bertram fell in a peaceful sleep, and thus freed Fanny to see Tom's development.
She left her aunt's room quietly, as to not disturb her slumber, and walked sedately towards Tom's chambers, in an area she had never before visited. Almost a soon as she walked in, she was met by Sir Thomas. She curtsied awkwardly and greeted him with a quiet, "Uncle." She was startled when she, in return, was greeted with her head being pulled to his heart.
"Welcome back, Fanny, it is good to have you home." If nothing else, that simple action told her how grueling things were with his daughter's elopement and his first born being in such peril.
A harsh cough interrupted the moment, and Fanny remembered why she had come. She quickly went to Tom's bedside, opposite to Edmund, and checked his forehead he was burning up.
Thinking on what was best to do, she said, "His fever is rising, I shall return in a moment. I am going to fetch some cool water." She ran to the nearest servant and asked for some water, then ran to her room and quickly changed from her traveling clothes into something more comfortable.
She scurried back to Tom's chambers and rushed to his bedside, Tom's handsome face was flushed an angry red with fever his skin pale and clammy. She took another cloth, and along with Edmund tried to ease his fever.