Posted on Wednesday, 1 August 2001
"Sir Thomas wishes to speak with you, ma'am, in his room."
Why is he talking to Fanny? And what does she think she is doing getting up?
"Stay, stay, Fanny! What are you about? Where are you going? Don't be in such a hurry. Depend upon it, it is not you who are wanted; depend upon it, it is me." Mrs. Norris started putting away her work, and cast a glare at Fanny. "But you are so very eager to put yourself forward. What should Sir Thomas want you for?"
She stood and headed for the door. "It is me Baddeley, you mean; I am coming this moment. You mean me, I am sure; Sir Thomas wants me, not Miss Price."
With that, she hurried out of the room, ignoring Baddeley's plea. "No, ma'am, it is Miss Price he wants."
You are wrong, Baddeley. It is me, not my far too forward niece.
Eagerly awaiting whatever help Sir Thomas wanted from her, she burst into the study, and was very surprised to find him not there.
She turned to her left, shocked to see that Mr. Crawford was the only one in the room.
"What are you doing here," she demanded. "Sir Thomas sent for me to come here; he wished to speak to me. where is he, and what are you doing here?"
Mr. Crawford recovered his composure, which made Mrs. Norris' already suspicious thoughts churn faster. "I came to request an interview with Miss Price. Sir Thomas left this room after sending for her."
"What! What use do you have for her? She is nothing worth your notice! Why are you troubling Sir Thomas with such a request?"
"I would have you speak more kindly about her and towards her, ma'am."
"And why should you care about my treatment of her?"
"Because she deserves much better treatment."
"She should be grateful she is here. Without us, she would truly be nothing. Now," said she, advancing on Mr. Crawford, "answer my question. What are you here for?"
Mr. Crawford did not hesitate in his answer. "I am quite determined to marry Miss Price, but she seems to not know her mind, so I have come for another opportunity to seek a more favorable answer."
"What! You are joking! It is Julia you wish to marry, not Fanny!"
"Fanny is the one who interested me, and she is the one I want to marry."
"No! You were paying Julia every attention that indicated you were becoming attached to her. You never paid Fanny any head, and nor should you!"
"I never gave Miss Julia any indication that I would marry her. I was merely being agreeable to her."
Mrs. Norris was in a fit. This is NOT to be borne! So she lunged at him.
The force knocked him to the ground, and her knee made contact with a rather delicate part of Mr. Crawford. He screamed, unable to move, as Mrs. Norris replaced her knee with her foot, and she started strangling him, screaming "if you will not have Julia then you shall have no one! You were going to marry her! That witch I have to call a niece! You would have married Julia if not for her!"
Sir Thomas waited in the library for a few moments after leaving the study and sending for Fanny. An hour's entreaty should work wonders upon such a disposition.
Deciding to be in his wife's company, he went to the drawing room, and was shocked to find Fanny watching Baddeley talks to Lady Bertram. They all did seem a little surprised, but not by Sir Thomas.
"Fanny! What are you doing here? I sent for you to come to the study."
Baddeley chose to answer. "Sir, Mrs. Norris was convinced you meant her, not Miss Price. I could not stop her from going."
Then they heard Mr. Crawford scream. They - even Lady Bertram, plus Pug - all hurried to the study, and three manservants beat them there.
The doors were opened to find Mrs. Norris causing great harm to Mr. Crawford. They were in time to hear her vent against Fanny, which made all of them displeased. The servants pulled Mrs. Norris off of Mr. Crawford, but she still fought to continue her attack. "Let me go! The man has hurt my poor Julia! He was supposed to marry her!"
"Pray, silence, Mrs. Norris!" declared Sir Thomas. She noticed him, but she did not cease her struggle. "What is the meaning of this?"
"He gave every indication that he would marry Julia from the moment he came here. He never paid Fanny any serious attentions. She" (pointing a finger at Fanny) "has cast a spell on him, taking him away from his rightful course!"
Poor Fanny was in shock. That her aunt was capable of such actions, and that a person had to suffer from such an attack were greatly felt.
"Baddeley," Sir Thomas ordered, "get the strongest men available. This is unacceptable behavior, Mrs. Norris, and I cannot have you here to exert a poor influence on the young people. You will be sent to Bedlam where you may attempt to run other's lives, and we will not see you ever again. Carry this out at once, Baddeley."
Mrs. Norris fought and screamed as if she were fighting the devil, but the men brought her out of the room, and forever out of Sir Thomas' sight.
Mr. Crawford was not in a good condition. He was bleeding heavily, and had lost consciousness. Sir Thomas ordered servants to take him to a guest room, and sent for the doctor to tend to the man's injuries. Yet Mrs. Norris' words made Sir Thomas wonder if he had been too harsh with Fanny. If he was paying Julia attentions, but left her unhappy, then Fanny may be justified in refusing the man.
The doctor came, and gave Mr. Crawford something to ease the pain. He took his time in examining the wounds, and his face was grim when Sir Thomas, the Grants, and Miss Crawford were summoned into the room. Fanny was asked to come along. Miss Crawford had been on a bane on Fanny's comfort, and her discomfort was enough to increase her uncle's doubts about Mr. Crawford's suitability as a husband for Fanny.
The doctor did not keep the group waiting for the diagnosis. "He has suffered serious injuries, and may be bleeding internally. He is sleeping now, but he will need the medicine often. Also, given the severity of his injuries to ... that area ... he may be unable to have children. It is even possible that I may have to ... amputate."
Miss Crawford collapsed into a chair. Her sister and Dr. Grant were not much better off. They wondered if Henry would be able to marry after this sad event.
Fanny grieved for his injuries, but felt that perhaps some good would come out of this; maybe he would cease to behave so badly. She only wished that he would leave her alone after this.
Sir Thomas felt anger at Mrs. Norris, who was now gone from Mansfield forever, but his thoughts could not go far. Mr. Crawford was talking in his sleep. At first Sir Thomas was not inclined to pay attention to it, but parts of conversations between Mr. and Miss Crawford came into the sleeping speech.
I trust my readers have read the section in which HC plotted to steal Fanny's heart, and then his remarks to MC about Sir Thomas? daughters. Parts of those conversations were what Mr. Crawford was repeating.
The Grants were appalled at their brother's words. Miss Crawford looked both horrified that Sir Thomas and Fanny were hearing their words, and truly afraid that Fanny would now never have Henry.
I do not need to describe Fanny's feelings here. The mixture was too great, but the dominant feelings were anger and disgust. As for her uncle, he now saw that he had been deceived in Mr. Crawford, and promptly informed the Grants and Miss Crawford that Mr. Crawford would no longer be allowed to court Fanny. He would be removed to the Parsonage at the earliest time that was safe.
Soon after, Sir Thomas took Fanny to his study. He had to apologize to her.
Posted on Monday, 13 August 2001
Describing Sir Thomas' apology is unnecessary. His own honour forced him to be more open and kinder in his manners to his niece. He described his own feelings of disgust at his lack of observation of Mr. Crawford's intentions, recognized that she was right in refusing the man, and asked for forgiveness (his pride prevented him from begging, which he almost did).
Fanny's heart was too kind to hold a grudge against her uncle after such an apology. But when she was asked what she knew of Mr. Crawford's actions towards her cousins, she hesitated, but his obvious need to know the whole story compelled her to admit to what she had seen.
Despite Fanny's fears, Sir Thomas was not as furious at his daughters as she had expected. He was, however, furious at himself. He had left his daughters too much in other's care, and had not taught them properly. He also knew that he was to blame in many ways for Tom's behavior. He had to change how he treated him children; maybe it was not too late top undo the damage. After he dismissed Fanny, the haste that he wrote two letters and sent them express made the servants worry about Sir Thomas' health.
The Rushworth Townhouse
The express came at a good time. Mr. Rushworth was off talking with a friend on business, leaving the sisters to talk, avoiding certain topics. Mr. Rushworth had been gone only an hour when the express arrived. I say it was a good time since Mr. Rushworth would not be worried by the noise that shortly came.
Maria had her hands on it first. She read the part about her aunt being sent to Bedlam, and gasped upon learning that Henry Crawford was so seriously injured. She repeated those contents to Julia, but froze when reading that that man had proposed to Fanny.
Her screams told all the servants to stay away from her. She dropped the letter and paced, exclaiming her anger at several people, including her cousin. As far as she was concerned, this was a betrayal of herself!
Julia viewed the contents differently. She noticed the part where her father explained why Fanny had not said anything about Mr. Crawford's treatment of them, and realized that she and Maria had been protected when they did not deserve it. Shame filled her upon realizing that she had not seen what Fanny always saw, and decided to put a stop to Maria's misplaced anger.
A few attempts to get Maria to listen when her name was called did not work. So Julia resorted to another approach. "Enough!" Maria spun to face her, but no words could escape her mouth; Julia was too quick. "You should be blaming yourself for falling for the man! You should blame yourself forever for how you treated your fiancÚ! You and I have been selfish creatures all our lives, but Fanny, being so not in our dear aunt's favor, has escaped that fault. We should show her more respect and kindness than we have; she is a better person than either of us! We are lucky Father is not blaming us more for what we did! If you are so intent on blaming her for refusing to fall for Henry Crawford's false charms than I shall quit this house and go home! Fanny needs a friend now, and I doubt Edmund will be one."
Leaving her sister in shock, Julia managed to calmly walk out of the room and up to hers, and started packing her trunk.
The Bertram Townhouse
Tom Bertram had been about to pour himself a drink when an express from Mansfield arrived. He groaned, set his drink aside, and prepared himself for having to carry out an errand. He did not expect the contents.
He, as any other man would, flinched upon learning what happened to Crawford, but upon learning the story about what caused it, Aunt Norris' forced departure, and the full events of the theatre business, his drink held no more appeal to him.
That Fanny had not been willing to speak ill of him to his father struck him, and he began to flinch as thoughts of his escapades came to memory. He found himself wishing that Fanny had had the courage to explain her refusal from the start, but then he realized that she really had no friends at Mansfield. He also felt the full sting of the theatre business, knowing now that he was partly responsible for the mess that now hurt two families. He had to make what amends he could.
So for the first time in his life, Tom Bertram chose family and what was right over what felt good and an idle, wasteful life; he called out for his trunk to be readied.
That was accomplished quickly, and soon he was on his way. But first, he had to make a stop.
The Rushworth Townhouse
Maria remained where Julia left her for several minutes, unable to comprehend what she had been told. And yet, once the shock wore off, the sting was fully felt. Humiliation, guilt, remorse, self-directed anger, and reproach all filled her thoughts; they all reminded her that she had much to repent; many people to make amends to.
So she went to her desk, and wrote two very difficult letters. The first was to her father, admitting her sins and made a request. The other was even more difficult to write; she was unsure how the recipient felt towards her.
She was finishing that letter when she heard a carriage, but she did not look up, assuming that Mr. Rushworth had returned. But when the maid announced her brother, she could not hide her surprise.
He gave her an unexpected hug. "Where's Julia?"
Maria's expression showed her jumbled feelings. "Packing her things. She is returning to Mansfield to support Fanny."
"So am I."
"You got an express too?"
"Yes. And while I cannot feel sorry for Crawford (such men should be punished like that), I almost feel sorry for Aunt Norris."
Maria frowned. "I am not sure we should pity her. She has caused us so much trouble."
Tom was grim. "Well, well, we should be trying to be better people, should we not?"
Her expression conceded the point. Then Julia, dressed for travel, entered. Her brother greeted her with a hug, and an inquiry: "Will you come with me to Mansfield? I think we have a cousin who could use some support."
"I am ready."
"Wait," Maria exclaimed. She hurried back to her desk, picked up the two finished letters, and handed them to Julia. "One is for Father, and the other is for Fanny."
Julia was puzzled, and asked what the letters were for.
"I cannot leave London as yet," Maria explained, "but I need to explain some things to them. But in both letters is an invitation for Fanny to come to London, if she would like to spend some months with us."
Posted on Saturday, 1 September 2001
Following that fateful day, Miss Crawford had wanted to talk often to Fanny, but Mrs. Grant advised her to let Fanny alone; Henry had imposed on her enough; the poor thing should not be pressured to be in their company. And their duty was to support Henry to he could recover and be taken off the care of Mansfield Manor; the sooner that happened, the sooner relations between Mansfield Manor and Mansfield Parsonage could heal.
This did not please Mary, but the one time she did try to approach Fanny she had received a look of cold civility; it shocked Mary, but it confirmed what her sister said, and afterwards she left Fanny alone. She did sometimes, from Henry's window, observe Fanny walking, and she wondered if she could ever repair the damage done by Henry's taking in his sleep.
Henry was not coherent until Saturday morning, and once he was aware of his surroundings he was also painfully aware of what had happened to him. The scream that came from his lips alerted Fanny that he was awake, but she decided to come closer to his room to hear what happened.
"Henry! Henry! calm yourself!" Mrs. Grant exclaimed. "You need to calm to heal."
"What! how can I! My poor friend is injured forever! My poor magnificent friend! How shall I ever be able to show Fanny the full extent of my love when we are married!"
While his sisters tried to quiet this vein of thought, Fanny found herself smiling and suppressing laughter. The housekeeper had explained to her yesterday why Mrs. Norris's attack had hurt Mr. Crawford so much. Though she had purposefully not been too descriptive, she had said that men of Mr. Crawford's type seemed to be very fond of their "organ of procreation."
This was proof of that. Even Fanny's gentle heart could not suppress mirth; this was too priceless a conversation to not feel amused at. And he thinks he shall still marry me? Think again!
"Mr. Crawford, please calm yourself," said the doctor. "You must know what your injury will do to your life." It took nearly a minute to calm him, but he did. "The outside should heal soon provided you do not exert the organ, which means stay away from anything that would excite you." A whimper came from Mr. Crawford, but he was silenced from anything more than that. "I cannot tell how serious the internal injuries are. However, based on what I can tell, I doubt you will be able to have children, and it will likely hurt every time you must... relieve yourself."
"Wait!" Mr. Crawford exclaimed. "You are telling me I shall never have children?"
Fanny heard Mary gasp. "Henry! Father's will! If you cannot have children, then I shall have to produce the heir to Everingham!"
Despite the horror in Miss Crawford's voice, the words forced an unpleasant thought upon Fanny. If Miss Crawford was now so eager to marry, then she would very likely encourage Edmund to propose.
"Oh, G-d!" Mr. Crawford exclaimed.
"There is more, Mr. Crawford," said the doctor. "Because of the severity of your injuries, it may be necessary to amputate..."
"No! No! Do you hear me? You shall not take my friend away from me!"
"Mr. Crawford..." said the doctor.
"Henry..." said his sisters.
"Fanny must be mistress of Everingham!" he declared. "You cannot take her away from me!"
Dr. Grant had had enough. "Sir Thomas already has."
"What did you say, brother?"
"You spoke in your sleep the night after the incident. You spoke of what your intentions had been towards Fanny and her cousins. Sir Thomas was furious, and he declared to us that you are forbidden to court Fanny ever again. He said he sees you as you are, and that you are never to come near any unmarried lady within the Bertram circle."
The silence following Dr. Grant's words was long. Fanny decided it was time to walk away. She got to the stairs when another scream came from that room.
"No! No! Fanny! I love you!"
Fanny hurried down the stairs, going away from the havoc that had once again erupted in Mansfield. Once she was downstairs she noticed that one of the Bertram carriages was arriving. Tom?
She grabbed a shawl that a servant handed her, and went outside just as a footman opened the carriage door. Fanny had just come down the steps when Tom jumped out and started handing Julia out.
"Tom? Julia?" No sooner had she gotten the latter name out of her mouth did Julia rush and embrace Fanny; Tom hurried and threw his arms around both of them. Fanny was stunned. And her cousins were whispering "good, good Fanny! How shall we ever repay you?"
Fanny could not speak. The tears in their voices and the emotion behind the embrace drew tears from her eyes. She tightened her hold on Julia and grabbed one of Tom's hands.
Then came another scream from Mr. Crawford.
Julia and Tom broke the embrace. "What is that?" they both asked.
"Mr. Crawford protesting the doctor's advice," said their father as he came out to greet them. Julia did something she had never done before; she humbly walked up to her father and embraced him, tears coming out of her eyes. Sir Thomas was surprised, but glad by the apparent change in Julia. Then his eldest son came forward, and he had more reason to be pleased. It seemed that their cousin's behavior had given them something to think about, and it changed them.
It was cold, so he urged them to come inside, despite the screams of "Fanny! Fanny!" coming from the upstairs. Julia and Tom stared up the stairs in amazement, Fanny wished it would stop (and yet found the situation amusing), and Sir Thomas was sick of the peace being disturbed. He told Baddeley to ask to the doctor to give Mr. Crawford something to make him sleep. "He must not disturb the household any longer. I shall order him taken to the Parsonage at once if he does not calm after the medication."
He brought the three young people to his study, and the noise was slightly quieter yet still very vexing. Sir Thomas motioned for them to be seated. Julia took the opportunity to give her father his letter, and Fanny hers. It would pass the time while they waited for quiet.
Maira's letter to her father was slightly formal, but he could see the shame in her writing. He was pleased with her repentance and her offer. I am not so bad a father as I feared. Fanny, you are a blessing to us all. You are why Mrs. Norris is to be treated kindly at Bedlam.
Fanny was unsure of what to expect from Maria's letter, but upon opening it, she had every reason to be happy.
January 6, 1809
My dear cousin,
I confess I hardly know what to write. I rarely gave you a kind word, I held you back, and I neglected you. I have no reason to expect you to protect me from anyone, much less my father. So imagine my feelings upon reading the express from Father.
I cannot hide this from you. I did not see it as I should have at first. I viewed it as him betraying me; that you had stolen him away. But Julia, bless her soul, was over him and saw that you were unwilling to speak ill of us. She yelled at me for my misplaced anger, and decided to come to you at once. Tom, though I did not know it then, was coming to my home before coming to Mansfield.
So once my anger subsided, I realized what a fool I have been. I know I cannot simply be over my feelings within a few weeks, but with you, Julia, and Tom I cannot fail to let go of him forever.
But now, since I wish to start making amends, are you wishing to be away from Mansfield Park for a while? How would you like to come to London to stay for a few months? We can make amends for all those years that we should have been friends and even sisters. If you want to come, Tom and Julia can take you here at a moment's notice. I do hope you shall want to come.
Your now humble cousin,
To call Fanny surprised by the offer and the rest would not do; yet this was something that she was desiring; to be away from Mansfield while the Crawfords were still there (and it seemed that Miss Crawford would be forced to put off her visit to her friends for some months while her brother attempted to recover) would be a blessing. It did not escape Fanny that this might make a marriage between Edmund and Mary Crawford more likely to happen, and to be away when and if Edmund proposed would allow her to mend her heart and spare her from the mortification of seeing the engagement right away.
When Fanny looked at her uncle, he simply said, "My dear, if you wish to go I have no objection. I know you will behave properly, and I am sure you will feel better after seeing a new place. Stay as long as you like; at least until the Crawfords are gone."
The name reminded them that the noise had stopped. A moment of quiet followed the observation before Fanny gave her answer. "I should like to go very much. I am curious to see London, and..." (she hesitated before continuing) "I think it would be a comfort to be gone while the Crawfords are still here."
"We would take you directly, Fanny," Julia began, "but as tomorrow is Sunday, Tom and I think we should leave early Monday."
Sir Thomas approved; it was proper to wait till then. He could spend the time until they left to make amends with Tom and Julia. Maria he would start with through a letter.
Not long after, Baddeley informed them that Mr. Crawford had indeed been sedated, and that his family had not left yet. Sir Thomas instructed a female servant to pack a trunk for Fanny, and Julia went to her old room, taking Fanny with her. Tom had to discuss with Sir Thomas the matter of ensuring Fanny's safety while she was in London.
Julia and Fanny had to hurry to get into her room; they heard Miss Crawford sounding like she was coming out, and Fanny wished to not speak with her. Julia wondered a little at the nervous expression on Fanny's face, but said not a word. They quietly entered and closed the door in time to avoid Miss Crawford as the door to the room occupied by Mr. Crawford opened.
Fanny froze, and neither girl said anything; they waited for Miss Crawford and the Grants to pass the room. They listened as Miss Crawford over "her poor brother" and "what was to become of her if she had to marry so soon?" Julia's eyes widened as she learned through the unintentional eavesdropping that Miss Crawford would likely be inheriting Everingham, or that her son would.
At long last, the voices faded and left Fanny and Julia alone. They remained quiet until Julia, listening near the door, could hear the distinct sounds of people leaving the manor. Then they burst into laughter.
Fanny grabbed her sides in a hug, feeling like she would hurt herself if she continued too long; yet she continued laughing. "Oh, what unfeeling creatures we are!"
Julia had fallen onto a chair, holding her sides. "Let him suffer! He'll punish himself enough at this point. And let Miss Crawford worry," said she, soberly, "for it might make her a better person for it."
That was enough to quiet the laughter. "Well," said Fanny, "I wonder how the ladies of London will like his organ now."
Julia burst again. "Fanny!" Both laughed again, and it was some time before they managed to get to going through Julia and Maria's old items.
The rest of the night and Church went quietly. The Grants and Miss Crawford did not say a word to Fanny aside from the required greetings, which was a comfort to Fanny. Afterwards saw a resuming of packing for Fanny, but her comfort was short-lived; Miss Crawford and the Grants were invited for dinner. Yet there was still comfort; Miss Crawford said little and she did say was merely simple questions about what Fanny would do in London, and Fanny answered in as few words as required; she wished to be far away from the Crawfords.
But the end of the evening saw Miss Crawford embrace Fanny and give a quiet plea for peace between them. Fanny, uncertain how to answer, was spared by Mrs. Grant saying that "Mary must let Miss Price decide when she is comfortable around them again," and only five minutes later the guests were gone.
On the morrow morning, Tom and Julia took Fanny away from Mansfield.
Their journey passed calmly until they noticed a man on horseback coming in their direction; it was Edmund. His surprise at seeing them was boundless, but he could not get out of them what had happened at Mansfield. "For that you must apply to father," Tom explained. "It is best said by him."
So they departed. Edmund wondered why Fanny seemed so eager to be away from the place that was so dear to her, from people who were so dear to her. Tom and Julia wondered what would happen when Edmund found out. Fanny could not suppress a smile at possible reactions when her absence was explained to some, and how shocked Edmund would be at the dreadful things Mr. Crawford had said in his sleep.
As their journey started early in the day and they wished to be there as quickly as possible, they managed to reach London before the sun had set. They reached the Rushworth townhouse before the sky was dark.
The moment they got there, Tom quickly got out of the carriage and helped Fanny down. As she stepped onto the ground, Maria hurried outside without a shawl. She nearly collapsed on Fanny. "Fanny" was all she could whisper.
Mr. Rushworth was the one to hurry them into the house, and because of the late hour it was decided that they would all rest. But Maria would not show Fanny to her room without saying something to her. "Cousin, can you forgive me for what a selfish person I have been?"
Fanny responded at once. "Of course." She paused, then added with an evil smile, "but I shall expect a wonderful time and good laughs at the expense of a certain man. Heaven knows how he shall manage with the ladies now!"
Maria smiled. "Why, Fanny, that is not a nice thought."
"Well, I am sure that many ladies shall still love the organs of his inspiration, however small they may be by now."
Maria burst into laughter. Between gasps for air, she cried, "Julia, Tom, what did you do to her?"
"Nothing!" both declared. Julia added, "I think she's discovered a part of herself that she did not know about before."
So Maria led her sister and cousin to their rooms. Tom had to give a few explanations which made Mr. Rushworth uncomfortable, but he was able to laugh them off, and soon the house was quiet.
Posted on Tuesday, 8 January 2002
To say that Edmund was shocked when he came home and learned what had happened is an understatement of the first order.
Like his father, Edmund had suspected that Henry Crawford was in love with Fanny; unlike his father, Edmund could easily believe that Fanny had been taken completely by surprise and was not ready for marriage. Yet he would have had every hope of it being a match eventually; Crawford had all the determination to continue that Edmund could hope, and Fanny was worth the wait. He did not consciously think of how it could help him with Miss Crawford, but no one with any sense could doubt that it was influencing his thinking. The only thing Edmund was not happy with his father about was the words to Fanny in the East Room; he felt those were very unfair to Fanny.
But then Sir Thomas informed him of what Mrs. Norris had done.
As expected with any male, he twitched greatly as his father tried to gently describe what the damages were, but his greatest horror came not from the description but from what Crawford said in his sleep. The realization that he had been deceived in the character of the man who a dreadful blow to Edmund.
You, my dear readers, may imagine that nothing could have prepared Edmund for this moment. His caring nature, and his habit of self-deception when it suited his desires, had brought him to the point of having the highest opinion of Henry Crawford, which was only strengthened by the news of William's promotion.
But the words of Mr. Crawford were not the worst; Sir Thomas had not even begun to mention what Fanny had told him after he had apologised to her, or what Julia and Maria had admitted to. Sir Thomas, knowing he had to let Edmund go to wherever he might be able to think peacefully, added that Edmund "must now know it was impossible to allow a match between Fanny and Mr. Crawford."
If the servants wondered at the sight of Edmund stumbling out of his father's room, they hid it well. (They had many years of practice at hiding their real feelings; any lengthy amount of time with Mrs. Norris would teach one that art, but after over twenty years of her presence the servants were masters at it.) But that did not stop them from watching as Edmund stammered for his coat and. Once he had them, he walked outside, putting them on as he walked.
His expression showed anyone who might notice that he was not aware of his direction; his face was filled with anguish. Edmund's feet had seemingly taken over, completely unbeknownst to himself.
I cannot believe it. I cannot believe that he is capable of such behavior. And yet, yet I know it is true. My sisters? behavior makes perfect sense in light of this news. And my own actions have allowed for many of those events to happen. What a stupid fool I've been. But to think that I would have encouraged Fanny to accept him eventually! What she she think of me?
I have failed my siblings, I have failed my parents, and, worst of all, I have failed Fanny by not seeing Crawford for what he is. Aunt Norris would not be in a madhouse if I had been more careful. Delightful as my distraction was, I should have seen what was going on. Mary Crawford must be shocked at what has happened; her brother was probably the only person she has had to trust for the whole of her life. Then he stopped. How much did she know of what her brother really was? Did she know what he was planning and not even try to stop it? No! No! She could not have known! She is ruled by good feelings and she is as kind towards others as Fanny is. She would never have allowed her brother to do what he did had she known about it.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that the male ego, being what it is, will influence behavior in such a way as to make observers laugh. Some even subconsciously blind themselves to some facts if they go against what they desire, which is the only possible explanation for why he continued to wish to marry Miss Crawford for so long a time, and did not see how different she is from Fanny. Having his eyes opened to the brother's real character, he was hoping to not be proven wrong about the sister.
Edmund looked up, and saw that he had come to one of the crossing points of the lanes along the park. His face was so flushed from his feelings that he did not notice the cold. He stood there, eyes gazing down the paths the surrounded him, and wondered what was going to happen to the Crawfords.
The brother ... well, as a man he wanted Mr. Crawford to recover, but as a brother and cousin he hoped that the man would be debilitated for life.
But that made him ask himself, if Henry Crawford was unable to produce an heir, what of his estate? Would it go to Mary? Would it be held in trust for her son? Or would it go to some distant relative? The last would be rather uncomfortable for Mary Crawford; Everingham had to have a strong claim to her heart, and to have it taken from her family would be a sad blow.
Her voice! She sounded surprised and yet happy, unquestionably happy, to see him. He turned the moment the shock of hearing her voice wore off, and she hurried towards him. Her eyes held a rather tired look in addition to the emotions her voice held. Edmund's heart grieved for her yet again, but it also leaped. Maybe she is quite willing to marry me after all!
Miss Crawford finally stopped within three feet of him, and curtsied. "Mr. Bertram, I am so glad to see you, even under such sad circumstances. You know not how I hoped I would see you before I left Mansfield, but," and she paused with a look of such hesitancy that even the most critical observer would have found genuine, "I suppose I will not be leaving anytime soon. My sister needs me to help care for Henry."
Edmund could see how painful the topic was to her, and knew how her nature was meant to be cheerful; he decided to offer to walk with her back to Mansfield, offering his arm, which was gladly taken. The look of delight that accompanied her acceptance would have alarmed Fanny into a frightful state.
Their walk was silent; neither was quiet sure what to say to the other. Their usual pleasant topics seemed inappropriate given the circumstances, and Miss Crawford was determined not to say anything bad about the clergy ever again.
Edmund, at last, broke the silence. Though he wished to avoid talking of it, he had to say something about Mrs. Norris? actions. "I cannot tell you how sorry I am for my aunt's behavior. I know not what could have driven her to such an action."
Miss Crawford make a noise that sounded like a mixture of a laugh and a cry. "She was probably mad that the niece that she had tried for so long to keep down had much better prospects than she, the 'noble' aunt, ever had. But, surely she must have known that she would only hurt her family by attacking my brother! What was she hoping to accomplish by harming my brother but to prevent the match? Well," and this was said with a great deal of anger, "if that was her idea, the plan succeeded, but she has lost everything that she ever had in life and the status of a sane person."
Edmund knew not how to respond to such words. Instinct began to tell him that worse was to come. Before he could deny this to himself, his companion continued, reflectively. "But... Henry, thanks to his injuries and his stupid habit of talking in his sleep, has now lost such a woman as he will never see again." Mary looked Edmund right in the eye then. "Fanny Price would have fixed him. She would have made him happy forever."
I am not sure he would have made her happy. Edmund could not bring himself to voice the thought, but he did think her wish to think the best of the match was as charming as she was.
But her next words were anything except charming.
"Why, would not she have him? It is all her fault! Simple girl! I shall never forgive her. If she had accepted him, as she ought, the attack would not have happened and Henry would have been too happy to think of anything other than the wedding. He would never again trouble with any girl, much less one of your sisters. Maria might have been briefly hurt, but she would have gotten over it. It would all have ended in a regular standing flirtation that they would have carried on at Sotherton and Everingham, the sort of dalliance the world smiles on."
Her smile and heartfelt look could not break the shock Edmund felt at hearing such words. A regular standing flirtation between Crawford and Maria? What of Fanny and Rushworth's feelings? And why should you blame Fanny for doing as her heart told her to?
Still, he felt that maybe her words were spoken more out of momentary anger than out of any lasting feeling (something he knew her to do), despite her words against Fanny and the suggestion that Crawford would have continued to flirt with other ladies. "It seems," he began, "that this happy future will not come now." He paused, trying to find something else to say, something more agreeable to talk about.
Noticing the chain around Miss Crawford's neck gave him the subject. "But I shall always be glad for your kindness to Fanny. I am sure she will always be pleased that you thought of giving her that necklace. I am sorry that it did not work for William's cross."
"Oh, you must also thank Henry for that necklace. The idea was his entirely, though he had gotten me the necklace not long ago. I am ashamed to say that the thought never entered my head, but I was delighted to act for both their sakes."
The necklace wasn't your idea, and you asked Fanny to accept something that was against the bounds of propriety? Fanny must have suspected; it would explain her eagerness to return the necklace. "Did Fanny seem reluctant to accept the necklace?"
Miss Crawford looked at the ground before them, trying to recall the moment better. "Oh, she was as conscious as the heart could desire. A little hesitant at first, but that was her modesty at play."
Edmund felt a stake being driven into his heart. This is the woman I have wanted to marry? A woman who ignored the obvious feelings of others to help her brother in his attempts with Fanny? A woman who speaks lightly of the pain her brother has inflicted upon the girls he has flirted with? Does that mean...? He had to know for sure. "Did you know beforehand what your brother's plans were for Fanny and, before then, my sisters?"
Miss Crawford got the strangest smile on her face. "Henry never said anything directly about what his plans were for the Miss Bertrams, but I could tell from his words that he was planning to flirt with both of them, and I knew that he saw Maria as safe to flirt with more than he would with an unattached girl. Henry did inform me of his plan to make Fanny love him. I did try to stop him; 'you ought to be satisfied with her two cousins,' said I; but when Henry gets a plan into his mind he will carry it out. He proceeded to attempt to justify his planned attentions to her by describing how changed she was since he first saw her, but I knew that it was from nothing but his own idleness and folly that he would start a flirtation with her. His further comments about the night before (the little dinner party where you and Fanny were our only guests) told me what her attraction was after all: she did not appear to care for him at all. And yet his wicked project upon her turned out a clever thought indeed, though he acknowledged that it was very bad of him try that on such a creature; of course, he did not know her then."
She stopped, waiting for him to comment.
Mary Crawford's words would not have hurt quite as much had she been sober in her tone. Instead, she spoke with her usual light manner, suggesting just how lightly she took the situation between her brother and the ladies of the Bertram family. His broken heart rendered him incapable of speech.
"Mr. Bertram, you don't speak. Are you unwell? Should we return to get you warm?"
Edmund now noticed that they were less than half a minute from the front of the house. Now, despite his struggle with violent emotions, he had to let Miss Crawford know what the situation between them was. "I ... I had ... I had not thought, coming out here in such a miserable state as I was in, that anything should happen to make me feel worse."
(We must forgive Edmund for such words, plus what he was about to say. Few can speak calmly and rationally after two severe disappointments within a short time of each other.)
Mary's eyes went wide, but Edmund plunged forward with the rest. "You have spoken with such indifference to feeling, such cruelty! I know Fanny, and I know that had she been firmly aware that your brother had a hand in the offering of the necklace nothing could have induced her to accept it. How can you speak so lightly of what your brother did to my sisters? Are they not deserving of being treated with respect? And ... marriage between Fanny and Crawford! What sort of marriage would that have been? His still flirting with Maria? Think of Fanny and Rushworth! Would such behavior not be a great crime than any folly?" Mary was by then looking away, tears starting to form. "But," Edmund realized, "it seems to be detected in a folly is the greatest crime you know." Her startled expression was enough confirmation for him. He stepped away from her. "That I could so little have known you. And yet, it wasn't you. It was a creature of my imagination all these months I have dwelt on."
The look on Mary's face would have been called shame by some, but those who knew her well would have realized that it was merely shock and an inability to speak. At last, she tried to pull herself together, and made a noise that was an attempt at a laugh. "A pretty lecture, upon my word, Mr. Bertram! Will it be part of your first sermon? At this rate you will soon reform everybody at Mansfield."
Edmund had had enough. "You must excuse me," he exclaimed as he started walking quickly towards the manor.
But Mary, like her brother, could not stand the thought of the person she cared about the most (outside her own family) thought ill of her; she hurried after him. "And when I hear of you next, it may be as a celebrated preacher in a great society of Methodists, or as a missionary in some foreign parts."
Edmund turned, which sadly allowed her to get closer. "Believe me, upon my heart I wish you well." He turned back towards the front entrance.
"Mr. Bertram!" He paid no heed until he reached the steps. He turned unconsciously, and Mary took the chance to make it to within three feet of him. "Mr. Bertram..." Then she smiled, a playful, saucy smile to invite; sadly for her, it was so ill-suited given what they had been speaking of.
Edmund looked her in the eyes, and rushed inside, handing his hat and coat to the footman as he raced to the library. He shut the door behind him and locked it, knowing he was safe inside.
His behavior did not go unnoticed by Sir Thomas and the Grants, who were talking in the front area. A moment of surprised silence passed, broken by Mary hurrying inside, looking like she had lost the most important thing in the world to her.
Dr. Grant knew what had to be done. "We will remove Henry to the Parsonage at once." Sir Thomas agreed, and within an hour, Henry Crawford (in a dazed state) left Mansfield Manor for good.
Posted on Tuesday, 8 January 2002
No pen could do justice to the feelings of Fanny when she learned that Edmund was no longer the dupe of Mary Crawford. Her cousins were nearly as happy, which made for a delightful time together. They spent much of the next year traveling throughout England, and visited Fanny's family, which resulted in the eventual marriage of Tom Bertram to Susan Price.
And what did become of the Grants and the Crawfords? Henry Crawford, upon realizing that all chance of a union between himself and Fanny were gone, lost all reason for being; it can be the only explanation for his falling out of bed and hitting his head on the bed stand, which killed him instantly. His body was returned to Everingham for burial next to his parents.
It should be noted that his uncle, the admiral, was so crushed by Henry's senseless injury and death that he killed himself. His mistress was lucky enough to be visiting family and so avoided possibly being killed by the admiral before he took his own life. The man was buried next to his nephew.
The full extent of Henry Crawford's "conquests" became apparent when word of his death and injury spread throughout London.
Mary Crawford, despite her faults, must be greatly pitied for the unfortunate role that had been thrust upon her. She spent over a year searching for a husband, but found London distasteful, much to her surprise. She simply could not find a man to put Edmund Bertram sufficiently out of her head. Luckily for her, the distant cousin who was due to inherit if she died without an heir proved to be a pleasant fellow, and so she married him two years after her brother's death. The world will be glad to know that her husband had the sense to hire a governess to instill in his children all of the things that their mother and uncle had been sadly lacking in.
Dr. and Mrs. Grant remained at Mansfield till Dr. Grant's death. They were absolutely shocked when they were blessed with a child ten months after Henry's death. The boy, named after his late uncle, proved to be the greatest comfort to Mrs. Grant when her husband passed away.
Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram feared for Edmund's state of mind for nearly a year; he pushed himself completely into church matters to distract himself from his broken heart. Yet, by then end of that year, time had appeared to have healed him wounds in time for the wedding of Tom and Susan.
By then, Fanny was healthier than ever, slightly tanned, and was a much better person for all of the experience she had gained. Edmund found himself in her company more and more. I will put it to your imagination as to when he finally proposed; but within a year of Tom and Susan's marriage, not only did the heir to Mansfield have a son, but the spare had a little girl named Frances, as sweet as her mother was. I shall leave you to image how happy the two couples were.
Maria proved rather content in her marriage. Her marriage was blessed with two healthy sons, and she traveled greatly with her family. It was not the best situation for her, but she was fine.
Julia became a much sought-after girl, but she waited to marry till a wonderful man of 3,000 pounds a year came into her life. Sir Thomas might have wanted a grander match had he not come to consider character as the most important consideration in his children's spouses.
And what of the crazy Mrs. Norris? She tried to interfere with the lives of every person she encountered, much to the amusement of her caretakers. She never realized that her plans were not carried out, or that people laughed at her behind their back.
But this just goes to show that when Mrs. Norris attacks, she has the power to change people lives for the better (whether she wants to or not).