Posted on Monday, 27 June 2005
"All in all, this is far better than I had expected, my love," said Lucy, surveying the parlour in Delaford parsonage house with satisfaction. "The Colonel has been very generous indeed, and we must not be backward in paying him our respects. Do let's call on the Colonel as soon as we may. I can be ready in a couple of hours, and perhaps he will ask us to stay for dinner in the mansion house."
Edward was looking abstractedly around the parsonage house. It was only September, he could hardly believe that it was possible that he could have taken orders and been married to Lucy in so short a time - he knew not how she had contrived it all. It seemed only a short time ago that Elinor Dashwood had communicated Colonel Brandon's offer of the Delaford living to him in a meeting inexpressibly painful to him - and he had thought, to her. To think that he should owe his very means of subsistence to her, she whom he had injured by his incautious attentions! After that last meeting, he had proceeded to the Colonel's lodgings to thank him in person. That first meeting with the Colonel was conducted by Edward in a daze, dimly conscious that it must have been Elinor's interest which had secured him the Delaford living. The Colonel had been so kind, apologizing for the modestness of the living, and repeatedly expressing his wish that more could be done. Edward had not known what to think of it all, or to acknowledge that jealousy of the Colonel made it difficult for him to thank the Colonel as he should.
Lucy knew exactly what to think of it all. Here at once was a parish that Edward could preside over, and here was the income that would allow them to marry at last. She had waited for the marriage for four years - too long, in her opinion. She knew Edward was beginning to weary of the engagement, but she was not one to give up an eligible man. No, she was sure that Mrs. Ferrars, proud as she may be, could be won over by her flattery and attentions. Although Mrs. Ferrars had settled considerable property on her other son Robert because Edward would not break off his engagement, Lucy knew that Mrs. Ferrars still had much wealth to dispose of, and thought that Mrs. Ferrars could easily be reconciled to their marriage when she saw how humble and self-condemning they were. Lucy knew her powers of pleasing were considerable - witness how she had ingratiated herself so much with Fanny Dashwood that she had been invited to stay with Fanny, above the claims of Fanny's sisters-in-law! Mrs. Ferrars would relent in time. Lucy was secretly relieved that Edward had kept his promise to marry her, she had feared that his attraction to Elinor would prove too strong or that Elinor would use her arts to encourage him to dissolve their engagement. She could not understand that a gentleman such as Edward Ferrars could never break an engagement or that Elinor's delicate principles could never permit her to entertain such a thought. Lucy could not only exult in her cleverness in so effectually warning off Elinor, she could also marvel that Elinor would use her interest with Colonel Brandon to bring about the grant of this living and enable their marriage to take place.
When Edward had visited Lucy at Bartlett's Buildings, where she and her sister were lodging, Edward had represented the Delaford living as one which would not be sufficient for them to marry on. He had indicated that their marriage would have to take place at a distant future, when his means would hopefully improved. Lucy reasoned and cajoled away all his arguments against their marriage taking place at once, shrewdly suspecting that he hoped that she would break off the engagement because of its uncertain length. She assured him of her happiness in being with him, that Delaford parsonage would be very comfortable for them. She expressed her gratitude for Elinor's kindness and was ready to worship Colonel Brandon as a saint. Secretly, she was anxious that Colonel Brandon's tithes should be raised to the utmost, and resolved to avail herself at Delaford as far as she possibly could, of his servants, his carriage, his cows, and his poultry. With Lucy's contrivance and management, all obstacles were removed, and indeed, as Mrs. Jennings foretold, they had arrived at Delaford by Michaelmas.
"My love, it is very inconvenient for us to have to walk to the mansion, and back again. Pray, do ask the Colonel to lend us his carriage when we go home after dinner. He will not mind it, he is so obliging," said Lucy, as they strolled towards the mansion.
"But he may not wish to have his carriage put to when we have but a short walk back home," replied Edward, unaware that Lucy had already begun to implement her resolve of using whatever she could of the Colonel's servants, carriage, cows and poultry, "It is early yet, not even four o'clock. We can very well walk home in the light."
"But he will press us to stay for dinner, and then I think we should accept, out of respect for him, and really, it is not at all convenient for Mary and I to bustle around to prepare dinner when we have had such a tiring day journeying here. There is a great deal for Mary to unpack, you know we agreed we can only have one maid; with her unpacking already, you would not wish her to prepare dinner as well, and I am sure you would not wish me to do so today. We must stay as long as we can, when it is dinner time, we will stay to dinner at the mansion house. Then it will be too late to walk home, and I will hint to the Colonel that he would do very well to offer us his carriage to take us home. To be sure, he is so rich, he likely has several carriages. He would not permit us to walk home, I am determined he shall not. And, my love, I beg you will speak to him about those cows we saw in the pastures as we drove here. I am sure those are the Colonel's cows. He will not mind if we obtained our milk from them. From what we saw, he has cows aplenty."
Edward said nothing, but silently bemoaned his wife's intentions. If this was to be a fair specimen of their interactions with the Colonel, he knew not how he could check her. How could he, if he had been unable to avoid being precipitated into a marriage he cringed from. He had entered into the marriage with the best of intentions, with the firmest resolve to cease thinking of Elinor Dashwood as the most perfect of women, and to love Lucy as she deserved to be. Lucy had proved her disinterestedness by marrying him in spite of his poverty, she had waited patiently throughout their long engagement, she must love him. It was not her fault that he had long realized that the engagement was a mistake made during his idle youth, and that he had met Elinor and fallen deeply in love with her. He was aware that Lucy and his characters were ill-suited for a life together.
When they had first met at his tutor's house in Longstaple, he had been charmed by her beauty and her simplicity. The years which had expanded his mind had opened his eyes to her nature: ignorant, sharp, and with no elegance of mind. But he could not blame her - orphaned at an early age, she had been obliged to shift for herself and contrive to make a meagre allowance from her uncle go a long way. This she did, he now saw, by flattering friends and relatives into inviting her and her sister to stay with them. In his heart, Edward feared that she had never loved him, but that she had grasped at him while he had been inexperienced and bored. However, he endeavoured to banish such thoughts. She had married him although his mother had refused to countenance their marriage, and had shown her displeasure by disowning him and vowing that he should receive no assistance from her.
Edward did not know that Lucy had full confidence in winning over his mother and her remaining property. Moreover, in Lucy's opinion, any marriage was better than the shame of being unmarried at three-and-twenty. Lucy had no intention of becoming like her sister Anne, who was still unmarried at thirty, and eager to grasp at anybody in the shape of a beau. No, Lucy was most happy to be married and to set up her own establishment. No one could have supposed, from her confident triumph at the wedding, that she could have the smallest insight into the torment her husband was undergoing, or that she had ever heard of conjugal infelicity in her life.
Edward, though aware of Lucy's want of elegance and fearful of her lack of delicacy of principle, pitied her for the neglect of abilities which education might have rendered so respectable. She was naturally clever, her remarks were often just and amusing, and she made a pleasant companion - for half an hour. He still cringed inwardly when she betrayed her deficiency of all mental improvement or her want of information in the most common particulars, which he saw she endeavoured to conceal. The instruction which would improve her in these areas he could provide, he thought, and render their life together much more bearable. He also hoped that in time, he could cease his comparison of Lucy to Elinor which would, in spite of himself, arise on many occasions. He dared not allow himself to think what Elinor's feelings were on his marriage. He would, for the sake of all, he knew he must, be resigned to his marriage.
Posted on Tuesday, 19 July 2005
Edward rang the bell when they arrived at the house. It was a large, modern, stone building, situated well on rising ground. While waiting for the door to be answered, Lucy looked around interestedly. "This is a fine house," said she, "and I do think it is just as Mrs. Jennings described; do you know, she told me this house has five sitting rooms on the ground-floor. And this house can make up fifteen beds! Fifteen beds! What can a single man like the Colonel do with fifteen beds! I declare, the parsonage is a pitiful small house in comparison. I had thought the Colonel would have done more to make it fit for us. I wish the Colonel could have extended it a little more, but I suppose he does not have to live in it and make shift with the space we have. Nevertheless, we must make what we can of it."
"Lucy, I am very grateful to the Colonel for what he has done for us," began Edward.
"And look over there," Lucy continued, unheeding, "There is that fine mulberry tree that Mrs. Jennings described. Lord! What fruit it must yield, it is such a great big tree. Well, it is a pity the fruit is all gone now, we must make sure we get some of it next year to make up jams and preserves. I wonder where the hot house is and what fruit do you think it yields now? If only the Colonel would be so obliging as to send us fruit from his hot house, that would save us a world of expense."
Before Edward could reply, the door was answered by a servant. They were conducted into the dining-parlour. It was a large, well-proportioned room, handsomely fitted up. Lucy, after slightly surveying it and taking note of the furnishings, which she noted would have cost its owner a pretty penny, went to a window to see if she could see the hot house from there. Although she was unsuccessful in this object, she did discern, in the distance, a large herd of cows coming home with a cowhand, leading her to muse with satisfaction on the milk and meat she could obtain from the Colonel and to calculate how soon she could make a request to avail herself of such resources.
The Colonel's housekeeper came. Mrs. Bridges civilly informed them that her master had ridden to Barton Park in the morning but was expected home any moment; if the visitors would but wait in the parlour, she was sure he would arrive soon.
"My master intended to arrive home in the evening to welcome you to the parsonage," said Mrs. Bridges, "He must not have expected you to be here in such good time."
"Do not be concerned on our account," began Edward. "Oh no!" interrupted Lucy, "We can very well wait for his return. Pray, Mrs. Bridges, does he often ride to Barton Park?"
"Very often," replied Mrs. Bridges, "There is hardly a day goes by that he does not go to Barton. Even bad weather cannot keep him away. He is on excellent terms with Sir John Middleton and all his family."
"I know he is forever visiting Barton; indeed, Lady Middleton is my cousin," said Lucy. Mrs. Bridges' respect for Lucy seemed to grow on this information; she did not know that Lucy was but a remote connection of Lady Middleton's, her aunt being a second cousin by marriage to Mrs. Jennings, Lady Middleton's mother. Lucy did not care to explore her connection with Lady Middleton in detail with the house-keeper.
"What an elegant lady Lady Middleton is! So handsome! And such fine children she has, too." said Mrs. Bridges.
"Oh yes, I quite dote on the children. I never saw such children as full of life and spirits as the little Middletons," said Lucy. "And do they visit Delaford often? For I see here is a fine park and a beautiful stream in the distance, plenty to entice lively children. Does the Colonel have a farm here on the estate?"
"Yes ma'am, and the finest farm it is too. You cannot see it from here, but I promise you it is the most well-kept farm in the county. The Colonel takes a great interest in his farm and has introduced all manner of new machinery and I know not what, but I do know that we have the largest eggs, the plumpest chickens and the lightest butter for miles around. We are quite the envy of the county for our cows and pigs. Our porkers! Such fine porkers as you will never see anywhere else. When we kill a porker, we cannot eat it by ourselves - it is too large for us. The Colonel is always giving away a leg to Sir John and after that, pretty much what is left is given to the poor. He is the most generous man that ever was."
Lucy's sharp eyes brightened at the prospect of receiving chickens, butter, ham and eggs from the Colonel, all in addition to the milk and beef she had already considered her own. "That is very handsome of the Colonel," she said. "What a generous man he is! This is just like his treatment of us! How fortunate we are to have his patronage." She looked expressively at Edward. Why did he not say anything? - she wondered. He was sitting down reading a newspaper. Here was a perfect opening to ask the house-keeper for any butter or milk that the Colonel did not consume, but he was sitting there, saying nothing. She foresaw that all the sponging off the Colonel would have to be taken in her hands.
Edward was pretending to read a newspaper and did not hear anything that had been said between his wife and Mrs. Bridges. He was thinking with a despondent mind that the Colonel's visits to Barton Park would allow him to see Elinor frequently. Edward was convinced that it was the Colonel's high regard and serious intentions towards Elinor that led him to make the offer of the Delaford living to him. The Colonel must have desired to show his concern for all connected to Elinor; why else would he make the gift of the Delaford living to an Edward Ferrars, a person of no distinction, whom he had only met briefly? Edward had settled it within himself that the Colonel was his rival for Elinor's feelings, and in his mind, he saw the Colonel meeting Elinor today - but here he stopped himself short. He was now married to Lucy, he was no longer at liberty to think of Elinor.
"And our strawberry beds!" Mrs. Bridges evidently took great pleasure in speaking of the Colonel and of Delaford. "Even in the days of old Mr. Brandon, Delaford was famous for its strawberry beds. During the summer, the number of parties that were formed to pick strawberries and picnic in the park! Those were fine days, with ladies and gentlemen forming parties of pleasure about our grounds. Now that the Colonel has inherited Delaford, being a single man, we do not often host such parties."
Mrs. Bridges' fond reminisces were cut short by the entrance of Colonel Brandon, who had just returned from Barton Park. He professed great pleasure in welcoming the Ferrars' to Delaford, expressing a very polite hope that they had found the parsonage to be adequate. Edward was ready with his assurances that everything was perfectly suitable, and again expressed his obligation to the Colonel. Lucy, who had never met Colonel Brandon before, was perfectly satisfied with him. He was very courteous, pressed them to stay to dinner, and seemed eager to promote their happiness in any way within his power. She would soon make it known to him that their happiness would increase with the increase of his tithes, and the use of his servants, his carriage, his cows, and his poultry.
"I hope you left Mrs. Dashwood and the Misses Dashwood well, Colonel," inquired Edward. "We intend to call on them as soon as we are settled in the parsonage."
"Very well indeed," replied Colonel Brandon, "Miss Marianne has all but recovered from her illness, which you know must give her mother and sisters much comfort."
Edward and Lucy expressed great concern about Marianne's illness, having heard nothing about the Dashwoods since their marriage. Lucy lamented it as a sad business, vilified Willoughby vigourously, not knowing that she was giving pain to the Colonel by mentioning his name, and then, soon, turned the topic to the subject nearest to her heart: annexing the Colonel's cows and poultry for her own use.