sense and sensibility chapter 15


These words made the sisters feel happier.

Marianne was very happy to agree with this idea. ‘Of course! Willoughby has not arrived in London yet!’ she said to Elinor. ‘But the weather is getting colder. Soon, the ground will be hard and frozen with ice. Then the gentlemen will not be able to hunt with their dogs and horses. They will come to London and I will see Willoughby again!’

Marianne was right. A few days later, more gentlemen came to London and Willoughby arrived with them. He called at the house in Berkeley Street when Mrs Jennings and the Dashwoods were out. His visiting card was on the table in the hall when they returned. Marianne picked up the card before Mrs Jennings saw it.

‘Look, Elinor! Willoughby called when we were out!’ Marianne cried. ‘I shall stay here tomorrow. I do not want to miss him again.’

So the next day, Marianne stayed in the house. But Willoughby did not call again and no letter came from him. Elinor saw that her sister was very upset.

‘Are you are expecting Willoughby to write to you?’ Elinor asked.

‘Yes… no… perhaps,’ Marianne replied. She did not look at her sister.

‘You are not telling me everything, Marianne,’ Elinor said quietly.

‘How can you say that to me?’ Marianne cried. ‘You tell me nothing about yourself, nothing at all!’

‘I have nothing to tell you.’ Elinor replied.

‘Then neither have I!’ Marianne said, with tears in her eyes.

The Middletons had now arrived in London. Sir John at once invited a few young friends, including the Miss Dashwoods, to a dance at his house in Conduit Street.

As soon as they arrived at the Middletons’ house, Marianne looked around the drawing-room. But Willoughby was not among the guests and she was not interested in any of the other people there. As they were returning to Berkeley Street, Marianne said that she was very tired.

‘And we all know why you are tired, Miss Marianne!’ Mrs Jennings said, laughing loudly. ‘You would not be tired if Willoughby had been there to dance with you! Why was Willoughby not there? He was invited. Sir John told me that himself.’

Marianne said nothing, but she looked very unhappy.

Next morning, after breakfast, Marianne wrote another letter to Willoughby. Elinor was now worried about her sister. Marianne was disappointed and unhappy. Elinor decided to write to her mother and tell her what was happening. Was Marianne engaged to Willoughby or not?

When Colonel Brandon called at midday, he talked to Elinor about Marianne and Willoughby.

‘Everyone believes that Willoughby and your sister are engaged,’ Colonel Brandon told Elinor sadly.

‘But that cannot be true!’ Elinor cried, I am Marianne’s sister and she has told me nothing. She has told no one in our family that she and Willoughby are to be married.’

‘Mrs Jennings, Mrs Palmer and the Middletons are all talking about it,’ the Colonel replied. ‘They believe that Willoughby has asked Marianne to marry him. And as I came in just now, your sister was giving a servant a letter. The letter was addressed to Willoughby.’

‘Miss Dashwood,’ the Colonel went on quickly, ‘I must tell you that I have the strongest feelings for your sister. But if she loves Willoughby, I will say nothing to her. If they have made an arrangement — if they are engaged — I will say no more. Please tell me the truth.’

Elinor did not know what to say to her friend.

‘Colonel Brandon, I am sure that my sister loves Willoughby,’ she said at last. ‘They write to each other. They must be engaged. So Willoughby must love Marianne too.’

When he heard these words, Colonel Brandon stood up.

‘Thank you, Miss Dashwood,’ he said, I hope that your sister will be very happy. Willoughby is a very lucky man. I hope that he understands this. Please do not say anything about my visit and our conversation to anyone.’

And, without another word, the Colonel bowed and left the house.

Three or four days passed. Willoughby did not call and he did not write. Marianne became more and more unhappy.

Then the Dashwood sisters were invited to a very big party at a friend of Lady Middleton’s. Lady Middleton took Marianne and Elinor with her in her carriage.

The large house was in a fashionable part of London. It was full of people and the crowded rooms were very hot. The Miss Dashwoods sat down to watch the guests talking, playing cards and dancing.

Suddenly, Elinor saw Willoughby standing in the next room. He was smiling and talking happily to a pretty young woman who was dressed in very fashionable clothes. Willoughby turned and saw Elinor and Marianne. He bowed towards them, but went on talking to the pretty young woman.

At that moment, Marianne saw Willoughby and she stood up. She smiled and her eyes shone with happiness. She began to walk across the room towards Willoughby, but Elinor held her arm.

‘Oh, Elinor!’ Marianne cried. ‘He is here! Oh, why does he not come to me? I must speak to him!’

‘Please, Marianne, people are looking at you,’ Elinor said. ‘Perhaps Willoughby has not seen you yet.’

Then, at last, Willoughby looked again at the sisters and bowed once more. Elinor and Marianne were now only a few feet away from the young man.

‘Miss Dashwood,’ he said to Elinor, ‘how long have you been in London? Is your mother well?’

Marianne ran towards Willoughby, holding her hand out to him. But the young man turned away from her and spoke again to the pretty young woman beside him. Marianne’s eyes filled with tears.

‘Willoughby, Willoughby! What is the matter?’ she cried. ‘Did you not receive my letters? Why will you not shake hands with me?’

Other people nearby had now stopped talking. They were watching the four young people and they were listening to their conversation.

Willoughby touched Marianne’s hand for a moment.

‘I called at Berkeley Street, but you were out,’ he said very quietly.

‘Did you not receive my letters?’ Marianne cried again. ‘For God’s sake! Willoughby! What is the matter?’

‘Yes, I received them. Thank you for telling me that you were in London,’ Willoughby said quickly. He bowed and moved away to speak to the fashionably-dressed young lady again.

‘Elinor, bring him back. I must speak to him,’ Marianne said. Her face was now very pale and her body was shaking.

Elinor helped her sister to sit down.

‘Nothing can be done now,’ Elinor said. ‘Wait until tomorrow, my dear sister.’

A few minutes later, Willoughby left the room and he did not return. Elinor went to Lady Middleton and said that her sister was unwell. She asked if they could return to Berkeley Street.

Marianne said nothing during the journey back to Mrs Jennings’ house. Elinor helped her sister to their room and Marianne was soon in bed.


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