Mrs Dashwood’s third daughter was named Margaret and she was aged thirteen. Margaret was more like sixteen-year- old Marianne than nineteen-year-old Elinor. Margaret was lively and independent. She did not like to be told what to do and she always said what she thought.
John Dashwood had been thinking carefully about his promise to his father. He decided to give each of his sisters $1000. But his wife, Fanny, did not agree with this decision. Fanny had always been rich, but she was very mean. She hated giving money away.
‘Three thousand dollars!’ Fanny cried. ‘That money belongs to our dear little Harry. How can you be so unkind to your own son?’
‘But I must so something to help my stepmother and my sisters,’ John Dashwood replied. ‘I made a promise to my father when he was dying. I promised that I would look after them. But you are right, Fanny. Perhaps $3000 is too much. The girls may marry well and have rich husbands. Then they will not need the money at all. $500 each will be more than enough, I am sure.’
‘Certainly it will be enough,’ Fanny said. ‘If our Harry has many children of his own, he might need all his money. Also, there is an arrangement with your stepmother’s family. When their mother dies, the girls will each have $3000. I have a better idea. Give Mrs Dashwood and her girls a gift of $50 from time to time. Find them a little house where they can all live very cheaply. This way we shall all be happy.’
John Dashwood was delighted with Fanny’s idea. It would save him a great deal of money and keep Fanny happy too.
‘You are right, my dear,’ John said to his wife. That is an excellent suggestion. $50 will be more than enough. My stepmother has a little money of her own. She already has everything that they need for their new home. She has china and a few pieces of furniture from Norland. The girls will not need any money at all!’
Mrs Dashwood and her daughters stayed on at Norland Park for nearly six months after Henry Dashwood’s death. During this time, Fanny was often unkind and thoughtless and she upset Mrs Dashwood many times. But Mrs Dashwood enjoyed looking at other houses for her family to live in. There were several houses in the neighbourhood that she liked, but Elinor persuaded her mother that they were all too big and expensive.
Fanny Dashwood had two brothers. Their names were Edward and Robert Ferrars. Twenty-four-year-old Edward Ferrars, Fanny’s elder brother, now came to stay at Norland Park. He remained there for several weeks.
Edward Ferrars was not handsome, but he had a pleasant face and very good manners. Edward was very shy — he was uncomfortable when he talked with strangers or large groups of people, and he did not say much. But he was kind and thoughtful. He was very unlike his sister, Fanny.
Edward was always polite to Mrs Dashwood and her daughters. He felt sorry for them. He understood their feelings. Norland Park had been their home for many years. But it did not belong to them now and this was difficult for them.
Elinor and Edward were often together. They walked in the gardens, rode horses in the park, and sat next to each other every evening. Edward was not shy with Elinor and he always had something to say to her. Mrs Dashwood was sure that they were falling in love. She was delighted and she spoke to Marianne about it.
‘I think that Edward loves our dear Elinor, and that she loves him too!’ Mrs Dashwood told Marianne. ‘If all goes well, your sister will be married in a few months and she will have a home of her own. I shall miss her very much. But Edward will make her happy, I am sure.’
Marianne shook her head and said, ‘I am not sure about Edward, mama. He is very pleasant, but he is too quiet. He never says anything that is interesting or exciting. He does not like music or poetry and he doesn’t understand art at all. But I suppose that he might be suitable for Elinor. She is quiet and sensible too, and she is easily pleased.’
‘I’m very different from Elinor, mama’ Marian went on, ‘The man whom I’ll marry must be lively, handsome and charming. He must love art, poetry and music. He must have good manners and make me laugh. He must be able to speak well about interesting things. He must be perfect and please me in every way.’ Marian sighed. ‘I do not think that I shall ever meet a man whom I can truly love,’ she added sadly.
Mrs Dashwood laughed at her daughter words. ‘Marian! You are not seventeen yet!’ she said, ‘there is plenty of time for you to find the perfect man.’
Marian smiled and went to talk to her sister about Edward Ferris.
‘It is a pity that Edward doesn’t share you love of art Elinor,’ Marian began. ‘You draw and paint so well, but Edward has a very little interest in you work.’
‘That is not true,’ Elinor answered quickly. ‘I have often spoken to Edward about art. His taste and opinions are all of the real gentlemen. He doesn’t say much when many people are listening, because he is shy. But he talks to me. I like him very much, Marian’