sense and sensibility chapter 23


Colonel Brandon Offers His Help

It was now the beginning of March, and the Miss Dashwoods had been in London for more than two months. Marianne wished for the peace and quiet of Barton, and now Elinor wanted to go home too. Their journey would take several days. Elinor began to think carefully about where they would stay when they stopped each evening.

Then Mrs Jennings had an idea which would make the journey easier for the sisters. At the end of March, Thomas and Charlotte Palmer and their son were going to return to Cleveland — their house in the county of Somerset. Mrs Jennings suggested that Elinor and Marianne could travel with the Palmers and stay at Cleveland for a few days on their way home.

At first, this idea upset Marianne very much.

‘Cleveland is in Somerset -I cannot go there, she said, it is the county where Willoughby has his home. Remember, I looked forward to living there with him. No, Elinor, I cannot go there.’

‘But Cleveland is not near Coombe Magna — Willoughby’s house,’ Elinor said. The Palmers’ house is in another part of Somerset. Our journey will be much easier if we stay with the Palmers and rest at their home, before we continue on to Barton. If we travel with them, we will be at home with mama in about three weeks.’

Marianne wanted to see her mother very much, so she soon agreed with the plan.

Mrs Jennings had become very fond of Elinor and Marianne, and she told Colonel Brandon this the following day.

‘Ah, Colonel, I do not know what we shall all do without the Miss Dashwoods,’ she said, ‘How lonely we shall both be!’

The old lady was now sure that the Colonel wanted to marry Elinor. She watched them as they sat talking together and she smiled.

The Colonel has come to ask Elinor to marry him,’ Mrs Jennings said to herself.

However, Colonel Brandon was talking to Elinor about something very different. He had come to talk to her about Edward Ferrars and his mother.

‘Mrs Ferrars has behaved very badly towards Edward and Lucy,’ the Colonel said. ‘I have met Mr Ferrars and I like him. I know that he is your friend too. I have heard that he is going to be ordained. If that is true, I can help him. I can offer Mr Ferrars a position as the curate in the church at Delaford. The curate’s house beside the church is small and Mr Ferrars will not earn more than $200 a year. But if he wants the position, he can have it. Perhaps you would tell him, Miss Dashwood.’

Elinor was delighted and thanked the Colonel for his kindness.

‘I am sure that Mr Ferrars will accept your offer,’ she said. ‘He will not disappoint you. He is a good and honest young man. When he is married, the curate’s house will be big enough for him and his wife, I am sure.’

The Colonel was surprised. ‘Mr Ferrars is to be married?’ he said, I am afraid that the curate’s house at Delaford is not big enough for a married man. He will have to find a larger house. A marriage would not be possible for some time.’

As the Colonel stood up to leave, Mrs Jennings came into the drawing-room. She heard his last words with some surprise.

‘Why is the Colonel not getting married at once?’ the old lady thought. She decided to find out the truth from Elinor.

‘Well, Miss Dashwood,’ Mrs Jennings said after the Colonel had left the house, ‘I know what you and the Colonel were talking about and I am very happy to hear your news.’

‘Thank you, ma’am,’ Elinor replied. The Colonel is very kind and he has surprised me very much.’

Mrs Jennings laughed, I am not surprised at all,’ she said. ‘And your friends will not be surprised either, when I tell them your good news.’

‘Please do not talk about it to anyone, ma’am,’ Elinor said quickly. ‘I must write to Mr Ferrars first. I am going to do that now.’ And she went to a desk in the corner of the room.

‘Oh, I see!’ Mrs Jennings said quietly to herself. ‘Mr Ferrars must be ordained first. Elinor and Brandon want him to perform their marriage ceremony!’

And so the old lady hurried out of the house, to pass on this piece of gossip to all her friends.

Elinor did not hear Mrs Jennings’ words, because she was thinking about her letter to Edward. As she sat down to write, Edward himself came into the room.

The young people were both very surprised to see each other and they did not know what to say or do.

Edward sat in a chair and looked down at his hands. He was silent for several minutes before he began to speak.

‘I apologise. You are busy. You are writing letters,’ Edward said. ‘I — I am sorry. I met Mrs Jennings as I came in. She said that you had something important to tell me.’

‘I was just writing to you. I have some good news,’ Elinor said with a smile. ‘Colonel Brandon was here earlier. He has heard that you are being ordained. He wants to help you. He is offering you the position of a curate in Delaford.’

‘Colonel Brandon wants to help me?’ Edward said.

‘Yes, he heard about your… your problem and he wants to help you.’

‘Colonel Brandon wants to help me?’ Edward repeated. ‘The Colonel is your friend, Elinor, not mine. You must be the reason for his kindness to me.’

‘No, I said nothing to the Colonel,’ Elinor told Edward. ‘It was his idea, not mine.’

Edward stood up quickly. ‘Then I must go and thank the Colonel at once,’ he said. Then he bowed and left the room.

Elinor sighed. ‘When I see dear Edward again, he will be married to Lucy Steele,’ she thought.

Mrs Jennings returned soon after Edward’s visit. She still thought that Elinor was going to marry Colonel Brandon. At first, Mrs Jennings was very disappointed when Elinor told her the truth. But the old lady was soon cheerful again and she talked happily about visiting Edward and Lucy in their new home.

Mrs Jennings then went and told this piece of news to her friends and soon everyone had their own ideas about it.

Mr and Mrs John Dashwood were very surprised by Colonel Brandon’s kindness to Edward. John wanted to know how much money Edward would get every year. Fanny was angry and upset because Edward and Lucy would now be able to marry. John and Fanny decided not to tell Mrs Ferrars the news. They knew that she would be very angry.

Mr Robert Ferrars laughed when he heard the news. ‘Poor Edward!’ Robert said. ‘What a dull life he will have as a poor clergyman! And he will be married to Lucy Steele too! How can they be happy without money? No one will want to know them now!’


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