Text - "Persuasion" Jane Austen

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His good looks and his rank had one fair claim on his attachment; since
to them he must have owed a wife of very superior character to any
thing deserved by his own. Lady Elliot had been an excellent woman,
sensible and amiable; whose judgement and conduct, if they might be
pardoned the youthful infatuation which made her Lady Elliot, had never
required indulgence afterwards.-She had humoured, or softened, or
concealed his failings, and promoted his real respectability for
seventeen years; and though not the very happiest being in the world
herself, had found enough in her duties, her friends, and her children,
to attach her to life, and make it no matter of indifference to her
when she was called on to quit them.Three girls, the two eldest
sixteen and fourteen, was an awful legacy for a mother to bequeath, an
awful charge rather, to confide to the authority and guidance of a
conceited, silly father. She had, however, one very intimate friend, a
sensible, deserving woman, who had been brought, by strong attachment
to herself, to settle close by her, in the village of Kellynch; and on
her kindness and advice, Lady Elliot mainly relied for the best help
and maintenance of the good principles and instruction which she had
been anxiously giving her daughters.

This friend, and Sir Walter, did not marry, whatever might have been
anticipated on that head by their acquaintance. Thirteen years had
passed away since Lady Elliot's death, and they were still near
neighbours and intimate friends, and one remained a widower, the other
a widow.

That Lady Russell, of steady age and character, and extremely well
provided for, should have no thought of a second marriage, needs no
apology to the public, which is rather apt to be unreasonably
discontented when a woman does marry again, than when she does not; but
Sir Walter's continuing in singleness requires explanation. Be it
known then, that Sir Walter, like a good father, (having met with one
or two private disappointments in very unreasonable applications),
prided himself on remaining single for his dear daughters' sake. For
one daughter, his eldest, he would really have given up any thing,
which he had not been very much tempted to do. Elizabeth had
succeeded, at sixteen, to all that was possible, of her mother's rights
and consequence; and being very handsome, and very like himself, her
influence had always been great, and they had gone on together most
happily. His two other children were of very inferior value. Mary had
acquired a little artificial importance, by becoming Mrs Charles
Musgrove; but Anne, with an elegance of mind and sweetness of
character, which must have placed her high with any people of real
understanding, was nobody with either father or sister; her word had no
weight, her convenience was always to give way-she was only Anne.

To Lady Russell, indeed, she was a most dear and highly valued
god-daughter, favourite, and friend. Lady Russell loved them all; but
it was only in Anne that she could fancy the mother to revive again.

A few years before, Anne Elliot had been a very pretty girl, but her
bloom had vanished early; and as even in its height, her father had
found little to admire in her, (so totally different were her delicate
features and mild dark eyes from his own), there could be nothing in
them, now that she was faded and thin, to excite his esteem. He had
never indulged much hope, he had now none, of ever reading her name in
any other page of his favourite work. All equality of alliance must
rest with Elizabeth, for Mary had merely connected herself with an old
country family of respectability and large fortune, and had therefore
given all the honour and received none: Elizabeth would, one day or
other, marry suitably.

It sometimes happens that a woman is handsomer at twenty-nine than she
was ten years before; and, generally speaking, if there has been
neither ill health nor anxiety, it is a time of life at which scarcely
any charm is lost. It was so with Elizabeth, still the same handsome
Miss Elliot that she had begun to be thirteen years ago, and Sir Walter
might be excused, therefore, in forgetting her age, or, at least, be
deemed only half a fool, for thinking himself and Elizabeth as blooming
as ever, amidst the wreck of the good looks of everybody else; for he
could plainly see how old all the rest of his family and acquaintance
were growing. Anne haggard, Mary coarse, every face in the
neighbourhood worsting, and the rapid increase of the crow's foot about
Lady Russell's temples had long been a distress to him.

Elizabeth did not quite equal her father in personal contentment.
Thirteen years had seen her mistress of Kellynch Hall, presiding and
directing with a self-possession and decision which could never have
given the idea of her being younger than she was. For thirteen years
had she been doing the honours, and laying down the domestic law at
home, and leading the way to the chaise and four, and walking
immediately after Lady Russell out of all the drawing-rooms and
dining-rooms in the country. Thirteen winters' revolving frosts had
seen her opening every ball of credit which a scanty neighbourhood
afforded, and thirteen springs shewn their blossoms, as she travelled
up to London with her father, for a few weeks' annual enjoyment of the
great world. She had the remembrance of all this, she had the
consciousness of being nine-and-twenty to give her some regrets and
some apprehensions; she was fully satisfied of being still quite as
handsome as ever, but she felt her approach to the years of danger, and
would have rejoiced to be certain of being properly solicited by
baronet-blood within the next twelvemonth or two. Then might she again
take up the book of books with as much enjoyment as in her early youth,
but now she liked it not. Always to be presented with the date of her
own birth and see no marriage follow but that of a youngest sister,
made the book an evil; and more than once, when her father had left it
open on the table near her, had she closed it, with averted eyes, and
pushed it away.

She had had a disappointment, moreover, which that book, and especially
the history of her own family, must ever present the remembrance of.
The heir presumptive, the very William Walter Elliot, Esq., whose
rights had been so generously supported by her father, had disappointed

She had, while a very young girl, as soon as she had known him to be,
in the event of her having no brother, the future baronet, meant to
marry him, and her father had always meant that she should. He had not
been known to them as a boy; but soon after Lady Elliot's death, Sir
Walter had sought the acquaintance, and though his overtures had not
been met with any warmth, he had persevered in seeking it, making
allowance for the modest drawing-back of youth; and, in one of their
spring excursions to London, when Elizabeth was in her first bloom, Mr
Elliot had been forced into the introduction.

He was at that time a very young man, just engaged in the study of the
law; and Elizabeth found him extremely agreeable, and every plan in his
favour was confirmed. He was invited to Kellynch Hall; he was talked
of and expected all the rest of the year; but he never came. The
following spring he was seen again in town, found equally agreeable,
again encouraged, invited, and expected, and again he did not come; and
the next tidings were that he was married. Instead of pushing his
fortune in the line marked out for the heir of the house of Elliot, he
had purchased independence by uniting himself to a rich woman of
inferior birth.

Sir Walter had resented it. As the head of the house, he felt that he
ought to have been consulted, especially after taking the young man so
publicly by the hand; "For they must have been seen together," he
observed, "once at Tattersall's, and twice in the lobby of the House of
Commons." His disapprobation was expressed, but apparently very little
regarded. Mr Elliot had attempted no apology, and shewn himself as
unsolicitous of being longer noticed by the family, as Sir Walter
considered him unworthy of it: all acquaintance between them had