فصل 03

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فصل 03

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CHAPTER THREE

Marianne and Willoughby

Marianne soon had her wish. Willoughby called early the next morning and he was warmly welcomed by Mrs Dashwood. Willoughby himself was delighted by the Dashwoods and everyone soon noticed that he admired Marianne Dashwood.

Elinor Dashwood had a pretty face and a fine figure. But her younger sister, Marianne, was beautiful. Marianne had dark shining eyes and she loved to talk about her ideas and feelings. She and Willoughby both liked art, literature, music and dancing. Willoughby admired the same poets who Marianne loved. Marianne was delighted.

Willoughby visited Barton Cottage every day. For a few days after her fall, Marianne could not walk, so she could not leave the house. But she did not care. All she thought about was Willoughby.

The two young people talked together. They sang their favourite songs together. After only a few days, the beautiful young woman and her handsome rescuer had told each other their ideas on every subject. Marianne was completely happy for the first time in her life. Willoughby was perfect in every way!

Elinor was a little unhappy about her sister’s behaviour. As usual, Marianne thought only of her feelings. Elinor knew that sensibility was more important to Marianne than good sense. Marianne thought that Willoughby loved her and so she believed it.

Mrs Dashwood was happy too. She did not agree with Elinor. Mrs Dashwood was hoping that her second daughter would soon be engaged. She wanted Marianne to marry their charming, handsome neighbour.

Elinor saw that Colonel Brandon also admired Marianne. Elinor felt sorry for the Colonel. She was angry when Willoughby and Marianne laughed at the older man who was so different from themselves.

‘Everyone speaks well of Brandon, but no one cares about him,’ Willoughby said one day. ‘We are all delighted to see him, but no one wants to talk to him.’

‘That is exactly what I think,’ Marianne said.

‘You are both being unkind about Colonel Brandon,’ Elinor said quickly. ‘His neighbours admire him and I enjoy talking to him.’

‘Lady Middleton and Mrs Jennings admire him,’ Willoughby said with a careless laugh. ‘But no one thinks that their opinions are important.’

‘The Colonel has good sense,’ Elinor replied. ‘And I think that he has a kind heart.’

‘Perhaps he does have a kind heart. But what about his feelings?’ Marianne asked. ‘You think that the Colonel is sensible. Willoughby and I think that he is very dull”!’

The month of October passed very happily for Marianne. She thought about nothing but her love for Willoughby. They met at every dance and party in the neighbourhood. They did not try to hide their feelings for each other. Mrs Jennings teased them and made many jokes about love, but Marianne and Willoughby did not care.

Elinor was not as happy as her sister. She often thought about Norland Park and how her friendship with Edward Ferrars had started there. Elinor had hoped to see Edward again, but he did not come to Barton.

Elinor enjoyed sensible conversations and she liked to talk to Colonel Brandon. Elinor was not in love with the Colonel, but she enjoyed being with him. Whenever the Middletons invited guests to Barton Park, Elinor always met Colonel Brandon there. There was often music and dancing, but Elinor and the Colonel usually talked.

They were sitting together one evening when Brandon said, ‘Your sister does not believe that anyone can love more than once.’ Then he looked sadly at Marianne and Willoughby, who were dancing together.

‘My sister is very young and she feels strongly about her ideas,’ Elinor replied. ‘When she is older, perhaps her feelings may change.’

Brandon thought for a moment and then he said quietly, ‘I used to know a lady who was very like your sister. Her ideas and feelings were very much like your sister’s ideas and feelings. The young lady believed that only happiness and love were important. But she was unlucky and later, her ideas changed. I… ‘ The Colonel stopped speaking and said nothing more on the subject. Elinor was sure that he was remembering a woman whom he had loved. But she did not ask him any questions.

The next day, Marianne came to tell Elinor some surprising news. Her eyes were shining with excitement.

‘You will not guess what has happened!’ she said. ‘Willoughby is giving me a horse! His servant is bringing it from Somerset tomorrow. Willoughby says that the horse will suit me perfectly. The horse’s name is Queen Mab. I shall enjoy riding on the hills with Willoughby!’

‘Marianne!’ Elinor said. ‘You cannot accept an expensive gift like that from Willoughby! It would be completely wrong. Also, we have nowhere to keep the animal and we do not have enough money to look after it. You must tell Willoughby that you cannot accept his gift.’

Marianne was upset at first, but at last she decided that her sister was right. Sadly, she spoke to Willoughby about it the next day.

‘Then I shall keep the horse until you can use it,’ Willoughby said. ‘When you have your own home, Queen Mab will be there waiting for you.’

Elinor was nearby and she heard this conversation. She was very surprised. Men only gave expensive gifts to ladies if they were engaged to them. Elinor now believed that Willoughby and Marianne must be engaged.

Later in the afternoon, Margaret told Elinor something that made Marianne and Willoughby’s engagement even more certain.

‘Oh, Elinor! I have a secret to tell you about Marianne,’ Margaret said excitedly. ‘I am sure that she will be married very soon. Willoughby has a lock of Marianne’s hair!’

‘Are you sure, Margaret?’ Elinor asked. She was worried by her sister’s words.

‘Oh, yes, I am quite sure,’ Margaret replied. ‘Willoughby and Marianne were in the sitting-room together. I saw Willoughby pick up a pair of scissors. He was talking to Marianne and laughing. Then he cut off a lock of her hair. Marianne’s face became very red, but she laughed too. Then Willoughby kissed the lock of hair and put it in his pocket!’

Elinor believed what Margaret had told her. Elinor was becoming very worried about Marianne’s behaviour, but she said nothing to their mother about it.

One evening in October, the Dashwoods went to Barton Park for dinner with Sir John and Lady Middleton. Mrs Jennings and Colonel Brandon were also there. Mrs Jennings spoke to Elinor and Margaret about love and lovers. She was quite sure that Marianne and Willoughby would soon be married. The old lady now wanted to know if Elinor was in love too.

‘Tell me the name of the young man who is in love with Elinor,’ Mrs Jennings said to Margaret. ‘I am sure that you know his name.’

‘Yes, I do,’ Margaret replied. ‘But I cannot tell you, can I, Elinor?’

Mrs Dashwood and Margaret laughed and Elinor tried to laugh too. But she looked unhappy and Marianne felt sorry for her.

‘Please do not talk about this, Margaret,’ Marianne said.

‘You told me his name yourself, Marianne,’ Margaret said quickly.

‘Oh! Then you can tell us the gentleman’s name, Margaret,’ Mrs Jennings said.

‘His name begins with F,’ Margaret answered with a laugh. That is all that I can say.’

Mrs Jennings was ready with more questions, but Lady Middleton began to talk about the weather.

Colonel Brandon saw that Elinor was embarrassed and he tried to help her. He persuaded Marianne to sing for them, and she sat down at the piano and began to play. Willoughby walked quickly across the room and stood beside her.

No one said anything more about Edward Ferrars and Elinor felt much happier.

A few minutes later, Sir John and his guests talked about spending a day together. They made a plan to visit Whirwell, a very large fine house about twelve miles from Barton Park. The house belonged to Colonel Brandon’s brother-in-law, who was presently abroad, on holiday.

Colonel Brandon agreed to take Sir John and his friends to Whitwell. Everyone would be able to go into the beautiful house, and see its fine pictures and furniture. There was also a large park around the house, with a lake. People could ride or walk round the park, and they could sail on the lake in boats. Then everyone would sit in the pretty garden and eat a delicious meal.

On the day of the visit to Whitwell, everyone was excited. They all met at Barton Park early in the morning. First, they would have breakfast. Then at ten o’clock, they would all start the journey to the house of Brandon’s brother-in-law.

During breakfast, a servant arrived with the post. There were several letters for Sir John and one for Colonel Brandon. The Colonel looked at the address on his letter and recognised the writing. Then he stood up quickly and left the room.

‘What is the matter with Brandon?’ Sir John asked, but no one could tell him.

The Colonel himself returned after about five minutes. He looked very worried.

‘You have not had bad news, I hope?’ Mrs Jennings asked him quickly.

‘No, thank you, ma’am. I have some important business, that is all.’

‘Business, Colonel?’ Mrs Jennings repeated with a laugh. ‘I think that I understand your business. How is she, Colonel?’

The old lady laughed again, but Brandon did not answer her. Looking very unhappy, he turned to speak to Lady Middleton.

‘I am very sorry, ma’am, but I have to leave,’ he said. ‘I must go to London at once. I am afraid that you cannot go to Whitwell without me. The visit cannot take place now.’

‘Start your journey to London tomorrow, Brandon!’ Sir John cried. ‘You cannot disappoint all your friends now!’

‘I am sorry, that is not possible,’ Colonel Brandon replied. ‘I must go today.’

‘Then come back quickly,’ Lady Middleton told him. ‘We will visit Whitwell another day very soon.’

‘I shall not be coming back to Barton for some time,’ the Colonel told her. He turned to speak to Elinor.

‘Can I hope to see you and your sister in London this winter, Miss Dashwood?’ he asked her quietly.

‘I am afraid that you will not, Colonel,’ Elinor replied.

The Colonel looked disappointed, but he said nothing. He then bowed to Marianne and left the room with Sir John.

Everyone began talking at once. They were all very angry with Colonel Brandon. They were disappointed too.

‘The Colonel’s business is with Miss Williams, I am sure,’ Mrs Jennings said quietly.

‘Who is Miss Williams?’ Marianne asked.

Mrs Jennings smiled. She enjoyed gossiping with her friends. The old lady whispered to Elinor.

‘She is a relation of the Colonel’s - a very close relation,’ she replied. ‘Miss Eliza Williams is his daughter. Everyone knows about her.’

At that moment, Sir John came back into the room and everyone stopped talking.

‘Well, Brandon has left, but we must not waste the day,’ Sir John said cheerfully. ‘The carriages are here and the weather is fine. Let us all spend the day driving about on the hills. We can come back here to Barton Park for dinner. And, after dinner, there will be a dance!’

Everyone was very happy with this suggestion. They all stood up, laughing and smiling, and went outside. In front of the house, carriages were waiting to take Sir John and his friends to the hills. But two people did not join the others for the day. Willoughby got into his curricle and Marianne climbed up onto the seat beside him. Then the young man turned the two black horses and drove the yellow carriage away at great speed.

At dinner that evening, Willoughby sat between Elinor and Marianne. Mrs Jennings sat opposite them. The old lady began to speak to Marianne.

‘I know where you and Willoughby spent the day, Miss Marianne!’ Mrs Jennings said loudly. ‘I hope that you like the house that you will live in one day. Allenham Court is a fine place, is it not? I hope that I shall be invited there very soon!’

Marianne’s face became very red and she did not answer.

When they were home again, Elinor spoke to Marianne alone.

‘Your behaviour today was wrong,’ Elinor said. ‘You should not have gone to Allenham Court. Old Mrs Smith did not invite you, I am sure. Willoughby was wrong too. He should not have taken you there. Allenham is not his home or yours, though it may be one day.’

Marianne looked away and her eyes filled with tears.

‘Perhaps I should not have gone to Allenham,’ she said. ‘But Willoughby wanted me to see the house and I agreed to go with him. I wanted to. Oh, Elinor, Allenham is a beautiful house. There is a very pretty sitting-room upstairs, with a lovely view of the hills from its windows. Willoughby says that if $200 were spent on modern furniture, the room would be perfect!’

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