The family of Dashwood had long been settled in Sussex at Norland Park. The manor house was a massive stone edifice of three stories with two wings and an extensive park where sheep nibbled the lawn by day and the deer by night. It was home to Henry Dashwood, a kind man and good father, and his wife, a kind-hearted woman and affectionate mother, who, whether for joy or sorrow, was given to bouts of weeping. They had three daughters: the practical Elinor, a handsome woman of twenty-one years, the romantic Marianne, a beautiful lady of nineteen, and the young Margaret, a pistol of a thirteen-year old given to eavesdropping.
At Norland Park, life was a bowl of cherries. Elinor, being an outdoorsy type person, enjoyed the extensive grounds, Marianne, being quite the opposite of her older sister, had her music and poetry, and Margaret had a tree house with a retractable rope ladder. From her perch, she could watch and report on all the comings and goings of the inhabitants of the manor house and any visitors to the estate. Little did young Margaret know that on the day she had looked through her spyglass and had seen Dr. Cureless’s carriage coming down the drive that her world was about to change—and not for the better.
Mr. Henry Dashwood lay dying from an ailment that had come upon him suddenly and one which was to carry him off quickly. Realizing the precarious state of his financial affairs, he asked that his son, John Dashwood, the only child from Mr. Dashwood’s first marriage, be sent for. Although his wife resisted, Elinor convinced her mother that it must be done, if only for the reason that her father had requested it.
“After all, John is the heir, Mama, and I’m sure Papa has some things he wishes to clarify. It may possibly work out in our favor,” a statement which no one believed for a moment—not because of John—but because of his wife, the former Fanny Ferrars, a ferocious female given to fits of frugality on behalf of others.
While they waited for the arrival of the heir, Mr. Dashwood’s wife and daughters kept vigil, but finally, an exhausted Mrs. Dashwood was encouraged to retire after she had been assured that they would call her if her husband gave any indication of giving up the ghost. After she had left, their father called his daughters to his bedside.
“Dearest ones, it had been my intention…”
Marianne looked at Elinor. This was not good. Statements that began with, “It had been my intention…” usually meant one thing—bad news was coming.
“…to increase the fortune I received from my uncle last year, but it seems that I am only to outlive him by a twelvemonth. As a result, your mother is to inherit only £7,000, and you girls are to have £1,000 each. But I intend to speak to your brother and tell him that it is my wish—my dying wish—that he take care of his sisters.”
And thus Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret placed their future in the hands of their brother, who they were not particularly close to and had no depth of affection for, and for his part, he was not inordinately fond of them either. It seemed to the sisters that it was now necessary to rely on the kindness of a brother who was nearly a stranger to them. No doubt, they would have to live in reduced circumstances, but as long as they remained at Norland Park, they would be able to maintain some semblance of their former standard of living; that is, if their brother allowed them to stay.
* * *
Elinor was sick at heart at the thought of her father dying, but she was the strong one in the family. After Papa had gone on to his reward, everyone would come to her for guidance, and so she must look to what would happen as a result of her father’s passing. If all of them together were to inherit only £10,000 that would mean that they would have to live on £500 a year. Her mother had never been a good manager of the household finances, Margaret was overindulged, and Marianne had expensive tastes, not only in clothes, but in accessories, sheet music, books, magazines, and baubles. But because there had been no reason for economy, no thought had been given to what something cost. All of that was about to change.
“Before Papa breathes his last, we must write down everything John promised to do on our behalf,” Elinor said with great urgency. “As I recall, the first thing our father said to our brother was that we were to be made comfortable, which would require our remaining at Norland Park. Do you agree?” Marianne indicated that she did and wrote it down on a piece of paper. “After that, Papa suggested that each of his daughters were to receive £3,000 pounds apiece, as well as all of the china, plate, and linen from the Stanhill inheritance, the breakfast china, and all of the gifts given to Mama by her brother, Admiral Faraway.”
“But all of those things you just mentioned already belonged to us,” Marianne reminded Elinor.
“Yes, of course. But I am trying to recall all of our assets. From the coach house, we are to have a carriage and two horses. It is not much, but if we are careful with our money, we will get on quite well or reasonably well or well enough.”
But before the document could be signed, their father went the way of all flesh, and it didn’t seem to be a good time to ask John to initial his part of the pact, a decision they would come to regret.
It was Margaret who brought them the bad news that on the day after their father’s funeral, Fanny, John’s wife, was discussing their future with their brother in the library, and although Margaret had heard little of the conversation, what she did hear did not sound good at all.
John had been so long gone from Norland that he had forgotten that there was a door between the study and library that was papered over so that it was made to look like a part of the bookcase. From behind that door, the three Dashwood sisters, who were down on their knees, with their ears to the keyhole, and with wish list in hand, listened as their future was being discussed.
“Three thousand pounds apiece!” Fanny exclaimed. “Please think again on this subject, my dear husband. Are we to rob our own son of so large a sum?”
“It was my father’s last request,” John sputtered, now unsure of himself, where a moment before he had been confident of his decision to share some of his inheritance. It seemed like the right thing to do, especially in light of the buckets of money left to him by his mother.
“There you have it, dearest. Your father was light-headed when he made such a request. If he had been in his right senses, he would not have asked you to give away half your fortune.”
“Perhaps, if the sum were diminished by half,” John said. “That would be a prodigious increase to their fortunes.”
Marianne, using one of Elinor’s drawing pencils, crossed through the £3,000 which was at the top of their wish list and replaced it with £1,500. “It is not as much as we would like, but we can still manage on that,” Elinor whispered to her sisters.
“But when you consider that they are only half blood, I think you are being overly generous,” Fanny countered. “The question must be, what can you afford to do?”
“I think I can afford £500 apiece,” John answered, quite sure that he was doing well by his sisters. “As they will each have £3,000 on their mother’s death, a very comfortable fortune.”
All of the color went out of Margaret’s face. “Is Mama dying?” the young girl asked, and Elinor shook her head, which did nothing to reassure her little sister, who was now convinced that she was to be an orphan twice over.
Marianne marked through the £1,500 and penciled in £500. But then there was silence, and when John spoke again the sum had been reduced to £100, and Marianne made the change.
“My dear,” Fanny said in her most soothing voice, “I am convinced that your father had no idea of giving them any money at all. I think he intended for us to look out for a small house for them, to help them move, and to send them presents of fish and game when in season.”
Marianne crumbled the paper into a ball, and looking at Elinor, she said, “Start packing.”
There being no small houses in the neighborhood, for the next six months, the Dashwoods remained at Norland Park. They had once been the residents of this great manor house, but now they were unwelcomed guests. On more than one occasion, Mrs. Dashwood, feeling that she was being ill treated by John and Fanny, threatened to quit the house altogether. But it was the practical Elinor who pointed out that they had nowhere to go; that is, until they received a letter from a relation, Sir John Middleton, who had a cottage on his property in Devonshire that he was willing to lease to them for a reasonable sum.
“What a generous offer, Mrs. Dashwood. How can you not jump at it? When will you be leaving?” Fanny asked, eager to bid farewell to her in-laws.
Elinor chose to answer the question. “Fanny, it is a generous offer, and we shall leave as soon as we are packed. However, knowing how kind you are, I am sure that you will want to remain at Norland Park until we leave, so that you may say goodbye to your husband’s family,” and tears welled up in her eyes.
A vision of four weeping and wailing females appeared before Fanny, and with something like panic in her voice, she revealed, for the first time, that her mother required her immediate presence in town and that they would stay in London for twelve weeks.
“We are frightfully sorry that John and I shall not be here on your last day,” Fanny said, injecting a crack into her voice for effect, “but you will be in our thoughts,” and within the week, John and Fanny Dashwood, with little Harry in tow, departed for town.
“Well done, Elinor,” Marianne said in admiration of her sister’s handling of the unpleasant Fanny. “At least we will not have her looking over our shoulder as we pack.”
“I have no intention of packing anytime soon. I did not give her a date when we would depart for Devonshire. I only said that we would leave as soon as we were packed, and barring any unforeseen events, for the next 12 weeks, we shall call Norland Park home.”
* * *
During the next two weeks, with assistance from the servants, the Dashwoods moved all of their belongings out of the main part of the manor into the little used west wing. In that part of the house were three bedrooms, a sitting room, and a small anteroom where they would take their meals. Among those things moved was the pianoforte for Marianne and a lap harp for Margaret as they must have music. Everything that was not immediately needed was sent ’round by water to Barton Cottage.
The servants, who loved the Dashwoods, eagerly entered into the plan to keep the family on the property as long as possible without Fanny or John knowing that they were still there. So that their expenses would not show up on the household accounts, Elinor and Mrs. Sears, the housekeeper, came to an agreement on how the family would pay for their meals or anything that might be purchased in the village for their use. Mr. Roebuck, the steward, made sure that all the staff knew of the importance of secrecy. If word got out that the Dashwood ladies were still in residence, Mrs. John Dashwood would descend upon them like an avenging angel, and no one wanted that.
For the next nine weeks, life for the Dashwoods went on very much as it had always gone on. For the amusement of Elinor and Mrs. Dashwood, who were not musically gifted, Marianne played romantic ballads, accompanied on the lap harp by an equally romantic Margaret. But where her sisters excelled at music, Elinor was a master of the visual arts, and their corner of the house was decorated with her watercolors, oils, sketches, and painted screens. They were quite cozy in their own little world, and although they could not venture beyond the boundaries of the property, they were still content, because they knew that in mid July that they must leave Norland Park forever. Or at least they hoped it would be mid July.
* * *
Elinor had been picking daisies for a centerpiece when she turned around to find a gentleman riding towards her on a beautiful bay. He was handsome, well dressed, and vaguely familiar.
After dismounting, he walked, reins in hand, towards Elinor. “Good afternoon. I have come to pay a call on Mr. and Mrs. John Dashwood.”
Elinor didn’t like this at all. If this man was a friend of her brother’s, then their goose was cooked. She needed time to think.
“This is a gorgeous animal,” Elinor said, running her hands along its neck and shoulders. “I think I enjoy riding more than anything else.”
“As do I, and Nellie here is an excellent mount. She never nags.”
Was that a pun? If it was that indicated that the man had a sense of humor. Maybe this wasn’t as bad as she had first thought.
“Mr. and Mrs. Dashwood are in town and will not return for another three weeks,” Elinor said.
“I did not know that. I have been visiting a friend in the North, and I have not been in correspondence with my sister.”
“Yes, I am Edward Ferrars, Mrs. Dashwood’s brother.”
Oh, this was much worse than she had thought. So the jig was up, and it was time to pay the fiddler.
“If you go around to the front entrance, Mr. Roebuck, the steward, will see that you are properly accommodated.”
“Excuse me for being so forward, but whom do I have the pleasure of addressing.”
“I am Miss Elinor Dashwood, the eldest daughter of Henry and Jane Dashwood.”
“I am pleased to make your acquaintance,” he said, bowing. “So this is your home, Miss Dashwood.”
“This was my home.”
Then Elinor confessed all: her father’s deathbed requests, the three sisters on their knees listening to John and Fanny disregard said requests, the departure of the John Dashwoods for London, their move to the west wing, Fanny thinking that they were in Devonshire, and the discovery of their secret by Mr. Edward Ferrars.
“How horrible! It must have been very hard on you.”
“It was. By the time your sister and my brother had depleted most of our fortune and all of our hopes, it was probably upward of 40 minutes that we had been on our knees.”
“I was referring to the news, not your knees.”
“Oh, of course,” a flustered Elinor answered. “The reason your sister is not here is because she did not wish to witness our departure, so she went up to town.”
“It was probably too upsetting for her to say goodbye,” Edward suggested.
Elinor remained silent.
“Nah! That can’t be it,” Edward said, shaking his head. “She left because she was embarrassed about putting you out of the only home you have ever known.” Looking at the manor house, he added, “It’s not as if anyone would be squashed up if you remained. But that is Fanny, and I’m sorry to say that my sister takes after my mother in almost every regard. This is truly cruel that no compromise could be reached.”
“Please do not concern yourself. We have found a place to live in Devonshire. We were to leave Norland Park in another three weeks, but, instead, we shall leave at once.”
“You should not leave on my account. You should enjoy these vistas as long as possible, breathe this country air, taste the fruits of the soil, hear the lowing in the meadows, feel the wind upon your face…”
“Mr. Ferrars, excuse me, but it is very near to supper, and we would be pleased to have you dine with us. Perhaps, you could wax eloquent while I set the table.”
“Of course. I would be delighted.”
* * *
Mrs. Dashwood, who was initially skeptical that anyone related by blood to Fanny could actually be nice, was taken in by Mr. Ferrars and his charms, as was young Margaret, who hung on his every word. Marianne was more guarded. It was only when Elinor acquainted her sister with Mr. Ferrars sensual description of the delights of Norland Park that she was won over, and she asked him to read from a book of poetry. Her disappointment at his delivery was evident.
“Mr. Ferrars, excuse me, but you lack passion. In order to live life to the fullest, you must have passion, you must love deeply, you must feel pain.”
“Miss Marianne, is it not possible for one to be passionate about something or someone, but hold it within, so that it will not be exposed to the harsh realities of life?”
“Of course not. Passion held within one’s self? It is a contradiction. If you are passionate, you announce it from the hilltops, not the valleys.”
“But there are things I am passionate about,” and Edward stood up, and to the surprise of all, announced in a loud voice, “I love Nellie! There is no one like her in all the world. She is always obedient, comes when called, yields to a light hand, and never nags,” he said and looked at Elinor, who was enjoying the performance.
“Say no more!” Marianne said, holding up her hand. “How horrible. You are speaking of your lady love as if she were a servant.”
“No, I am speaking of her as if she were my horse.”
Everyone, except Marianne, started to laugh.
“You lack an understanding of the beauty of these words,” and she held up her book of Cowper. “I suspect you are engaged in some dull profession which has deadened your senses. Perhaps, you are a lawyer who looks at a sentence only as a means of conveying information.”
“Marianne!” Mrs. Dashwood did not like the tone of her daughter’s voice. “You and Mr. Ferrars have a difference of opinion, and one is not superior to the other. As for his profession that is a personal matter.”
“I don’t mind answering her question, Mrs. Dashwood. I currently do not have a profession, but I hope to be in orders in the not too distant future.”
“A curate? Then you will never experience passion,” Marianne concluded.
“Possibly, but if it makes you feel any better, Miss Marianne, I have felt pain,” and he said no more.
The next morning, Elinor and Edward went for a walk down a cow path that led to a meadow where all of yesterday’s aforementioned pleasures could be experienced at one time.
“Please forgive my sister’s reaction after you told her that you wished to be in orders,” Elinor said, dodging cow patties. “Considering your position in society and that you are the heir to a great fortune, it is admirable that you would heed the call to such a humble profession. Because the hard truth is that curates are paid a pittance. The value of the living goes to the vicar, but all of the hard work is done by the curate.”
“What do you mean by ‘hard work?’”
“For example, it will fall to you to visit the sick in their homes and cottages.”
“Do you think there will be a lot of that as I’m not one for sickrooms? I get a bit queasy.”
“Well, I imagine that would depend upon where your parish is located. If it is near a swamp or other such unhealthy environment, you may be required to visit many homes as there will be marsh fever, typhoid, cholera, the usual, and, of course, anyone can become consumptive. Perhaps, your strong suit is to visit with the elderly.”
“Yes, of course, the elderly. I had forgotten about them. I’m not a natural conversationalist, but I imagine that they will do most of the talking.”
“That’s true, but be prepared to be shouted at. Older people usually suffer from some degree of hearing loss, and they don’t realize how loud they are talking. My grandmother lived to be eighty-five, and she could set the dogs to howling when she got going. But if you have a true calling…”
“I don’t know if I would refer to it as a calling. As a gentleman, I decided that if I chose not to be idle that my preference would be to go into orders, but that was not smart enough for my family. They recommended the Army. That was a great deal too smart for me. Although I liked the fashion side of the Navy, I was too old when the subject was first suggested. The law was allowed to be genteel enough. It was noted that many young men, who have chambers in the Temple, make a good appearance in the first circles and drive about town in very knowing gigs. Despite my soulless reading of poetry, I have no inclination for the law. So idleness was pronounced by my mother to be the most advantageous for a young man of nineteen; therefore, I was entered at Oxford and have been idle ever since.”
“But I am puzzled by your choice of the church. If you don’t like to visit the sick or call on the elderly, then I can only assume that your interest is in preaching.”
“I confess that is its charm. I love elevated pulpits,” Edward said, laughing. “At Oxford, I wrote a darn good essay, and when I could find someone to listen to me, I received a lot of compliments on its content and delivery.”
“But few congregants actually listen to sermons,” Elinor said. “When I am in church, I am always thinking about walking in the woods or I draw sketches in my head, and when I look about me, I can see that others are equally distracted. Of course, there are those who fall asleep and make no pretense of listening.”
“I know. I do the same. Of course, I don’t mean that I fall asleep, but I do daydream. It usually involves riding or making lists.”
“What about politics for a profession?” Elinor suggested as if a candle had been lit in her head. “In the House of Commons, you get to make speeches, and even though no one listens to those orations either, you are handsome and well tailored and would cut a dashing figure nonetheless. But if you chose to stand out from the crowd, you could speak about reform.”
“But who would my constituents be?”
“The Ferrars family is well connected. I would imagine that you would have your choice of rotten boroughs.”
“But I thought I was to be in favor of reform.”
“Yes, but you must first get your foot in the door.”
“Miss Dashwood, I think that is an excellent idea. I could introduce a bill regarding the expansion of the franchise to vote. Everyone is talking about that.”
“That’s an excellent one to start with,” Elinor agreed.
“And placing signs at busy intersections on inter-county roads, mandating that no one be made to work on Christmas day, installing more gas lamps in London…”
“Mr. Ferrars, you have made an excellent start. I can see that you do like to make lists.”
“Indeed, I do, Miss Dashwood. I am currently writing down, county by county, all the rivers in England.”
“How interesting. May I help? Margaret has an atlas that we could consult.”
Edward extended his arm, and Elinor entwined her arm in his, and they made a very pretty couple as they walked back to the west wing of Norland Park.
Edward and Elinor were constantly in each other’s company and walked every path on the estate. On rainy days, they worked on their county river project and were nearing completion of the waterways of Shropshire. He admired her talent for painting, while she commented on his ability to read maps. Each day, the looks shared between the two grew more tender, and because of that, everyone was puzzled as to why Edward did not ask Elinor if he could court her. Every morning, Elinor arose with the expectation that he would do that very thing, but by the time it had become necessary to pack all of their belongings, Edward had said nothing.
On the day before the Dashwoods were to leave for Devonshire, Edward asked Elinor if she would go for a walk in the park. When they had reached the top of the hill, which afforded a Constable-like view of the valley, he told her that she had deeply and profoundly touched his heart, but then he revealed that he was not free to form an attachment.
“I wish that I could tell you the reason, but I cannot.”
Elinor was shocked. During their many hours together, Edward had given no indication that there was an impediment to their beginning a courtship. They were in love; there was no doubt about that. And both believed that they were perfectly suited to each other, so what terrible secret could he possibly have that would prevent their being together?
“Is it because you have a hidden deformity? A hump beneath your collar? An extra rib under your coat? A club foot encased in your boot?”
Edward shook his head after each mentioned defect. “No, I am as you see me, perfectly whole.”
“Have you committed a transgression under another name, and you fear arrest?”
“No, that would be preferable as I would go to gaol and get it behind me. This involves another person and has been a millstone around my neck.”
Edward turned his back to Elinor. He could not bear to see the look of hurt in her face nor could he bear hearing any more pleas because what he had done could not be undone.
But Elinor was not ready to concede defeat. “Has the other party bound you to secrecy?”
“No, on the contrary, that person would hire the town crier.”
“In that case, I shall ask no more questions. There must be a good reason why you will not reveal a secret known only to two people, one of whom has not bound you to silence. I admire you for that. You will not betray yourself.”
“Thank you, Elinor. It is how I am.” But when Elinor didn’t continue to press him, he said, “However, it is possible that I am being too hard on myself.”
Edward Ferrars then shared his terrible secret with the woman who had captured his heart. “I have been secretly engaged to a lady for the past four years.”
Again, Elinor was stunned by this revelation. “You’ve been engaged for four years. Good grief! How did this come about?”
“It is all due to my inability to conjugate irregular verbs.”
“Your misery is due to an inability to conjugate to be, to do, to eat, to feel, to lie, to ride, to take…”
“No, you misunderstand me,” he said, interrupting her. “I struggled with Latin verbs, and because of that I was sent to Plymouth to study with a Latin scholar, Mr. Pratt, who was uncle to Miss Lucy Steele. Miss Steele and I were thrown into each other’s company. We were both so young.”
“But after four years, why have you not married?”
“It is a matter of money. If I marry Lucy, my mother will disinherit me. Except for a small annuity, I rely on her for all my expenses. It would be necessary for me to live on less than £600 a year. I could barely keep Nellie in oats.”
“If I understand you correctly, the only thing that will enable you to marry Miss Steele is your mother’s death? Is Mrs. Ferrars in poor health?”
“To the contrary. She is in excellent health, but that might change. According to the actuarial tables for a female living in England in the early 19th Century, Mama, who is in her late fifties, should be in decline. But please do not think I wish for my mother’s death. I am no mercenary.
“I am confused as to your plan to go forward with Miss Steele. You say that your mother would object to the match. May I ask what those objections would be?”
“The first thing Mama would ask would be, ‘Who are her parents?’ The second question would be, ‘Is she an heiress?’ Since she has no rank in society and no money, I would be forbidden to marry. I would be cast into the wilderness, and my brother, Robert, would inherit all. I fear that it is a hopeless business.”
“Let us not throw in the towel just yet. Do you love Miss Steele?”
“I thought I did. She was everything that was amiable and obliging and very pretty too. I had seen so little of other women that I could make no comparisons and could see no defects, but now I know that it was merely a flirtation. However, she was generous with…”
“Oh, I see,” Elinor said, surprised to find that Edward would take liberties with a woman.
“No, it’s not what you think. I merely kissed her.”
“You bound yourself to her for all these years because of a few kisses.”
“Actually, it was just one kiss.”
“One kiss! Well, Edward, you have sold your birthright very cheaply. Esau sold his birthright to Jacob, but at least he got a bowl of porridge for his trouble. I am sorry to say that you have handled this affair quite badly. In the first two years, you could have cited immaturity as a reason to end the romance. The third year would have been more problematic, but doable. But now you have been engaged for four years! And since I am sure that she has lost the first bloom of youth, you feel obligated to marry her. I understand the difficulties. So there is only one thing to do.”
“Yes, I know. I must marry her,” Edward said, hanging his head.
“Oh, no! I didn’t mean that at all. What I meant was that we must find her a husband.”
“But how will we do that?”
“My family must leave Norland Park the day after tomorrow, as Fanny will arrive shortly, and all evidence of our presence must be erased. We are to go to Barton Park in Devonshire where we will be in the society of Sir John Middleton and his mother-in-law, Mrs. Jennings, at Barton House. We must get Mrs. Jennings, who I understand is a jovial woman much given to match making, to invite Miss Steele to her home, so that I might work upon her.”
“But does Mrs. Jennings even know Lucy?”
“I am sure they are somehow connected. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were related by blood. I see that you are doubtful, but that is always what happens in these situations.”
“So what is our plan, Elinor?”
“When are you to see Miss Steele?”
Edward’s shoulders slumped. “After visiting with my mother, I am to go to Plymouth. I visit Lucy twice a year, and time passes so quickly when something awful is waiting for you.”
“Don’t be disheartened. You should go to Plymouth and continue to maintain the status quo. Neither encourage nor discourage her. I shall see what can be done in Devonshire.”
Edward took Elinor’s hand and put it to his lips. “It seems that my future is entirely in your hands.”
It was just as Elinor had predicted. In a morning’s excursion to Exeter, Sir John Middleton and Mrs. Jennings had met with a young lady, Miss Lucy Steele, whom Mrs. Jennings had the satisfaction of discovering to be her cousin. Despite never having laid eyes on her before, and having no proof of her elegance and gentility, Miss Steele was invited to Barton Park, as soon as her present engagements at Exeter were over. As it turns out, her engagements at Exeter instantly gave way before such an invitation.
Elinor thought that she would like Miss Lucy Steele. Any lady who could remain constant in her affections after four years and with so little encouragement must be an admirable creature. But she was not. Because of her modest situation, she had become quite adept at using everybody to her advantage and playing up to them to improve her lot in life. She spoke only in superlatives, especially where they were not merited. Elinor knew her talents, and they did not include singing. She had only agreed to a demonstration because her mother had asked all three of her daughters to perform a ballad that was dear to her heart. According to Lucy, Elinor’s vocal talent was second to none; until Marianne sang a solo, and then Marianne’s singing was second to none. And, of course, her hostess received the most praise. Mrs. Jennings who was as plain as the day is long was declared to be the most handsome woman of a mature age of Miss Steele’s acquaintance. Even Sir John rolled his eyes at that one.
Elinor had said nothing of her plan regarding Edward to her mother or sisters, but without knowing it, Margaret had a part to play. While dining at Barton Park with Lucy Steele, the youngest Dashwood let slip that Elinor’s heart had been touched by someone whose last name began with the letter F. After pretending to be embarrassed by such a revelation, Elinor admitted that she had been much in Mr. F’s company during his visit to Norland Park. It wasn’t long before Lucy sought out Elinor. In fact, it was the next day when Lucy showed up unexpectedly at the cottage to invite Elinor to go for a stroll. While the two ladies walked towards Barton Park, Lucy asked her if she was acquainted with Mr. Edward Ferrars, and when Elinor said that she was, she was asked if she had ever met Edward’s mother.”
“No, I have never seen Mrs. Ferrars.”
“Then you cannot tell me what sort of a woman she is?”
“No, I know nothing of her,” Elinor said, giving Lucy no encouragement. If Edward and Lucy were to be separated, it must appear as if it had been resolved between the two of them.
“I do not mean to be impertinently curious,” Lucy said. “I would rather do anything than be thought so by a person whose good opinion is so well worth having as yours, and I am sure I should not have the smallest fear of trusting you. Indeed, I should be very glad of your advice on how to manage an uncomfortable situation I find myself in. There is a reason for my curiosity about Mrs. Ferrars. She is certainly nothing to me at present, but the time may come when we may be intimately connected.”
“Good heavens!” cried Elinor, “Are you acquainted with Mr. Robert Ferrars?”
“I never saw him in my life. I am referring to his older brother.” Lucy waited for Elinor’s response to such news, but there was none. “It was always meant to be a great secret. If I had not felt the greatest dependence upon your secrecy, I would never have mentioned it to you. Edward has the highest opinion of you and looks upon you quite as his own sister.”
“How do you know that he has the highest opinion of me?”
That was not the question that Lucy had been expecting, and so she ignored it. “Are you not a little bit curious as to how I know Mr. Ferrars?” After Elinor shook her head, Lucy ignored that as well. “He was two years with my uncle in Plymouth. I was very unwilling to enter into an engagement, as you may imagine, without the knowledge and approbation of his mother.”
“So then you are not engaged?”
“Yes, we are engaged,” Lucy answered impatiently.
“But you just said…”
“I know what I said, but I was too young and loved him too well to be so prudent. Though you do not know him as well I do, Miss Dashwood, you must have seen enough of him to be sensible that he is very capable of making a woman sincerely attached to him. Before leaving for Exeter, I saw him in Plymouth, and I was much affected. It is the same for him as he writes in wretched spirits,” and Lucy showed Elinor an envelope addressed to her. “I am sure you recognize his hand.”
“No, I do not. He has never written to me.”
“Well then, do you recognize this?” and she took a miniature from her pocket. “To prevent the possibility of mistake, be so good as to look at this face. It does not do him justice, but you cannot be deceived as to the person who it was drawn for. I have had it above these three years.”
“Yes, three years and we have been engaged for four.”
“Four years! My goodness that is a long engagement.”
“Our first care has been to keep the matter secret. I have no doubt in the world of your faithfully keeping this secret because you must know of what importance it is to us not to have it reach his mother for she would never approve of it.”
What a clever girl, Elinor thought. Lucy suspected that Edward had feelings for her, and by pretending to be sharing a confidence with a friend, she had let Elinor know that Edward Ferrars was not available.
“You say that Mrs. Ferrars is never to approve your marriage. I must admit that I am surprised to find that you wish to continue a relationship knowing that his mother will never give her consent. Never is a very long time.”
“Yes, it is true that I have suffered for Edward’s sake these last four years. Everything is in such suspense and uncertainty. We can hardly meet above twice a year. I am sure I wonder my heart is not quite broke.” Here she took out her handkerchief. “Sometimes I think it would be better for us both to break off the matter entirely.”
“I mean this kindly, Miss Steele, but if you were to ask for my opinion, I would advise you to break the engagement,” and Elinor did mean it kindly. Because Lucy was pretty with a nice smile, she could understand why Mr. Ferrars had thought he was in love with the Lucy Steele of four years ago. But having spent some time in her company, Elinor could also understand why he wished to end the engagement. She was a conniving, selfish being, who, she suspected, imagined that Mrs. Ferrars would eventually be won over to the match. She began to wonder if Edward would have ever married her, even if they had not fallen in love. “If Mr. Ferrars is waiting for his mother to… how shall I put this… die, there is nothing to say that she will cooperate with such a plan. As a result, you may find yourself secretly engaged for another four years as I am told that Mrs. Ferrars has a hearty constitution.”
“But if I were to break the engagement, he would be so miserable.”
“It is possible that he will be miserable either way. From what you have said about Mrs. Ferrars, I believe that she would disinherit Edward if he were to marry someone without her approval. Have you thought about the consequences of such an event? When he was at Norland, he mentioned that he has considered becoming a curate, but the living yields so little that you would be very poor. He also indicated that he has an interest in politics, but he would have to be a Member of Parliament from a constituency that would pay his expenses. If they didn’t, then he would have to use his own money, and it is very expensive to live in London when Parliament is meeting.”
“Miss Dashwood, I respect your opinion, but let me assure you that is my intention to marry Edward Ferrars, the son of Mrs. Ferrars of Park Street, London, and I will wait as long as is required. Edward will honor his promise because he is a gentleman. As for Mrs. Ferrars, in life there are few certainties, but one of them is that we all must die.”
“However, a watched pot never boils,” Elinor reminded her.
Two weeks later, Lucy Steele returned to Plymouth, and shortly thereafter Edward Ferrars arrived at Barton Cottage from London. The Dashwoods were delighted to have Edward’s company. Although they appreciated everything that Sir John and Mrs. Jennings had done for them, visits to Barton Park had become something of a chore as all the stories had been told, and there were no new tales to tell, with one major exception: Marianne Dashwood had fallen head over heels in love with Mr. John Willoughby, whose aunt lived on the nearby estate of Allenham.
“So Marianne is passionately in love with this Mr. Willoughby,” Edward said as Elinor and he walked along the cliffs with a view of the water.
“Yes, and he will break her heart, and she knows it. But she said that one must taste all the fruits of life, including the bitter ones, and I assured her that he would do an admirable job of hurting her. I do understand her need to suffer for love, but I am quite convinced that she will experience more pain than even she could have imagined.”
“You do not like him?”
“He is very charming and is blessed with good looks and wit. But in truth I just don’t trust him, and it is not merely intuition or the fact that he puts Marianne in compromising situations that have all the neighbors talking. Our friend and neighbor, Col. Brandon does not like him at all. I believe he knows something about Mr. Willoughby, but will not say anything because he too is in love with Marianne. It would seem as if he were trying to bring Willoughby low so that he might rise. But the Colonel is one of those people who stands in the shadows and pops out at just the right time to save the day, so I have not yet despaired of her forming an attachment for him. If he can somehow manage to rescue her from some terrible situation or provide an indispensable service, she may yet love him. But it will take something dramatic on his part if he ever hopes to get her to pay any attention to him.”
“It is a good thing that Marianne will have her heart broken at such a young age as she will have ample time to recover, and such suffering will bring added meaning to her poetry. So I am both happy and sad for Marianne, but what I really want to know is, how are you, Elinor? Was it too awful being in Lucy’s company?”
“I must be honest and tell you that I do not like Miss Steele, and once Miss Steele learned that I was Miss Elinor Dashwood of Norland Park and that we had been in each other’s company, she did not like me either. I gather that you were all praise for me during your visit with her in Plymouth, and she suspected that something is going on between us.”
“I only spoke the truth,” he said, smiling at her. “And I am not surprised to hear that Lucy guessed that I have feelings for you. After her return to Plymouth, she wrote a letter professing her most violent love and asking that I send to her as soon as possible a declaration of my deepest love for her. It was a strange request because I have never penned such a letter. I usually write about the weather or the lists I am compiling.”
“Does she know about our list for all the rivers in the different counties in England?” Elinor asked, somewhat alarmed. Would he would share their project with another?
“Of course not. That is ours and ours alone,” he said, reassuring her. “Lucy was never keen on making lists. I once asked her to write down the name of any ship of the Royal Navy that came into Plymouth harbor, but she only wrote down five names. Really, Elinor! We are at war. There is no way there were only five ships in the harbor. It does show a lack of interest.”
“I have no doubt that she intends to hold you to your promise to marry her. But, interestingly enough, she does not want to be the wife of a curate or the wife of a politician. She intends to be the wife of Mr. Edward Ferrars of Park Street, London. She made that quite clear.”
“But if we were to marry, it would guarantee that we would never live on Park Street. Surely, she is not hoping that my mother will die?”
“Yes, in fact, she is, and she is prepared to wait your mother out.”
“But I can assure you that my mother has no wish to oblige. It all seems hopeless. Must I marry Lucy Steele?” he asked with his face all scrunched up.
“Of course not. But we must come up with a new plan. It was foolish of me to think that I could find her a husband in Devonshire. First, I must find a way to go up to London, and I shall. And you must find a way to get Lucy to go to town.”
“But Lucy cannot go to London. She is in Plymouth without any resources.”
“Don’t believe for a minute that she doesn’t have any resources. She is as shrewd a person as I’ve ever met, and I am sure that she will go to London. That is always how these things turn out, and once there, you must introduce her to other gentlemen. Do you have any friends who will be in town for the season?”
“Elinor, I am sorry to be of so little help to you. Because I am in town so infrequently, I have no friends there. The only single man I know is my brother, Robert.”
“Your brother?” After mulling over the thought of getting rid of Lucy by marrying her to Edward’s brother, she said, “Yes, he might do very well. Lucy wishes to marry above her station, and if she married Robert, she would achieve that. Does he have an income?”
“Yes, at present, we both receive £2,000 per annum. However, he has expensive tastes and has not put aside any money as I have. Also, he is a self-serving conniver who thinks only of himself.”
“He sounds perfect for Lucy, and unless another gentleman comes forward, Robert will have to do.”
Edward took Elinor’s hand in his, and as they walked along the path, they talked of their future together and hoped that it would begin while both of them still had their teeth.
As Elinor had predicted, the Dashwood sisters found a way to go to London, but she was unhappy as to how it had come about. Elinor did not like always being right. But she was the calm, more mature sister, and it had been that way since Marianne and she were young children. As expected, Marianne had ignored all her warnings about Willoughby and had thrown caution to the wind in giving him all of her heart and one of her side curls. Elinor had been a witness to the demise of the lock and had thought that Willoughby had been excessive in removing a three-inch tendril, but there was nothing restrained about either of them.
For weeks, all had gone swimmingly between the couple, and an offer of marriage was anticipated. But when Mrs. Dashwood, Elinor, and Margaret returned to Barton Cottage after a walk, they found Willoughby extremely distraught and Marianne drowning in tears. He explained that he was to return to London and had no intention of returning to Devonshire—ever, and after looking at a sobbing and inconsolable Marianne, Willoughby walked to the door, and because he was a big man, he filled up its frame. It was appropriate for that scene as he blocked out the sun.
“It is folly to linger,” he cried, literally. “I will not torment myself by remaining among friends whose society it is impossible for me to enjoy,” and he was gone.
When Marianne was capable of talking, she explained that although the reasons for Willoughby’s sudden departure were vague, one thing was clear. There would be no offer of marriage.
News of Marianne’s grief quickly spread to Barton Park, and Mrs. Middleton generously offered to take Marianne and Elinor to London, so that the younger Dashwood’s spirits might be lifted. Marianne quickly agreed to the arrangement because that was where Willoughby was. Elinor thought it unwise, but since she needed to get to London, it would have to do.
* * *
It was exactly as Elinor had predicted. After Lucy had learned from Edward’s letter that Elinor and he would be in London at the same time, she begged, borrowed, or stole enough money to go up to town. So that there would be no misunderstandings about her intention to remain engaged to Edward, Lucy called upon Elinor as soon as she had learned that the Dashwoods had arrived at the Middleton townhouse. It was a most unpleasant afternoon, and Lucy did everything except reveal that her hands were actually hooks and that they were firmly embedded in Edward Ferrars’s back.
The season was at its height, and there was either a private or public ball every night. Edward claimed no preference because he disliked both, but Elinor wrote to him, telling him that he must do his part. It was now up to him to arrange for Lucy and Robert to be at the same ball on the same night.
The evening arrived, and Lucy was introduced to Robert Ferrars by his brother. Unfortunately, no sparks flew on his part. As for Lucy, she gave no hint of a romantic interest in Edward’s brother either, but she did view it as an opportunity to recommend herself to someone who might do her a bit of good in the future.
Elinor was looking for another candidate for Lucy when Marianne caught sight of Willoughby across a crowded room, and in full view of everyone, demanded to know why he had not answered her many letters. Willoughby remained silent and refused to look at her. But it was obvious, at least to Elinor, that he was somehow involved with the lady who was clinging to his arm. It was with great difficulty that Elinor convinced her sister to leave the ball, and the next day, Marianne received a letter from Willoughby telling her that he was soon to be married. On the heels of this heartbreaking disclosure, Mrs. Middleton arrived with more bad news.
“Mr. Willoughby is to marry Miss Blair, who is to inherit £20,000. Rumor has it that he is no longer to inherit Allenham as he has lost favor with his aunt. Apparently, his debts require that he marry an heiress as he has merchants following him about town.”
There was more, but Marianne left before Mrs. Middleton had finished. There was much speculation as to the reasons for his being cut off by his aunt, none of which were true. The real reason would shortly be revealed by Col. Brandon who seemed not to mind his role as bearer of bad news. In a nutshell, Willoughby had seduced Col. Brandon’s ward, Eliza, who was at present living in the country and was about to be delivered of Willoughby’s child, and Mrs. Smith, Willoughby’s aunt, had found out about it. From whom Mrs. Smith had learned it, the Colonel did not say.
To make matters worse, Fanny Dashwood had invited Elinor and Marianne to visit her townhouse at a time when Mrs. Ferrars would also be there, and Fanny, who had met Mrs. Middleton in the street, had invited her as well. But it didn’t end there. Mrs. Middleton had requested that her cousin, Lucy Steele, be included in the invitation. It was a dismal afternoon in which Mrs. Ferrars praised Lucy and criticized Elinor. Apparently, Fanny had succeeded in prejudicing her mother against Elinor just for spite.
Robert Ferrars put in an appearance, and Elinor was hopeful, for all of a minute, when he immediately addressed Lucy, saying how pleased he was to see her again. But again, no sparks.
Although the afternoon was a total failure for Elinor, Lucy had been such a great success with Fanny that from that day on the two ladies were constantly in each other’s company, and Lucy was frequently invited to dine with the Dashwoods at their residence. It was even said that Fanny had given Lucy a few of her old gowns so that she might be more presentable while in her company. If it were true, then it was the first time that Fanny had given anything to anyone.
Nothing had gone according to plan, and with Marianne dehydrated from crying, Elinor began to fear that her sister might actually be in danger of dying for love. She wrote to Edward to tell him that they would be returning to Barton Cottage and that she hoped that he could make some progress with Lucy, as long as progress did not including actually marrying her.
Upon hearing of Marianne’s distress, Col. Brandon, who had stayed nearby in case his services were needed, offered to go with them to Devonshire. Because of the distance, it would be necessary for them to break their journey at Cleveland, the home of Mrs. Palmer, Mrs. Middleton’s daughter. Despite being in a weakened state, upon arrival at the Palmer’s manor house, Marianne insisted on walking in the gardens. And as was her habit, she got caught in a downpour, was completely drenched, and required saving by Col. Brandon, who proved the depth of his love by carrying Marianne a quarter mile to Cleveland.
Things quickly went from bad to worse as Marianne developed a raging fever. As dire as things seemed, Marianne’s illness provided Col. Brandon with an opportunity to be of service to the Dashwoods when he took off, in a most dramatic fashion, for Barton Cottage so that he might bring Mrs. Dashwood back to her possibly dying daughter. Thus, he was able to step out of the shadows ever so slightly, but nonetheless it was progress; that is, if Marianne lived.
She did live, and after the danger of Marianne’s near death experience had past, Elinor’s thoughts were of Edward in London. Since there was no way he could have known that they were not at Barton Cottage, she hoped that there would be a letter waiting for her when they got home. As soon as Elinor entered the house, she quickly sorted through the mail. There was no letter, and a fear gripped her heart. Without her there to buck him up, had Edward succumbed to the pressure from Lucy to live up to his promise to marry her?
As the days stretched into weeks, Marianne’s heart healed with the help of an attentive Col. Brandon. Her mother and sisters watched a remarkable transformation. The man who Marianne had declared to be a bore, too old, and lacking in any humor whatsoever had grown in her affection, and it wasn’t because he was less boring. He was still quite capable of having his listeners doze off. Nor had he gotten any younger, and he certainly wasn’t any funnier. It was because his love for her was so great that it had poured out of him and right into Marianne.
Elinor thought that any news about Edward would be better than no news, but she was soon to be proved wrong. John, their manservant, had been in Exeter on an errand where he had heard news that Mr. Ferrars had married.
“I seen Mr. Ferrars myself, Ma’am, or at least the back of him, this morning in Exeter, and his lady too, Miss Steele as was.”
If Elinor had been as emotional as Marianne, she would have fainted dead away, but since she was made of sterner stuff, she went to her room where the amount of tears shed rivaled that of Marianne’s over her loss of Willoughby. But the marriage vows that had been exchanged by Edward and Lucy included the words, “until death do we part,” and so Elinor needed to move on, and, hopefully, her heart would heal.
Although greatly hurt by Edward’s actions, she would not listen to any unkind words spoken about him. “He is an honorable man. Apparently, he could not get out of his engagement to Miss Steele, and not seeing any point in delaying the inevitable, he married. There is nothing else to be said.”
* * *
Col. Brandon’s joy at having secured Marianne’s affections knew no bounds, and he could not do enough for the Dashwood family. He had been so good as to send laborers from his estate to Barton Cottage to build a tree house for Margaret, who sorely missed her refuge at Norland Park. She was in her perch when she saw a horseman coming down the path, and she had no doubt who it was: Edward Ferrars.
Margaret quickly climbed down the rope ladder and ran into the kitchen to share her news and was peppered with questions.
“I am sure that it is he,” Margaret insisted, “and no, he is not in a carriage. He comes by horse and alone.”
“How odd,” Mrs. Dashwood said. “Perhaps, he thought he should come without his wife as he feels an explanation is in order.”
“Oh Lord, I hope not,” Elinor responded. “I’m sure he would list all the reasons for his actions, and I don’t think I could sit through it.”
Edward was asked to join four befuddled ladies in the parlor. After all niceties were observed, Elinor decided that it was best to get this unpleasantness over with, and so she inquired after Lucy.
“Is Mrs. Ferrars at Plymouth?”
“At Plymouth?” he replied, with an air of surprise. “No, my mother remains in town.”
“I meant,” said Elinor, taking up some work from the table so that he would not see her hands shaking, “to inquire after Mrs. Edward Ferrars.”
Now, he looked completely flummoxed. “Perhaps you mean Mrs. Robert Ferrars,” and he looked at four uncomprehending faces. “You seem not to know that my brother is lately married to Miss Lucy Steele. They were married last week. But all of this was in my letters.”
“What letters?” the four ladies asked as one.
“Excuse me, Mrs. Dashwood, there seems to be some misunderstanding here. May I speak to Miss Dashwood alone?” As soon as the words were uttered, Mrs. Dashwood, Marianne, and Margaret were on their feet and out of the room.
Elinor could neither move nor speak as a paralysis had set in, and when Edward joined her on the couch and took her hand, she felt nothing. It was only after he snapped her fingers in front of her face that she felt his hand on hers.
“Elinor, I wrote you three letters from London. Have you not received any of them?” She shook her head. “I don’t understand. I placed them in the front hall for Mr. Arnett, my mother’s butler, to have them posted.” And then he realized what had happened. “Oh, no! She couldn’t have. Not even my mother would stoop so low. Oh my dear Elinor, you knew nothing.”
“Then are you not married?” she said, her frozen brain finally defrosting.
“No. Although I hope to soon be married. But since you are in complete ignorance of what happened in London, I shall tell you from start to finish the whole of it because it is quite a story,” and he began.
“In hopes that Lucy would end the engagement, the day after you left, I went to see her. I told her that I would either be a curate or a politician, neither of which paid very much money, and that we would be poor. She shook her head and said that I was a gentleman and that gentlemen did not work. She then proceeded to tell me that she and my sister were now such good friends that Fanny looked upon Lucy as quite her equal. Nothing could dissuade her of the falsity of such a claim.
“I again reminded her that if my mother learned of our engagement, I would be disinherited. So if she wished to be married to a wealthy gentleman, I could not be her husband, and if I wished to be a curate or a politician, she would not be my wife, and that is how we left it.
“The very next afternoon, shortly after I had arrived at my sister’s house, I heard such a wailing that I thought someone was seriously injured. I rushed into the parlor only to find Lucy in a heap on the floor flooding it with tears. Behind her was Fanny slinging slurs and calling her vile names. I demanded that she stop, but then Fanny turned her fury on me. I decided to ignore her and help Lucy, but when I tried to assist her from the floor, she kept slapping my hand away and accusing me of being the source of all her misery.
“It was then that Robert came in, and I pleaded with him for his assistance. Lucy agreed to allow Robert to see her home as she would have nothing to do with me. But that was only Act I.
“Act II was that I was summoned to appear before my mother, and since I was still living at home, all that was required was for me to go from my bedchamber to the parlor. It was quite a scene. Apparently, my great sin was that I had attempted to bring someone so lowborn into the family, and since I had so little regard for the name of Ferrars, Mama would immediately visit her solicitor so that she might disinherit me. I told her that she should do what she thought best and left with the intention of calling on Lucy to see how she was, but she was gone and no one knew to where.
“A few days later, I received a letter from the family solicitor asking that I come to his office. There I was told that the estate had been irrevocably settled on my brother, Robert Ferrars. I must confess to a certain amount of relief. I believed, correctly, that I was no longer engaged to Lucy, and at the same time, I was free of my mean-spirited mother and sister.
“And now for the conclusion. I received this letter from Lucy,” and Edward took it from his coat pocket and handed it to Elinor.
Dear Sir, Being very sure that I have long lost your affections, I have thought myself at liberty to bestow my own on another and have no doubt of being as happy with him as I once used to think I might be with you. Your brother has gained my affections entirely, and we cannot live without one another. We are just returned from the altar, but thought I would first trouble you with these few lines. It shall not be my fault if we are not always good friends. Your sincere well-wisher, friend, and sister, Lucy Ferrars
“What an extraordinary letter,” Elinor said, amazed at the cold calculation written therein.
“Although my mother and I did not speak the whole time that all of this was going on, I remained at her house. So it was necessary for me to take my leave of her, and I could see from her expression that the full weight of what she had done had crashed down upon her. When Mama had settled the estate irrevocably on Robert, she had included no exclusions in the document. So the first thing Robert did with the money was to purchase a special license so that he might marry a woman he knew Mama would not approve of, and in order to thumb his nose at me for being the elder favored son, he married my ex-fiancée.
“It was then that my mother revealed to me for the first time that two months from now, when I am to turn 25, I will come into some money left to me by my grandfather which amounts to about £1,000 a year. Added to my savings of £3,000, it is certainly enough money to marry on. So if you still want me, I am available.”
Elinor fell into his arms, and Edward kissed her. The first kiss was sweet, and the second with a little more fire, but there was no third because the Dashwoods, who had been listening from the next room came running in to offer their congratulations.
And so all’s well that ends well. Worries about money that had plagued the family since Mr. Dashwood’s death were soon to disappear forever. Fanny, in a rage over Elinor’s marriage to her brother, demanded that every object belonging to the Dashwoods be removed from Norland Park. Elinor and Edward returned to Sussex to sort through the many crates that contained gifts sent to Mrs. Dashwood by her world-traveling brother, Admiral Faraway. Not knowing the value of the contents, they sent for an appraiser from London and found, to their utter astonishment, that their collection included priceless Chinese porcelain, Greek amphorae, Egyptian papyrus drawings, Samurai swords, textiles from India sewn with gold thread, Americana, including a Paul Revere serving bowl, Peter Minuet’s spare wooden leg, a wampun belt from the second to last of the Mohicans, and much much more. When the appraiser totaled the value of the collection, Mrs. Dashwood realized that she was now set for life and that Margaret would be able to marry for love.
Marianne wisely accepted Col. Brandon’s offer of marriage. Where she had once sought passion, she now preferred kindness, and although she often thought of Willoughby after the Colonel had fallen asleep or while they were making love, she knew that she had married a good man. But the Colonel was aware that he loved his wife more than she loved him.
Edward and Elinor married in the spring and settled very near to Marianne and Col. Brandon. With the Colonel’s backing, Edward became the mayor of the town of Delaford, and the highlight of his year was making speeches at the May Day and Harvest Festival celebrations. He was also successful in putting up signs at busy intersections and was credited with greatly reducing the number of wagon accidents in the community. Their love for each other was evident to all who knew them, and their temperaments being so alike, they never fought and rarely quarreled, and thus they became the standard to which all lovers in their community aspired.
Despite the passage of many years, Norland Park remained a source of fond memories for the Dashwood women, but Mrs. Dashwood, Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret had long since learned that it was not the manor house or its grounds that had been the source of their happiness, but the love and affection they felt for each other that had been nurtured within its walls.
When I started this story, I thought it would be spoof-rich material. However, I found that the only major character I truly liked was Elinor. Edward Ferrars's behavior towards Lucy and Elinor was, at the very least, unkind and selfish. In short, this wasn't as amusing as I had hoped it to be. If you would like to share any comments on Sense and Sensibility or my short story, I would enjoy reading them.