Marianne got up the next morning at her usual time;
to every inquiry replied that she was better, and tried to
prove herself so, by engaging in her accustomary employments.
But a day spent in sitting shivering over the fire
with a book in her hand, which she was unable to read,
or in lying, weary and languid, on a sofa, did not speak
much in favour of her amendment; and when, at last,
she went early to bed, more and more indisposed, Colonel
Brandon was only astonished at her sister's composure,
who, though attending and nursing her the whole day,
against Marianne inclination, and forcing proper medicines
on her at night, trusted, like Marianne, to the certainty
and efficacy of sleep, and felt no real alarm.
A very restless and feverish night, however,
disappointed the expectation of both; and when Marianne,
after persisting in rising, confessed herself unable
to sit up, and returned voluntarily to her bed,
Elinor was very ready to adopt Mrs. Jennings's advice,
of sending for the Palmers' apothecary.
He came, examined his patient, and though encouraging
Miss Dashwood to expect that a very few days would restore
her sister to health, yet, by pronouncing her disorder
to have a putrid tendency, and allowing the word "infection"
to pass his lips, gave instant alarm to Mrs. Palmer,
on her baby's account. Mrs. Jennings, who had been inclined
from the first to think Marianne's complaint more serious
than Elinor, now looked very grave on Mr. Harris's report,
and confirming Charlotte's fears and caution, urged the
necessity of her immediate removal with her infant;
and Mr. Palmer, though treating their apprehensions as idle,
found the anxiety and importunity of his wife too great
to be withstood. Her departure, therefore, was fixed on;
and within an hour after Mr. Harris's arrival, she set off,
with her little boy and his nurse, for the house of a
near relation of Mr. Palmer's, who lived a few miles
on the other side of Bath; whither her husband promised,
at her earnest entreaty, to join her in a day or two;
and whither she was almost equally urgent with her
mother to accompany her. Mrs. Jennings, however, with a
kindness of heart which made Elinor really love her,
declared her resolution of not stirring from Cleveland
as long as Marianne remained ill, and of endeavouring,
by her own attentive care, to supply to her the place
of the mother she had taken her from; and Elinor found her
on every occasion a most willing and active helpmate,
desirous to share in all her fatigues, and often by her
better experience in nursing, of material use.
Poor Marianne, languid and low from the nature
of her malady, and feeling herself universally ill,
could no longer hope that tomorrow would find her recovered;
and the idea of what tomorrow would have produced,
but for this unlucky illness, made every ailment severe;
for on that day they were to have begun their journey home;
and, attended the whole way by a servant of Mrs. Jennings,
were to have taken their mother by surprise on the
following forenoon. The little she said was all in
lamentation of this inevitable delay; though Elinor tried
to raise her spirits, and make her believe, as she THEN
really believed herself, that it would be a very short one.
The next day produced little or no alteration in the
state of the patient; she certainly was not better, and,
except that there was no amendment, did not appear worse.
Their party was now farther reduced; for Mr. Palmer,
though very unwilling to go as well from real humanity
and good-nature, as from a dislike of appearing to be
frightened away by his wife, was persuaded at last
by Colonel Brandon to perform his promise of following her;
and while he was preparing to go, Colonel Brandon himself,
with a much greater exertion, began to talk of going
likewise.--Here, however, the kindness of Mrs. Jennings
interposed most acceptably; for to send the Colonel away
while his love was in so much uneasiness on her sister's
account, would be to deprive them both, she thought,
of every comfort; and therefore telling him at once
that his stay at Cleveland was necessary to herself,
that she should want him to play at piquet of an evening,
while Miss Dashwood was above with her sister, &c. she
urged him so strongly to remain, that he, who was gratifying
the first wish of his own heart by a compliance, could not
long even affect to demur; especially as Mrs. Jennings's
entreaty was warmly seconded by Mr. Palmer, who seemed
to feel a relief to himself, in leaving behind him a person
so well able to assist or advise Miss Dashwood in any emergence.
Marianne was, of course, kept in ignorance of all
these arrangements. She knew not that she had been
the means of sending the owners of Cleveland away,
in about seven days from the time of their arrival.
It gave her no surprise that she saw nothing
of Mrs. Palmer; and as it gave her likewise no concern,
she never mentioned her name.
Two days passed away from the time of Mr. Palmer's departure,
and her situation continued, with little variation,
the same. Mr. Harris, who attended her every day,
still talked boldly of a speedy recovery, and Miss Dashwood
was equally sanguine; but the expectation of the others
was by no means so cheerful. Mrs. Jennings had determined
very early in the seizure that Marianne would never
get over it, and Colonel Brandon, who was chiefly
of use in listening to Mrs. Jennings's forebodings,
was not in a state of mind to resist their influence.
He tried to reason himself out of fears, which the different
judgment of the apothecary seemed to render absurd;
but the many hours of each day in which he was left
entirely alone, were but too favourable for the admission
of every melancholy idea, and he could not expel from
his mind the persuasion that he should see Marianne no more.
On the morning of the third day however, the gloomy
anticipations of both were almost done away; for when
Mr. Harris arrived, he declared his patient materially better.
Her pulse was much stronger, and every symptom more favourable
than on the preceding visit. Elinor, confirmed in every
pleasant hope, was all cheerfulness; rejoicing that
in her letters to her mother, she had pursued her own
judgment rather than her friend's, in making very light
of the indisposition which delayed them at Cleveland;
and almost fixing on the time when Marianne would be
able to travel.
But the day did not close so auspiciously as it began.--
Towards the evening Marianne became ill again, growing
more heavy, restless, and uncomfortable than before.
Her sister, however, still sanguine, was willing to
attribute the change to nothing more than the fatigue
of having sat up to have her bed made; and carefully
administering the cordials prescribed, saw her, with
satisfaction, sink at last into a slumber, from which
she expected the most beneficial effects. Her sleep,
though not so quiet as Elinor wished to see it,
lasted a considerable time; and anxious to observe
the result of it herself, she resolved to sit with her
during the whole of it. Mrs. Jennings, knowing nothing
of any change in the patient, went unusually early to bed;
her maid, who was one of the principal nurses, was recreating
herself in the housekeeper's room, and Elinor remained
alone with Marianne.
The repose of the latter became more and more disturbed;
and her sister, who watched, with unremitting attention
her continual change of posture, and heard the frequent
but inarticulate sounds of complaint which passed her lips,
was almost wishing to rouse her from so painful a slumber,
when Marianne, suddenly awakened by some accidental noise
in the house, started hastily up, and, with feverish wildness,
"Is mama coming?--"
"Not yet," cried the other, concealing her terror,
and assisting Marianne to lie down again, "but she will
be here, I hope, before it is long. It is a great way,
you know, from hence to Barton."
"But she must not go round by London," cried Marianne,
in the same hurried manner. "I shall never see her,
if she goes by London."
Elinor perceived with alarm that she was not
quite herself, and, while attempting to soothe her,
eagerly felt her pulse. It was lower and quicker than ever!
and Marianne, still talking wildly of mama, her alarm
increased so rapidly, as to determine her on sending
instantly for Mr. Harris, and despatching a messenger
to Barton for her mother. To consult with Colonel Brandon
on the best means of effecting the latter, was a thought
which immediately followed the resolution of its performance;
and as soon she had rung up the maid to take her place
by her sister, she hastened down to the drawing-room,
where she knew he was generally to be found at a much
later hour than the present.
It was no time for hesitation. Her fears and her
difficulties were immediately before him. Her fears,
he had no courage, no confidence to attempt the removal of:--
he listened to them in silent despondence;--but her
difficulties were instantly obviated, for with a readiness
that seemed to speak the occasion, and the service
pre-arranged in his mind, he offered himself as the
messenger who should fetch Mrs. Dashwood. Elinor made no
resistance that was not easily overcome. She thanked him
with brief, though fervent gratitude, and while he went
to hurry off his servant with a message to Mr. Harris, and
an order for post-horses directly, she wrote a few lines
to her mother.
The comfort of such a friend at that moment as Colonel
Brandon--or such a companion for her mother,--how gratefully
was it felt!--a companion whose judgment would guide,
whose attendance must relieve, and whose friendship might
soothe her!--as far as the shock of such a summons COULD
be lessened to her, his presence, his manners, his assistance,
would lessen it.
HE, meanwhile, whatever he might feel, acted with all
the firmness of a collected mind, made every necessary
arrangement with the utmost despatch, and calculated
with exactness the time in which she might look for
his return. Not a moment was lost in delay of any kind.
The horses arrived, even before they were expected,
and Colonel Brandon only pressing her hand with a look
of solemnity, and a few words spoken too low to reach her ear,
hurried into the carriage. It was then about twelve
o'clock, and she returned to her sister's apartment to wait
for the arrival of the apothecary, and to watch by her
the rest of the night. It was a night of almost equal
suffering to both. Hour after hour passed away in sleepless
pain and delirium on Marianne's side, and in the most
cruel anxiety on Elinor's, before Mr. Harris appeared.
Her apprehensions once raised, paid by their excess for all
her former security; and the servant who sat up with her,
for she would not allow Mrs. Jennings to be called,
only tortured her more, by hints of what her mistress
had always thought.
Marianne's ideas were still, at intervals,
fixed incoherently on her mother, and whenever she
mentioned her name, it gave a pang to the heart of
poor Elinor, who, reproaching herself for having trifled
with so many days of illness, and wretched for some
immediate relief, fancied that all relief might soon
be in vain, that every thing had been delayed too long,
and pictured to herself her suffering mother arriving
too late to see this darling child, or to see her rational.
She was on the point of sending again for Mr. Harris,
or if HE could not come, for some other advice,
when the former--but not till after five o'clock--arrived.
His opinion, however, made some little amends for his delay,
for though acknowledging a very unexpected and unpleasant
alteration in his patient, he would not allow the danger
to be material, and talked of the relief which a fresh
mode of treatment must procure, with a confidence which,
in a lesser degree, was communicated to Elinor. He promised
to call again in the course of three or four hours,
and left both the patient and her anxious attendant more
composed than he had found them.
With strong concern, and with many reproaches for not
being called to their aid, did Mrs. Jennings hear in the
morning of what had passed. Her former apprehensions,
now with greater reason restored, left her no doubt of
the event; and though trying to speak comfort to Elinor,
her conviction of her sister's danger would not allow her
to offer the comfort of hope. Her heart was really grieved.
The rapid decay, the early death of a girl so young,
so lovely as Marianne, must have struck a less interested
person with concern. On Mrs. Jennings's compassion
she had other claims. She had been for three months
her companion, was still under her care, and she was
known to have been greatly injured, and long unhappy.
The distress of her sister too, particularly a favourite,
was before her;--and as for their mother, when Mrs. Jennings
considered that Marianne might probably be to HER what
Charlotte was to herself, her sympathy in HER sufferings
was very sincere.
Mr. Harris was punctual in his second visit;--
but he came to be disappointed in his hopes of what the
last would produce. His medicines had failed;--the fever
was unabated; and Marianne only more quiet--not more
herself--remained in a heavy stupor. Elinor, catching all,
and more than all, his fears in a moment, proposed to call
in further advice. But he judged it unnecessary: he had
still something more to try, some more fresh application,
of whose success he was as confident as the last, and his
visit concluded with encouraging assurances which reached
the ear, but could not enter the heart of Miss Dashwood.
She was calm, except when she thought of her mother;
but she was almost hopeless; and in this state she continued
till noon, scarcely stirring from her sister's bed,
her thoughts wandering from one image of grief,
one suffering friend to another, and her spirits oppressed
to the utmost by the conversation of Mrs. Jennings,
who scrupled not to attribute the severity and danger
of this attack to the many weeks of previous indisposition
which Marianne's disappointment had brought on.
Elinor felt all the reasonableness of the idea, and it
gave fresh misery to her reflections.
About noon, however, she began--but with a caution--a
dread of disappointment which for some time kept her silent,
even to her friend--to fancy, to hope she could perceive
a slight amendment in her sister's pulse;--she waited,
watched, and examined it again and again;--and at last,
with an agitation more difficult to bury under exterior calmness,
than all her foregoing distress, ventured to communicate
her hopes. Mrs. Jennings, though forced, on examination,
to acknowledge a temporary revival, tried to keep her
young friend from indulging a thought of its continuance;--
and Elinor, conning over every injunction of distrust,
told herself likewise not to hope. But it was too late.
Hope had already entered; and feeling all its anxious flutter,
she bent over her sister to watch--she hardly knew for what.
Half an hour passed away, and the favourable symptom
yet blessed her. Others even arose to confirm it.
Her breath, her skin, her lips, all flattered Elinor
with signs of amendment; and Marianne fixed her eyes on
her with a rational, though languid, gaze. Anxiety and
hope now oppressed her in equal degrees, and left her no
moment of tranquillity till the arrival of Mr. Harris at
four o'clock;--when his assurances, his felicitations on
a recovery in her sister even surpassing his expectation,
gave her confidence, comfort, and tears of joy.
Marianne was in every respect materially better,
and he declared her entirely out of danger. Mrs. Jennings,
perhaps satisfied with the partial justification of her
forebodings which had been found in their late alarm,
allowed herself to trust in his judgment, and admitted,
with unfeigned joy, and soon with unequivocal cheerfulness,
the probability of an entire recovery.
Elinor could not be cheerful. Her joy was of a
different kind, and led to any thing rather than to gaiety.
Marianne restored to life, health, friends, and to her
doting mother, was an idea to fill her heart with sensations
of exquisite comfort, and expand it in fervent gratitude;--
but it lead to no outward demonstrations of joy, no words,
no smiles. All within Elinor's breast was satisfaction,
silent and strong.
She continued by the side of her sister, with little
intermission the whole afternoon, calming every fear,
satisfying every inquiry of her enfeebled spirits,
supplying every succour, and watching almost every look and
every breath. The possibility of a relapse would of course,
in some moments, occur to remind her of what anxiety was--
but when she saw, on her frequent and minute examination,
that every symptom of recovery continued, and saw Marianne
at six o'clock sink into a quiet, steady, and to all
appearance comfortable, sleep, she silenced every doubt.
The time was now drawing on, when Colonel Brandon
might be expected back. At ten o'clock, she trusted,
or at least not much later her mother would be relieved
from the dreadful suspense in which she must now be
travelling towards them. The Colonel, too!--perhaps scarcely
less an object of pity!--Oh!--how slow was the progress
of time which yet kept them in ignorance!
At seven o'clock, leaving Marianne still sweetly asleep,
she joined Mrs. Jennings in the drawing-room to tea.
Of breakfast she had been kept by her fears, and of
dinner by their sudden reverse, from eating much;--
and the present refreshment, therefore, with such feelings
of content as she brought to it, was particularly welcome.
Mrs. Jennings would have persuaded her, at its conclusion,
to take some rest before her mother's arrival, and allow HER to
take her place by Marianne; but Elinor had no sense of fatigue,
no capability of sleep at that moment about her, and she was
not to be kept away from her sister an unnecessary instant.
Mrs. Jennings therefore attending her up stairs into the
sick chamber, to satisfy herself that all continued right,
left her there again to her charge and her thoughts,
and retired to her own room to write letters and sleep.
The night was cold and stormy. The wind roared
round the house, and the rain beat against the windows;
but Elinor, all happiness within, regarded it not.
Marianne slept through every blast; and the travellers--
they had a rich reward in store, for every present inconvenience.
The clock struck eight. Had it been ten,
Elinor would have been convinced that at that moment
she heard a carriage driving up to the house;
and so strong was the persuasion that she DID, in spite
of the ALMOST impossibility of their being already come,
that she moved into the adjoining dressing-closet and
opened a window shutter, to be satisfied of the truth.
She instantly saw that her ears had not deceived her.
The flaring lamps of a carriage were immediately in view.
By their uncertain light she thought she could discern it
to be drawn by four horses; and this, while it told the
excess of her poor mother's alarm, gave some explanation
to such unexpected rapidity.
Never in her life had Elinor found it so difficult
to be calm, as at that moment. The knowledge of what her
mother must be feeling as the carriage stopt at the door--
of her doubt--her dread--perhaps her despair!--and
of what SHE had to tell!--with such knowledge it was
impossible to be calm. All that remained to be done
was to be speedy; and, therefore staying only till
she could leave Mrs. Jennings's maid with her sister,
she hurried down stairs.
The bustle in the vestibule, as she passed along
an inner lobby, assured her that they were already
in the house. She rushed to the drawing-room,--she
entered it,--and saw only Willoughby.