They walked up stairs in to the drawing-room.--Nobody was there.
"Fanny is in her own room, I suppose," said he:--"I will go to her presently, for I am sure she will not have the least objection in the world to seeing YOU.-- Very far from it, indeed. NOW especially there cannot be--but however, you and Marianne were always great favourites.--Why would not Marianne come?"--
Elinor made what excuse she could for her.
"I am not sorry to see you alone," he replied, "for I have a good deal to say to you. This living of Colonel Brandon's--can it be true?--has he really given it to Edward?--I heard it yesterday by chance, and was coming to you on purpose to enquire farther about it."
"It is perfectly true.--Colonel Brandon has given the living of Delaford to Edward."
"Really!--Well, this is very astonishing!--no relationship!--no connection between them!--and now that livings fetch such a price!--what was the value of this?"
"About two hundred a year."
"Very well--and for the next presentation to a living of that value--supposing the late incumbent to have been old and sickly, and likely to vacate it soon--he might have got I dare say--fourteen hundred pounds. And how came he not to have settled that matter before this person's death?--NOW indeed it would be too late to sell it, but a man of Colonel Brandon's sense!--I wonder he should be so improvident in a point of such common, such natural, concern!--Well, I am convinced that there is a vast deal of inconsistency in almost every human character. I suppose, however--on recollection--that the case may probably be THIS. Edward is only to hold the living till the person to whom the Colonel has really sold the presentation, is old enough to take it.--Aye, aye, that is the fact, depend upon it."
Elinor contradicted it, however, very positively; and by relating that she had herself been employed in conveying the offer from Colonel Brandon to Edward, and, therefore, must understand the terms on which it was given, obliged him to submit to her authority.
"It is truly astonishing!"--he cried, after hearing what she said--"what could be the Colonel's motive?"
"A very simple one--to be of use to Mr. Ferrars."
"Well, well; whatever Colonel Brandon may be, Edward is a very lucky man.--You will not mention the matter to Fanny, however, for though I have broke it to her, and she bears it vastly well,--she will not like to hear it much talked of."
Elinor had some difficulty here to refrain from observing, that she thought Fanny might have borne with composure, an acquisition of wealth to her brother, by which neither she nor her child could be possibly impoverished.
"Mrs. Ferrars," added he, lowering his voice to the tone becoming so important a subject, "knows nothing about it at present, and I believe it will be best to keep it entirely concealed from her as long as may be.-- When the marriage takes place, I fear she must hear of it all."
"But why should such precaution be used?--Though it is not to be supposed that Mrs. Ferrars can have the smallest satisfaction in knowing that her son has money enough to live upon,--for THAT must be quite out of the question; yet why, upon her late behaviour, is she supposed to feel at all?--She has done with her son, she cast him off for ever, and has made all those over whom she had any influence, cast him off likewise. Surely, after doing so, she cannot be imagined liable to any impression of sorrow or of joy on his account-- she cannot be interested in any thing that befalls him.-- She would not be so weak as to throw away the comfort of a child, and yet retain the anxiety of a parent!"
"Ah! Elinor," said John, "your reasoning is very good, but it is founded on ignorance of human nature. When Edward's unhappy match takes place, depend upon it his mother will feel as much as if she had never discarded him; and, therefore every circumstance that may accelerate that dreadful event, must be concealed from her as much as possible. Mrs. Ferrars can never forget that Edward is her son."
"You surprise me; I should think it must nearly have escaped her memory by THIS time."
"You wrong her exceedingly.