How shall you like it?"
Fanny was too much surprised to do more than repeat her aunt's words, "Going to leave you?"
"Yes, my dear; why should you be astonished? You have been five years with us, and my sister always meant to take you when Mr. Norris died. But you must come up and tack on my patterns all the same."
The news was as disagreeable to Fanny as it had been unexpected. She had never received kindness from her aunt Norris, and could not love her.
"I shall be very sorry to go away," said she, with a faltering voice.
"Yes, I dare say you will; _that's_ natural enough. I suppose you have had as little to vex you since you came into this house as any creature in the world."
"I hope I am not ungrateful, aunt," said Fanny modestly.
"No, my dear; I hope not. I have always found you a very good girl."
"And am I never to live here again?"
"Never, my dear; but you are sure of a comfortable home. It can make very little difference to you, whether you are in one house or the other."
Fanny left the room with a very sorrowful heart; she could not feel the difference to be so small, she could not think of living with her aunt with anything like satisfaction. As soon as she met with Edmund she told him her distress.
"Cousin," said she, "something is going to happen which I do not like at all; and though you have often persuaded me into being reconciled to things that I disliked at first, you will not be able to do it now. I am going to live entirely with my aunt Norris."
"Yes; my aunt Bertram has just told me so. It is quite settled. I am to leave Mansfield Park, and go to the White House, I suppose, as soon as she is removed there."
"Well, Fanny, and if the plan were not unpleasant to you, I should call it an excellent one."
"It has everything else in its favour. My aunt is acting like a sensible woman in wishing for you. She is choosing a friend and companion exactly where she ought, and I am glad her love of money does not interfere. You will be what you ought to be to her. I hope it does not distress you very much, Fanny?"
"Indeed it does: I cannot like it. I love this house and everything in it: I shall love nothing there. You know how uncomfortable I feel with her."
"I can say nothing for her manner to you as a child; but it was the same with us all, or nearly so. She never knew how to be pleasant to children. But you are now of an age to be treated better; I think she is behaving better already; and when you are her only companion, you _must_ be important to her."
"I can never be important to any one."
"What is to prevent you?"
"Everything. My situation, my foolishness and awkwardness."
"As to your foolishness and awkwardness, my dear Fanny, believe me, you never have a shadow of either, but in using the words so improperly. There is no reason in the world why you should not be important where you are known. You have good sense, and a sweet temper, and I am sure you have a grateful heart, that could never receive kindness without wishing to return it. I do not know any better qualifications for a friend and companion."
"You are too kind," said Fanny, colouring at such praise; "how shall I ever thank you as I ought, for thinking so well of me. Oh! cousin, if I am to go away, I shall remember your goodness to the last moment of my life."
"Why, indeed, Fanny, I should hope to be remembered at such a distance as the White House. You speak as if you were going two hundred miles off instead of only across the park; but you will belong to us almost as much as ever. The two families will be meeting every day in the year. The only difference will be that, living with your aunt, you will necessarily be brought forward as you ought to be. _Here_ there are too many whom you can hide behind; but with _her_ you will be forced to speak for yourself."
"Oh! I do not say so."
"I must say it, and say it with pleasure. Mrs. Norris is much better fitted than my mother for having the charge of you now.