Mansfield Park (Chapter 2, page 2 of 8)


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Chapter 2

"This is not a very promising beginning," said Mrs. Norris, when Fanny
had left the room. "After all that I said to her as we came along, I
thought she would have behaved better; I told her how much might depend
upon her acquitting herself well at first. I wish there may not be a
little sulkiness of temper--her poor mother had a good deal; but we
must make allowances for such a child--and I do not know that her being
sorry to leave her home is really against her, for, with all its
faults, it was her home, and she cannot as yet understand how much
she has changed for the better; but then there is moderation in all
things."

It required a longer time, however, than Mrs. Norris was inclined to
allow, to reconcile Fanny to the novelty of Mansfield Park, and the
separation from everybody she had been used to. Her feelings were very
acute, and too little understood to be properly attended to. Nobody
meant to be unkind, but nobody put themselves out of their way to
secure her comfort.

The holiday allowed to the Miss Bertrams the next day, on purpose to
afford leisure for getting acquainted with, and entertaining their
young cousin, produced little union. They could not but hold her cheap
on finding that she had but two sashes, and had never learned French;
and when they perceived her to be little struck with the duet they were
so good as to play, they could do no more than make her a generous
present of some of their least valued toys, and leave her to herself,
while they adjourned to whatever might be the favourite holiday sport
of the moment, making artificial flowers or wasting gold paper.

Fanny, whether near or from her cousins, whether in the schoolroom, the
drawing-room, or the shrubbery, was equally forlorn, finding something
to fear in every person and place. She was disheartened by Lady
Bertram's silence, awed by Sir Thomas's grave looks, and quite overcome
by Mrs. Norris's admonitions. Her elder cousins mortified her by
reflections on her size, and abashed her by noticing her shyness: Miss
Lee wondered at her ignorance, and the maid-servants sneered at her
clothes; and when to these sorrows was added the idea of the brothers
and sisters among whom she had always been important as playfellow,
instructress, and nurse, the despondence that sunk her little heart was
severe.

The grandeur of the house astonished, but could not console her. The
rooms were too large for her to move in with ease: whatever she touched
she expected to injure, and she crept about in constant terror of
something or other; often retreating towards her own chamber to cry;
and the little girl who was spoken of in the drawing-room when she left
it at night as seeming so desirably sensible of her peculiar good
fortune, ended every day's sorrows by sobbing herself to sleep. A week
had passed in this way, and no suspicion of it conveyed by her quiet
passive manner, when she was found one morning by her cousin Edmund,
the youngest of the sons, sitting crying on the attic stairs.

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