Persuasion (Chapter 1, page 3 of 6)


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Chapter 1

To Lady Russell, indeed, she was a most dear and highly valued
god-daughter, favourite, and friend. Lady Russell loved them all; but
it was only in Anne that she could fancy the mother to revive again.

A few years before, Anne Elliot had been a very pretty girl, but her
bloom had vanished early; and as even in its height, her father had
found little to admire in her, (so totally different were her delicate
features and mild dark eyes from his own), there could be nothing in
them, now that she was faded and thin, to excite his esteem. He had
never indulged much hope, he had now none, of ever reading her name in
any other page of his favourite work. All equality of alliance must
rest with Elizabeth, for Mary had merely connected herself with an old
country family of respectability and large fortune, and had therefore
given all the honour and received none: Elizabeth would, one day or
other, marry suitably.

It sometimes happens that a woman is handsomer at twenty-nine than she
was ten years before; and, generally speaking, if there has been
neither ill health nor anxiety, it is a time of life at which scarcely
any charm is lost. It was so with Elizabeth, still the same handsome
Miss Elliot that she had begun to be thirteen years ago, and Sir Walter
might be excused, therefore, in forgetting her age, or, at least, be
deemed only half a fool, for thinking himself and Elizabeth as blooming
as ever, amidst the wreck of the good looks of everybody else; for he
could plainly see how old all the rest of his family and acquaintance
were growing. Anne haggard, Mary coarse, every face in the
neighbourhood worsting, and the rapid increase of the crow's foot about
Lady Russell's temples had long been a distress to him.

Elizabeth did not quite equal her father in personal contentment.
Thirteen years had seen her mistress of Kellynch Hall, presiding and
directing with a self-possession and decision which could never have
given the idea of her being younger than she was. For thirteen years
had she been doing the honours, and laying down the domestic law at
home, and leading the way to the chaise and four, and walking
immediately after Lady Russell out of all the drawing-rooms and
dining-rooms in the country. Thirteen winters' revolving frosts had
seen her opening every ball of credit which a scanty neighbourhood
afforded, and thirteen springs shewn their blossoms, as she travelled
up to London with her father, for a few weeks' annual enjoyment of the
great world. She had the remembrance of all this, she had the
consciousness of being nine-and-twenty to give her some regrets and
some apprehensions; she was fully satisfied of being still quite as
handsome as ever, but she felt her approach to the years of danger, and
would have rejoiced to be certain of being properly solicited by
baronet-blood within the next twelvemonth or two. Then might she again
take up the book of books with as much enjoyment as in her early youth,
but now she liked it not. Always to be presented with the date of her
own birth and see no marriage follow but that of a youngest sister,
made the book an evil; and more than once, when her father had left it
open on the table near her, had she closed it, with averted eyes, and
pushed it away.

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