Persuasion (Chapter 1, page 4 of 6)


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Chapter 1

She had had a disappointment, moreover, which that book, and especially
the history of her own family, must ever present the remembrance of.
The heir presumptive, the very William Walter Elliot, Esq., whose
rights had been so generously supported by her father, had disappointed
her.

She had, while a very young girl, as soon as she had known him to be,
in the event of her having no brother, the future baronet, meant to
marry him, and her father had always meant that she should. He had not
been known to them as a boy; but soon after Lady Elliot's death, Sir
Walter had sought the acquaintance, and though his overtures had not
been met with any warmth, he had persevered in seeking it, making
allowance for the modest drawing-back of youth; and, in one of their
spring excursions to London, when Elizabeth was in her first bloom, Mr
Elliot had been forced into the introduction.

He was at that time a very young man, just engaged in the study of the
law; and Elizabeth found him extremely agreeable, and every plan in his
favour was confirmed. He was invited to Kellynch Hall; he was talked
of and expected all the rest of the year; but he never came. The
following spring he was seen again in town, found equally agreeable,
again encouraged, invited, and expected, and again he did not come; and
the next tidings were that he was married. Instead of pushing his
fortune in the line marked out for the heir of the house of Elliot, he
had purchased independence by uniting himself to a rich woman of
inferior birth.

Sir Walter has resented it. As the head of the house, he felt that he
ought to have been consulted, especially after taking the young man so
publicly by the hand; "For they must have been seen together," he
observed, "once at Tattersall's, and twice in the lobby of the House of
Commons." His disapprobation was expressed, but apparently very little
regarded. Mr Elliot had attempted no apology, and shewn himself as
unsolicitous of being longer noticed by the family, as Sir Walter
considered him unworthy of it: all acquaintance between them had
ceased.

This very awkward history of Mr Elliot was still, after an interval of
several years, felt with anger by Elizabeth, who had liked the man for
himself, and still more for being her father's heir, and whose strong
family pride could see only in him a proper match for Sir Walter
Elliot's eldest daughter. There was not a baronet from A to Z whom her
feelings could have so willingly acknowledged as an equal. Yet so
miserably had he conducted himself, that though she was at this present
time (the summer of 1814) wearing black ribbons for his wife, she could
not admit him to be worth thinking of again. The disgrace of his first
marriage might, perhaps, as there was no reason to suppose it
perpetuated by offspring, have been got over, had he not done worse;
but he had, as by the accustomary intervention of kind friends, they
had been informed, spoken most disrespectfully of them all, most
slightingly and contemptuously of the very blood he belonged to, and
the honours which were hereafter to be his own. This could not be
pardoned.

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