Mansfield Park (Chapter 6, page 1 of 9)

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Chapter 6

Mr. Bertram set off for--------, and Miss Crawford was prepared to find
a great chasm in their society, and to miss him decidedly in the
meetings which were now becoming almost daily between the families; and
on their all dining together at the Park soon after his going, she
retook her chosen place near the bottom of the table, fully expecting
to feel a most melancholy difference in the change of masters. It
would be a very flat business, she was sure. In comparison with his
brother, Edmund would have nothing to say. The soup would be sent
round in a most spiritless manner, wine drank without any smiles or
agreeable trifling, and the venison cut up without supplying one
pleasant anecdote of any former haunch, or a single entertaining story,
about "my friend such a one." She must try to find amusement in what
was passing at the upper end of the table, and in observing Mr.
Rushworth, who was now making his appearance at Mansfield for the first
time since the Crawfords' arrival.

He had been visiting a friend in
the neighbouring county, and that friend having recently had his
grounds laid out by an improver, Mr. Rushworth was returned with his
head full of the subject, and very eager to be improving his own place
in the same way; and though not saying much to the purpose, could talk
of nothing else. The subject had been already handled in the
drawing-room; it was revived in the dining-parlour. Miss Bertram's
attention and opinion was evidently his chief aim; and though her
deportment showed rather conscious superiority than any solicitude to
oblige him, the mention of Sotherton Court, and the ideas attached to
it, gave her a feeling of complacency, which prevented her from being
very ungracious.

"I wish you could see Compton," said he; "it is the most complete
thing! I never saw a place so altered in my life. I told Smith I did
not know where I was. The approach now, is one of the finest things
in the country: you see the house in the most surprising manner. I
declare, when I got back to Sotherton yesterday, it looked like a
prison--quite a dismal old prison."

"Oh, for shame!" cried Mrs. Norris. "A prison indeed? Sotherton Court
is the noblest old place in the world."

"It wants improvement, ma'am, beyond anything. I never saw a place
that wanted so much improvement in my life; and it is so forlorn that I
do not know what can be done with it."

"No wonder that Mr. Rushworth should think so at present," said Mrs.
Grant to Mrs. Norris, with a smile; "but depend upon it, Sotherton will
have every improvement in time which his heart can desire."

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