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to address you in her name. It is this very change that induces me to speak unreservedly. So far as I am concerned, it cannot be believed I am anxious for Miss Wilton's remaining in Mr. Austen's family; but I am fully persuaded such a request could never have come from your daughter, had she enjoyed the health and expectations usual at her age. She is ill-very ill. If you, ma'am, are not prepared to hear this, you may condemn my sincerity, but I stand acquitted to myself.”
Leaving Mrs. Wilton, the governess completed her einbassy by repairing to Mr. Austen. She imparted all that had passed between his visitors and herself.
Mr. Austen, with the anxiety of a parent, entered into the views of Caroline ; and, though really alarmed for the health of his young relation, he gladly took comfort in that dawning of humility, which had led her to confide in one she had so recently appeared to overlook.
“I see a great deal of promise in
this,” said he'; “poor Caroline!! I wish we had you to ourselves for a few months.” He looked at Miss Colville with some curiosity.
“ I almost wish such a thing could be, sir,” said Miss Colville; “unfortunately, Miss Wilton made her appeal through an unaccredited channel. I cannot regret having complied with her request, though I may deplore the mistaken feelings of the party to whom I addressed myself.”
“Mistaken feelings !” echoed Mr. Austen. Unhappy woman! she is, she has long been at war with herself. Alas! madain, no woman feels more acutely than Mrs. Wilton all the inutility of her plans as a mother. Like all those persons who mistake ostentation for 'li berality, she blindly imagined that having denied her daughters none of the advantages that money could procure, , she had done all that was necessary. Her error now stands confest! But poor Caroline !-I must talk with Mrs. Wilton." Mr. Austen proceeded to the
library, purposing to depute Marian as his messenger to her mother. Here, however, he found Mrs. Wilton in a state of mind nearly allied to madness. Two or three notes, addressed to physicians of eminence, only wanted sealing. With eyes swoln, and a manner that sufficiently betrayed her anguish, she besought Mr. Austen not to confirm the cruel doubts of that horrible Miss Colville. "I never can forgive that woman, she added; “I am convinced she has alarmed the dear child, or she would not have frightened me as she did a few ininutes since.”
“Of whom are you speaking? wha has alarmed you unnecessarily?" inquired Mr. Austen.
“Then you have not heard,” said Mrs. Wilton, “that Caroline in one of her low fits, begged this Miss Colville to hint to me her dislike to our intended excursion ? Not content with doing as she was required, this officious lady must suggest to me the very great weakness and debility of my daughter. You know my susceptibility : no sooner had this harbinger of ill retired, than I hastened to Caroline, and implored her to describe all she felt. I am afraid my feelings led me too far; the dear child caught the infection ; and for the first time declared herself unequal to the proposed journey: but, with her usual liberality, would not hear of Marian's being disappointed.
Of course I have not made up my mind upon this point; but I have written to Dr. P. Dr. K. and Dr. W. I will not lose a moment; so I shall have nothing to reproach myself for ?"
“ If you except the alarm you may give Caroline, by allowing her to see your fears in the precautions you are adopting,” observed Mr. Austen.
“I am the most unfortunate woman in existence,” said Mrs. Wilton; am I to do? will
direct me?" “I will assist you with my
whole heart," replied Mr. Austen; “for, believe me, I am deeply interested in the health of your child, which I regret to perceive is so delicate,
taking up Mrs. Wilton's scarcely legible performances, “these I will commit to the flames; we must neither depress nor agitate the dear girl. Yet we will treat her as a rational creature. I will invite one of the gentlemen you have selected to take dinner with us; we will introduce the subject carefully; and Caroline must be allowed to decline accompanying you, if you are still resolved on a foreign trip,) should my friend W. sanction her so doing.
Mrs. Wilton appeared to assent. The plan was too reasonable to be opposed in its present stage; yet, froin her personal knowledge of the latitude she had ever allowed where the nerves could be made accountable for whims, bad spirits, &c. she entertained strong hopes that the event might prove favourable to her wishes.
Here, however, she was a most unfortunate mother; for Dr. W not only saw a necessity for considering Caroline an invalid, but his principles led him to add that she required the utmost