4. CHAPTER IV
Human nature is so well disposed towards those who are in
interesting situations, that a young person, who either marries
or dies, is sure of being kindly spoken of.
A week had not passed since Miss Hawkins's name was first
mentioned in Highbury, before she was, by some means or other,
discovered to have every recommendation of person and mind;
to be handsome, elegant, highly accomplished, and perfectly amiable:
and when Mr. Elton himself arrived to triumph in his happy prospects,
and circulate the fame of her merits, there was very little more
for him to do, than to tell her Christian name, and say whose
music she principally played.
Mr. Elton returned, a very happy man. He had gone away rejected
and mortified--disappointed in a very sanguine hope, after a series
of what appeared to him strong encouragement; and not only losing
the right lady, but finding himself debased to the level of a very
wrong one. He had gone away deeply offended--he came back engaged
to another--and to another as superior, of course, to the first,
as under such circumstances what is gained always is to what is lost.
He came back gay and self-satisfied, eager and busy, caring nothing
for Miss Woodhouse, and defying Miss Smith.
The charming Augusta Hawkins, in addition to all the usual advantages
of perfect beauty and merit, was in possession of an independent fortune,
of so many thousands as would always be called ten; a point of
some dignity, as well as some convenience: the story told well;
he had not thrown himself away--he had gained a woman of 10,000 l.
or thereabouts; and he had gained her with such delightful rapidity--
the first hour of introduction had been so very soon followed by
distinguishing notice; the history which he had to give Mrs. Cole
of the rise and progress of the affair was so glorious--the steps
so quick, from the accidental rencontre, to the dinner at Mr. Green's,
and the party at Mrs. Brown's--smiles and blushes rising in importance--
with consciousness and agitation richly scattered--the lady
had been so easily impressed--so sweetly disposed--had in short,
to use a most intelligible phrase, been so very ready to have him,
that vanity and prudence were equally contented.