Journal of Emmeline Dashwood
I am so afraid. Father is ill, very ill. I know he expects to die because he sent for John and when John arrived Father sent me from the room to speak with him in private. I longed to be allowed stay. How am I to know what is going on when no one will tell me? When John came out I could see he understood it as well – Father is going to die. What will my family do without Father? What will I do without Father? He is my best friend.
How is it possible for the world to be so alive when I feel dead inside? Father is gone…
Father is in the ground now and I'll never see him again. He'll never laugh at one of my stories or tease me about being the boy of the family when I arrive fresh from a ride on Gypsy, hair a mess and the smell of horse on my dress. No one will keep Mama from forcing me to be a lady now. I feel like my life is already over without Father. I will steal out for a ride before Mama can begin scolding me for being unladylike, for today, at least.
Father is dead not a week and already John and Fanny are arriving to lay claim to John's inheritance. Our world is so unfair! Why can only boys inherit property? Father and I spoke of this often in his last weeks and it pained him to think he would be unable to care for Mama and us girls after he was gone. I know he did everything possible to provide for our futures but with all his estate tied up in land, there will be little for us to take with us.
He also confessed to me his hopes that John would step up and be a suitable brother, choosing to take care of his half-sisters the way Father would if he were alive. I believe that is what Father asked him to do, that last visit when I was asked to leave the room. I desire to believe the best of John but know he has no will of his own when under the influence of his wife. No, if it is up to Fanny we will leave Norland with little more than that which with we were born.
I know Elinor and Mama have already begun searching for a new home. Elinor is such a good daughter; she's the intellectual one out of all of us. She understands money and the cost of things. Father did well to teach her such things. If not for her intelligence in these matters I fear what would become of us. But I trust Elinor to make sure we all come out all right, even if John fails to fulfill Father's request.
I am going to go mad if Marianne doesn't stop playing those horrible, doleful songs. I understand she is mourning; we are all mourning. But must she fill the house with her misery and ensnare us all under a suffocating blanket of it with her? I overheard Elinor request that she play something different for Mama's sake but all she did was begin an even MORE melancholy tune.
I fear for Mama. She's always been a lady and had a man to care for her. Father loved her so much; I know this because he told me so AND because I could see it in the way he looked at her and spoke with her. Father is my picture of what a husband should be. But what will Mama do without him? She's never had to be strong before.
I'm going to find Margaret and get her to go riding with me. This may be our last chance to be vagabonds before John and Fanny arrive tomorrow and Mama tries to force us to be ladies.
If only I had the right to bend Fanny over my knee and give her the spanking she deserves. What a horrible woman; she disrespected Mama in her own home! She's made certain we understand we are not to take the china with us when we leave (it took all my strength not to smash it at dinner last night, just so she couldn't have it either), has checked the silver (and counted it, I am certain, to be sure we don't carry any off with us), and is making plans to dismantle the library because she doesn't like the smell of books! Oh, my books. There won't be anyone here to protect them. I will have to smuggle out the most important ones. I'll leave clothes behind if I have to but I must save my books.
In addition to these insults she has taken it upon herself to invite her brother to stay at Norland without even asking if we are up for company, which we aren't, particularly more condescending members of the Ferrars family.
I must hide. Elinor is looking for me, no doubt to question me regarding the absence of all of dear Fanny's shoes. I protest my innocence; Margaret and I had nothing to do with it!
Edward Ferrars, Fanny's older brother, has arrived and I must confess he is nothing like his sister. I rather like the man. He is quiet and introspective and pays attention to what is going on around him. So few people with money and affluence are attentive to anything – they simply demand and expect the world to bow to them. That is how Fanny is. But Edward is different.
I shall extol his virtues. To begin, he saved my library. Fanny was leading him through the manor, detailing her grand plans for improvement. When they arrived in the library I was already there, in my favorite chair by the window, reading Fitzgerald one last time, as I cannot possibly squeeze another book into my packing. Fanny, thankfully, did not see me because she was already describing the destruction of my favorite room in the house. Edward DID see me and I know this because he bowed ever so briefly in my direction and then subtly turned his sister so her back was to my chair. He then proceeded to convince her that she couldn't own a manor without a library and if she disliked the smell of books she should simply stay out of that room! If I didn't suspect he was attracted to Elinor, I would marry him myself.
Yes, I do believe he is drawn to Elinor. They seem to always be in each other's company and she has shown him her drawings, even going so far as to give him one he professed great admiration for. They took a walk about the garden this morning after breakfast and I saw him looking at her the way Father used to look at Mama.
I know Mama has noticed, as well, because she spoke to me and Marianne about postponing our move until after something can be decided between them. For the first time in months my twin and I had something to celebrate which we agreed upon and were contented to suffer Fanny a few more weeks if it meant we could welcome Edward as our brother.
Margaret is another reason I approve of Edward. Margaret has an admittedly difficult time in our family, as she is the youngest by several years and rarely has anyone to play with. I try but every time I come in with grass in my hair or a tear in my skirt from climbing trees or playing pirates, Mama spends even more energy trying to make me into a proper lady. Edward has saved us both, Margaret from boredom and me from chastisement. He has become the big brother John never bothered to be to any of us.
Yesterday I was stealing out to the stables to take Gypsy for a ride when I came upon Edward hiding in the haymow, covered in grasses. When I raised my voice to ask what happened to him he quickly silenced me and informed me he was playing hide and seek with Margaret and to, please, not give away his location as he really needed a moment to catch his breath! He's also been teaching her to ride a full-sized horse, as her pony is too small for her any longer and this morning they were seen by Marianne fencing with tree branches on the front lawn. He will truly be a wonderful brother. I have high hopes for him and Elinor. But what will we do without Elinor? Perhaps it is time for me to put away the wildness my father always encouraged so I can be a help to Mama when we lose our Ellie to her husband.
Now I am forlorn. Why does everyone always have to leave? I don't suppose we could convince Elinor and Edward to live with us, wherever we end up moving, could we?
Elinor's face is pinched and tense and Mama and Marianne are pouting in the parlor. We continue to suffer through the same disagreements regarding our next home and nothing has been decided. Mama continues stating that Elinor wants us to live as paupers and Elinor continues trying to help Mama understand how limited our means are now.
Are we really so poor that we can not afford a nice home? Mama had found some that are so lovely – nothing like Norland, of course, but still rather nice. Marianne and I were in agreement over our ability to be quite content in either but El quickly pointed out how impossible it would be for us to afford such a place. She suggests a cottage might be within our price range. Can you imagine? A cottage? Usually I try to support Elinor but this is beyond lunacy.
I do not want to be poor.
A letter came for Mama today from a relative of hers, a gentleman of good report, offering us a home on his estate. The home he provides is, of all things, a cottage. Is it wrong to feel slightly bitter towards Elinor for suggesting such a thing for us in the first place? But a home it will be and at a price we have not seen elsewhere. It is far from Norland but perhaps it would be better to be too far away to often see what it is we have lost.
Mama intends to accept this generous offer but I do not know how soon we will move there. I still do not believe Edward has spoken of any intentions toward Elinor.
Fanny really and truly is the most contemptible woman on the face of the earth. I've begun conceiving a plan to lure her into the barn and allow her to be trampled by the horses.
She has told Mama (not in so many words but neither I nor Mama is a dunce at her intended meaning) that our Elinor is not good enough for her brother and that he has much better things planned for him. I wonder; does Edward know this?
The only good thing to come out of this is Marianne and I are more amiable toward each other than we have been in a long time. It is useful to have a common enemy, I believe.
This evening Mama made the announcement that we will be leaving Norland by the end of the month. Edward appeared desolate and bewildered, as if he couldn't imagine what he would do without Elinor around and even inquired why we had to go so far away. When Margaret, Marianne and I strongly encouraged him to visit our new home soon we were told by Fanny that Edward had obligations in London and wasn't available to go traipsing about the country at a whim. I could almost see the realization in his eyes when it occurred to him why we were leaving at the speed we were. He knows it is Fanny separating him from Elinor. The question is does he love Elinor enough to do anything about it? Or even more so, does he love Elinor? Yesterday I would have said "yes" but the momentary morose look on Ellie's face at dinner tells me she does not even know the answer to this question herself. I wonder how much my poor sister is going to suffer before this drama is over.
I had just returned from my final ride on Gypsy and was hiding in her stall, crying my loss into her warm shoulder when I heard voices in the stall next to Gypsy's. I realized Elinor was there, saying goodbye to her favorite mare as well. Edward had found her. I really did not intend to eavesdrop but I was unable to leave the stables so I heard everything.
What exactly it was I heard is still rather a mystery to me.
It appeared Edward was trying to tell Elinor something that was important to him, but the man was so ill at ease he could not seem to speak a single fluid sentence. He spoke more than once about his education, which seemed irrelevant to his relationship with my sister. I could hear her agreeing in the affirmative but am certain she had no better idea what he was saying than I did. He finally stated that he would always treasure her friendship and seemed to be apologizing for something when Fanny arrived and escorted him away on what was likely an invented crisis.
I heard Elinor sigh, whisper goodbye to her horse, and leave the barn. I resumed my spot against Gypsy's shoulder and pondered what I had just heard. I suppose the finality of the matter is that Edward is not going to fight for my sister. I am horribly disappointed in him.
Tomorrow we leave the only home I have ever known. How are we to endure? I so miss Father.