Marianne’s note, by assuring me that I was still as dear to her as informer days, that in spite of the many, many weeks we had beenseparated, she was as constant in her own feelings, and as full offaith in the constancy of mine as ever, awakened all my remorse. I sayawakened, business and dissipation, had insome measure quieted it, and I had been growing a fine hardenedvillain, fancying myself indifferent to her, and chusing to fancy thatshe too must have become indifferent to me; talking to myself of ourpast attachment as a mere idle, trifling business, shrugging up myshoulders in proof of its being so, and silencing every reproach,overcoming every scruple, by secretly saying now and then, ‘I shall beheartily glad to hear she is well married.’– But this note made meknow myself better. I felt that she was infinitely dearer to me thanany other woman in the world, and that I was using her infamously. Butevery thing was then just settled between Miss Grey and me. To retreatwas impossible. All that I had to do, was to avoid you both. I sentno answer to Marianne, intending by that to preserve myself from herfarther notice; and for some time I was even determined not to call inBerkeley Street;–but at last, judging it wiser to affect the air of acool, common acquaintance than anything else, I watched you all safelyout of the house one morning, and left my name.
Even so. You would be surprised to hear how often I watched you, howoften I was on the point of falling in with you. I have entered many ashop to avoid your sight, as the carriage drove by. Lodging as I didin Bond Street, there was hardly a day in which I did not catch aglimpse of one or other of you; and nothing but the most constantwatchfulness on my side, a most invariably prevailing desire to keepout of your sight, could have separated us so long. I avoided theMiddletons as much as possible, as well as everybody else who waslikely to prove an acquaintance in common. Not aware of their being intown, however, I blundered on Sir John, I believe, the first day of hiscoming, and the day after I had called at Mrs. Jennings’s. He asked meto a party, a dance at his house in the evening.
Had he NOT told me asan inducement that you and your sister were to be there, I should havefelt it too certain a thing, to trust myself near him. The nextmorning brought another short note from Marianne–still affectionate,open, artless, confiding–everything that could make MY conduct mosthateful. I could not answer it. I tried–but could not frame asentence. But I thought of her, I believe, every moment of the day.If you CAN pity me, Miss Dashwood, pity my situation as it was THEN.With my head and heart full of your sister, I was forced to play thehappy lover to another woman!–Those three or four weeks were worsethan all. Well, at last, as I need not tell you, you were forced onme; and what a sweet figure I cut!–what an evening of agony it was!–Marianne, beautiful as an angel on one side, calling me Willoughby insuch a tone!–Oh, God!–holding out her hand to me, asking me for anexplanation, with those bewitching eyes fixed in such speakingsolicitude on my face!–and Sophia, jealous as the devil on the otherhand, looking all that was–Well, it does not signify; it is overnow.– Such an evening!
I ran away from you all as soon as I could;but not before I had seen Marianne’s sweet face as white asdeath.–THAT was the last, last look I ever had of her;–the lastmanner in which she appeared to me. It was a horrid sight!–yet when Ithought of her to-day as really dying, it was a kind of comfort to meto imagine that I knew exactly how she would appear to those, who sawher last in this world. She was before me, constantly before me, as Itravelled, in the same look and hue.