Henry Crawford’s P.O.V./Narrator’s P.O.V.
*”Well,” said Crawford, after a course of rapid questions and reluctant answers; “I am happier than I was, because I now understand more clearly your opinion of me. You think me unsteady; easily swayed by the whim of the moment, easily tempted, easily put aside. With such an opinion, no wonder that… But we shall see. It is not by protestations that I shall endeavor to convince you I am wronged; it is not by telling you that my affections are steady. My conduct shall speak for me; absence, distance, time shall speak for me. They shall prove that, as far as you can be deserved by anybody, I do deserve you. You are infinitely my superior in merit; all that I know. You have qualities which I had not before supposed to exist in such a degree in any human creature. You have some touches of the angels in you beyond what…not merely beyond what one sees, because one never sees anything like it… but beyond what one fancies might be. But still I am not frightened. It is not by equality of merit that you can be won. That is out of the question. It is he who sees and worships your merit the strongest, who loves you most devotedly, that has the best right to a return. There I build my confidence. By that right I do and will deserve you; and when once convinced that my attachment is what I declare it, I know you to well not to entertain the warmest hopes.”*
I watch as Mr. Crawford pauses to draw breath and in a split second I raise my hand to stop him from continuing, without even thinking about it.
“Mr. Crawford, while you have been speaking I have come to the realization that despite my best intentions I have failed to make clear to you my true opinion of you and my objections to marrying you. This is a conversation I would much rather have at a different time and in a more private setting, and I am therefore more than willing to meet with you at any time and place you choose tomorrow so long as it is before two in the afternoon. Now if you don’t mind terribly much, I would prefer to change the subject of our conversation.”
Mr. Crawford leans back in his chair, looks at me quite calmly then says,
“I am glad of any chance to converse with you Miss Price and I am only sorry that I seem to consistently displease you every time we meet. Perhaps then it would be better if you chose the next subject of our conversation.”
“Do you enjoy reading Shakespeare Mr. Crawford? And you do not displease me every time we meet, just nearly every time we meet.”
“I do, but I rarely make time to. And (a small, sad sort of smile plays on the edges of his lips) if I do not displease you every time, name once when I did not.”
Before I can reply Baddeley comes in with the tea-tray and Mr. Crawford has found himself obliged to move so that I might attend to it. Edmund now engages Mr. Crawford in conversation which leaves me free to search my memory for a time when I had spoken or listened to Mr. Crawford and not been upset, either by a theme he chose to introduce, or his manner of speaking on said theme. After making my Aunt and cousin Edmund’s tea to their usual liking, I turn to Mr. Crawford and ask,
“Mr. Crawford, would you care for some tea?”
“Yes, thank you Miss Price.”
“And how do you take your tea Mr. Crawford?”
“One lump of sugar and no cream, thank you Miss Price.”
“You’re very welcome, to be sure Mr. Crawford. And to answer your previous question, I found your visit on the morning after your return to Mansfield to be most pleasant.”
“Truly, Miss Price?”
“Yes, quite truly Mr. Crawford.”
After this I turn back to my needlework and Mr. Crawford, seeming to take my hint, reengaged Edmund in conversation for the rest of the evening. An hour later and finally it seems as though the visit is coming to a close. I watch as Mr. Crawford gives his farewells to Lady Bertram and Edmund, and then he turns and comes to me.
“Miss Price, I thank you for your patience with me this evening. Pray, if your offer still stands, might I have the honor of calling upon you at noon tomorrow?”
“It does Sir, I shall see you then.”
“Until tomorrow then Miss Price.”
“Until tomorrow Mr. Crawford.”
And then he’s gone.
A.N.: The Bold, stared *, section is a direct quote from Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park.