Page:Austen Sanditon and other miscellanea.djvu/56

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32
SANDITON

But perhaps it implies that he is coming himself. I trust it may. But here is a Letter from one of my Sisters. They never fail me. Women are the only Correspondents to be depended on. Now, Mary’ (smiling at his Wife), ‘before I open it, what shall we guess as to the state of health of those it comes from—or rather what would Sidney say if he were here? Sidney is a saucy fellow, Miss Heywood, and you must know, he will have it there is a good deal of Imagination in my two Sisters’ complaints, but it really is not so, or very little. They have wretched health, as you have heard us say frequently, and are subject to a variety of very serious Disorders. Indeed, I do not believe they know what a day’s health is; and at the same time, they are such excellent useful Women and have so much energy of Character that, where any Good is to be done, they force themselves on exertions which to those who do not thoroughly know them, have an extraordinary appearance. But there is really no affectation about them. They have only weaker constitutions and stronger minds than are often met with, either separate or together. And our Youngest Brother, who lives with them, and who is not much above 20, I am sorry to say, is almost as great an Invalid as themselves. He is so delicate that he can engage in no Profession. Sidney laughs at him; but it really is no joke, though Sidney often makes me laugh at them all in spite of myself. Now, if he were here, I know he would be offering odds that either Susan, Diana or Arthur would appear by this letter to have been at the point of death within the last month.’ Having run his eye over the Letter, he shook his head and began: ‘No chance of seeing them at Sanditon, I am sorry to say. A very indifferent account of them indeed. Seriously, a very indifferent account. Mary, you will be quite sorry to hear how ill they have been and are. Miss Heywood, if you will give me leave, I will read Diana’s Letter aloud. I