Page:Austen Sanditon and other miscellanea.djvu/176

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—the indelible, immoveable Impression of what Persuasion had once done—was not it all against me?’

‘You should have distinguished,’ replied Anne. ‘You should not have suspected me now. The case so different, and my age so different! If I was wrong, in yielding to Persuasion once, remember that it was to Persuasion exerted on the side of Safety, not of Risk. When I yielded, I thought it was to Duty. But no Duty could be called in aid here. In marrying a Man indifferent to me, all Risk would have been incurred, and all Duty violated.’ ‘Perhaps I ought to have reasoned thus,’ he replied, ‘but I could not. I could not derive benefit from the later knowledge of your Character which I had acquired, I could not bring it into play, it was overwhelmed, buried, lost in those earlier feelings, which I had been smarting under Year after Year. I could think of you only as one who had yielded, who had given me up, who had been influenced by any one rather than by me. I saw you with the very Person who had guided you in that year of Misery. I had no reason to think her of less authority now; the force of Habit was to be added.’ ‘I should have thought,’ said Anne, ‘that my Manner to yourself might have spared you much, or all of this.’ ‘No, no. Your manner might be only the ease, which your engagement to another Man would give. I left you with this belief. And yet—I was determined to see you again. My spirits rallied with the morning, and I felt that I had still a motive for remaining here. The Admiral’s news indeed was a revulsion. Since that moment, I have been divided what to do, and had it been confirmed, this would have been my last day in Bath.’

There was time for all this to pass, with such Interruptions only as enhanced the charm of the communication, and Bath could scarcely contain any other two Beings at once so ration-