Fragment of a Novel Written by Jane Austen/Chapter 2

Fragment of a Novel Written by Jane Austen  (1925) 
by Jane Austen, edited by R. W. Chapman


The acquaintance, thus oddly begun, was neither short nor unimportant. For a whole fortnight the Travellors were fixed at Willingden; Mr. P.'s sprain proving too serious for him to move sooner.—He had fallen into very good hands. The Heywoods were a thoroughly respectable family, & every possible attention was paid in the kindest & most unpretending manner, to both Husband & wife. He was waited on & nursed, & she cheered & comforted with unremitting kindness—and as every office of Hospitality & friendliness was received as it ought—as there was not more good will on one side than Gratitude on the other—nor any deficiency of generally pleasant manners on either, they grew to like each other in the course of that fortnight, exceedingly well.—Mr Parker's Character & History were soon unfolded. All that he understood of himself, he readily told, for he was very openhearted;—& where he might be himself in the dark, his conversation was still giving information, to such of the Heywoods as could observe.—By such he was perceived to be an Enthusiast;—on the subject of Sanditon, a complete Enthusiast.—Sanditon,—the success of Sanditon as a small, fashionable Bathing Place was the object, for which he seemed to live. A very few years ago, & it had been a quiet Village of no pretensions; but some natural advantages in its position & some accidental circumstances hav ing suggested to himself, & the other principal Land Holder, the probability of it's becoming a profitable Speculation, they had engaged in it, & planned & built, & praised & puffed, & raised it to a something of young Renown—and Mr. Parker could now think of very little besides.—The Facts, which in more direct communication, he laid before them were that he was about 5 & 30—had been married,—very happily married 7 years—& had 4 sweet Children at home;—that he was of a respectable Family, & easy though not large fortune;—no Profession—succeeding as eldest son to the Property which 2 or 3 Generations had been holding & accumulating before him;—that he had 2 Brothers & 2 Sisters—all single & all independant—the eldest of the two former indeed, by collateral Inheritance, quite as well provided for as himself.—His object in quitting the high road, to hunt for an advertising Surgeon, was also plainly stated;—it had not proceeded from any intention of spraining his ancle or doing himself any other Injury for the good of such Surgeon—nor (as Mr H. had been apt to suppose) from any design of entering into Partnership with him—; it was merely in consequence of a wish to establish some medical Man at Sanditon, which the nature of the Advertisement induced him to expect to accomplish in Willingden,—He was convinced that the advantage of a medical Man at hand wd very materially promote the rise & prosperity of the Place—wd in fact tend to bring a prodigious influx;—nothing else was wanting. He had strong reason to beleive that one family had been deterred last year from trying Sanditon on that account—& probably very many more—and his own Sisters who were sad Invalids, & whom he was very anxious to get to Sanditon this Summer, could hardly be expected to hazard themselves in a place where they could not have immediate medical advice.—Upon the whole, Mr P. was evidently an amiable, family-man, fond of Wife, Childn, Brothers & Sisters—& generally kind-hearted;—Liberal, gentlemanlike, easy to please;—of a sanguine turn of mind, with more Imagination than Judgement. And Mrs P. was as evidently a gentle, amiable, sweet tempered Woman, the properest wife in the World for a Man of strong Understanding, but not of capacity to supply the cooler reflection which her own Husband sometimes needed, & so entirely waiting to be guided on every occasion, that whether he were risking his Fortune or spraining his Ancle, she remained equally useless.—Sanditon was a second Wife & 4 Children to him—hardly less Dear—& certainly more engrossing.—He could talk of it for ever.—It had indeed the highest claims;—not only those of Birthplace, Property, and Home,—it was his Mine, his Lottery, his Speculation & his Hobby Horse; his Occupation his Hope & his Futurity.—He was extremely desirous of drawing his good friends at Willingden thither; and his endeavours in the cause, were as grateful & disinterested, as they were warm.—He wanted to secure the promise of a visit—to get as many of the Family as his own house wd contain, to follow him to Sanditon as soon as possible—and healthy as they all undeniably were—foresaw that every one of them wd be benefited by the sea.—He held it indeed as certain, that no person cd be really well, no person, (however upheld for the present by fortuitous aids of exercise & spirits in a semblance of Health) could be really in a state of secure & permanent Health without spending at least 6 weeks by the Sea every year.—The Sea air & Sea Bathing together were nearly infallible, one or the other of them being a match for every Disorder, of the Stomach, the Lungs or the Blood; They were anti-spasmodic, anti-pulmonary, antisceptic, anti-bilious & anti-rheumatic. Nobody could catch cold by the Sea, Nobody wanted appetite by the Sea, Nobody wanted Spirits, Nobody wanted Strength.—They were healing, softing, relaxing—fortifying & bracing—seemingly just as was wanted—sometimes one, sometimes the other.—If the Sea breeze failed, the Sea-Bath was the certain corrective;—& where Bathing disagreed, the Sea Breeze alone was evidently designed by Nature for the cure.—His eloquence however could not prevail. Mr & Mrs H— never left home. Marrying early & having a very numerous Family, their movements had been long limitted to one small circle; & they were older in Habits than in Age.—Excepting two Journeys to London in the year, to receive his Dividends, Mr H. went no farther than his feet or his well-tried old Horse could carry him, and Mrs Heywood's Adventurings were only now & then to visit her Neighbours, in the old Coach which had been new when they married & fresh lined on their eldest son's coming of age 10 years ago.—They had very pretty Property—enough, had their family been of reasonable Limits to have allowed them a very gentlemanlike share of Luxuries & Change—enough for them to have indulged in a new Carriage & better roads, an occasional month at Tunbridge Wells, & symptoms of the Gout and a Winter at Bath;—but the maintenance, Education & fitting out of 14 Children demanded a very quiet, settled, careful course of Life—& obliged them to be stationary & healthy at Willingden. What Prudence had at first enjoined, was now rendered pleasant by Habit. They never left home, & they had a gratification in saying so.—But very far from wishing their Children to do the same, they were glad to promote their getting out into the World, as much as possible. They staid at home, that their Children might get out;—and while making that home extremely comfortable, welcomed every change from it which could give useful connections or respectable acquaintance to Sons or Daughters. When Mr & Mrs Parker therefore ceased from soliciting a family-visit, and bounded their veiws to carrying back one Daughter with them, no difficulties were started. It was general pleasure & consent.—Their invitation was to Miss Charlotte Heywood, a very pleasing young woman of two and twenty, the eldest of the Daughters at home, & the one, who under her Mother's directions had been particularly useful & obliging to them; who had attended them most, & knew them best.—Charlotte was to go,—with excellent health, to bathe & be better if she could—to receive every possible pleasure which Sanditon could be made to supply by the gratitude of those she went with—& to buy new Parasols, new Gloves, & new Broches, for her sisters & herself at the Library, which Mr P. was anxiously wishing to support.—All that Mr Heywood himself could be persuaded to promise was, that he would send everyone to Sanditon, who asked his advice, & that nothing should ever induce him (as far <as> the future could be answered for) to spend even 5 shillings at Brinshore.—