Her going roused the rest; and at the same moment the two brothers stepped forward, feeling the necessity of doing something. A very few words between them were sufficient. The case admitted no difference of opinion: they must go to the drawing-room directly. Maria joined them with the same intent, just then the stoutest12 of the three; for the very circumstance which had driven Julia away was to her the sweetest support. Henry Crawford’s retaining her hand at such a moment, a moment of such peculiar13 proof and importance, was worth ages of doubt and anxiety. She hailed it as an earnest of the most serious determination, and was equal even to encounter her father. They walked off, utterly14 heedless of Mr. Rushworth’s repeated question of, “Shall I go too? Had not I better go too? Will not it be right for me to go too?” but they were no sooner through the door than Henry Crawford undertook to answer the anxious inquiry15, and, encouraging him by all means to pay his respects to Sir Thomas without delay, sent him after the others with delighted haste.
Fanny was left with only the Crawfords and Mr. Yates. She had been quite overlooked by her cousins; and as her own opinion of her claims on Sir Thomas’s affection was much too humble16 to give her any idea of classing herself with his children, she was glad to remain behind and gain a little breathing-time. Her agitation17 and alarm exceeded all that was endured by the rest, by the right of a disposition18 which not even innocence19 could keep from suffering. She was nearly fainting: all her former habitual20 dread21 of her uncle was returning, and with it compassion22 for him and for almost every one of the party on the development before him, with solicitude23 on Edmund’s account indescribable. She had found a seat, where in excessive trembling she was enduring all these fearful thoughts, while the other three, no longer under any restraint, were giving vent24 to their feelings of vexation, lamenting25 over such an unlooked-for premature26 arrival as a most untoward27 event, and without mercy wishing poor Sir Thomas had been twice as long on his passage, or were still in Antigua.