With solemn kindness Sir Thomas addressed her: told her his fears, inquired into her wishes, entreated33 her to be open and sincere, and assured her that every inconvenience should be braved, and the connexion entirely34 given up, if she felt herself unhappy in the prospect35 of it. He would act for her and release her. Maria had a moment’s struggle as she listened, and only a moment’s: when her father ceased, she was able to give her answer immediately, decidedly, and with no apparent agitation36. She thanked him for his great attention, his paternal37 kindness, but he was quite mistaken in supposing she had the smallest desire of breaking through her engagement, or was sensible of any change of opinion or inclination38 since her forming it. She had the highest esteem39 for Mr. Rushworth’s character and disposition40, and could not have a doubt of her happiness with him.
Sir Thomas was satisfied; too glad to be satisfied, perhaps, to urge the matter quite so far as his judgment41 might have dictated42 to others. It was an alliance which he could not have relinquished43 without pain; and thus he reasoned. Mr. Rushworth was young enough to improve. Mr. Rushworth must and would improve in good society; and if Maria could now speak so securely of her happiness with him, speaking certainly without the prejudice, the blindness of love, she ought to be believed. Her feelings, probably, were not acute; he had never supposed them to be so; but her comforts might not be less on that account; and if she could dispense44 with seeing her husband a leading, shining character, there would certainly be everything else in her favour. A well-