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Fanny struggled for speech, and said, “I am very sorry that anything has occurred to distress54 you. This ought to be a day of pleasure. My uncle meant it so.”
“Oh yes, yes! and it will be a day of pleasure. It will all end right. I am only vexed55 for a moment. In fact, it is not that I consider the ball as ill-timed; what does it signify? But, Fanny,” stopping her, by taking her hand, and speaking low and seriously, “you know what all this means. You see how it is; and could tell me, perhaps better than I could tell you, how and why I am vexed. Let me talk to you a little. You are a kind, kind listener. I have been pained by her manner this morning, and cannot get the better of it. I know her disposition56 to be as sweet and faultless as your own, but the influence of her former companions makes her seem–gives to her conversation, to her professed57 opinions, sometimes a tinge58 of wrong. She does not think evil, but she speaks it, speaks it in playfulness; and though I know it to be playfulness, it grieves me to the soul.”
“The effect of education,” said Fanny gently.
Edmund could not but agree to it. “Yes, that uncle and aunt! They have injured the finest mind; for sometimes, Fanny, I own to you, it does appear more than manner: it appears as if the mind itself was tainted59.”