As usual I do not own any of these characters.
“There is a man floating in the water” the news spread like wildfire thought the small coastal town of Portsmith.
Inside the Price home no one knew, as the members of the household were still rising for day.
Then there was a knock on the door.
“Mrs. Price?” the man asked.
“I am sorry to say your husband was found in the bay this morning, there was nothing we could do to save him”.
With that, Mrs. Frances Price learned of her husband’s death.
The Price home had been visited the day before by some of Lieutenant Price’s companions from his days serving in his Majesty’s Navy. They had gone to the local tavern to celebrate their reunion. The Lieutenant was the only one who did not return home.
As her husband’s body was interred into the cold ground, it was not just the realization of the loss of her husband that occurred to Mrs. Price, it was the loss of his income, as meager as it had been. She had been assured that his pension and any remaining wages would be hers, but it was not enough to cover their debts. Her eldest son, William, had also assured his mother that he would sent home as much of his own wages as he could, but even then, she had nine children to care for. She could have written to her brother in law, Sir Thomas Bertram for assistance, but he already so much for them, including taking in her eldest daughter, Fanny, who had only recently returned to them.
Then Mr. Crawford came calling.
“My name is Henry Crawford, madam; I became acquainted with William and Fanny while my sister and I rented the parsonage at Mansfield Park. I heard about your husband’s death, I am sorry for your loss”.
“Thank you, Mr. Crawford”.
“If I may, where is Fanny?”.
“She is on the roof”.
Fanny sat on the roof; she had climbed up to the roof to find peace from the noise down below. Her father was dead, she was banished from Mansfield, it was as if the world she knew was collapsing around her. If Edmund were here, he would know what to say, but he was not.
“Miss Price” Henry’s voice broke through.
“If you have come, Mr. Crawford, in hopes that I have reconsidered your proposal…”.
“I have come, Miss Price to pay my respects to your family, however, I would still hope, that in time you will reconsider what I have proposed, I bid you good day”.
He returned the next day and everyday for next two weeks bringing sweets and gifts for the youngest children and books for the elder children.
“You are too generous Mr. Crawford” Mrs. Price was in awe of the attention and gifts bestowed on her children.
“It is my pleasure, considering they have lost their father recently, I thought some cheering up might be in order”.
“They are greatly appreciated” Fanny’s footsteps were heard on the stairs “Fanny, look who has returned”.
“Good morning, Mr. Crawford” came the reply.
“If I may, Mrs. Price, I would like to speak to your eldest daughter alone”.
“Of course, Mr. Crawford”.
“You have fooled my family, Mr. Crawford, but I am not fooled”.
“I am aware, Fanny of my faults, the greatest of which is a specialty of pretense, which you have seen through since our first introduction. I have come, dropped of all pretense in hopes that you might forgive my past indiscretions and allow me to court you properly”.
“An engagement between your cousin, Mr. Bertram and my sister is expected to be announced. I could, if you allow me to erase your father’s debts and give your family the opportunities to excel in society. I would treat you as a queen, you would want for nothing. I love you, Fanny Price, it is for you alone, I have come. Please say you will marry me”.
Fanny bit her lip. Knowing that her family was provided for, that they would not be relying on charity from others would be a great relief. But to marry a man she did not love and knew of his dishonorable character would be a great disservice to her own heart.
But for her family, she would sacrifice.
“I will marry you”.
He saw the tears in her eyes.
“I do not wish to make you unhappy Fanny, nor do I want force you into marriage. If you do not wish to marry me, say so and I will go on as if this moment had never happened”.
“Henry, I will marry you” she reaffirmed her statement.
He kissed her and she returned his kiss, but in her heart, she mourned.
Her family rejoiced at the upcoming nuptials, Sir Thomas offered her a dowry of £5000 in addition to paying for her wedding trousseau. She returned to MansfieldPark, spending the next two months preparing for her wedding.
The day of her wedding was a bright, glorious day, the wedding dress the most beautiful she had ever seen. Her aunt, Lady Bertram had proclaimed the dress to be even more beautiful than her own daughter’s wedding dresses.
The doors to the chapel opened and Fanny walked to alter on the arm of her uncle.
She passed by her mother, how proud she looked. Her brothers and sisters shared the same look of pride in their new clothes, purchased by Sir Thomas specifically for today. Even William came, wearing his military uniform, the buttons shined like the sun. Edmund was there as well, standing next to Mary. It was as predicted; the news of an engagement between them had only come about the week before and it seemed that Mary was content to become a country clergyman’s wife.
Finally she met Henry at the alter. Looking in his eyes, she repeated her vows and then kissed her new husband, but inside she still mourned.
She would mourn for the rest of her days.