Thursday 29 December
This has been perhaps the happiest week of my life. To have finally fulfilled my destiny and become ordained has left me feeling at peace with the world.
'We are so proud of you both,' said Mrs Owen this evening over dinner. 'You are both fine additions to the clergy.'
'Yes, indeed,' said Mr Owen. 'The church needs young people like you, forward thinking young men with ideas and energy. Men who will lead by setting a good example to their parishioners, and who will restore the clergy to its proper respectability. There has been too much easy living of late; too much ignoring of parish duties; too many clergymen inclined to take their ease and let others do the work. They do not seem to realise that it is in the work of the church that its future lies. You young men have a chance to make a difference, to enhance your parishioners' lives with your judgement, example and understanding, and set the tone of the country for generations to come.'
'Yes, indeed,' said Mrs Owen.
'I only hope my brother might soon have a living. You have one, I understand, Mr Bertram,' said Miss Owen, a pretty girl with eyes as blue as the porcelain jug.
'I have, at Thornton Lacey,' I told her.
'Thornton Lacey! What a coincidence. We passed through there on our way to Aunt Hester's in October. I remember it well. The rectory was a gentleman's residence, and the parish was a good size. Do you mean to live there?' she asked me.
'Yes, I do. I can see no point in going into my parish only to read the sermons.'
'Good, good,' said Mr Owen approvingly.
'And is the house well situated?' asked Mrs Owen.
'Oh, yes,' said Miss Owen, before I could answer. 'To be sure, the farm could perhaps be moved, but the situation is admirable. The house is very fine, quite the finest house in the neighbourhood, and the view is very pretty. There is a dear little garden, with meadows beyond, and a stream - quite delightful.'
I found myself wishing that Mary could have been as well pleased with it, but Mary was of a different kind to Miss Owen. I remembered her insulting words at the ball: A clergyman is nothing . . . can do nothing . . . be no one . . easily satisfied . . . no ambition . . . a real man makes his mark in the world . . . .
I was so busy thinking of her that I did not realise Mr Owen was speaking to me. I brought my thoughts back from their own paths in time to hear Mr Owen say, 'You have been fortunate.'
'Indeed I have.'
'And how are your friends the Crawfords?' asked Owen, as the conversation moved away from the church. 'The Crawfords are the brother and sister of Dr Grant,' he explained to his family. 'Mr Crawford has an estate in Norfolk, and Miss Crawford is an heiress. A beautiful and intelligent young woman by all accounts. Are they still at Mansfield?'
'For the present, but they will not be there when I return. Miss Crawford is going to stay in London for an extended visit.'
'She will be staying with her uncle?' asked Owen.
'No, with her friend, a Mrs Fraser.'
There was a short pause, then Mrs Owen said, 'It seems a shame that you should have to hurry back to Mansfield tomorrow, Mr Bertram, we have seen so very little of you. Will you not do us the very great favour of staying another week?'
I thought of Mansfield and I knew that Mary would not yet have left, so that if I returned as planned I would be forced into company with her. I found I did not want to see her again. What use would it be for me to torment myself with the sight of her, when I knew she would never marry me? For she would not be satisfied until she had a house in town and a husband who was universally acclaimed.
And then I thought of Owen's house, with his welcoming family and his pretty sisters, and I said, 'You are very kind. I would like to stay above all things.'http://www.amandagrange.com/EdmundBertram%27sDiary.html