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Chapter 29 (continued)
"By all the world, rather than by his own heart. I could rather believe every creature of my acquaintance leagued together to ruin me in his opinion, than believe his nature capable of such cruelty. This woman of whom he writes--whoever she be--or any one, in short, but your own dear self, mama, and Edward, may have been so barbarous to bely me. Beyond you three, is there a creature in the world whom I would not rather suspect of evil than Willoughby, whose heart I know so well?"
Elinor would not contend, and only replied, "Whoever may have been so detestably your enemy, let them be cheated of their malignant triumph, my dear sister, by seeing how nobly the consciousness of your own innocence and good intentions supports your spirits. It is a reasonable and laudable pride which resists such malevolence."
"No, no," cried Marianne, "misery such as mine has no pride. I care not who knows that I am wretched. The triumph of seeing me so may be open to all the world. Elinor, Elinor, they who suffer little may be proud and independent as they like--may resist insult, or return mortification--but I cannot. I must feel--I must be wretched--and they are welcome to enjoy the consciousness of it that can."
"But for my mother's sake and mine--"
"I would do more than for my own. But to appear happy when I am so miserable--Oh! who can require it?"
Again they were both silent. Elinor was employed in walking thoughtfully from the fire to the window, from the window to the fire, without knowing that she received warmth from one, or discerning objects through the other; and Marianne, seated at the foot of the bed, with her head leaning against one of its posts, again took up Willoughby's letter, and, after shuddering over every sentence, exclaimed--
"It is too much! Oh, Willoughby, Willoughby, could this be yours! Cruel, cruel--nothing can acquit you. Elinor, nothing can. Whatever he might have heard against me-- ought he not to have suspended his belief? ought he not to have told me of it, to have given me the power of clearing myself? 'The lock of hair, (repeating it from the letter,) which you so obligingly bestowed on me'--That is unpardonable. Willoughby, where was your heart when you wrote those words? Oh, barbarously insolent!--Elinor, can he be justified?"
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