"Four years!" "Yes." Elinor, though greatly shocked, still felt unable to believe it. "I did not know," said she, "that you were even acquainted till the other day." "Our acquaintance, however, is of many years' date. He was under my uncle's care, you know, a considerable while." "Your uncle!" "Yes; Mr. Pratt. Did you never hear him talk of Mr. Pratt?" "I think I have," replied Elinor, with an exertion of spirits, which increased with her increase of emotion. "He was four years with my uncle, who lives at Longstaple, near Plymouth. It was there our acquaintance begun, for my sister and me was often staying with my uncle, and it was there our engagement was formed, though not till a year after he had quitted as a pupil; but he was almost always with us afterwards. I was very unwilling to enter into it, as you may imagine, without the knowledge and approbation of his mother; but I was too young, and loved him too well, to be so prudent as I ought to have been. Though you do not know him so well as me, Miss Dashwood, you must have seen enough of him to be sensible he is very capable of making a woman sincerely attached to him." "Certainly," answered Elinor, without knowing what she said; but after a moment's reflection, she added, with revived security of Edward's honour and love, and her companion's falsehood, "Engaged to Mr. Edward Ferrars!- I confess myself so totally surprised at what you tell me, that really- I beg your pardon; but surely there must be some mistake of person or name. We cannot mean the same Mr. Ferrars." "We can mean no other," cried Lucy, smiling. "Mr. Edward Ferrars, the eldest son of Mrs. Ferrars, of Park Street, and brother of your sister-in-law, Mrs. John Dashwood is the person I mean; you must allow that I am not likely to be deceived as to the name of the man on whom all my happiness depends." "It is strange," replied Elinor, in a most painful perplexity, "that I should never have heard him even mention your name." "No; considering our situation, it was not strange. Our first care has been to keep the matter secret. You knew nothing of me, or my family, and, therefore, there could be no occasion for ever mentioning my name to you; and, as he was always particularly afraid of his sister's suspecting any thing, that was reason enough for his not mentioning it." She was silent. Elinor's security sunk; but her self-command did not sink with it. "Four years you have been engaged," said she, with a firm voice. "Yes; and heaven knows how much longer we may have to wait. Poor Edward! It puts him quite out of heart."