Have you,” Elinor continued after a short silence, “ever seen Mr. Willoughby since you left him at Barton?”
“Yes,” Colonel Brandon replied gravely, “once I have. One meeting was unavoidable.”
Elinor, startled by his manner, looked at him anxiously, saying—
“What? have you met him to—”
“I could meet him no other way. Eliza had confessed to me, though most reluctantly, the name of her lover; and when he returned to town, which was within a fortnight, we met by appointment, he to defend, I to punish his conduct. We returned unwounded, and the meeting, therefore, never got abroad.
Jane Austen - Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 31.
It took me severalreadings of this book before it sank in to me what Brandon is saying here. He actually fought a duel with Willoughby over Marianne. I couldn’t believe how naive I’d been - partly because of all the euphemism Brandon employs, but also because I’ve never seen it dealt with in any of the film adaptations. I wonder why that is. Seems like a relevant detail, says something very definitively about Brandon’s character - who always seemed a bit on the mild side to me.
- 9th March